MMT Review of Spider-Man: Homecoming by contributor Darryl King

“With great power comes great responsibility” –  Uncle Ben

These are the words spoken by Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben that propelled Peter’s desire to help people, the impetus for a young, intelligent, impressionable kid from Queens, who was suddenly endowed with incredible power, wondering how to be responsible with who he was becoming. But ole’ Uncle Ben could have easily been speaking beyond the pages of a comic book and into the real world by defining the Spiderman movie landscape and history.

Beyond a shadow of doubt, Spiderman is the greatest and most popular Marvel superhero and, in 1996, Marvel comics filed for bankruptcy – precipitating them selling off the movie licensing rights to many of their famous comic characters like the X-Men, Fantastic 4, Daredevil, Hulk and their biggest comic hero Spiderman.

Over the years, Sony Pictures made five Spiderman movies – which started off very strong but ultimately fizzled… great power, great responsibility.

After their last movie, it seemed that Spiderman as a big action film star was either dead or at least irrelevant in the minds and hearts of moviegoers until computer hackers changed the blueprint .  Sony Pictures, the subject of the attacks, would eventually find themselves in the same bankrupt position as Marvel,  so it choose then to share Spiderman’s movie licensing back with Marvel.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the first film venture from a shared licensing agreement between Marvel and Sony and, as excited as fans were that Spiderman was back in the MCU, there was still some trepidation about what this version of Spidey would look like.

Well Spidey fans, your spider senses can stop tingling because “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a great film! It’s on par with some of the better Marvel movies without truly feeling like one. MCU themes bracket the beginning and end of this film, but sandwiched in-between is a wonderfully told narrative of Peter Parker.

In the past, Sony Pictures provided us with good incarnations of Spiderman, but never have we been privileged to this great of a characterization of Peter Parker and the world to which he inhabits.

Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spiderman was incredible, as he was able to capture Peter’s innocence while also exhibiting his courage with and without the suit. Holland was engaging & forceful, drawing you into his beliefs and the world around him.

Inspired by the films by John Hughes, (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Breakfast Club, Weird Science) “Homecoming” saturates itself within the youthful exuberance, adolescent angst and growing pains of teenagers with a modern sensibility towards millennials and cultural diversity, all wrapped up in a superhero movie. “Homecoming” delivers large action set pieces without becoming a slave to them, weaving a beautifully woven story between the of growth of our hero and peace for the villain.

The main villain, portrayed expertly by Michael Keaton, has an adroit motivation for his actions. Keaton provides a warm presence for a bad guy and you feel for his plight.

The looming presence of Ironman/Tony Stark presents the gravitas the picture needs to erase other Spiderman incarnations, and the legitimacy for Spiderman’s entrance into the MCU. Without Uncle Ben in the picture, Peter needs a role model and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) provides the perfect mentor for Peter in a world that is growing fast around him.

Perhaps a quiet stand out star is Jacob Batalon, who plays the best friend of Peter Parker, Ned Leeds. Batalon is funny and grounds the teenage world of Peter, and in the real sense, he embodies the voice of the audience, often acting and saying the things that we would do and say if our best friend was an Avenger.

In the end, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the portrayal of our friendly neighborhood Spiderman that adorns to comic book readers who grew up with a high school Peter Parker, while reaching out to an adolescent audience, who grew up in a computer age, experiencing Spidey for the first time.

We are witnesses to him growing into his power, life and into the MCU where he fits right in with Captain America, Thor, Hulk and the others. Spiderman is the future of the MCU, and I believe that somewhere Uncle Ben is very proud.

Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Checkout his reviews of Wonder WomanGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,  and Logan right here on MMT.

“Weak”end of Netflix an MMT review of Iron Fist by contributor Darryl King

We have been spoiled! Over the past two years, bequeathed unto us by Marvel, has been some of the best binge worthy television. Spending a few days, or dedicating a weekend, to engulf shows like “Daredevil”, “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage” was a pleasure until…”Iron Fist.” Because of their incredible track record, I hunkered down and digested it and let’s just say it doesn’t measure up.

