Archive for "Zoe Saldana"

Movie Review: “Star Trek Into Darkness”

Published by Clay Cane on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 12:00 am.

(Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Summary: In J.J. Abrams’ second Star Trek installment, the Enterprise crew are hunting  down a traitor in their own group who has massive plans to destroy Earth and beyond.

Review: J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness is a nearly perfect appetizer for the upcoming summer blockbuster season. The Paramount film doesn’t take itself too seriously yet still delivers wit thanks to Zachary Quinto with his superb performance as Spock. All of the ingredients are there: likable characters, standard but enjoyable storyline, funny one-liners and full-blown action. The movie safely does its job and is easily the first must-see action flick of the year.

Surprisingly, it’s not the action that makes Star Trek a hit, it’s the undeniable charm from the legendary characters brought together by a magnetic cast. Whether it’s the realistic relationships between Caption Kirk and his one night stands or Spock and his boo, Uhura, it’s the chemistry of the actors that makes the trite not too painful. Yes, every action scene is predictable and sometimes the script feels a bit soap-opera-in-space, but viewers will enjoy how each character arrives from one point to another.

The relatable tone of the Kirk, Spock and Uhura rise above the camp of the original and iconic series. The younger and fresher version of Star Trek will satisfy trekkies yet you don’t have to be a Star Trek guru to follow. But one major element Star Trek brought to the reboot is diversity. The series was known for breaking the color barrier on television. On the big screen, mostly everyone is represented, unlike many action films we see today. 

Into Darkness is another blockbuster success for Abrams and team. Clocking in a little over two hours, the film is not flawless, but the pros definitely outweigh the cos.

Star Trek Into Darkness is in theaters now.

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Movie Review: “Colombiana”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, August 26, 2011 at 12:00 am.

(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Summary: When Cataleya was a nine-year-old in Bogotá, Colombia, her mother and father were brutally murdered.  As an adult, Cataleya (like the flower Catalina, as the movie points out several times) is seeking revenge and will kill, kill, kill at any cost.

Review: Critically, Zoe Saldana has had a nearly flawless movie career (Star Trek, Avatar). Even when she’s been in duds (Death at a Funeral, Losers), her characters were supporting roles, so no one bashed her films as a “Zoe Saldana movie.”  Well, now the time has come—it happens in every movie star’s career—when a potential hit morphs into a critical, and possibly commercial, failure. Who knows if the flick will be a box office bomb and, as we all know, critics rarely make or break a movie.  But after opening weekend, Colombiana will more than likely be buried in the shallow grave of other femme fatale action duds like Aeon Flux, Catwoman and Elektra.

A woman or man seeking revenge is no earth-shattering plot. However, the storyline never gets old as long as you have jaw-dropping action, wild fighting scenes and a person skillfully on the run. Angelina Jolie’s Salt is a great example; the Phillip Noyce film was a non-stop ride, short on dialogue and quick on action.  Colombiana is no Salt.

Directed by Olivier Megaton, from the start, the flick takes itself too seriously.  A nine-year-old saying, “I want to be a killer.” Cataleya’s conflict with her family is over-the-top, channeling campy telenovelas.  To add a special touch, Saldana drew Catalina flowers on her victims.

When Cataleya finally got her dukes up the film sailed, but those moments are short-lived. Miss Cat spends more time slipping in and out of building vents versus kicking the butts of the evil men who were trying to take her down. Once we had Catwoman, now we have Ventwoman!

In every action film there is a heavy helping of implausibility, but Colombiana frames Cataleya as “the Bionic Woman meets the X-Men.” She can be at multiple places at one time, appeared to be psychic because she always knew the location of prey and her ability to leap and scale buildings was uncanny.

Zoe Saldana is giving it the best that she’s got as the depressed Cataleya.  The Jersey native delivers the tears and cold stares, but it isn’t the actress at her best. Her thought bubble appeared to say, “I hope this works!” No worries, Zoe has been in the business for over a decade, one bad flick won’t ruin her career.

