What The Flick | BET.com http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick Fri, 08 Aug 2014 02:13:49 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Movie Review: ‘Into the Storm’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-into-the-storm/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-into-the-storm/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 01:57:51 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7714 (Photo: New Line Cinema)

(Photo: New Line Cinema)

Disaster films are inherently crowd-pleasing if the formula includes likable characters, an acceptable script and fun-to-watch special effects. Unfortunately, Into the Storm failed on two out of three.  The tornado fiasco managed to nail the CGI, but fancy computerized twisters could not redeem the flick’s consistent dimwittedness. Half-baked characters include a work-obsessed single mom, a work-obsessed single dad, stereotypical hillbillies, testy storm chasers and a flock of teenagers. The general plot: everyone is scrambling around the most epic and implausible cyclones of all time — think Final Destination meets Twister, but not nearly as entertaining.

Directed by Steven Quale, the first twenty minutes is teen babble with one character filming his high school graduation.  The first-person cam bounces to each character, attempting to give us an “intimate” look at twitsers. Yep, another “found footage” film in the style of Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. This overused style only works if there is an extreme sense of urgency and drama, which Into the Storm lacked.  Furthermore, how is it possible to maintain a handheld cam while enduring a biblical tornado?  The shaky cameras were more annoying than suspenseful and just one of the many ridiculous fumbles in the film’s 89 minutes.

Hopefully the actors, who are clearly working hard with the flat script, will get more chances to prove themselves. Sarah Wayne Callies, who famously played Lori in The Walking Dead, has a strong on-screen presence even with atrocious dialogue that frequently made the audience burst into laugher. Arlen Escarpeta, who plays Bobby Brown in Lifetime’s Whitney Houston biopic, is no novice to the big screen. The Belizean actor has appeared in several horror films, so hopefully Into the Storm in one of his last stops in B-movie land.

When you are sitting in a movie like Into the Storm and the two people next to you are huffing, puffing and shaking their head at the flick’s stupidity, you can’t help but think, “How do movies like this even get the green light to be made?”  There are so many filmmakers with original, fun — and not just indie-style — ideas from disaster to horror.  With appropriate backing, fresh ideas would undoubtedly perform better at the box office rather than badly rehashing the old, as Into the Storm does.  The film is an indication of why this year has been one of the worst summers for the box office.

Into the Storm is in theaters tomorrow.

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Movie Review: ‘Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-cabin-fever-3-patient-zero/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-cabin-fever-3-patient-zero/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 15:00:19 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7698

(Photo: Film002)

When it comes to melodramatic, campy horror films with ludicrous sex scenes and B-movie foolishness, Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero is right up there with the worst of them — but in a good way. The third installment and prequel of the cheese-ball series, directed by Kaare Andrews, is strictly for its genre. Don’t expect Silence of the Lambs or The Exorcist. Starring Sean Astin (of Goonies fame), Cabin Fever 3 is the kind of flick you watch with friends, tossing popcorn in each other’s mouths and laughing at every haphazard scenario.

With decent special effects, Cabin Fever 3 is not a bore, which is about all you can ask for in horror. The plot, too, is interesting enough — better than many bigger-budget blockbusters. The night before a wedding in the Dominican Republic, the groom and his three friends travel to a random island for a bachelor party. Who knows why  twenty somethings would want to be on a deserted island for a party, but this is horror movie land.  We can quickly determine that something in the water ain’t clean, and a flesh-eating virus infects two members of the group. Yet, they still managed to get their freak on, even with limbs falling off … sexy! On the hunt for help, the groom and his BFF find a medical facility where the virus has wreaked havoc due to Patient Zero, who we see in the opening scene. They must find their way off the island and Patient Zero is hellbent on escaping with them.

Cabin Fever 3 includes acceptable plots twists, funny one-liners (my favorite line, a “nurse” tells a woman whose face is falling off, “I think you need a referral!”) and a solid, horror flick ending.  Obviously, this is not a great film and it isn’t supposed to be, but Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero more or less does its job of delivering equal parts laughter and fright.

Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero is in theaters and on iTunes today.

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Movie Review: ‘Get On Up’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-get-on-up/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-get-on-up/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:30:48 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7674

(Photo: Imagine Entertainment)

Summary: A biopic on the late, great James Brown. Directed by Tate Taylor, the film chronicles Brown’s life as an impoverished child in rural Georgia to legendary superstardom.

Review: Get On Up opens with James Brown in 1988, high on PCP, armed with a rifle and hollering at insurance agents for taking a dump in his private bathroom. It’s an uncomfortable start to the film, which is written by British siblings Jez and John-Henry Butterworth. Imagine if What’s Love Got to Do With It opened with Ike Turner punching Tina or if the first frame of Ray was Mr. Charles shooting up heroine. Maybe the objective was to move from dark to light, but considering the oddball first ten minutes, the film had much to redeem. Thank the cinematic gods for Chadwick Boseman. Get On Up is no Malcolm X or Lady Sings the Blues, but the performances and infectious music repairs many of the film’s flaws.

Get On Up is directed by Tate Taylor, the controversial director of The Help. Similar to The Help, which earned Octavia Spencer an Oscar, there is a hard-to-describe absence of feeling and rhythm. Get On Up needed a bit more grit and grime. With the campy one-liners and soft handling of race, you wanted Taylor to dig deeper, go to the gutter of the soul, which is what James Brown effortlessly represented. So you can’t help but wonder how different the film would have been if Spike Lee, who was originally signed on to direct, was at the helm. The blogosphere went mad when Lee was replaced by The Help director, but maybe Tate Taylor has it right. A Spike Lee version of a James Brown biopic might be too much for the public to consume. Taylor plays it safe, which equals box office gold. Personally, though, I love an artistic risk.

Steering clear of the traditional biopic format, the film is not linear. There are constant flashbacks to Brown’s tragic youth.  However, the flick sometimes gets lost in the flashes, which can be annoying when you are invested in one scene and are suddenly fast-forwarded to a new wig and different characters.  When the original scene returns, you’ve already checked out.  In addition, Taylor also relies heavily on talking directly to the camera, which is a device viewers will either love or hate.  The random monologues into the camera tossed me out of the film, but they might have been necessary for a non-chronological script. Between the erratic narrative and distracting techniques, linear storytelling might have been a better move for Get On Up.

Chadwick Boseman’s performance makes you forgive the obvious hiccups. Though many raised an eyebrow that he would take on playing another historic figure so early in his career, there is no residual of his portrayal of Jackie Robinson in 42. Boseman avoided a common impersonation of Brown, adding soul, humor and drama. The best scene is with Viola Davis (of course, the most powerful moment would be with the consistently astounding Tony winner), who plays Brown’s mother, meeting James Brown for the first time since she abandoned him. It was one of the few scenes Boseman was able to present a sensitive side of Brown with Davis upping the acting stakes.  I’ll go on record to say Boseman has the potential to be the next Denzel Washington or Matthew McConaughey, he is a star.

Even with the overwhelming 139-minute running time and many flaws, Get On Up is a hard film not to enjoy. Most importantly, what the director, producers and cast effectively communicated was the resilience of the human soul. Similar to Josephine Baker, Tina Turner and Ray Charles, Brown grew up in the dirt of poverty — no running water, no social services, abandoned by family, zero education — and managed to become an icon. Brown’s story of survival will make you want to get on up and better your own life.

Get On Up is in theaters tomorrow.

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Movie Review: ‘Lucy’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-lucy/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-lucy/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:00:59 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7661 (Photo: TF1 Films Productions)

(Photo: TF1 Films Productions)

Don’t you hate when you are enjoying the first 15 minutes of a film and saying to yourself, “This is going to be good!” Then, the movie takes an odd turn to the left, completely goes off course and you’re soon thinking, “When the hell is this going to be over?” That is the best way to describe Luc Besson’s Lucy. Yes, the debunked myth of “humans only use ten percent of their brain capacity” is an interesting premise for a film, but the idea quickly gets lost in being a cerebral life lesson rather than entertaining. Don’t expect a fun femme fatale flick like the Underworld franchise or 1993’s Point of No Return.

