Terrence Howard

Iron Man

Year: 2008
Directed By: Jon Favreau
Written By: Many for screenplay and character creation both, most notably Stan Lee and Jack Kirby


This is where The Avengers started, it’s where is all began and it got things kick started with a bang.  The Avengers was such an incredible movie because it was the culmination of something many films had already built over many years.  This was the first one, the first movie about one of the characters, and the first one to feature Samuel L Jackson in role of Nick Fury. This one was the right one to get things started.  Plenty of superhero films crash and burn but this one is rock and roll. It was incredibly successful because it was the real deal. It’s a cool movie and it tells an interesting and exciting introductory story.

Robert Downey Jr.’s career certainly has had its ups and downs but I think he got his game back with this role. He has always been a great actor but when he became Tony Stark he became Tony Stark.  Today’s Robert Downey Jr. isn’t the guy we saw back in the early 90s. He is an altogether entertainer that has blossomed into this really likeable guy much like Alec Baldwin or well Samuel L Jackson for that matter.  These guys are just super cool and suddenly have more charisma than anyone would have ever imagined.  Alec Baldwin once starred in Thomas and the Magic Railroad for crying out loud.  Robert Downey Jr. is now one of those guys.  He has played this character so many times now and so well that he is that guy.  Just as Jon Hamm will always be Don Draper and James Gandolfini will always be Tony Soprano.  I think it’s a good thing because I think he is great as Tony Stark and I couldn’t imagine anybody else doing it now. He may have done some great things in his career before but I think it’s obvious that this was the role he was made for.

As for the rest of the cast I don’t know that anyone was really stellar by any means.  I am a big Jeff Bridges fan but come on, The Dude does no harm.  Whose idea was it to cast him as a bad guy? He did well with it but I don’t think it was an exceptional performance or anything. I think Gwyneth Paltrow is great but this doesn’t seem like the right role for her.  It seems like a strange thing to say given how much I like the movie but I think the role of Pepper Potts is beneath her.  I think she is too good to play this kind of part in a movie like this. I am a big fan of Paul Bettany as well but I would never know he was the voice of Jarvis if it wasn’t listed in the credits.  However, I will say that the computer he personifies is really badass and I wish I had one. Terrance Howard did OK with his role as well but given he was replaced in the sequel his role means very little now.  If I remember correctly I read somewhere that he was really difficult to work with on this film and was not asked back the second time around.  I do not know enough about what happened though to be honest. Samuel L Jackson is awesome per usual but his role is so small and after the credits; it hardly matters when speaking about the cast.

I had really high hopes for Iron Man 2 but walked away feeling really disappointed.  It was too much of set up for The Avengers and I thought the Iron Man part of the storyline was really lame.  I know the character of Tony Stark has problems with consumption and that in the comics it sometimes gets out of hand. I think the writers probably had plenty of storylines to pick from though and one along those lines is lame.  I thought they could have created a more powerful Tony Stark instead of one that was dying and desperate. When he peed in the Iron Man suit I had given up on the film.  We do not own the sequel to this film because I really didn’t like it but the third film is set to be released this summer and I have high hopes. It looks really good and I am looking forward to it.  You can see a trailer here.

I don’t think this movie rivals the original Spiderman in the genre but it is high up on the list of Marvel Comics best movies.  I mean of course the films based on their characters and not simply films produced by the studio. We muct not forget about the greats aside from Spiderman was must keep X2, and Blade in mind.  This was a good movie and that is what is most important to keep in mind.  I would find it weird if you hadn’t seen this movie given its immense popularity but if you haven’t then it’s time you’ve seen it.  This movie is worth your time and I would give it my stamp of approval.


I was really surprised by this movie. I went into it thinking that I probably wouldn’t like it, and it proved me completely wrong. I don’t really know anything about the comics of Iron Man so it was fun to go into without any preconceptions.


Oh look, another one! They tried to pack in every single person in the movie. I have to say though, I don’t really think the designer is at fault. This had to be like a contract thing or a “client demands” situation. I think this poster would have been a lot cooler if it was a straight-on shot of Downey and then Downy in the suit. Split it down the middle and show half of each, but the center glows out of both. It would look a lot cooler than this one.