“Iron Fist,” or Danny Rand is the latest Marvel Netflix hero, the son of rich parents who die in a plane accident. Danny survives the crash and is saved by mystical monks who raise him in the magical city of K’un-Lun, a city protected by the Iron Fist.

The Iron Fist is chosen by winning a battle with a dragon, then endowed with the dragon’s power, and when the anointed one harnesses their ‘Chi’ that incredible power becomes a great weapon. Sounds cool, right?

So, where does this show go wrong? The problem starts with the show runner/producer. Unlike other Marvel Netflix series, Scott Buck presents a very lackluster and often boring series and mythos. Other Marvel show runners have shown the dexterity to adapt and change the original comic content and deliver a better and watchable product.

For example, one of the beautiful aspects of Marvel’s Netflix world is the characterization of New York. Fortified with vibrant colors and distinct locations, these shows have provided a lovely depiction of the Big Apple, but “Iron Fist” sorely lacks in this area. Add in the fact that we don’t visually visit the magical city of K’un-Lun, and the show suffers greatly and misses an opportunity at world building.

Martial Arts should have been the saving grace for this show but the choreography and stunt work at most times was abysmal and uninspiring…Daredevil was so much better. “Iron Fist” even botched the infamous hallway fight scene that has become the signature of Marvel Netflix shows. The cheesy music soundtrack during these fight scenes further hinders and shackles the action.

Speaking of sound, there were too many times when the sound mixing was uneven and particularly weak for a television show, at times the outdoor scenes sounded like they were recorded in a room.

The direction of the episodes was less than stellar, very slow paced with poor visual conception and amateurish editing – making an hour program feel longer. But ultimately, “Iron Fist” is derailed by average dialogue and a lead character who doesn’t capture your imagination and whom you never believe is Iron Fist.

Finn Jones who plays Iron Fist, portrays his character as a whining brat who never grows beyond his circumstances. I haven’t seen anyone this whiny since Hayden Christensen played Anakin Skywalker.

Overall, the show spends too much time on board room business intrigue – only without the intrigue. Danny Rand shares too much screen time with his childhood friends/partners/nemesis, the Meachum family, often spotlighting them as the main story.

The first 5 episodes could have been compacted into one or two episodes and the show doesn’t become binge worthy until the last 4 episodes.

What works for the “Iron Fist” series are the opening title sequence and some of its secondary characters. Rosario Dawson reprises her role as Claire Temple, who has become the glue of the Street Level series world, providing some much-needed heart and passion for this show. Wai Ching Ho (Madame Gao) continues her stellar portrayal of the Asian master/savant with mystical powers.

Clifton Davis plays a Board member of Rand Enterprises who adds some spice and gravitas to an otherwise stoic storyline. Colleen Wing, portrayed by Jessica Henwick, is a wonderful addition to the Marvel Netflix family with a character who is captivating and exciting and who has the greatest arc in the series.

What fans wanted was a show with great martial arts and the “power” of the Iron Fist, and we weren’t given either. “Iron Fist” is more disappointing than bad and it almost derails the up and coming The Defenders series. So, after a long weekend of binging, I can’t defend “Iron Fist!”

Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Check out his reviews of Luke Cage, Dr. Strange and Captain America: Civil War right here on MMT.

MMT Quick Review: THE SORCERER SUPREME a review of DR. STRANGE by Darryl King

Marvel's Dr. Strange

What would you do if your purpose was taken away from you? The gifts and talents you identify with most and mastered, seemingly… gone. How would you then see yourself, perhaps… Strange?

Dr. Stephen Strange is the latest superhero welcomed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ready to take us on the wildest trip possible, as if the films the “Matrix” and “Inception” and had a psychedelic love child… and gave birth to the film, “Dr. Strange”.

As a movie, “Dr. Strange” is the most daring character and subject matter (magic) to be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the like to which we have never witnessed on the silver screen. A movie that is visually stunning, creatively dynamic yet intriguingly integral to the future of the MCU. So when you walk into the theatre… brace yourself for the hippest and wildest ride imaginable!