Despite a great start and the presence of the always-excellent Morgan Freeman, Lucy suffers from a deadpan script packed with laughable dialogue, harebrained (even for sci-fi) scenarios and an awkward performance from Scarlett Johansson, who stars as Lucy, a young woman caught up in corrupt deal with well-dressed Korean gangsters. After ingesting a powerful drug, her senses are heightened and she becomes Miss 100 Percent.  What’s amazing about Lucy’s ability to access her full brain capacity is that she becomes less human with each second. She feels no pain, spots diseases, creates a black blob of computers complete with a stylish USB card, travels in time and all with perfect blonde trestles of hair.

Clearly, the Tony winner was doing her best to make a flat character work, which might have looked better on paper (Angelina Jolie was once attached, but ultimately dropped out of the film).  However, with eye-rolling babble and not enough sensical action, Lucy fails due to its own premise and Johansson’s zombie-like portrayal couldn’t save the film.  The good side: Lucy only clocks in 88 minutes, which is a relief considering the unnecessary, nearly three-hour epics we have today. Just when you cannot take anymore, the film swiftly ends.  With my limited ten percent brain capacity, it’s possible that I couldn’t grasp the film’s greatness … but I doubt it.  Lucy is bland on arrival.

Lucy is in theaters now.

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Movie Review: ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-purge-anarchy/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-purge-anarchy/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:20:22 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7650

(Photo: Universal Pictures)

Summary: It’s 2023 and the annual Purge returns with the New Founding Fathers, once again allowing citizens to “release the beast.” All crime is legal, including murder, for 12 tragic hours. A group of four (a couple and a mother and daughter) are unarmed, anti-purgers caught in the middle of the heat. While they are being hunted, a random man tries to rescue them, but can he be trusted?

Review: Last year, The Purge was a surprising hit with mostly awful reviews. The film’s biggest flaw was an interesting premise succumbing to another generic home invasion thriller. Writer and director James DeManco must have listened to the critics, because The Purge: Anarchy cleans ups the flaws of 2013, easily topping the original and is, thus far, the best thriller of the year. The Purge: Anarchy is no perfect flick, the clunky dialogue is laughable at times and audiences will need an extreme suspension of disbelief. But, for its genre, the movie is a suspenseful joyride with surprisingly witty commentary.

The heart of the The Purge isn’t violence and guns, it’s governmental greed. “Purging” isn’t to “release the beast” — it’s population control. Every year, the economy benefits from the 12 hours of crime, with the poor suffering the most. In the original, race was never explicitly stated. This time around, the poor, mainly brown folks cannot protect themselves like the rich. “Hunters” go to the “ghetto” to snatch up victims that the rich can torture and kill for a hefty price. Class and race are interestingly tackled with the victims embodying the terror of living through the Purge.

A sign of a good thriller is when you ask yourself: What would I do in that situation? The Purge: Anarchy leaves you with that eerie feeling long after the movie ends.

The film stars Frank Grillo as Sergeant, but in the way of Liam Neeson in Taken, he dodges every bullet and solves every catastrophe. He is a trite plot device that viewers have seen a million times on screen — but someone needs to attempt to save the day. The characters you truly root for are Jeffrey Wright’s wife Carmen Ejogo, who plays Eva Sanchez, a struggling single mother who is caring for her sickly father. Also, Zoë Soul, who plays Eva’s daughter, a quick-mouthed teen who is equally annoying and enjoyable. Soul shined in her role and showed the potential of having a big career beyond thrillers. Plus, Michael K. Williams stars as Carmelo, a revolutionary who believes purging must end. The strong characters help to mask plot holes and impossible scenarios.

The Purge: Anarchy is a rare case where the sequel is better than the original. Expect moviegoers to purge their dollars at the box office this weekend.

