Saturday, March 2, 2013

Review: Black Dynamite

Every now and again, we here at Erik At The Gates like to sit down, pop some popcorn, and take in a good movie.  However, when a good movie isn't always available, we try for a fun movie.  When a fun movie isn't available, we at least try to learn something.

And when that isn't available, we really ponder whether it was worth the $3 spent on the DVD at the movie store.

Right now, the crew (read: myself) is looking at the blaxploitation satire classic (read: from 2009) Black Dynamite.  Is it any good?  Is it terrible?  Will Erik succumb to kung-fu treachery?  Find out more after the cut.

Anybody who knows me knows that I love a great comedy.  On a shelf near me are DVDs for original The Pink Panther, Shaun of the Dead, UHF, Galaxy Quest, and Airplane!  However, I'll admit that my interest in a lot of modern comedies is pretty much nonexistent.  There's a few I plan on seeing, but when I see ads for a lot of the biggest comedies of the last decade, I found other uses for my time.

For the most part, if a movie relies on drugs, scat, sex, or some other form of gross-out humor as the source of its jokes, I'm pretty much bored already.

(Two exceptions to this:  Cheech and Chong movies, and There's Something About Mary, but I can go into detail about that later)

One type of comedy I always try to make time for, however, is satire and parodies.  You'll note that I listed three movies up above that act as extremely clever parodies.  I also have both Hot Shots movies, the complete Mel Brooks collection, and many others.

Not the Scary Movie series, though.  I saw two of them, and I felt more insulted by the jokes than anything else.

But today, I decided to toss in a movie I had heard great things about, but had never remembered coming out.

I watched Black Dynamite.

...hold on, this post is missing something.

There we go.

Now, there are a lot of factors in determining if a movie is "good."  You have to look at the cast, the story, the mood, the setting, the writing, the music...

I can sum up Black Dynamite in the following way:  I haven't laughed this hard in years.

Michael Jai White (who plays the main character of the same name as the movie) is brilliant in this film, both as an actor and a writer.  The guy seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time preparing for roles that involve kicking and punching, but has the humor chops to stand out.  In fact, there wasn't a single cast person who failed to make me laugh, even if they were acting like someone with no acting experience (perhaps they had none, and I just thought it was part of the joke).

The, what can I say about the plot?  In a way, it simply serves as a way to get Black Dynamite from one group of people to beat up to the next, but that seriously downplays just how crazy the plot actually is.  If I reveal anything more than "Black Dynamite gets revenge for his murdered brother," I'd be spoiling some very clever jokes and surprises.

The look, feel, and attitude of the movie all perfectly captures the 70s, both in style and in technique.  Traces of stock footage, quick jumps that don't always make sense, and pacing on scenes that are always just slightly "off" blend together to accent the humor and play off itself.

I think Roger Ebert once commented that comedies are the hardest movies to review because you don't want to give anything away.  The best I can do is try to give samplings of the humor, without giving away the best parts.

For instance, the character names are wonderful.  Black Dynamite, Chicago Wind, Cream Corn, Chocolate Giddy-Up?  Brilliant.  And those aren't even the best ones.

There's a great small joke that I had to rewind and watch again.  During a flashback Black Dynamite has, he informs his younger brother "I am the 18 year old Black Dynamite and you are my 16 year old brother!"  You know, just to make sure we knew what we were seeing.

Honestly, my recommendations for this movie cannot go high enough.  It amused me as a fan of bad 70s TV and movies, it amused me as a fan of brilliant parody, and it kept me engaged enough to notice the plot holes and then find the quick explanations for how it all works to be hysterical.

No comments: