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Coming 2 America | Review



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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The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar Is Wes Anderson’s Delightful Take On Roald Dahl’s Sweet Story



Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in Roald Dahl's 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' (Netflix)

Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson have both left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of generations. Dahl’s timeless stories have enchanted readers for decades, while Anderson’s groundbreaking films have pushed the boundaries of cinematic storytelling. Their unique talents and shared appreciation for the power of literature have now converged in Anderson’s latest masterpiece, the modern short film adaptation of Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Anderson, known for his extraordinary attention to detail and distinctive visual style, brings Dahl’s adult-friendly tale to life in a truly captivating way. With a star-studded cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley, the film stays true to the author’s original text, with the actors delivering their lines directly from the page. This dedication to the literary essence of the story sets the stage for Anderson’s exceptional storytelling.

Dev Patel as Dr. Chatterjee, Sir Ben Kingsley as Imdad Khan and Richard Ayoade as Dr. Marshall in Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Following his previous successful adaptation of Dahl’s work with the Oscar-nominated The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson is poised to once again captivate audiences with The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. In a mere 37 minutes, this short film manages to deliver a delightful and heartwarming experience that can beat any full-length feature film. The commitment and power of the A-list cast shine throughout, ensuring a resounding success on multiple levels.

From the very beginning, Fiennes embodies Dahl himself, narrating the tale as he seamlessly transitions between the comfort of his home and the picturesque outdoors.  By applying freeze-frame techniques and cleverly staged tableaus, Fiennes and his fellow actors walk through different sets that are magically transformed by on-screen “stagehands” right before our eyes. This dynamic interplay between reality and cunningness is a testament to Anderson’s growing fascination with the theatrical aspects of filmmaking.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar not only captures the imaginative essence found in Dahl’s works but also showcases the filmmaker’s mastery of visual storytelling. Each scene is meticulously crafted, with Anderson’s staging drawing heavily on theatrical influences. Costume changes happen seamlessly on camera, resulting in Ben Kingsley’s Khan humorously questioning the whereabouts of his mustache. Furthermore, practical effects, including a delightful box trick, add to the mesmerizing experience of witnessing the film’s creation unfold before our eyes.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar and Ralph Fiennes as the policeman in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Anderson’s choice to create a short film rather than a feature-length production proves to be a stroke of genius. The pacing remains consistently engaging, ensuring that viewers remain captivated from start to finish. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a visual feast, an entertaining experience, and, above all, a whole lot of fun.

When it comes to acting, it’s so hard to pick a standout because whenever an actor comes on the screen, he or she gives a performance that stays with you. Benedict Cumberbatch is magnetic in his portrayal of Henry Sugar and mesmerises you with a performance that shows his acting prowess. Ben Kingsley shows us why he is one of the greatest actors of all time. His monologues are truly special. Meanwhile, Dev Patel and Richard Ayoade are the magical new entrants in Anderson’s world of magical stories. Both of them are brilliant in their respective roles.

On the other hand, Ralph Fiennes showcases his versatility by embodying Roald Dahl in the most fantastic way possible.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Roald Dahl’s rich storytelling finds new life through Wes Anderson’s innovative cinematic techniques. Their creative collaboration results in a short film that is visually pleasing, emotionally compelling, and brimming with the charm and magic that have made both artists legends in their respective fields. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is not to be missed, as it brings together the best of Dahl and Anderson, leaving audiences enraptured by its undeniable allure. Experience this enchanting journey, and let yourself be swept away by the power of imagination.

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Expendables 4 Movie Review | Explosive & Funny!



Expendables 4 (Lionsgate Movies)

The following piece was written during the 2023 Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie material being covered here wouldn’t exist.


A new generation of stars join the world’s top action stars for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Expend4bles. Reuniting as the team of elite mercenaries, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Sylvester Stallone are joined for the first time by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia. Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. But new team members with new styles and tactics are going to give “new blood” a whole new meaning.

Iko Uwais as Suarto Rahmat (Lionsgate Movies)

The Expendables Film Series

I highly recommend catching up on the other movies in the Expendables film series.

Expendables 1 (2010)

The only life they’ve known is war. The only loyalty they have is to each other. They are the Expendables: leader and mastermind Barney Ross (Stallone), former SAS blade expert Lee Christmas (Statham), hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang (Li), long barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Couture), and precision sniper Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren). Living life in the fringes of the law, these hardened mercenaries take on what appears to be a routine assignment: a covert, CIA-funded operation to infiltrate the South American country of Vilena and overthrow its ruthless dictator General Garza (David Zayas). But when their job is revealed to be a suicide mission, the men are faced with a deadly choice, one that might redeem their souls or destroy their brotherhood forever.

