ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – H – Hustle & Flow (2005)

Director: Craig Brewer

Writer: Craig Brewer (Screenplay)

Starring: Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, Taraji P Henson, DJ Qualls, Ludacris, Paula Jai Parker

 

Plot: With help from his friends, a Memphis pimp in a mid-life crisis attempts to become a successful hip-hop emcee.


Tagline – The music will inspire them. The dream will unite them. This summer get crunk.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Insight to the Hip-Hop World

 

Story: Hustle & Flow starts as we see the everyday pimping life of Djay (Howard) forcing his prostitutes to do there thing with Nola (Manning) being he most requested girl, he has girls in the strip club too which Lexus (Parker) being the one he is closest too, he also has a pregnant one in his home with Shug (Henson) waiting to give birth.

When Djay meets an old friend Key (Anderson) he starts to have a craving to try and become a hip-hop star as the two work together to make song where he learns that Shug is the real talent in his household.

 

Thoughts on Hustle & Flow

 

Characters – Djay is a pimp going through a mid-life crisis, he is tired of struggling to make his girls collect his money and wants to try and new career as a hip-hop star, he must first shake his old ways though and accept criticisms for his vision. Key is a music producer for a local church, he comes from a very different background to Djay and is willing to give this music venture a chance. Nola is one of the prostitutes that is still working the streets she is his go to girl at the moment with the others out of the picture at the moment, she does get frustrated about being the only one on the streets though. Shug is the pregnant girl working for Djay, she shows herself to have real talent when it comes to singing which only brings the music alive for Djay.

PerformancesTerrence Howard in the leading role is great because we see his character’s full evolution through the story trying to find himself in the world. Anthony Anderson continues to show everyone he can be an great supporting performer while Taryn Manning and Taraji P Henson both show us they were going to go onto bigger projects.

StoryThe story shows us how a mid-life crisis can drive somebody to go down unusual paths with his Djay wanting to become a hip-hop star getting out of the pimping business. The story does break up into a couple of acts with the pimping business playing out like you would imagine, while the middle part of the film focuses for a long time on the making of the song which does go on longer than it needs too. With the third acting showing us just how difficult the industry is to get into. The idea that we can dream helps this movie out big time because it is important to see, though seeing just how far people will go for the dreams is the bleak side to things.

Crime/MusicThe crime world we see is just how the pimping world operates and how close to the line certain hip-hop stars can go to the law, this blends nicely with the music side of the film.

SettingsThe film is set in Memphis which shows us the difficult neighbourhood that Djay is operating in, it shows he tensions can fly and how the special want to get out of the place.


Scene of the Movie –
The club drinks.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too long spent recording the song.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story about dreams and just how far people will go to try and make dreams come true, whether you will go too far too.

 

Overall: Dreams Big or fail.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

Proud Mary (2018)

Director: Babak Najafi

Writer: John Stuart Newman, Christina Swegal, Steve Antin (Screenplay)

Starring: Taraji P Henson, Billy Brown, Jahl Di’Allo Winston, Neal McDonough, Margaret Avery, Xander Berkeley, Rade Serbedzija, Danny Glover

 

Plot: Mary (Taraji P. Henson) is a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, whose life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a professional hit goes bad.


Tagline – Execute with style.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Action

 

Story: Proud Mary starts when Mary (Henson) performs a hit, leaving the son of the victim alive, one year later, Danny (Winston) the same boy has fallen into the life of crime, with Mary watching over him until she needs to rescue him.

When Mary takes out the man behind the abusing Danny, she starts a war between her own gang led by Benny (Glover) and Luka’s (Serbedzija) one she must hide the truth from before needing to fight back against the people she once trusted.

 

Thoughts on Proud Mary

 

Characters – Mary is a hitwoman, she lives the high life between jobs, but she won’t take out kids, this has led to her needing to watch over one kid she refused to kill, she sees the same in Danny as she had, being left to fend for themselves. She wants to give Danny the life he deserves after knowing what could happen to him in the life of crime. Tom is the former boyfriend of Mary’s co-worker and raised with Mary, he is loyal to his father Benny, while trying to keep the business together, we don’t get much else out of this character. Danny is the loose end for one of Mary’s hits, he is left to fall into the life of crime before Mary takes him in to show him a normal life, one he should have been having.

PerformancesTaraji P Henson looks the part here, she brings us the beauty assassin character well, but she is clearly too emotional at times for a cold-hearted killer. Billy Brown is the typical family matters in the killer’s circle, he doesn’t bring anything fresh to the performance. Jahi is good in the kid role, he does everything needed without looking out of place.