In a powerful way, Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays Baron Mordo provides perhaps the best instruction for the viewer when he tells Dr. Strange to… “Forget everything that you think you know!”

After forgetting, you’ll discover that at its core the film “Dr. Strange” is a well told origin story about a supremely skilled, pompous and arrogant surgeon who because of an accident, loses the ability to use his hands and searches for a remedy for his pain. His journey leads him to the orient where he encounters “The Ancient One” who proceeds to introduce him to the world of magic, and the many realms within.

Now the biggest star of this story are the mind bending and altering visual & special effects. A film that is best served to be viewed in IMAX or 3D, “Dr. Strange” is very colorful and beautifully designed expedition shown amongst many levels and angles, acquainting us to the many domains of the multi verse and magic realm.

Marvel Studios unleashes the full arsenal of special and visual effects to fabricate the world of Strange, yet the movie doesn’t succumb to the technology, the effects serve the story and to help… “change your reality.”

But the reality that soars highest in “Dr. Strange” is the acting of the world class cast which is filled with a who’s who of Oscar winners and nominees, perhaps the most talented cast you will find in a superhero movie, and it shows on the screen.

Benedict Cumberbatch embodies the character of Steven Strange… the Sorcerer Supreme. Strange is the guy who believes that he is better and smarter than everyone in the room… which usually is the case. Similar to Tony Stark/Iron Man, the confidence and intelligence of Strange is unparalleled… so i can’t wait until these 2 egos meet, pitting science vs magic.

Tilda Swinton as “The Ancient One”, was once vilified as the choice to play this character because it was being labeled as ‘white washing’ with a white actor playing an Asian character but she instantly wins you over and thus steals the movie with her acting acumen, allowing you forget that there was ever a controversy.

The previously mentioned Chiwetel Ejiofor, Baron Mordo, brings balance to the movie as his performance guides you through as the conscious of the film, the moral underpinning needed to manufacture… fantasy becoming reality.

As a villain, Mads Mikkelsen (Kaecilius) has the common bad guy syndrome of ruling the world but it’s the execution founded within compelling special & visual effects and his pristine acting that enriches his villainy and connects us eventually to his real motivation. Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer) and Benedict Wong (Wong) round out this stellar cast.

In the end, “Dr. Strange” as a movie does a fantastic job at drawing us unto the world of magic and the many realms that exists. The film will service well those who are familiar with his comic book yet is not over the heads of those to whom “Dr. Strange” is completely new. The film succeeds at expanding the world building and mythos of the Marvel Universe that will enrich the further development of their cinematic universe.

So… “By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth” … cast a spell and take a trip into the world of … Strange!

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 Luke Cage, Xmen: Apocalypse and Captain America: Civil War right here on MMT.

 

 

SWEET CHRISTMAS: an MMT Quick Review of Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’ by contributor Darryl King

LUKE CAGE

Nothing like a Bulletproof Black Man who isn’t afraid…

That’s the story of LUKE CAGE, the latest Marvel entry into the Netflix world. After Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Luke Cage takes center stage, moving the superhero business from midtown New York to uptown Harlem! Otherwise known as the “Wu-Tangification” of the Marvel universe, the Cage series is a wonderful expose’ into Black culture and history – the historical significance of Harlem expertly merged with the realities currently experienced by Black folk in America today.

Luke Cage is a beautifully shot and wonderfully crafted show that is able to unite the ‘Blaxploitation’ roots of the comic book and character – offering the hope, beauty and power of Black life all set to a wonderful musical soundtrack.

Perhaps influenced by shows like “The Wire” and “New York Undercover,” showrunner/ producer Cheo Hodari Coker shows off his love of Black culture with an uncanny proficiency in screenwriting/storytelling and direction. Outside of the Marvel movie and character references, Coker was allowed to bring his vision to the screen, making this series unapologetically about Luke Cage, Harlem, the fight for his people and who he wants to become.

For those who may not know, Luke Cage was a superhero created in the 70’s as an homage to the Blaxploitation and black power movements. Just imagine Shaft or Superfly with super powers. In this alliteration, Luke Cage is an ex-cop, who is framed for a crime and while in prison is experimented upon with a type of the super soldier serum that made Captain America.

