‘King of Boys: The Return of the King’ Review: Protracted Plot Sullies Kemi Adetiba’s Mixed Bag

-Spoilers ahead-

Official poster. Via Netflix.

We must all agree that Kemi Adetiba has had an interesting journey. From directing music videos, to The Wedding Party, then the acclaimed King of Boys and now a Netflix original for a King of Boys series. When one looks closely at the film projects, there are elements of directorial unifications. Sola Sobowale has been a recurring partnership, with her comes the vociferousness she perfected for her stock characters as a Yoruba actress; that need to marry culture with modernism, and to sell the mundane as extraordinary, seems important to Kemi Adetiba. For all the affluence in The Wedding Party, it is still a glorified ‘owambe’. And King of Boys itself is a Lagos thug to the world, homage to Hollywood mob films. There are unifying flaws, too. The constancy of plot holes must take front seat; followed doggedly by the anchor of questionable characters.


Also on Netflix:


And while Kemi Adetiba knows her onions to some length, these strengths and flaws of the mercurial director are more glaring in the series. Perhaps, one independent, less glamorous, more ‘experimental’ film between the King of Boys and the King of Boys series might have helped her shed some more flaws in her filmmaking. In this sequel, Alhaja Salami, disgraced kingpin and king of boys, has returned to the country after a governmental pardon. Upon returning, she promptly declares her political ambition to become the Lagos State governor, but old and new enemies, personal demons, and a new player from the press will stand in her way. There are seven episodes in this Netflix original series. Humour me. Let us write a seven-paragraph review, one for each episode, and with faster pacing than the series. 

    We open with the acting. While there are outliers, King of Boys presents a panoply of mediocre performances. Sola Sobowale carries little blame because she comes from the stock character acting period in Nollywood. When we saw Sola Sobowale in a film, we knew she would be a loud, troublesome, perhaps sinister character, and she excelled in those roles. The problem with that period in Nollywood’s acting history is that actors usually overacted. It’s how Baba Suwe never knew when to quieten and how Ogogo, the macho, ultra-masculine actor couldn’t play a soft character convincingly. While it appears some work went into reining Sola Sobowale’s overacting, it still bursts through, and when it doesn’t, her deliveries are irregularly broken, the pauses in her lines painfully obvious. The Wedding Party played to her strength (the loud mother-in-law), King of Boys followed suit (the grieving mother), and this King of Boys series presents a new conundrum where neither plot nor actor knows exactly what to do with each other. 

Eniola Salami (Sola Sobowale) and her campaign manager (Deyemi Okanlawon). Via Netflix.

    The plot is protracted. And piled atop, or underneath that, are enough plot holes to sink a warship. The core motivation is weak: Why does she want to be governor? She murdered all her children’s killers without governorship. As the narrative proceeds, it becomes more apparent that the whole affair could have been considerably shorter to make for a tighter, nerve-racking experience. The basic rule of ‘come into the scene late and leave early’ is vagrantly abused. And moments are ballooned with proverbs, chants, and improvised fillers to attain poignancy. Although a generally loud experience, silence would have done it a lot of contrasting good but when that silence arrives, it is usually unwelcome because characters have spent so much time talking. And even in scenes where Sola Sobowale gets the acting right, the pacing fails her. (Proverbs. Proverbs. Proverbs.) Take Makanaki’s (Remilekun Safaru) return scene for example, when he murders Malay’s (iLLBLISS) henchmen. An impressive scene that could have been more thrilling, more suspenseful, if it had only been faster. Makanaki’s return, however disbelieving or slow, is well-handled. This is in spite of the pacing.


Related:


    Kemi Adetiba’s lighting choices are notable. The serene scenes that feature affluence, comfort and stability have warm, nearly uniformed colours and the streets and scenes of chaos are garish, almost gratuitously coloured—a bad hangover from her music directing days. Brings to mind the popular Nollywood director who’s advised that filmmakers crank up their colouring, “we are a people of colour”. While Kemi Adetiba has a more restrained approach, there are still scenes of chaos that might have done better with less red-green-blue, and scenes of affluence where a little lighting chaos would have done more good. Even better, without the lighting source so apparent as with Makanaki’s reintroduction scene.

The king of boys herself. Via Netflix.

