MMT Quick Review MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE

Hey MMT Fam! I haven’t been to as many kid/family friendly movies this year, since little Miss Jayla had to take a break from attending. But she was back in full effect – and I don’t mean that in a good sense – for MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE, which her mother and I found entertaining but Jayla was in a mood and I can’t fully give the kid’s perspective this quick review.

But there were plenty of people there that I could “audience watch” – especially the adults, many of whom were clearly invested in “My Little Pony” as a hobby and whose excitement surpassed nostalgic memory.

In the film, Ponyville is invaded by a dark army and the Mane 6 – Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rarity – must take a journey outside Equestria where they meet new friends and exciting challenges on a quest to use the magic of friendship to save their home.

“My Little Pony: The Movie” has an all-star voice cast including Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Liev Schreiber, Michael Peña, Sia, Taye Diggs, Uzo Aduba and Zoe Saldana, and features original music and songs performed by Sia – who also voices a character named Songbird Serenade – Diggs, Saldana, Chenoweth and Blunt.

Now I don’t think the story was as tight as the hit film “Trolls” and I felt there was a rush in character introduction – which worked for those who clearly followed Pony cartoons, which I never have. Also, there were many references that I’m sure I missed due to the aforementioned, although I did get a Hasbro “Hungry Hungry Hippos” joke.

But the story became enjoyable and the characters personalities weren’t hard to catch on to once they got going on their journey. I especially loved that “Pinkie Pie,” who I swear needs a sedative or two!

What I most appreciated was how extremely kid-friendly the story is, in a time where adult-themed humor has become a standard in what’s marketed to the young ones, and also the friendship message highlighted throughout.

And the soundtrack is really decent, and hooked me from the start with a flashback to The Go-Go’s “We Got The Beat.”

All in all, I’d recommend this film for kids of all ages, and yes that includes adults. 😉 Just brush up on the “Mane 6” if you want to follow along a little better than I did in the beginning!

Let me know your thoughts family if you’ve seen the film or when you check it out.

Until next thought, Thomasena

 

MMT Recommends THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE with mini review by subscriber Steve Rodriguez

Jay (voiced by KUMAIL NANJIANI), Kai (voiced by MICHAEL PEÑA), Lloyd (voiced by DAVE FRANCO), Nya (voiced by ABBI JACOBSON), Cole (voiced by FRED ARMISEN) and Zane (voiced by ZACH WOODS) in the new animated adventure “THE LEGO® NINJAGO® MOVIE,” from Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Animation Group, in association with LEGO System A/S, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

There are some films that you hate to miss in theaters, and for me THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE is definitely one of them! Unfortunately, I missed the screenings for this film, but was excited that MMT had the opportunity to give out family four packs so a few of our subscribers could enjoy!

Released on Friday, September 22, “The Lego Ninjago Movie” is the next film in the highly successful Lego movie franchise – following 2014’s “The Lego Movie” and this year’s “The Lego Batman Movie.”

In the film, the battle for NINJAGO City calls to action young Master Builder Lloyd, aka the Green Ninja, along with his friends, who are all secret ninja warriors. Led by Master Wu, as wise-cracking as he is wise, they must defeat evil warlord Garmadon, The Worst Guy Ever, who also happens to be Lloyd’s dad. Pitting mech against mech and father against son, the epic showdown will test this fierce but undisciplined team of modern-day ninjas, who must learn to check their egos and pull together to unleash their inner power.

MMT contest winner/subscriber, and creator of THE NO NOTES SHOW, LLC, Steve Rodriguez had this to say about the movie,

“The Lego Ninjago Movie has a wonderful story line as it depicts a family separated from each other, and the journey of reunification, while centering on five friends – who comprise a secret Ninja force to defend NINJAGO from the evil forces of Warlord Garmadon.

I loved the storyline because it identifies and speaks to the importance of family unity, values and bonding. I also enjoyed the individual characters created. Each of the ninjas displayed the value of true friendship, and showed how circumstances do not define us but we are defined by our character.

The film presented the wonderful message that even though wrong choices are made in the life, it is never too late to change and make things right. There is nothing more powerful than the bond love that holds a family together. I thoroughly enjoyed the messages relayed and felt it was very enjoyable to watch.”

And if you need any more convincing to check the film out, unlike myself, listen to this cool audio (courtesy of Warner Bros.) featuring cast members Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Fred Armisen, Abbi Jacobson, Olivia Munn, Kumali Nanjiani, Michael Pena, Zach Woods, and Jackie Chan, producers Dan Lin and Chris McKay and director Charlie Bean sharing thoughts on the film, behind the scenes antics and answering audience questions :

I would love to hear from other MMT winners that saw the film! Leave some comments if you’ve checked it out. 🙂

Until next thought, Thomasena

MMT Quick Review: COLLATERAL BEAUTY

Collateral Beauty

I felt compelled to write about “Collateral Beauty,” which I screened last week, after the unfortunate slamming it’s taken in the critics’ circle. I say unfortunate because, unlike most of the reviews I’ve read – many critical of both actors and film- I don’t believe it is deserving of the almost hate I witnessed. In fact, Rotten Tomatoes and CinemaScore tell quite the story of what to expect from this film – with the former showing 14% rotten, but 68% popular with audience, and the latter showing an A- cinema score.

