Sunday, August 28, 2011

Superpowered Soul on Ice: Eric Thomas Wilson Flexes a Bit of Bulletproof Muscle as Luke Cage

While the proposed Luke Cage film languishes in development Hell, one hopeful after another vies for the title role.  The list of prospects seems to be growing by the day, with each actor bringing something unique to the table.  Back in May, Isaiah Mustafa made a bid for the part with a slick and stylish faux trailer.  Just last month, Eric Thomas Wilson followed suit.  His offering somehow slipped completely under my radar.  I discovered it this morning as the subject of a Facebook friend’s status update.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Television Series Review: ‘Thundercats’ Episode 6 - “Journey to the Tower of Omens”

Lion-O and his companions make their way through the impenetrable foliage of the jungle.  Just within sight is the Tower of Omens.  The Thundercats press on, determined to acquire the prize that supposedly lies within.  Mumm-Ra also has designs on the fabled treasure that rests atop the tower.  As both parties will soon find out, recovering the legendary Book of Omens is not at all a simple task.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Al Pacino Finally Acknowledges the Huge Debt That ‘Scarface’ Owes to Hip-Hop

Brian De Palma’s remake of Howard Hawks classic gangster film Scarface was released on December 9th, 1983 to middling box office and mediocre reviews.  The critical establishment saw it as a vulgar, exploitive cartoon.  It found new life on the then burgeoning home video market, where it has since amassed a sizable cult following.  That second life was spurred on largely by a generation whose perceptions of criminality had been largely shaped by the prosperity enjoyed by the more prosperous crack dealers of the time.  With figures like “Freeway” Ricky Ross and Alberto “Alpo” Martinez becoming ghetto celebrities in the wake of the films release, Scarface played for many as a timely and relevant parable.  Unfortunately, some even saw it as an inspiration on how to live the American dream.    

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Web Series Review: ‘Touye Pwen’ Episode 9 - “Kill Point”

The “Strap Set” convenes at Rhyis’s (Amin Joseph) home to unwind a bit.  Rhyis is a gracious host, until a lapse in judgment on Khalil’s (Maurice Whitfield) part tests his patience.  After the situation is rectified, Rhyis and Zho (Tracey Dukes) discuss more serious matters.  Later on, Ox (Chyna McCoy) summons Rhyis’s to a rooftop meeting.  Ox gives Rhyis a simple ultimatum that might prove costly for the “Strap Set” if they fail to heed it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

‘Chaos Cinema’ is a Scathing Indictment of Modern Filmmaking Techniques

I spend a lot of time on this blog harping on how ineptly modern action scenes are filmed and edited.  Of course, I’m neither the first nor the only blogger to voice my displeasure at such things.  Film critics and industry professionals alike have also lamented the visual incoherence on display in today’s blockbusters.  Yet, it remains the style of choice for today’s action filmmakers.  Perhaps this is because there hasn’t been a loud enough outcry from the masses, something that points out the obvious in such a way where the truth is undeniable.   

For The People: An Interview with Artist and Illustrator Dawud Anyabwile, Co-Creator of ‘Brother Man: Dictator of Discipline’

Throughout the 1960’s, the civil rights and black power movements reshaped the American consciousness.  Marvel Comics took note of the social changes afoot, and in response they created characters such as The Black Panther, Luke Cage, Blade, and Falcon.  Those characters took their cues from Blaxploitation in addition to other social phenomena of the day.  Black Panther and Luke Cage especially resonated with black readers of all ages.  Still, something vital was missing.  As timely as those characters were, they were still informed by a largely white perspective.  They didn’t truly speak for the Black community.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Movie Review: Conan the Barbarian

A ruthless warlord named Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) lays waste to entire Cimmerian village, wiping it from existence.  He seeks the final missing shard of an ancient mask that will aid him in his quest for immortality.  A young boy named Conan (Jason Momoa) emerges from the ruins of the village as its lone survivor.  As the years pass, he grows into a battle hardened and powerfully muscled barbarian.  Through his travels, he has not forsaken his vendetta against Khalar Zym.  When the warlord sets his sights on Tamara (Rachel Nichols), Conan intercepts the young monastery novitiate in hopes of administering final justice for the slaughter of his people and the murder of his father (Ron Perlman).  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nas Reminisces on the Making of a Classic

Many of Hip-Hop’s seminal classics were sorely lacking in liner notes (an oversight that Brian Coleman’s book Check The Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies sought to rectify).  Detractors (Read: Haters) will say that is because Rap isn’t actual music and therefore its creation does not warrant serious documentation.  However, the truth is that sometimes great artists are too caught up in the creative process to bother trying to capture it for posterity.  This is why documentaries come in handy, because they allow artists to take detailed trips down memory lane, thus filling in the historical blanks for fans.

