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‘BAD BOYS FOR LIFE’ REVIEW: WORTH THE WAIT

Tina French

Directors: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

Writers: Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, Joe Carnahan

Stars: Will Smith, Alexander Ludwig, Vanessa Hudgens, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano

Running Time: 2h 3m / Classification: Rated R


The third installment of the Bad Boys franchise just hit theaters worldwide and let’s just say, it’s been a long time coming!

The last time audiences followed the adventures of officers/ best friends Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) was in 2003 when Bad Boys II was released. Michael Bay directed that sequel which grossed $273 million worldwide.

Bad Boys For Life follows the duo as they reunite once again when a mysterious assassin (played by Jacob Scipio) murders multiple people involved in an old police case. Lowrey is also gunned down but he survives. After six months of hospital recovery, the officer is eager to find the man who put him there. Burnett is not on board at first. He vowed to leave his violent ways behind if his best friend pulls through. But when their beloved police captain takes a hit, uncle Mike and now pop pop Marcus (his daughter gives birth to a boy in an earlier scene, and Reggie is the father!) team up one last time to put end to the wave of homicides and to take down whoever is responsible.

The film co-stars Vanessa HudgensAlexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola NúñezKate del CastilloNicky Jam, Bianca Bethune and Joe Pantoliano.

The chemistry between Smith and Lawrence is undeniable and carries a lot of the movie. Their sense of humor and special bond translates well through their characters. All of it feels authentic. The jokes are not overexaggerated or forced, just enough to make you enjoy them. You will laugh at them trolling each other and will be touched by their I-always-got-your-back-type friendship.

The action sequences in this latest installment are more lucid than in its predecessors. Slashed throats, bullets penetrating torsos, point-blank shots to the face – directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (who are best known for directing the TV series Snowfall) did not hold back. Demolished buildings, burning helicopters, shoot outs, explosions, high-speed car chases – action junkies will be satisfied.

At some point in the movie, the Bad Boys team up with a younger, elite team called AMMO (which stands for Advanced Miami Metro Operations). The tech-savvy youngsters are clearly juxtaposed to Lowrey and Burnett who are used to handling things the old way. Their constant clashing finds its resolve when the agents face the mastermind behind the series of killings. Her name is Isabel Aretas (played by Kate del Castillo) and she has a bone to pick with Lowrey. We learn that many years ago, even before the Bad Boys, Lowrey was on an undercover mission that resulted in him putting the “only woman he ever loved” (Isabel) in jail. And… here we are introduced to the plot twist (we will keep it a secret for now), which felt a bit forced but definitely a surprise. Its placement is kind of a necessary step to unveil the hidden secrets, evoke an emotional response on Lowrey’s part, and, ultimately, conclude the storyline (specifically, for Bad Boys For Life, not the entire franchise). The after-credit scene suggests there might be a Bad Boys 4 coming.

Bad Boys For Life is entertaining and action-packed. Its been 17 years but it’s like they never left! If you are a fan of Bad Boys and Bad Boys II, then you will enjoy this third (but apparently not final) installment.

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Film

Zendaya’s “Malcolm & Marie” – Review

by Betti Halsell

Malcolm & Marie speaks to the ‘authenticity’ of a young millennial couple in the entertainment industry, projecting their insecurities onto each other. The film follows the couple home after the big premiere of Malcolm’s (John David Washington) motion film. Although the film was heavily influenced by his girlfriend, Marie (Zendaya), Malcolm is reluctant to admit to her contribution, and so the war begins.

Marie’s mood is tense from the very beginning, setting the stage for an all-out verbal brawl. In the twilight hours of the night, they unpack layers of the truths between the two of them. Ultimately, it reflects the narcissism that lives in both of their narratives; a completely relatable tale for two artists in relations (who secretly are in competition). Additionally, the film gives an inside look at the entertainment industry from the artist’s perspective.

The project was shot in black and white with a grainy effect. If one didn’t pay attention to the modern style of the house, it could pass as a movie that was set in the 1970s. There were epic shots of the backyard, lights cascading through the trees, and shots taken through the window panels of the master bedroom. It gave the story tremendous depth and continued the silent dramatic aesthetic. It kept the air heavy around the couple, when they backed away into their corners, reloading verbal ammo for each other.