StoryThe story here is a hitwoman that wants out of the life of crime after facing the reality of what she has been doing to children caught in the crossfire and of course she isn’t allowed to leave that easily. This is everything we have become used in a story, we have seen these movies escalate in quality in recent years, see John Wick for this, but this one is one that just never gets going enough to make us care about the decision. If you do want to see the basic story this will check the boxes without being the stand out on of any years.

Action/CrimeThe trailers makes this feel like a full blown action movie, well this is wrong, we get moments of action sure, they are fun just not often enough for a movie that feels like it should be way over the top. We deal with the crime world throughout the film as we see how the people operate in this world.

SettingsNew York City, the setting of choice, it is one I always say looks amazing for a backdrop, this shows how the criminals will be fighting for control of it too.


Scene of the Movie –
Even though I hated the music, mostly because it is in an advert in England, the shoot-out is fun.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Shopping, in an action movie, no thank you.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard action movie that doesn’t offer anything new to the genre, it has basic moments of action even if Taraji P Henson does bring us the highlight of the film.

 

Overall: Easy to watch basic action movie.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake – The Karate Kid (2010)

This is the follow up entry to the Now and Then Blogathon from Thoughts All Sorts.

 

Director: Harald Zwart

Writer: Christopher Murphey (Screenplay) Robert Mark Kamen (Story)

Starring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P Henson, Wenwen Han, Rongguang Yu

 

Plot: Work causes a single mother to move to China with her young son; in his new home, the boy embraces kung fu, taught to him by a master.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Stand Alone Movie

 

Story: The Karate Kid starts as Dre (Smith) and his mother Sherry (Henson) move from Detroit to Beijing, China. While this is a bigger move that the original we follow the same idea, Dre meets a girl Meiying (Han) and grabs the attention of the local bullies led by Cheng (Wang).

When the bully looks like Dre will find himself in trouble he can’t get out of, the handyman Mr Han (Chan) comes to his aid. Mr Han sees the Master training the bullies and gets Dre entered into a tournament leading to him to teach him kung fu before the tournament, this gives Dre the level of discipline he would need in life.

 

Thoughts on The Karate Kid

 

Characters – Dre is our teenager that goes from Detroit to China, he faces a language barrier, needing to make new friends and worst of all bullies. When he gets the chance to learn kung fu, he gains the discipline needed to be w worthy fighter. Mr Han is the handyman that becomes the teacher for Dre, he keeps to himself for the most part but when he sees Dre in looks to pass on his training. Sherry is the over protective mother that moves her son to China. In this film the love interest and bully do seem to have small parts to the bigger picture though.

PerformanceJaden Smith does lack the charisma which we had in the first film to carry the leading role. Jackie Chan is fine in his role working as the mentor but doesn’t bring anything new to the role. Taraji P Henson does a solid job as the mother role.

StoryThe story is boy moves to new town or in this case country where he must learn a new culture as well as discipline when it comes to defending himself, we have the same training idea leading to the same tournament. The differences come from the idea that Sherry moves for a promotion, the love interest does feel awkward as they seem too young and we have kung fu over karate. This doesn’t have the same magical feeling the original film had but could be enjoyed if you haven’t seen the original.

Action/Family/SportThe action does feel weaker than the original, it is a tame couple of chases and then the tournament. I feel it would be hard to get the family to enjoy this because of the running time of nearly 2 and half hours.

SettingsThis is the biggest plus for the film, the setting of China makes the move impossible for Dre to go back on, he must learn the new culture and it does get to look at moments of the spiritual side of the kung fu.

Scene of the Movie – What happened to Mr Han’s family.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This is a subtitles moan or a lack there of for moments when the kids are arguing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a remake we didn’t need, it does lose what made the original magical but as a standalone film it can be watched for what it is meant to be.

 

Overall: Remake waste, solo film enjoyment.

Rating

 

 

Hidden Figures (2016)

hiddneDirector: Theodore Melfi

Writer: Allison Schroeder, Theofore Melfi (Screenplay) Margot Lee Shetterly (Book)

Starring: Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali

 

Plot: Based on a true story. A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Important and Enjoyable Drama

 

Story: Hidden Figures starts as we meet our three African-American women working for Nasa Katherine G Johnson (Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Monae), the three still must deal with racial hate but have learnt to overcome the hate. With Al Harrison (Costner) having to lead the team with engineer Paul Strafford (Parsons) to get the first American into space.

Katherine being a mathematical genius gets the chance to work under Al Harrison in a room full of higher class white people who all look down on her except Al, while Mary is being pushed by a Jewish Polish immigrant Karl Zielinski (Krupa) to try out for the engineering opportunity who knows how to overcome what can look impossible. Dorothy is just trying to help motivate and get the supervisor role looking after the rest of the African American women working in Nasa known as ‘computers’. We get to see how these three women overcome the discrimination going through America to play key parts in America’s finest achievements.

