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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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HORROR

Halloween Kills

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Michael Myers terrifies the townsfolk of Haddenfield once again. halloween Kills uses elements from the 1978 original and fuses them with tense, gruesome and gore, it’s BLOODY BRUTAL!!!

In 2018 David Gordon Green’s Halloween, starring icon Jamie Lee Curtis, killed at the box office, earning more than $250 million worldwide, becoming the highest grossing chapter in the four-decade franchise and setting a new record for the biggest opening weekend in history for a horror film starring a woman. 

However that Halloween night when Michael Myers returns isn’t over yet as the movie picks up right where we left off from the last one. Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (And Matichak)  have left the masked monster caged and burning in Laurie’s basement, Laurie however is rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries and believes that she’s finally killed her lifelong tormentor. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

But when Michael manages to free himself from Laurie’s trap, his ritual bloodbath resumes. As Laurie fights her pain and prepares to defend herself against him, she inspires all of Haddenfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster. 

The Strode women join a group of other survivors of Michael’s first rampage who decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a vigilante mob that sets out to hunt Michael down, once and for all.

Evil Dies Tonight. 

And speaking of evil, everything about this depiction of Michael is phenomenal. From his onscreen chilling presence, to his mask and the way he commits these brutal murders. Michael’s rampage through Haddenfield is pure carnage, he absolutely demolishes everyone and everything is his path. He’s let loose and becomes an even bigger dangerous threat, which is to be expected from masked killers. 

His kills are inventive and vicious and he’s gone one step ahead with the performance of killing someone as I felt that Michael has some theatricality aspects and truly admires his work by the way he displays their bodies. However I felt that some kills were forgettable due to the fact that we don’t get to care for some characters as by the time they’re in Michael’s line of sight, you know they’re a gonna. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

For fans of horror and violence in movies, there are many spine-chilling moments such as Skull crushing, eye-gouging, gunshots and plenty of bodily horror. 

And if you’re a fan of the original 1978 Halloween film, you’ll be pleased to see many of the actors who were once children, teenagers in the original reprise the same roles in Halloween Kills as adults. It feels so believable and genuine to see the likes of Kyle Richards (Lindsey Wallace ), Nancy Stephens (Marion Chambers) and Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Leigh Brackett) . The film truly pays homage to the original that started it all. many other characters return from the 2018 film and another classic character returning is Tommy Doyle, though recast and now played by Anthony Michael Hall. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

With all these characters the film switches the narrative by focusing in on how the town itself responds and reacts to Michael as the Haddonfield townspeople are fed up and exhausted after 40 years of trauma which was brought on by Michael Myers. We follow groups of unlikely heroes throughout the town armed and ready to take out an unstoppable force of nature by any means necessary. Tommy rallies the whole community to band together. They don’t listen to the Police so this film shows what happens when a town is dissatisfied with a failed system and a useless authority. All hell breaks loose and a mob is formed, this becomes a story that isn’t about Laurie vs Michael, instead about Michael vs Haddonfield itself. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

The movie’s central location takes place within a hospital, we see bodies being swarmed in as a result of Michael. Fear starts growing within the town which unfortunately morphs into panic and eventually utter complete chaos when misinformation and rumours star to spread. I felt that the residents of Haddenfield’s true enemy was their own idiotic decisions, society and rage has made them the monsters. 

Cinematography is certainly elevated this time with unique camera angels showcasing the murders. John Carpenter’s score is beautiful and certainly adds suspense to certain scenes. I also love the film’s nods and nostalgia throughout flashbacks to 1978. 

Overall Halloween Kills is a solid setup and middle chapter of this trilogy. It’s a fun popcorn flick with the right amount of slasher, horror and humour. It also sets into motion what will eventually become Halloween Ends. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

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After We Fell- Review

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After We Fell is the third instalment of the “After” series, based on a series of fanfiction published on Wattpad in 2011 by Anna Todd. The film stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Hardin Scott and Josephine Langford as Tessa, the leading couple. This film follows the pair as they face troubles as Tessa makes a life-changing decision, her estranged father gets back in touch, and Hardin’s family secrets begin to unravel. Check out the trailer below.

The film is laden with issues. The script is awful, you can really tell it was fan fiction from Wattpad. The dialogue makes you cringe and it really doesn’t sell that these people and their relationships are real. The direction is just about competent, the acting is barely passable, and the story is predictable and vapid. I’m sure the cast has great acting chops, but they can’t flex them here in the slightest. Every ‘twist’ is set up so badly that when the jaw-dropping reveals happen, anyone who has been paying attention has seen it coming for the last hour. The story isn’t engaging. It sets things up that don’t really go anywhere. The characters outside of the central duo are completely interchangeable and they feel superfluous to the story. Anyone who isn’t Hardin or Tessa feels like they’re there just to fill the vacuum between awfully shot sex scenes until the credits mercifully roll.

