The movie Ortega and his enemies was premiered on Friday 4th April 2014 at the Odeon Cinema Greenwich, The movie was written and directed by the renowned award-winning director M A Benson, also the producer and director of (“Forget The Pact” and Phantom of Fury”) and was hosted by the very fabulous DJ Abass
The Red carpet showcased people from different walks of life including Cyril Uchenna Gwam, Minister/Head of Political Affairs of the Nigerian High Commission and his team, representatives of the entertainment industry including multi award winner from South Africa, Kunle Ayo and his wife, representatives of sponsors Lomo Mobile, Benalex Media and Vox TV, representatives form the press and Nollywood movie lovers. The Nollywood UK industry was represented by award winning actress Theodora Ibekwe Oyebade, award winning cinematographer and director, Nelson Spyke, Award winning actress Roseline Sanni Ajose and her husband, award winning director Ruke Amata, Danny Erskine, cast and crew of the movie led by Director M A Benson, Rita Nzelu Okoro, Darrel Las Quevas, Aldi Alfa, Collins Archie Pearce etc.
Picture quality: The qualities of the pictures could have been a bit brighter and in most scenes, the background was dull. However, the pictures were clear to the extent that one could see that the cast of the movie had done make up. For picture quality, I would award a mark of 6.
Sound quality: For most parts of the movie, the sound was perfect. This was evident as in outdoor scenes, one could clearly hear the casts speak over the sounds on the background. However, there were cases of hissy or buzzy sounds that could be heard and on some scenes, I had to stress to hear what a particular actress was saying and did not end up hearing a phrase or two. In the court scene, the background music was distracting and should not have been on. Overall the sound was not bad and I would award a score of 8
Cast: While I am a strong supporter of collaborations in Nollywood Movies, I believe that a Nollywood movie should be what it is, Nollywood. The balance of the cast should be in favour of the Nigerians/Africans. In Hollywood or Bollywood, that is what one would see. Although the movie was shot in the UK, and is claimed to be a British Drama with Nollywood twists, I believe there were too many non-Nollywood actors and actresses. Furthermore, it was advertised to the Nollywood audience and most of those present were Nollywood lovers. The premiere at Odeon Cinema was also done in the characteristic manner in which Nollywood premieres are done. The list below would prove the point. In fact looking at the list of actors and actresses, one would find it difficult to call it a Nollywood Movie. The names of the lead actors and actresses are not Nollywood. I must state that I am reviewing this movie as a Nollywood critic and reviewer so these points must be brought to light.
Ortega showcases a new height of global intrigue and suspense with British and Nollywood heavy weights including Rita Nzelu Okoro (International Games) playing Grace and Uche Odoputa (Last Flight to Abuja) playing Gary Chucks, Darrel Las Quevas (starred alongside Hollywood stars such a Morgan Freeman) as John Ortega and emerging UK talent Adi Alfa (Lead actress in Tamla Rose) as Sara. The film also featured Alexandra Johnston as Lee, Dean Ekperigin as Frankie, Gary Douglas as Maxwell Tobi, Sharan Atwal as Mia Patel, Theo Handen as Anooj Patel, Jenis Adams as DC Martha, Lucien Morgan as Richard Darlington QC, Stephanie Page as PC Taylor, Steve Ward as PC Steve, Amelia-Jeanette Nettie Prentice as Sara Peterson QC, Robert Scott as Attendant Matthew Martino, Ernest Gromov as Seregay, Collins Archie Pearce as Mr Anthony.
Additional cast included Jill Buchanan, Steve Martin, Fay Jones, Dominique Lynch, Katrina Gulbrandson, Amandla Miisho, Paul Dellow, Daniel Osgood, Joelle Koissi, Penny Judd, Anna Kolesnik, Michael Chapman, Jessen Aroonachellum, Chris Walker, Kevin Allen, Loula Kazantzi, Martin Wheatley, John Fisher, Briggitta Makk, Solene Marvian, Peter Y Kyei, Marian Keogh, Jan Rook, Shane Salter, Marco Flammer, Keith Ackerman, Fabio Vollono, Julie Vollono, Amy Beales, Raquel Raposo, Tracey Williams, Roberta La Placa, Jaimie Yates and Kadine Watson.
For a comprehensive list of cast and crew, visit http://www.ortegaandhisenemiesmovie.com/.
In my professional view, I believe that the cast was properly chosen and did what they were briefed to do. John Ortega played the role of a frustrated man, Franklin did well as a fraudster or as we call it in Nollywood “419”. The car park attendant was also natural and so were most of the cast. However, in some scenes, there were elements of overacting. If I were to review the cast as an ordinary film and not as a Nollywood movie, I would have scored the cast more, but based on my above concerns, I cannot score the cast more than 6.
