Rap Movie Reviews

Movie Review – All Eyez on Me

Year of Release: 2017

Production Company: Summit Entertainment/Morgan Creek Productions/Program Pictures/Codeblack Films

It must be said: there is no denying that Tupac Shakur has maintained his popularity throughout the years, even more than two decades after his untimely demise. His deep-in-though lyrics really touched the minds and hearts of not just hip-hop fans, but also other people who have struggled in the things that were related to his music. It was apparent that a biopic would be made about the fallen rap star.

“All Eyez on Me” is the third rap biopic to be released theatrically, following 2009’s “Notorious” and 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton.” With the cultural impact that Pac had on the masses, there was no doubt that a biopic should be released in theaters.

However, unlike SOC, it’s sad to say that AEOM doesn’t have the best production value or even storytelling that SOC had.

The first thing that must be noted is that Demetrius Shipp Jr not only has a strong resemblance to Pac, but I have to give him credit for trying in his debut role. But I still had some issues with the film.

WARNING: There may be spoilers ahead.

The thing that was distracting about the film is that there was no real flow to the storytelling. The movie in a nutshell was mainly that Pac was interviewed by a journalist who was covering his life story. It talked about how Pac was brought up by his mother, who was a black panther and how he ended up starting off as an actor before becoming a rapper. Also, it showed a bit of his friendship with Jada Pinkett. So it talked about how he was first discovered by Digital Underground. I have to hand it to the casting director for casting the guy who played Shock G, as he looked so much like him and even had some of his mannerisms. Anyway, then it showed sequences filming certain scenes from movies like “Juice” and “Above The Rim.” I really wonder what the point of those scenes were. Yes, everyone knows that Pac was an actor as well, but I didn’t find any of that to be crucial to the story. I will say that I didn’t mind that those bits were recreated with some people playing the actors whom he shared those scenes with. I wonder if some scenes in that when he filmed “Poetic Justice,” “Gridlock’d,” and “Gang Related” were done but just left on the cutting room floor. I wonder about the actors who played Janet Jackson, Tim Roth, and Jim Belushi respectively, because the guy who was supposed to be Omar Epps looked nothing like him. The same could be said about Leon, the guy who played Pac’s character’s brother in ATR.

Another thing that I noticed was that clips of some music videos were recreated in some sequences like the video to Digital Underground’s “Same Song,” as well as “I Get Around.” Not to mention certain interviews in which every single word and mannerism were done to recreate them. As well as certain pictures that were shot, like the one with him and Faith Evans, and the infamous snapshot of him with Suge Knight right before the shooting in Vegas.

Of course, the film touched on the sexual assault charge that Pac was jailed for, as well as what led to his beef with Biggie. Speaking of whom, I noticed that the guy who played Biggie in “Notorious” was the same actor who played him in this film. I didn’t mind it, as Jamal Woolard is a rapper himself and had to use his prowess for rapping in a scene.

Then came when Pac joined Death Row Records. I am well aware of a lot of terrible and shady stuff that happened within that label, but certain sequences really made the film take it to a different level. It almost felt like I was watching a different movie. For example, during a scene at a dinner, when Suge Knight was about to confront someone, all of a sudden some ominous music started playing and then showed that he, along with other guys, started to torture this guy. In a way, I get that it was to show that Suge was a scumbag and a dangerous man, but that part made me think that I was watching a gangster movie at that moment. Same with when Suge and some other guys took some guy into a room and jumped him.

Another thing that was distracting was the guy who played Snoop Dogg. I actually wondered if Snoop lent his voice to dub the actor who played him. It sounded just like him that it could have been a dub.

Anyway, also, at that point, it talked about his romance with Kidada Jones, whom Pac was engaged to around the time of his death. That part felt shoehorned in, same with the bit of Jada Pinkett confronting Pac, which led to an alleged falling out between the two (More on this later). Same with how it showed the falling out between Snoop and Pac, and then came Vegas, and you know the rest. Oh, and I noticed that the real security footage from the casino beat-down that took place that very night was used. So it didn’t seem like he had to reenact that bit.

End Spoilers.

As I had stated before, I had no problem with Shipp’s portrayal of Tupac, as I can see that he tried his hardest to play the role. I also have no problem with some inaccuracies as I had noticed some of them in SOC. Around the time of its release, Jada Pinkett had noted on Twitter about how there was inaccuracy in the film, like how Pac read her a poem, or her having attended any of his shows. But the main problem I had is that it just jumped around from one sequence to another. It could be argued that it was because Pac was being interviewed and had stories to show and tell, but it still didn’t feel like what happened after was very consistent.

I really wonder if Lionsgate is going to put out an extended cut later on with a little more footage or at least have it edited better than what was shown in the final product. I can’t say that I liked or loved the film, but I am just curious because of so many things that I would like to see. I really wonder if there was some footage of reenactments of when he shot his other films and music videos.

Overall, I very much preferred “Straight Outta Compton.” It’s been years since I have seen “Notorious,” but I may need to revisit that one. I really can’t give this film a pass.

2/5

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – State Property 2: Blood On The Streets

Year of Release: 2005

Film Studio: Lionsgate Films/Dash Films

I never thought that I would say this, but this film is more watchable than its predecessor. There I said it. However, that still doesn’t mean that this film is without problems.

Okay, I think I am getting a little ahead of myself here. Let me start over.

If you read my review of the first film, you will see that I did not have a lot of nice things to say about that film. But because I had also planned on writing about the sequel, I told myself to suck it up and sit through it.

I had never seen any scenes from this movie prior to watching it, unlike the first film. All I can remember is seeing that the DVD artwork was the same as the cover artwork for Beanie Sigel’s “The B. Coming,” which was released around the same time as this film. I wouldn’t doubt if some of his songs from that album were even in this film.

Anyway, this film sort of picked up where the first film left off, although I will note that a lot of what was shown at the beginning didn’t make any sense because of how the first film ended. Of course, there had to be a way to explain how everything turned out in order to set up the story for this film. Basically after the prologue, it shows Beans in jail for all of what happened and he ends meeting a fellow criminal named El Pollo Loco, played by N.O.R.E., who is a gangster from Miami. The two eventually become business partners, until one screws the other and then all hell breaks loose. Not to mention that Dame gets involved in the mix, Beans’ rival in the first film.

This film is different from its predecessor in a lot of ways. One of the most noticeable differences is how this film is a lot more comical than the first one. The whole movie does not take itself seriously and a lot of scenes come off as humorous in some areas. Even with some of the predictability, the movie was still a little entertaining. But even though it was a little entertaining, that doesn’t mean that the film was good. However, a lot of the editing and camera work kind of helped with the comical nature that this film had.

One thing that I had noticed is that there were A LOT of cameos in this film. One of the parts that stood out to me was a montage of different Roc-A-Fella artists appearing, and they were addressed by their own stage names, as if they were playing themselves. But they were playing characters, that of drug dealers or gangsters who are running their own streets. Cam’ron even appeared twice as two different characters. It was also funny seeing Kanye West (This was earlier in his career, like in the days of “College Dropout” and “Late Registration”) playing a gangster. I have never seen him play a role like that ever. Even the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who was signed to Roc-A-Fella before his death, had a funny cameo as a fry cook. Even the Young Gunz (Man, just noting this REALLY DATES this movie; I wonder what happened to them) made appearances, except they actually had bigger roles than the other artists who made cameos.

I was a little surprised to see that I found myself enjoying a LOT more than its predecessor. I don’t think it’s a good film, but it felt more self-aware this time around than the first one did. The first one suffered from cheesy acting and writing, not to mention a lot of gratuitous stuff. This film still had some gratuitous stuff, but at least it had some entertainment value. It’s actually a movie that you can laugh with or at. Whatever works for you.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – State Property

Year of Release: 2002

Film Studio: Lionsgate Films

*Sigh*  I know that I haven’t keeping up with this lately. On one hand, I have been contemplating writing about the rest of my Fast & Furious soundtracks. Another part of me wants to write about Death Row albums, particularly post-Tupac death and also when Dre and Snoop departed the label (Probably because I have been on a Death Row kick lately, especially having written the Death Row Records documentary). Then I have remembered that I also wanted to review the State Property films.