The Expendables Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 2

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren),Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) — with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard — are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time — six tons of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that’s nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother. That is done the Expendables way….

The Expendables 2 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 3 (2014)

In The Expendables 3, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. In order to defeat Stonebanks, Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

The Expendables 3 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Movie Review

Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Sylvester Stallone bring the explosive energy needed to give us an explosive performance on-screen. The new members, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia bring in a breath of fresh air with new attitude and fighting styles to keep us entertained. This movie is the fourth in the Expendable film series, but there is definitely no clear link between this movie and the prequels. Each movie in essence is a new mission and Expendables 4 can be watched without watching the previous movies. I suggest watching the previous three movies to experience the explosive action that you get when you combine our favorite action heroes.

Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross, leader of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 4 was great and delivered yet another action-packed mission filled with awesome fights, humor, cultural references and explosions. However, it wasn’t difficult to spot the main villain and there aren’t much surprises in terms of the new action stars who join this mission.

The movie starts us off with the Expendables in a race against time to retrieve nuclear warheads, but the mission goes south and instead of sticking to orders, one of the soldiers attempt to save his team member instead, which results in a failed mission and a casualty. The story follows the combination of accomplishing the mission while delivering a can of revenge-based whoop-ass. The last fight isn’t as explosive as the cast but still manages to deliver a plot-twist finale.

Megan Fox, Andy Garcia & Jacob Scipio, some of the newest members of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

A future sequel should really consider a completely new group pick up the baton and leave us in suspense as to who the new heroes and villains could be. I love a good surprise with a side of plot twist in any movie.

There is no post-credits scene, so no need to wait till the very end. The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the plot twists you can expect from the movie. Overall, my rating for Expendables 4 is a 3.5 out of 5.

Make sure to watch at a cinema near you!

Expend4bles Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

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Sung Kang’s ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a Campy Horror-Comedy With Superb Performances



Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen in 'Shaky Shivers' (Cineverse)

If you thought that Sung Kang can only thrill you with amazing car stunts, then you are wrong. The acclaimed star is set to take you on an entertaining ride with his directorial debut titled ‘Shaky Shivers’.

The latest horror-comedy film marks the feature directorial debut of Sung Kang, renowned for his roles in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise and several other big projects. The movie stars Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen, with an ensemble cast including Jimmy Bellinger, Erin Daniels, and Herschel Sparber.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

From the very beginning, ‘Shaky Shivers’ grabs hold of your attention with the comedic chemistry between lead actresses Brooke Markham (Lucy) and VyVy Nguyen (Karen). Their hilarious banter and dynamic friendship draw you into their world of magic, mayhem, and monstrous encounters. While a few other characters make appearances, the heart of the film rests on the shoulders of Karen and Lucy, whose relatable and believable friendship makes the story even more bewitching.

One of the best aspects of the film is how Sung Kang skillfully directs the title despite limited cast and limited settings. It still manages to keep audiences engaged and entertained. Kang also pays homage to classic horror films like ‘American Werewolf in London’ and injects fresh energy into the scenes while showcasing his comedic flair.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

If you are one of those who enjoy unapologetically goofy and fun movies, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is undoubtedly a fun watch. Embracing its campiness, the film doesn’t try to be anything other than an enjoyable ride filled with supernatural elements. The characters have a helpful book of spells that they use to solve problems, which adds a clever and funny element to the story that will make you laugh..

While categorized as a horror-comedy, ‘Shaky Shivers’ leans more towards comedy than horror. However, don’t worry, as the supernatural beings like werewolves, zombies, and witches make their presence known throughout. The practical effects and impressive monster makeup, reminiscent of old-school horror flicks from the 70s and 80s, immerse you in a world of creatures and enchantment.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

The plot of ‘Shaky Shivers’ escalates in an exciting and compelling manner, filled with unpredictable twists and goofy surprises.  While it may not leave you terrified, the perfect blend of supernatural ambiance and comedic moments guarantees plenty of laughter and enjoyment.

In conclusion, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a must-watch horror-comedy that delivers on laughs, friendship, and supernatural encounters. With its engaging storyline, talented cast, and Sung Kang’s impressive directorial debut, the film is a delightful addition to the genre. So grab a large tub of popcorn and take your family for this fun-filled ride.

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