Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
There is no middle ground with Black Dynamite. You either get it, and enjoy the hysterical ride, or it makes no sense, and you hate it. The cover and menu are a total send up of the old blaxploitation movies, because this a new movie made with a nod towards that genre, but with comedy at its core. Kind of like the cover, the menu is a mixture of crazy cartoon graphics with static shots of the cast in full “action” mode. It is slick, and fun, and fits the movie.
- Filmmaker & Cast Commentary – This is a pretty solid commentary, that really goes into depth about numerous aspects of the movie. Led by Scott Sanders, Michael Jai White, and Byron Minns, the group does a good job of explaining the genre that they so dearly imitated.
- Making Of Featurette – This is a nice little making of featurette, that runs about 23 minutes long. It shows how Michael Jai White came up with the idea and decided to present it in a short clip.
- The Comic-Con Experience – The group had a get together at a San Diego comic-Con, and this 18 minute extra shows the moderated discussion.
- Deleted & Alternate Scenes – There are a lot of deleted scenes included, and most are not all that funny.
The Movie: 7/10
Black Dynamite. What a wicked name, and when you couple that with the cover of this movie, you know you are in for something different. Black Dynamite is a send-up of the classic low budget blaxploitation movies from the 1970s (think “Shaft.”) While I am no expert, I have seen my share of these movies, and the fun in watching them now is seeing just how outrageous they look and feel. You take a strong, powerful black actor, and place him in an action movie, mixed with 1970s clothes and styles, and it becomes pure fun. They are fun and funny, and not necessarily funny on purpose.
Scott Sander’s Black Dynamite features Michael Jai White as Black Dynamite, an ex-CIA, Karate loving local who takes on the drug dealers in his town when his brother is murdered. Black Dynamite is the perfect hero for our story, in that he is above all else a full fledged bad-ass. He beds numerous women (sometimes at the same time) and is able to fight like a superhero. His moral compass is dead center, and nothing enrages him more that learning that the local dealers have been giving smack to orphans (he himself was an orphan damnit.)
The movie is a total homage to the genre, complete with soulful background singing that mirrors what is happening in the movie, as well as outfits and Afros that scream the time of Marvin Gaye and the Commodores. The acting and story are over the top, as they should be, and while the movie itself is a fun ride, it can drag on in areas.
There are cameos from black comedians like Arsenio Hall and Tommy Davidson that are just plain bizarre, but funny. Many of the shots use some crazy 70’s camera movement that just adds to the overall feel of the movie, and black Dynamite does its very best to stay true to the genre while being funny and over the top.
There are moments where it gets too absurd and runs the risk of ruining the whole vibe, and there are definitely areas that run on way too long, but overall Black Dynamite is a good little movie. Michael Jai White and Byron Minns (as Bull Horn) are funny as they go full force into their characters. (At times I can’t imagine how many takes must have occurred, as they must have been close to laughing for many of the scenes, but they maintain their hard-core exterior.)
Overall Black Dynamite was fun to watch, and a great parody of a somewhat forgotten film genre. It is not done to mock the genre as much as it is to entertain and remind of those types of movies. To me Black Dynamite was to blaxploitation movies what Austin Powers was for 1970’s spy movies. The cast and crew were obviously passionate about this project, and while it is over the top, it has to be. To me Black Dynamite was fun for what it is, and well worth a watch.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Black Dynamite was filmed on 16mm film, in order to recreate the feel of the classic 1970’s Blaxploitation films, and so the Blu-ray presents that look expertly. In the extras they discuss the way they wanted the movie to have that grainy feel along with the over-saturated colors, and the result is perfect. It feels like a 70’s movie, and the video is unique and very well done. The Blu-ray presentation is great, even though it is not really high definition, which is weird, considering you pay a bit more for the Blu-ray version of any movie. It is still sharp and pretty, and while it stays true to the genre, you have to wonder how it would have been in pure digital glory. Having said that, the feel is perfect, and I would have done the same thing – shot in 16mm.
The audio is solid gold also. The effects are crisp in this lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Lossless presentation, and while it sounds as if they might have used old school microphones (the dialogue feels totally mid ranged at times) the surround is used nicely. I love the overdone sound effects as the fights occur and the gunshots are deafening. A very nice modern version of the 1970’s action movies.
Black Dynamite is a tough call. It is great fun, and a really original, funny movie. I am not sure that I will watch it over and over, just because the laughs are subtle, but what a cool type of movie. It is an homage to those 1970’s Blaxploitation movies, without while still being funny and relevant. It was fun to watch and is a good little movie, but it is not a great comedy in my book. I liked it a lot, but I didn’t “like like” it, if you know what I mean. Black Dynamite is worth a watch, but maybe not a buy.
Overall Score 6/10