Storyline: Prior to watching the movie, I went to the website above and read the synopsis of the movie. It read in part:
“The story is an original and intriguing British drama with some Nollywood twists. The film set in London and Essex unfolds the life of an anger management patient John Ortega (played by Darrel Las Quevas) whose world is torn apart when he cannot manage Sara’s adversaries (his fiancé played by Adi Alfa). With deceit, brutality and police chase, will John be able to overcome the forces of antagonism from DC Martha, Maxwell Toby, Sara’s step dad, the cross dresser, ex police officer, The manipulative Lee (played by Alexandra Johnston) a vengeance seeking single mum and Franklin Macintosh (played by Dean Ekperigin), Sara’s ex boyfriend who would not take no for an answer. With these enemies’ individual evil plot against John, will he survive and still make it to the altar with his soul mate Sara?”
On the storyline, I would like to start from the positives and then go to the negatives. Firstly, I would like to commend the writer for researching how an arrest is made and ensuring that the proper cautions were made. However, people are arrested for offences or on suspicion of offences. In one of the scenes, someone was arrested for an incident that happened in a venue. That does not happen in real life.
I would also want to commend the court scenes. A real Magistrate Court was used and for the offences of criminal damage, theft and assault occasioning bodily harm that Ortega was arrested and charged for, the Magistrate Court has jurisdiction. However, when someone appears in court for the first time, he is asked to confirm his name and address and then the charges and read to him and his plea taken even before any arguments for bail. In the movie, the defence lawyer was arguing for bail and stated that her client was going to plead not guilty. That was the wrong order and never happens in that way in the British legal system. The ruling for bail was well researched. However, one of the conditions for bail would always be for the accused person to appear either in the Magistrate Court or if the matter would be adjourned to the Crown Court. You may think these are little things, but a ruling was given on bail, this should have been done properly.
I must commend the parts of the story line reflected real life incidents, how parking attendants knowingly hide, watch people and issue tickets and make people pay unnecessarily. I have seen this happen in real life and there were have been incidents reported on news where yellow lines have been covered by snow so that people park and get to pay a fine, so watching those scenes was like watching real life incidents. I must also say that there were few humorous scenes in the movie.
As a reviewer, I would not be doing justice if I do not mention the following points. When one goes to watch a movie, in the first few minutes say 15 to 30 minutes an expectation should be built and people should have an idea where the movie is going even if they are wrong. Had I not read the synopsis, I would have been lost as the beginning of the movie dragged a lot and some people were even sleeping as in wake me when the real action starts.
Movies also send a whole lots of messages and one of the messages this movie sent to me was that crime pays. I would elaborate. Orterga committed a series of crimes even after he was bailed and at the end of the movie, we see him still roaming the streets in a ferry. Sara committed murder and at the movie, we see her taking her passport and intending to travel. Even if the movie did not show it, some lines at the end to say that Orterga was apprehended and sentenced to prison and Sara was arrested at the airport and also sentenced to prison would send the right message. If someone was as hurt as Orterga in real life and watched the movie, they might get ideas.
There was also the issue of the rape. I really wander why that scene was added if much effort was placed on the parking tickets and the outcomes thereof whereas the issue of the rape was inconclusive and there were no emotions attached or shown in the movie. I have seen movies where people are raped and how emotionally tortured they are. That part of the story seemed to be lacking in this movie.
Also funny to me was the scene where someone was hit with a shoe I believe it was and blood was gushing out from his head I also presume and still the person could blink his eye. There were also little details that could have been looked at. An example was where the DC told Max that 5 people had been put in hospital by John whilst counting there were only 3, the parking attendant, the lady at the pound and the police officer. Overall as a reviewer and critic, I believe I know what the writer was trying to portray, but I believe that the script was not properly concluded and dragged a lot. In view of this I would award a 6
Overall experience: I spoke to several people after the movie and the reviews were mixed. While there was an outright condemnation from some, others praised the movie. By and large there was ambiance especially at the gallery. For overall experience, I would award 6.5
The question that remains is would I be recommending this movie to people. I would say if you are expecting a proper Nollywood Movie, your hopes may be dashed, but although there are criticisms about the movie, I would still recommend people to watch it. However, I would like the writer to consider concluding it properly even if it is with sentences saying what happened at the end.
Overall score is 32.5 out of 50 which gives a rating of 6.5
Watch the trailer