Shaft released theatrically in USA today

Image result for shaftToday sees the release of Tim Story’s version of Shaft. The director noted for his Ride Along films has controversially adopted a similar action-comedy-buddy movie tone which is completely out of kilter with Ernest Tidyman’s creation. Reviews of the movie have been mixed and the aggregator sites suggest an average rating of around 5 out of 10. I will have to wait until 28 June, when Netflix distributes the movie on its streaming service in the UK before I am able to make my own judgement.

In the meantime, I continue to feel this has been a wasted opportunity to re-introduce the character to cinema audiences and to formally introduce Shaft to a new generation. I have suggested before that David F. Walker’s comic book prequel Shaft: A Complicated Man would have made for a perfect adaptation.  David really got under the skin of Tidyman’s creation in that book and it would have been a great starting point for the movie franchise relaunch.  If the producers had chosen to go back to the start, set the movie in period – with all its social attitudes highlighted in a serious manner and Shaft’s character traits properly explained – this could have been a successful and authentic adaptation.

No cinema release for Shaft outside of the USA?

Carl Roberts makes some very sound points in his article Netflix vs Cinema – The World gets Shafted on the seeming removal of choice to view the new Shaft in cinemas outside of the USA. So far all that has been announced is the movie will stream on Netflix worldwide from 28 June. The movie has been given no official BBFC certification in the UK and is not listed on any of the reliable sites showing UK cinema release dates. As the promotional campaign gathers momentum, Shaft fans outside of the USA will feel extremely miffed they will have to subscribe to a streaming service if they want to see this movie. Dubious tactics and not at all supportive of the cinema experience.

Netflix Vs. Cinema | The World Gets Shafted!

New Shaft soundtrack released for download on 7 June and as 2CD on 14 June

As publicity begins to ramp up ahead of the release of Tim Story’s Shaft on June 14, details of the soundtrack album have been publicised. The album will be released via download on 7 June and as a double-CD on 14 June. The album is split between songs and the film’s score (by Chris Lennertz). A single “Too Much Shaft” by Quavo is available online now. It is a rap rework, incorporating elements of Isaac Hayes’ iconic “Theme from Shaft”, and not very listenable. The album also includes a new remix of Hayes’ theme by The Math Club.

Shaft Official Soundtrack

Track listing:

1. Love Over and Over Again – Switch
2. 93 ‘Til Infinity – Souls Of Mischief
3. Mary Jane – Rick James
4. They Want EFX – Das EFX
5. Dance With You – Kris P.
6. The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite) [feat. Barry White, Al B. Sure!, James Ingram and El DeBarge] – Quincy Jones
7. Caught Up – Caleborate
8. Get Up Offa That Thing – James Brown
9. Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City – Bobby Bland
10. Theme from Shaft (Math Club Remix) – The Math Club
11. Too Much Shaft [with Saweetie] – Quavo

Chris Lennertz Score

12. Main Titles
13. Karim’s Funeral
14. Toxicology/Shaft HQ
15. 139th Street
16. My Pride and Joy
17. 2nd Trimester/Trust You
18. Old Fashioned Stakeout/Boogie
19. Digital Blackout/Happiest Bitch
20. Good Job
21. That Shaft Kid
22. Shaft Saves JJ
23. Grandad/Bored as Hell
24. The Shafts Are Coming
25. Old School
26. I Feel Fine Mother F…er
27. Moment Ruined

Warner Archive announces Blu-Ray releases of Shaft’s Big Score! and Shaft in Africa

As expected ahead of the release of the new Shaft movie in June, Warner Archive has announced it will finally be releasing the second and third of Richard Roundtree’s original Shaft films on Blu-Ray. The releases of both Shaft’s Big Score! (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973) will take place on 21 May. Both films will be remastered in HD. As with most Warner Archive releases it is not expected there will be any additional content. There will also be a Triple feature release including Shaft (1971) Warner has shared the following detail:

SHAFT’S BIG SCORE (1972)
NEW 2019 1080p HD MASTER
Run Time 105:00
Subtitles English SDH
Sound Quality DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 – English
Aspect Ratio ORIGINAL ASPECT RATIO – 2.40:1, 16 X 9 LETTERBOX
Product Color COLOR
Disc Configuration BD 50
You can’t say the mob wasn’t warned about John Shaft. “He’s a bad dude,” a numbers racketeer cautions them. Now, Shaft himself will deliver that message in a way New York City’s wiseguys understand.
Richard Roundtree reunites with the director (Gordon Parks) and screenwriter (Ernest Tidyman) of 1971’s trendsetting Shaft for Shaft’s Big Score!, the second of Roundtree’s three movie portrayals of the street-smart, leather-jacketed private investigator. This time, the blown-to-kingdom-come murder of a client plunges Shaft into a case that bounces him like a pinball between the 133rd Precinct and competing mobs. But the players are about to be played in this “rousing and entertaining thriller” (Newsweek).