His journey leads him to Harlem and in the effort to find himself, he becomes Harlem’s knight. This show isn’t groundbreaking because it mainly features Black characters, but it becomes important and self-aware because of its execution of Black culture, politics and life with well-defined roles and story – addressing racism, gentrification, police profiling, an underworld economy under the guise and banner of Marvel/MCU.

Perhaps the best thing about the series was the great acting performances throughout. Starting with Luke Cage, played by Mike Colter, we are watching a star in the making. Colter is a gentle giant with a strong intelligence and hero’s mentality, aspects that are greater than his super powers. His portrayal is eerily accurate to the comics, with many nods to his comic book look and persona littered throughout the series. Colter’s infectious personality combined with Cage’s journey merge into a wonderful soliloquy.

But the real power of the series may be in the plethora of strong Black female characters. Misty Knight played by Simone Missick is as tenacious as she is vulnerable. The show does a great job showing her visual abilities to detect a crime scene, and her sexiness is as powerful and lovely as Pam Grier in Foxy Brown.

Mariah Dillard (aka Black Mariah) played by Alfre Woodard is a major antagonist for Luke Cage in the comics, and her growth from altruist to willing villain is matched only by the Kingpin in the Daredevil series as a conflicted baddie.

Rosario Dawson is the common thread weaved throughout this Marvel Netflix universe as the “Night Nurse” aka Claire Temple. She is hardnosed, charismatic and owns every scene she appears. The energy between her role and Cage is electric.

But unlike the Marvel movies, what the Netflix series does superbly is establish well-defined villains. Mahershala Ali as Cottonmouth is incredible! He is as irrational as he is ruthless… fallible as he is evil.

Shades, played by Theo Rossi, is the wild card and perhaps the glue of the series as his motivations aren’t fully defined, but that’s what makes his character special. “Pops” (Frankie Faison), ‘Bobby Fish’ (Ron Cephas Jones) and Willis “Diamondback” Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey) round out this great cast.

Some of the other highlights besides the many ‘Easter eggs’ of Black culture and the Marvel universe, are Coker’s use of a myriad of camera angles and musical influences to connote the emotionality of the series. The angles impose feelings of control, dominance, power, and destruction while the music underlies the show’s soul and passion.

It would have been easy to have rap as the main influence, since every episode was named after rap songs made by Gang Starr, but they did not handcuff themselves. The performances range from soul to rap, and from old school to new artists to provide a creative balance for the series.

In the end, “Luke Cage” (aka Power Man) gives the viewer everything we could have wanted and more. So I got nothing but ”Bulletproof Love” for you Luke Cage and as Method Man says in the rhyme, “The streets got your back!”

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 Suicide SquadBatman: The Killing Joke, and Captain America: Civil War right here on MMT.

 

 

 

MMT Quick Look: exclusive sneak peek at DR. STRANGE courtesy of Marvel & IMAX (various locations)

doctor-strange-poster

Hey MMT Fam! If you’re a Marvel comic movie lover, like MMT’s very own Darryl King, you are anxiously awaiting the release of DR. STRANGE this November. Well, many lucky fans will get a chance to get a “sneak peek” at select footage October 10 in IMAX 3D! The sneak peek will be showcased in over 115 theater locations across North America on October 10, 2016, at 7 pm.

Select IMAX 3D theaters nationwide and 3D & IMAX 3D theaters internationally will offer the special screening of thrilling, never-before-seen 3D footage of the Scott Derrickson directed movie, which opens in U.S. theaters on November 4, 2016.

Tickets to the October 10th Marvel Studios Expand Your Mind: An IMAX® 3D Exclusive First Look are free and will be distributed for U.S. and Canadian screenings on a first-come, first-serve basis starting today at noon/PDT. For more information and to download tickets, go to: http://www.seeitfirst.net/pin/131383

Fans who attend this exclusive sneak peek will also receive a limited-edition, collectible “Doctor Strange” IMAX poster.