I know that there are plenty of rap movies out there to talk about. The State Property films fall into the same category as when I wrote about Thicker Than Water and Hot Boyz. For all the shit that I had talked about with those two, I think I have found a film that kind of blows them out of the water in terms of badness. I am sure that in some areas I still get a little nostalgic for Thicker Than Water and while I have spoken ill about Hot Boyz (Note to self: Watch other No Limit films), I think I may have found a film that I can put above it in terms of some of the worst rap movies that I have seen.

State Property is basically a movie that stars Beanie Sigel as a character named Beans who is trying to make a name for himself in the crime world. He wants to be feared and known by everyone and has a bunch of guys working for him. Of course, there are a bunch of gangster movie cliches of “one guy messing up and getting killed for it” or “someone pissed off the wrong guy, so he has to get tortured.” Not to mention drug deals gone wrong and women getting kidnapped, as well as random shootouts taking place. You get the picture.

Usually with these types of films, I don’t expect great acting from them. Also, the story has every cliche there is. It’s no secret that this film sucks. Although I will admit that there were moments when I laughed AT certain parts. But when these rappers on screen are only good at playing certain personas, that just showed how they needed to take acting lessons prior to it. It didn’t help that there was not a single likeable character in this film. Though Beans was the protagonist, there was nothing about to make me want to root for him.

It also was of no help how this film was loaded with misogyny. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like looking at scantily-clad women just as much as the next guy, but there was no purpose in some of the scenes with closeups of a woman’s body. Also, a minor spoiler, but in one scene when a deal took place, the camera turned and closed in on a couple of women sharing a rather gratuitous kiss. There was absolutely no reason for that part to even be in the movie other than fanservice.

While the poster said had Jay-Z billed, he was only in it for about five seconds max. The other Roc-A-Fella guys had bigger roles than Jigga himself. Damon Dash had a bigger role than Jay-Z, for crying out loud. Hell, I didn’t even expect to see Amil (Remember her? As in the woman in “Can I Get A…”?) in the film. It seemed like this was a film project for Roc-A-Fella.

I really don’t know what else to say about this film except that this was a bad film, though I think you may have already gotten the picture after reading all of this. I will admit that I remember flipping through channels and coming across it on HBO a long time ago and seeing how bad the acting was from the two minutes I saw of it. However, only one positive I can say about it was that it had a good soundtrack, which I may write about in the future.

Of course, I am aware of the sequel, which I will do next.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – How High

Year of Release: 2001

Film Studio: Universal Pictures/Jersey Films/Native Pictures

When I wrote my review of The Wash, at the end of it I had noted about a much funnier movie that came out a month after that one, theatrically, I mean, I actually meant that it was indeed a funnier movie. The funny thing about these two movies is that they came out around the same time, with The Wash having come to theaters in November of 2001, while How High, the movie that this review is about, was released in theaters in December of that same year. So basically they both came out at roughly the end of that year.

A little personal history note, I remember having gone to see How High in theaters with my uncle. I was 15 at the time and being that I was already a big hip-hop head, I figured why not see this considering how I thought the movie looked funny and that I wanted to see Method Man and Redman on the big screen. I also remember being on my winter break at the time, not to mention it was also a few days before Christmas when I saw it.

One thing that will be said is that this film was a riot all the way through, in fact, in comparison to The Wash, it was not only funnier, but it also has a much different tone, which actually worked in this film.

There really isn’t much of a story in this film. It’s pretty basic, really. The story is about Silas (Method Man), a marijuana grower, and Jamal, a stoner, getting into Harvard and changing the Ivy League institution around and trying to get an education, but odds are against them in uptight Dean Cain (I wonder if that was intentional by the writers), played by Obba Babatunde. How they got there was through a spiritual source, if you know what I mean. Silas’s friend, Ivory died earlier on in the film, but because Silas had put his ashes into the soil of a cannabis plant, once he and Jamal smoked the Ivory weed, his ghost appears and helps them get through school. Of course, there is a romantic subplot as Silas becomes enamored with Lauren, played by Lark Voorhies (aka Lisa from Saved By The Bell), who is the girlfriend of secondary antagonist, Bart (Chris Elwood), the typical rich guy who looks down on Silas and Jamal.

