- X 2019
Carmen: A Hip HOpera
Craig Hutchison, Michael Elliot (executive), Loretha C. Jones (executive) for New Line/MTV
directed by Robert Townsend
starring Mekhi Phifer, Beyonce Knowles, Mos Def, Rah Digga, Joy Bryant, Wyclef Jean, Da Brat, Jermaine Dupri, Lil' Bow Wow (later Bow Wow), Casey Lee, Reagan Gomez-Preston, Sam Sarpong, Troy Winbush, Fred Williamson, Yuri Brown, Maurice G.Smith, Karen Lynn Scott, Patrice Fisher, Jane Yamamoto, Richard Yniguez, David L. Corley, Andray Johnson, K.K. Holiday
written by Michael Elliot, based on the novel Carmen by Prosper Mérimée, music by Kip Collins, music underscore by Stephen James Taylor, with occasional musical references to Georges Bizet, lyrics by Sekani Williams
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Philadelphia: Hill (Mekhi Phifer) is your typical small-frye boring
cop: Honest to a fault, loyal to his girlfriend (Reagen Gomez-Preston),
and a cop with a passion. Then though he meets Carmen (Beyonce Knowles), a
barroom floozie he's supposed to take to the station - instead she takes
him to her apartment, has sex with him ... and the next day, she's gone
but he's arrested for letting her escape, arrested by corrupt cop Miller
(Mos Def), his main opponent on the force. Even though she has caused his
arrest though, Carmen has fallen seriously in love with Hill, and awaits
him with open arms once he's out - which is a good thing because his
girlfriend has ditched him.
Once out though, it doesn't take Hill long
to get into a fight with Miller - bad idea since he's still on parole, so
it's off for Hill and Carmen to LA, where she tries to become an actress
while he fails to get a job because he's a wanted man in Philly now.
Eventually, their romance gets strained, and soon she feels more attracted
to successful rapper Blaze (Casey Lee) than to out-of-work ex-cop Hill -
and can you blame her? And then Miller shows up in LA ...
culminates backstage a Blaze concert, when Hill wants to talk everything
over with Carmen while Miller waits in the gallery wanting to shoot Hill
dead (Hill has concrete evidence Miller is the rotten apple on the force)
- but as fate has it, Miller shoots Carmen instead, upon which Hill kills
Miller in a fit of rage, then is arrested for killing both him and Carmen.
boy! Whoever has thought this up has thought wrong!
Now turning the
famous opera Carmen into a hip hop musical with blaxploitation
undercurrends sounds like a bad idea but it could just work - only this
movie doesn't! One problem is that whoever wrote the screenplay for this
obviously did not understand the opera's story, and thus turned a big tale
of love and betrayal, deceit and death into a banal love story, turning
the fascinating title character into a bland good girl gone wrong - and
this is so totally mirrored in the film's star Beyonce Knowles, who's
certainly good-looking here, hot even, but she's hardly the stunner the
role demands, lacks the sex appeal that would make men leave their wives.
To paraphrase it rather badly, she's the girl you want to come home to
rather than the girl you want to spend the night with.
As for the music:
Some of it is groovy and funky as can be within the limits of mainstream
hip hop, and the incorporation of a few of Bizet's original Carmen
themes doesn't work half as bad as one would expect it to - but boy, some
of the lyrics are embarrassingly bad, and it has to be credited to the
performers to be able to deliver them without bursting into laughter.
the film is caught somewhere between production line music video and dull
TV-show, meaning it lacks any real innovative ideas or even the intention
of making this into something special.
But what's really wrong with this
one, totally and utterly wrong, it takes itself 100% seriously, there is
not a hint of irony here whatsoever - and this, above all else, sinks the