Check out the below synopsis and new look at Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” – and don’t forget to stop back and let us, especially Darryl, know your thoughts after the preview on the 10th!

DOCTOR STRANGE synopsis

From Marvel Studios comes “Doctor Strange,” the story of world-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he is forced to look for healing, and hope, in an unlikely place—a mysterious enclave known as Kamar-Taj. He quickly learns that this is not just a center for healing but also the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying our reality. Before long Strange—armed with newly acquired magical powers—is forced to choose whether to return to his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.

 

“Doctor Strange” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt and Scott Adkins, with Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton. Scott Derrickson is directing with Kevin Feige producing. Louis D’Esposito, Stephen Broussard, Victoria Alonso, Charles Newirth and Stan Lee serve as executive producers. Jon Spaihts and Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill wrote the screenplay. Join Strange on his dangerous, mystifying and totally mind-bending journey when Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange” opens in U.S. theaters on November 4, 2016.

 

MMT Quick Review: Is War Civil? a non-spoiler review of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR by Darryl King

Captain America: Civil War (photo: Marvel)

War is easier when you have a clear right and a definite wrong. But what happens when the lines are so blurred that you wake up and can no longer realize on which side you stand?  Captain America Civil War is such a fight. I went into this movie clearly on one side of the fence but when the final credits finished rolling, I had changed allegiance.

The Russo Brothers, the directors of this film, have mastered the ability to frame a story with great action and thrills, stellar themes and character development way beyond the main plot by delving deep into the psyche of the characters and story. But what they did so great in this film was turn one war into two.

Captain America Civil War, on the surface, seems like a fight over superhero registration – a hero’s right to choose to be heroic vs. governmental oversight – a fabricated heroism. Too much collateral damage around the world has forced the hands of leaders to want to have control over the hands of those with superhuman powers.

But at its core, Captain America Civil War is a film about Captain America vs Iron Man. Tony Stark vs Steve Rogers. The ideals of patriotism, truth, and freedom of Steve vs the belief in capitalism, science and structure of Tony. We were led to believe that both fights are one in the same but the Russo Brothers excellently show that they are opposite sides of the same coin and this movie makes you flip that coin.

Captain America Civil War is truly worth that coin flip, as it is quite possibly the best Marvel movie – and what a way to start Marvel’s Phase 3! This film is clearly led by Captain America/Steve Rogers, his narrow world view, and his convictions – which become infectious but are also naïve. Iron Man/Tony Stark is the hard liner, founded by his own guilt for being the architect of many of the reasons why the world has a problem with superheroes. He’s part savior… part enemy.

This movie provides us with so much more than the incentives of Tony & Steve, but of every hero and why they take the positions they do. This is what makes the Russo Brothers so special – their ability to juggle and offer more than enough screen time and development to all the characters while staying true to their comic nature.

Intros to Spider-Man and Black Panther, and their respective worlds, are handled beautifully – making our mouths water for their upcoming stand-alone films. These two, along with Ant-Man, are the biggest surprises in the movie – with how incredibly exciting and accurate they are portrayed. The big action piece, the airport scene, may be one of the greatest action scenes ever!

Captain America Civil War is everything that you want to have in a blockbuster film. It lives up to the hype with incredible action scenes/fighting and impressive storytelling with great arcs that turn good people and ideas into questionable motivations. It offers stellar acting performances and a fulfilling conclusion that doesn’t pander to the audience but forwards thought.

Go see this Civil War, once for Steve Rogers and then again for Tony Stark, and witness the journey of two superheroes who share a friendship and a mantle that weighs heavily upon the shoulders of these powerful men. A Civil War that has been heating up ever since the first Avengers movie and finally boils over and gives us the film we deserve. Marvel continues to find a way to up the ante in their cinematic universe – keeping the fans emotionally invested in a war that, in the end, we don’t know which side to stand and on.

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 DeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronANT-MAN, and his primer guide to Captain America: Civil War right here on MMT.