    We will make seven paragraphs and more if we wish to keep at it, but by then both reader and writer would be exhausted to a fault. A little restraint and controlled opacity make every work feel better, less overwhelming, and that, in summary, is a lot of what King of Boys lacked. It felt like a sojourn into mafia infinity chess, but on beginner’s level, and all rounded off in a rather convenient deus ex machina finale. Yet, this is a win for Nollywood and Kemi Adetiba. In retrospect, she has done well for her career, but her craft, particularly the storytelling, needs more clamp. There are signs of a standout talent; the constant framing of characters into medium shot when they have confrontations is one of her numerous film techniques; and that scene where the reverend father finally concedes to Eniola Salami, for example, has excellent composition: The bible is in the foreground on the lectern, while the man of God is down the altar negotiating terms of surrender with thugs and a politician. Look at how the scene closes; the camera sweeps back and the reverend turns to the altar in defeat, as if looking to the bible for help. Kemi has an eye for the grandiose, a penchant for fanfare, but maybe it is in the mundane that she will strike craft gold.

Rating: 6/10

Our King of Boys giveaway ends on September 16.

You can share your thoughts in the comments section or on our social media accounts.

Subscribe to email notifications here:


Side Musings

  • Everyone is a gangster actor doing badass acting until Taiwo Ajai-Lycett (Governor Randle’s mother) comes into the series and schools everyone with actual acting. Two scenes and she stole the entire show. We thank God she didn’t share a scene with Sola Sobowale. Perhaps it is even convenient that the two standout actors, Nse Ikpe-Etim and Ajayi-Lycett, share the two standout acting scenes. Akin Lewis, Lord Frank, and iLLBLISS are honourable mentions. Ade Tiger (Titi Kuti) is so stoic he might as well be a philosopher. For such a central character, there is no physical display of emotional dynamism. 
  • Problem is that everyone is afraid of Eniola but it is all legend. We don’t see an actual statement of power that instills fear until the finale. And that is a tad late.
  • Every journalist is probably wailing at Dapo Banjo (Efa Iwara) who is a sodding idealist—and there is nothing wrong with idealism, but he confidently brandishes the stupid type. We are to believe in his recklessness to follow principles, but there is no action to back it up, just words, stupid, reshuffled words of idealism while he waits for his anonymous source to gift him the next sauce. Things dey occur, eziokwu.

Subscribe to our film and TV Google Calendar here.


King of Boys: The Return of the King is currently streaming on Netflix.

48 comments

  1. This is all just one persons opinion, It hard to say that Sola sobowale “overacted”. Form someone that played the loving mother in wedding party to someone playing the exact opposite in kob, it’s hard to fault such an actress. What do you know about filmmaking? There are elements called “intentional pauses” in acting, something you clearly know nothing about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course, it’s one person’s opinion. This isn’t the absolute KOB: The Return of the King verdict. You’ll find some others praise the costume, soundtrack, even the acting, but we’ve chosen to highlight the parts that appeared to us the most vividly. You should definitely seek other reviews.
      Btw, you should rewatch the Wedding Party.

      (I hope you return to see this, anonymous reader 😌)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. obviously, if Anonymous truly knew anything about filmmaking, then Anonymous wouldn’t have asked a film reviewer, “What do you know about filmmaking?”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Its a beautifully written film and I wish the writer would be so gracious to select one film in all of nollywood that excels above it in any single area he has here so poorly reviewed. Until then can he or she pls find something meaningful to do with his or her time

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear DAVE,

      While we understand that lot of nollywood movies haven’t been as audacious, this doesn’t make it an offence to mention its flaws. We can recommend Eyimofe. The review is available on the blog. Take the time to check it out under the Nollywood category.

      We want the best for Nollywood. And we hope you understand. We hope to see your comment next time, and you can always disagree with us.

      PS: we’re doing what we love with our time. What about you?

      Like

      • I have seen the greatest works of Hollywood and Nollywood and I believe kob is just okay, good, mid-good, great, not even an inch close. It’s all about the exposure of the reviewer, not the review.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hello

      Your review of the movie seems too harsh as a personal opinion, which is still your opinion anyway.

      As for me, Kemi has done a very good job in a male dominated terrain of Nigerian movie directing. Every movie will always have some form of score down; including world blockbusters. KOB has not fared badly at all.

      With pride do I rate this movie 8 over 10.

      Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You can discuss the areas where you disagree and we are open to discussion. But you’re taking the easy way out.
      You don’t have to be hostile.
      See you soon.