My take on the film? From the trailer, the audience knows that we are going to watch a sappy film about a successful businessman (Will Smith) who suffers the ultimate tragedy for a parent – the loss of a child – goes into major depression and has subsequent experiences with abstract concepts to whom he has written letters – Love, Time, and Death played by Oscar-nominated Keira Knightley, actor/singer Jacob Latimore (with a very strong performance) and Oscar-winner Dame Helen Mirren. And I mean, when have you not enjoyed watching Mirren on screen?

Smith has great moments in this, which to me suffered more from a heavy-handed emotional approach/screenplay that could have worked if not overdone. In the film, the audience finds we are dealing not only with Smith character’s (Howard) setback, but ultimately (without fully spoiling) major issues with his partners/colleagues played by Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, and Michael Pena. There’s a lot to take in, and at some points it felt a bit lengthy but, I can’t front, I was invested in Howard’s recovery and the lessons to be learned by his colleagues – who tried to pull a fast one, only to have a few things about themselves revealed.

And the twist that so many critics are blasting? I actually thought that was the best thing! I was so invested in what I thought was the major plot point, and the expected pivotal moment, I completely misread the clues the film was giving throughout.

And I would be remiss not to mention Naomie Harris, who plays a counselor (Madeleine) in a parent survivors’ group that attempts to help Howard along his journey. While watching the film I remember thinking, “Boy this counselor is pushy,” as she follows Smith’s character to the street during an early meeting. But all, for me surprisingly, became clearer with the reveal.

In sum, I wouldn’t make plans to watch this movie every holiday, or put on the repeat list, but I am not mad that I watched it either – and I certainly don’t believe it is horrible. With moderate to good performances throughout and a “girl, weren’t you paying attention” twist, “Collateral Beauty” appears to suffer as “collateral damage” from its overdone screenplay. Like the title implies, there is meaning and beauty in suffering…see what I did there ( 😛 ).

Well MMT Fam, if you get out to see this one I would certainly like to hear your thoughts.

Until next thought, Thomasena

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

Looking for Something to do This Weekend? September 2012 Movie Picks

Hey there Music Movie Lovers!  Happy first day of Fall!  I know, I’ve slipped this past month (only two posts).  I have been extremely busy with some new projects, but not too busy to check out a few films and catch up on sharing some thoughts :).  So, if you’re in need of a few recommendations, the following are are my picks for the month of September.

First up is the movie Unconditional, which stars Michael Ealy (BarbershopThink Like a ManFor Colored Girls)  and Lynn Collins (X-Men Origins: WolverineJohn Carter).  Now if you follow this blog, you know I wrote about this last month and it came with a HIGH recommendation (see August 27th post).  I want to urge everyone to get out and support this movie THIS WEEKEND!  With respect to box office numbers, it is extremely important to support independent films on their opening weekends.

Unconditional displays fine acting performances not just from its leads but the supporting cast has a few stellar players; including the very talented Cedric Pendleton (he plays Anthony and wait…oh, just go watch and see!), and child actors Kwesi Boakye (remember the oppositional nephew from I Can Do Bad All By Myself?) and in her first movie role Gabriella Phillips (pictured above).  I also enjoyed the locales in which the movie was filmed, especially the home of Lynn Collins’ character Sam.  With its message of faith, redemption, and unconditional love, this movie is one for the video collection.  I have been inspired since viewing, and can’t wait for you to experience the same.  Make sure you check out the film’s website at http://unconditionalthemovie.com/ to get theater times and learn more about the ACT campaign.

Next up is a movie from David Ayer, writer of the movie Training Day, called End Of Watch starring Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as young LAPD officers in South Central LA.  Now, admittedly, it may seem like I’m recommending day and night as End Of Watch is a gritty, hold on to the edge of your seat, ride along shotgun with the police drama.  I must say, I did get a little weary of the camera work as the officers were video documenting their beat, and I swear one gang member’s entire vocabulary consisted of the f-word only. However, I did enjoy the realism of the film and both Gyllenhaal and Pena gave remarkable portrayals of their respective characters.  End of Watch is not for the faint of heart, so if you are not the special victims unit, gang violence or forensic type this movie is probably not for you.  For more info on the film, and to view the movie trailer, you can go to http://www.endofwatchthefilm.com/.

Alright, that’s it for me Music Movie Lovers.  Wait, question: what music are you listening to right now?  I know one of my faves, Le’Andria Johnson has a new CD out.  I haven’t heard it yet, have you?  What else are you listening to, what’s in the car, on the Ipod?  Get back to me and share your thoughts below if you go see either of the films 🙂

Until next thought family, Thomasena