Movie Review: Rise (2022)

Rise, an epic true-life story produced by Disney, has continued to cause a stir as it makes the spotlight. The movie centers on the “Greek freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family story. They happened to find themselves in Greece through a circumstance that caught up with their parents long before now, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo (Dayo Okenyi and Vetide Badaki, respectively). Do you remember movies like “42,” which narrated the true-life story of Jackie Robinson, which starred Chadwick Boseman, and “Ali,” which narrated the true-life story of Mohammed Ali, with a phenomenal performance from Award-winning Hollywood actor Will Smith? Rise is that Disney sports film that is well-deserved to be appreciated; it comes with good casting and great moving dialogue.

The agada bro’s carried the weight of Giannis and Thanasis to give ‘rise’ a perfect view.

This movie was written by Arash Amel, while Giannis Antetokoumpo played the role of the executive producer. Rise tells the story of the NBA star and also that of his brothers, Thanasis Antetokoumpo and Kostas Antetokoumpo; the journey of these great icons started in Greece, where life pushed harder on them as the country was against the stay of illegal immigrants. However, this did not stop their family’s faith, determination, and tenacity, as they worked together to rise above all limitations life threw at them. This movie featured real-life brothers who played the role of Giannis and Thanasis, respectively; Uche and Ral Agada had their hands on deck to make this movie a success.


A better story at the end, but the beginning was tough for the antetokounmpo’s family.

The story of Antetokounmpo’s family began in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1990. In search of greener pastures, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo, the parents of Giannis, Thansis, Kostas, and their other siblings, moved From Lagos to Istanbul and, finally, Athens, Greece. While relocating, they left their first male child with their relative for reasons best known to them. In this movie, Akin Omotoso, who directed the movie, did a great job as he didn’t shy away from the sad part of the story where the family encountered xenophobia, racism, and humiliation just before the big break. Although Akin didn’t center more on the dark side of the story, he showed the family bonding despite being in distress, hoping to see a nearly impossible future.

Rise is exceptional, as key characters played their roles with professionalism

The Agada brothers did well despite it being their first movie role. Uche played the role of Giannis, while Ral played the role of Thanasis; in this movie, the blood brothers are seen supporting each other during trying times. The film captured the birth of Giannis in 1994 and the moment he fell in love with the game of basketball. In many sports movies, the story always focuses on the game on the field. Still, Rise captures the coming limelight and struggles the Antetokounmpo family faced while staying overseas, hiding from immigration bodies so as not to be transferred back to Nigeria. However, Akin Omotoso condemns the global collapse of immigration policies and the resulting human suffering. Despite all odds in the movie, Okeniyi and Badaki’s performances were impactful, and they are two determined people looking for a better life for their five sons.


The historical footage of the 2013 NBA draft shows Giannis.

As much as Omotoso brought out the light in this movie, its runtime was 111 minutes. It felt quite lengthy at some points, especially since his audience already knew how it would end. We see the family struggling with some parts that felt redundant, and the film would have benefited from a tighter edit. Before the end of the movie, the audience was carried back in history to 2013 during the NBA draft; in this part, the historical footage was shown where Giannis, Thanasis, and his agents were sitting, hoping he would get lucky in the call of lucky champs who were qualified to become an NBA star. In the movie, Akin creates strong tension by showing Giannis and his family desperately waiting to know if they will select him or send him back to Spain. He also showed the world the immigration status of the Antetokounmpos and how they struggled to get Giannis registered as a citizen of Greece, which paved the way for other development in the future. Giannis is asked by a Nike representative near the end of the film to explain what makes him different from the other young guys trying out for the NBA. He describes how he and his older brother once slept on the gym floor while evading the cops. Audiences will remember Giannis, Thanasis, and Kostas being the first sibling trio in NBA history to win a championship, and their hearts will swell with joy and wonder.

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