NEXT MOVIE: The Island (2005)

Hustle & Flow

Year: 2005
Directed By: Craig Brewer
Written By: Craig Brewer


In 2005 there was still a willful and adamant Eminem fan inside of me who got bitter when another rap song was awarded the Academy Award for best song.  I felt that it was quite a distinguishing honor for Eminem to be the first musician in his genre to receive the honor for his efforts on the 8 Mile soundtrackFor Three 6 Mafia to win the same award only years later seemed to sully the distinguishing nature of his accomplishment.  I had nothing against Three 6 Mafia, in fact I am a fan, but these guys winning the Academy Award was just bullshit, and still is in my opinion.  There is a stark difference between the work of Eminem and Three 6 Mafia regardless how talented they both may be, and I felt that Eminem was much more deserving of the award.  I took pride in the fact that he had won, he deserved it and the Academy made the right decision in awarding it to him.  I might like Three 6 Mafia, and I did like the song that they won for, but I imagine the competition was very low when they won because it just isn’t an Academy Award worthy song and doesn’t deserve to be in the same class as “Lose Yourself.”

I had never wanted to see this movie because I was bitter over it winning the award and for years avoided it altogether.  It was Amber who encouraged me to finally sit down and watch it, albeit I did so begrudgingly.  I was thoroughly shocked when I found the movie to be incredible, and it’s one I think about whenever I don’t want to listen to my wife’s recommendations. She was right about this one through and through.  I made the mistake of thinking it would be just another typical movie about a rapper but I found it to be so much more than that.  It’s about determination, about believing in something, and about a man trying to figure out who he really is. I am not necessarily a fan of Terrence Howard but he gave the performance of a lifetime in this movie.  He deserves any and all credit he gets in association with the role.

In preparation for this role Howard lived in Memphis for a time before shooting to learn the dialect and area better.  Not only that but he interviewed countless real life pimps and even lived with one for a while to get more into character. His efforts paid off in spades because he really had the role down, but he did so much more with the character.  He plays the kind of character that I would never give any thought to, a low down good for nothing pimp.  These men are vile people who do nothing but take advantage of the weak and exploit them for everything they are worth.  Howard’s DJay is dealing with the common problems that we all face; he is struggling to survive and doing the only thing he knows how to do.  He is stressed out and you can feel it when you see Howard’s performance. You want him to succeed despite what he has done to reach success. When he begins rapping I don’t think the viewer really expects him to be any good at it. His character does nothing up to that point that gives the impression he has anything more to offer the world.  It seems like he just making a desperate reach for something he has no business doing but when he starts you can clearly see he has talent.

I found the life of a pimp that Howard portrays to specifically be an eye opener. From the very beginning when the first trick rolls up and DJay tells him the rates for his girl.  “$20 in the front, $40 in the back.”  That just doesn’t seem like enough to me.  That poor girl has to do the nasty with five different men, the easy way, just to make 100 bucks. That’s just such an awful reality that I’m certain many poor and desperate women have to face every day. One thing I noticed and find myself really curious about is DJay’s car.  There is one panel on the front painted a different color.  Is this because DJay can’t afford any better, or is this a mark for the tricks? I wonder if the different colored panel is a message that he has a woman in the car. It seems like that could be the case but I don’t know.  If anybody actually knows the answer to this please let me know. His home with three different women was also quite a sight, the different sorts of lives some people lead can be hard to imagine sometimes.  You could literally fill a book with the kind of stories that would come out of that situation on a daily basis.

I think I’ve said enough about how great Terrence Howard was in this movie, now it’s time to move on to everyone else.  This movie had a great cast all around.  I am a really big fan of Anthony Anderson. I think every movie he is in is just that much better because he is in it.  He is well cast as the straight laced man who gets in business with a street criminal he knows from childhood.  I like that his wife is ultimately understanding of the situation and gets involved rather than the typical story line of just creating more drama over it.  Taryn Manning is incredible as Nola and the character was well written.  I find myself shocked to be pulling for the prostitute here too, but the girl is more than that.  She quietly suffers all the while listening and learning.  It is so awesome that she is the savior of the cause in the end, using all the cunning she has absorbed from a man who has to be cunning to be in business. DJ Qualls turns in one of his finest performances in this one.  I like Qualls but his strength lies in playing dorky guys who learn to party and get crazy. I thought he was really good in this one. Ludacris did well enough playing a part that should have come really naturally to him. Any rapper would have served though.  He is just a name and face to slap on the DVD cover.

