Femi Adetiba's King Of Boys Review

by - November 25, 2018

Kemi Adetiba's "King of Boys": My Thoughts
James Ogunjimi


i) I 'judged' this as I would any political genre made anywhere else. No excuses. This is a big budget movie. I'm judging it as I would any other movie from anywhere else.

ii) No matter what my review states, you should this movie. In this current industry of rom-coms, comedy, wedding movies, overflogged love stories, Kemi Adetiba's "King of Boys" is a breath of fresh air and while I think it could have been done better, it's a start and I hope others build on this.

iii) This movie should count as an experiment that has disproved widely held beliefs that only comedy sells in Nigeria, that Nigerians don't watch all those big guns and political movies. I think Kemi laid all that nonsense to rest with "King of Boys".

iv) It was exciting to see that "King of Boys" was executive produced by Kemi Adetiba and Kene, who if I am right used to be one of the proponents of sticking with comedy because according to him, who will watch all those big big scripts people are writing? How will investors make their money. I'm glad (if it's the same Kene of Filmhouse Cinemas) that he's been able to see for himself and that he is actually making money from it. Long may this continue.

v) Is it not normal that the review of a 3-hour movie should be long as hell too? 😂

My rating will be placed at the end of this review.


When I watch Nigerian films, subconsciously, I watch, expecting to be disappointed, so when I am, I simply move on and point out what disappointed me. Sometimes, I watch with tempered expectations, so when I watch, I sigh and say, yeah, the film tried but...

Kemi Adetiba's "King of Boys" was different. I watched it prepared to have the afternoon of my life because well, it's Kemi Adetiba. And when the movie started with such grace and poise, I was almost certain my afternoon was made.


Kemi Adetiba's "King of Boys" is that film that excels and is celebrated because it's way better than what's obtainable in the industry and she chose a genre that for the better part of last decade had not been explored.

In an industry littered with wedding movies, comedy and overflogged love stories, throwing a political thriller into the mix is bound to get instant attention, even if the delivery was below par both as a work of art and by the standards Kemi herself had set as an artiste. That the like of it has not been seen in the industry does not will away the inconsistencies, the failure of the style she chose, and the lazy way the movie was resolved.

Kemi's King of Boys is itself a rebellious work of art. The kind that showed rules and conventions the middle finger and just created art. But if you're going to show rules the middle finger, maybe it's always good to be sure that the content carries enough weight to support that rebellious act.

For originality, the story was brilliant. A truly Nigerian story steeped in Nigerian experiences. This is not one of those works that localise American stories. She gets an A- for originality.

I should have no real issue with the length if some of the scenes that made the film that long weren't absolutely unnecessary. There's such a thing as killing your darlings. As the writer of the script, Kemi probably fell in love with a lot of unnecessary scenes and dialogues that allowed the movie to just stretch on. Perhaps, brevity could have saved the film?

I don't know what happened or what went wrong but shots and camera angle was the last thing I ever expected to talk about in a Kemi Adetiba film. For the love of God, how is this even possible? There were scenes shot from very bad angles. Zoom ins and outs that looked ridiculous. Remember that place where Sola Sobowale and Akin Lewis had a face off? Where she raked and they stood eyeball to eyeball, I don't know, but did we really have to zoom in and have their heads alone fill the screen to show the tension in that scene? It felt like watching one of these low budget telemundo films where two people face off and then a low Indian song is playing in the background. And that part where Sola Sobowale went to fortify herself in white garment, did we really have to shoot from that angle? From inbetween the gate? It looked like there was a big reveal, like somebody was watching from behind that gate. If that isn't true as we found out, why was there a need to shoot from there? Like, it added nothing to the art itself and if nothing, it made concentration really hard. It was like watching something shot on a phone held by someone with shaky hands which could only be acceptable if the scene being shot was a porn scene.


The dialogue was almost brilliant. I'd give a B for dialogue. She didn't try to get characters to speak English by force. She had them talk exactly the way they would talk in real life. Apart from a few false dialogues that just wouldn't be said in real life (yes, this is a film, but your dialogue has to be original, has to be something people would say), she did well with dialogue. The thing about creating dialogue is not just to make sure that your characters are not saying things that no human being would say but to also make sure they are not stating obvious things that don't even need to be said. Art imitates life. This should apply to dialogues too.

