Tag Archives: Will Smith

TV Review: Bel-Air

When the news about the reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air broke out, I was not okay with it. Then the first trailer was released; and I felt that the show looks like reimagining the whole plot of the sitcom in a new direction, giving a dramatic approach with a better address. Switching a massive hit sitcom into a comedy-drama needs a lot of courage, commitment with the scriptwriting, and a solemn promise that the show will not disappoint the viewers. After watching the 10-episode first season, I can convincingly inform the readers that Bel-Air, the reboot, absolutely did not disappoint at all.

The reboot became possible after Morgan Cooper released a short fan film on Youtube and Will Smith happened to watch it. It was so compelling that Will personally met Morgan to discuss expanding the film’s vision into a reboot. Both of them became executive producers along with the original line of producers including Benny Medina (the real Will Smith), Quincy Jones (the man who gave birth to Will Smith’s acting career in this sitcom), and Borowitz couple (Andy and Susan, the show creators). Peacock won the bid in competition with Netflix and HBO Max and gave a two-season order.

The new show focuses on the serious elements of all the sub-plots, the characterization of the main characters, and the continuity of the original sitcom. The writers left no space to give a better understanding. One of the best aspects of the show is that the show brilliantly gives a broader detail about all the characters, a decent capacity of screen time to give the characters and story some breathing. The heavy issues get pressing and more push.

Bel-Air visually dramatized most of the lyrics of the sitcom’s popular theme song ‘Yo Home to Bel-Air‘ in the first episode. Uncle Phil (Adrian Holmes) has a stronger personality and is visibly an important figure as a husband, a father, and a lawyer. Will (Jabari Banks)’s daddy issue has been well-taken care of throughout the season. Carlton (Olly Sholotan)’s character without a doubt has the best characterizing, and the behavioral attitudes and personal traits an annoying Carlton should have is all smartly portrayed here. More than half of the season has Will on Carlton’s nerve with an excellent screenplay raising valid questions about the family being more concerned for Will than Carlton all of a sudden. British butler Geoffrey (Jimmy Akingbola) is a definite upgrade from the sitcom who not only manages the domestic affairs of the Bankses but also consults Philips for his DA campaign and holds strong connections with powerful people.

I am thoroughly impressed how Bel-Air does not falter in its continuity. There are so many scenes that address and make the audience spare a thought. There is a scene where Will is shocked and furious watching Carlton enjoying himself with his White friends despite saying the N-word. Then there are a few of Will’s sittings with any of the Banks that are touching. In the middle of the show, there is an entire episode about Will’s best friend Tray (SteVont√© Hart) coming to meet with him in the mansion and overexcited with the belief that Will will return and resume his old life. Then sisters Ashley (Akira Akbar) and Hillary (Coco Jones) exchanging a conversation about the former’s love interest was supportive. Although Ashley at 12 having feelings for the same gender looked very forced and even if Bel-Air wanted to address their position about same-sex interests amongst the teenagers, the writers failed to develop the growth of Ashley’s character.

Then there is a surprise for all the sitcom fans when Vivian (Cassandra Freeman) goes for the interview in the Art Council where the interviewers are none other than Daphne Maxwell Reid and Vernee Watson-Johnson, the ladies who played the character of Vivian Banks in the original television show. This scene not only brought three Vivians together but also gives the audience a better vision of understanding the character. Vivian opened her heart while discussing with other Vivians about her life, her importance, and her career choices that looked visually more clever as Vivians of previous existence were all ears listening to the existing Vivian.

Bel-Air holds a strong commitment to the audience especially The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s loyalists as the first season progresses with extraordinary writing that develops a lot of faith that the continuity will have a lot of potential to run in the next season. The viewers who are expecting Bel-Air to be as funny as the predecessor will be upset because the vision of Bel-Air is different. The approach is smart and the execution is bold. I liked the sitcom and I appreciate how the makers of this show came up with the idea to reimagine the story with the very same characters with more realism. Try yourself.

Film Review: King Richard (2021)

King Richard reminds me of a few references like the legendary cricketer Viv Richards because he is often called King of Cricket since his 1987 documentary and William Shakespeare‘s plays Richard II and III. For the South Asian audience, King Richard will make them think of the film being the American answer to Bollywood’s Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal, also based on a real-life story.

