BANANA ISLAND GHOST
Directed by: – BB Sasore
Produced by: – Biola Alabi, Ayo Osunrinade, Derin Adeyokunnu, Michael Ugwu, Adenike Adekanbi, Niyi Toluwalope, Basheer Tosin Ashafa, Tolulope Olusaga, Chioma ‘Chigul’ Omeruah
Starring: – Chioma ‘Chigul’ Omeruah, Patrick Diabuah, Ali Nuhu, Tomiwa Edun, Damilola Adegbite, Saidi Balogun, Uche Jombo, Bimbo Manuel, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Akah Nani, Ozzy Agu
I need a Soul mate. I need N18 Million
If you look at Nigerian box office figures one will notice that the most successful movies to come out of Nigeria are comedies. This is exemplified through record-breaking movies like A Trip to Jamaica (N178.5 million) and highest grossing Nigerian film of all time the smash box office hit The Wedding Party (N453 million). With their crazy figures it is easy to ascertain that most people who go to see Nigerian movies in the cinema simply want to have the movie make them laugh and maybe throw in small element of romance into it. Today’s movie definitely wants to use that winning formula and take it to a new direction that we haven’t seen before with its visual effects and ridiculous story.
Banana Island Ghost (a.k.a B.I.G) follows Ijeoma (Chigul), a troubled woman who lives in her late Father’s house situated in Banana Island for sentimental reasons. She is at the risk of losing it all when an interested party named Mr. King (Ali Nuhu) who is escorted by an Indian Ninja (yes you heard me) wants to buy the house. In order to save the house she needs to give the bank 18 million Naira within 3 days, unfortunately she doesn’t have that money and probably won’t it. She prays to God for help and for her soul mate as well. On the other side of Lagos a young man (Patrick Diabuah) dies in a car crash on the third mainland bridge and just before he is whisked away to heaven by Baba God (Bimbo Manuel) he pleads with him to allow him stay with the living a little longer to fulfil his dead mother’s wish of him finding a soul mate. God tells him that his soul mate is the only person that can see him and allows him to stay in Lagos for 3 days in order to finish his mission. He suddenly wakes up next to Ijeoma who happens to be the only people that notice him and is left figuring out why they are soul mates. Ijeoma won’t entertain the idea that the ghost is her soul mate unless he can help her raise the finance she needs to save her Father’s house and we are left wondering if the two are truly soul mates and whether Ijeoma can really save her house from being been bought.
Written and directed by BB Sasore who you might recognise as the director of the TV series Before 30. Sasore hopes to use his utilize the talents of comedian Chigul who finally gets an opportunity to lead a movie, thespian Patrick Diabuah who has a solid theatre career appearing in two of Nigeria’s biggest musicals Kakadu the Musical and Saro the Musical as well as its solid supporting cast that features the likes of Ali Nuhu, Bimbo Manuel, Akah Nani, Tomiwa Edun and many others to make the funniest film Nollywood has ever seen. The question is, does the movie succeed?
• Let us start off by saying that the movie’s premise is ridiculous, so much so that the trailer used to promote the movie had trouble explaining what the movies real plot is. When you watch the movie it makes sense and Sasore manages to bring a surprisingly strong script that is ripe with great jokes verbal and physical that will have you laughing from start to finish. The film for the most part has good pacing and its progression to its bonkers finale is executed quite well.
• Comedians tend to have a difficult time translating their comedic abilities to screen and Chigul passes the test with flying colours. Even though the movie is already littered with great performances from her supporting cast, Chigul’s performance elevates the movie to greater heights thanks to her sharp delivery of witty dialogue and her ability to do physical comedy that will leave you in stitches. Probably the most surprising part of her showing is her capability to add dramatic chops to her role which will make you root for her plight.
• The leading man of movie Patrick Diabuah does a great job portraying the ghost who is on a mission to find his soul mate. He is the straight man of the duo who complements Chigul’s erratic and mischievous behaviour with his mostly calm demeanour and the movie takes its time to develop their chemistry which actually believable and endearing to watch. Though he is the straighter arrow of the two leads he still has moments to act mischievous which is shown through his crazy infatuation with Damilola Adegbite and the scene where he uses his abilities to steal suits and food from the Kilimanjaro chain and cold stones.
• As I mentioned before the movie has a well-rounded and colourful supporting cast and most of them play their part with conviction and ultimately end up leaving a good impression by time the movie is done. Highlights include Tomiwa Edun who plays Ijeoma’s ‘boyfriend’, a ‘Lagos Big Boy’ who takes advantage of Ijeoma to fund his playboy antics and ends up being the butt of the film’s funniest joke. Saidi Balogun and Akah Nani get a few laughs as the creepy but good-hearted DPO and grossly incompetent Sergeant of the Banana Island police station that both have an unhealthy obsession with Ijeoma. Bimbo Manuel does a good job playing the wise and powerful Baba God who acts as the Ghost’s voice of reason when he begins to stray away from his objective.
• The technical aspect of the film is amongst the best we have ever seen from a Nollywood movie. The Cinematography is a step above the benchmark as the movie utilises great shots of Lagos that make the city look better than its actually is and it manages to make the city a character that fits movie’s aesthetics. This feat is achieved thanks to the use of its colours that almost give the film a dreamlike feel that matches its supernatural elements. The effects are something to marvel at for the most part as it was simply a joy watching the ghost teleport in out and of a room however that not to say that they are perfect as there is a scene involving Baba God where it looks tacky. The movie could have easily relied on the effects to appease the audience but I really respected how the movie utilized these effects in moderation. The sound was clear and didn’t have any issues and we can’t talk about this movie without mentioning its amazing soundtrack that featured great song likes elDee’s Big Boy, Ruby Gyang’s Kale Ni, Reekado Banks Problem, Yela and Lolo’s James Bond which help illustrate the mood of the scene they are featured in.
• It is understood that in order for a movie to be properly funded they need to be sponsored by a few companies and a side effect of that is product-placement. While it doesn’t bother a lot of people especially when its subtle or used during a good joke, it is a bit grating when the filmmakers create throwaway scenes that only exists to appease the sponsors and B.I.G is definitely guilty of that. I challenge you to count how many times you will see Coldstone’s Ice Cream and Coca-Cola and Kilimanjaro in the movie.
• While the film’s crazy premise gels together pretty well it not perfect. Some of the gags tend to go on a bit too long and looses its impact and the final third despite how bombastic it was is unfortunately plagued by cheesy romantic clichés and a fight sequence that was a bit disappointing. If you have a keen eye for editing, you might recognize that the big fight wasn’t exactly smooth, as some of the hits didn’t really connect which shows that Nollywood still has a way to go if they want to make great action sequences and films. It’s still way better than 10 Day’s in Sun City’s laughable bad action sequence and you will still get a good kick out of the scene, thanks to the comedy. With all that said the final act was a bit anti-climatic due to an abrupt ending, which in my honest opinion gives the movie a pay-off that is bittersweet.
Banana Island Ghost is a well-shot and genuinely funny film that boasts impressive visuals, a great sound track and most importantly great performances from its stellar cast. This is a film you definitely need to check out.