By Vance Brinkley, Special to the AFRO
So, while everyone was probably watching “The Incredibles” over the weekend, I paid money to see the new “Superfly,” a film with such a small marketing budget that it seemingly came out of nowhere.
Featuring the promising Trevor Jackson from the popular spinoff show “Grownish,” no one was asking for this remake. While rapper Future executive produced the soundtrack album, this move didn’t bring much attention to film.
What get is a film that brings together over three generations of Black culture with its original story, modern style and a style similar to the straight-to-DVD Black films from back in the day.
The new “Superfly” is a southern reimagining of the 1972 film of the same name. Set in Atlanta, the film features Jackson playing Youngblood Priest, a cocaine dealer who’s trying to score one big deal and get out of the game. Without spoiling anything, the movie attempts to stick to the original material through its story, but with a modern approach.
There’s much more action this time around, but the film manages to keep the over-the-top vibes that the original had yet in a new city and an entirely different culture. For example, there’s no way that Priest is using cryptocurrency in the 1972 film because it didn’t exist then.
“Superfly” may not be the best remake, but at least it’s better than what could have been. Director X, as he is known, said on the late night show “Desus & Mero” that Universal, the company which put up the money, wanted to not include any of the material that made the 1972 version so special to the Black community. With a long list of videos on his resume as well as being the visual consultant for the cult hood classic Belly, X was more than qualified to direct the movie.
The visuals are dope, some scenes are likable, and the all-out cheesiness of it all is very relatable to Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, even including Curtis Mayfield’s “I’m Your Pusher” and the “Superfly” theme song from the original. The problem is, ironically the same as “Belly,” that everything comes together well except the acting performances.
Although “Superfly” may be a summer flop (it was the sixth most seen movie the weekend it opened and brought in $6.8 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo) this is still a film to see. This movie will be one day be on someone’s shelf next to films like “Desperado” or “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka.” It’s not a film that tries to be more than what it is, however, the cultural value will probably build the more we come across it outside of the box office.
The new “Superfly” brings together multiple generations of Black culture through its story, characters and overall production. Sure, you may be working with better Black talent, but the movie attempts to still be as cool as the original while adding the flavor of our modern culture through massive party scenes and costumes that are believable for a present-day Blaxploitation.
We might not have wanted it as much as we did “Black Panther,” but “Superfly” is still a movie worth watching.