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Oscar-Winning Film Black Orpheus Coming to Broadway http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/oscar-winning-film-black-orpheus-coming-to-broadway/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/oscar-winning-film-black-orpheus-coming-to-broadway/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:36:09 +0000 smundhra http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7644 Black Orpheus is heading to the Great White Way. The Rio de Janiero-set film, which won the Best Foreign Language Academy Award in 1960, is being adapted as a Broadway musical by heavy-hitters George C. Wolfe and Lynn Nottage. The former is a Tony-winning director and the latter a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.

The original film, a retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in modern-day Rio, is credited with bringing the bossa nova craze to the United States. The story centers on a couple who fall in love during Carnevale and are forced to take a mystical journey to the underworld.

“We are so thrilled to bring this classic piece of Brazilian popular culture to life onstage,” the show’s producer Stephen Byrd said in a statement. “The World Cup is providing a wonderful international platform for Brazil right now, and we look forward to further spotlighting this legacy on Broadway.”

We know the music and art direction of the Broadway adaptation of this hedonistic tale will be a feast for the senses, and we can’t wait to see who might be cast in the leading roles.

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Tony Nominee Mary Bridget Davies Rocks B.B. King’s http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/tony-nominee-mary-bridget-davies-rocks-b-b-kings/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/tony-nominee-mary-bridget-davies-rocks-b-b-kings/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 22:00:45 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7635

(Photo: Joseph Marzullo/WENN.com)

Soul singer Mary Bridget Davies proved once again why she deserved her Tony nomination for playing Janis Joplin in A Night With Janis Joplin on Broadway last night at B.B. Kings in Manhattan. One of her first performances since Janis closed, Davies showcased her range, style and humor beyond what she brought to the stage as the blues legend who passed away at 27 years old in 1970.

Singing over 20 songs, Davies belted out everything from Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings “100 Days, 100 Nights,” to Porgy and Bess to Etta James.  There aren’t many performers who could do justice to those diverse of singers, but Davies blessed each song with ease and soul.  The over 90-minute set list was one that many Billboard charting hit-makers probably couldn’t endure. Davies owns a colossal, one-of-a-kind vocal strength that balances between classic and current.

The Cleveland-born singer is also someone who isn’t afraid to share the stage with another powerhouse vocalist — blues and Broadway singer Sabrina Elayne Carten delivered a whopping version of Aretha Franklin’s “Today I Sing the Blue.  The Bronx native is a powerhouse — and worthy of a Google search if you’re not familiar with her work.

Hopefully, fans of blues and soul music will get the proper exposure to Mary Bridget Davies. Her passion transcends Broadway, blues, male, female, Black or white.  Mary Bridget Davies is performing again at B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York City on July 7, July 28 and August 11.

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Madonna Attends Preview of Tupac-Inspired Musical ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/madonna-attends-preview-of-tupac-inspired-musical-holler-if-ya-hear-me/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/madonna-attends-preview-of-tupac-inspired-musical-holler-if-ya-hear-me/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 13:30:03 +0000 smundhra http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7627

(Photo: Courtesy of Holler If Ya Hear Me)

The upcoming musical inspired by the lyrics of Tupac is drawing an A-list crowd even before it opens. Madonna, who was friends with Pac and allegedly dated him before his untimely passing in 1996, attended a preview showing of the Broadway musical, directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon.

The Material Girl brought her latest 20-something boy toy Timor Steffens as her date, and sat in the third row. Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur, also a producer of the show, was also in attendance.

The musical officially opens Thursday at the Palace Theatre. It uses several of Shakur’s songs, including “Dear Mama” and “Keep Ya Head Up” to tell an original story about two young men dealing with life and tragedy in a Midwestern industrial city.

The preview coincided with Tupac’s birthday. The rap icon would have been 43 this year.

Get ready for the BET Experience, featuring Mary J. Blige, Maxwell, Jill Scott, A$AP Rocky, Rick Ross and many more. Click here for more details and info on how to purchase tickets.

