MMT Quick Review of THE DARK TOWER by contributor Darryl King

Adaptation can be the finest form of flattery, but if you are not careful, it can also provide the shackles that bound up your artistic freedom. The “Dark Tower” is the latest Stephen King novel to adorn the silver screen.

The “Dark Tower” is an 8-part book series that extracts from different types of genres to formulate a special universe made of up multiple worlds with one basic connection, a dark tower. As the center piece of this universe, the tower was created to keep evil/darkness from reigning over the universe. If it were to fall, darkness would prevail.

Well darkness does fall, as the “Dark Tower” as a film doesn’t measure up to the literary works and comes short of becoming a good movie. With great actors and an incredible mythos, the “Dark Tower” had all the ingredients, but doesn’t develop or fully explore the symbolism and back story that made these books so beloved.

When it was announced that the “Dark Tower” run time was only 90 minutes, the prevailing thought was that there would be some narrative left on the cutting room floor – which was the case, as if the movie was afraid to delve deeper into the concepts of Mid-World.

Or maybe Nikolaj Arcel (Director/Writer) was handcuffed with how much he could adapt the story, and hampered with outdated themes. Because in a world filled incredible sci-fi films and special effects movie wonderment, believing that a western gunslinger hero could defeat a mystical demon with just bullets doesn’t easily render within modern imaginations.

The “Dark Tower” as a movie is a very basic story revolving around 3 characters – the retired good guy, the wicked evil guy, and a young protagonist. The acting in this movie is pretty good with Idris Elba as Roland Deschain aka the “Gunslinger”, Matthew McConaughey as Walter O’ Dim aka the “Man In Black”, and Jake Chambers played by Tom Taylor, but they are let down by the lack of connective tissue given for the worlds they inhabit.

The best parts of the movie reside within the first act, which introduces the strange world of the Mid-World. I wish that we had spent more time exploring the history of the Gunslingers, why they are revered and what makes Gunslinger Deschain special.

And what about the mystery of the Man In Black… how did he get his power and/or come into power.? Is he from the evil that lurks beyond the universe? And if so, is he powerful or just a conduit for that evil?

And lastly, where did the tower come from, and how could it protect the universe? Is it just a unit/tower or is it sentient, questions that would have made a great movie with an ability to franchise the answers.

The second act proceeds to leave the mystical Mid-World and travel to Earth to showcase the impact the battle for the Dark Tower has upon modern-day.  The perception is that Earth will connect the audience to this unique story, but it changes the movie from a fantasy/sci-fi film to a fish out of water story. While different, this film bogs down and then lacks focus.

Finally, we are led into the final act, which was a commonly rehashed and conveniently driven exposition of good miraculously defeating evil. This ending is a disservice to the mysteries of the fantasy and undermines the acting performances that are forced into a happy ending.

In the end, the “Dark Tower” doesn’t fully disappoint, as the acting and the slight exposure to a compelling narrative is engaging, but the film will have you desiring more without wanting another movie to fill in those gaps. As the viewer, you won’t care whether the Tower falls and that is why the movie fails…so I guess here comes the darkness.

Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Checkout his reviews of  Spider-man: Homecoming, Baby Driver, and Wonder Woman right here on MMT.

 

MMT Quick Review: The Red Flower (a review of THE JUNGLE BOOK by MMT contributor Darryl King)

The Jungle Book (Disney)

Star Wars… The Matrix… Avatar… What do they have in common? They are great films with wonderful stories that also have pushed the technological advances and boundaries of movie magic. It is now time to add one more film to this stellar list… the live action adaptation of “The Jungle Book”.

“The Jungle Book” is a work of art… borderline masterpiece when considering the way this movie was created with the CGI that created a place, a real world that makes the viewer believe that we are watching a film that was shot in either India or Africa. The true star of this film is its director Jon Favreau, his vision and passion for the project facilitated astounding storytelling, a strong adaptation of the source material making this movie an exercise… in great filmmaking.

I cannot wait to delve into the behind the scenes making of this film. While shot only on a sound stage in LA, we are lead to believe and ultimately whisked away… magically to the jungle. The animals seem so real with set pieces that invoke emotionality and a story that makes you long for adventure.

But what also makes this movie good is the find of an unknown kid actor – Neel Sethi. He is not just playing Mowgli… he is Mowgli! Neel Sethi is so good that you will believe that the cartoon of Jungle Book is really a documentary about the life of Neel living in the jungle. He connotes an understated innocence, filled with an intoxicating charm and a touch of youthful boldness that makes you want to love his characterization of Mowgli. Normally it is very difficult for any actor to play/act opposite green screen images and settings, but this young actor pulls it off as if he was born for this role.

Jungle Book also boasts an all-star cast that rises to the occasion. Idris Elba plays the villain, the tiger – Shere Khan – who is menacing and truly convincing as the biggest bad of the jungle. Idris conveys through his acting/voice-over the cunning of his character and shows why the other animals fear him. Khan has a disdain for Mowgli because he knows that when he grows up he will become the worst enemy of the jungle… a man. Men who are dangerous whose ways are tricky… none more threatening to the jungle and something that separates animals from man – the dreaded red flower (otherwise known as fire)!

But the fire burns through the provocative vocal performances from the rest of the cast. Voice performances like Ben Kingsley (as Bagheera) offer this story the wise sage that helps us to bridge the gap of unbelief of a kid who is raised by wolves and finds a home in the jungle. Other stellar voice performances are given by Bill Murray (who plays Baloo) and Christopher Walken (King Louie).

