CIVIL BRAND

Content -4
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: August 29, 2003

Starring: LisaRaye, N’Bushe Wright, Mos Def, DaBrat, Monica Calhoun, Clifton Powell, Lark Voorhies, MC Lyte, and Tichina Arnold

Genre: Drama

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Betsega
Bekele CIVIL BRAND is a prison
drama centered on the inmates
of Whitehead Correctional
Institute, including Frances
(LisaRaye), a young mother and
nurse sent to prison for
killing her abusive husband.
When she arrives on the
“Block,” Frances is
introduced to her fellow
inmates, including Little
Momma (Lark Voorhies), a
pregnant 17-year old who
killed her abusive stepfather,
and Nikki Barnes (N’Bushe
Wright), in for armed robbery.
Fellow inmate Wet (Monica
Calhoun) introduces Frances to
life at Whitehead by stating
“Welcome to the plantation,
Sister Frances.” Frances
comes to learn that the
“plantation” is the
workplace created by Warden
Nelson (Reed McCants) that
harvests human labor for
profit. As the women work in
abusive conditions for minimal
pay, corporations and their
caretakers are reaping the
benefits of the women’s
incarceration. To make
matters worse, the women are
under the care of the
horrifying and perverted
Captain Dease (Clifton
Powell). Dease wields his
power in extreme ways, and
often abuses the women
sexually, verbally and
physically. Dease’s
corrections officers all
ignore or participate in the
gross offenses. The one
exception is Michael (Mos
Def), a recent college
graduate and family friend of
the warden who is new to the
job. Michael senses that
something is not right at the
prison, and starts to
investigate “prison as
business.” In the meantime,
the women are struggling for
their survival and devise a
plan to overthrow Captain
Dease and Warden Nelson. Are
they prepared for the
sacrifices they will face,
including their own
lives? CIVIL BRAND is
obviously supposed to be a
socio-political commentary set
within the confines of a
female prison. The film opens
with fellow inmate Sabrina
(DaBrat) narrating the
women’s experiences and
attempts for freedom. However,
the excessive language and
abuses cloud the moral that
the filmmakers may have
intended. The abuses are so
difficult to watch that this
reviewer wanted the movie to
finish halfway through. The
production and script of the
movie are sub-par, with the
filmmakers often being reduced
to bright flashes, editing
tricks, and foul language to
move the movie along. The
movie also suffers from
casting novice actors, such as
rappers DaBrat and MC Lyte,
and LisaRaye. Overall, the
movie leaves a bad taste in
your mouth, because it is
devoid of redemption and any
edifying elements. CIVIL BRAND
is a movie that audiencs will
want to forget as soon as they
leave the theatre. Please
address your comments to: Tom
Ortenberg, President Lions
Gate FIlms 4553 Glencoe Ave.,
Suite 200 Marina del Rey, CA
90292 Phone: (310)
314-2000 Fax: (310)
396-6041 Website:
www.lionsgatefilms.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 91 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(AbAbAb, AcapAcap, C, Fe, LLL, VVV, SSS, NN, AA, DD, MMM) Very strong Anti-biblical worldview with strong anti-capitalist elements as prison director views and treats the female inmates as “animals,” while prison warden and the outside companies are the capitalists who are taking advantage of the women in the “prison plantation” although one character is religious and often quotes the Bible, but a feminist worldview is presented as most of the inmates were abused by men, leading them to commit crimes; extreme language, with more than 100 obscenities (mainly “F” words) and profanities; extremely graphic violence includes two rapes (woman bleeding afterwards), physical and sexual abuse, several beatings (often bloody), some graphic shootings and a stabbing; two rapes (one depicted and one implied) and some sexual references (including oral sex); man shown without his shirt on and two women are stripped to underclothing and left in a cell; characters shown drinking and a couple men who are obviously drunk abuse a woman; inmates shown smoking marijuana and inmate is offered a mind-altering drug; and, greedy corporations use inmates for cheap labor and inmates seek revenge on abusive caretakers.

GENRE: Drama

Summary:

CIVIL BRAND is an excessively violent, obscene prison drama centered on the inmates of Whitehead Correctional Institute, including Frances, Little Momma, Wet, and Nikki Barnes. The women must band together to fight the “new plantation” at the prison where human labor is used for profit.

Review:

CIVIL BRAND is a prison drama centered on the inmates of Whitehead Correctional Institute, including Frances (LisaRaye), a young mother and nurse sent to prison for killing her abusive husband. When she arrives on the “Block,” Frances is introduced to her fellow inmates, including Little Momma (Lark Voorhies), a pregnant 17-year old who killed her abusive stepfather, and Nikki Barnes (N’Bushe Wright), in for armed robbery. Fellow inmate Wet (Monica Calhoun) introduces Frances to life at Whitehead by stating “Welcome to the plantation, Sister Frances.” Frances comes to learn that the “plantation” is the workplace created by Warden Nelson (Reed McCants) that harvests human labor for profit. As the women work in abusive conditions for minimal pay, corporations and their caretakers are reaping the benefits of the women’s incarceration.

To make matters worse, the women are under the care of the horrifying and perverted Captain Dease (Clifton Powell). Dease wields his power in extreme ways, and often abuses the women sexually, verbally and physically. Dease’s corrections officers all ignore or participate in the gross offenses. The one exception is Michael (Mos Def), a recent college graduate and family friend of the warden who is new to the job. Michael senses that something is not right at the prison, and starts to investigate “prison as business.” In the meantime, the women are struggling for their survival and devise a plan to overthrow Captain Dease and Warden Nelson. Are they prepared for the sacrifices they will face, including their own lives?

CIVIL BRAND is obviously supposed to be a socio-political commentary set within the confines of a female prison. The film opens with fellow inmate Sabrina (DaBrat) narrating the women’s experiences and attempts for freedom. However, the excessive language and abuses cloud the moral that the filmmakers may have intended. The abuses are so difficult to watch that this reviewer wanted the movie to finish halfway through. The production and script of the movie are sub-par, with the filmmakers often being reduced to bright flashes, editing tricks, and foul language to move the movie along. The movie also suffers from casting novice actors, such as rappers DaBrat and MC Lyte, and LisaRaye. Overall, the movie leaves a bad taste in your mouth, because it is devoid of redemption and any edifying elements. CIVIL BRAND is a movie that audiencs will want to forget as soon as they leave the theatre.

Please address your comments to:

Tom Ortenberg, President

Lions Gate FIlms

4553 Glencoe Ave., Suite 200

Marina del Rey, CA 90292

Phone: (310) 314-2000

Fax: (310) 396-6041

Website: www.lionsgatefilms.com

SUMMARY: CIVIL BRAND is an excessively violent, obscene prison drama centered on the inmates of Whitehead Correctional Institute, including Frances, Little Momma, Wet, and Nikki Barnes. The women must band together to fight the “new plantation” at the prison where human labor is used for profit.

In Brief: