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Coming 2 America | Review

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Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall are back–and they haven’t lost a single touch. Directed by Hustle & Flow and Dolemite is My Name filmmaker Craig Brewer, Coming 2 America picks up a mere 30 years after the first one saw Prince Akeem Joffer (Murphy) marry the girl of his dreams, Lisa (Shari Headley). In this installment, the king of Zamunda. Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) informs Akeem on his deathbed that he has a bastard son (Jermaine Fowler) who must be retrieved from Queens to become the future heir to the throne and marry General Izzi (Wesley Snipes)’s daughter for Akeem to avoid being assassinated. What follows is a nostalgic trip down memory lane, filled with endless callbacks from what made the first film so great, celebrating its colorful characters and themes of love and a family in a relatively enjoyable movie, never once reaching the same heights as the original.

Randy Watson's sexual chocolate infomercial feature comes in 2 American  gifts – Jioforme

Most of Coming to America‘s characters return, with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall reprising not only their roles for Akeem and Semmi but Mr. Clarence, Saul, Morris, Reverend Brown, and the greatest of them all, Randy Watson and his band, Sexual Chocolate, who all return in some of the film’s funniest sequences. The cherry on top saw Eddie Murphy freeingly play Watson and Sexual Chocolate again, culminating a rather passable film on a high note. Some might not like that the film needlessly repeats and references the first movie–going so far as to show clips from the original to remind audiences what happened. They’ll even add a “new” scene to showcase how Akeem conceived his son with Mary Junson (Leslie Jones), right after the iconic nightclub sequence from the first film, with some of the best use of CGI de-aging I’ve ever seen.

The technology has perfected itself over the years, even more rapidly than I thought, since one of its most impressive apparitions in Joseph Kosinski’s TRON: Legacy. Now, filmmakers can create entire sequences (or movies, in Scorsese’s The Irishman or Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel) with de-aging that look incredibly uncanny. Imagine what can happen in…five years with the technology. The potentialities are endless. Even with repeated jokes and endless callbacks from the original, Coming 2 America still succeeds at being a fun time, mainly due to the incredible acting from everyone involved. Paul Bates’ Oha has not lost his touch at randomly going into song to introduce an Izzi bride-to-be (with a golden mic at that!), Clint Smith’s rendition of “That boy good!”, while Sexual Chocolate is playing, contains the same brilliant energy and knowledge of timing as the first one, the return of Reverend Brown is as cleverly written as the first one, and an incredible deep-cut to John Landis’ Trading Places will make fans of the original howl in laughter.

An overzealous “alive-funeral” of King Jaffe Joffer, presented by Morgan Freeman, not only celebrates the iconic character who was brilliantly performed by James Earl Jones but also paid tribute to Jones’ contribution to acting, feeling like it’s his one last grandiose role before he spends his final years in retirement. When he says to Akeem, “I am going to die now,” already sitting down on his coffin, I might’ve shed a few tears, as one of the most legendary actors in the history of cinema has one final curtain call. It’s one of Coming 2 America’s only moments of emotional levity since every other scene that is deemed “emotional” or “dramatic doesn’t really work since it re-hashes something from the original.

Photo de James Earl Jones - Un prince à New York 2 : Photo James Earl Jones  - AlloCiné

Of course, referencing the original through jokes is great when done right, but Coming 2 America‘s script seems to rely on it a little too much. Most of the dramatic moments, involving Lavelle (Fowler)’s love with a Zamundan hairdresser, Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha), feel way too reliant on the original’s structure, without ever changing it up, thematically and emotionally. Treating the same themes of heritage and love is fine, not by following the same beats of the original, however, without something new to grasp the audience by. I loved the re-hashed jokes, done in a different setting, unfortunately not the re-hashed story. Jermaine Fowler does give a decent performance as Lavelle and shares an incredibly hilarious sequence with Eddie & Arsenio involving “ceremonial circumcision.” Still, since the de-aging sequence feels like one giant retcon to have a story, there isn’t much emotional attachment to Lavelle by the audience.