GIVEAWAY: advanced screening of DEADPOOL Wednesday, February 10 (Philly, PA)

Deadpool (photo: Marvel)

Happy Friday Fam! If you follow MMT on Facebook or Twitter you knew this giveaway was coming! We’ve obtained 25 admit-two passes to next week’s Philly screening of DEADPOOL starring Ryan Reynolds. Now this is a Marvel movie, so naturally MMT contributor Darryl King has agreed to give you his review of the movie next week – but a few lucky people will get to see the film beforehand!

Want to put your name in the hat? You need to do three things:

  1. Subscribe to this site – if you’re new, you have to click the link in the confirmation email to complete sign-up
  2. Follow our Facebook page here
  3. Send an email to thinkmusicmovies@gmail.com with the subject line “Deadpool” and your name in the body

I will randomly select 25 winners that meet all three requirements and notify no later than Monday evening.

You can watch the trailer for DEADPOOL below, and get additional information about the movie at the official website here.

Good luck family! Thomasena

DEADPOOL

IN THEATERS FEBRUARY 12, 2016

Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

 

 

MMT Quick Look: Marvel’s DEADPOOL

Deadpool (photo: Marvel)

Hey MMT Fam, we’ve been informed that we’ll receive advanced screening passes to giveaway for Marvel Comic’s favorite anti-hero DEADPOOL coming in February 2016. Take a look at the newly released trailers below – but be mindful! The red-band trailer is labeled as extra NSFW, and the green-band is labeled so fresh and so clean! LOL 🙂

Check them out and let us know what you think in the comments!

DEADPOOL synopsis

Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

Action-Adventure

Release: February 12, 2016

Director:  Tim Miller

Screenplay by:  Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese

Producers: Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, Ryan Reynolds

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand

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!

MMT Quick Review of ‘ANT-MAN’ (guest reviewer Darryl King)

ANT-MAN (photo: Marvel)

Happy Thursday MMT Family! Once again, we have the pleasure of gaining insight from friend to MusicMoviesThoughts and Marvel expert Darryl King!  Darryl went to last Monday’s Philly screening of Marvel’s ANT-MAN, which opens tomorrow July 17, and was kind enough to break down the film for us – yes, even those of us who didn’t regularly follow the comics! So according to Darryl, here’s what you need to know about the latest movie in the Marvel franchise,

ANT-MAN… Marvel’s little Big Man!
(No spoiler review)

After much consternation, finally the movie Ant-Man arrives in theatres with much trepidation and anticipation as Marvel closes the book upon its Phase 2 slate of films. Starting with Iron Man 3 and ending with this movie, one could argue that the best of this phase was in the middle (Thor 2, Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy & Avengers 2) but Ant-Man holds its own as the final chapter to one phase and serves well as a bridge to another. Ant-Man as a film is very enjoyable, funny, and much like Jurassic World – the movie provides such a good time at the theatre that you may overlook its flaws. Ant-Man debuts into the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) having to carry and address 4 major issues that the movie does overcome:

1) Why Ant-Man?
2) Why Scott Lang over Hank Pym?
3) Why Paul Rudd?
4) The Edgar Wright factor

Ant-Man makes sense for the MCU because he is perhaps the first superhero that appeals to the common man. If you were to poll Marvel fans about what superhero they want to see on the silver screen, Ant-Man would not have been at the top of the list. Examining the superhero landscape, we find it littered with super aliens from outer-space, mutants, or people transformed and given powers by outrageous circumstances. But the Scott Lang rendition of Ant-Man is just a regular guy – a thief who steals a suit. None of us may not get bitten by a radioactive spider, survive gamma rays, or have billions of dollars to play with to make super toys, but we all can put on a suit that turns us from ordinary to super… no special requirements needed. And at the core of this movie, that’s what it is about… a regular guy who loves his daughter, divorced from his wife but is willing to do anything to love and provide for his girl. Scott Lang is a master thief and it’s this gift, and his love for his daughter, that the original Ant-man/Hank Pym preys upon to recruit Scott to help him stop the evil that is about to be unleashed upon society.