      Like

  4. This review isn’t a true representation of this movie except there is another king of boy’s. Or maybe the reviewer should tell us about their own work, seems like a personal beef than an objective review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kindly point the beef out to me. I really hope you return.
      It’d only be a beef if there were no evidence to backup the claims.
      You can admit you enjoyed the series nonetheless and move on.
      Thank, Anon!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with everything u said except the score its not a 6 out of 10. It’s a 2 and half. Why embrace mediocrity because we want to pander to our own by falsely encouraging them? A lot of hurt fanboys can’t take criticism. Story was all over the place. Lazy creatively, bringing back makanaki who for flimsy or no reasons teams up with his killer. Terrible acting from minor characters and overacting from majors. I can go on but…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I actually enjoyed the KOB series. It was a pleasure to see.
    I also think that the review was somewhat scalding for a budding director. The reviewer almost wants to push KA to excellence rather too quickly.
    The review itself is not a beef, it’s just more academic than artistry. I for one, and l am just one person, think the use of proverbs and chants depict our cultural depth.
    As for the pauses in Eniola Salamis conversation they very well depict a deliberate attempt to explain her new philosophical outlook and a desire to speak slower than the formation of her thought.

    All in all l would give a higher rating than 6, l would give an 8

    Thank you all

    NB Olkeade are you Yoruba at all?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment. 😁
      You’ve made good points. It’s just a caution to people who might be too quick to call what’s good, excellent/great. We really need to know what we’re striving for as an industry. Euphoria got most people through the first watch. On second/third watch, the series might become tedious for people to watch. Then they’d realise these things.
      We’ll work on the general language by making it less academic.

      Oikeade is Yoruba ooo. But OlamideAdio is the critic and he’s also Yoruba.

      Like

  6. This review is superb and incredibly true… I’ve been learning screenwriting for the last two years and everything you have said here is accurate. In fact, this review spoke my mind… I imagined KA would not repeat the mistakes of the first film but those mistakes are even louder here! How do you watch a 7-part series and still have doubts about the character’s goal? Who does that?!? Thank you for such a brilliant review. There’s no beef, this is the way to go about film critiquing! God bless you!

    And please what’s the name of the director who wants us to be more colour savvy ‘…we’re a people of colour…’ – who’s the guy? I’ll be waiting in the comments… Once again, God bless!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. We would have to withhold that for now. 😁 Maybe we might just drop the name in a review of one of their upcoming films. It might just be a female director, who knows.

      Like

      • Absolutely spot on. I also felt Taiwo Ajai-Lycett was guilty of overacting too.

        Should have been 3 episodes shorter.

        Like I always say, we deserve what’s coming out of Nollywood. Seems to be the only industry that wants to be above criticisms. First they complained about budgets, now the budgets are getting bigger and the stories are not getting any better.

        So I really do not blame these directors, they are actually giving the people what they want to see. If this came out at the cinemas, it would have done huge numbers

        Great review

        Liked by 1 person

    • I would have said, “personally…” But this isn’t personal. The movie is great and I (anyone would) rate it a 9/10. I see the hard work, effort, creativity and empathy in the movie. Plus, regardless of how great a person and effort is, there’ll still be some to say contrary. That’s life! And it’s okay. So, I simply look at the numbers. What’s the no. 1 most mentioned movie in Nigeria today? KOB! Now, that’s the review!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s the number one movie cos it’s audience favourite. That’s different from the actual quality. It’s a good movie anyways. As the rating says 6/10.

        Like

  7. “with faster pacing than the series” 😭😭.

    God, the noise was too much. She was screaming too much. And everybody keeps saying she can act, she has lots of energy. God, it was too much. In my opinion sha.

    I haven’t finished it. I struggled to get to episode 4 and I thought maybe something is wrong with me, so I’ll watch it another time and I hope I’ll like it then.

    I like this review. At least I’m not the only one that saw the flaws. Because the way people on my WhatsApp status have been screaming ehn… I thought something was wrong with me. I’ll watch it again, patiently and maybe read this review again and comment on what I think in the end.

