Africa United - DVD Review

'a messily edited kids adventure which blends in animation and an educational mantra'

Much more of an effort to get through than it should have been, Africa United is a messily edited kids adventure which blends in animation and an educational mantra about AIDS in the most seam-displaying way possible.

In a genre where it is impossible not to reference the seminal Stand By Me, Debs Gardner-Paterson's film takes none of the advice that Rob Reiner's 1986 effort offered film-makers pursuing an interest in 'children's journey' style narratives. Instead of focusing on character and slowly developing a couple of key action scenes, Gardner-Smith puts a heavy emphasis on attempting to create as many set pieces as possible. It doesn't help that every single one of these - from a car crash to Fabrice (Roger Nsengiyumva) attempting a 'keepie-uppie' record - is apparently edited for the ADD market. Quick blurry cuts are all the rage here and, bearing in mind I made it through Battle: Los Angeles without ill effects, it quite honestly began to give me a headache.

The stop gaps between these migraine-like lightning strikes comes in the form of some well created animation. Narrated by Dudu (Eriya Ndayambaje) the story of these sidetracks loosely mirrors that of the group's own, albeit whisked away in to a metaphorical fantasy land. Like the film itself, the scenery is lush and with a bit more invention the story could have been too. Its mirroring of the central live-action narrative though renders it largely as a fairly standard repeat of what we're already seeing on screen. It's not unpleasant to watch (quite the opposite) but it verges on feeling unnecessary and the quest-like narrative is extremely simplistic.

Created to coincide with last year's football World Cup, the film highlights some of the issues facing children in Africa which the tournament also did some work to publicise. In this regard its successful but as a narrative film its an unexciting mess, largely devoid of genuine drama, scarce of character and rarely engaging.

Look further...

'The boundless enthusiasm of its cast, particularly Ndayambaje, energises the screen and there genuinely isn’t a poor performance among them' - For Your Consideration, 3/5

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