Robert Adetuyi

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Stomp the Yard Review


Grim
On the television series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Columbus Short plays a brooding, brilliant young television writer taken under wing by elder statesman and comedian D.L. Hughley. It's not one of the show's most integral roles, but Short plays it for broke, giving the writer's restrained wit just the right glimmer of naiveté and confusion to escape two-dimensional branding. For his first starring role in a feature film, Short plays a skilled krumper from L.A. in Sylvain White's Stomp the Yard.

After teaching some lessons to a rival krumping gang on the battleground, DJ (Short) witnesses the assault and murder of his brother (Chris Brown). Posthaste, he makes his way to Atlanta and enrolls in a work-study program at Truth University. It's here that DJ regains his love for dancing in the form of stepping, a more formatted and coordinated dance style compared to DJ's loose krumping. He quickly makes enemies with Grant (Darrin Dewitt Henson) by giving eyes to April (Meagan Good), Grant's girlfriend. However, this leads to him getting in good with the Thetas, the rival stepping gang to Grant's Gammas. As luck would have it, DJ impresses his frat brothers and becomes a star in the step team, winning further admiration from April and setting him up for a step-off with Grant's crew.

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Code Name: The Cleaner Review


Unbearable
New high tech gaming systems -- Wii and PS3 -- are in such high demand that people are willing to wait outside of retailers at all hours of the night just to get their hands on one. The scenario is much the same in Code Name: The Cleaner, where everyone is trying to get their hands on the X-1. But this system does more than just play games. It's actually capable of creating real life destruction on a massive scale, and the government has resorted to violence to get it.

At the center of all of the bedlam surrounding the X-1 is an ordinary Joe named Jake (Cedric the Entertainer). One morning he wakes up in a hotel room next to a dead FBI agent and a briefcase full of money. Jake's got amnesia. Though he has no idea how he got there, a couple of hot-looking women seem to have an idea. The voluptuous Diane (Nicolette Sheridan) claims to be Jake's wife and helps him elude the authorities. Diane takes him to a sprawling mansion that she claims he owns and tries desperately, even stripping down to her bare essentials, to jog his cluttered memory. Even though we know as little as Jake, it's clear that Diane is up to no good.

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Turn It Up Review


Grim
How would you like to be elected king for a day? The enormously talented Ice Cube paved the way for chart-topping rap stars to become media moguls, running his own music and film production company. His explosive talent and shrewd business sense made his success look easy. Wow! Anyone can do this! The market soon became flooded with rap artists vying for movie stardom, not to mention creative control. Most of the stories revolve around familiar "urban gangsta" elements such as tough-talking badasses with flashy threads, fast cars, nickel-plated revolvers and beautiful hoochie-mamas. In sum, well-photographed vanity projects that make the stars feel cool.

Case in point: international sensation Pras co-produced and stars in Turn It Up. It's about, what else, a young man's struggle to escape his life of crime. Redemption is the order of the day. Diamond (Pras) is a talented hip-hop performer who harbors big dreams of cutting his own record, but can't afford the inflated costs of studio time. His mercurial loose cannon of a best friend, Gage (Billboard chart-topper Ja Rule), wants to lend a helping hand, stealing $10,000 from an ill-fated drug runner. Unfortunately, the money financing Diamond's career belongs to a vicious British gangster (Jason Stratham, Snatch, good even when he's coasting) who suddenly takes an interest in stealing the rights to Diamond's record. Things sure are heating up around here.

Continue reading: Turn It Up Review

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