Black Dynamite is one of the strangest and most enjoyable movies of the last few years and in spite of featuring DTV luminary Michael Jai-White as its biggest star, the blaxploition homage/spoof has caught on with mainstream audiences well enough to warrant a comic book series, an upcoming live action sequel and an Adult Swim Cartoon.
Today, White, Carl Jones, Scott Sanders and Kym Whitely presented a panel on the upcoming cartoon and showed the audience the pilot. It was every bit as raucous and un-PC as you would hope. Read on for a review of the show.
Black Dynamite: The Animated Series is almost too good to be true. Stuff like this really shouldn’t exist. With beautiful and detailed animation, stylish character design and a pair of slickly produced musical numbers, you would never guess that it was based upon a very niche film that never saw wide theatrical distribution.
From the first moments of the opening credit theme, a prototypically 1970s Blaxsploitation groove with all of the visual excess to match, I knew I was in for something special. The tone is just right, playing things seriously with just enough cheesiness to make them even funnier. But, like a good improv act, no one ever negates the premise.
The pilot episode begins with Black Dynamite seducing a curvaceous counter girl working at Massa’s Fried Chicken. He takes her home and tries to use his sexual prowess to get her to spill the beans on the secret blend of herbs and spices. But, before he can get all of the ingredients, a helicopter blows out the windows of his apartment.
Leaping into the air with a giant black bar covering his penis, Black Dynamite defends himself against the attack only to discover that it is actually a semi-friend from the CIA asking him for help.
That Frog Curtis, a sort of mix between H.R. Puff N Stuff, Sesame Street and Kermit the Frog has gone rogue and plans to use his popular children’s TV show to brainwash the youth of America and take over as a major crime lord.
Aided by all of his sidekicks from the movie, Black Dynamite launches an attack, using kung fu and his slick wit to defeat the nefarious stuffed animal.
The jokes are fast and furious here, balancing gross out visual gags, like That Frog Curtis’ oversized testicles pressing through his pants, strange wordplay like –
“This aint about the honkeys, Black Dynamite! This is about the children!”
“You know, I never told nobody this, but I used to be a children.”
And bits and pieces of absurd visual humor, like a sequence featuring an eight-year old Black Dynamite with a full moustache, to tremendous effect.
The animation style is unique and far more detailed than the vast majority of modern cartoons and gives the show a sleek, expensive look. However, the action scenes were lacking. There was little sense of geography to the fights, much less tension. Though, this being the pilot, it is easy to assume that the action part of this action comedy will be greatly improved when it hits airwaves next spring.
The other major problem evident with this version of the show has already been fixed. Whereas this pilot is only 11 minutes long, the show has been expanded to a full 22 minutes for the series, allowing for more character depth and wilder plots.
With upcoming episodes featuring spoofs of Richard Pryor and The Jackson Five already in the works, Black Dynamite: The Animated Series looks like an excellent addition to the Adult Swim lineup, filling the programming block’s need for a story and character-based program to balance the pseudo-Dada humor of some of the other shows.