Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Movie Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon



Decades before the Cybertronian wars reach earth, a ship from the robot planet crash lands on earth’s moon.  That event prompts President Kennedy to kick America’s space program into high gear.  During the first lunar landing, the astronauts carry out a top secret mission to investigate the strange craft.  42 years later, The Autobots and Decepticons have brought their destructive civil war to earth.  A defeated Megatron (Hugo Weaving) plans to obtain the precious cargo of the downed craft and use it in a scheme that will return him to power and revive his beloved Cybertron.  Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and Sam Witwicky (Shia Lebeouf) must engage the Decepticons in a final battle that holds the survival of humanity itself in the balance.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Web Series Review: Touye Pwen: Episode 1 “The Strap Set”



Enter The Strap Set, a gun running operation out of the Big Apple that asks no questions and takes no prisoners.  After a violent business dispute with a rival outfit lands Strap Set member Zho (Tracey Dukes) in prison, the remaining members move the operation to Los Angeles.  Upon Zho’s return, things have changed considerably.  Khalil (Maurice Whitfield) is in the process of completing a deal with Luc (Kevin Lukata) for a cache of prototype high-tech firearms.  Meanwhile, Ryhis (Amin Joseph) and Grimm (Sean Riggs) welcome Zho home after he emerges from the belly of the beast.  The warm reception is short lived, as Zho is expected to immediately resume his role within the set.

TV One Gives One of Raps ‘Unsung’ Heroes His Due



Hip-Hop has a notoriously short memory and a spotty track record when it comes to celebrating its legends.  Anyone not named 2Pac or B.I.G has to settle for being a footnote.  That makes it all the more surprising when someone finally and properly pays the proper respect to those most deserving of it.  Last night, TV One’s music documentary series Unsung aired an episode dedicated to the smooth operator himself, Big Daddy Kane. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

'Touye Pwen' Wants You to Follow the Leader


When the God MC speaks, people listen.  You’d think those that cut trailers for movies and television shows would have realized this long ago.  R.L. Scott sure as Hell did, and has commissioned the voice of Rakim Allah to speak on behalf of his upcoming crime series Touye Pwen: Kill Point.  Does he have the great one doing a voice over, or facing the camera and hocking the show like a household cleaning product?  Of course not!  The trailer is a series of words and images flashed onscreen; all cut the pulse pounding pace of Eric B. & Rakim’s classic “Follow the Leader.”  As the sinister bassline bubbles, the short clip builds to a climax.  I thought my anticipation couldn’t be any higher, but I was sorely mistaken.  Though the teaser premiered last night (hence the words “In three days” appearing onscreen) It was so dope that I decided to write it up anyway even though it’s a day late.  It demands to be seen.  So does the series, which premieres this Tuesday at 1pm PST over at www.shadowmultimedia.net.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Can’t Knock the Hustle: ‘Reasonable Doubt’ Turns 15



Hip-Hop stars don’t always make a big splash right out the gate.  Sometimes it’s a slow burn until the big bang of success.  Jay-Z had been toiling in the underground for quite a few years by the mid-1990’s, stacking his chips while hustling up and down the eastern seaboard.  He’d had a few noteworthy appearances on collaborations and posse cuts.  Everyone remembered him from the ‘Hawaiian Sophie’ video, sporting a high top fade and truck jewelry.  Some even remembered his (then) more recent appearances with Original Flavor.  Then there were the two singles released on Payday records.  All of that had been a lead up to what would be the first chapter in a legendary discography: Reasonable Doubt.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Twilight of the Illusionists: Why I Will Always Prefer Practical Effects to CGI




People have been taught to automatically associate the concept of “newer” with that of “better.”  Often times newer merely means easier or more convenient.  When computer generated imagery was introduced into the tool chest of Hollywood special effects technicians, it gradually overtook other time honored and proven techniques.  Now there is hardly any kind of visual or optical effect that isn’t rendered with the help of a computer.  As a tool, it is amazingly versatile, but it’s not without its limitations.  CGI often gets in the way of special effects are meant to do: create a convincing illusion. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cool Characters: Alex DeLarge



The argument of nature versus nurture will perhaps never be resolved.  Some believe that criminals are born, while others believe they are created.  That sort of polarized, extremist thinking prevents us from finding a resolution.  Despite our many technological and scientific advances, we remain ill equipped to deal with our own criminal element.  This is especially true in regards to the emotionally and mentally disturbed.  Some humans are defective.  If they don’t deserve to put down like rabid dogs, how do we deal with them?  Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ frightening dystopian novella proposes an answer, albeit a horrifying one. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Michael Jai White and Ben Ramsey Breakdown the Science of ‘Blood and Bone’ for an Eager Crowd



Those wondering if I will ever stop singing the praises of Blood and Bone better not hold their breath.  As far as I’m concerned, it is the preeminent American made martial arts film of recent years.  To my dismay, the DVD contained scant supplemental materials.  Fortunately, interest in this little gem has only grown in the two years following its release.  Star Michael Jai White and director Ben Ramsey continue to be asked about it.  Thankfully, they are always game to accommodate adoring fans such as myself. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Movie Review: Green Lantern


Unbeknownst to the inhabitants of earth, an intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps serve as the peacekeepers of the galaxy.  They congregate on the planet of Oa, where their headquarters is located.  Each Lantern is armed with a mystical green ring that channels the will of it’s user to turn thought into reality.  While doing battle with a fear mongering threat known as Parallax, Green Lantern Abin Sur flees his post after being mortally wounded.  He crash lands on earth, where Cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) attempts to rescue him from his downed spacecraft.  The ring chooses Jordan as Abin Sur’s successor.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Song Review: Wu-Tang Clan - 225 Rounds



Tastes and trends change, but the Clan marches on.  Though they stopped being relevant to mainstream listeners and black audiences years ago, The Wu continues to release new music to the few but faithful.  I count myself in that exclusive fraternity, and will always give new offerings from the Shaolin crew a chance.  Though their heyday can never be repeated, they are still capable of delivering heat.  “225 Rounds,” from the upcoming compilation Legendary Weapons (Named after the classic Shaw Brothers flick) is a brand new banger that teams a rather odd collective of members and affiliates for a round of head cutting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cool Characters: Alonzo Harris



It has been said that an action film is only as good as its villain.  While that might be overstating things a bit, it has to be acknowledged that a great villain is a crucial piece of the action movie puzzle.  A memorable bad guy can literally carry an otherwise mediocre film.  They can also transcend said film and become a part of cinematic history.  In 2001, almost a month after the September 11th terrorist attacks, one of America’s most respected actors took his first trip to the dark side and emerged as one of the most memorable rogues to ever grace the silver screen.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Alex: ‘A Clockwork Orange’ Turns 40



Society is fearful and envious of youth, especially in the wake of social upheaval.  Young people represent a threat to the status quo as they often do not value the traditions of their elders.  They also don’t fear or comprehend consequences.  40 years ago, visionary director Stanley Kubrick was able to harness that fear and channel it into a single film.  That film was both a celebration of the most depraved juvenile delinquency, and a meditation on crime, punishment, and reform.

Music Video: Raekwon - Snake Pond



Home invasions have always been a part of the drug game.  Just ask Azie Faison, who was nearly killed by intruders trying to get at his stash.  They are also an effective method of intercepting an enemy or “sending a message.”  Being that such incidents occur so regularly in the world of hustling, it’s fitting that so many songs by Raekwon and Ghost constantly refer to them.  From “260” to “Maxine” and well beyond, The Cuban Link Cartel understands the dangers of answering the door when you’re not sure who’s on the other side.  Raekwon delves into that dilemma yet again for the latest video from Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, “Snake Pond”

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Great Adventure: My Personal Journey with 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'



30 years ago today, filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas unleashed a collaborative effort upon the world that would prove just as influential as either of their breakthrough films.  Though I was far too young to fully understand or grasp the genius of Raiders of the Lost Ark at the time, my senses were acute enough to recognize when I was in the midst of something world changing.  That film became a defining event of my youth, one that would go on to inform and influence other parts of my life.  Today I see it as the manifestation of a precious life lesson that my father tried to pass on to me.

