Red Tails [Movie Review]

George Lucas’ latest production a film which celebrates the Tuskegee Airmen entitled “Red Tails” is more than just a depiction of the stories of these men, but is a film that is about showing what it takes to gain respect in a society in which respect was based on skin color. The film itself avoids coming across as simply a lengthy historical drama, focusing more or the Airmen’s aerial battles thanks to Aaron McGruder and John Ridley’s script along with direction from Anthony Hemingway (HBO’s The Wire)

McGruder who is best known for his comic strip turned cartoon series “The Boondocks”, chose to create a comic book feel, reminiscent of the pulp magazines of the 1950’s with the screenplay for Red Tails, in which the film certainly gives the comic book feel that he was looking to achieve.

But beyond the aerial flight battles created through the use of CGI, the actors themselves do a good job in helping to make the audience care about the characters both during battle and when on the ground out of harm’s way. In crafting the characters from real life stories most of the characters ultimately end up being young college aged black men who still have a lot of growing up to do, and in joining the Tuskegee program ultimately become men. The film focuses on a specific group of fighter pilots within the Tuskegee program which is led by Marty “Easy” Julian (played by Nate Parker), a leader who wants to kept everything easy-going within the unit, striving to make sure his men stick to orders, while at the same time relying on alcohol to cope with the struggles of being responsible for his men . The group also includes Joe “Lightening” Little (David Oyelewo), who is Easy’s fast-acting, show-off friend in the unit, Ray “Junior” Gannon (Tristan Wilds), Samuel “Joker” George (Elijah Kelley), Andrew “Smokey” Salem (Ne-Yo), David “Deke” Watkins (Marcus T. Paulk),and  Maurice Wilson (Michael B Jordan).Oyelewo carries the film as Lightening until his last scene really bringing the character’s different layers to life giving a believable performance in each of the scenarios that his character is presented with.Oyelowo also does a pretty good job in bringing to light how his character realizes the consequence of his pride. The film does get across the protectiveness and brotherhood that the characters have for each other both when fighting and when on the ground.Parker definitely gets the protectiveness with his character across effectively and consistently throughout the film until his final scene. There is a story arc with one of the main characters in which he has so much to lose and so much to live for, yet his own actions cause him to lose it all and the development of this story arc with the character makes the audience connect in some way emotionally. Although listed on posters for the film compared with the previous actors mentioned Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard’s roles as Colonel AJ Bullard (Howard), and Major Emanuelle Stance (Gooding)are in a sense limited, however Howard’s character ends up being crucial to the success of the Airmen as he serves as the direct connection with the government, having the ultimate power to persuade the government not to shut the Tuskegee program down. Howard plays his role with a degree of boldness.

The dynamic aerial fight scenes in the film are clear, exciting and full of action, the crafting of these scenes draws the viewer in is what really brings life to the film when the film starts dragging during scenes of little activity. The dialogue within the aerial fight scenes could be a little better however. When the Airmen try to mix humor and brief chitchat about social life while waiting to attack an enemy it adds to show their humanity, however on the other hand when the antagonist German fighter pilot referred to as “Pretty Boy”, shouts out the line “Oh My God, They’re Africans” when first realizing the Airmen were black it comes across with a bit of ignorance and not disdain (as was probably meant). The aerial combat scenes are shown in a way that moves the audience to want the Airmen to defeat the enemy, not just because of what we’ve known before seeing the film, but because of the character’s actions both during the Dogfight scenes and when not in the war zone.

Where “Red Tails”, lacks is mainly in dialogue.The context of the dialogue focuses a lot on the racism that the Tuskegee Airmen had to endure from a political standpoint. But at times it feels that the dialogue and words used doesn’t fit the time period, and sounds a bit too modern. Also the dialogue is full of self-awareness in regards to race and racism especially with lines such as the line “I guess there’s a lot more to you coloreds than we thought” which a white imprisoned soldier says to a fellow Airman who was imprisoned. The dialogue is just right at certain moments however which end up foreshadowing the fate of certain characters, as well as during scenes when a slightly light-hearted comedic commentary on segregation between the races is needed mainly delivered by Ne-Yo’s character Smokey and Kelly’s character Joker.

Also there could have been a bit more depth to some of the characters. We learn the backstory and see the development of a few of the main characters like “Easy”, but then there are other characters that we never really learn anything about including Major Stance and Colonel Bullard.

