MMT Quick Review: Reboot! a non-spoiler review of XMEN: APOCALYPSE by Darryl King

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (20th Century Fox)

Is the world coming to an end or are we waiting for the end… of this movie? X-Men: Apocalypse is an ambitious movie as it strives to introduce us to an established mutant universe, launch brand new actors playing our favorite mutants while bringing us the greatest villain within the mutant universe… Apocalypse!

Because of that, instead of rewarding us with the epic ending of an outstanding trilogy, (First Class, Days of Future Past, Apocalypse) we are fed another unfulfilling start from a movie more concerned with furthering the X-Men franchise.

If there is anything that can derail the ever popular Superhero movie genre is the growing notion that each movie has to be a setup for future movies within that franchise. By doing that, what these films forget to do is tell a compelling story, providing more foreshadowing than narrative. “Batman V Superman” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” both fell into this trap, a trap that unfortunately caught “X-Men Apocalypse.”

Fox Pictures the studio behind the X Men, felt the need to reboot their franchise after the harsh criticism from “X-Men Last Stand”, the final movie in their original trilogy of X-Men films. Ever since then, the X-Men franchise has been in a constant state of reboot.

Starting with “X-Men First Class” that film effectively gave us the stellar retelling of the Magneto and Professor X origins with new actors at the helm, taking us back to the 60’s, thus justifying the reboot. But then director Bryan Singer, the original filmmaker of the X-Men films, returned to reclaim the X-Men franchise.

Singer felt the need to destroy the timeline and events established from the disliked movie “X-Men Last Stand” that he perceived ruined his original trilogy. So his follow-up movie “X-Men Days of Future Past,” while an awesome film, rebooted the X-Men timeline once again, leaving us where we find ourselves today with “X-Men Apocalypse “.

The strengths of “X-Men Apocalypse” are the opening sequence, the origins of our big bad… Apocalypse, along with a better depiction of the gifted X-Men school. The movie does a good job setting up the framework of the new timeline which now takes place in the 80’s by introducing us to the new actors who will lead all future X-Men movies.

The origins of Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Storm (Alexandria Shipp) are tastefully done and with the increased role for Quicksilver (Evan Peters), the next wave of X-Men films are in very capable hands. Finally we are exposed to the budding relationship of Cyclops and Jean, and when these 2 along with Nightcrawler are on missions together, you will cry a happy tear because you feel you are watching scenes straight from the comics. But after the movie sets up a solid premise, and the believability of the new actors, it begins to unravel.

What made this trilogy so strong was the banter and interchanges between Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and this movie gives us little of that. It forces us to digest more of Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and tolerating other over stated cameos and role players.

Which leads us to a third act of the movie that is truly unsatisfying and at times poorly executed – as Apocalypse’s plan is weak, and his necessity of four underlings is never fully developed or rendered unconvincing.

“X-Men Apocalypse” is a decent action movie filled with enough action scenes to make it worthwhile and justify expensive popcorn and soda. There is no need to see the film in 3D as that format exacerbates the flaws of the special effects’ execution more than enhancing the film or the experience. If the movie hadn’t been bogged down with extending the future of the X-Men franchise, perhaps we would have been given the emotional weight of Apocalypse and his true menacing desire to save the world. When the movie ends, we are still waiting for the “X-Men Apocalypse” to show up.

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 Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of Ultron, and his primer guide to Captain America: Civil War right here on MMT.

 

MMT Quick Review: ‘THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2’

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (photo: Lionsgate)

Happy Friday MMT Fam! Well, at long last I am writing my final thoughts on The Hunger Games. This is a bittersweet moment – as I’m sure those of you who have followed along, while I excitedly anticipated each movie since the first, can well imagine. It all started with my old college friend, Denise, joining me on my first MS Walk and, upon discovering that I had not seen the original, beautifully summarizing it for me – especially the ill-fated friendship of Katniss and Rue. I was hooked by her narration and made a point to rent and watch the movie as soon as I could. Several months later, I was one of many press/journalists/bloggers at The Hunger Games: Catching Fire screening – eager to find out what was going to happen next (yes, I’ve intentionally refrained from reading the novels until the film franchise was completed).

And now, with the exception of a couple of spoilers I learned within the last year, I and other film fans who hadn’t read the novels know the story in its completion with this final installment – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. We finally get to see what becomes of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and her fellow warriors in their quest to free Panem from the tyranny of the capital and President Snow (Donald Sutherland). There is reunion and celebration early on in the film – before Katniss sets out with her team in what could best be described as a suicide mission to kill President Snow.

Now you know I try not to do spoilers – and I certainly wouldn’t do to you what someone did to me very recently by spoiling the death of a primary character that I love – but I will say be prepared. This part two shows Katniss and her team in full-blown war, literally, so expect that some of your faves may or may not make it.

So this is atypical, but I’ll start with what I didn’t like about this final installment. Although I mostly enjoyed the story, I felt that it was a bit rushed at parts. I’m told by my sister Tomeka, whose read the novels and been my informant when needed, that the novel wasn’t as brief with the death of one major character as in the film. Won’t share who, but I’ll say I had a major issue with the brevity of this character’s death and the actions after – oh, and if you’re a softy be prepared.

