Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Any Fool With a Dick Can Make a Baby, But Only a Real Man Can Raise His Children.

Boyz n the Hood (1991)I suppose the theme for my last week of my Film 100 class is “Make Whitey Feel Bad” because the last two movies we watch are Boyz n the Hood and Do the Right Thing.  I’m okay with it because my friend Forty had requested one of these movies so I can kill two gangbangers with one drive by, as it were.  But the problem I have with reviewing this movie is the same problem I had when I reviewed Menace II Society.  First, I want to avoid seeming racist.  Second, both of these movies spell their titles poorly.  Thirdly, I feel like I’ve already seen this movie because I’ve seen Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.  Well let’s see if I like Boyz n the Hood better without the jokes, written and directed by John Singleton, and starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, Angela Bassett, Nia Long, Tyra Ferrell, Redge Green, Dedrick D. Gobert, Alysia Rogers, and Baldwin C. Sykes.

A ten-year-old kid named Tre Styles (Desi Arnez Hines II) gets into a fight at school.  Because of an agreement he had with his mother Reva Devereaux (Angela Bassett), he must now go and live in Crenshaw with his father Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne).  Here he reunites with some of his childhood friends … who are promptly taken to jail for stealing.  Seven years later, Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is an upstanding citizen with good grades and a job, Ricky (Morris Chestnut) is now a star running-back with aspirations of getting a scholarship, Doughboy (Ice Cube) is in and out of jail, and Chris (Redge Green) is confined to a wheelchair from a gunshot wound.  Though things seem to be going well for Ricky and Tre, it’s hard growing up in the ‘hood … or so I am told.

I feel like I’m not the right audience for this movie.  I’m not saying I didn’t like it.  It was a very poignant movie.  But I’m so very white and I really don’t like dramas.  I don’t understand the compulsion to see a movie that will make you sad.  I know these kinds of things happen!  I just don’t like to think about it!  But the movie does seem to successfully capture the danger of that kind of life.  It’s exciting and suspenseful and sad most of the time.  I wouldn’t say it always makes sense to me, but as I said, “I am so very white.”  It’s not going to be too easy to draw from my own personal experiences in order to fully relate to this movie.  I still don’t understand Reva’s motivation for sending Tre to live with Furious.  First of all, this mother fucker’s name is “Furious.”  That seems like a bad idea right away.  I assume he’d have a temper that could perhaps have earned him this moniker, and I’d also assume that this is an awful name to give to a character.  Secondly, I don’t understand how the appropriate punishment for getting into a fight in school is to make your kid go live in the deeper, darker ghetto where he will be even more surrounded by bad influences and have to fight even more just to survive.  I got the feeling that Reva just thought that Tre was a drag and was too much of a distraction for her to get her career and learning on so she pawned him off on his father so he could be out of sight AND out of mind.  It turned out okay for the most part as Tre learned his lesson well from someone that turned out to be a pretty good influence for someone named “Furious,” but even he almost made the wrong choices at the end of the movie.  I also didn’t agree with everything that Furious said.  Most of it would at least lead Tre in the right direction while still being motivated in what I would call a bit of crazy racism, like his whole monologue about liquor stores.  I agree that the people in this neighborhood should stop drinking and killing each other all the time.  That’s a pretty easy idea to get behind.  But maybe we shouldn’t be blaming the white man for all of this as if it’s some crazy white man conspiracy to keep the black man down.  Maybe instead blame the people in this movie that are scarcely seen without a 40 in their hands.  Putting a liquor store there isn’t a conspiracy so much as it’s just good business.

The greater majority of the performances in this movie were worthy of applause, but I never really got on board with Cuba Gooding Jr.  First of all, he never looked like a 17-year-old.  I would say early 30’s at best.  He did some of the sad moments well in the movie, but I was not a fan of his reaction to what happens to Ricky.  Him walking into Brandi’s house and doing some shadow-boxing struck me more as goofy than convincing.  I thought Laurence Fishburne did a good job throughout the movie, but not a good enough job that I’m going to call him “Larry Fishburne” as he is listed in the credits.  He should feel happy that I didn’t call him Morpheus as we all know I want to.  I also liked Ice Cube in the movie while simultaneously hating his mom, played by Tyra Ferrell.  Yeah, he didn’t always (or usually) make the right decisions in the movie, but I put the majority of the blame on her.  She was a rotten bitch.  As was that black cop guy.  Bernie Mac’s character in Don’t be a Menace to South Central wasn’t even that much of an exaggeration for how confusingly racist this guy was.

Boyz N the Hood was a movie that I can call a good movie based on most of its quality, but not one that I feel like I’m really meant to relate to that much.  I didn’t grow up anywhere near this kind of thing really, but it is a very interesting and informative watch.  I would feel confident in saying that everyone should watch this movie.  Whitey can feel bad for themselves, people that don’t live around this kind of thing can get an interesting glimpse into a world they typically prefer to believe doesn’t exist, and the people who do live in this world can get some positive messages from a man named Furious that might help them get out of that world.  Stopping that kind of violence is a worthy cause, even if the white man must be blamed for most of it.  Boyz N the Hood gets “Stupid motherfucker!  Don’t you know you can catch that shit from letting them suck on your dick?” out of “That’s what we’re here to celebrate, right?”

