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Eddie Murphy’s ‘Coming 2 America’- Movie Review

by Betty Halsell

Coming 2 America unearthed bejeweled life lessons, sewn in with the fabrics of true love. It touched on blended families, racism, feminism, and just a touch of true passion and diplomatic change. Paramount Pictures, New Republic Pictures, Eddie Murphy Productions, and  Misher Films carefully groomed this sequel to sit on the throne as the next American classic.

Coming 2 America is the true royal oat to the 1988 narrative. The movie picks up 30 years later, back in Zamunda. The future king Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his beloved wife, Lisa (Shari Headley), arise to their three daughters wishing them a happy anniversary. It is important for there to be a male heir to carry out the patriotic rule of the country in royal families, this was something Prince Akeem assumed he failed at accomplishing. However, to his surprise, a royal oat was sewn, Lavelle Johnson (Jermaine Fowler) sprouted back in the land of Queens.

Prince Akeem soon becomes king, and with the new crown, comes new weight. Coming 2 America presented real scenarios like a blended family, Queen Lisa and Levelle’s mother (Leslie Jones) were vastly different but found common ground.

The movie touched on the rule of tradition that overshadows the change for the future, as Meeka (Kiki Lane) eldest royal daughter, watched her dreams of being Queen fade away as soon as there was talk of a son. Women in Zamunda spoke of owning their own business, but solemnly knew according to Zamunda Law, it was not possible. The sequel presented each problem smoothly – they were serious issues, without political heaviness.

Getting into the design and feel of Zamunda, one could assume the wealth of this country is on the highest scale. They pulled from both African and African-American cultures. The entrances of General Izzy (Wesley Snipes) paralleled ‘stepping’ from Black fraternities/sororities (think stomp the yard every time General Izzy entered the scene.) The costumes were curated by Oscar award-winning Ruth E. Carter, who was the designer behind Wakanda’s sense of fashion.

Although there wasn’t an official breakdown of what African tribes inspired Carter, she is known to pull from South Africa, using African lace, symbols, and their traditional headdress as statement pieces. Each character presented a unique style, Prince Lavelle interpreted the royal stride and attire to fit his personal taste of swag and cadence. All the intricate nuances that make up Black culture were joined with the vivacious origins of African heritage, which was a beautiful marriage of its own. Also, the athletic brand Puma was spotted making their renditions of African-inspired gear in the movie.

The sequel upheld the presence of being over the top like the 1980s original, with a dash of new flavor, giving it a different soulful bite. There were quick peeks into places that made the classic movie the crowned jewel that it is, such as McDowell’s fast food eatery, adding “healthier options.” The ingenious characters Murphy created were peppered throughout the film effortlessly.

Nostalgic cameo appearances throughout the journey were made the singing royal announcer Oha (Paul Bates), Morris and Clarence from the barbershop(Arsenio Hall and Murphy), the womanizing pastor Reverend Brown (Hall), the arranged betrothed Imani Izzy (Vanessa Bell Calloway), and Randy “Sexual Chocolate” Watson (Murphy) all played into the new story of royalty.

Love expanded as the root of the story, planting different seeds where it was needed. The affection between a son and his mother who raised him, the love of tradition and family honor, and how love can also be the seed for change. Throughout the movie, Prince Akeem once again evolves to another version of himself, bringing along his country to a new level of progression.

The credits had a few sparks as well, with much-wanted bloopers and an unexpected musical artist doing the cover of the endearing serenade, ” She’s Your Queen.” Much like the 1988 original, the sequel was light-hearted but tackled some of the most tangible issues that America is facing today, Coming 2 America brought back a much-needed smile and feel-good reality that the nation is looking to get back to.

Available March 5 exclusively on Amazon Prime.

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Film

Zendaya Talks Starring in Upcoming Blockbuster ‘Dune’

The Spiderman star is opening up about playing Chani in the upcoming feature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, Dune.

The movie is taking the audience on a journey past the stars. The film explores a new frontier of fate that tethers all living creatures to one moment of existence. Those tuning in, observe Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a “gifted” young man born into a narrative of great power. Atreides prepares to take on a perilous mission and save his people. Along the way, he must face all of his greatest fears. 

Zendaya plays the voice of reason, encapsulated in the character, Chani. She is seen mostly through the consistent visions of Atreides through his expedition.

ZENDAYA as Chani and TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE"
(L-r) ZENDAYA as Chani and TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary release.

Zendaya says there is a certain wisdom to that character, which she resonates with. She told Statenews,

“I’ve always been called an old lady since I was born,” she shared, “I’ve always been Grandma, and I think that (Chani) has that wise spirit. I think part of both of us having to grow up in a more adult space and always constantly working with people who work are so much older than us or having to be thrown into situations where you’re the youngest one in the room, I think causes you to grow up a little bit faster.”

