Movie Title: Arodan
Release date: February 10, 2023
Director: Segun Ogungbe
Duration: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Cast: Adunni Ade, Odunlade Adekola, Abraham ToyinOmowunmi Ajiboye, Taofeeq Abisogun, Bukky Biola, Omobolaji Ogungbe
A flaw of many Nigerian films is the need for originality in their plot. There should be a Google Drive link where every time a producer wants to make a movie, they go there, look at the thousands of existing movies and select one to copy.
So, it made sense when the producers of ‘Arodan’ wanted to tell the story of star-crossed lovers and looked for a way to creatively interpret it while introducing greater risks and nuances. Unfortunately, in doing so, they became victims of the “excess” syndrome. This was because there was so much going on in the movie that viewers could barely keep up.
Directed by Segun Ogunbe, ‘Arodan’ tells the story of a young girl banished from her village to an evil forest. Upon her arrival, she discovers that she is destined for a greater purpose, including the liberation of an entire city.
Arodan offers several layers that feature appropriate moral lessons, a cast of some of your favorite Yourba actors, an impressive cast, costumes very appropriate for the period in which the film is set, and good locations. However, its story is negatively underwhelming, a flaw not helped by the poor CGI effects used in the film.
The film presents us with a tribe where it is implied that there are cannibals who are about to capture a woman. Suddenly we are taken to a palace where a prince rejects the advances of a woman, Romola, who is adamant about being his wife and the next queen of the town. Despite his seduction tactics, the prince is still strong. Later we see the reason for his refusal: he was in love with Odere.
Romola soon learns of the prince’s romantic interest and plans with her friend to beat Odere to a pulp. However, her plan failed when the prince found out and threatened Romola. In retaliation, Romola once again sabotages Odere. However, this becomes darker when Romola frames Odere for stealing an idol from the village shrine.
This angers the king and the chiefs, since the absence of that idol would wreak havoc on the village. Ignoring her claims of innocence, Odere is banished to the evil forest. It was in the forest where she encountered the cannibal tribe at the beginning. Unfortunately, she is captured and will soon be killed. In a twist of fate, she escapes only to face a hungry tiger.
When she thinks all hope is lost, a woman, Kukoyi, swoops in to save her. The woman reveals the reason for her presence in the evil forest. She was expelled from the town after the assassination of the former king many years ago. The death of her father created a power vacuum that was assumed by a trusted assistant. The trusted assistant is determined to kill her, but she escapes from it and has lived in the forest ever since.
Kukoyi further reveals that his presence in the forest is worth it, as he is on a mission to recover an object that can help restore peace to the village. Odere immediately joins Kukoyi in searching for him and they set out to help save lives and get revenge.
As mentioned above, Arodan uses several nuances so that the film easily separates itself from being classified as a cliché. Over its 1 hour and 30 minute runtime, we watched it evolve from a story about star-crossed lovers to a mission to a revolution. Although the nuances didn’t work as effectively as expected, they gave the film a fresh feel and found a way to tie each of the elements together.
The casting is quite impressive. In addition to the many familiar faces on screen, each actor had the variety necessary to bring their characters to life. Take Femi Adebayo for example; he sold us as leaders of a resistance, tired of the rule of a selfish king.
Arodan also takes a different approach in his creative direction regarding location. The film transports viewers to a time that offers tremendous nostalgia, especially for older generations. Everything from the costumes to the props was perfect.
With the success of films like Anikulapo and Elesin Oba, one would think that Nollywood producers finally understood that it is okay to make a non-English film. Arodan attempted to appeal to the masses by using the English language instead of his own. This was a failure as not only did the English fail to achieve the desired effects in some of the dialogue, but it was also evident that some actors were having difficulty pronouncing the words. Additionally, the vocabulary used by some characters was unrealistic as it did not fit with the way the characters said during that era.
Arodan tried to kill too many birds with one stone. The film is a classic example of a complicated plot. Only in it we had a love triangle, a sudden mission, a revolution and a cannibal tribe. While the writer did his best to relate these elements to each other, he failed to completely tighten up the loose ends. For example, suddenly the prince who passionately loves Odere ceases to exist when she is banished to the evil forest, or the leader of the cannibal tribe and a king described as ruthless are easily defeated.
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Finally, there are some cinematic problems with the film. Arodan is a reminder of the need for Nollywood to invest more in improving special effects. The scene in which Kukoyi fought a lion was a fast-paced comedy.
6/10. Pass it on. ‘Arodan’ is not a one-trick pony and offers several elements, one of which you may love.
Arodan is now streaming on Prime Video.