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Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Maybe I’ll Sleep With You if You’re the Last Man on Earth. But We’re Not on Earth.

My inspiration for watching this movie was pure randomness. I saw it in my instant queue and thus I watched it. I really should get to some of those review requests I have building up, but I decided at random to watch this movie. This will be a short introduction indeed. I have no idea how this movie got added to my queue, I don’t know why I picked it to watch today, and I know nothing about it beyond a few people that star in it. And most of those people aren’t even reasons to watch a movie! It doesn’t really matter. I watched it and now I reviews it. This movie is Ghosts of Mars, written by John Carpenter and Larry Sulkis, directed by John Carpenter, and starring Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Pam Grier, Jason Statham, Clea DuVall, Liam Waite, Joanna Cassidy, Duane Davis, and Richard Cetrone.

In the 22nd century, on a mostly terraformed Mars, a team including Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge), Helena Braddock (Pam Grier), Nathan Jericho (Jason Statham), Bashira Kincaid (Clea DuVall), and Michael Descanso (Liam Waite) are sent to a small mining town to transport a murderer named “Desolation” Williams (Ice Cube) to prison. When they arrive, the town is virtually deserted. They find a few survivors and one of them named Whitlock (Joanna Cassidy) explains that they found a hidden doorway that was opened, releasing “ghosts” into the air that inhabited the miners, turning them crazed and violent. They form an uneasy alliance with Williams to hold out against the threat long enough for their train to return.

Was I mistaken, or is John Carpenter generally regarded as a good filmmaker? ‘Cause the movie I just watched was typical, poorly-conceived shoot-‘em-up bullshit. It’s mostly just a collection of better movies put together in a way that was as interesting as it was easy to follow … which is to say “not”. The bad guys looked like they were from the Mad Max movies, though they mostly acted like zombies, and the main bad guy looked like the Kurgan from Highlander, but he only spoke in gibberish. The sets in the movie looked like they were stolen straight out of either Total Recall or Judge Dredd. And the story was pulled straight out of the toilet behind a Mexican restaurant. A good bit of the dialogue was just trying very hard to sound official. I could just imagine them sitting in the office and yelling out the door, “I need a book of military terms. STAT! Okay, I definitely want to use ‘clicks’ for distance, ‘marks’ for targets, and I probably only want to refer to time in hundreds. And, by God, cock your damned guns instead of punctuating!” Of course they would do this to make their police team seem more qualified, forgetting the fact that everything else they wrote made them look like the worst team of police officers that’s ever existed. They were decent enough in a fight, but every 10 minutes or so they’d get in a position where they were being held at gunpoint and everyone had to slowly lower their weapons to the floor. Also, after everything they go through, they don’t accomplish any one of their missions, but they do lose the greater majority of their team. To try to make their team a little stronger, they add in some of the prisoners and murderers that they’ve encountered without bringing the collective IQ of the group into triple digits. Hell, one of them cuts his thumb off trying to open a can of food with a machete. They were only able to succeed because the enemies were even stupider. The closest thing they could come up with for motivation for these guys is destruction. Living creatures aren’t supposed to want to destroy the planet. They live there too! All they ever did was try to destroy things and, when they didn’t have things to destroy, they all stood around and either yelled gibberish at each other or stuck pieces of metal into their faces. If they weren’t these guys, they were a red/purple smoke that would take control of the camera and smack into people’s face, though it seems that was to indicate that they were being inhaled. All I could see was that it looked like I was wearing old school 3D glasses when I was supposed to be seeing from their point of view. What I could also see is that this movie sends the worst kind of message ever. When Melanie inhales the crazy smoke, they give her some of the drugs out of her stash, which allows her to overcome her possession. That is not a joke! Drugs saved her life! I don’t know why the movie didn’t just end with the good guys wrapping the town in cellophane and hotboxing all of the bad guys until they came out of it.

The performances didn’t impress but, in their defense, most of them didn’t seem like they were trying either. They all probably just agreed to be in this movie based on John Carpenter’s involvement, thinking they would be in one of his good ones. But they had already signed the contracts by the time they read the script, so they just had to ride it out. Natasha Henstridge did a good enough job. She played badass pretty well on occasion, I suppose. In the beginning, she does get needlessly defensive at her debriefing, but I think that was probably the piss-poor writing. She walks in to the room with a committee, they tell her to have a seat, and she starts demanding a lawyer. We haven’t even asked you anything yet! Jason Statham did a decent enough job, but he was never really likeable. The only concern he had was to try to fuck Natasha Henstridge through the entire movie, paying little mind to the weirdos trying to kill them all. Speaking of which, the crazy people never did a good job. They came off more goofy than scary.

I had no reason to watch Ghosts of Mars, and I probably should have taken that as a sign. The story was stupid and pointless, and mainly just tried to steal from so many better movies. The action is decent, but not decent enough to be a reason to watch this when you have to sit through the story to get to it. The performances seemed phoned in, but I couldn’t really blame them for it. Altogether, I see no reason why you would watch this movie. You COULD stream it, but I wouldn’t bother unless you need to write a review for the day as well. Ghosts of Mars gets “The ass end of the universe” out of “Come on, you mindless mother fuckers!”

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