MALCOLM & MARIE (L-R): ZENDAYA as MARIE, JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON as MALCOLM. DOMINIC MILLER/NETFLIX © 2021

Marie, unable to see the bigger picture of what the night meant for Malcolm, pouts, and passive-aggressively makes her boyfriend macaroni and cheese. Malcolm, unable to read between the fine lines of his woman’s subtle frustrations, is still looking to celebrate until a fake smile slaps him into the reality that something is wrong.

There have been critics of Washington’s character being self-centered. However, it was his night, the night of his big premiere as an acknowledged director, and yet Marie made it about her. Throughout the romantic spat, Malcolm was trying to get past the issue, apologizing, and then genuinely apologizing, but after one resolved issue, Marie went on another rant, tearing him down as an artist. There is concern about credibility, Marie wanted acknowledgment for the lifetime contribution to his debuted film, she forced it out of him. The audience is left thinking… if the acknowledgment is forced, does it make it real?

The monologues shared between the two, were phenomenally written. Washington exerted so much raw energy–building the depth of his character. Malcolm was spewing endless amounts of knowledge about the film industry and what it means to be on the end of the critique, as the creator.

It’s interesting that Marie begins to look at her life and her role in the relationship, simultaneously as her partner begins to shine. There are jabs of jealously and envy as she spews out words of mediocracy and “character theft” when describing his film. Those are literal fighting words, and Malcolm came back with excruciating blows, boiling over to painting a world of hurt.

Everything is interrupted when the review comes back from the infamous L.A. Times critic, and Malcolm loses it, in the most beautiful way. He reveals his love for film as an artist, throwing names of legends in the film industry, stressing the lack of understanding from critics; they don’t share the same romanticism or devotion to films. This brings up a valid point; the perspective of critics is obviously skewed. They are based on their own perspective and knowledge of the subject, yet the words of these noted critiques hold threads of influence over the success of the production.

The featured film was first produced, written, financed, and shot during the fluctuating stages of COVID-19. It was filmed with discretion in June and July of 2020. Malcolm & Marie had a limited release day earlier in January before it was available on Netflix the following month. Producers of the film included Kid Cudi, Sam and Ashley Levison, Zendaya, and John David Washington. The cast and crew definitely redefined the world of drama from a new lens of the creators.

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Film

Brandy and Whitney Houston-Led Cinderella Coming to Disney Plus

Better get excited because the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella movie that stars Brandy and Whitney Houston, is officially coming to Disney Plus!

On Thursday (Feb. 4) morning, Brandy made an appearance on ABC’s The View and reunited with host Whoopi Goldberg, who also starred in the beloved musical, to announce the news.

“It’s pretty remarkable that people have been begging for Cinderella to be re-released for almost 24 years. I mean, what do you think, is it possible?” Goldberg asked.

“It’s definitely possible. I appreciate the fans,” Brandy replied. “I’m so excited that Cinderella has a home now at Disney plus and we can celebrate, and share, and inspire a whole new generation.”

Cinderella will launch on the streaming service “at the stroke of midnight” on Feb. 12.

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Film

‘Coming 2 America’: trailer #2 teases Prince Akeem meeting his long-lost son

Amazon has released the second official trailer of Coming 2 America one month ahead of the premiere.

The 1988 original story follows Akeem (Eddie Murphy) as he travels from Africa to New York, in hopes to find his queen. In this sequel, newly-crowned King Akeem and his trusted confidante Semmi (Arsenio Hall) embark on an all-new hilarious adventure that has them traversing the globe from their great African nation to the borough of Queens, New York – where it all began

The star-studded cast also includes Jermaine FowlerLeslie JonesTracy MorganKiKi LayneTeyana TaylorWesley Snipes, and Nomzamo Mbatha. Actors James Earl JonesJohn AmosBella MurphyVanessa Bell CallowayShari Headley, and Paul Bates will reprise their roles 30+ years later.

The screenplay is by Kenya Barris (Black-ish) and Barry W. Blaustein & David Sheffield (The Nutty Professor).

Craig Brewer (Dolemite is My Name) directed the sequel.

Coming 2 America will be available to stream via Prime Video on March 5, 2021.

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