Service for The King short film review

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★★★

Directed by: #RayKnowledge

Written by: #AshantePTStokes

Starring: #AshantePTStokes, #AulsondroNovelistHamilton, #GemmaMcIlhenny

Film Review by: Theo Rintoul

Musician Ashante P.T. Stokes raps to the camera and audience as his Attorney sits besides him.

PTtheGospelSpitter (Stokes) has been taken to trial for his ‘service for The King’. His Attorney (Angelo Diaz) encourages him to pray before he faces the Judge (Aulsondro Novelist Hamilton) Emcee N.I.C.E.. After a few comedic moments shared between the Defendant and his Attorney, Stokes breaks out into song, rapping to the camera whilst the world carries on as normal around him. When the Judge eventually appears, he too begins to sing before the District Attorney (McIlhenny) arrests them both. The film is seems like a bizarre combination of things until you understand that Stokes is an actual real-life rapper and this is his pseudo-music video/film mash-up.

It’s hard to review a film that’s essentially a music video with a little bit of comedic narrative thrown in alongside poignant social justice moments, all in just a seven minute run time. However, it ends up being a cool little story that says a lot all whilst promoting Stokes’ music.

Service for The King may seem odd at first, as it combines these funny moments (heightened by the blooper reel at the end) with a song about being trialled for Christian faith; images and clips of real-world events of racism and wrongful treatment of minorities even include a snippet of George Floyd’s death. This actually allows for a deeper meaning to the song and film, which in turn acts as a good juxtaposition to the other character moments of comedy.

The film is funny from the get go, from Diaz’s encouragement to Stokes’ sudden break into diegetic rap that only McIlhenny seems to be able to hear. Everything becomes increasingly surreal when a full light show accompanies the music, which escalates even more when the Judge starts rapping his response. The film stays grounded with its social commentary despite its comedic tone.

Whilst the message of being wrongly prosecuted for one’s beliefs didn’t particularly resonate with me, there is substance to the film’s lighthearted and surreal mockery of the American judicial system. The film was clearly made with a specific and niche audience in mind, but viewers outside the target demographic will find something to enjoy, be it the fun and engaging performances or the catchy track from Ashante P.T. Stokes.

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