Happy Birthday Dr. Jones: 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' Turns 30



During the 1970’s, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg laid the groundwork for what we now call the summer blockbuster.  Jaws and Star Wars provided Hollywood with a lucrative new template that would increase their box office and merchandising revenues exponentially.  While that monumental feat was more than enough to establish each man as a wunderkind in his own right, they both still had one more amazing trick up their sleeves.  They both drew on childhood obsessions to fuel their creativity, and had now decided to combine their efforts.  The offspring of this collaboration would be birthed on June 12th, 1981.  Action/Adventure films haven’t been the same since.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Music Video: Pharoahe Monch featuring Styles P - Black Hand Side

Black consciousness doesn’t sell these days.  Actually, there was never a point in time where it sold consistently save for a few examples.  Still, we are certainly a long way from the days when Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions routinely went gold and platinum.  Since then, politically conscious rap has been driven completely underground, created and performed mostly for the pleasure of white college kids.  That marginalization leaves mainstream hip-hop decidedly unbalanced.  Playlists on urban radio stations seem to facilitate nothing other than nonstop partying.  A night of wild celebration always needs to be followed by a cold shower and a cup of coffee before one heads out to work.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Black Geeks Unite: My Manifesto


My name is Scott “Tre” Wilson, and I am a self professed Black geek.  I’ve been reading comics since kindergarten.  I am an unapologetic Star Wars fan, even in the aftermath of the abominations known as the prequels.  At one point in my life I watched more anime than regular movies or television shows.  I fit the profile of a “geek” to a “t”.  I was also raised on Hip-Hop music, and consider Malcolm X to be a personal hero.  His autobiography holds a special place in my heart.  I’ve even been known to enjoy the occasional ‘hood flick or ghetto comedy from time to time.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Music Video: Tyler the Creator-She



In the modern era, rap music has become a forum exclusively for winners and those who wish to cheer them on.  The losers rarely if ever get the spotlight, and when they do they are mostly cast as the mythical haters that the winners obsess over.  In eras past, skilled rappers gave us some insight into the perspective of the guy who finishes last.  Slick Rick and Biz Markie were masters at this.  In the internet age, it is very likely that proverbial losers abound now that celebrity has turned into a 24 hour a day spectator sport.  That kind of detachment has got to foster some rather unhealthy mindsets in regards to male/female relations.  Tyler the Creator, fearless leader of the often misunderstood Odd Future collective, lets us inside the mind of one who lives with unrequited lust in the video for “She.”

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class




Amidst the chaos of World War II, three prepubescent mutants become aware of their special gifts.  In a German concentration camp, Erik Lensherr discovers he has the power of magnetism.  In Westchester County New York, the telepathic Charles Xavier meets the shape shifting Raven.  Flash forward to the early 1960’s, and the atomic age has made the reality of nuclear war a constant threat.  Xavier has dedicated his abilities to the study of genetic mutation, as well as trying to find a bridge between mankind and mutants.  Raven is now his foster sister.  Erik trots the globe on a vengeful quest.  The seemingly divergent paths of both parties lead directly to Sebastian Shaw and his associates, who represent a considerable threat to world security.  With the help of a mysterious CIA agent, Lensherr and Xavier join forces to stop Shaw and find other mutants to join there cause.  Thus begins a new age in the history of mankind.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Movie Trailer: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest



If your musical tastes run along the same lines as mine, The Low End Theory was one of the defining albums of your youth.  The joys of that album are likely lost on those who have never and still do not consider rap to be “real” music (yes, those people still exist, and in greater numbers than you think).  Well, there’s nothing like a documentary to bring the uninitiated up to speed.  Documentaries immortalize the legacies of artists in way that the works themselves cannot.  Actor Michael Rapaport has captured the trials and tribulations of A Tribe Called Quest for posterity with his directorial debut Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest.

Teaser Trailer: Touye Pwen: The Series



With the June 28th premiere date of Touye Pwen looming in the very near future, R.L. Scott saw fit to finally offer an overview of the entire series as opposed to another exclusive clip.  The teaser for Touye Pwen offers brief glimpses at the kind of tense situations that the series specializes in.  When viewed in rapid, collage-like succession, these play like moments from a macho soap opera.  That is not a criticism, as I think R.L. Scott might have been thinking along those lines.  Melodrama doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  What were The Sopranos or The Wire if not extremely high quality soap operas aimed at male viewers?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Web Series Review: Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Ep. 8: Scorpion and Sub Zero (Part 2)


Hanzo Hasashi has been lured into a trap.  As he and Sub Zero battle it out in a snow covered forest, his village and family are being assailed by intruders.  The whole situation has been orchestrated to manipulate Hanzo into an untenable position.  He will he be forced to compete in the Mortal Kombat tournament under the most tragic of circumstances?