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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

B-Movie Actress Feature Spotlight: Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union Wade was born as Gabrielle-Monique Union in Omaha, Nebraska on October 29, 1972, whose onscreen career began in the 1990s by obtaining roles in sitcoms such as Family Matters, Saved By The Bell: The New Class & Moesha. Growing up as a teenager with self-esteem issues, she undertook basketball as a point guard in high school and football at college. Union also played soccer for the University of Nebraska but later turned her attention to becoming an actress. Before that, she worked as a model to pay off her student loans, gracing the covers of Teen magazine. 

After bursting onto the scene in 1999's She's All That and Bring It on opposite Kirsten Dunst, she gained further exposure. A year later, Union made further appearances in a string of teen movies, 10 Things I Hate About You with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Julia Stiles, as well as Love & Basketball. But it was on medical drama series, City of Angels where Union began to shift from being a rising young star and her career started to take off. She also had a cameo in Friends as Joey and Ross fought over her in one episode. Her appearance made history, somewhat, as Union's character became the first Black love interest on the show.  

Union landed her first major movie role in 2002's Bad Boys 2 as the half-sister of Syd, played by Martin Lawrence and girlfriend of Will Smith's character, which prompted speculation and rumours of Gabrielle and Will being romantically involved with each other. Her first leading role came in the romantic comedy, Deliver Us From Eva, which was produced by Barry Levinson, director of Good Morning, Vietnam under Baltimore Pictures. Starring opposite actor & rapper, LL Cool J, Union played the titular lead character, who LL's Ray falls for. Union's performance in the movie, alongside that in Breakin' All The Rules, showed that not only could she cut it in romantic comedies, but that she can be leading girl material as well, with her range and onscreen presence. She also co-starred alongside the Avengers' Jeremy Renner in the romantic drama, Neo Ned

She has spent almost half of her career playing the secondary role as a Black girl in high school in teen movies and her characters seemed to fit an archetype: Black, sassy, female, the sidekick, young, attractive but never dumb, rather they had a rebellious edge to them, which probably is why Gabrielle sells those characters really well. Later on, as she got older, again she was playing second fiddle in Cradle 2 The Grave, Two Can Play That Game

But then came the mid- 2000s where despite the roles that came flooding by, again, these were supporting roles, not the leading ones one would have anticipated. Halle Berry had been fronting and headlining several movies in the 2000s, and yet in Gabrielle Union, somehow, she still languished in a string of unsuccessful, as well as B-movie fare. From the terrible Daddy's Little Girls, 2008's even more terrible Meet Dave to Cadillac Records, her chances of being a huge star were fleeting.

As well as admitting to being a former 'mean girl', which is something she isn't proud of, Union has also spoken publicly about being a victim of sexual assault and has since become an advocate of sorts, giving lectures and talks with other victims and survivors. 

Almost 20 years since She's All That, as I write this, Gabrielle Union is still due her 'big' moment, even when she is in her 40s: a period when roles for actresses in her age bracket, seem to dry up at this point. Working for over 20 years, she recently appeared in Sleepless with Jamie Foxx and secured her starring gig and production duties in 2018's Breaking In, a post-2010 version of Panic Room, which starred Jodie Foster. 

As I see to it, I always saw Gabrielle Union as a Julia Roberts type: she's attractive, beautiful, has a natural ability and possesses a star quality that makes her stand out from other African- American Black actresses and actors in general. She can play the cute, attractive love interest in a romantic comedy and romantic drama, but who also can be a compelling dramatic actress in serious roles and movies. Strong, feisty, no-nonsense, speaks her mind and is very confident, Union can also easily switch to being likeable from one role to being a bad girl in another. She has also avoided the trap of taking up victim-based roles, who cannot fight back and roles that perpetuate Black stereotypes. 

She is one of those, and many Black actresses and actresses of colour, whereby major success has eluded her. But of course, the Hollywood movie industry hasn't been so kind to actors and actresses of colour, like Gabrielle of whom deserves more commercial roles and success, but by putting aside the issues that there are fewer A-list Black movie actresses, Gabrielle Union pretty much ticks all the right boxes, and she deserves to be a big superstar as Halle Berry. I just wished that was the case. 

Nevertheless, for someone who never studied acting, even with the odd flops along the way, given the list of credits she has amassed and for what she has achieved for herself and for African American actresses so far and the turns she has given in notable movies, is rather impressive, coming from Union.

Notable Favourites - Bring It On, Deliver Us From Eva, Breakin' All The Rules, Think Like A Man 

Notable Non-Favourites - Cradle 2 The Grave, Daddy's Little Girls, Meet Dave, The Box


Gabrielle Union - Wikipedia 

Gabrielle Union - The Famous People

Career Arc: The - Not Quite-Stardom of Gabrielle Union - Grantland

Mini Retro Review: The Box (2007) #badmovies

The Box
Crime Thriller

Slow paced thriller, it feels like a waste of a potentially good premise. It has one of the lost boys from Hook, who is now grown up and playing a thug. Crooks invade a house, they bump off some people, two of the crooks have their own version of events & the cops have to figure out which one of them is telling the truth. The Box is nothing new we haven't seen before in millions of other crime thrillers. Yet there are too many sub-stories that when it gets to the climax, along with the plot twists, none of it makes sense. It's messy, too many F-words blurted and most of the time, it is bland and tedious. Gabrielle Union impresses, somewhat, Giancarlo Esposito of Do The Right Thing isn't bad, but the other performances are below par & the characters are unlikeable. A 96 min film that ought to have been condensed to 60 mins easily, it was, in truth, terrible. This box deserves to be unopened. 

