GIVEAWAY: advance screening for MORGAN on Wednesday, August 24 (Philly, PA)

Morgan

I mean, what is this giveaway number 4 this week? I guess I’m in the generous spirit – since my birthday is Sunday – so why not pass on the blessings!  For MMT fam in the Philly area, who enjoy a good thrill/action film and haven’t already won passes for “Bridget Jones’s Baby” Wednesday night, here’s a chance to win admit-two passes to screen MORGAN – which has a stellar cast that includes Kate Mara, Michelle Yeoh, and Paul Giamatti.  The screening will take place in Center City on Wednesday night.

“Morgan” tells the story of a corporate troubleshooter (Kate Mara) who is sent to a remote, top-secret location where she is to investigate and evaluate a terrifying accident. She learns the event was triggered by a seemingly innocent “human,” who presents a mystery of both infinite promise and incalculable danger.

To put your name in the hat, you must be subscribed to this website and send an email to contests@musicmoviesthoughts.com with the subject line “Morgan.” Twenty winners will be selected at random (although you should know the drill by now – active subscribers increase their chances exponentially) and notified by Tuesday evening.

You can watch the trailer below and get additional information at the official website here. MORGAN opens in theaters on September 2.

Good Luck!  Thomasena

 

 

MMT ‘FANTASTIC FOUR’ Review: ARE THESE 4 TRULY FANTASTIC???? (by guest contributor Darryl King)

Fantastic Four (photo: 20th Century Fox)

Considered the first family of comics and superhero lore, the FANTASTIC FOUR properties, and in particular this movie, are burdened with this last chance at a difficult task – to make another first impression. It is often said that history is told from the perspective of the victor – no pun intended to Victor Von Doom, though if this movie were told from the mind of Doom then perhaps we would have a better film. In the past, the intended story of the Fantastic 4 has been less than victorious and at some points downright disappointing; but the real question for this incarnation is whether or not it can accomplish two things: 1) overcome the bad taste left by the other two Fantastic 4 movies and 2) tell a good enough story that can grow to a budding franchise/shared universe. This is the desired goal of the 20th Century Fox studio – a film that can be integrated with its other franchises, X-Men and Deadpool, and one that can keep the barbarians at the gate (Marvel & the MCU) from getting back one of their signature properties.

Let me start by saying that I would recommend this movie. Despite its flaws and lack of a strong punch, it does tell an origin story that Fox distribution can build upon. This iteration of the 4 is a different story from the original back story that many comic readers know and is shown in the previous two movies. Director Josh Trank borrows from the source material “The Ultimate Fantastic 4” – where they receive their superpowers not by travelling into space but by a teleporting experiment. So if you are rebooting the series to revitalize the concept, choosing a different origin story was a good idea and it actually gives this movie a great fresh start. I applaud Trank for what he attempted to do – reboot the series by taking unfamiliar source material that takes place in a modern world and merging it with the origins of the creation of the Fantastic Four – horror. Originally, the Fantastic Four was a monster/horror comic book, and Trank keeps the feelings of horror flowing throughout this film – especially the first half, highlighted by the music. The score is the best thing about this film, as it does a wonderful job conveying the emotionality of this movie.

(Slight spoiler alert) Around the halfway point of Fantastic Four Reed Richards, after receiving his powers, runs away from the others to find out what happened to him and his friends. Unfortunately he takes the whole movie with him – as if the writers, director and cast left with him and the rest of the film. So what started out as a promising re-telling of a once popular franchise, became another by the book, color by number, set up the next movie storyline that now plagues Hollywood in this “everything is a universe” type movie world. Can we just focus on telling one good story before we are developing multi-picture movies and deals?

Initial steps of this movie are encouraging – as the audience is nicely introduced to these 4 characters, what they are and how they should relate to one another. The early formation of Reed Richards and Victor Doom as main characters is well defined – as you want to care about them and their passions. But then the film the drops the ball on character development, as Ben Grimm is an afterthought and it doesn’t use what could have been special – the “elephant in the room” coming into the movie a.k.a. the changed status of Johnny and Sue Storm.

