Cinema Dispatch: Coming 2 America

Coming 2 America and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios

Directed by Craig Brewer

Coming to America is not a movie I have much nostalgia for.  I didn’t see it until I was well into my twenties and while I found it amusing it wasn’t exactly an all-time classic for me, so while I’m not giddy with anticipation to see where Prince Akeem ended up thirty years later, I shouldn’t be particularly bummed if it doesn’t live up to the original.  Frankly, the Eddie Murphy from my childhood peaked with Dr. Doolittle as I didn’t see any of his classic movies until I was much older, and it’s only been in the last few years that he’s buckled down and tried to be more discerning with his roles so perhaps this will take to heart the harsh lessons he learned over the last few decades and will actually be something true to the spirit of the original and to the comedy legend that he was at the time!  Yeah okay, I don’t think that’s going to be the case either (especially with them putting a 2 in the title), but let’s find out!!

Prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy), the soon to be king of Zamunda, has been living the last thirty years in luxury and bliss with his wife Lisa (Shari Headley) and their three daughters (KiKi Layne, Bella Murphy, and Akiley Love) in the beautiful palace that I’m sure is not an opulent eyesore and a constant reminder of wealth inequality in the region!  Surely not when they are being menaced by the neighboring warlord General izzi (Wesley Snipes) who wants his own son to be married to Akeem’s oldest.  After all, the law says No Chicks Allowed and therefore a woman can’t be the leader, so perhaps Akeem’s happy little life is about to get quite complicated.  As luck would have it however, the King (James Earl Jones) has been keeping a secret from Akeem as it turns out he has a son living in Queens that he conceived during his trip there thirty odd years ago.  Must have happened when we weren’t looking I guess.  We were probably all getting more popcorn.  So Akeem, with the help of his loyal aide Semmi (Arsenio Hall) must return to the United States and bring his son back to be groomed as the next Prince and eventual heir to the throne; something that doesn’t sit right with his eldest daughter who was hoping to find a way to ascend to the throne as well as his wife who’s a bit perturbed that he conceived a child about a week before they started dating.  His son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) has his own reservations as it’s a pretty sweet deal to be plucked out of obscurity to become a big shot, but being a Prince isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be even if it means the easy life for his mother (Leslie Jones) and his uncle (Tracy Morgan).  Will Prince Akeem be able to ascend to the throne as King with a competent heir by his side, or will the culture shock for Lavelle be too great for him and his family to handle? What will General Izzi do now that his master scheme is about to be unraveled, and will Lavelle suffer the consequences of his newly found father’s machinations?  Or will it be about none of that and everyone will spend most of the movie spouting lines from the first one?

“I’m getting too old for this spit.”     “Wrong movie.  And wrong line.”     “Oh who cares?  It’s a PG-13 sequel; you get what you pay for.”
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Cinema Dispatch: The Lion King

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The Lion King and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Jon Favreau

Didn’t I just do this a month ago?  Seriously Disney, I know you own basically all of entertainment now, but can you at least change it up a bit from month to month?  We JUST got done making fun of the genie in Aladdin; we don’t need another remake this soon!  Seriously, if they keep burning through their renaissance films like this they’re gonna have to take another stab at Treasure Planet before 2030, and if they thought that one sunk like a lead balloon LAST TIME… oh who am I kidding?  We’ll give it a billion dollars at the box office without a second thought!  So until those bleak times are upon us, does this latest remake of a beloved nineties classic live up to the original, or is this a worse idea than Lion King 1.5?  Let’s find out!!

Now stop me if you’ve heard this one before!  Simba (Donald Glover) is the son of Mustafa (James Earl Jones); king of the Pride Lands and brother of Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who conveniently has a scar on his face to go with the name.  Now if the name wasn’t enough to convince you, scar is one EVIL lion that wants the throne for himself but now has to wait behind the little brat for his shot.  That is unless he pulls a Hamlet and MURDERS THE KING IN COLD BLOOD, albeit with a stampede instead of a jug of ear poison.  Convincing young Simba that he is responsible, he runs off to live in exile while Scar takes the Pride Lands for himself, and the young prince runs into two free spirited do nothings called Timon and Pumbaa (Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen).  While Simba is living his carefree life as a slacker, things are not going so well in the Pride Lands under Scar’s quasi fascist rule with the help of the hyenas and so Simba’s childhood friend Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) runs off to find help, and believing Simba to be dead this whole time… well let’s just say there’s an awkward conversation very soon in their future.  Can Simba find the courage to face his fear and his guilt that have defined him for so long?  Just how far will Scar go to stay seated on his throne, and does Simba have a chance of defeating him after all this time?   Did Disney listen to that “everything the light touches” line again recently and consider that a challenge?

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“Everything the light touches is our Kingdom.”     “Yeah, but the Earth revolves around the sun, so pretty much everywhere gets hit by sunlight at SOME point throughout the day.”     “Look, we’re lions, alright!?  We can’t draw border maps!  WE DON’T HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Gareth Edwards

In what will surely be a yearly tradition until the day we all die, Disney has given us our holiday present in the form of another Star Wars movie.  We’re only at two so far which means they PROBABLY aren’t gonna start half-assing these just yet, and in fact this one seems to be willing to take a few more risks than what we would normally expect from franchise features like this.  Okay, the fact that it’s a one-time spin off means that they’re only so much damage this can do if it blows up in their faces, but the tone of the trailers and the nature of the story they’re telling at least inspires some hope that the franchise has gotten so big that they’re willing to let it take some chances.  Does this experiment in growing the series turn out to be a total success, or will this somehow be the worst prequel yet?  Okay, I kind of doubt that’s even possible, but you never know!

The movie begins a long time ago in a galaxy far far away where little Jyn Erso (Beau Gadsdon) has her life completely uprooted when her family is found by Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) who is a high ranking member of the galactic empire.  Why did this guy hunt halfway around the galaxy for them?  Well it turns out that Jyn’s father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) is an Empire scientist who defected and they need him back to finish some super weapon they’re working on.  The good news is that Jyn manages to escape the Empire with the help of a family friend Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker).  The bad news is that her mother (Valene Kane) got killed in the process and dear old dad got kidnapped.  Flash forward to sometime later where we meet grown up Jyn (Felicity Jones) who’s been rebellious youth-ing all around the galaxy and winds up at Rebel headquarters where they have a proposition for her.  Go with the rebel agent Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) to find her father and stop him from finishing the Death Star as he seems to be looking for a way out once again.  Okay, it’s not QUITE that simple, but that’s the basic idea of what they’re trying to do!  Anyway, they’ll point her in the right direction in the hopes that her skills and connections will kill two birds with one stone; she gets her dad back and they get to stop the Space Nuke from being completed.  Of course, nothing is as easy as it seems and there’s plenty of treachery to go around as the mission becomes only more difficult once the Empire get wind of what they might be up to.  Can Jyn save her farther before the Empire find out if he’s been undercutting their progress on the super weapon this entire time?  Does Cassian have a hidden agenda that he’s not telling Jyn about?  On a scale of one to Vader, how screwed are they?

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I think she’s got this!

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