For me, as a huge tennis fan, who was blessed to watch this beautiful sport on television since 1992 and was lucky to have watched many great legends since then, I do understand the contribution of the William sisters who dominated in tennis for more than a decade especially Serena. Therefore, a film about them became necessary to watch. But for me, the surprising factor was that the film was centered around their father Richard Williams so I assumed that the real-life story has to be that compelling to focus on him rather than his daughters. I had never known the backstory before they became the legends and now after watching the film, I am touched.

King Richard is basically about a crazy-a** visionary paterfamilias who had, believe it or not, devised a 78-page plan about his two daughters to transform them into highly successful tennis stars, wait for it, even before they, I mean Venus and Serena, were born. Yes, there is a father who wrote a success story even before bringing them to the earth. How insanely willful, confident and determined will he be?!? The film shows his strict personal and sports discipline and training about his daughters, how he shapes their careers, and what difficulties, racial problems, and Compton’s rough life does he face during all that time.

The biggest plus about the film is that about 90% of the screenplay, the incidents, and the important events are all historically accurate making you trust the presentation. The film is majorly plotted from Richard Williams’ autobiography Black and White: The Way I See It. Therefore the film is compelling and the pace keeps you attentive to the continuity, especially in the middle of the film.

Will Smith for his leading role as Richard Williams is considered highly certain to take the Best Actor award at the upcoming Oscar function. Honestly, to my surprise, the performance wasn’t really that wow to consider him one of the best from 2021. I have watched better performances from Will before, most significantly The Pursuit of Happiness was a far better performance than this. He didn’t meet any challenging segment of performance in the entire film, besides the scene where the Child Protective Services enter their house. In fact, it is Jon Bernthal‘s supporting role of Rick Macci that has me taken aback. The usually tough-guy image of Jon is completely switched to a friendly ever-smiling softhearted coach and I cannot believe how well did he perform this. This performance is quite different than he usually does.

Although I find the film very touching and impresses me with its being accurate, unfortunately, there are some strong issues that drop this real-life sports drama at loose ends. Let me explain to you why. The film focuses on Richard Williams as a dedicating father but does not touch on his ‘other’ issues like his role in business, his past marriages, and his fatherly role for the other daughters. Venus-Serena chemistry is horribly lacking. Despite the fact that the father prioritizes career of Venus over Serena, there is no sign of emotional breakdown between the sisters. Their being besties, even in such difficult changing times, look flat, no changing gears. The other daughters were completely extras and hype girls, absolutely no sign of their role as sisters. There should have been some detailing about why the parents preferred to focus more on Venus and Serena than the rest of their children. Maybe the film misses all these points deliberately because the William sisters are the executive producers.

But it is not like if Richard Williams is depicted as the holy father with no indication of making wrong choices. There are heated exchanges of him with his wife where we discover his dark side. The film shows his anger and stubbornness. His controversial decision to pull his daughters out of the junior tennis circuits is dramatized in a way that looks like his father did make a wrong decision about their careers and lives.

But the message of the film is conveyed to the audience. The cinematic portrayal of this father and his dedication and building two legendary careers from the courts of Compton was highly paramount.

Ratings: 6/10

Film Review: Suicide Squad (2016)

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The third chapter of the DC Universe, Suicide Squad, is itself a suicidal and wasteful event coinciding the events of BatSup and parallel to the events happening in the upcoming Justice League (JL) film. The screenplay of the first 30 minutes of the screen time is faster than Barry Allen’s speed. Actually, a roller coaster ride where you try to adjust yourself to the altitude but have to do nothing but scream. The viewers will meet the same fate in this period of half an hour and it will look like a 30-minute over-exaggerated trailer.

No matter how slow-and-sound was the beginning of director David Ayer‘s Fury, this is the contrary. Keeping in mind this is such a major franchise and a freshly baked existence of some Suicide Squad comprised of dangerous super villains, the makers should have properly introduced these characters and build it to our understanding. They just didn’t define these people and kept them raw to the viewers.