Even the relationship between Akeem and Lisa feels stale and completely underwritten, compared to the previous film. It’s always going through the same cyclical roadblocks until Akeem decides to change the law to make his daughter, Meeka (KiKi Layne), the heir to the throne. The film focuses way too much on Lavelle’s faux-ascension to the throne and never really focuses on the family drama between Akeem, Lisa, and Meeka. There are interesting tidbits of a family drama that could’ve been the centerpiece of the sequel, instead of spending much of its focus on the illegitimate son, and would’ve made Coming 2 America an infinitely better movie. Thankfully, in the “family drama” department, Wesley Snipes provides a great addition to the cast as General Izzi, giving a colorful and expressive performance, akin to the over-the-top villains of Wakaliwood cinema. He, and only he, is the only reason why the “family” parts of Coming 2 America aren’t as flat-out terrible as it is, as every scene Snipes is in is an absolute treasure to watch him bathe in absurdity and verbal expressiveness.

By reading this, you might grasp the idea that the comedic parts of Coming 2 America are when the film soars the most, and everything else fizzles. Guess what? You’re right. Coming to America‘s more emotional sequences worked because the comedy wasn’t detached from the romance between Akeem and Lisa–it helped grow the relationship between the two, which culminated in one of the most satisfying endings of Eddie Murphy’s career. Coming 2 America‘s comedy is detached from the movie’s more dramatic moments, as the film’s comedy is too busy endlessly referencing the original. However, if you are a die-hard fan of John Landis’ original and Eddie Murphy, who has not made a straight-up comedy this entertaining since starring in Frank Oz’s Bowfinger in 1999, you might find great value in Coming 2 America. I certainly had a pleasant return to Zamunda and know many others will. Don’t turn it off when the credits start rolling–stay until the very end.

Coming 2 America is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video

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Comic Book Movies

X-Men ’97 Review | Nostalgic, Epic & Marvelous!

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X-Men '97 (Disney)

Get ready for action-packed adventure, many surprise cameos and a storyline that takes

Plot

A band of mutants use their uncanny gifts to protect a world that hates and fears them; they’re challenged like never before, forced to face a dangerous and unexpected new future.

X-Men ’97 (Disney)

Review

X-Men ’97 is a revival of the classic 1990s animated television series. The storyline picks up directly after the events of the original series, maintaining continuity and preserving the beloved elements that made the original a hit show back in the day. Many of the original voice cast members have returned, including Cal Dodd as Wolverine, Lenore Zann as Rogue, George Buza as Beast, Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm and Adrian Hough as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler, which adds a layer of originality and contributes to the overall nostalgia of the television show​. Here I’m feeling like a little kid again, watching the show on a Saturday morning. I was 7 years old when it was on television in the early mornings, and it still brings back fond memories.

There were a number of new stars who joined the show such as Ray Chase who replaced Norm Spencer as Cyclops, Jennifer Hale who replaced Catherine Disher as Jean Grey, Holly Chou who replaced Alyson Court as Jubilee, A.J. LoCascio as Gambit, Matthew Waterson as Magneto, J.P. Karliak as Morph, Isaac Robinson-Smith as Bishop, Ross Marquand as Professor Charles Xavier and Gui Agustini as Roberto da Costa/Sunspot.

X-Men ’97 (Disney)

The series starts off in a world where the X-Men grapple with the loss of Professor Charles Xavier. Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty, Magneto rises to the occasion and becomes the new leader of the X-Men. This provides additional drama and the team dynamics is frequently tested with the new leadership. While dealing with the new leadership dynamics the X-Men finds themselves still dealing with people who would stop at nothing to end all mutants. The storyline doesn’t hold back on the action sequences and themes such as grief, loss and acceptance are touched on throughout the series.

The trailer of the show doesn’t spoil anything for the viewer, and I highly encourage you to watch every intro and try to spot any new changes. The show provides many cameos and easter eggs, keeping my hopes alive of a potential crossover.