In the comic books they are brother and sister, so not only did Trank change this narrative but, to many fans’ dismay, he also changed the race of Johnny Storm and fails to deliver upon his decision by not exploring what this relationship between adopted siblings meant. But the beginning half is still the best part of this movie to me, only lacking from a better explanation and exposition of the Negative Zone/ inter-dimensional travel and the reason why the planet so desperately needed the inventions and expertise of Reed and Doom.

The second half of this movie is an exercise in how not to make a good movie by listening/succumbing to the pressures and desires of a studio that is more concerned about not losing a property than creating a great film and letting the fans decide. Fox deployed every weapon in their arsenal to keep this film under wraps until the official release – as if they were scared of the results and/or response. Either interference (by Fox) or incompetence (by Trank) rendered the last act of this movie so bad that it feels like a whole different film. Imagine going on a trip, listening to the radio and, after you enter into a new state or region, the station that you were listening to fades out and a new one fades in.  That’s what this movie is – a good station replaced by a bad one!

Good things about the movie: a) the score b) Doom’s and Sue Storm’s powers shown on screen and c) attempts at telling a horror story. Bad things about the movie: a) convenient plot points/ending b) lack of development of relationship between characters and c) lack of motives for the 4 to be heroes or fantastic.

In the end, we needed answers to: does this movie eradicate the sour feelings left behind from the highly polished, stylized, well-cast, but poorly executed prior two Fantastic 4 films – that had the audacity to make Galactus a storm cloud? I believe that the basis and origins of this film is radical enough to be seen as an entirely different entity, that can’t be associated with the previous attempts. After that, is this a good movie? And can it set up a franchise that will merge seamlessly into the Fox movie universe?

Well it had good intentions, well enough that I think it deserves another shot at exploring this vision – but this FANTASTIC FOUR reboot may not get that chance. The fans and reviewers are like villagers with pitchforks ready to slay this monster. My hope is that it survives the carnage and is offered more time to flush out its path. Perhaps somewhere in a backroom or board room, Fox executives wish that there really existed inter-dimensional travel so they could banish all the naysayers into the negative zone and have a bona fide hit on their hands. ARE THESE 4 TRULY FANTASTIC????.… no.

Darryl King (photo courtesy of Darryl King)

Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel comic book/movie lover. Check out his reviews of Avengers: Age of Ultron and ANT-MAN right here on MMT!

GIVEAWAY: advance screening of ‘Let’s Be Cops’ Monday, August 11 (Philadelphia, PA)

Let's Be Cops (20th Century Fox)

Happy Wednesday MMT Family!  Got a great giveaway for you today!  We’ve partnered with Allied-THA to provide passes to an advanced screening of  LET’S BE COPS on Monday, August 11. Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson star in this buddy-cop film about two guys who are, well, not cops and the shenanigans they get into while pretending!

Want to put your name in the hat for a pair of passes?  You must be a follower of this website and send an email with your full name to thinkmusicmovies@gmail.com with the subject line “COPS.”  All winners will be notified by this Saturday.

You can read the synopsis and watch the trailer for “Let’s Be Cops” below, and get additional information at the official website here.

Good luck family!  Until next thought, Thomasena

Let’s Be Cops synopsis

It’s the ultimate buddy cop movie except for one thing: they’re not cops. When two struggling pals dress as police officers for a costume party, they become neighborhood sensations. But when these newly-minted “heroes” get tangled in a real life web of mobsters and dirty detectives, they must put their fake badges on the line.

 

A Quick Review of Broken City

Broken City Opens 1/18/13

Well Music Movie family it is rare that I endorse two movies in the same opening weekend, but I’m making an exception this week. Not only am I hype about the independent movie LUV opening today, but I am equally excited about the Allen Hughes (Dead Presidents, Book of Eli) driven 20th Century Fox vehicle Broken City. The film stars newly named, honorary Philadelphian himself Mark Wahlberg (Shooter, The Fighter), Russell Crowe (Les Miserables, American Gangster), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Rock of Ages, Chicago) and one of my FAVORITE actors of all time Jeffrey Wright (Cadillac Records, Quantum of Solace).

Broken City tells the story of disgraced cop turned private detective Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg), who is hired by NYC’s mayorMark Wahlberg & Thomasena Farrar (Russell Crowe) to tail his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and subsequently uncovers a city-wide conspiracy of corruption, sex, and murder. With his life threatened at every turn, Billy finds himself faced with an impossible choice, which could have disastrous repercussions for his career and family.