Television Series Review: ‘Thundercats’ Season 1 Episode 5 - “Old Friends”

After arriving just in the nick of time to rescue the Thundercats from Slithe's Lizard army, Panthro shows himself to be every bit the withdrawn loner.  He devotes his full attention to his beloved Thundertank, showing little to no regard for Lion-O’s kingly status.  He then embarks on a mission to retrieve Thundrillium from an underground deposit that is being mined by the lizards.  To his chagrin, Lion-O, Tigra, and Cheetara accompany him on his quest.  As they make their way to the mines, Panthro silently reminisces over his adventures with the treacherous Grune.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Movie Trailer: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Ghost Rider was one of the most indistinct and inconsequential superhero films of the last decade.  It managed a decent box office gross, but has since faded into the background while more the more notable films of the genre have maintained a high profile.  Nobody was clamoring for a sequel, but the powers that be have deemed the masses worthy of just such an honor.  Next February, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will be roaring onto multiplex screens.  While this news might not set the world on fire, the guys behind this loose sequel are certainly of interest.  Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are the duo behind Jason Statham’s highly entertaining Crank films.  They have apparently added their manic touch to the saga of Johnny Blaze.

Short Film Review: From Man to Man (Da Uomo a Uomo) Vol. 1

The short films of IBP Stunts Chicago seem to exist at some weird cross section of American popular culture where martial arts, anime, and westerns collide.  Though Emmanuel Manzanares might not be the first to mix such seemingly disparate influences, he does so with an offbeat sensibility that demands ones attention.  His latest, From Man to Man (Da Uomo a Uomo), feels like Sergio Leone by way of Wilson Yip, with a touch of Cowboy Bebop.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Music Video: Pete Rock & Smif N Wessun featuring Buckshot - “Night Time”

Black biker clubs existed in the five boroughs well before New York rappers began adopting their style.  Sometime during the 1990’s, black biker swagger became all the rage.  The trend reached its zenith in the late 1990’s with the rise of the Ruff Ryders camp.  Now, such imagery has nostalgic value as it harkens back to the last true era of NY hip-hop prominence.  Seeing as how Pete Rock and the Boot Camp Click never really left that era (at least not in a spiritual sense) it makes perfect sense that black biker chic would serve as the motif for their new video “Night Time.”

Presentation Pilot Review: Champion Road

John Merser (Brooklyn Mclinn) is a model son who enjoys a meager yet honest existence.  He helps his father Abraham (Robbie Robinson) maintain the family towing business.  Meanwhile, John’s younger brother Sean (Ary Katz) carries on in a slightly different family tradition.  He participates in street boxing matches for money, against his family’s wishes.  When Sean winds up owing a vigorous debt to Benjamin Poge (Darrin Dewitt Henson), John goes against his principles to reenter the world of street boxing himself.  He seeks not fame or riches.  He only wishes to wipe out his brothers debt.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Web Series Review: ‘Touye Pwen’ Episode 8 – “Drug of Choice”

Grimm (Sean Riggs) pays a visit to a business associate.   The associate provides him with the requested pharmaceutical extractions before pulling his coat to a powerful new product. Meanwhile, Zho (Tracey Dukes) and Leena (Jasmine Hester) enjoy some leisure time together, during which they discuss Zho’s stint behind bars.  For him, the sweet smell of freedom offers proves to be an intoxicant more powerful than any drug.    

Monday, August 15, 2011

Movie Trailer: The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

The Black Power movement remains one of the most fascinating and influential periods of American history.  Its attitudes, slogans, and imagery have been adopted time and again by people whose understanding doesn’t penetrate beyond those surface elements.  It largely remains a mystery from those who could benefit the most from its lessons. The rappers and educators who’ve tried to keep its spirit alive have been largely marginalized by the mainstream media.  Now would be an ideal time to reintroduce that message to the American populace, seeing as how America’s first Black presidency is currently Under Siege.  Like manna from heaven, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 appears on the scene to remind the United States of its true heritage.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Web Series Review: ‘Touye Pwen’ Episode 7 – “Ties That Bind”

Knight (Shaun Mixon) summons his most prosperous salesman to a private meeting.  However, the mysterious crime lord has much more than business on his mind.  The secret he reveals to his prolific young protégé is nothing short of a revelation.  The question is, how will Khalil (Maurice Whitfield) take the news?

Television Series Review: ‘Thundercats’ Season 1 Episode Four – “Song of the Petalars”

Slithe and his lizard army doggedly pursue the Thundercats to the ends of Third Earth.  Having grown weary of the chase, Lion-O and his team take refuge in a thorn-bush forest.  As they make their way through the terrain, they come in contact with the Petalars, a plant like species that has been trapped in the forest for generations.  A young Petalar by the name of Emerick takes a liking to Lion-O and begins modedling himself after the young warrior.  Flattered, Lion-O promises to deliver the Petalars from the captivity of their thorn bush prison.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Musical Memory: Wu-Tang Clan - Careful (Click Click)

Over the past 22 years, the iron flag which proudly displays the emblem of shaolin has remained firmly planted on the battlefield of hip-hop.  Though it has weathered some very dark days over the years, the recent artistic resurgence of the clan has it standing nearly up right again.  However, I’d like to take you back to the days when the ascendance of Bad Boy, Ruff Ryders, and Roc-A-Fella had knocked the clan down a few slots in the east coast hip-hop pecking order.   