Red Tails ultimately is a success in that it is a fun action film that gives a glimpse into not exactly all of the things that happened to the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, but captures the essence of the atmosphere of what it would have been like for these men striving to fight, and then really defending the country during the time when racism was so very prominent against those men.


T.I. & Akoo Host Special Screening of VH1 Series “Family Hustle” in New York

T.I. & Tiny at NYC screening of "Family Hustle" (December 1st) Photo By: Curtis Medina

While T.I. was in New York promoting his upcoming VH1 reality series “Family Hustle”, with wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris, he along with clothing line Akoo hosted a lavish advanced screening of the series at New York’s Yotel Hotel (December 1). Throngs of media from print, radio, and the Internet showed up to speak with T.I. and wife Tiny about the show. T.I.’s friend and frequent collaborator hip hop producer and rapper Swizz Beatz also stopped by to show his support for the series.

In speaking with T.I. about “Family Hustle”, and how it would help others see hip hop artist in a different way T.I. simply said, “ I think it will provide, some positive examples as far as family is concerned.” “You know I have a real problem with the term reality show. I feel like in the world of reality television, this is the only thing that we can really consider positive in the hip hop community” he added.

Catch the two episode season premiere of “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle” on VH1 December 5, at 9pm EST

Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch The Throne” Tour Opens in Atlanta

What may very well be the most anticipated hip hop tour of 2011, the Watch the Throne tour kicked off last night (October 28th) in Atlanta as Jay-Z and Kanye West hit the stage at the 21,000 seat Philips Arena.

The Throne as West and Jay are collectively known opened the show with H.A.M.(would have thought they would open with Lift Off), each standing on separate hydraulic cube shaped platforms (which served as mini-stages) at opposite ends of the arena. The rappers switched from the mini stages when doing solo performances to a T-shaped (T for throne) stage where they performed together. The duo delivered numerous tracks from ‘Watch the Throne’ early in the show including ‘Otis’ and ‘Welcome to the Jungle’.

Ye left the stage for Jay-Z to perform part one of his solo set starting with “Where I’m From”, to having the ATL crowd sing along to “Empire State of Mind”. Jay also make sure not to leave out set-list classics such as “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” “Big Pimpin’,” and “Hard Knock Life.” Whereas Jay’s ‘Home and Home’ tour with Eminem last year focused on bringing out various artist for guest appearances, this time with “Watch the Throne”, the focus is on his hits which don’t feature guest artist (other than Kanye), and his Throne songs with Kanye. The duo did share the stage for select performances during each others solo sets however.

During his solo performances West performed tracks mainly from his most recent album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” which included “Runaway”, “Monster” and “Power” and his earlier albums “Late Registration” and “College Dropout” which included Jesus Walks. Select tracks from West’s “Graduation” album such as ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’
and ‘Good Life’ were also performed. In essence being that West hasn’t toured arenas in three years prior to last night’s Watch the Throne show, the tour makes up for him not touring to promote the releases of 2008’s 808’s and Heartbreak” and 2010’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

Jay and Ye rapped things up with “Made It in America”, complete with images of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X popping up across the arena screens, then followed by ‘Why I Love You’. In the end West and Jay managed to get through a combined total of 41 songs in a two and a half hour show.

Be sure to check out a concert on the ‘Watch the Throne’ tour when it comes to your city, and for those who wont be able to experience the show live VOYR will be streaming each of the concerts on the tour along with behind the scenes footage with a $4.99 per month subscription fee.

Check out a clip from the opening show below:


“The Mountaintop” Officially Opens on Broadway

After three weeks of preview runs “The Mountaintop” officially opened on Broadway last night (October 13th) at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The play which was written by African American playwright Katori Hall features Academy Award nominee Samuel L. Jackson as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett as a motel maid named Camae, in a mystical journey through King’s final hours of his life at the Lorraine Motel.

The MountainTop Opening Night

Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Some of the biggest names in film, music and sports came out to view the play and show their support, stars which included Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Magic Johnson, Cicely Tyson,Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, Debbie Allen, and Phylicia Rashad.

Speaking with Ruby Dee on the red carpet about the effect that so many African American themed plays are making there way to Broadway, and what it means specifically for the direction that Broadway is headed Ms. Dee recalled something that friend Pauletta Washington(who had accompanied her)had mentioned stating,”I’m happy when we’re paying attention to current events, and what they mean and what they for our future and the warnings that they give us. It’s a time to pay attention, these things are still happening and to keep us aware. We have to protect people and do so much.”

