Hot Take: This remake fails to capture the significance of the 1972 blaxploitation original. Director X can’t escape his music video roots.
The 2018 version of Superfly tries to capture the original’s flair. Unfortunately, the remake feels less Hollywood and more Halloween. The performances aren’t bad but the script is weak, the director making his feature debut shows his inexperience and the updated soundtrack pales in comparison to the Curtis Mayfield classic. Instead of a movie, Superfly feels like a compilation of music videos rather than a full-fledged film and is almost too shiny and new to live up to the grit of the original. Maybe it’s the fact that Superfly has already been repackaged under other titles (the premise of a drug dealer trying to get out of “the game” is no longer new) but the 2018 version feels like a remake of a handful of films rather than just a reimagining of the 1972 blaxploitation classic.
In the remake of Superfly, Priest (Trevor Jackson), an Atlanta drug dealer has run so far under the radar that despite being one of the bigger dealers in Atlanta he’s on no one’s radar. That’s completely unlike rival gang Snow Patrol who has more flash than sense. After an incident between Priest and a young Snow Patrol lieutenant (Kaalan Walker), he sees the writing on the wall and starts taking the steps to get out of “the game” by making one last big score. With the help of his trigger-happy partner Eddie (Jason Mitchell), he must work around his long time supplier Scatter (Michael K. Williams) to get to his supplier Adalberto (Esai Morales) to get enough cocaine to make enough sales to walk away from the life forever.
The reimagined main character is no longer a dealer who gets high on his own supply but instead is 100% business man and has even managed to establish a mature polyamorous relationship with Georgia (Lex Scott Davis) and Cynthia (Andrea Londo) which gives Director X the excuse to deliver a gratuitous scene featuring the threesome in a shower because why not? It’s one of the many unnecessary scenes that make the film feel more like montage than movie and strips the film of any grit it might possess. Actually, the Superfly remake feels more like an update to 1998’s Belly at times which was the feature film debut of Hype Williams who was the music video director de jour of that time period. It’ll be interesting to see if Director X’s career takes on the same trajectory of Williams who had numerous projects that all died in development for one reason or another and Williams never directed another feature film again.
There’s a good chance that most of the audience who sees the 2018 version of Superfly has never seen the original. Even as a stand-alone, the new Superfly fails to deliver. The audience who hasn’t seen the 1972 blaxploitation classic would be better off going back to see the movie responsible for this lackluster remake. If you don’t heed the warning, expect Superficial not Superfly as this glossy rehash has no grit and grime and instead does everything it can to glamorize the dope game right down to the autotuned choir at the funeral.
The thought of watching a long-form rap video version of the original Superfly sounds fun.
You usually find yourself hatin’ the player and the game.