As a big time South Park fan I must mention Isaac Hayes playing the part of the club owner who introduces DJay to Skinny Black.  Hayes of course was the long time voice of the beloved character Chef until Trey Parker and Matt Stone mocked Scientology on the show.  Hayes was a member of that organization/religion/cult until his untimely death in 2008 at the age of 65.  Nobody really talked about it but I thought it was a peculiar way to die.  He was found next to a moving treadmill and I think they eventually said he had died of a stroke but the whole thing just seemed too strange to me.  Yeah he was in the age range to have a stroke, but given that he is involved in Scientology I think the circumstances of his death are very peculiar. If you research into Scientology you will find no end to strange and unusual things that have happened but the most disturbing part is the knack members have of disappearing and dying suddenly under unusual circumstances.  Scientology is a dangerous organization that goes ignored by far too many people.  The largest infiltration of a government organization in this country’s history was perpetrated by members of Scientology who infiltrated the IRS in an effort to get their “church” tax exempt status.  This group included the Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who was convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison.  Despite all this the organization has flourished and continues to do so, I find it alarming.  I’m going to call it here and now, one day Tom Cruise will run for President and he will likely win in this country where the masses can so easily be manipulated. If Schwarzenegger can become governor of the largest state in the country then one of America’s favorite movie stars can get elected to its highest office.  I fear the possibility but honestly believe it is coming.  Cruise is the Scientologists greatest asset and they will eventually try to use him to get into real power.  Excuse the long tangent, but I believe for whatever reason the strange and sudden death of Isaac Hayes has something to do with the religious organization he was involved with.

Now back to the movie, I think the greatest thing about this movie is the ending.  It leaves you with so many possibilities ahead for our main character.  As an aspiring rap artist there isn’t much more he can do to get famous aside from doing time for beating down a big time rapper and shooting one of his crew.  To come out with his music on the radio, the sky is the limit for him.  He has become the new “Skinny Black” as two guards persuade him to listen to their demo on his way out of prison. DJay walks out of the prison with his head high, a look of confidence that is unmistakable on his face.  He knows things are looking up now, and he walks into freedom ready to take over the world.

This is a fantastic movie that I have really looked forward to reviewing.  I enjoyed watching it as much this time as I did the first time and there is a lot to be said about a movie like that. This movie is more than worth your time and I think you should go out of your way to see it.  Three 6 Mafia may not have deserved an Academy Award for their song, but the movie does deserve any and all credit that was bestowed upon it.


I tried to get Ryan to watch this movie a million times. I kept saying, I know what you think it’s about, and it is but it’s really, really great. I think this movie is wonderful. It tells the story of a pimp and his girls and their struggle in the world. I love how the director of this movie tells us the story of someone different than us, but he is having the same struggles that we all face. Working to have enough money to just feed everyone. We really see him trying to change and become something better for the girls and child he considers family. I love this flick. It’s a good one.

Hmmmm. I just struggle with this one so much. I like the typography and symmetrical lines that frame the title, but I honestly think the rest of it is really messy. I hate when they fade out people’s heads. There are two big heads fading into the body of Terrance Howard. The car at the top is just a half car inverted on the other side. There are more heads fading out up at the top beside the title and outside of the lines. They just had to get everyone in there. Some things are better when you see them in the movie for the first time…this one is giving everyone away.

NEXT MOVIE: In Bruges (2008)

Dead Presidents

Year: 1995
Directed By: Albert and Allen Hughes
Written By: Albert and Allen Hughes


This movie screamed out to us over the weekend from one of those convenient $5.00 movie bends Wal-Mart sticks all over the store these days.  Honestly I was just happy to find a movie I wanted. We own so many movies now that something that used to be so much fun often ends in disappointment now. I used to love looking through the media section of Wal-Mart and find DVDs at a good price I could add into the collection.  These days the only movies we buy are the new ones though and we hardly ever come across an older movie we both want.  I had seen this movie after it came out when I was much younger and always liked it.  Amber had never seen it before but had always wanted to see it so the decision was made.  Having re-watched it now with much more mature eyes I am really glad we decided to add it into the collection.