Apart from the plot summary, this film is a straight-up stoner comedy that is similar to old Cheech & Chong films, as well as another stoner comedy cult favorite, Half-Baked. The title of the film is also named after the hit song of the same name from the two lead actors. Also, the tone of the film felt like a lowbrow comedy with very little to no ounce of seriousness in it. One part in the film that in another film would be a little more serious didn’t even take out anything humorous.

Also, unlike The Wash, Method Man and Redman had a lot more comedic chemistry than Dre and Snoop did. The thing about this film is that Meth seemed like the closest to being the straight man of the duo while Redman was more of the comedic sidekick. However, Meth had shown some comedic talent in some scenes. Even a few other supporting characters were also funny, like the character of Tuan. He had some excellent comedic timing in his lines. Also, Spalding Gray (RIP) had a hilarious scene as the Black History professor. Check out this scene below:

Also, being that this is a stoner movie, a lot of the references to weed were clever. While there were scenes of the two lead characters smoking and passing blunts and bongs, one of the weed references that was clever was the name of the exam that is needed to get into a good school. It was called “Testing for Higher Credentials.” Put the three first letters of those words together. Also, I noticed one character that wore a hoodie that said “Ivy League” on it and it had a cannabis leaf on it. I would wear a hoodie like that.

I also have to say that Lark Voorhies did a good job in her role as the love interest for Method Man’s character. I don’t think I have seen her in too many films that were given theatrical releases, yet this was one of them. The only other one I can think of is How To Be A Player, but she didn’t have a lot of screen-time in that film. It is a shame of what she has been through over the years and it doesn’t help that people will always see her as Lisa from Saved By The Bell. Plus, she did provide some eye candy in the film. In fact there were a lot of attractive women in this film, including the ever-so-lovely Essence Atkins.

Also, there was a brief cameo from Cypress Hill, who also performed in this film.

On the DVD of this film, there is an audio commentary track from both Method Man and Redman. It was funny to hear these two talk about the film and about certain scenes. Also, it seemed like Method Man was stoned at the start of the commentary. Maybe he actually was. It sure seemed like it. However, as time progressed, the duo really touched on a lot of things about the film. One of the parts that stood out was when Meth talked about Lark Voorhies’s performance, like how she made him think that she actually liked him. Also, there was a part where Meth talked about how he admits that he and Redman aren’t that great of actors but they did what they could in the film, given what they worked with.

How High is definitely a good example of a silly stoner movie done right. Now I am not surprised that this was given some negative reviews at the time of its release. It is really not a movie for everyone. This movie is basically on the same level as Half-Baked in that it had similar humor, not just the fact that there was a lot pot-smoking in the movie. Both films had a lot of crazy shit going on. I know I had mentioned The Wash at the start of this review, but when comparing those two films, How High wins this one. Now I don’t mind The Wash, even though I do believe it was not a good film, this film got a lot more laughs out of me. Both Meth and Redman had a lot of chemistry on-screen and there were plenty of funny moments even from some of the supporting cast, including one of the antagonists of the film. I also forgot to mention that Anna Maria Horsford was in this film as Jamal’s mother, which is funny considering how a few years after she played Meth’s mother on Method & Red (Note to self: Must get back to writing Method & Red episode reviews). Overall, in a nutshell, this was a hilarious movie.

Recommended, especially to hip-hop fans and those who also like to toke.

NEXT UP: The soundtracks to The Wash and How High, but I also have some other ideas in mind.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – The Wash

Year of Release: 2001

Film Studio: Lionsgate Films/Lithium Entertainment Group

When I first thought about reviewing “rap movies,” as I like to call them, I had initially thought about mostly doing reviews on these low-budget, straight-to-video releases that had a good amount of rappers in the cast, or at least ones that have a few in starring roles. A couple of examples that I did were Thicker Than Water and Hot Boyz, one movie that I fell out of love with yet still get a bit nostalgic over. The other being a film that I would rather use as a torture technique to punish someone who wronged me. However, I had also thought about the films that starred rappers that still managed to make it to theaters. Of course I had done a couple already that were given theatrical releases, Bones and Half Past Dead.

What is funny about all of this is that there are a lot of movies that have rappers in them, yet I am unsure on which ones to do and what not to do. Of course, at the moment I have a few in mind that I want to do, at least for the time being. One of those films is 2001’s The Wash.