After delivering a successful performance Jackson joined reporters, friends and colleagues at the after-party, speaking on how he managed to pull off the role of Dr. King on stage stating, “I didn’t have to worry about conjuring up an imitation of Dr. King and the one that everybody thinks they know. I was trying to mold a man who doesn’t feel well, is kinda tired and has the weight of the world on his hands. He’s in a room by himself where nobody can see him, so he can let his hair down. I’m having a great time doing this part, making discoveries every night.”

The Mountaintop is expected to run through mid-January.

Interview With Comedian-Actor ‘Affion Crockett’

Affion Crockett 'In the Flow' on Fox

Interview By: Kadeem Lundy

Many remember comedian and actor Affion Crockett from his appearances on hit television shows such as Nick Cannon’s Wild N Out, as well as for his work in films such as MTV’s ‘Dance Flick’ with the Wayans Brothers. Now Affion is the star of his own Fox comedy sketch series titled ‘In the Flow With Affion’. Affion recently spoke with me about making his show work to satisfy both his fans who have been there from the start, to his new fans that are just discovering his talents, his favorite celebrity impressions to perform, as well as his vision for the show’s future.

Entertainment Injection: Why do you feel now was the right time to launch the show?

Affion Crockett: Well it was supposed to be launched a little sooner. But when you are on a network, you don’t have control over what time slot you get and when they want to put it out. But in God’s time everything happens as it’s supposed to. The fact that we got Jay and Kanye’s album out, and we have Tiger Woods in the news again, it was just perfect timing for all that stuff to happen.

EI: So now Jamie Foxx is a executive producer on In the Flow, how closely was he involved with you on the show and will he be making a guest appearance anytime in the future?

AC: No guest appearances on this first run, in this first season. We’ll see if we can get his schedule together for the next one. But yeah he’s a big homie, it’s like a Kobe and Phil Jackson situation. I’m the one that’s out there on the court making all the plays and he steps in with a word of advice when he needs to.

EI: What type of freedom has In the Flow given you, that you didn’t have while apart of other shows such as Wild N Out?

AC: Well because it’s my show I get to have more creative control and more of the decision making process as opposed to Wild N Out, that was Nick Cannon’s show, that was MTV, so it really wasn’t my own situation. But now I get to craft the vision of this show the way I want to.

EI:In putting the show together, was there at any point a moment where the producers wanted you to go in a different direction than you had envisioned? How did you manage to work past that?

AC: There’s always conversations and discussions as to what the best direction of the show is. But at the end of the day I commend the network for understanding what my style of comedy is and they supported the fact that, we really should let him go in his direction, because it is a fresh take on comedy and there’s no one else doing it like that on tv right now.

EI: What made you choose to tape in front of a live studio audience, rather than tape on a set without audience interaction?

AC: I wanted to get a real reaction out of a crowd before the television audience sees it. I also wanted to create an environment like Wild N Out, where everyone wants to come to a taping of the show. People still ask me to this day how they can get tickets to Wild N Out. So I figured it’s a good move.

EI: How long in general did it take you to rehearse your skits and lines for the first episodes?

AC: I don’t rehearse, I improvise most of my stuff. We write sketches and scripts, but that’s what In the Flow means, it means just flow with me, because you never know where I’m going to go.

EI: Getting back to what you just mentioned about ad-libbing in scenes and letting things flow naturally, do you ever have any concerns about if the audience doesn’t get the meaning of a joke or impression in a particular scene?

AC: Nah, when you do comedy man, you gotta feed two different audiences. You gotta feed the new audience but then you also gotta cater to those fans that have been with you since the beginning. I like to make sure that when I do those improvs, that my core fans are fed. I know they’re going to get it, since they’ve been rocking with me for so long, and they know my voice. So I just go all the way in.

EI: How do you choose the celebrities that you want to impersonate on the show?

AC: When I choose people, I just figure if it’s someone that I can do really well vocally and if it’s somebody that I can morph into physically. I like to be able to do both. That’s pretty much how I put it together.

EI: Who are some of your favorite impersonations that you have done?

AC: Of course Jay, Kanye, Russell Simmons, Chris Rock, Drake, Manny Pacquiao, Dave Chapelle. All people who I’m fans of, I’m a fan of their work.

EI: Has any of the celebrities that you have done impressions of given you their reactions?

