ABC Film Challenge – Crime – N – Notorious (2009)

Director: George Tillman Jr

Writer: Reggie Rock Bythewood, Cheo Hodari Coker (Screenplay)

Starring: Jamal Woolard, Anthony Mackie, Derek Luke, Angela Bassett, Antonique Smith, Charles Malik Whitfield

 

Plot: The life and death story of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), who came straight out of Brooklyn to take the world of rap music by storm.


Tagline – The story of the man behind the legend.

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fans of the Icon will Enjoy

 

Story: Notorious starts with the final moments of Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace (Woolard) life, before he flashes back to his childhood, raised by his single mother Voletta (Bassett), getting given a chance to start making money from drug dealing where he becomes addicted to make money, until he gets busted.

At 19 he gets a chance to enter the music industry when Puffy Daddy (Luke) gives him a way to escape the life of drug dealing, however difficult it seems. When Biggie finally get the record deal, he soon becomes an international sensation grabbing the attention from another rapper Tupac Shakur (Mackie) who soon becomes a rival with deadly consequences.

 

Thoughts on Notorious

 

Characters – Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace was a rapper from Brooklyn, he started on the streets as a drug dealer, before showing his rapping skills that saw him become one of the biggest rap stars in the world in the 90’s, we get to see how he has to deal with his vices with women chasing his desire to have too much money. The film doesn’t show him to be a nice man, he cheats on his partners, commits crimes and gets violent when he gets upset, it is a shame for somebody with talent to be such a horrible person. Sean Puffy Combs is the man that takes a chance on Biggie even after losing his position in a record company, he had an eye for talent and knew how to make the most out of it. Tupac is a rival rapper that starts with respect, but because of his continuing side business in drugs, the tension grows and Tupac soon starts a war against Biggie which became a bigger story than any of their music. Faith is Biggie’s wife that has the talent he has though she does become the one that stays with him even if they have an abusive relationship toward each other, well that is what the film shows us.

PerformancesJamal Woolard is brilliant in this leading role, he shows the laidback style Biggie presented himself as, while showing just how easily he can snap. Derek Luke and Anthony Mackie are both strong in the supporting roles, while the rest of the cast give us strong performances too.

StoryThe story here follows the life of Biggie one of the biggest rappers of the 90s that wanted to prove music could inspire change only to get drawn into a gang war with another rapper Tupac, one that made the two even more famous. We follow Biggie in and out of the music world, seeing how he was trying to escape a life of crime, but is drawn into relationship problems. The story doesn’t always paint him as a nice guy though, the way he handles the women in his life is getting into the abusive area. Otherwise this shows us how Biggie wasn’t interested in getting involved in the gang war, he just want to make honest money.

Biopic/Crime/MusicThe biopic side of the film shows how Biggie was being drawn towards a life of crime or leaving it behind to become a big music sensation and how his life changed with the new, making him part of one of the biggest rap battles in history. The crime world is showing how Biggie was always trying to get out of this world and give you hope to others that are facing it. While I personally wasn’t a fan of the music involved, it will please the fans of his music.

SettingsThe film is set in the backdrop Brooklyn shows where he has come from and how he wants to stay loyal to the people who supported him.


Scene of the Movie –
Making the choice.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film doesn’t show him able to treat his women with respect.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic that showed how easily a rivalry can start within the business that could end up becoming deadly between two biggest names in the music industry.

 

Overall: Music biopic that defined a decade.

Rating

 

 

The Hate U Give (2018)

Director: George Tillman Jr

Writer: Audrey Wells (Screenplay) Angie Thomas (Novel)

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, Common, Algee Smith, Sabrina Carpenter

 

Plot: Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.


Tagline – Two worlds, one voice, no going back

Runtime: 2 Hours 13 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict The Biggest Eye Opener of the Year

 

Story: The Hate U Give starts as Starr (Stenberg) introduces us to everything in her life, her high school life away from the rough neighbourhood she is from, with her father Maverick (Hornsby) the former gangster and mother Lisa (Hall) who wants to get out of the neighbourhood too. She is the eldest of her siblings and has become a normal high student who is prepared for the worst.

Starr does find herself trapped between two worlds, the one where she grew up in and the one she is now growing up, this however changes for her forever, when a routine pull over by the police see her childhood friend Khalil (Smith) fatal shot. Starr in the aftermath must battle the social consequences of what happened with Starr being put in the middle of the investigation to what happened and putting her in the position to make her voice heard.

 

Thoughts on The Hate U Give

 

Characters – Starr is your normal high school student from so called wrong side of town, she lives in two worlds, one she grew up in with friends, the other is her escape with her high school giving her potential of a new life. When she becomes the only witness for her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer. Needing to keep her involvement secret she is dealing with the new wave of feelings and emotions that she must learn to control for the greater good. Everything we see is from her point of view which shows us just how a teenager can view what is going on within the neighbourhood. Lisa is Starr’s mother that wants to keep her daughter safe and out of the gangland mentality she sees around her family. Maverick is Starr’s father, he used to be part of the gangs and after his time behind bars, he escaped that life, being wise towards his family, preparing them for any incidents with the police. King is drug lord controlling the area, he has let Maverick out of his gang and this latest death brings his attention as his business will be put at risk.

PerformancesAmandla Stenberg in the leading role is fantastic, she is on another level to everyone else in the film as she must show her the problems she is facing and handles them all to help us understand her characters thought process. The whole cast are great in this film, Russell Hornsby gets the intense speech moments which grab our attention and for all the years we have questioned Common’s acting, here he shows that he has worked to improve himself and it is paying off.

