You never know how strong you have to be until being strong is your only option.
In the case of New Revolution Studios’ The Secrets Of The Magic City, two abandoned sisters tell their story of perseverance, sisterhood and the power of friendship in a failed system.
The coming-of-age film, executive produced by Flo-Rida, NBA hooper Udonis Haslem and Vincent Herbert, follows Tiana and Nia, played by promising newcomers Latrice Jackson and LaShay Jackson and their unforgiving troubles in Liberty City. The girls go to war with insurmountable cirumstances and turmoil, leaning only on one another to win.
The R. Malcolm Jones directed film, top lined by Hollywood veterans Jenifer Lewis (Blackish, Cars, Think Like A Man), two time Emmy Award-winner Keith David and a brief cameo from tween heartthrobs Mindless Behavior, tackles Black youth, mental health and the importance of making the right decisions. It’s survival of the fittest in a non-supported reality where your friends become family when abandonment becomes an unwelcome visitor.
Lewis plays the typecast, outspoken aunt to her troubled niece Amiya (Amiya Thomas), while David charmingly tackles the endearing corner store owner, Mr. Daniels.
The film, which starts a bit slow, takes viewers on a journey of death, loss and growing pains. Rejection becomes the norm for the displaced sisters, forsaken by their drug addict mother and turning to hustling and stealing for the bare necessities. Refusing to return to foster care after being reunited, the sisters embark on a grave journey when tragedy strikes, leaving them to take matters into their own hands. The sisters, alongside enemy-turned-bestie Amiya, become bound by a devastating secret that ultimately forms a bond.
The movie falls short in sufficiently detailing the back story of the three main characters; mostly Amiya’s troubles and the root of her rebellion, her father’s whereabouts and other pertinent details that would ultimately sensitize the viewer to her story.
Uncle Tru (Jamie Hector,) the army vet who willingly confines himself to his room the majority of the film, battles his own set of demons, with occasional flashbacks to his days of war on the front line. It isn’t until the end of the movie his character becomes relevant, while his previous scenes seem unnecessary, with some shots with niece Amaya awkward and contrived.
Between occasional dragging scenes and bouts of dull dialogue, inspirational messages take center stage, revealing the light at the end of the tunnel even when it’s hard to find.
Despite a handful of flat scenes, The Secrets Of The Magic City is a nostalgic ride reminiscent of a worry-free childhood: dancing in the streets, corner store runs with friends and bullying neighborhood boys who subconsciously express their fondness through hitting.
The Secrets Of The Magic City shines as a gritty motion picture laced with adventure and real-life circumstances. A refined tale of hope that when you can’t find magic, you can make your own happily ever after.
The Secrets of the Magic City is available on DVD now.