Marvel decides that the Scott Lang origins over the original Ant-Man Hank Pym story probably make sense primarily because of the problems of the MCU. If you were to dissect this movie intently, you would recognize that it really is a carbon copy on the original Iron Man. Both of these movies tell an origin story of a guy who has his life changed over a suit of power. The arc of the film shows how he learns to use said power and then defeats the villain – who just so happens to work at the same company. Now if they had focused on the Hank Pym/Ant Man, this movie would have been exactly the same story as Iron Man 1, because Pym and Tony Stark are very similar in character and back story. Saving the overall story of Hank Pym also makes sense because the hole in the Marvel movie timeline falls between when Captain America freezes in the water and the creation of the Iron Man suit. And while the story of Peggy Carter is interest, it is not enough. Marvel’s superheros that fill that time period currently aren’t owned by Marvel (Fantastic Four, X-men, Sub Mariner) so it stands to reason that Marvel needs stories that can pull it together and the Hank Pym/Ant Man story will be used as a bridge in the timeline without making an origin story or period piece. Scott Lang provides this movie the added twist of the mentor-mentee relationship and since he is a thief, this creates a “heist movie” dynamic that was so wonderfully done in films like Ocean’s 11 or The Italian Job.

That is why the Paul Rudd choice makes sense. To be able to make a superhero movie wrapped around a heist movie requires a delicate vice, and the director Peyton Reed uses humor. The strength of Paul Rudd’s movie career can be summed up as the “thinking man’s” type comedies. No slapstick, vaudevillian, graphic or physical comedy works for superheroes, Marvel has made a living with well-timed dialogue, and it is Paul Rudd’s comedic genius that makes Ant-Man work. This by far is the funniest of the Marvel movies with Michael Pena stealing much of the movie with his well placed role. Rudd sets up the funny moments and pacing of the movie like Jerry Seinfeld in his prime – which helps the audience to overlook another one-dimensional bad guy (Marvel’s Achilles heel), some very convenient plot points, a very favorable ending and some forced tie-ins to the MCU and the next phase of films that this movie really didn’t need.

That’s probably why Edgar Wright left – just like Joss Whedon did after directing Avengers 2 and Ava DuVernay turned down the Black Panther movie. Edgar Wright refused to bow to the overall forced MCU universe themes that the company makes their directors adhere to. For Edgar Wright, Ant-Man was a passion project (working on this film even before there was a MCU Universe). And if the story had been told correctly, Hank Pym and not Tony Stark would have created Ultron and thus a more natural tie in for the Ant-Man character to the other superheroes in the MCU. But with Robert Downey Jr. playing Stark/Iron man so well and iconic, his portrayal basically shrunk (pun intended) the need for a Hank Pym. So then Wright’s focus became the second man who wore the outfit, with a different back story that would lead to so many original ideas yet not seen in the MCU – but the forced ideas and tie-in to the MCU is what we can assume is the reason why a person walks away from a pet project that they loved.

And now that we have gone from Phase 1, which introduced the MCU Universe, and through Phase 2, which centered around the expanding of the universe, the character of Ant-Man successfully passes the baton to a new phase – and perhaps the most important that will define Marvel movies and will decide if we as fans will continue to support them. Overall ANT-MAN is a good movie; as it is not as much a superhero movie as it is a heist/growing into your destiny film. The battles in the film are more mental than physical. The movie is good enough that I just might take some Pym particles, shrink down to size and sneak back in the movies to watch it again!

PS – When you do see it, don’t leave right away – as there are two post-credit scenes that play heavily into Phase 3.

Well MMT Fam, I told y’all Darryl was going to have you properly prepared!  He also wanted to make sure you knew this, “People need to see it in 3D. The effects of Ant-Man going small and enlarging only comes across in 3D, and it is one of the better 3D movies that has been made.”

Alright family, do you feel ready to see the film? You can get additional info at the official ANT-MAN website here, and watch the below trailer. Stop back after you’ve seen the movie and share a comment or two – let Darryl know your thoughts!  By the way, did you notice how he gave all that info without any spoilers? Fabulous!

Until next thought, Thomasena