I could go on for hours about how this fails on every level as a film, but honestly, I don’t think its intended audience cares about cinematography, screenwriting, or production design etc.- which is fine, most people don’t care about those things as long as the story is engaging and enjoyable- (if they did this wouldn’t have many fans). The film clearly knows its target audience is teenagers, the type of person who reads fan fiction on Wattpad about One Direction. The film has a few, shall we say, ‘intimate’ scenes, which are cleverly edited to ensure a 15 rating. During those cleverly edited moments, there is always a shot where the camera cuts away to show Harden getting a condom and opening it, so the audience knows that even ‘bad boys’ like Harden Scott use protection. And then during one scene where they don’t show Harden getting a condom, the next morning the two mention how they didn’t use protection the night before and have a brief discussion about contraception. Which is great, encouraging safe sex is always great, regardless of how you do it. However, people should not be having sex with someone as manipulative and toxic as Harden, even if he is wearing a condom. This is a nice segue into the real problem with After We Fell.



The biggest issue with this film and the whole After series, in general, is the relationship at the centre of it. Hardin is controlling, possessive, and aggressive. One evening in After We Fell, Tessa and Hardin are enjoying a romantic time in a hot tub. After being interrogated by her boyfriend, Tessa eventually confesses to briefly having feelings for someone else while they were broken up and Hardin storms off and ignores her for the rest of the night. He disrespects a waiter who is innocently talking to Tessa, he stalks her, harasses her. In some scenes, it feels like he is only a step away from hitting her. At best their relationship is toxic and at worst it’s abusive and manipulative. And despite all of this, their relationship is presented as romantic and merely “troubled”. Hardin is dominating and proprietorial, he refuses to listen to Tessa, he lashes out at her, invades her privacy, and then someone assures Tessa: he only acts this way because he loves her. He is the way he is; he does the things he does, out of love. The writers and the characters act as though Hardin being extremely toxic and pretty much abusive is sweet and caring. It’s difficult to write a review of the film when the overarching concept and theme is just too wrong to look past. This is not a well-made film, but I’ve seen many poorly made films that are an absolute blast. This being a bad film, though, doesn’t matter because its issues run so much deeper than just below-par technicalities.

The idea of young people watching this and imagining that this kind of relationship is not only normal but romantic and passionate is genuinely concerning. If this is the standard filmmakers set for romantic relationships for young people, it is extremely worrying. This film is rated as appropriate for 15-year-olds. However, the subject matter and the type of relationship this is romanticising warrants an 18 rating. No 15-year-old girl should be watching this and thinking that it is a good relationship, that Hardin is a troubled but sweet person, which is how the film presents it. This is really one of the most irresponsible film series being made right now; it’s borderline dangerous.

After We Fell hits Amazon Prime on 22 October.

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Comic Book Movies

Venom: Let There Be Carnage A Dark Comedy Infused With Fast-paced Action

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‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ was absolutely Full of CARNAGE. It’s a dark comedy infused with fast-paced action and the relationship between Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and Venom was like watching an old married couple. And Woody Harrelson’s performance was CHAOTIC in a good way. 

After so many potential release dates due to the film being delayed, Venom: Let There Be Carnage was officially released in Cinemas here in the UK on Friday the 15th of October. It is the sequel to Sony’s 2018 film Venom in where the Symbiote links himself with a host and used their bodies to service. Venom now lives amongst us but Eddie Brock struggles to adjust to his new life as the host of the alien symbiote. Venom grants him super-human abilities in order to be a lethal vigilante. Brock attempts to reignite his Journalism career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who becomes the host of the symbiotic Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution. 

The film wastes no time and dives straight into the storyline which dives deeper into the origin of Serial Killer Cletus Kasady. Harrelson’s performance as said earlier was Chaotic in the best way possible as his character encapsulates the rage and insanity. His performance was brilliantly matched by Tom Hardy who reprises his role as Eddie Brock, his chemistry with Venom is once again the true highlight of the film. The duo of Harrelson and Hardy work great as frenemies.

Speaking of venom this is truly where the film shines. Since this is a continuation from the first movie, Venom fells more settled inside his host and is more comfortable as Eddie’s conscience. However their rocky relationship has caused a lot of problems for Brock as both want to do different things for example, Eddie just wants to get on with his life and get his career back up and running, Venom does comply however he lusts for brains and chocolate. he feels stuck and wants to be free, but unfortunately cannot control his impulses. 

They argue, fight and trash Eddie’s apartment. This is a very venomous love affair between them both but in an interesting scene, Venom attends a rave and opens up and i’m not kidding about his love for Eddie. Director Andy Serkis opens up about this particular scene saying that it was Tom’s idea to have Venom sort of Come out and go to a party that was a ideally an LGBTQIA festival. Venom speaks for freedom of others by asking to stop this cruel treatment of aliens. 

At it’s heart this film is a love story about the extraordinary relationship between symbiote and host. 

Reprising their roles from the first film are Michelle Williams (Anne Weying) , Reid Scott (Dan Lewis) and Peggy Lu as Mrs. Chen. I felt all have less screen time during the film but these characters are vital to help Eddie’s journey and Venom’s. 

However I felt Naomi Harris was criminally underused. Her character Shriek acts more as a walking plot device than an actual character, though she does brilliantly on what the writers have given her to do. Another Character i felt that had potential but little to do was Stephen Graham, his character felt more like another plot device to tease the sequel. 

With a new director to the franchise, Andy series brings a new quality to the story and action due to his knowledge of motion capture, the VFX on the symbiote’s are outstanding and realistic.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a step up from the first film. It’s a fun 90 minutes and OMG do not miss the credits!!!!!

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