Jungle Book is a must see movie that is more than a family and/or kid film – it is an experience. It is recommended that you watch in 3D because Favreau adroitly uses this technology to its fullest as if you are biting into a piece of fruit and the juices, nectar and goodness bursts into your mouth for a wonderful refreshing taste.

Unlike the animals in the Jungle Book, don’t be afraid of the red flower and go into this jungle and then just like our hero Mowgli you will find yourself at home… in the “Jungle Book”.

Darryl King (photo courtesy of Darryl King)Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Check out his reviews of Batman v SupermanDEADPOOL, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens right here on MMT.

SEE THE WORLD THROUGH MOWGLI’S EYES: THE JUNGLE BOOK VR EXPERIENCE (select AMC locations nationwide)

The Jungle Book

Happy Thursday MMT Fam! Wanted to make sure you knew about this cool virtual reality experience that’s set-up at select AMC locations across the country for the highly anticipated film THE JUNGLE BOOK.

From AMC and IMAX, in this real-time rendered Oculus Rift Virtual Reality experience you are placed high-up on a tree in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by lush trees and dense fog. You suddenly hear a voice in the distance. Where is it coming from? Who might it be? Suddenly, your surroundings start to move. A chill goes through your body. Before you know what’s happening, you see her… Kaa, the snake. Coiling around the trees, she approaches you slowly but surely…

Jungle BookYeah, my fear of snakes rules me out from this one! LOL, but if you’re not a chicken, unlike myself, and this is your cup of tea, take a look at the list in the pic above to see what cities are hosting, and get additional details about activation times at the AMC website here.

For those in or near the Philly area, this experience can be found at the AMC Neshaminy location as follows:

AMC Neshaminy

660 Neshaminy Mall

Bensalem, PA 19020

Friday, April 8th 1 PM – 10 PM

Saturday, April 9th 1 PM – 10 PM

Sunday, April 10th 1 PM – 8 PM

You can preview the experience using Facebook 360 here. THE JUNGLE BOOK in 3D opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, April 15.

Let me know your thoughts if you go and see the world #ThroughMowglisEyes family!

Until next thought, Thomasena

THE JUNGLE BOOK synopsis

Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire. The all-star cast also includes Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of the fiercely protective mother wolf Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of wolf pack’s alpha male Akela. “The Jungle Book” seamlessly blends live-action with photorealistic CGI animals and environments, using up-to-the-minute technology and storytelling techniques to immerse audiences in an enchanting and lush world.

MMT January 2016 Netflix Picks

Netflix Picks January 2016 out-of-my-hand-movie beasts of no nation

Happy Sunday MMT Fam! So this is the first Netflix picks list that I’m sharing where I haven’t actually seen the films – but rather this is my personal watch list for today’s “snow-seclusion!”

First up is the one movie that seems to have the critics’ consensus as being majorly snubbed – including the performance by the magnificent talent that is Idris Elba – this award season, BEASTS OF NO NATION. The film is is based on the highly acclaimed novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala and follows protagonist Agu, a child soldier torn from his family to fight in the civil war of an African country. Newcomer Abraham Attah portrays Agu, while Elba portrays Commandant, a warlord who takes in Agu and instructs him in the ways of war.

The next two on my list were both recently acquired by ARRAY (formerly AFFRM) for distribution –  AYANDA and OUT OF MY HAND. “Ayanda”  tells the story of a single-minded 21-year-old Afro-hipster Ayanda (Fulu Mugovhani), who has a talent for taking neglected pieces of furniture and “bringing them back to love”. Eight years after her father’s death, his prized auto repair garage is in deep debt and in danger of being sold, but Ayanda does everything in her power to hold on to his legacy. The film also stars Nigerian actor OC Ukeje – winner of the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award for Best Actor, Jafta Mamabolo, Nthati Moshesh, Kenneth Nkosi, Sihle Xaba and Vanessa Cooke.

Out of My Hand” is the directorial feature début of Takeshi Fukunaga and tells the story of a struggling Liberian rubber-plantation worker (Bishop Blay), who risks everything to discover a new life as a cab driver in New York City. The film debuted in the Panorama Section of the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival.

If you weren’t emotionally touched by any of the above trailers – especially the last – you have no pulse! I can’t wait to watch each of these, and I hope many of you will join me. And don’t forget to share your thoughts with us in the comments. 🙂

Until next thought, Thomasena

GIVEAWAY: ‘The Gunman’ advance screening – Monday, March 16 (Philly, PA/South NJ)

THE GUNMAN (photo: Open Road)

Happy Wednesday MMT Family!  I’m so hyped about this new screening giveaway – this film had me with Sean Penn and Idris Elba! We’ve partnered with Allied-THA for an advanced screening of THE GUNMAN next Monday, March 16 at the AMC Cherry Hill.

To put your name in the hat, you need to 1) be a follower of this website – (hint: if you sign up, make sure to check your email for confirmation link) and 2) send an email to thinkmusicmovies@gmail.com with the subject line “Gunman” and your name in the body. I will  select winners at random and notify on Sunday, March 15.

You can watch the trailer and read a synopsis of THE GUNMAN below and get additional information at the official website here.

Good luck family! Until next thought, Thomasena

THE GUNMAN synopsis

A former Special Forces soldier and military contractor suffering from PTSD tries to reconnect with his long time love, but first must go on the run from London to Barcelona and across Europe in order to clear his name.