Monday, August 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Unicron: 'The Transformers: The Movie' Turns 25

In the 1980’s, America’s toy companies realized that syndicated cartoons where perhaps the most effective vehicle for marketing their wears to kids.  Mattel opened to the floodgates with a Filmation produced series based on its Masters of the Universe toy line.  The joint venture was a resounding success, helping to move Masters of the Universe merchandise out of toy stores by the truck load.  Not to be outdone, Hasbro had similar plans for a new product that was actually a hybrid of the Microman and Diaclone toy lines from Japan.  It featured robots that transformed into a variety of vehicles, weapons, and even animals.  There would even be an accompanying Marvel comic in the vein of Hasbro’s successful G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero line.  The formula worked yet again, as Marvel/Sunbow’s syndicated Transformers cartoon proved wildly popular.  A feature length animated film was released on August 8th of 1986.  It was meant to serve as a bridge between the shows second and third seasons.  The film unintentionally became a rite of passage for fans, exposing them to the harsh realities of death and loss.

Television Series Review: ‘Thundercats’ Episode 3 – “Ramlak Rising”

Amidst the smoldering ruins of Thundera, Lion-O mourns his father and contemplates revenge.  He then sets out to find Mumm-Ra’s lair with Tygra and Cheetara in tow.  WileyKit and WileyKat tag along against Lion-O’s wishes.  When the quintet reaches the treacherous Sea of Sands, they encounter Captain Koinelius Tunar and his crew of fishmen.  Tunar is obsessed with capturing a creature known as Ramalak.  Lion-O and company find themselves as participants in Ramalak’s wild quest, whether they like it or not.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Short Film Review: Yo Soy Un Hombre Loco (I Am a Crazy Man)

Over the past six months or so, I’ve realized that one of the few perks of having your own blog is that people occasionally send you some really cool stuff.  A few days ago I received an e-mail from Emmanuel Manzanares.  Mr. Manzanres heads up an independent martial arts stunt team in Chicago known as LBP Stunts Chicago.  His team made the short film Yo Soy Un Hombre Loco (I Am a Crazy Man) in conjunction with writer/director Vlad Rimburg.  Mr. Manzares asked for my opinion of this work, and I obliged.  I’m glad I did, because I found this 10 minute oddity to be quite an experience.

Television Series Review: ‘Black Dynamite: The Animated Series’ - Pilot Episode

The CIA sets out to stop the nefarious plans of T.F. Kurtis, the star of a popular children’s puppet show.  Once one of the most outstanding educators America has ever produced, Kurtis has now gone rogue.  He plans on using his power and influence to corrupt America’s youth.  Only one thing stands in his way, that bad motherfucker known as Black Dynamite!  

Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) is on the verge of a breakthrough that will change the course of human history.  He has been developing a genetically engineered retrovirus that may one day cure Alzheimer’s disease.  He has been using chimpanzees as his test subjects, one of whose offspring becomes the true beneficiary of the experimentation.  Will smuggles the baby chimp out of the facility and brings it home to closely observe his progress.  He names it Caesar (Andy Serkis) and treats it almost like a family member.  Caesar’s mental capacity expands at an exponential rate, as does his understanding of human behavior and his place in the earth’s pecking order.  When a violent mishap lands Caesar in a controlled environment where he is quarantined with other primates, the mutated chimp learns his true place in the world.  He will be the one who will places his kind at the top of earth’s food chain.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hail Caesar: How a Super Smart Chimp Beat Out a Norse God and a Super Soldier to Become This Summers Ultimate Superhero

It was billed as the main event of the summer, at least for comic book fans.  Marvel Studios had two films in contention for the superhero crown: One about a Norse God who wields a mighty hammer and the other about a super soldier draped in the American flag.  The latter had the clear advantage, if the advance buzz was to be believed.  DC Entertainment, who also had a flagship character in the race, stumbled out of the gate with a clumsy marketing campaign that preceded a mediocre film.  The Norse God was off to a sturdy start and solid finish.  It was the super soldiers race to lose, or so it seemed.  When the dust settled, a chimp was left standing with the first place trophy firmly in hand.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Web Series Review: ‘Touye Pwen’ Episode 6 - “Sins Remembered”

J (Mark P. Hawthorne) shows up at Leena’s (Jasmine Hester) doorstep unannounced to deliver a warning.  He questions her judgment and her loyalty, wondering how she could go along with her jailbird ex-boyfriend so willingly.  He informs her that Zho’s disrespect will not go unanswered, so it would be in her best interest to stay clear of him.  He also leaves her with a painful memento from the past.    

Monday, August 1, 2011

Television Series Review: ‘Breaking Bad’ Season 4 Episode 3 – “Open House"

The breakdown of the trust between Walter and Gus results in a surveillance camera being installed in the lab.  It tracks and records Walter and Jesse’s every move.  Jesse’s house begins it’s descent from a 24 hour party spot to a rest haven for drug addicts and sexual exhibitionists.  Skyler relentlessly pursues her Car Wash idea.  Hank’s case of cabin fever reignites Marie’s Kleptomania as he reluctantly resumes investigative work from the confines of his bed.