 

Thoughts on Hidden Figures

 

StoryWe all know the space race story but not many of us know the story behind the incredible achievement. This story shows the hard work and the discrimination these three women had to overcome to make one of America’s great achievements happen. This type of story annoys me because I can’t believe how naïve people were when it came to treating people differently because of their race or religion has held back humans from so many crowning achievements it could have accomplished. Seeing how everything unfold is charming as it is serious subject matter because you want to support these ladies on their own ability to overcome the racial divides that were still going through America.

Characters/PerformancesThe characters are mostly based on real people with Katherine, Mary and Dorothy all show how ground breaking these women were for both race and women everywhere. Al Harrison shows us a man who knew of the racial divide but chose to ignore it while we have Paul Stafford being the stumbling block between the two as he doesn’t accept the inclusion of an African American woman in his field. When you look at the performances Henson, Spencer and Monae are all brilliant all giving performances that show all the skills these actresses have. Costner and Parsons are also great in the supporting roles with everyone else making this feel like the true story with none of the overacting.

SettingsThe settings are all perfectly recreated for the time 1961 America including the old-fashioned computer usage, cars and use of the segregation between the races. We feel like we are fully in the time of the events in this story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a must watch for all as we learn about the ground-breaking people in history that are often over looked.

 

Overall: Watch and learn just how important these women were to history.

Ratingcard

 

 

No Good Deed (2014)

logoDirector: Sam Miller

Writer: Aimee Lagos (Screenplay)

Starring: Idris Elba, Taraji P Henson, Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo, Henry Simmons, Mirage Moonschein, Kenny Alfonso

Plot: An unstable escaped convict terrorizes a woman who is alone with her two children.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: The Good, The Bad and The Deadly

Story: No Good Deed starts by introducing Colin Evans (Elba) a convicted criminal who is thought to have killed five women but with no proof he ends up only getting a manslaughter charge due to a bar fight that went wrong. Colin is up for parole after serving only half his sentence. With parole being denied Colin takes things into his own hands as he escapes his prison transport.

We move to meet our having troubles family with mother Terry (Henson) husband Jeffrey (Simmons) and young children with Jeffrey going away for the weekend and a storm approaching. Colin visits his ex-girlfriend Alexis (Castillo) to show how dangerous he really is by killing her. When Colin is involved in an accident he ends up on the doorstep of Terry where she plays good Samaritan only we all know what Colin is capable off.

No Good Deed brings us the traditional don’t let the stranger in film, we get one psychotic character meeting a good natured character and the suspense to see how she will survive because let’s face it they ain’t going to be killing her. I will say the final twist is good but otherwise it is all very similar to what we have seen before. I also think the character decisions all come off very weak because nothing makes sense.

Actor Review

Idris Elba: Colin is the convicted killer but only on manslaughter charges, he is suspected of killing at least five other women but nothing can be proven. When he escapes he goes on another killing spree where he ends up going against Terry. Idris gives us a great psycho character that works for the story showing us how far he has come since Obsessed.colin

Taraji P Henson: Terry is the stay at home mum after giving up her lawyer job who is spending her weekend alone with her children, her weekend gets interrupted by Colin looking for help but she will now have to fight for not only her own life but her children’s lives. Taraji does give a good performance and I can’t fault her. The character though is meant to be a lawyer but doesn’t follow criminal cases on the news especially if Colin is such a notorious criminal come on.terry

Leslie Bibb: Meg is a friend of Terry’s who is trying to help her unwind by having a ladies night. She asks the wrong question when she meets Colin. Leslie does a basic supporting character performance that really doesn’t do too much to the story other than push Colin too far.

Kate del Castillo: Alexis is the ex-girlfriend of Colin’s who has moved on but we get introduced to her to show how deadly Colin really is. Kate does a basic job and is only in the film to make us fear Colin more.

Support Cast: No Good Deed has a supporting cast that includes the children one being a baby of Terry’s her husband and mostly police that are disposable.

Director Review: Sam MillerSam doesn’t give us enough when it comes to the fully idea in the story that has plenty of moments that make you think, really did that happen?

Crime: No Good Deed brings us into a crime story following a criminal on the run who can snap and kill with a click of a fingers.

Thriller: No Good Deed tries to keep us guessing from start to finish and builds the tension between Terry and Colin which works nicely.

Settings: No Good Deed puts the action in an isolated house during a storm adds to the tension being built throughout.
Special Effects: No Good Deed doesn’t really need many special effects.

Suggestion: No Good Deed is one to try but it isn’t the most original with the the story. (Try It)

Best Part: Elba shines in the role.

Worst Part: The character Terry (not performance)

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $52.5 Million

Budget: $13.2 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

Tagline: First he gets into your house. Then he gets into your head.

Overall: Basic thriller that brings us nothing new

Ratingcard