Go here for a chance to win a VIP trip to Las Vegas for you and your friends!

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Mary Bridget Davies and Beth Hart Performing in New York City http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/mary-bridget-davies-and-beth-hart-performing-in-new-york-city/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/mary-bridget-davies-and-beth-hart-performing-in-new-york-city/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 18:56:37 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7617

(Photos from left: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

A serious case of the blues is coming to the Big Apple. Mary Bridget Davies, who earned a Tony nomination this year for her dynamic portrayal of Janis Joplin in A Night With Janis Joplin, will be performing at B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York City on June 23, July 7, July 28 and August 11. Unfortunately, Janis closed in February, but I still maintain it was one of the best musicals of the year … maybe Broadway couldn’t handle all that ballsy soul.

On Broadway, Davies ripped through Joplin’s classics like “Piece of My Heart,” “Cry Baby” and the rhythm and blues torch epic “Ball and Chain.” If you missed Davies as Janis, this is your chance to experience the Tony nominee live on stage.  Click here for more info.  The show won’t just be Janis Joplin covers, Davies will perform other blues classics as well. We are rooting for Davies to grab the Tony this Sunday, June 8 (check your local listings)!

Janis Joplin’s influence continues on June 23 (sold out!) and June 25 at the Highline Ballroom with the Beth Hart Band.  The Los Angeles native landed one of her many “big breaks” when  she played Janis Joplin in Love, Janis off-Broadway. Hart is also known for her hit song “LA Song (Get Out of This Town)” and she brought the house down at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors with her performance of “I’d Rather Go Blind” in tribute to Buddy Guy.  Most recently, Hart was nominated for a 2014 Blues Award in the category of Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year. A set by Hart — who rarely performs in the States — is a show not to be missed.  The June 23 show is already sold out, so act now for the June 25 show.  Click here for more info.

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Movie Review: ‘Godzilla’ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-godzilla/ http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/movie-review-godzilla/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 14:00:40 +0000 ccane http://blogs.bet.com/celebrities/what-the-flick/?p=7603

(Photo: Warner Bros Pictures)

Godzilla is a global icon but the franchise was never known for great filmmaking. With roots in Japan, the whale-meets-gorilla monster is famous for cheap special effects and awful overacting. Nonetheless, the film Godzilla is nostalgia and the 2014 reboot attempts to capitalize on the legend’s fan base while going for a Hollywood blockbuster. That said, from the 1998 version to 2014, Godzilla fails to translate to today’s audience.

Directed by Gareth Edwards and written by Max Borenstein, the Warner Bros. film kicks off with the stellar acting chops of Bryan Cranston, who plays Joe Brody, a nuclear physicist. He loses his wife in 1999 in what people assume is an earthquake. By 2014, Brody is obsessed with the conspiracy theory that Japan’s government is hiding the truth. His adult son (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), frustrated with his father, doesn’t believe the conspiracies, until the truth is in front of him. It’s the basic characters we see every year in action films: a hero, his distraught wife, a lost child and random people who disappear as quickly as they appear on screen. The emotions between the characters felt as artificial as the CGI-zilla.

The first hour overflows with back-story, random monsters and asking the person next to you, “When will Godzilla show up?” As most will complain, it takes Mr. Zilla an hour to finally roar on screen. Yes, a full hour. Imagine if you went to see the latest movie starring Kevin Hart and he didn’t grace the screen until after the first hour. Clearly, the audience would be disappointed.  However, Edwards and Borenstein made a conscious decision for G-Zilla to be tardy for the destruction.  When he finally breathes fire and knocks down buildings, the wait sucked out the interest.  But Godzilla in 2014 doesn’t bomb because the king of monsters is fashionably late. With uninteresting characters, predictable scenarios and mediocre special effects, Godzilla would be a dud even if he showed up in the first ten minutes.

It’s been sixty years since Godzilla made its first appearance on film in 1954. Hollywood, it’s time to let Godzilla rest. His work here is done.

Godzilla is in theaters now.

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