SHAFT IN AFRICA (1973)
NEW 2019 1080p HD MASTER
Run Time 112:00
Subtitles English SDH
Sound Quality DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 – English
Aspect Ratio 16 X 9 LETTERBOX, 2.40:1
Product Color COLOR
Disc Configuration BD 50
Go ahead. Slug, drug, kidnap and leave John Shaft buck naked in a sweltering hellhole. It’s still no deal. If you want to recruit this tough-minded Manhattan detective for an overseas assignment, you’d better use a language he understands. One that offers a fat up-front fee. And a drop-dead-gorgeous accomplice. Richard Roundtree returns as the indomitable Shaft, who poses as a slave, unmasks the leaders of an Africa-to-Europe slavery cartel and, for good measure, mixes his business with amorous pleasure involving a beautiful princess (Vonetta McGee). The cool-fire impact of Roundtree’s performances endures: The actor won the 1993 MTV Movie Award for Lifetime Achievement for his work in the three Shaft thrillers.

When Harlem P.I. John Shaft first appeared on the movie scene, he was a “shut your mouth” detective to reckon with, a fact underscored by Isaac Hayes’ Oscar®-winning* Best Original Song (1971). Richard Roundtree plays the hard-hitting, street-smart title role in these signature “blaxploitation” films, hunting for a kidnap victim in Shaft (1971) and seeking a friend’s murderer in Shaft’s Big Score! – mixing it up with mob thugs each time. Finally, there’s Shaft in Africa (“He’s the Brother Man in the Motherland,” proclaimed ads), with our hero bringing down a slavery cartel. Shaft’s the name. Excitement’s the game!

Shaft Trailer – First Impressions

Well, here it is at last – the trailer to Tim Story’s 2019 take on Shaft. When New Line announced the movie back in July 2015 it was promoted as an action comedy sending fans, including myself, running for the hills. As a Shaft purist – I mean the Shaft of the novels… Ernest Tidyman’s Shaft – I didn’t want to see John Shaft given the Black Dynamite approach, otherwise why not call it Black Dynamite? Whilst the trailer doesn’t suggest the movie has descended the series into camp, it does confirm that the main selling point will be the comedy rather than the plot. Sometimes trailers can be misleading, selling a film the producers believe people want to see rather than the one that has been made. I fear that will not be the case here, so any lingering hopes I had of this being a serious attempt to relaunch the franchise with any semblance of authenticity have all but vanished. That doesn’t mean to say Shaft won’t be a fun movie, I did laugh a couple of times during the trailer – the contrast between the politically incorrect first two Shaft generations (Roundtree and Jackson) and the latest (Usher) also has some interesting possibilities, more than hinted at here. It just doesn’t look and feel like my Shaft… Ernest Tidyman’s Shaft.

Marketing begins on new Shaft movie

New Line has published an advance poster (below) for the latest Shaft movie, due to be released on 14 June. The poster promises “More Shaft then you can handle” featuring Samuel L Jackson, Richard Roundtree and Jessie T Usher as three generations of Shaft – the latter being the son of Jackson’s nephew to Roundtree’s original – following this? A trailer is promised for tomorrow ( 6 February) with a teaser released today. A Twitter site has also been launched.

First official image from new Shaft movie

Entertainment Weekly has published what they say is the first official image from the upcoming Shaft movie due to be released in June of 2019.  The image shows the three generations of Shaft – Jessie T Usher, Samuel L Jackson and Richard Roundtree – with Alexandra Shipp.

Jackson had this to say of his return to the role he first played in 2000: “He’s mellowed a bit. He’s not quite as crazy and cynical. Maybe a bit more devil-may-care the last time we saw him. But still an extremely dangerous and funny character.”

Image result for shaft entertainment weekly
(Kyle Kaplan/Warner Bros.)

Shaft co-screenwriter John D.F. Black dies aged 85

Image result for john d f blackSad news to hear of the death of John Donald Francis Black (December 30, 1932 – November 29, 2018), who was a major contributor to the success of the original Shaft.

Ernest Tidyman had adapted his own novel in a literal fashion for the original screenplay. Gordon Parks drafted in Black, a very experienced TV and screenwriter, to tighten up the plotting and dialogue. The result was a co-writer credit. The movie was shot using Black’s revision as its basis. Gordon Parks added his own magic and with Isaac Hayes’ score and Richard Roundtree’s assured starring role debut, it became an unlikely hit. MGM was saved from bankruptcy and the Blaxploitation genre took off in Hollywood. His prolific career in TV (including Star Trek, Laredo, Hawaii Five-O, etc.) demonstrates the breadth of his skills.

Black died peacefully of natural causes at the Motion Picture Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. A statement from his publisher Jacobs/Brown Press on behalf of his widow, Mary, can be accessed here.

 

Official synopsis for latest Shaft sequel

Image result for shaft roundtree jackson usherComicBook.com reports New Line has released the official synopsis for their Shaft sequel to be released next summer. The synopsis reads as follows:

Shaft is the next chapter in the film franchise featuring the coolest private eye on any New York City block. JJ, aka John Shaft Jr. (Usher), may be a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT, but to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death, he needs an education only his dad can provide. Absent throughout JJ’s youth, the legendary locked-and-loaded John Shaft (Jackson) agrees to help his progeny navigate Harlem’s heroin-infested underbelly. And while JJ’s own FBI analyst’s badge may clash with his dad’s trademark leather coat, there’s no denying family. Besides, Shaft’s got an agenda of his own, and a score to settle that’s professional and personal.”

The film is a follow-up to 2000’s Shaft and again stars Samuel L Jackson as John Shaft, nephew of Richard Roundtree’s original John Shaft. Roundtree reprises his role and they are joined by Jessie T. Usher playing Jackson’s son. Tim Story directs the screenplay by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow.