“The Wonderful Name” film review by Ajibare Abioye



By Ajibare Abioye
You’re welcome to another gospel movie review. Today, we’ll be taking a look at “The Wonderful Name”. I’d sum up this short as making quite a lot out of the little available. I appreciate the effort that was put into this project and I’m quite pleased with what The Wonderful Name turned out to be.

This is a film where six or seven individuals, some of them veterans, and whom we know mainly to be actors, had to take on crew work and I’m pretty sure that they had to interchange at times. For example, Ayobami Adegboyega was labeled as the DOP, but someone else definitely had to handle the camera whenever he played the role of Plato. So, I find it remarkable that these few individuals all pulled their weights and put in shifts to make this production a success.

That didn’t come without its challenges though because on two or three occasions, the focus of the shot was off; that is, rather than being on the character, the focus was on the background instead. Also, The Wonderful Name was shot in just a few days with a possible limitation in sets. So, I observed that the room shot as a bedroom in Gitonga’s house was the same place referred to as a secluded room where Plato was being kept.

For me, what stands out most in The Wonderful Name is the film score. There wasn’t any song but the tunes recorded were quite pleasurable to the ears and worked well with the footage from Israel, Auckland and Kenya.

The story itself is about Professor Marcus Gitonga, a Kenyan medical doctor who does not believe in the existence of God and despite a Nigerian colleague Dr Bernard, preaching the gospel to him, he maintains his atheist stance. Gitonga’s son, Plato comes down with Cancer of the Bone and Muscular Dystrophy, as well as AIDS. Rather than let him be prayed for, Gitonga would rather Plato died. Eventually, without his knowledge, Gitonga’s wife gets some Christians to pray for Plato and he is healed. Gitonga is shocked and he wonders if God truly exists. He finds out more by studying the scriptures and his eyes are open to see that God is the Almighty and that there is no name greater than the name of Jesus.

The most interesting aspect of the acting was the takes on Bantu-speaking Kenyans vocalizing the English Language. This movie was written and directed by Shola Mike-Agboola and it reminded me of one of his old films Once Upon A Time, where there were certain characters from Accra, Ghana who did quite a good job speaking English like Ghanaians would. Interestingly, four out of the cast in that film feature in The Wonderful Name, so they must have had a good idea of what the director would require of them. To be candid, the accent sometimes sounded funny but I liked the fact that when Nigerians in the movie spoke English, you knew that it was Nigerian English and it was different when Kenyans as played by Kolade Segun Okeowo, Feyi Adepoju, Nike Aderemi-Fashikun and Shola Mike-Agboola spoke it. Also, I think it seemed a bit unusual seeing Ayobami Adegboyega play a son who was probably scripted to be someone very young but of course, they had to make use of what they had. So, it was okay.

There are a few things that stayed with me in The Wonderful Name. When Dr Bernard was introducing Prof Marcus Gitonga to the group of pilgrims, he reeled out an impressive resume of a genius, and he capped off the introduction by saying “but he did not know God”. I paused the film at that point and realized that no matter what we become in the flesh, if we don’t know God, if we don’t have eternal life, we’re not really living yet. The Bible says that the same power that raised Christ from the dead has also raised us from death in sin to life IN CHRIST. So, outside Christ, we’re dead. This means that anyone who is not alive in Christ has not started living at all. Those who accept God’s amazing offer of salvation are now new creatures, like new species, holy in God’s sight and have been adopted into God’s family.

In the movie, we see different perceptions of Christ – a historical personage, a deified human hero – and religion is seen as opium of the people. Some known atheists and free thinkers are mentioned, reflecting the reality of the world we now live in. Prof Marcus Gitonga also was anti-God but when his son was healed, it was a golden moment hearing the atheist say “O my God”. Coming from a self-acclaimed atheist, that must have spoken volumes of the revelation he’d come into.
I also observed that despite Gitonga’s superstar status, Dr Bernard wasn’t intimidated and he shared the good news that God saves humans. Similarly, Gitonga’s colleagues at work gave the glory to God for his rapid rise to the post of Chief Medical Director even though they knew of his averseness to religion or anything of the sort. That got me wondering how often we share the gospel with people in our workplaces; I’m challenged. Actually, what we sometimes fear is what happened to Bernard: after preaching the gospel to Gitonga, his status changed from friend to foe. We don’t want to offend people but really, this good news, actually, this too-good-to-be-true news, is not something that should be hidden but spread. I mean, it’s like when most of us were in primary or secondary school and we might have been asked whether we had paid our school fees, we’d say “I’ve paid”, wouldn’t we? Yet, it wasn’t really us who paid but our parents or guardians. That’s really what Jesus has done for us: He paid the price for our sins, so the very thing that kept us away from God has been punished. Jesus took that punishment and now, we’re reconciled to God and set free. We’re free not to do whatever we want, not free to sin, but free from sin and free to do all the good things God planned for us to do long ago.

Alright, we’ve come to the end of the review of The Wonderful Name. Have you watched it? What did you think about it? You can let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Till the next post, stay blessed.

Link to the movie



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