This film was basically a starring vehicle for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. These two have a lot of chemistry when it comes to music. Hell, those two had collaborated a lot dating back to their days with Death Row. But the question is do they also have that kind of chemistry on screen? Well, that is REALLY good question.

Both men in their roles feel like they are playing themselves. Also, Dre’s character, Sean, is basically the straight man to Snoop’s Dee Loc, who is the wisecracker. In some ways it feels like when Ice Cube played Craig to Chris Tucker’s Smokey in the first Friday film. However, those two had amazing chemistry in that film. In this film, that comedic chemistry is lost on Dre and Snoop, despite having worked well together in music.

I have to also note that Dre and Snoop also have production credits in this film, among a few other people. Which I am like “Huh?” I can only imagine that only so many people can help the production of this film. But where the main thing lies is in the writer/director, DJ Pooh (For those who don’t know, his name is actually Mark Jordan). Of course, this film is not DJ Pooh’s first film credit. He had done some of the writing in Friday (And also played a character in that film) and also had written and directed 3 Strikes, a film that I also must revisit. Not to mention he also had a role in this film (More on this later).

Regarding the film’s story and writing is another part that shows how flawed this film is. In a nutshell this movie is about how Sean got fired from a job and ends up getting a job at, well, The Wash, which is the name of a car wash that has the employees washing cars for customers. So it isn’t one of those car washes where people can drive into and the car gets clean by the machinery. Nor is it a car wash where people can do it on their own with the use of hoses and brushes. It seems like a then-modern-day spin on the 1976 cult classic, Car Wash, but with more of a hip-hop/gangsta twist and no Rose Royce soundtrack to back it but rather rap tracks from Snoop and Dre, along with other hip-hop and R&B artists from Snoop’s label and Dre’s label. However, it seemed to have told three different stories in one film (along with a few subplots), which was one of the film’s problems. It even noted the different plot points on the back of the DVD case.

In the film, part of the plot had Sean, Dre’s character, becoming assistant manager to Mr. Washington (George Wallace), who was also called “Mr. Wash” as a nickname. Being that Sean tried to be an honest and responsible employee, he had gotten on the case of Dee Loc, Snoop’s character, for dealing and smoking weed while on the job and slacking. Of course, this rubbed Dee Loc the wrong way enough that it set up some conflict between the two. I must add that those two started off as friends at the beginning of the film who were also roommates. But then later on another subplot takes over the story which showed how flawed the writing was. The other plot of the film involved a kidnapping by Slim, played by DJ Pooh, who was the film’s antagonist, but he didn’t even show up until much later into the film. It was almost the storyline involving him was shoehorned in.

There were some subplots that seemed rather confusing and some that just finished at the snap of a finger. One example for the latter is a romantic subplot involving Sean and a female customer who he hit on at the car wash under the guise of an insurance salesman, when he happened to have stolen a customer’s jacket to hide that he worked at the car wash. Then of course that subplot was dropped not too long after it was revealed that he lied to her. That subplot was not needed at all and it would not have made a difference if it were out of the movie completely. On the plus side, she was never seen again, so there was no predictable part with her coming back and trying to give their whole thing another chance. As for another subplot, I totally wondered what the deal was with Eminem’s role in the film. He played a character who was fired from the car wash, but all he did was just call Mr. Wash and just threaten him. This was before 8 Mile, by the way, and it seemed like he was doing his Slim Shady persona when doing this film. Although I will say that he got some laughs out of me during his appearances.

One thing that annoyed me is that there was a lot of heavy plugging for the film’s soundtrack and also actually saying that the artists who did some songs were from Dre and Snoop themselves, the film’s lead actors. Okay, I get that they played characters, but it just seems odd how even the actors who played the characters exist in this universe as rappers. I don’t recall the Friday movies making reference to Ice Cube albums or ads with Craig present. In one scene, Tray Deee, one of Tha Eastsidaz and also one of Snoop’s boys from the DPG, was even referred to by his stage name and was acting as a character in this film. So he was basically playing himself and hanging out with a few moronic gangbangers? I didn’t understand it either.

Another thing about the soundtrack, and this is a minor spoiler here, is that in the credits, the video of “Bad Intentions” from Dre and Knoc-Turn’al was shown. It was an uncensored version, by the way, and the actual censored version was an extra on the DVD.

