Sunday, December 29, 2019
The Brothascomics crew/podcast has been accused of being haters of Will Smith. I would dispute that a bit; especially from my end. I was a huge Will Smith fan since he was the Fresh Prince, through Parents Just Don't Understand, through Summertime, and into his tv and movie career. As a Black man, Will Smith accomplished more than I think any of us ever thought he could and his place in box office history is secure.
However, no one stays on top forever. Over the last ten years, his movies have not been good and he has been struggling to find his way back. Like most actors of his age and pedigree, he still may be able to get a film greenlit, but the box office returns are not hitting like they used to. His most recent screen returns have been box office gold with the Aladdin remake; although I would argue that movie would've been successful with just about anyone playing the Genie, to Oscar attempts in Concussion, and super hero schlock with Suicide Squad. Gone are the days when Will Smith alone could guarantee a 100 million dollar box office just based on name alone. And that is ok. Each actor at a certain point needs to find their way. You cannot just keep doing the same movie over and over( unless you Tom Cruise).
Well Gemini Man feels like a movie that woulda been a hit for Will Smith 15 years ago. The premise of an aged assassin fighting against his younger, cloned self... that definitely has Will Smith 2002 written all over it. Sadly tho, this is 2019 and the luster on the star and the idea are dull and so is this movie.
In Gemini Man, Will Smith stars as Henry Brogan, a CIA assassin with an impeccable kill record and the Agencies most reliable killer. But Henry is getting old and wants to get out of the killing game and sadly, rogue units within the CIA wont allow that to happen. Unknown to Henry, a department within the CIA has actually cloned Henry ( nicknamed Junior) to be the killer without a conscience that Henry has developed. And to make sure that Henry doesn't get in the way, they dispatch Junior to kill Henry. Really that is the gist of the entire movie. There is a subplot with Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a jr agent who Henry takes under his wing, but for the most part, its just a long winding road of Henry trying to not get killed by Junior and, of course, trying to redeem him. The action sequences are kind of tired and boring and the CGI to make Will Smith look younger is disturbing. While this technology has been done sparingly in some movies and longer in others(Captain Marvel with young Nick Fury), in Gemini Man is striking in how bad the CGI is. I mean Junior looks nothing like young Will Smith and we know this because we have thousands of hours of video of what young Will Smith looked like.
Gemini Man was directed by Ang Lee and I know some filmgoers give him props for his movies in the past; much like the star of the movie. Gemini Man feels dated and tired and a money grab for all those involved. You would do better and just going back to watch any pre-2010 Will Smith movie and enjoy that because Gemini Man is not worthy of your time. Definitely not worth a Redbox!
Saturday, December 28, 2019
I guess this review needs to start with a confession. Hi. I am the Producer from Brothascomics and I love Lifetime movies. This started out when I was in my twenty's and still teaching and every Sunday as I graded papers, I would put on Lifetime in the afternoon as background noise while I graded and input grades. This has continued for twenty plus years even tho I do not teach anymore. I watch and consume an inordinate amount of cheesy movies from Lifetime and Lifetime movie network. Over time, that enjoyment of cheesy acting and ridiculous plot lines morphed into watching holiday movies on Lifetime and its sister in cheese, the Hallmark Channel. Each year, the networks produce more and more Christmas movies and I consume all of them. And to be honest, the cheesier, the better.
One thing that has been constant, unfortunately, is that these movies rarely star people of color, most specifically for me, Black people. Its gotten a little better over the last 3 years but for the most part, these movie are as white as the holiday snow. And the two most common refrains I hear from Black people is that they don't watch these movies because "there ain't no Black people in them" and "these movies is corny AF"! And BOTH of those statements are true, but I would argue that these movies follow a pattern and the only real difference with the Black ones are the actors and Jesus. Let me explain:
Lifetime/Hallmark Holiday movies follow a very simple pattern:
Step 1: Everything is all good ( until its not)
Step 2: Something or someone is introduced into the situation to make things messy
Step 3: A lesson is learned( with Jesus/God/Holy Spirit, etc if the folks are Black)
Step 4: Redemption and back to things being all good
Holiday Rush, on Netflix follows this pattern to a T. Lets review. Romany Malco stars as Rush Williams, the number 1 radio DJ in Baltimore and is he is doing great financially. He has a big house outside the city, his four kids are enrolled in private school; with one even getting accepted into Harvard. Things are all good for the Rush family( Step 1)
Unfortunately, the local radio station that Rush works at is taken over by a corporate overlord radio station run by Tamala Jones and Rush and his producer, Roxy, are fired just a few weeks before Christmas and all the plans and gifts his kids were looking forward to are ended ( Step 2)
Once fired, Roxy and Rush come up with a plan to buy the old radio station they used to work at before Rush become so bougie. This old station is for sale and they need the money to buy it. Auntie Jo, who helps Rush raise his kids, kicks in some money, Roxy cashes in her 401K, but Rush is short on cash and to come up with his share, he has to sell his house and move back in with his Aunt Jo. Of course his spoiled kids hate this idea. They was asking for miniature horses and other extravagant gifts for Christmas. Now they have to move to the other side of town( the Black side) and make do as Rush pursues his dream of being a radio station owner. Of course there is conflict with his son who thinks his Harvard dreams are gone and with his oldest daughter who is more concerned about getting likes on Instagram than anything else. But lessons need to be learned about appreciating what you have, and how this community raised Rush, and how you gotta have faith that things will work out for the best. There is even a Magical Negro in the form of Rush's dead wife, played by La La Anthony. Over time, the kids learn that we are a family and everything is gonna be just fine ( Step 3)
Rush and Roxy purchase the station and overcome some obstacles and even find love with one another as their station becomes a hit and they receive a new partner in their business, played by Deon Cole. Things are reset as the family is happy living in their new found life and Rush and Roxy set out to blaze the airwaves in Baltimore and everything is now all good- with the help of Jesus.( Step 4).
Having watched hundreds of these movies, Holiday Rush is fun and you will probably enjoy the movie more if you are a fan of Romany Malco. In this movie, he is charming and gets to stretch his dramatic acting chops for a little bit. Hallmark and Lifetime would do best to produce more of these movies with People of Color. The plots and stories of these movies can speak to people across colors and cultures. Yes they are cheesy and often poorly acted, but everyone loves to see redemption stories and that is what all these movies share in common. So a solid thumbs up for Holiday Rush and I am off to watch Lifetime Movie Network!