Like many of you, I was excited to see a Black Latina sister whipping her guns back and forth but, with cheesy dialogue, anti-climactic action and over-the-top implausibility, Colombiana kills itself half-way through.

Colombiana is in theaters today.

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No Blacks Make Forbes Highest-Paid Actresses List

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 12:00 am.

Forbes released their list of the highest-paid actresses from June 2009 to June 2010. There was a lil’ something missing in the top 10 — some color. No Kerry Washington, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, or even Zoe Saldana. One would think times are getting easier for Black women in Hollywood, but in 2010 women of color are still competing for financial respect in the same ways Hattie McDaniel and Dorothy Dandridge had to back in the day.

I give a big congratulations to the ladies who are the highest paid, but I can’t ignore the fact that many of these actresses haven’t had a hit movie in years — by no fault of their own, but still grossing $27 million.  Jennifer Aniston ranks number 4 on the list but has made critical and box office flops for years (2009’s Love Happens and 2010’s The Bounty Hunter are great examples).

Reese Witherspoon didn’t even release a film in 2010. She lent her voice to 2009’s Monsters vs. Aliens, but her last “hit” movie was 2005’s Walk The Line. Sarah Jessica Parker, I love her dearly, nonetheless, outside of Sex and the City, her films have consistently flopped.  Even Sex and the City 2 was a box office disappointment (debuting at number 4 opening weekend) — not reaching anywhere near the box office numbers it expected.

There is  Cameron Diaz, whose father is Cuban, however, some would argue that she is perceived as White despite her Latin heritage.  She recently said to Playboy, “Where I grew up all the Diazes had brown hair, brown skin and brown eyes, so there was a bit of ‘You’re not a Latina.’ I do identify with my culture. My dad’s first language was Spanish, but he didn’t teach it to us because he was made fun of growing up and didn’t want that to happen to my sister and me. He regretted that choice later.”

This is not to blame the actresses on the list — they are trying to make a dollar like everyone else. However, the fact that these actresses can have consistent flops for years and the powers that be in Hollywood will pay them more than a Zoe Saldana (she has eight films to her credit in 2009 and 2010!) and pay them more than women who are having bigger hit movies and working more frequently… wow!

Check out the list below.

1. Sandra Bullock: $56 million
2. Reese Witherspoon: $32 million
3. Cameron Diaz: $32 million
4. Jennifer Aniston: $27 million
5. Sarah Jessica Parker: $25 million
6. Julia Roberts: $20 million
7. Angelina Jolie: $20 million
8. Drew Barrymore: $15 million
9. Meryl Streep: $13 million
10. Kristen Stewart: $12 million

SOURCE

Dorothy Dandridge

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Movie Review: The Losers

Published by Clay Cane on Monday, April 26, 2010 at 8:55 am.

The_Losers_movie_posterSummary: A special forces unit thought to be dead, comes back for revenge against the man who tried to kill them.

Review: I’d be curious to know where in the creative process The Losers made a wrong turn. Was it the oddball casting? The half-finished script? Straying too far from the comic book storyline? Directed by Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard), The Losers had the potential to be an enjoyable popcorn flick in the way of Taken, instead it’s inundated with a choppy script, brainless dialogue and over-the-top action sequences that aren’t even plausible for a Sony PSP video game.

Like most action films, the movie starts strong.  However, once the audience gets past the first few explosives, there is nothing left but pieces of a charred plot. Even though this is an action flick, it’s missing some basic character and story development.

One should never expect too much originality in films that are genre specific, but The Losers doesn’t follow the formula or even create its own formula. Everything is generic — from the group walking in slow motion to the silly one-liners (“Is this stupid question day?”) to an uncomfortable romance between Zoe Saldana’s character and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (by the way, I look forward to when Saldana can go back to being cast with another person of color as a romantic lead — she seems to be the current stock “interracial love” girl).

