Speaking Up

Underneath the focused, well-heated racial satire, American Society of Magical Negroes is a romantic comedy. It’s a generic failure – until the final frame’s justification makes it all connect.

This isn’t a masterful film, and it’s unfortunately released at a politically inopportune time (a statement made with full recognition and acknowledgment of how there never is an opportune time). American Society of Magical Negroes lands with an aggressive push in its dialog that feels unnecessary – entirely because the script shows it is capable of intellectual nuance.

American Society of Magical Negroes lands with an aggressive push in its dialog

Paired to a painful conversation in which Justice Smith, covered in a VR headset, tries to explain white male privilege to a colleague, there’s a genuine one where again Smith discusses feeling social ignorance, comparing himself to a Wall Street tycoon. It takes until the final act for the thesis to show itself, which for any viewers, will then feel preachy… but the movie is in the right.

Aside from romance and social integration that plays on centuries old storytelling tropes, American Society of Magical Negroes plays in a loose fantasy realm, barely relevant and explained only a surface level since it’s a mere device. One can imagine a studio sequel that turns this into a digestible Harry Potter knock-off because the executives missed the point, but Magical Negroes doesn’t fall to those levels.

There’s also a lot being said without being said, with Smith shouldering the load that speaks for a generational shift. Whip-smart production design adds a vintage classiness to the Society’s home base, but it’s merely a vision of how unchanging and stuck the group is, unwilling to speak up for themselves in service of white people. It’s based on Hollywood tropes, masterfully dissected in the opening act exposition, and then continually playing up how absurdly obvious the magical negro cliche became through the years. Gags come swiftly, and a majority land through the brisk runtime.

Reevaluation of American Society of Magical Negroes will be kinder than the initial reaction.

Video

Superlative, sharp 1080p imagery fills the frame. While denied a 4K disc release (the box office take surely didn’t help those chances), this Blu-ray looks fantastic in terms of texture, detail, and precision. Facial definition and resolution show extraordinary definition. A faux grain does show compression if looking too closely, but it’s barely perceptible.

Deep shadows fill every frame, giving American Society of Magical Negroes tremendous depth. It’s bright too, with vivid contrast.

Well saturated with a wide array of palettes, color becomes a consistently attractive in its vividness. From purples to yellows and reds, they all appear wonderfully saturated.

Audio

A now rare 7.1 new release, DTS-HD serves American Society of Magical Negroes well. Subtle effects, like balls rolling around a pool table, bounce around the soundstage. Ambiance outside and inside both excel. Directionality leaps from every direction.

This isn’t aggressive design, lacking in low-end or range.

Extras

The beefiest bonus is a Kobi Libii commentary, which is better than the three EPK featurettes.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The American Society of Magical Negroes
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

A clever satire that’s arguably too on point, American Society of Magical Negroes finds laughs in the racially awkward.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 31 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:


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