The story ends with a twist, leaving you hungry for the next season, and as any Marvel movie or television show would have it, a mid-credits scene to whet your appetite for what’s to come. If you are new to X-Men you can still jump in and watch the television series, but I highly recommend watching the original series to get you up to date with most of the lore and history of the X-Men.

X-Men ’97 keeps the legacy of our favorite mutants alive with a well-written story that is filled with emotion, surprises and promises of more adventures.

Thank you Beau DeMayo for an eXcellent story! I rate this show a 5 out of 5!

Will we skip the intro song? No! I don’t think we will. Make sure to catch the show on Disney Plus!

https://youtu.be/mp1Pax-QHlA?si=-fFlVYBRIPnLQyVO
X-Men ’97 Final Trailer (Marvel Entertainment)

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‘The Present’ Review | A Heartfelt Family Adventure with a Magical Twist

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The Present
A still from 'The Present' (The Movie Partnership)

In the heartwarming film ‘The Present,’ a young boy stumbles upon a mysterious grandfather clock with the extraordinary ability to transport him through time. Driven by the hope of reuniting his parents, he embarks on a magical journey with his siblings to prevent their family from falling apart. As they face challenges together, they discover the enduring power of love and the true meaning of family.

Over the years, we have seen a lot of time-travel movies, but ‘The Present’ is a bit different from those movies. It’s not about saving the world and defending the universe from aliens. It’s all about keeping a family together and feeling loved again. In Christian Ditter’s cute romantic-comedy film, we see Jen (Isla Fisher) and Eric (Greg Kinnear) having a dinner with their three children: Emma (Shay Rudolph), Max (Mason Shea Joyce), and Taylor (Easton Rocket Sweda). However, things go downhill when the parents announce that they are separating. The next day, an old clock that used to be in Eric’s father’s house arrives at their house and they decide to keep it in their basement. Something is written on the clock, and it reads, “This clock can help you now and then, but only you can change events.” Soon, Taylor finds out that the clock can be used to time travel and alter events. As a result, he stitches a plan, along with his siblings, to bring their parents together.

Shay Rudolph and Easton Rocket Sweda in ‘The Present’ (The Movie Partnership’

The enchanted grandfather clock is a delightful narrative device that immediately draws the audience into a world where the impossible becomes possible. Who wouldn’t want to turn the clock back and alter certain events? The clock, intricately designed and exuding an air of mystical antiquity, serves as both, a literal and metaphorical centerpiece for the story. However, the movie is not just about the clock or what it does, it is about the extreme lengths children can go to restore their family. The themes of love, forgiveness, and the passage of time are woven throughout the film, offering moments of reflection and emotional resonance. The makers have subtly shown how challenging it can be to mend things, emphasizing the importance of understanding and empathy within familial relationships. Certain moments in the film would surely encourage you to let your family know how much they are valued.

Writers have done a great job in stitching a story that’s not complex. Everything that takes place in front of our eyes is neither flashy nor over the top, which makes the movie even more relatable. However, certain elements could have been infused to make the script even better. We could have seen a bit more emotional turmoil between the central pair to have a better idea about their state. On the other hand, the relationship between Jen and the kids should have been explored a little more. Apart from that, there are pacing issues in certain scenes, which could have been mended with tighter editing. Despite these shortcomings, ‘The Present’ is a charming film that offers a warm and engaging experience.

Isla Fisher and Greg Kinnear in ‘The Present’ (The Movie Partnership)

Acting-wise, Isla Fisher and Greg Kinner are splendid in their respective roles. Both actors are fully committed to their roles and don’t miss a beat. Fisher has evolved as an actor and it would be a travesty if we don’t see her healing a big blockbuster soon. The young cast delivers commendable performances, particularly Mason Shea Joyce, whose wide-eyed innocence and determination drive the film forward. Meanwhile, Shay Rudolph is as wonderful as Emma. The chemistry between the siblings feels genuine, their camaraderie reflecting a realistic portrayal of sibling dynamics.

Overall, ‘The Present’ succeeds in delivering a touching, family-friendly adventure. Its enchanting premise, mixed with heartfelt performances, makes it a worthwhile watch, especially for families seeking a film with positive messages.