The cast had noticeable chemistry, performing as if they were thinking, “We know this movie is going to tank so we’re going to have a great time!”  Therefore, even despite the bland script, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Zoe Saladana and Chris Evans were all hilarious in their roles. Elba is such a likable presence that even when he is a bad guy, you still root for him.

Overall, a disappointment, but not terrible.  Luckily, the film makse you look forward to seeing more from the talented cast.

The Losers is in theaters now.

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Chris Rock’s ‘Death at a Funeral’ Trailer

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, April 9, 2010 at 12:00 am.

deathatafuneralNext Friday, Chris Rock returns with his first non-documentary film since 2007’s I Think I Love My Wife. The flick has an all-star cast that includes Tracy Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Danny Glover, Columbus Short, Loretta DevineMartin Lawrence and of course Chris Rock.  The Screen Gems film is directed by Neil LaBute, who is known for films like Lakeview Terrace and produced by Mr. Rock.

Death at a Funeral is about a chaotic funeral service that reveals secrets, scandals and full blown comedic drama. Funeral is sure to be a huge hit.  Check out this web site http://dielaughingnow.com/ and watch the trailer below.

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“Losers” Trailer; Starring Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 9:30 am.

LosersSynopsis: An explosive action tale of betrayal and revenge, The Losers centers around the members of an elite Special Forces unit sent to the Bolivian jungle on a search and destroy mission. But the team—Clay, Jensen, Roque, Pooch and Cougar—soon find that they have become the target of a deadly double cross, instigated from the inside by a powerful enemy known only as Max.

Making good use of the fact that they are now presumed dead, the group goes deeply undercover in a dangerous plot to clear their names and even the score with Max. They are joined by the mysterious Aisha, a beautiful operative with her own agenda, who is more than capable of scoring a few points of her own. Working together, when they’re not arguing amongst themselves, they have to stay one step ahead of the globetrotting Max—a ruthless man bent on embroiling the world in a new high-tech global war for his own benefit. If they can take down Max and save the world at the same time, it’ll be a win win for the team now known as The Losers.

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Prince Biopic: Brian White, Chris Brown?

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 12:00 am.

PrincebiopicAfter a watermarked TMZ image of Jamie Foxx as Prince hit the web, allegedly (I hope it’s allegedly), Foxx is rumored to star in a Prince biopic.  I love Foxx’s impressions of Prince, but I just don’t see him as “His Purple Badness.” I will forever see Foxx as Ray Charles.

Some names to consider would be Evan Ross, Adam Rodriguez from I Can Do Bad All By Myself, but I think the best match — with the right perm and eyeliner — the up-and-coming Brian White.  White doesn’t have Prince’s height, but he has some diverse acting chops to make sure the Oscar and Grammy winner’s story doesn’t turn campy.

Now, just hear me out on this one… if Chris Brown could channel his feminine side, I could actually see him as Prince.  He could certainly do the dances and Lord knows it would soften this suddenly bad boy image he received in 2009.  He wants to be an actor, so why not take a risk.

Just to go a lil’ further, I would love to see Zoe Saldana or Paula Patton as Vanity, Eva Mendez as Apollonia and Terrence Howard as Morris Day.

A Prince biopic is a good idea in the right hands.  The “Purple Rain” hit maker has an interesting story; he supposedly struggled with racial identity (even though both his parents are Black), he was a musical prodigy, and went through some legendary battles with his band and record label.  Plus, the enigma that surrounds the Minneapolis native is always fascinating.  Nonetheless, Prince fans are picky, so whoever does it better get it right!

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Movies To Look Forward To In 2010

Published by Clay Cane on Monday, January 4, 2010 at 12:00 am.

takers2010 is going to be filled with blockbusters, chick flicks, horror, comedy and probably some surprises — let’s hope for another Precious!  Just in case you are not sure what to expect, set a reminder in your Blackberry for the movies below.