(Slight spoiler) I also questioned what happened to one of the minor characters – who unfortunately met his end in an underground scene by a means that wasn’t well explained in the film. It has something to do with light and I’ll leave it there!  If you read the books, this most likely isn’t an issue, but I needed some things explained after I left the theater.

I believe, since the last two films were shot back-to-back, it would not have appeared so rushed if parts one and two were one movie. Or maybe more of the novel could have been added to part 2 to make some scenes a bit more coherent. Oh, and personally I could have used a bit more screen time with Evan Ross (Messalla) – who said like two words – and Jeffrey Wright (Beetee), but it wasn’t pertinent to the central story needed so I guess I can’t fuss much 😉

I’ve loved this cast of characters, and will especially miss the chemistry between Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss and Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta – and oh I how love to hate Donald Sutherland’s President Snow, which he so brilliantly portrays in the films. In my part one review I gave isolated props to Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) and Elizabeth Banks (Effie), but in all honesty I’ve enjoyed most of the actors in this franchise – especially the animated ones like the aforementioned and Stanley Tucci as television host Caesar Flickerman and Sam Caflin as tribute/rebel Finnick Odair.

And I actually met and interviewed Elden Henson, who plays the lovable cameraman/rebel Pollux in Mockingjay, on his press tour in Philly. You can read the interview, including what advice he says director Francis Lawrence shared that prepared him for role, at my examiner site here.

In short MMT Fam, I believe this film is great to see in theaters, but you definitely want to adhere to that PG-13 rating where the little ones are concerned because it is the most violent of the four movies. I would also recommend anyone who hasn’t seen the other films, catch up! This one isn’t as easy to follow as say, Catching Fire, if you don’t know any of the story.

Alright, y’all know the drill! Leave a thought or two in the comments when you see it! I love to hear what you guys think.

Until next thought, Thomasena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MMT Quick Review: ‘THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART I’

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (photo: Lionsgate)

What’s new MMT Family?  I know some of you may be surprised I didn’t post a quick review sooner for this one, however I really wasn’t certain I was going to until this morning.  Why you ask?  First off, the film is part of a serial juggernaut, and being it’s the third installment you’re either a fan or you aren’t – so surely you don’t need me to twist your arm.  And mostly, this film was going to be huge regardless of my meager offering – it pulled in 17 million with its Thursday night opening alone. But a fellow writer reminded me that with as much excitement as I’ve shared while anticipating the film, I needed to give my thoughts about this penultimate entry in the franchise. Shout out to LeAnne Lindsay of the film and food site Tinsel & Tine – see her review in link.

Now, unlike my good friend LeAnne, I really enjoyed Mockingjay  – for reasons very similar to fellow writer and friend Sharon Abella of One World Cinema whose review can be found here (some slight spoilers, but not bad ones). If you haven’t read any of the books – like myself – by author Suzanne Collins, who also worked on this film adaptation, Mockingjay Part 1 may be the hardest of the three to simply follow.  It doesn’t have the speed of the first film, nor the grandeur of the second, and you should have familiarity of characters and plot to aid you in being engrossed – though for me I have my sister Tomeka that I rely on to answer my questions after I’ve viewed each installment! However, if you’ve enjoyed the first two films and don’t mind that the final book has been split into two parts for the big screen, Mockingjay serves as a great setup for the climax due out November 2015.

The film’s cast was dynamic and both Elizabeth Banks (Effie) and Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) give much-needed comic relief in a few scenes, as this one is the most grim of the series by far.  Jennifer Lawrence as lead character Katniss literally carries much of the film – as the audience is taken through the journey of her being shell-shocked from the Quarter Quell, rescue mission, and the subsequent district destruction to her decision to fulfill the role of Mockingjay and be the face of the Panem rebellion.

Highlights for me include the score – which has Lawrence singing a tune entitled “The Hanging Tree” that she reportedly was hesitant to do (see RadioTimes interview with director Francis Lawrence discussing here).  The scene with the district rebels singing the song while heading into an attack was haunting and I’ve literally had the tune in my head since I’ve screened – check out Jennifer Lawrence singing in below video. I was also on the edge of my seat during the film’s victor rescue mission – and I’ll just leave it there because you know how I do! 😉

Lastly, it was bittersweet to watch the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee) in this film, and he is given a nice acknowledgement at the end – so heads up if you tend to get that little something stuck in the eye corner! 🙂  Oh, and another heads up for the non-book reader – pay attention to Finnick’s camera speech, particularly the info shared about President Snow.  I’m told this will be extremely handy for Mockingjay 2.

Okay family that’s my take!  Did you see the film this weekend?  What were your thoughts? What do you think about my friends’ reviews?  Let me know in the comments!