Is It Worth Watching

No, not at all 


Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Jumanji Movie Screenshots (1995) Final Part

















B- Movie Actress Feature Spotlight: Samantha Mathis

Born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York on May 12, 1970, actress Samantha Mathis is the daughter of the actress, Bibi Besch (Dr Carol Marcus of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan). 

At 12 years old, Mathis decided that she wanted to pursue acting. She began appearing in TV shows and adverts at the age of 16 as a professional actress. In 1990, Mathis appeared in her first feature film as Christian Slater's onscreen love interest in Pump Up The Volume. Its release led to a then-aspiring Mathis being pegged as the next Wynona Ryder, with her performance turning quite a few heads for the right reasons and impressing audiences and critics. Slater and Mathis would later team up for voice-over work on Don Bluth's animated environmental fest, 1992's Ferngully: The Last Rainforest as fairies, Crysta and Pips alongside Robin Williams as Batty Koda, as well as sharing an onscreen partnership in the 1996 John Woo action thriller, Broken Arrow, opposite John Travolta. 

A year later, Mathis co-starred with The Simpsons' Julie Kavner in Nora Ephron's drama, This Is My Life, based on a book. She played the daughter of Kavner's Dottie. The film grossed over $2 million domestically in the U.S - yet it also garnered Mathis a nomination in ''best young actress starring in a motion picture'' during 1993. 

She starred in A Thing Called Love alongside Sandra Bullock and River Phoenix, yet whereas Bullock has gone onto become a major Hollywood actress spearheading numerous rom-coms that have attained millions at the box office, Mathis's career went in the complete opposite direction.

This continued with made-for-TV movies and small parts on TV shows. Mathis came to prominence and her big break came in the much-maligned live-action flop, Super Mario Bros as Daisy opposite Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo's Mario & Luigi, which was savaged by critics and some fans of the Super Mario video games on its initial release and it has since gone on to become a cult movie. After taking a year out to avoid the furore and loathing the film received, Mathis returned to the big screen in British rom-com, Jack and Sarah, penned by Only Fools & Horses writer, John Sullivan. It was a two-tier lead cast in Samantha Mathis and Brit actor, Richard E. Grant, where she played the love interest and nanny to widower Jack. This was then followed by Broken Arrow with Mathis playing a park ranger. The film grossed over $150 million worldwide. 

And whilst Mathis may have had her moments, these have been very few. So far she has 21 movie credits to her name- & at one point, Mathis was considered for the role of Tinkerbell in Steven Spielberg's Peter Pan movie, Hook. It eventually went to Julia Roberts. 

Thinking back over the roles she has attained and the ones she could have landed, it's a bit of a pity that she never really broke out as a major Hollywood A-lister. She's been in so-called big-name mainstream films, well sort of, in Super Mario Bros, Broken Arrow, American Psycho with Christian Bale and in the disappointing The Punisher, where she reunited with John Travolta, based on the Marvel Comics property in 2004. And yet, the problem was those roles never really stretched her capabilities, nor challenged her as an actress, despite how convincing she can be. I do wonder, however, that had she snagged the Tinkerbell part in Hook, whether or not that film had propelled Mathis onto bigger roles and in helping her land more mainstream movies. 

Her career was marred by personal setbacks and again, it's unfortunate that these have hampered Samantha Mathis's progress: the first being the much-publicized death of actor, River Phoenix over a drug overdose in 1993, followed by the passing of her mother in 1996. 

Her performance in This Is My Life really should have carved out more dramatic films, but also more commercial box office hits & bigger roles, which Mathis hasn't had more of under her belt and nowadays, she is seen in independent and straight-to-DVD films. 

Personally speaking, she is a decent and very capable actress, but she doesn't really have enough credible films and worthy performances to fully stand out and on occasions, and it's not very often either, that she is miscast in movies. Luckily, the terrible Super Mario Bros didn't completely spell the end of Samantha Mathis's career.

Notable Favourites: This is My Life, Jack and Sarah, A Thing Called Love, Pump Up The Volume

Notable Non- Favourites: The Punisher, Broken Arrow, Super Mario Bros


Samantha Mathis - Wikipedia

Samantha Mathis Bio -  

Samantha Mathis biography -

Monday, 18 June 2018

Mini Retro Review: Undercover Heat (1995) #badmovies

Undercover Heat aka Undercover
Erotic Thriller

When a prostitute is murdered, a female cop goes undercover to infiltrate the brothel. It's not a great erotic thriller, and yet it is competently well done. This is one of those erotic thriller movies that try to be legit and doesn't come across as being cheap and tawdry. Its plotline is similar to another softcore B-movie thriller, Stripped to Kill. Acting is rather decent & features another early appearance of The Walking Dead's Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but this time as a bouncer, Ramone and he fares pretty well.

Is It Worth Watching?

It's not bad


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