The acting started off topnotch, then dipped. Reminisce was of course both the breakout and standout actor. He killed the scenes. He is a natural and for all of our sakes, I hope we see more of him on the big screens. The Governor was a natural for that role too. The way he carried himself in that short appearance he made, it was cool.

Now, Sola Sobowale is a good actress. Maybe excellent one too, depending on the role. But she can also be extra if she is allowed to. I think perhaps those having her scream like a deranged person in adverts, series and movies and doing her a disservice. She has the potential to be a lot more but the stereotypical roles are limiting. It's getting to a point where I'm tempted to believe that they are writing characters that scream and shout aimlessly for her.

Sola is a natural. She has the action, the subtlety, the ability to become characters entirely and we reduce her to a screaming maniac? I'd give her a C for her role in this movie but she could easily have scored an A if perhaps there wasn't a script that had her screaming when she could easily have been more subtle.

Kemi Adetiba's style was flawed too. To me at least, but I probably don't matter, so, no qualms. I get the part of her trying to break away from the norm of telling stories solely through flashbacks by telling two stories simultaneously, but she didn't pull this off well and the result is a movie that stretched on and on to the point of boredom.

Every genre has its uniqueness. Things that have to happen when. No matter how rebellious you are, your story better have those things or you'll be selling hokum. If you're shooting a romantic movie, they do the runaround, fall in love, have an obstacle and almost lose each other, and then get back together somehow. It's something along the three-act structure.

If you're doing a political thriller, viewers must never be bored. It has to have actions and reveals. While Kemi's film had some of these, the reveals were not surprising enough to make up for the length of the movie and the actions did not happen frequently enough or even have firepower enough to sustain the number of minutes viewers had to sit through it.

Yeah, Eniola was a child that ran away from home because her father abused her mother. She got caught up in a prostitution ring and eventually got a rich man to take note of her and start dating her. She carried cocaine for him and then orchestrated the death of his family and him and inherited his life and power. One of the girls she was in the prostitution ring with was sick and made her promise to take care of her only daughter and give her a better life. That grown daughter is present day Adesua Etomi who managed Sola's business and followed her everywhere.

Did that warrant an alternative storytelling? Yeah, flashbacks may look too cliche, but in that instance, considering that the alternative was to make a 3-hour movie, would brief flashes to reveal this not have been a better alternative and provided better storytelling?

Towards the end, when Eniola (Sola) had lost everything after Makanaki (Reminisce) killed Kemi (Adesua) and her son committed suicide, and then she got depressed and started seeing all of them (her children, her younger self, the family she killed), that was some stroke of genius from Kemi Adetiba. Perhaps, if more of that had happened in the telling of the story, it could have worked better?

The resolution was lazy. Kemi took the easy way out to resolve the film. It's easy to start telling a story, being realistic in carving out the ending is perhaps the hardest.

Powerful groups and secret societies are built on strength and show of force. If you were strong, you led. If you were weak, you got removed, if unlucky, you got killed.

Eniola got to lead that group because she showed strength, murdered the leader and took power. Nobody could stand up to her. When she got weak, Makanaki had the guts to stand up to her and end her reign.

Now, this is where the lazy resolution came in because maybe Kemi Adetiba had fallen in love with Sola's character and was determined to have her live to say the "Someone cannot play with you" dialogue at the end.

Makanaki was at the top of his power. He had just killed everyone powerful, murdered Eniola's children and almost killed Eniola. He had shown strength. Eniola on the other hand was on the run, hiding out in the US. There was no way in hell that Eniola could have convinced Ill Bliss's character to kill Makanaki. There was no way in hell that Makanaki's boys could have ALL connived with Ill Bliss sent by an on-the-run Eniola to stand aside and watch their boss, Makanaki gunned down that way at a time when he just showed strength and killed the former head's children, crumbled her empire and sent her on the run. A former head that had long stopped feeding them and was collecting 40% on each operation compared to the equal share rule that Makanaki as new leader was offering. Hell no! Lazy resolution.

See, I'm going on and on. But really, I feel like this could be better. Is the story good. Yeah, maybe she gets 55% for the story. If she had cut out all those unnecessary scenes and dialogues, maybe she could have gotten 70 or 80%.

There's a lot more to say that I did not, because this would be way too long if I did.

Rating: 3.5/10

PS: Let me help you with the insults you probably want to insult me:

1. Which one you don write?

2. Go and do your own.

3. All these people comparing Nollywood to Hollywood, I don't bother arguing with them.

Add more if you have, and thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.


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