There were also some cameos by Ludacris, Pauly Shore, Shaquille O’Neal, and Xzibit. Also, one of the female characters was played by Truth Hurts, a singer who was on Dre’s label, Aftermath, at the time, but was credited by her real name, Shari Watson. One small note, but there was an appearance by Shawn “Solo” Fonteno, who is best known for playing Franklin Clinton in Grand Theft Auto V. He played Slim’s right-hand man. I also must add that DJ Pooh was the DJ for the West Coast Classics station in GTA V as well. This movie came out 12 years before that game did, but I just thought I’d mention that.

Anyway, this is not a good film, but I don’t hate it. I remember people had told me that it was not good when it came out, especially because I wanted to see it in theaters. According to some sources, it didn’t do well. It was shot on a $7 million budget but only made $10 million in the box office. I wonder if that was domestically. The first time I watched it was when I rented it when it came out on DVD. I had bought the DVD for this film much later and I had recently found it after having lost it. This film is more or less a time-waster or a movie that you can have on as background noise while doing other tasks. It is not a bad way to spend a boring Saturday or Sunday or any other day-off for that matter when you have nothing to do. You can do better but you can do a lot worse, too. I think it is mostly “meh,” if bad in some areas, but then again, a much funnier movie came out a month after this that starred rappers, which I will cover soon.

NEXT UP: HOW HIGH.

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Rap Movie Review – Half Past Dead

half_past_dead

Year of Release: 2002

Film Studio: Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Franchise Pictures

I have not really been keeping up with this lately, but because I have plans to write about the Murder Inc compilations in February, I figured that this would be a good place to start. It is not just because Ja Rule is in this film, and also Kurupt, but also because there is a good amount of songs from The Inc on the soundtrack, and also other stuff from non-Murder Inc performers.

I will add that I have also been on a Steven Seagal kick lately, probably thanks to a YouTuber who I follow named Ramboraph4life as not too long ago he had done a Seagal marathon where he reviewed and ranted on films that he starred in. I still have Exit Wounds to do, and I will cover that one in the near future along with its soundtrack, but that will be for my Andrzej Bartowiak’s martial arts hip-hop trilogy marathon which also consists of Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 The Grave, along with the soundtracks to those films.

Anyway, I am here to talk about Half Past Dead, the last movie that Steven Seagal starred in that was given a theatrical release, which also has Ja Rule in a starring role. This movie came out nearly two years after Exit Wounds, which was a surprise hit and that was also another movie that Seagal had done with a rapper, who was DMX. For many years I had heard that this film was the last straw for Steven Seagal as a leading man in theatrical movies because afterwards he had starred in a slew of direct-to-video films. I think another reason was that this film was a critical and box office flop. A lot of people disliked the film and it did not make a lot of money. Of course, I decided to see it for myself.

Some of my synopsis may contain spoilers.

The film’s story in a nutshell is about this undercover FBI who is infiltrating a prison because a criminal plotted to interrogate a prisoner about stolen gold and where to find it. The film’s title has to do with how Seagal’s character was declared dead at the beginning of the film, only to be revived. Seagal played Sasha, the FBI agent who was undercover in a criminal operation with his friend, Nicholas, played Ja Rule. Of course, Ja’s character did not know that he was undercover at first. The opening sequence was more of a prologue as Sasha was shot and the main plot takes place eight months after those events. The villain, who is called 49er One (don’t ask), played by Morris Chestnut, leads a team of criminals, also codenamed 49ers with a number after that. For example, the second-in-command, played by Nia Peeples, is named 49er Six. My only guess is because the film took place on Alcatraz and being that they are after gold, it is rather clear as to why they are named that. In some ways this feels like The Rock, with Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris, but with elements from The Matrix thrown in.

