Mini Movie Reviews #1: Black Movies Streaming Right Now

Featuring Coming 2 America and more

I’m obsessed with great stories. That’s why I love movies. My new series, Mini Movie Reviews, will document my endless search for an amazing movie in our fast-paced, streaming-obsessed world.

Sadly, I can’t provide a deep dive for every movie I watch, like I did with, Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie. But, as Nia Thee Movie Reviewer, I still have thoughts that I’d love to share with y’all — the homies!

Each segment of Mini Movie Reviews will have a theme. This first one is all about Black movies streaming right now.

Even in 2021 Black movies are rare. But — if you find a great one, you could rewatch them forever (i.e. Moonlight, Good Burger, and Love Jones)

Did I find the next great Black movie? You’ve got to keep reading to find out.

[Minor spoilers for Judas and the Black Messiah, Antebellum, Hunter Gatherer, and Coming 2 America]

[TW: The Coming 2 America review (last one) references sexual assault]

1. Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) — HBOMAX

This movie had me locked in like a roller coaster. Even though it was long (any movie over two hours is a lot for me), the story was easy to follow.

The story’s so sad though especially when you realize that Fred Hampton was 21 when he was assassinated. We should have learned about the Black Panther Party and Fred Hampton in school, but you and I know why that wasn’t the case.

Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield are out here acting acting on Judas and the Black Messiah. It especially made me happy because I’ve seen both actors come a long way.

I’ve been watching Kaluuya since Skins and Stanfield since Get Out. It’s almost like seeing the homies from the neighborhood make it out and win big. Shower them with awards and accolades. Give them their flowers now. Go see this movie.

2. Antebellum (2020) — Hulu

Antebellum has been on my radar for a minute. I remember seeing the trailers for Antebellum at the movie theater (remember those?) and getting hype. The trailer said that the movie was from the producer of Get Out and Us and it featured our good sis Janelle Monae. What else could a girl want?

Now that I’ve finally watched the movie, I’m pretty disappointed.

I usually try to steer clear of movies about slavery but I decided to see this one because I knew there was something different about it. But — this is 80% a typical movie about slavery. There was tons of racial violence and horrific imagery. If it was any other movie I would have turned it off, but I wanted to make it through this one for Janelle Monae and the twist.

The twist introduces a very interesting concept, but I don’t think that they explored it as much as they could have. The concept of the movie is something that I could believe was actually happening, sadly. I just wish they explored the “why” of the concept more.

If you want to watch this movie, be forewarned: it’s not a fun watch. I spent most of it feeling very, very uncomfortable.

3. Hunter Gatherer (2016) — Prime Video

Prime Video is the wild, wild west of streaming services. You’ll find things on there that you can’t find anywhere else, which is both a blessing and a curse. My mom and I randomly stumbled upon the 2016 indie film Hunter Gatherer, starring Andre Royo of The Wire fame, and decided to check it out.

The movie wasn’t bad. I just don’t think it fit my personal taste.

Here are a few things in the movie that made me look at them sideways:

  1. The substantial age difference (at least 15–20 years) between the men and their love interests (more of a Hollywood thing than a this movie thing)
  2. The lack of character development

The main character is a total slimeball throughout 99% of the film. I needed to see some instance of his life where he wasn’t the worst person on the planet.

The plot can be difficult to follow. It gets weird at times. As a resident weirdo, that’s difficult for a movie to do to me — but Hunter Gatherer does it.

But, everyone in the movie gave good performances — especially Royo. I think it’s worth watching off of its uniqueness alone but I don’t think it’s for everyone.

4. Coming 2 America (2021) — Prime Video

Coming 2 America is a mixed bag. Here’s a clear list of the good and bad for y’all to weigh your options.

Good: The costumes and set design are stunning. Beautiful Black people are everywhere you look which is always a plus.

There wasn’t anything glaringly bad about the acting. I also liked how they portrayed relationships between siblings.

Bad: The movie’s constantly trying to decide whether it wants to demean or empower Black women. It’s very confusing. On one hand, one of the movie’s subplots is about giving women a voice within a community binded by misogynistic traditions. On the other hand, the movie’s constantly making demeaning women the butt of the joke — especially Leslie Jones’ character.

The introduction of Leslie Jones’ character is truly disgusting. They say that Leslie Jones’ character drugged and took advantage of Prince Akeem — and that’s how he has a son he doesn’t know about.

This assault is supposed to be a joke. It really destroyed the whole movie for me (this happens near the beginning) and made me look at everything differently.

I don’t know why this plot point had to exist. There are a million ways they could have explained this child and yet they chose the absolute worst path. It boggles my mind that this awful plot point/joke/whatever, which jumpstarts the whole movie, made it past so many eyes.

This is supposed to be a fun, turn-your-brain-off kind of movie, but its humor went down a dark path I wasn’t ready for.

What movies have y’all been watching lately? Have any recommendations for Black movies? Let me know; I’m always looking for new movies to watch.

Nia Simone McLeod is a writer, content creator, and pop culture enthusiast from Richmond, Virginia. She’s the creator and editor of the Medium publications oh, write and coiled. In her newsletter, she shares a behind-the-scenes look at her creative process.

Freelance writer covering pop culture, creativity, race + other fun stuff | she/her | Subscribe to my newsletter: https://ohwrite.substack.com/welcome

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