Fizz, With No Juice - Superfly
Superfly follows in a long tradition of movies fueled by hip-hop bravado and stories of crime. Not only is it a remake of the 1972 Blaxploitation classic by the same name, it follows films like New Jack City and ATL in trying to recreate a certain street vibe and aesthetic. It is relatively successful in making you feel like this is a world, but certain shortcomings make it a world you don't really want to spend much time in. It could certainly be worse, but it could also be better. Choices made along the way leave us with a pretty unremarkable addition to this canon--unlikely to be remembered long after the Future-laden soundtrack is no longer in rotation.
Youngblood Priest (played by Trevor Priest), or just Priest as he's known on the streets, is an Atlanta drug dealer. While he has enjoyed considerable success, he sees an opportunity to make enough money to leave the drug game. He convinces his partner, Eddie (played by Jason Mitchell), that they need to aggressively grow their operation and take the risks necessary to make sure they can escape their life of crime. Eddie, being the more streetwise of the two, loves their life of crime and doesn't want to leave it behind, but goes along with Priest's plan because he wants to be bigger fish in Atlanta's crime scene.
Once they decide to undertake this plan, they are faced with any number of obstacles that threaten their lives, relationships and business. Priest must work to navigate these obstacles and the personalities creating them. He betrays, is betrayed, and more than anything, just wants to stay alive.
In this instance, most of what's appealing is the style. The story leaves a lot to be desired, as it discards its female characters in favor of paper thin narratives surrounding the men in the story. The only character that has anything like motivations that make sense is Priest. Everyone else starts on one track at the beginning of the movie and remains on that track regardless of what happens. Even as events around them should be changing their actions--nope, they stay right in their lane. The result is a predictable conclusion brought about by one head-scratching decision after another. Smart people did not write this.
If there are merits to be found, it is in the actors themselves. While they are not aided by the script, some of their talent is able to shine through and at least make isolated scenes somewhat compelling. While the general bend toward the sexist and the inexplicable is frustrating, the movie ultimately seems pretty sure about what it wants to say. And while that message is pretty silly, its confidence in getting there is worth something.
While I can tell you exactly who will find this appealing, for most, it will prove to be a bit much. The machismo and chauvinism is turned up to 11 and leaves no room for anything thoughtful or measured. Everything is filled with bass and flash. The result is a movie more notable for its cameos and soundtrack than any actual filmmaking merits.
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