I enjoyed this film a lot, and became so engrossed in the story that I forgot a key moment from the beginning; one that really would have helped me figure out part of the ending. Now if you ask me, Mark Wahlberg really cannot do any wrong, and gave his solid tough guy, you’re gonna root for him no matter what performance. Russell Crowe also gave a solid performance as the conniving mayor who places Taggart in the center of a lose-lose situation without hesitation. And did I mention that Jeffrey Wright was one of my fave actors? He delivers, as usual, as the NYC commissioner, and displays that unique ability to make the audience first be annoyed by and ultimately love his character without remembering the negative emotion was first.

director Allen Hughes & Thomasena FarrarWhen the film screened here in Philly last week, I had the pleasure of meeting both Mark Wahlberg and Allen Hughes; and got to share with Allen that From Hell and Dead Presidents are two of my favorite films. I wish I would have remembered to plug giving Jeffrey Wright a lead in a future film! 🙂

I did ask him if he could bring any musician or singer’s biopic to the big screen, deceased or living, whom he would choose and he chose Jimi Hendix; who he believes is the most brilliant man to ever play electric guitar. He noted, however, that he’d attempted to bring the Hendrix biopic to the big screen, before the version starring André 3000 (All Is By My Side currently in post-production). He says the project is “impossible” to get done. Although he didn’t specify, it’s possible he was alluding to obtaining certain permissions from the Hendrix estate, which has barred the version featuring André 3000 from using any Jimi Hendrix music. When I asked if there was any other musician/singer’s story he’d be interested in producing/directing, Allen definitively stated “nope, that’s it.” Now as a fan of music biographies, and both Allen and Albert Hughes, I’m hoping he has a change of heart and finds another artist that can benefit from his creative vision. And if it happens, you read it here first. 😉

With a 109 minute running time, Broken City is rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and violence. You can check out the official trailer below, and stop back after you see it to leave a thought or two in the comments section.

Until next thought family, Thomasena

A Quick Review of TAKEN 2

Hello Music Movie Lovers!  How’s everyone Fall season going so far?  The weather here in Philly, PA has been beautiful and I look forward to this time of year, where the TV, movie, and music awards shows begin to take over primetime TV.  I’d mentioned in the last post that I’ve been working on several projects, one being a book by a new author that I am editing, but took a well needed break last Tuesday to screen the sequel to one of my favorite action films, Taken.  Yes, Liam Neeson has returned as retired CIA agent Bryan Mills in this new 20th Century Fox vehicle, which opens nationwide today.

As to not give spoilers, I will keep this short, sweet and straight to the point.  If I had to grade Taken 2, I would give it 7 out of 10 stars (and I am probably being a point too gracious still). Those who’ve seen the first movie will remember that Neeson’s character has a daughter who has been kidnapped, while visiting Europe, and is sold on the black market.  Mills then goes “park ape” to find her and kills anyone and everyone that stands in his way.  Fast forward… not sure of length of time because it wasn’t clearly indicated so I’ll say… X amount of time to this sequel and Bryan Mills is now the one in trouble, along with his ex-wife, and in need of his daughter’s help (somewhat).

What I most enjoyed about the film were the action scenes, although some of them weren’t as sharp as in the first and were predictable.  I read a review where the critic implied the movie was a parody of the first; and if that is true then I am a little less hesitant to give this another point :).  In contrast, the audience, with whom I screened film, and I seemed to be on the same page; as we came expecting action and laughed (hard) several times at some of the unbelievable things we were seeing.  And it really didn’t feel like the movie was going for comedy at those times we laughed!

In short, Taken 2 has some great moments but they are terribly offset by the predictable (and unbelievable) ones.  It was great seeing Liam Neeson return to this role, but I could’ve done without the daughter-assisted addition to the film and would have appreciated more of the ex-CIA operative gone rogue solo style from the first movie.  I think this would be the perfect date night movie for teens and I’m sure it will still have a pretty successful opening weekend (since many are waiting to see it).

Stop back by and share your thoughts if you check out! 🙂

Until next thought family, Thomasena