Frankie & Alice (2010)
No word on a release date, but the film has reportedly been finished for some time. Halle Berry stars as a woman with a multiple personality disorder and one of her personalities is a racist White person. The flick also stars Chandra Wilson and Phylicia Rashad. I hope this movie gets a 2010 release date!

Takers (May 14)
This crime-thriller will be Chris Brown’s return to movies since 2007’s This Christmas. However, this time around things are much different for the R&B star’s career. Post-domestic dispute with his ex-girlfriend Rihanna and what some consider to be consistent bad press, there is no telling if Takers will be shunned by audiences. There have been rumors that Chris Brown has been “erased”  from the marketing plan. The film also includes Idris Elba, T.I. and Michael Ealy.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (April 30)
After Halloween and Friday The 13th — it was bound to happen. A remake of 1984’s A Nightmare On Elm Street will be haunting nightmares this spring. Supposedly, this flick will stay true to the original, but more eerie than campy.

Why Did I Get Married Too? (April 2)
What is a year without a Tyler Perry flick? Janet Jackson and Jill Scott return in this romantic comedy sequel. This time around the married couples are in the Bahamas for their annual reunion. As one can imagine, full drama will ensue. The film also includes Keyshia Cole, Monica and the legendary Cicely Tyson. I am looking forward to Tasha Smith reviving the hilarious Angela!

Sex and the City 2 (May 28)
You can’t deny the power of Sex and the City. Black, White, or Latino — Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte are not to be ignored. The first Sex broke records at the box office with the best opening weekend for a movie that had a film starring women. While I have some doubts about the plot, the girls will surely be a hit.

Death at a Funeral (April 16)
Chris Rock’s remake of the UK comedy is packed with so many comedy legends that it’s almost guaranteed to be hilarious — Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan and of course Rock. The cast also features Danny Glover, Loretta Devine, Columbus Short and the first Black and Latina sci-fi queen, Zoe Saldana.

Book of Eli (January 15th)
Denzel Washington’s Book of Eli is in theaters in a couple weeks and the apocalyptic thriller looks like another home run for the two-time Oscar winner. Set in 2043, Washington protects this book called Eli, which could save a fallen apart society. This movie is directed by Hughes Brothers, their first film since 2001.

What movies are you most looking forward to?

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Ten Best Films of ‘09

Published by Clay Cane on Monday, December 28, 2009 at 12:00 am.

BestOf09_Films_cpIt’s been an amazing year in film with so many diverse movies — you’ve laughed, cried, learned and been entertained.  Whether it was Mo’Nique’s gut-wrenching performance in Precious, Michael Moore’s biting commentary in Capitalism: A Love Story, or the high-octane energy from Star Trek — films may have been the only thing that got you through a year of global economic distress.

I have seen countless movies this year; here are my selections for the 10 most impactful, entertaining and well done films of 2009.   Sound off in the comments!

10. Star Trek (Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto)

startrek_2009movie“Normally, 11 versions equates disaster, but somehow, some way, director J.J. Abrams and the creators of Star Trek managed to pull off the best sci-fi movie since The Matrix.”

9. Tyson (Documentary)
ironmiketyson“Some parts are hilarious, some are heartbreaking and whether or not you think Mike is a rapist or saint — you can’t help but feel his truth.”

8. Capitalism: A Love Story (Documentary)
captialism“Michael Moore is the Obama of documentarians.”

7. More Than a Game (Documentary)
moregame“Deeply inspiring. That said, for every young kid who sees More Than a Game and thinks they are the next LeBron James — it should be mandatory to watch 1994’s Hoop Dreams.”

6. Good Hair (Documentary)
goodhair“Quite brilliantly, Chris Rock skillfully peeled back archaic layers, opening up a dialogue that could’ve been volatile. His natural talent made the doc hilarious and thought-provoking, rising above race and gender.”

5. American Violet (Nicole Beharie, Alfre Woodard)
american_violet“It’s not enough for a movie to have a Black cast for it to be good, it must have good writing, engaging stories and impassioned actors. This film has all three.”

