Archive for May, 2016

Movie Review – X-Men: Apocalypse

May 27, 2016

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As the ninth entry into the X-Men film franchise, and the fourth directed by Bryan Singer, it’s impressive that X-Men: Apocalypse can still feel fresh and tell a new story worth telling. That’s not to say it’s without its faults, but overall, Apocalypse gives the ‘First Class’ trilogy a satisfying conclusion. Minor spoilers may follow, but I won’t give anything away that you couldn’t reasonably assume from the trailers.

Let’s start with the negatives. As with almost all comic book movies, the X-Men films being no exception, there’s just too many characters. I appreciate that the writers know their source material and want to include as many fan-favorites into their movies. But inevitably, some characters are given way too much importance with absolutely no context or development. Psylocke (Olivia Munn) is far and away the worst offender. With a high-profile casting choice and a constant presence in all of the film’s marketing, it’s incredibly disappointing that she’s relegated to a completely forgettable henchman. Or rather, it’s incredibly disappointing that a forgettable henchmen was over-hyped and miscast with Olivia Munn.

Speaking of poor use of high-profile casting, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is about as bland as comic book villains come. Now Isaac has proven himself as a great actor. Despite his endless charm, he can totally pull off creepy and manipulative (see Ex Machina) as well as selfishly jerky (see Inside Llewyn Davis). Unfortunately, he’s never given a chance to do anything memorable as Apocalypse, and winds up as nothing more than a run-of-the-mill angry purple guy who yells a lot. Which I swear I just saw somewhere…

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And lastly, how Professor X (James McAvoy) loses his hair is really lame. So this might sound nit-picky, but Charles Xavier’s bald head is iconic. First Class even makes a joke about how he doesn’t want to shave off his hair. So for a movie that’s supposed to help show how McAvoy turns into Patrick Stewart, the hair thing could have actually been a pretty funny, if not compelling moment. Instead, it’s a huge missed opportunity.

With that, there’s still plenty to like about this movie. First is just how well it handles the ever-growing franchise universe that it fits into. Throwbacks to earlier movies, especially those that take place in this story’s future, are well thought out.

The obligatory Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) cameo works well because it’s just that–a cameo. Days of Future Past was a great movie, but changing the story to feature more Wolverine only took away from the great Professor X/Magneto story the First Class trilogy set out to tell. Though Wolverine’s appearance is more significant than it was in First Class, it doesn’t distract from the real story that’s being told. And it’s just fun.

Speaking of fun, Quicksilver (Evan Peters) returns with another wonderfully choreographed and over-the-top slow motion scene. The prison escape in Future Past was maybe its best sequence, and we’re given a worthy follow-up here. It’s more or less used for comic relief this time, but it’s just long enough to be enjoyable without bogging down the story.

But the absolute best part of this movie is Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Although my biggest complaints with the movie are with its new villains, they’re not what drive the main conflict of the story. The most compelling conflict in the film–or throughout the whole First Class trilogy for that matter–is with Magneto’s struggle to deal with all the loss he’s faced. Without giving anything away, Apocalypse shows us what’s probably the most heartbreaking thing we’ve seen happen to Magneto yet. And yeah, I do remember that we’ve already seen him taken away from his family in a Nazi concentration camp and seen him watch his mother get murdered by Kevin Bacon. I’m not saying what he goes through in this movie is necessarily more tragic than those events, but the audience is given just the right amount of exposition to really sympathize with him.

I honestly consider Magneto to be the greatest comic book villain of all-time. And even those who don’t think so can’t deny that he’s right up there with the likes of the Joker or Lex Luthor. And the reason is because he’s (usually) fighting for a wholly justifiable cause. What makes him a bad guy are just the methods he uses, but (usually) not his motives. Fassbender, just like Ian McKellan before him, brings so much genuineness to the character that you almost can’t help but root for him.

X-Men: Apocalypse is certainly not a starting point for anyone just getting into the X-Men film franchise, but for those of us who have been with it since the beginning, it’s a more than worthy entry into the series and a satisfying conclusion to the First Class trilogy.

My rating: ★★★★☆

2016 Summer Movie Pool

May 24, 2016

**UPDATED**

Congrats to Dave C. for winning the 2016 Summer Movie Pool! Check back around April for the 2017 entry form!

Original post:

Time for our annual Summer Movie Pool! If you’re interested in playing, just fill out the embedded form below!


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