Until next thought, Thomasena

The Hunger Games #AskMockingjay one day only social event on Monday November 17

AskMockingjay (photo: Lionsgate)

Hey MMT Fam! Join the cast and filmmakers of THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 – including Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Wright, Donald Sutherland, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Mahershala Ali and Natalie Dormer, along with director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson – for a one day only global social event: #ASKMOCKINGJAY.

On Monday, November 17, fans from around the world will have the opportunity to participate in a series of social media events including live chats, Q&A’s, exclusive clip debuts, and a live stream from the Los Angeles premiere.

Starting TODAY, fans can submit their questions on Facebook and Instagram by using the hashtag #AskMockingjay. Check out the full schedule of events below!


MONDAY- NOVEMBER 17TH – #ASKMOCKINGJAY

10AM PT / 1PM ET: REDDIT AMA with Natalie Dormer
11AM PT / 2PM ET: TWITTER Chat with Francis Lawrence
4PM PT / 7PM ET: FACEBOOK FAN EVENT with the cast of MOCKINGJAY including an exclusive NEW clip
6PM PT / 9PM ET: YAHOO & TUMBLR Live Stream from the LA PREMIERE with NEW footage from Mockingjay Part 1

Presented by Samsung Galaxy

A Quick Review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

What’s new MMT family?  I was so excited to screen the Lionsgate film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire earlier this week, and oh was it worth it!  Now let me first say that I have read NONE of the books, and because I enjoyed the first film so much I decided to wait so my expectations of what the films present wouldn’t change.  But let me tell you, I haven’t talked to one Hunger Games book series reader yet that hasn’t enjoyed the films; which I take as additional confirmation that this series is in fact GREAT!

For those who aren’t familiar with the story, The Hunger Games (based on a series of novels by Suzanne Collins) tells the story of young Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a 16-year-old who volunteers in her baby sister’s stead to fight in a battle-to-the-death televised tournament imposed by a sadistic post-apocalyptic monarchy.  In this future society, what was formerly North America no longer exists and is split into twelve districts collectively known as Panem.  From each district, a teenage male and female “Tribute” are selected and forced to participate in the cruel tournament.

Unfortunately for those who haven’t seen the first film, the next sentence is an unavoidable spoiler! In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the story begins with Katniss’s return home and her and Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) preparation for the “Victor’s Tour.”  What develops is Katniss’ awareness of the simmering rebellion that is brewing, and President Snow’s (a remarkable Donald Sutherland) impatience and sinister plot to halt said rebellion: the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) which involves past Tribute participation including Katniss, with the expectation that both she and the hope fueling the rebellion will be eliminated.

In my opinion, this film surpasses the first as far as story development, and really sets up the next in the series The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, which has an anticipated release date of  November 21, 2014.   And if you haven’t seen the first film, this one allows you to follow along quite well.  I did note however that this story is a bit darker than the first, but is not overly graphic with violence and has an appropriate PG-13 rating.  This is not the movie for those younger kiddies over the Thanksgiving Holiday; it is definitely young adult and adult fare.

Oh, and the CGI and costumes are MAGNIFICENT!  The fire motif for Katniss and Peeta this time around with Cinna’s (Lenny Kravitz) designs are, um well for lack of a better term, HOT!  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire also includes some great performances by Kravitz (Precious, Lee Daniels’ The Butler), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote, Moneyball), Jeffrey Wright (Broken City, Cadillac Records), Woody Harrelson (No Country For Old Men, Game Change), Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada, The Lovely Bones) and Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect, W.). The only negative I left the theater with is one that my screening partner remarked on, which is we have to wait an entire year for the sequel!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is out in theaters today, November 22.  You can check out the TV spot featuring the song “We Remain” by Christina Aguilera below and get additional info at the official website.

Alright that’s it for me family!  Until next thought, Thomasena

Sneak peek of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire during MTV Movie Awards

Hunger Games

Hey there Music Movie family!  This post serves as a heads up for all my Hunger Games fans.  Next Sunday, April 14, the exclusive teaser trailer to the highly anticipated movie sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will première live during the 2013 MTV Movie Awards.  To celebrate the première, Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth will introduce the 2 1/2 minutes of exciting footage. The teaser trailer will then be available online at TheHungerGamesExplorer.com following the award show.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” begins as Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (played by Josh Hutcherson).   Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts.  Along the way Katniss senses that rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.  “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is directed by Francis Lawrence, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the second in a trilogy that has over 50 million copies in print in the U.S. alone.   Lionsgate will release “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” on November 22, 2013.

MovieAwards.MTV.com is the official site for the “2013 MTV Movie Awards” where fans can visit to vote and get up-to-date info on this year’s show, watch video of last year’s biggest occurrences, get the full list of 2012 show winners, and check out fashion and celebrity commentary from the red carpet.  Fans can head to MovieAwards.MTV.com through Saturday, April 13 to vote.  The MTV Movie Awards will air live on MTV at 9 p.m. ET.

You can get a mini first look at “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” at the link below.  If you watch the awards show and/or catch the official teaser, stop back by and share your thoughts. 🙂

Until next thought family, Thomasena

2013 MTV Movie Awards first look at “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”