StoryThe story here will give everyone who watches it a conversation they need to have, about how a death that never needed to happen. The story is told through the eyes of teenager Starr which helps us understand how she wants to see people seen as equals and how the divide between the black and white communities is massive. This story has so many talking points about what has been happening and it does use the correct characters to get points over with including a black police officer telling Starr the thought process of a police officer pulling over a car. Any story that give the audience questions to ask afterwards is an achievement in storytelling which should be praised, it is one that will stick with you long after it finishes.

CrimeThe movie starts with a major crime, the shooting of the high school student, it shows how the tension has risen with the crime that changed a neighbourhood.

SettingsThe film does an excellent job of showing the different neighbourhoods, the one Starr lives in and the one she attends school in, this reflects between the characters interactions.


Scene of the Movie –
The Hate We Give.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of a proper investigation.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the most important films of the year, it has a message people need to learn about if they ever want to see change in the world.

 

Overall: Important eye opener.

Rating

 

 

The Longest Ride (2015)

longestDirector: George Tillman Jr

Writer: Craig Bolotin (Screenplay) Nicholas Sparks (Novel)

Starring: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, Melissa Benoist, Lolita Davidovich

 

Plot: The lives of a young couple intertwine with a much older man, as he reflects back on a past love.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: SO Unrealistic

 

Story: The Longest Ride starts by making me feel like this is going to be a shallow feel because the selling point for Sophia (Robertson) to go and watch bull riding is ‘hot guys’ when she clearly doesn’t want to go. To the surprise of us all Sophia meets handsome rodeo Luke (Eastwood) and enjoys herself, well boy this is going to be a hard watch.

When Sophia and Luke go on their first date they find Ira (Alda) who has had a car accident and the pair save his life and his box of memories. Sophia becomes friends with Ira (Alda) as she learns of the young love he once had.

As Sophia and Luke learn about Ira’s love story theirs blossoms even though they both know they will be going in their separate ways.

The Longest Ride gives us yet another one of these fictional love stories that would never happen but give people the unrealistic belief that it could. The only good part of this film is the flashback relationship that has the struggles going on throughout it. The leading love story is all about what you would give up for love and then boom easy happy ending no struggle to make things work between to pretty people, you know the type that annoys you.

 

Actor Review

 

Britt Robertson: Sophia is a college student about to start her dream job in New York when she meets a professional bull rider. Her life is thrown upside down when she falls in love and torn between her lifelong dream or the man who has never made her feel like this before. Britt is good in this role playing you typical dream filled romantic character.

Scott Eastwood: Luke is the professional bull fighter who has suffered a serious accident before he meets Sophia. He will not give up the ‘sport’ he loves even for the girl that changes his life. He is very traditional in how he goes about his relationship but also not willing to learn something else to get away from bull fighting. Scott is the highlight of this film where we see him make a name for himself in a leading role.

Alan Alda: Ira is an elder gentleman that the two rescue from a car accident and who Sophia turns to for all of her advice when she learns of the love story he went through. Alan is solid in this role where we get to see him in a narration style role.

Support Cast: The Longest Ride has a supporting cast with Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin playing the younger couple in the flashbacks who really shine above the rest.

Director Review: George Tillman JrGeorge gives us a good date movie but characters who are written to be too over the top and unrealistic doesn’t help the story.

 

Romance: The Longest Ride gives us an unrealistic love story that is about two people coming from different worlds and what they will would give up for love.

Chemistry: The Longest Ride doesn’t have the biggest spark between the lead couple which takes away part of the film.

Settings: The Longest Ride has an array of settings which all give us how the class between Sophia and Luke comes through.
Suggestion
: The Longest Ride is one for the date night really only. (Date Night)

 

Best Part: Ira and Ruth’s story.

Worst Part: Opening scenes are unrealistic.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $34 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 8 Minutes

 

Overall: Unrealistic story about love which will pull people in.

Ratingcard

 

 

Faster (2011)

Director: George Tillman. Jr.

Writer: Tony Gaylon, Joe Gaylon

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino, Maggie Grace, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Moon Bloodgood

 

Story Driver (Johnson) is released from prison, he is there because of a bank robbery gone wrong when his brother and himself get played resulting in his brother to be killed and Driver to be left for dead.

 

Upon his release he sets on revenge firstly walking into a telemarketing office and shooting a man. This sparks the police into locating Driver. Lead by Cicero (Gugino) and druggie cop, Cop (Thornton) they start to investigate the crime. Someone sets a Hitman called Killer (Jackson-Cohen) to stop Driver only for Driver to always get the upper hand and Killer becomes more determined to win the battle.

 

Set over five days can Driver get revenge for his brother’s death and stay one step ahead of Killer and Cop? Watch this fast paced action thriller filled with twists in the tale to keep you guessing all the way through.

 

Verdict This top action thriller is very simple to watch never confusing its audience. Dwayne Johnson back in action roles works a treat even though he has very little lines his onscreen presences takes scene stealing to a new level. It’s classic double cross revenge storyline makes the action simple and a tidy car chase and shoot off between Driver and Killer are the highlights. It has an over the top feel to it which puts the realism on a backburner. All action thriller fans will enjoy this.  

Story Mark 8/10 Yes its been done before but a few different characters and a quirky Hitman add to a good story.

Action Mark 8/10 Tidy action scenes using a few slow motion shots.

Star Performances Dwayne Johnson action star perfect fit

Favourite Character Killer he has overcome a lot in his life and always seeks to be the best adding he wanting to have a family with his girlfriend Lily (Grace) makes him great to watch to see how he will try to better himself as each day passes

Least Favourite Character Lily, yes I thought Killer was favourite but Lily is so needed and pathetic she tries to ground this free spirit

Best Part The different ways the people Driver goes to kill react to his intentions

Worst Part You can see the twist coming very early on

Best Quote Driver ‘God can’t save you from me’

Similar Too – Drive Angry, Shoot ‘Em Up

My Rating  87%