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American Gangster (2007)

 The man I worked for had one of the biggest companies in New York City. He didn’t own his own company. White man owned it, so they owned him. Nobody owns me, though.

— Frank Lucas

I have previously watched American Gangster when an aunt loaned me the DVD of the movie. I watched a third of the movie when I stopped, because it was too long for me to pay any attention to it. I knew that the movie was nominated for two Oscars including a Best Supporting Actress nom for Ruby Dee for her five-minute role and for Best Art Direction. Watching the movie against almost made root for the bad guy… almost.

Harlem 1968. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) mourns the death of Bumpy Johnson (Clarence Williams III) who was a surrogate father to him. Bumpy was Frank’s teacher for dealing with the gangster life, especially for a black man in those times. Frank wants to take over in Bumpy’s place, but do things a little better. He wants to get the best product, which was cocaine to give to the people of Harlem. He wants to show his dominance with the other gangsters of the neighborhood like Tango (Idris Elba) who treats Frank like a servant and Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) who is all talk and no bit.

At the same time, an undercover cop, Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) tries to be on the straight and narrow in a sea of corruption in the police department. Richie’s partner, Javier Rivera (John Ortiz) discovered a car that had almost a million dollars in it. John wants to keep some of the money, but Richie wants to do the right thing and turn them all in. he Richie is not the most popular cop in the precinct. He is going to night school to get his law degree and having to pay child support to his ex-wife, Laurie (Carla Cugino).

There is a crooked cop, Detective Trupo (Josh Brolin) who confiscated drugs from busts, water them down and sell them back to the bad guys for a profit. He wants to get some hush-hush money from Frank, but Frank doesn’t want to be another police lackey.

Opium and heroin are on the rise during this time and about goes to Bangkok to get the purest heroin that he could find. He finds it and sells it on the street as “Blue Magic” for dirt cheap. With the money from selling the 100 kilos of heroin, he buys a home for his Mama (Ruby Dee) and the rest of his family. Frank decides to expand his business and include his brothers in the process.

Meanwhile, Richie is hand selected to lead a special group of DEA agents to help bring down the drug trafficking ring. their first target is Frank Lucas.

The movie came with the theatrical version and the unrated version. I wanted to see the theatrical version, because it was short. The movie is 2:45 at least. That is a lot of movie about a bad guy selling drugs to his own people. The unrated version would make it three hours. No thanks. I was able to take the movie. there were some good moments in the movie that was bogged down by filler scene that I could do without.

Judgment: It’s interesting to see a movie about a black gangster, but I wish that it was a tighter story.

Rating: 7/10

Watchmen (2009)

I caught a 10:15 matinee of Watchmen. This is one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of 2009. After the hoopla with the Fox lawsuit over the rights, this movie was on the top of my radar. Why was this film in production limbo for over twenty years before Warner Bros had the balls to make the film?

I have to have major gripe before the movie started. I went to an AMC 30 to watch this movie. They were so many previews, that I was about to “Button out” when people had their cell phones out and little kids seeing this movie were screaming. Also, there were at least eight trailers, including Observe and Report, Public Enemies, Terminator Salvation, Up, Star Trek and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The audacity of Fox.

Background. I have never read the original source material prior to watching this movie. I think it was a good idea that I didn’t. I wouldn’t be as nit picky if I did.

The plot takes in an alternative U.S. in the year 1985 where Richard Nixon (Robert Wisden) is in his fifth term as president. The world is in a state of nuclear annihilation between the Soviets and the US. The movie chronicles the Minutemen, a vigilante group disguised as superheros from 1940 to 1985 where one of the original Minutemen was killed in the beginning sequence of the film.

The remnants to the governmental disbanded group have to rally together to solve the murder of the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). (It’s not a spoiler. It happens at the beginning of the movie.) Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) tries to warn the others about their safety. He searches to some of the deepest, darkest parts of NYC to find answers.

He meets his old comrades like Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre II (Malin Ackerman), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup).

Rorschach tries to find out who wanted to kill the Comedian.

I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed with the movie. The action sequences were few and far between. I wish there was more. Rorschach can kick some ass. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre are not too bad either.

I have to say that the soundtrack of the movie, puzzled me. It was so jukebox. The women didn’t have much to do in this movie, except bend over. Wow. When I saw 300, Queen Gorgo was much more fleshed out then either of the Silk Spectres in this movie Ackerman and Carla Gugino. I really didn’t like Matthew Goode. Something was a little off with him.

I liked to way that they changed the ending. It was more believable to me than in the graphic novel that I heard.

Judgment: This movie is endless rewatchable, but felt lacking.

Rating: ****

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