‘The Present’ hit UK cinemas on May 24.

 

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Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 Review: Have They Lost Their Spark?

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Sam Phillips as Lord Debling, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

Dearest gentle reader, Lady Whistledown is back for another Bridgerton season, and this time for her own love story (the ton doesn’t need to know). Classy as ever, Bridgerton Season 3 focuses primarily on Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton’s characters Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton as they take their friendship to another level.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

What is Bridgerton Season 3 About?

After focusing on Daphne and Anthony Bridgerton in the first and second seasons, the story is now following Colin Bridgerton’s story with the girl next door. Penelope was many things for Colin but never a love interest. She was his sister’s best friend, a girl next door, a friend, and someone who had a crush on him. It’s no secret for the viewers that Penelope had a huge crush on Colin for years, but our girl finally feels ready to move on and get her life together. She is now in search of a husband after getting her heart broken in the last season.

What Stole the Show?

Apart from Nicola Coughlan getting the most deserving highlight, Netflix did their fan service and gave more screen time to now-extremely popular Benedict Bridgerton. Benedict Bridgerton has always been one of the fan favorite characters but after this season he has certainly got a huge following. Luke Thompson’s charms deserve to be studied in a university. He seems to be people’s new crush and I don’t blame them! The beautifully written dialogues are as usual top notch.

Bridgerton is famous for many reasons, including its orchestral remix of popular songs. This season Pitbull’s ‘Give Me Everything’ is in the limelight as one doesn’t expect such an iconic party song to sound so classy. Huge kudos to the makeup and costume department for carrying the show with its theme gracefully. They certainly grasped the attention and enhanced the characters of the show.

Benedict Bridgerton and Lady Tilley Arnold

Benedict Bridgerton and Lady Tilley Arnold

What’s Bothering Us in The Show?

The scripting of the show seems rushed. It lacks the spice, passion, and the slow burn romance that defines a Bridgerton story. Colin’s character has been poorly developed this time. After being sidelined for the last two seasons this one was supposed to make him the knight in shining armor, but he rather lacks the character. He tries to help Penelope only because he feels guilty for insulting and hurting her. Later on, he ruins her chance with a great suitor only because he feels jealous for not having her. He acts like a child who wants his toy back as soon as some other child starts playing with it. He misses Penelope’s attention after seeing her happy with someone else who wants to marry her. Some may call it ‘true love’ but I believe it’s too immature and childish thing to do for a Bridgerton character. Nothing against Luke Newton but his character development is not helping the show.

Apart from lacking the slow-build and passionate love story, the show seems to have forgotten about Daphne and Simon Basset (played by Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page) completely. Anthony and Kate Bridgerton (played by Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley) appear in one episode and are not even mentioned in the rest.

Nicola Coughlan – The Show’s Star

Nicola Coughlan is shining brighter than any star in the sky. Both Nicola and Penelope are role models for body positivity. Young girls and women across the globe highly relate to Penelope and seeing her accepting herself, being comfortable in her own skin, and getting a complete makeover to feel more like herself is bound to create a positive wave among the fans. Unlike the last two Seasons, the Third Season is also focusing on other characters of the show as well, as it creates branches and stories for potential upcoming seasons. Yet, no one and nothing shines in front of Nicola Coughlan as she wears her crown with grace.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Is It Better Than Last Two Seasons?

Each Bridgerton story has its unique charm that keeps our eyes glued to the screens. Some love Season 1, others like Season 2, and the rest prefer Season 3 but is it better than the last two? Probably not. Nothing can beat Season 1! As much as the show focuses on the ‘Friends to Lovers’ storyline, it lacks the true essence of romance and no, I’m not talking about the spiciness even though they severely lack to give us butterflies. Polin’s storyline sometimes gives us butterflies but not as much as previous seasons did. The groundwork for the couple was laid since the first season yet they are not coming as strong and passionate as expected.

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 is currently available to stream on Netflix. Part 2 will be released on June 13.

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