Movie: Nneka: The pretty serpent
Producer: Chris Odeh
Director: Tosin Igbo and Zeb Ejiro
After “Living in Bondage“, we expected everything to be a hit back to back and Nneka just reminded us to curb our enthusiasm.
Now, the problem isn’t the quality or production or the details. It’s the actual essence of the movie. The 2020 remake of the classic nollywood movie “Nneka the Pretty Serpent” isn’t necessarily a remake with the same storyline nor is it a natural continuation like LIB was. Instead it is a tie between a revenge story and a self-discovery story.
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In this remake, a young Nneka looses both her parents after they are murdered on her mother’s 32nd birthday which also happens to be the eve of her mother’s anticipated transition into the role of eze-nwanyi. She and her husband are killed off while Nneka manages to escape. Fast forward a few years later, Nneka is a frustrated young lady barely managing to make ends meet and filled with an undirected anger. This is until she is overtaken by the spirit of the serpent (embodied by Ndidi Obi). Ndidi’s character soon sends her on a revenge mission to kill off the people who are responsible for her parents death and so the story begins.
The first major problem with this movie would have to be our lead actor, Idia Aisien who plays Nneka. Nneka is supposed to be a character that is fluent in Igbo, however, Idia’s grasp of the language is surprisingly worse than her Yoruba co-actress (Bimbo Ademoye). But if the struggle ended with the inability to speak a language that would be one thing. The other thing is actual performance. Idia never really gets to a point where you are convinced that she is the character. She is constantly ‘becoming’ or ‘attempting to be’ the character.
The salvation this movie is the graphics and the visuals. It’s the grading, it’s the aesthetics and everything in between. The scenes where Idia goes under water to meet Eze Nwanyi in a forest, is so picturesque that you almost just want to see that movie. Take me to the movie where they are wearing wrappers on their top and bottom, where they have these waist beads on and face markers, and where Ndidi Obi is the main character – it might be a more convincing movie.
And speaking of conviction, let’s talk about the story of the movie. After she’s sent on her revenge mission, Idia goes about eliminating characters one by one. It’s cool enough the first few times but it soon gets old and thankfully even the writer realizes this and switches the storyline up to more of a self discovery. It’s hard to shake the feeling that if the story that presented itself in the first half was the same energy the movie had from the beginning, it might have been a richer film. However, the odds are very high that the movie looses a lot of people in the first half because the story line lacks essence and pull at this point. It salvages a bit of that in the second half but not enough to redeem itself.
The film is rife with loopholes and I don’t know if I should call it lazy writing or presumptuous writing or just bad editing but there’s a lack of flow in many aspects where things are just thrown to the audience to assume but not in a smart way. It’s more in a “I’ve turned in page 1-4 and 7-8 of my assignment. Let’s agree to pretend that 5-6 are not missing”. Nneka as a film is good enough if you have low standards of nollywood or Play TV movies. And I hate to compare films but if you’ve seen “Living in Bondage” and remember how well that story was told, this will leave an incomplete taste in your mouth.