REVIEW: George Tillman’s “The Hate U Give” is exceptional

By Ron Wynn

George Tillman Jr.’s “The Hate U Give” is that rare example of a film that extends and continues the tradition established by its literary predecessor, yet also offers its own twists and sensibility.

Now showing at several places in Nashville, the film’s based on Angie Thomas’ acclaimed 2017 similarly titled novel. It offers a compelling story about the impact of police violence and misconduct, as well as side examinations of such issues as class conflict, peer group pressure and family influences.

The film’s enhanced by several tremendous performances, notably by Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Andrew Mackie, Issa Rae and Russell Hornsby, though the entire cast does an excellent job.

Audrey Wells has provided a realistic, crisp script with characters not just spouting slogans or rhetoric, but addressing a real plight in frank, incisive language. It was previously shown in Nashville at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville prior to its general release.

The main storyline features high school student Starr Carter (Stenberg) who lives in a suburban all-black community but attends an all-white school.

Racial issues don’t seem that important to Carter, because she’s been embraced by the student body, or at least thinks so until a horrible incident occurs that shakes up everything and everyone while turning her previously neat and nice world upside down.

Carter’s leaving a party in a car driven by childhood friend Khali (Algee Smith). The police pull the car over for a “routine” inspection that suddenly goes terribly wrong and results in Khali being gunned down in front of Carter. The police think (wrongly) that Khali’s a dangerous criminal.

Now Starr Carter has to leave her comfort zone and speak out about what she witnessed. She’s encouraged by her parents Maverick (Hornsby) and Lisa (Hall), as well as April Ofrah (Rae), an activist who gives Carter the motivation and courage to tell the world what she saw.

“The Hate U Give” has moments of passion and pathos, and doesn’t aim to make its audience comfortable. It is a powerful story about an ongoing problem that has plagued this nation and black communities for decades.

It doesn’t claim to have an ultimate answer or solution but offers in its portrayals formula citizens who witness these incidents can and should follow. It’s also a family friendly work without being lightweight or stereotypical. It is highly recommended.

Netflix cancels “Luke Cage”

The TV show “Luke Cage,” adapted from the Marvel comic book series, was a sensation in its first season on Netflix. Things weren’t nearly as rosy in season number two, neither in terms of popularity or storyline, but few anticipated there wouldn’t be a third season.

But last week Netflix ended “Luke Cage,” announcing there wouldn’t be the third edition. The news came only a couple of days after Netflix had also canned another Marvel show “Iron Fist.”

In an announcement carried by such publications as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix was rather matter-of-fact in talking about its decision.

“Unfortunately, ‘Marvel’s Luke Cage’ will not return for a third season. Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is grateful to the dedicated showrunner, writers, cast and crew who brought Harlem’s Hero to life for the past two seasons, and to all the fans who have supported the series.”

Variety added there had been talks for a third season, but Netflix decided not to pursue it. The larger story, even though it reportedly didn’t have any immediate impact on “Luke Cage,” is Disney is preparing to launch its own streaming service.

They are letting their licensing deals with Marvel expire, so the Disney library’s content can move to Disney-owned services. Why Disney couldn’t still produce “Luke Cage” for Netflix wasn’t explained. 

Marvel and Netflix had a five series deal for interconnected shows. There will be a new season of “Daredevil.” The fate of “Jessica Jones,” “The Defenders” and “The Punisher” is uncertain.

“Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” are both gone, though there are rumors a new show combining the two may at some point appear.

While not enjoying season two as much as season one, overall I found “Luke Cage” a gripping, culturally authentic series. It is a shame it’s gone so soon.

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