REVIEW: “MORGAN” (2016) 20th Century Fox ~ Q & A – Ridley Scott/Kate Mara/Luke Scott/Anya Taylor-Joy

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Realizing I’d completely forgotten the review embargo for this upcoming film was off as of 9pm PST on Monday, and here it is Wednesday, is sort of how I’m guessing filmgoers will feel after seeing it. They will just forget. Titling off the movie, we meet “Morgan” (Anya Taylor-Joy), an ‘It’ as we are not allowed to call human nor female, though both the forms are made clear to us. It/Morgan was made in a lab from synthetic DNA so as not to confuse you, we learn it’s the third in a line of synthetic species in an old ramshackle plantation-type home in the middle of nowheres-ville.

We get the basic introduction of the characters, aka the people who have created and work with Morgan. Dr. Simon Ziegler (Toby Jones) and Dr. Lui Cheng (Michelle Yeoh) being the main ‘creators’. Dr. Amy Menser (Rose Leslie), Dr. Brenda Finch (Vinette Robinson), Dr. Darren Finch (Chris Sullivan), Ted Brenner (Michael Yare) are all kind of caregivers to her. Throw in the very unnecessary character of handsome personal chef/nutrionist Skip Vronsky (Boyd Holbrook) to round it all up at the laboratory and all is complete. Well except for Lee Weathers (Kate Mara), the risk-management corporate consultant who is sent down to the remote, top-secret location, where she is to investigate and evaluate a terrifying accident or as Dr. Alan Shapiro (Paul Giamatti), the psychologist sent to evaluate her notes, the ‘issues’ that have occured between Morgan & Dr. Kathy Grieff (Jennifer Jason Lee) who is literally on the screen for a total of about 1 min 30sec.
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We never find out why Morgan turns into a killing machine at age 5 in synthetic years, teenager in human years. Or why she can suddenly drive a car or shoot a gun. There is no rhyme or reason to any of it. The only character you might get somewhat vested in is Amy because she is really the only one you get some background on to relate to. Possibly some will relate to Mara’s character as there are a lot of over the top fight scenes between her & Morgan. But you get no feel in general for this film. There is a supposed surprise shock ending which will probably surprise absolutely no one as it’s plain to see what it is way before hand.

First-time film director Luke Scott, son of Ridley Scott, the producer here this time, really needed to have more under his belt and develop this story much more. I think he was trying to show flares of Alien, ExMachina of Firestarter with no success in doing so.

Grade: D+

Q & A – Ridley Scott- Producer; Luke Scott-Director; Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy

With possibly the worst moderator I’ve ever experienced from Rotten Tomatoes, asking some of the most ridiculous questions. Sample: she had Ridley Scott to ask questions to, one of the most iconic Film/TV people of our times, and it took her 8 minutes to ask a first question to him. When she did, she actually used the word ‘dope’ to Ridley Scott, as in “yeah that scene was really dope” and no, she was not a 20-something. Another sample: Asking Kate Mara about a scene when her character throws a chair against a unbreakable window enclosure, does she see that also as possibly being the ‘new fitness craze in L.A.” *sigh – we barely made it through this.

The actresses were both fun and noted how they had to remain separated mostly not only from each other, but Kate noted she also remained a bit detached from all because of what her character had to be. Luke Scott went on the explain how he had directed a short film called “Loom” and FOX then asked him to make more of a feature film take on it. It’s also always wonderful to hear Ridley, when the moderator gave him a chance to speak, give pointers and tell stories about some of his projects. All in all, I do wish this film had been better because I have and do, so enjoy almost all of Ridley’s projects.

Media Review Screening: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Nationwide Release: Friday, September 2, 2016

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Review: “THE MARTIAN” (2015) 20th Century Fox

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I’ve always had mixed feelings about Director Ridley Scott and his films. Some are fantastic and some..are not. Here he is back once again to exploring a familiar territory – space.

“THE MARTIAN” truly strikes cinematic gold here with what could be looked as a quasi-instruction manual on how to survive surefire death on Mars. Though this adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel (which I haven’t yet read) is the best thing Scott has given us in quite some time, he still goes where others have gone before – only this time, with a perky, life-affirming attitude.

The concept is catchy and simple: While on a mission on Mars, a major storm hits the crew of the Ares III facility causing them to abort and head for their escape rocket. As Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain), cyber-whiz Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), flight surgeon Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan), pilot Rick Martinez (Michael Pena) and chemist Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie) head out into the vicious winds of Mars where botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit by debris and disappears. The others think he’s dead and leave without him. But guess what?! He’s alive! the_martian_2
And in order to survive he must “science the shit” out of the remaining supplies in a lab that was created to last only 31 days. His wit, scientific know-how and vlogs are what sustain him until the people at NASA – including NASA director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), mission director Dr. Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and flight director Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) – can figure out how to save him. Add in the back ground techies Mindy Park (Mackenzie Davis) & Rich Purnell (Donald Glover) who literally come up with the live-saving idea that make it possible to go back and get their man!! All the while they make this trip to Mars almost scenic as you can almost feel the atmosphere while watching.
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There are shifts here between humor, heart and suspense which are all handled quite well. Plus the soundtrack..ohhh the soundtrack… with it’s precise way that it works in the disco from the made-fun-of playlist of Lewis’ – with just a sampling is “Waterloo”
(ABBA) “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (Thelma Houston) and Vicki Sue Robinson’s “Turn The Beat Around” – is not only truly ingenious but yes, fabulous as well. It hits all the notes at just the right moment in Watney’s journey, giving us a look into his in-the-moment feelings in a perfectly stated way.

While this film is almost all Matt Damon, his very adequate supporting cast really gives the film a huge boost..along with the fact that it engages us intellectually, but not over the top as they make it all relatable and with a dose of humour I just loved. So it makes it hard to even list the one small unfortunate thing about THE MARTIAN as it’s good..really good.. it does stop just one step short of being electrifying. And in this case..that’s still not a bad thing.

Grade: B

Screening: Monday, September 21, 2015 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Nationwide Release: Friday, October 2, 2015

REVIEW: “FANTASTIC FOUR” (2015) 20th Century Fox

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With so many superhero/comic books films coming out over past decade at this point you really need to ‘dress to impress’ if you’re going to put one out there. With this being a well known fact – the question looming on most everyone’s mind regarding this film:
‘Is Fantastic Four..well..Fantastic?’
With only a few ups and many downs, the answer sadly is no. How you ask can this happen? Well oddly enough it’s the sheer lack of an exciting story.

We open on brilliant child scientist Reed Richards, (Miles Teller) who is on the verge of discovering how to both transport matter to another dimension and then bring it back though they don’t know where it goes or comes back from. Jump to a few years later at his high school science fair and he and the project while being dis-qualified from the fair are being recruited by Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey).
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With this Reed is given the resources and help by Storm’s children, the brother & sister team of Sue Storm (Kate Mara) and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) along with Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), to finish what he started all those years ago in his garage. When they finally crack inter-dimensional travel, Reed invites his childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) to travel to the other dimension/world along with him and the team. An accident causes their physical form to drastically change. Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben must learn to harness and use their powers and work as a team to stop Von Doom who is now hell bent on destroying Earth.
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You would think this could all be exciting right? Well it’s actually a rather dull and plodding affair which was surprising as with most of the cast here notably Teller, Jordan, Bell and especially Toby Kebbell are all actors who have had some damned notable roles in their perspective careers.
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While I could have used more Von Doom, it probably still wouldn’t have saved this lifeless movie as the whole storyline is just weak with a finale that will impress no one. I expected so much more.

Grade: D+
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Opens Nationwide: Friday, August 7, 2015