My first and primary objection towards the film basically is the reason of the making of Suicide Squad. After the BatSup events, was the creation of a super villains squad necessary? Absolutely not! It never made any sense. A.R.G.U.S. intelligence officer, Amanda Waller‘s plan to assemble Task Force X for a top secret mission makes you think for a moment that the whole story or the film could have been skipped for the sake of some other introductory origins-based film on any iconic superhero.

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Hardly a 5-second cameo of Barry Allen indicates the parallel connectivity of the upcoming JL film. The trailer of JL which was released a few months ago showed Barry accepting Bruce Wayne‘s offer to join a team of superheroes and here we see him helping A.R.G.U.S. to catch his enemy,¬†Captain Boomerang. Another possibility to Barry’s cameo is that A.R.G.U.S. may have known Barry before Bruce hired him due to the fact that Amanda passed government files to Bruce which are based on metahumans that included pages on Barry and Arthur. In any case, it was a very short cameo but an interesting hint.

One of the major expectations from the film was the introduction of Batman’s most famous arch-enemy, Joker played by Jared Leto. 8 years after the events of Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight involved Heath Ledger‘s version of Joker. Sadly the Leto one doesn’t come to the expectations after all the hype and legacy which Heath left on us. Joker’s involvement to the film is highly questionable. Not that the onscreen appearance of Joker is quite less than expected but the character’s involvement in the story of Suicide Squad doesn’t justify. Joker simply has no prominence in the film due to the fact his role is short for a reason.

Attached to Joker is the origin of Dr Harleen Quinzel. That famous interview with Joker in his cell which made her Harley Quinn is extremely short. The scene deserved a lengthy interview and expanding the after-effects could have given much a deserving screen-time to both from the origins. Shockingly, the entry of Joker in the film was very very ordinary.

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Another minus of the film is the script which offers Batman and Joker sharing the same screen but does not confront. The mystery behind Robin‘s torn suit in BatSup film is still enclosed for God knows what reason. When the stories of different films in the same universe are interconnected in the same timeline, the balance of longevity should be cohesive. Robin’s death deserved a minor flashback in the film to solidify Joker’s involvement in the film.

Is there anything impressive about the film? Yes! The music department of the film has much to offer than the story and continuity. Academy award winning musician, Steven Price has produced a very impressive musical score with many attractive soundtracks fitting your mood with the scenes. The visual effects and costume designs are remarkable.

Performance wise, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is the clear winner. Her depiction of madness to the character is the one that steals the show. Paul Dini, the creator of the character has highly praised Margot’s role. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is another major impressive number as she continues to impress the viewers in recent years from the ABC show How To Get Away With Murder. Will Smith as Deadshot and Cara Delevingne as Enchantress were average performers. The rest were below par. Mid-credit scene is quite interesting which connects the building of the Justice League.

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If Suicide Squad was the priority to produce after the events of BatSup, then the film badly lacked heavy writing. The characters are not detailed and the story itself is flat to the connectivity. Yes, it is entertaining with the flavour of humour added but then I would state the obvious that it is the script which attracts the viewers, not the proposal of adding humour for the sake of filling cinema houses. David Ayer’s direction is a question mark and nowhere to the level of excellence where he made Fury.

The problem between the shared universe is now the artistic creativity. There is a tremendous difference of pace and mode in both films, BatSup and Suicide Squad. If BatSup is dark and slow, then Suicide Squad is the contrary. When you shape a universe with different storylines and characters to describe and shot, the momentum is highly required to balance the films and bridge the gaps. Being the initial phase of DC extended universe, every film is playing a different note altogether. The continuity and conclusion of BatSup directly connect with the upcoming JL film but before the film releases, the producers will educate you the whos and whys of Diana Prince in next installment. The viewers who do not read comic books on these iconic superheroes have no luxury of understanding these powerful dudes but have to struggle and understand them after watching JL as the solo films on Barry and Arthur are bizarrely slated after JL. In the same case, the viewers who have never read about the team of super-villains in comics are and will be completely at a loss while watching the film and making it look overstuffed. DC/WB people must consider changes in their strategy and forget about catching a supersonic train which takes them to their rivals.

Ratings: 4/10

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