MMT Quick Review: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

Twentieth Century Fox’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

One definition of war, as defined by Merriam Webster, is a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end. In “War for the Planet of the Apes,” the final film in the fantastically rebooted Planet of the Apes trilogy, the remaining intelligent ape community must engage in the battle of all battles to obtain the particular end they’ve been fighting for three movies – freedom – while hero and leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) faces his toughest conflict and confronts his most villainous enemy to date.

In this third movie, we come to learn that the apes are still being hunted by humans for destruction, and the fatal disease strain – created by humans to their detriment, however immune to apes – that has wiped out much of humanity has evolved to a contagious disease that renders anyone who contracts “speechless” – one of the first tie-ins to the original 1968 Planet of the Apes film.

After a night raid on the ape hideaway leads to unfortunate and unexpected loss, Caesar heads out on a solo campaign to kill the man responsible, The Colonel played with mischievous delight by the dynamic Woody Harrelson – who seems to revel in portraying characters that audiences love to dislike and/or hate.

Believing that he’s headed on a suicide mission, and unable to let him stand alone, Caesar is joined by faithful friends Maurice, Luca and Rocket. Along their journey, they encounter a girl – whom Maurice comes to name Nova, another tie-in to the original – who unknowingly becomes a pivotal part in the apes’ endeavors.

Unlike many third films in trilogies, “War for the Planet of the Apes” displays a solid narrative, that doesn’t lose focus of the main storyline while bringing it to a satisfying, albeit bittersweet, conclusion. It also cleverly allows additional films to be created if the studio so chooses, by arcing back into the 1968 story.

And our hero Caesar, being the “promoter of peace”for much of the franchise, has his limits tested and his internal conflict is thoroughly explored – including imaginings of anti-hero and fallen ape Koba (Toby Kebbell).

At times, I felt some of the story was a little long, but I honestly can’t say that there is anything that needed to be removed and it all worked towards the good of the narrative. Okay, honestly the character Bad Ape was a little too ditzy for my taste, but he definitely works as comic relief in what is a much darker film than the prior two.

So don’t be deceived, this movie is in fact “war,” and if battle scenes, imprisonment, and conflict are not your cup of tea this film may not be for you. However, if you enjoyed their “rise” in the first film, and reveled in the “dawn” of their planet in the second, then this final ape film – and the culmination of their journey to live free, which ultimately means dominating the planet – will definitely please.

I’m going to stop there, because I have nothing but spoilers left, but anyone who follows me on Instagram – and saw how Darryl and I left this press screening – has a hint of what’s to come! #ApesTogetherStrong #TeamCaesar

Until next thought, Thomasena

 

 

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY: THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN advanced screening on Thursday, November 10 (Philly, PA)

The Edge of Seventeen

Hey MMT Fam! We’re giving away 25 admit-two passes to next week’s Philadelphia screening of THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN – which is being compared to teen angst classics such as “Sixteen Candles” and “Juno.” The screening will be held next Thursday, November 10 in Center City.

To put your name in the hat, you must be subscribed to this site and send an email to contests@musicmoviesthoughts.com with your full name in the body and the subject line “Seventeen.” Winners will be selected at random and notified by Wednesday, November 9.

You can read the synopsis and watch the trailer below, and get additional info the the official website here. THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN opens in theaters on November 18.

Good luck!

THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN synopsis

Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) and Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) are inseparable best friends attempting to navigate high school together… until Nadine’s older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) and Krista begin dating. With her view of the world rocked, Nadine is forced to see the people in her life – including her well-meaning but distracted mother (Kyra Sedgwick), and unlikely mentor and History teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) – with fresh eyes and new appreciation that people—and life—are more complicated than she thought.

GIVEAWAY: advanced screening of TRIPLE 9 Tuesday, February 23 (Philly, PA)

Triple 9 (Open Road Films)

So, it’s a giveaway double-header this weekend family! In addition to “Eddie the Eagle” we’re giving away passes for the highly anticipated thriller TRIPLE 9 – which features an all-star cast that includes Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet.

The film follows a group of criminals, and corrupt cops who find themselves a serious bind – the Russian mafia is blackmailing them, and the only way to deal with them is to perform what is believed to be an extremely challenging heist. Impossible as it may seem, they eventually hatch a plan: on one side of town, half of the crew will plan the murder of a rookie cop named Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) and with the rest of the force distracted by a 999 call (“officer down”) the corrupt cops will pull off the job.

Sounds like your cup of tea, and want to try your luck at an admit-two pass? Click here to get to the gofobo landing and follow the “get my passes” prompt. All passes, like theater seating, are not guaranteed and are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Check out the red-band trailer for TRIPLE 9 below and get additional info at the official website here.

Good luck family! 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

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