    Can I post this anonymously, make nobody come for me 😭😭

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, Anonymous.
      I believe that even the fans would struggle to rewatch a 3rd/4th time. It is going to be tedious as hell. The euphoria possibly got them through the first watch.
      We can all scream that it is a win for Nollywood. At least we can hope that such so-called surprises and twists would never work on Nigerians again. They would remind any other director that tries it. That said, I am looking forward to the next, hopefully, earned tricks.

      ps: you can always give yourself a moniker, so we can know when you are back another time.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a good review. Writing a review does not mean one must immediately produce a script or direct a movie as a necessary criteria that qualifies one to write a review. We should accept criticism. I thought I was the only one that saw these flaws in the Netflix series. There was a lot of noise and over dramatising of scenes in this movie. I am waiting for a time when Nollywood would perfect the art of conveying emotions through non-verbal expressions. Look at the time when she yelled at the cemetery in the company of the loud younger Eniola whose appearance wasn’t totally necessary. The yelling continued whole she was alone in her bedroom. Excessive flattery and proverbs to make a point how dangerous she is without striking fear in the heart of the viewer. We all know not to mess with a Godfather of Harlem. It is especially worrisome that it has been converted to a series where Season 1 has not made a good impression to cause a following up on Season 2.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for taking the time to write such a lengthy comment.
      People would say that “we all mourn differently”, but I am still insisting, as you have also said, that it could and should have been more subtle. It would do the franchise good to focus on other characters as they flesh the universe. We can do without Eniola for another project or two.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. IMO, the review isn’t bad. Every movies has it flaws. We should remember it’s better said than done. KOB is a progress in the movie industry.
    In as much we need to downsized their act, we should remember where they are coming from. In spite this review, KOB is a series to watch and I can watch it a hundred times, I only watched GOT once.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great review. Reminiscent of the great Pauline Kael. Keep up the good work.
    ps: One of my major takeaways from KOB. Mrs Sobowale is 58. Mrs Ajai-Lycett is 81. Kids, stay away from “creams!”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Absolutely spot on. I also felt Taiwo Ajai-Lycett was overacting too. I mean if you had such power, why didn’t you influence the election yourself.

    It should definitely be at least 3 episodes shorter.

    Nigerians deserve everything coming out of Nollywood. If this had made it to the cinema, it would have done huge numbers.

    First they complained about budgets, now they have bigger budgets and the storytelling is still sub par.

    You recommended Eyimofe to someone. Have you seen Kasala ? Loved it.

    Great review

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, good to see your comment.
      It could have been less stuffed and had been less confusing. Budget is definitely not the issue anymore. We await what the next excuse would be.
      I have heard a lot about Kasala, but still hoping to see it. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Like

  12. Totally get you!

    At some point, I had to ‘force’ myself to rate individual characters, rather than rate the series as a whole.

    I don’t understand why the movie had to be made into a series. But ‘we keep cheering for whatever success we get here.’

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This series is more hype than substance. Too much ranting, proverbs and irrelevant talk makes for a lot of fast forwarding. The story keeps veering off track, one minute Oba is an enemy of Makanaki, the next minute, he is the chosen one.
    This series could have been made into one movie really, I’m not sure why they made it into series.
    Shola Shobowale is a veteran actress but as usual, her acting was too dramatic, sometimes unconvincing. Fantastic acting from Akin Lewis, Nse and Ajayi.
    This movie/series is like a cocktail of Game of Thrones, The Godfather and House of Cards. I’m not exactly sure what genre to place it. Overall, I consider it an average movie, 5/10.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment. We agree with you. You might want to check back on Friday for a list of other suggested titles like KOB.

      Like

  14. Good review. A tad harsh but still good. Kemi Adetiba has the makings of greatness, and I hope she will let reviews like this one spur her to it. I loved KOB and I’m one of the maybe few people who have seen the episodes several times. But it’s never about what 1 person likes. People raved about GOT, I couldn’t get through 2 episodes nor 2 chapters of the book. Some thought Black Panther was great, I thought it was quite ordinary and couldn’t see it twice. The work that has gone into KOB is far better than what goes into the average nollywood movie today. I celebrate the drive to be above mediocre. I celebrate Kemi’s desire to be more, and I look forward to her future projects as she learns and grows. That bit about the series being shorter, I think that applies to quite a number of series.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. After watching the series myself, I think that this review is a bit harsh. A lot of effort was actually put into the make-up, costumes and effect which showed the series to be a tad above the “nollywood” standard, especially for an action series.
    Yeah, the story could have used a bit of work and there were a lot of plot holes, but it was a very good effort and Kemi should be applauded.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I agree with the review. I could not identify her real source of power and influence. She eliminated all the elders on the round table without any boomerang effect (she still remained powerful, she’s the absolute power, way too powerful without real alliances ). Too many sinkholes. Too many things don’t add up. She seems way too smart for everyone. All her plans are always smooth, everybody eventually cows to her.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.