4. Valentino: the Last Emperor (Documentary)
valentino“In a time where fashion is reduced to tawdry reality shows, Valentino: The Last Emperor reinjects the sophistication and elegance in what some say is a lost art form.”

3. Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen)
bruno-official-movie-poster“Yes, Bruno is in ‘gay face’ if you will, but when going beyond the surface, he is clearly turning the mirror on us and saying, ‘Do you see how stupid these stereotypes are?’”

2. Michael Jackson’s This Is It (Documentary)
MJThisIsIt“Fan or not, in This Is It, you don’t see death, just life. There is no sadness or tears; you walk out with a smile. Forget the controversies, this is truly who Michael Jackson was – his music. It’s a film that you don’t want to end.”

1. Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire (Mo’Nique, Gabourey Sidibe and Mariah Carey)

precious“Clearly, the best film of the year.  Mo’Nique’s performance?  Even if Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Katherine Hepburn all came back from the dead — they could not pull that Oscar out of Mo’Nique’s hands.”

Honorable Mentions: Avatar, Skin, The Princess and the Frog and Life Is Hot In Cracktown.

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Movie Review: Avatar

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 10:30 am.

avatarSummary: Humans try to destroy the peaceful alien planet of Pandora, which appreciates all things mystical and environmental. A new solider infiltrates the inhabitants, known as the Na’vi creatures.  He is disabled in his human body but in his Avatar form he is a regular X-Men character.  After learning the humble of the Na’Vi creatures, he realizes he must save Pandora from the greed-obsessed humans, not destroy it.

Review: James Cameron’s first movie since Titanic has a trite storyline with an original look — hey, you can’t get it all. Avatar is Pocahontas with a 2009 James Cameron remix. Nonetheless, the remix is so breathtaking that the undeniable typicality is forgotten once you are set in the animation that is so authentic; you would think you are watching built sets. Finally, someone has figured out how to properly use 3-D and computer-generated imagery… now if they could only add a solid script.

In the way that you don’t expect great vocals from Janet Jackson or Madonna, you can’t expect a great script from Avatar — like pop stars, this is about a production, style and an unforgettable film experience. For many critics, since the plot is low on James Cameron’s list of importance, no matter how beautiful the film is, it will still be a dud. Is all beauty and no brains a good movie? Hey, it works for Harry Potter.

As a student of history, I am a sucker for movies about the evils of colonization and human greed, no matter how recycled. Yes, Avatar is vapidly political, but it has enough sentimental punch to keep the audience invested in the Na’vi creatures, the fight for their land and an ending that is predictable about halfway through.

Cameron’s shameless use of Native American history, Apartheid and the Iraq War (one Sergeant with a Texan-like twang shouts, “Fight terror with terror!”) will always push people’s buttons. Greed, money and the need to teach people how to be “civilized” has deracinated relevant and important culture, which is Avatar’s overall commentary, regardless of how elementarily it is told.

Cameron wanted the animated characters to be as emotional as humans. In reality, the aliens have more compassion than the humans. The animated cast includes the voices of Zoe Saldana, who is turning into a sci-fi queen, and Laz Alonso.

Supposedly, Avatar is the most expensive film of all time and it shows. But with many films that have hundreds of millions of dollars slapped to it, the heart of the film loses itself in the excess. Funny thing, Avatar is about human greed and unnecessary needs, but considering the film is one of the most expensive of all time, it nearly makes Cameron’s “message” laughable. Alfre Woodard once said, “If you spend more than $40 million on a movie, it ain’t going to be about nothing.”

All of that said, Avatar is one of the best films of the year. Cameron managed to make the exorbitance work and took admirable risks in movie making. It gives a little hope that the laziness associated with CGI might come to an end because Cameron raised the bar. The good heavily outweighs the hokey.

Avatar is in theaters nationwide Friday, December 18th.

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