AC: Pretty much everybody that I just named loved it. I haven’t met Pacquiao yet, and I haven’t seen Dave Chapelle in a while. But I pretty much do it in a respectful way. So for the most part all of those guys loved it.

EI: So now, when the show premiered on August 14th, in one of the episodes you did a skit making fun of the whole ‘skinny jeans’ fashion trend, that we often see in urban culture. What are some of the trends that you look back on, and feel kind of get embarrassed by or regret?

AC: Well there’s always the Hammer pants era, the high top fades. I mean all that stuff is coming back now. I mean there’s always some type of crazy fad in every generation, that you look back on and regret.

EI:What do you see as the future of ‘In the Flow’?

AC: I want to make history. It can go down in history like In Living Color did and really be an important voice for this generation comedically.

EI: Going back to what you just mentioned about leaving a legacy with the show as In Living Color did in the early 90’s, how much did ‘In Living Color’ influence you?

AC: Tremendously , I grew up on Living Color. So all those guys Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, Keenan Ivory Wayans, I’m fans of those guys. So just to be able to do what they do is a great accomplishment for me.

EI: Aside from the show, what’s next for you?

AC: After the show, I’m back to the movies. I’m going to do what Will Smith did, and become the number one star in the world.

Ciara Turns Up The Heat At Beekman’s in New York

Singer Ciara brought the New York City summer heat up a notch when she performed at Beekman’s Beer Garden Beach Club at South Street Seaport (August 4) as part of Malibu Rum’s Radio Maliboom Boom Station Invasion.

Ciara’s entrance was marked by a blast… literally. As minutes before the singer made her entrance, a display of fireworks lit the sky over the river.

Hitting the stage in all white leather, Ciara stomped and pop and locked her way through a string of her hits including ‘Goodies’ ‘Like a Boy’ and ‘Ride’. The singer also threw in a few surprises as she performed ‘Loose Control’ (a song she did with Missy Elliott and Fat Man Scoop), and ‘Love, Sex Magic’

After her performance Ciara later tweeted:

@Ciara NY! You guys were AMAZING! Love you all so much! 1st home ATL, 2nd home NY! Y’all hold me down everytime! Love Ciara! #TeamCiara

Ciara is scheduled to perform during two more dates on the tour, in which the next stop is in Dallas, Texas (August 13), then she heads to Chicago. Taio Cruz will perform during the remaining dates on the tour through September.

Chris Brown Joins Cast of Comedy Film, based on Steve Harvey Book

Singer Chris Brown is set to make his return to the big screen starring in the upcoming comedy ‘Act Like a Woman, Think Like A Man’, which is based on Steve Harvey’s best-selling book of the same name. Source

Brown will be reunited with fellow Takers costar Michael Ealy in the film, as well as work alongside Academy Award nominated actress Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Terrence J of “106 & Park”, Romany Malco and Kevin Hart.

The film is about four friends who experience a drastic change in their love lives when their girlfriends begin to follow the teachings of Steve Harvey’s book. The men must then learn how to in the sense ‘turn the tables’ and use Harvey’s book to their benefit.

The film has already begun filming in Los Angeles.

The screenplay was written by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman. Tim Story will direct and Steve Harvey, Rushion McDonald and Rob Hardy will executive produce.

Screen Gems has already scheduled the film for a April 6, 2012 release.

Notably this will be Brown’s first acting role in a comedy film.

Trey Songz to Star in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D

R&B superstar Trey Songz will star in a main role in the upcoming horror film ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D’ The Hollywood Reporter revealed.

Trey will play the male lead as the boyfriend of Alexandra Daddario’s character in the film. The film is being produced by Millennium/Nu Image and distributed by Lionsgate. Takers’ director John Luessenhop will be on hand to direct the film.

The film is expected to begin filming later this month in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Notably this isn’t the first time the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ film franchise about a family of cannibals in Texas has been rebooted since it was originally released in 1974. In 2003 a remake of the 1974 horror classic was released and ultimately grossed over $107 million, which led to a sequel shortly after.

Although news sources are crediting the upcoming film as Songz’ movie debut, Songz has in fact appeared in a few independently released films including ‘The Preacher’s Kid’.

Can Songz survive Leatherface, as fellow hip hop artist Busta Rhymes and LL Cool J have survived Halloween’s Michael Myers? Find out when the film hits theaters on October 5, 2012.