Set in a futuristic era, the audience is free to experience a world where prophecy rules the nature of the galaxy. The only thing familiar in this narrative is the authority of human emotion. 

It took over $160 million to create this world, under a shared production of Legendary Entertainment, Villeneuve Films, and Warner Bros. Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean) scored the music for the film.

Other iconic talents sharing the screen with Zendaya are Rebecca Furgeson (Mission Impossible,) Jason Momoa (Aquaman,) and Oscar Issac (X-Men: Apocalypse.)

The previously noted source recorded Zendaya stating, “That’s what I love about this film. There is so much going on. There is so much to talk about and just to look, to hear. There are so many things, like metaphors. We’ve talked about it a million times, but something as simple as a relationship between a mother and a son.”

Watch Dune on Friday, October 22.


Betti Halsell, senior writer at HM

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Film

Christian J. Simon Talks ‘Under Wraps,’ Comedy and Disney Legacy

Best known for his role as Max’s best friend Leo in family comedy Sydney to the Max, Christian J. Simon is now starring in a reboot of Disney Channel’s first original movie, Under Wraps. Just in time for Halloween!

The story follows small-town teen friends Gilbert (Simon), Marshall (Malachi Barton), and Amy (Sophia Hammons), who accidentally revive and release a 4000-year old mummy in the days leading up to Halloween.

At first terrified, the friends quickly learn that the Mummy, who they affectionately name ‘Harold,’ is actually nice and in dire need of assistance. A group of criminals captures and intends to sell the mummy. To save the life of their friend, the trio has to come together, face their fears, and rush to return Harold to his sarcophagus before midnight.

Christian J. Simon, Malachi Barton, Sophia Hammons in 'Under Wraps'

We chatted with Christian, a rising comedic star, and talked about the movie, the legacy of Disney, and what it means to be a part of it.


HM: Tell us about your character, Gilbert.

CS: Gilbert loves to have a good time. He is smart, funny, gets scared very easily; he doesn’t like horror movies, which is funny because he is the total opposite of his best friend Marshall, who’s always pushing him to face his fears.

HM: What was the scene you enjoyed filming the most?

CS: Every scene was fun to shoot. There was something in every scene. But I remember how fun the car scenes were, and I say the last scene. I’m not gonna say too much cause y’all gotta tune in.

HM: How familiar were you with the original movie?

CS: No, I didn’t know what Under Wraps was when I got the audition. And I actually ended up watching it after I booked the job with my castmates in Vancouver, Canada. Which I think was great cause it was after we already put our own spin on the characters and what we thought they would be.

HM: With Disney as a brand known for creating a lot of original movies and you are a part of this legacy, which has a lot of significance to generations coming after you. How does it feel to be a part of this legacy?

CS: It feels amazing. I grew up watching Disney Channel, so to be on a network like this and [do] not just one but two things. Oh gosh, God is so good! I say to all kids out there, keep working hard and don’t give up. If you believe in something and have something that you wanna do, don’t stop. You gonna face a lot of rejection [for] whatever you choose to do. But you gotta let it be fuel for your fire and keep going and know that you can do it.

Watch our full interview above, and make sure to check out Under Wraps on Disney+ on Friday, October 8.

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Denzel Washington Brings New Drama to Macbeth

A new level of visual art was showcased through the freshly released teaser of The Tragedy of Macbeth. Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington brings his omnipresent demeanor to the modern depiction of the play, interpreted by film producer Joel Coen (Money Talks). Oscar-winner Frances McDormand is co-starring alongside Washington Oscar and many other theatrical titans. 

The Tragedy of Macbeth is sizing up to premiere as the solo work of Coen, who worked with his brother, Ethan Coen, and produced past scenic projects together. Coen announced his redirection in focus back in August. 

Acting heavyweights in the drama genre are playing iconic roles such as Lady Macbeth, played by McDormand, and Lord Macduff, embodied by Corey Hawkins (The Walking Dead). 

The melancholic footage provided to the public worked as a small savory bite before the full course of the project, arriving in theaters on December 25, before streaming on platforms like Apple+. It was heavily passed along and re-shared on Twitter this past Tuesday. 

The New York Post captured McDormand stating, “In Joel’s adaptation, we are exploring the age of the characters, and in our adaptation, the Macbeths are older. Both Denzel and I are older than what is often cast as the Macbeths. We’re postmenopausal, we’re past childbearing age. So that puts pressure on their ambition to have the crown. I think the most important distinction is that it is their last chance for glory.”

Washington is seen in the new teaser, implementing his signature smirk, leaving the audience with enough suspense to brush up on the Shakespearean knowledge of the story. The feeling of finding out more about this portrayal is at an all-time high. The film will set the tone for the New York Film Festival on September 24. 

Watch the official trailer below.


Betti Halsell, senior writer at Hollywood Melanin

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