In regards to whether this film was bad is entirely subjective, but I personally didn’t mind it. Would I call it good? No, but there was some fun to be had. The thing that really got me were the acting from parts of the cast. I can’t really say much about Seagal’s acting considering how he has admitted that he is not much of an actor and how in a lot of movies he basically plays the same type of character, or is he playing himself? I can never tell. Ja didn’t do a bad job in his role but I have not seen enough roles of his to really say if he is playing himself. I know he was in a movie with Pras (From The Fugees) called Turn It Up, but I have never seen it. He was only in The Fast and The Furious for a few minutes and the only other film that I have seen with him was The Cookout, but that was a long time ago and I mostly remember that being a cheesy comedy. As for Morris Chestnut, his performance as the villain felt like he went through the motions. I couldn’t buy him as a bad guy. I felt that he was more convincing as a criminal-type in the movie Confidence, which came out sometime after this one. He didn’t really convince as a bad guy in this film and he is usually such a good actor. Nia Peeples didn’t have much to work with except be the femme fatale who wore tight leather and did martial arts. Also she reminded me too much of Trinity from The Matrix in this. She even wore a trenchcoat in some fight scenes.

As for others, Kurupt basically played the comic relief in this film. He was actually pretty funny in some scenes, one of which included comedienne, Mo’Nique. I can’t say he acted much before this except for one small scene in The Wash, but that was it.

As for action scenes, this movie was chock full of explosions and pyrotechnics that I think it would make Michael Bay blush. The film was already over-the-top, but it just felt like firework show in some sequences. There was a lot of ridiculousness in some other sequences like one that had Seagal and Ja driving a car and Ja totally flew out of a car or when Kurupt fired a rocket launcher and was sent flying. Those scenes got a laugh out of me for the absurdity in both scenes. Not to mention when a gun got caught in an elevator door and Seagal flipped it over to have it point at the bad guys. Also, I could not help but laugh during the climax when two guys jump from a balcony and start firing their guns. I mean, come on, how could the bullets not hit the other guy who jumped as well?

Of course, I can’t complain about the fight scenes, even though some involved doubles for some people. Although Peeples’ character was a total knock-off of Trinity, she impressed me a bit in her fight scenes. I can’t say that I am surprised because she had done a lot of fight scenes when she was in Walker, Texas Ranger.

Acting and action scenes aside, the complaint I had for the most part were some songs from the soundtrack. I wonder if this movie was edited and initially supposed to be rated R. This was PG-13, and I believe it is Steven Seagal’s only PG-13 film. The reason for my complaint is that a lot of the songs were edited. This film came out around the same time as the compilation, “Irv Gotti Presents The Inc” and a number of songs from that compilation appeared on the soundtrack. The film started with “Gangstafied” from a few Murder Inc artists (Including Ja) and it was distracting to hear parts of the lyrics censored. The same can be said about the use of “I’ma Bang” from DMX. It was just weird to hear it censored when it said “Do My Motherfucking Thing.” If the movie was rated R, the lyrics would all be intact.

I also must add that the song in the credits, “The Pledge (Remix)” contained clips from this film in the music video for it.

End spoilers.

Half Past Dead is more flash than substance, however, the film is still fun to watch for some reason. I don’t think this is a good film, but it is entertaining in some areas. I found myself laughing with and at some scenes, especially at a little Sony product placement with an inmate playing PS2 in a cell. The film also didn’t take itself seriously which was one reason that I had fun with it. I also must add that there is a direct-to-video sequel that stars Bill Goldberg and from what I understand, Kurupt reprised his role in that film. I might watch that and review it one day because judging from the DVD artwork it appears that Kurupt has a bigger role in that one than in this one. I am also curious about Bill Goldberg’s performance being that I am mostly used to seeing him in his wrestling persona. I’ll check it out one day.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror

hood-of-horror

Year of Release: 2006

Film Studio: Xenon Pictures/Social Capital Films/Bloodworks/Snoopadelic Films

Another Snoop Dogg horror film review? Huh? I know, it’s kind of odd considering I was unsure if I would even do this, but I managed to find a way to watch it and figured why not. What separates this film from “Bones” is that this was not a wide release as according to IMDB this film had a rather limited release before coming out on DVD. Another that separates this from “Bones” is that “Hood of Horror” is an anthology film that has three different stories told, a la “Tales From The Crypt” and “Creepshow.”

However, what I will also say is that when it comes to horror movies with Bigg Snoop Dogg, I actually prefer “Bones” in this case. Why? I will get to that. But in the meantime, I am going to give a synopsis about each of the stories that were told.