I was about 12 years old when I saw this movie for the first time and admittedly, there was plenty I wasn’t old enough to understand.  In all honesty it was a movie I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to watch but it had no nudity, which seemed to be the standard for what my parents would and wouldn’t let me to watch. This movie tells a story that has been told before, but this time through the eyes of an African American veteran.  Soldiers all around have a hard adjustment coming back to the world and that seems to be the ultimate theme to the movie.  While it is through the eyes of an African American there are not any real themes of racism throughout the film and I like that about it.  Racism was a real and serious issue at the time but it is an awful reality I don’t enjoy seeing brought up in films.  We all need to understand the dangers of such feelings but there are plenty of films out there that convey those messages, they don’t all need to and I am thankful this one chose to tell a different story.

In this movie Larenz Tate plays a young African American who grows up in The Bronx and is drafted into The Vietnam War.  He spends four years there serving multiple tours and distinguishing himself well but when he returns back to the world he has trouble adjusting as so many soldiers do. He has a girlfriend that he got pregnant before leaving but she has had to survive without him while he was overseas.  To support her child she had to turn to a less than savory man to provide for her and that is specifically hard for him to deal with.  He has difficulty getting a job and the job he manages to get isn’t good enough.  When he gets laid off from that job he turns to crime in his desperation.  Tate plays a character we can relate to and understand. What he does is wrong, but he didn’t deserve to be called a disgrace by the judge who sentences him in the end played by Martin Sheen.  Sheen’s comment that he was a veteran himself who fought in “a real war” speaks volumes to the way many saw the conflict in Vietnam.  Tate’s character is given no mercy in his sentencing and is destine to spend the rest of his life in prison serving time for the country he fought for in a thankless and unappreciated effort.  Tate does a great job in the lead role and I have always liked him.  I know him better from his role on Rescue Me when he played “Black Shawn,” a great show that fell apart in its closing seasons.

I really liked the supporting cast around Tate as well.  I have always liked Chris Tucker although I don’t know what has happened to him lately.  He plays a soldier that begins using heroin while in the service and comes home to become an all out junkie, a problem shared by many vets returning from Vietnam.  I think Keith David is awesome in everything he is in from Platoon to There’s Something About Mary. In this movie he plays a Korean vet who mentors the younger guys going into Vietnam.  Bokeem Woodbine plays a soldier who is completely insane in the jungles of Vietnam but comes home to be a preacher, although he still joins his old comrades in the illegal heist.  Freddy Rodriguez plays one of Tate’s childhood friends who serves in a different unit in the war and comes home with only one hand.  The only other movie I have seen Rodriguez in was Planet Terrorbut that one is real high up on my favorites list.  N’Bushe Wright looks awesome dual wielding pistols in this movie; the only other film I have seen her in is the first Blade. She is a very beautiful woman; I’m not sure why I haven’t seen her in more films.  There is a really young Terrence Howard in this movie playing a rival of Tate’s who has stayed in The Bronx during the Vietnam War and works for the man who took care of Tate’s family.

This movie is loosely based on the real life experiences of a soldier who came back from the Vietnam War but I don’t know anything about how accurate it was.  The real story can be found in the book Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans written by Wallace Terry.  If you are insterested in it I would suggest you find the book and find out for yourself how much this movie correlates with real life.  The soldier the events were partly based on was named Haywood T. Kirkland.  Whether the movie is accurate at all hardly matters here though because the story it tells is true enough.  Veterans from all wars have a hard time coming back to the real world and this movie does a great job of highlighting the many difficulties some of them face.

I am really glad we decided to buy this movie over the weekend and I really enjoyed watching it again.  It tells an interesting and important story about Vietnam as well as delivering on action and drama alike.  If nothing else the robbery scene is awesome.  The way the robbers paint their faces are distinctly memorable.  This is a good movie and I would recommend it to anyone, it is worth your time if you have an opportunity to see it.


I had never seen this movie before. I know that many friends have talked about this movie and I have even seen people dress up like these guys at Halloween. I was sucked into this movie from the very beginning. I really liked the main character in Rescue Me, so I was curious to see him in a different role.

Here is the poster for Dead Presidents. This came out in 1995. I feel like the poster resembles its time. I like the photo on the front. It intrigues you in some ways to wonder what this is about, which is ultimately the point of most posters. I am not a huge fan of the font choice, which is simply the font for American money. I felt like that was a little cliché.

This movie is well worth the time.