The first story was about this girl named Posie, played Daniella Alonso, who has a problem with three gangbangers and they have a problem with her too for having tagged on their turf. At some point Posie meets a derelict, played by Danny Trejo, who gives her a tattoo on her arm, which also indicates that she was given a power to be able to eliminate people. It’s like that saying, with great power comes responsibility.

The second story was about this racist couple inheriting a home from the father of the husband. In their inheritance, they have to live in the home with four African-American Vietnam vets, whom also served with the late father of the new landlord. The couple, however, don’t respect the vets and use them as slaves and also harass them in the process, which infuriates the group greatly.

The third and final story is about a rapper who gets famous and is then confronted by a mysterious woman who shows him about his rise to fame and what happened to his friend and how some things are more important than fame.

Now I am about to break down about what I thought regarding these stories. The first thing that I will say that is all stories ranked from worst to best in the order they were shown.

The moment the first story started, the thing that irritated me the most was the acting. As great as Daniella Alonso is to look at in this film, her acting was just unbearable, as was the acting from some of the other actors, especially Noel Gugliemi. Regarding Gugliemi, I am aware that he is typecast as a gang member in a lot of movies, and I have read that he has been down that road before, so I can’t complain about him. Alonso, however, hammed it up in the scenes she was in. I haven’t seen her in a lot of other things, so I can’t comment on her acting as a whole but she just did not do well in this film. As for Danny Trejo, well I am used to seeing him play Danny Trejo, even though he came off as menacing in his role. The story also did not make sense in the end and I thought the ending didn’t convey the message that it tried to tell.

The second story was a mixed bag for me. The villains, played by former “Baywatch” babe Brande Roderick and Anson Mount, who I mostly remember seeing in that Britney Spears star vehicle, “Crossroads,” did not really give me much reason to hate them. Yes, they were total jerks in the movie but they didn’t really make me hate them enough to want to see them get theirs. Ernie Hudson, who played one of the vets in this story, actually saved it for me. I can never complain about seeing him on my screen as I have always respected him as an actor and I like some roles of his, like in “The Substitute” and “Ghostbusters.” However, I cannot say anything about the writing. While the story was predictable, I have to hand it to the writers for coming up with something a bit original towards the end of it. It was a lot better than the first story, but at the same time it suffered from predictability and hammy acting.

Now the movie kicked it into a higher gear with the third and final story. I have to say that this one was the most interesting of the bunch as I will admit that I felt a slight chill in my spine when I watched it. Aries Spears of MADtv fame appeared in this story as Quon, the best friend of the rapper Sod, played by Pooch Hall. While Hall was the main character of this story, Spears was the secondary main character of this one. I am mostly used to seeing him do comedic roles. That isn’t to say that he wasn’t funny in this, he was but in a really creepy way. I also didn’t mind the performance from former professional wrestler, Diamond Dallas Page. However, there wasn’t really much story to be told considering how short it was and we didn’t really see how Sod rose to the top of the rap world. At first we see when he was a nobody and then a year later we see him at the top of his game. If it were made into a full-length movie, it would have been better.

Now where did Snoop fit into all of this? Well he was the narrator of the film and played what appeared to be the devil in the story. He would appear in between stories talking about what happened and then would talk about the next story. He basically like he always does, and it is not that different than his performance in “Bones.” I will say that when he had two gorgeous woman by his side, it somehow reminded me of the video to Coolio’s “Too Hot.” If you’ve seen that video, you will know which part I am talking about. Also, he has a few on the soundtrack, one of which was played in the credits. I also must add that there were animated sequences that happened in between. The animation reminded me of “The Boondocks” and “Afro Samurai,” which was among the very few positive qualities about this film.

Now why do I prefer “Bones” to this movie? Here’s why: I actually got a little more scares from that one than I did this and it had a better story. The only story from this movie that I actually would give a pass to is the third one and even there was not a lot of time to develop it. The second story didn’t have enough to keep me into it with the exception of Ernie Hudson. The first story was just bad. When it comes to horror anthology movies, I very much prefer “Tales From The Hood,” which is an underrated movie in my personal opinion. This movie just failed on some levels for me. Despite a few somewhat positive qualities, I think that this movie failed on multiple levels.

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