Film Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse is a decent conclusion to the superhero sequel trilogy. Bryan Singer’s film is a little overlong, but entertains nevertheless.

In the 1980s, Professor Xavier’s school has more students, and there is a relative peace after the mutant activity in the 1960s. When an ancient mutant is resurrected, the X-Men must reform to defeat this new threat…

After the success of X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, there was a fear that X-Men: Apocalypse may go the same way as the previous trilogy’s third film (X-Men: The Last Stand). Thankfully, director, producer and co-writer Bryan Singer eschews this, delivering an entertaining superhero blockbuster that neatly completes the series.

X-Men: Apocalypse focuses on the emergence of the first mutant, and the impact this has on Charles Xavier’s band of X-Men. The film has a tricky job to do; the narrative must focus on fighting this threat whilst also plugging the gaps to lead the film on to the original trilogy. For the most part, X-Men: Apocalypse does a decent job. The protagonists are given a colossal antagonist, and the film introduces characters that have dominant roles in the original franchise. Nonetheless, a sharper pace would have been welcome. At almost two and a half hours, there are minor cuts that could have been made to help the film continue its momentum.

X-Men: Apocalypse sees well-known characters from the franchise in a 1980s world. There are lots of pop culture reference, and the soundtrack is great in setting the scene. A sequence involving Quicksilver is a particular highlight. The introduction of relationships in the younger selves of famous characters is well executed, and more of a draw than the antagonist. Apocalypse himself functions as a reason for the X-Men to become re-engaged; there is not much to their deadly nemesis in terms of rationale.

James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence reprise their roles well. Evan Peters is a joy to watch as Quicksilver, whilst Sophie Turner is decent as a young Jean Grey. Special effects are abundant, but convincing overall. Certain sequences lend themselves to the 3D format.

X-Men: Apocalypse is not a superhero classic, but wraps up the series of prequels effectively. The film is enjoyable, if not innovative.

Film Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past

With Bryan Singer back at the helm of the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a thoroughly entertaining blockbuster.

With a dangerous and depressing future in store for both mutants and humans, Professor Xavier and the X-Men send Wolverine back to the past in order to prevent a catastrophic event that will shape the future…

X-Men: Days of Future Past is an accomplished superhero movie that works on the strengths of its predecessor X-Men: First Class, as well as the earlier X-Men films. The narrative takes a little while to get going, but the film does engage once it gets going. There are a couple of occasions when the pace slackens, but the film quickly recovers. When it is in full swing, X-Men: Days of Future Past entertains immensely, with a more pensive angle than viewers may expect.

Action sequences in X-Men: Days of Future Past work well. Bryan Singer’s direction is adept here. These scenes are effective because they are used sparingly; the film does not jump from set piece to set piece. Nevertheless, that is not to say that there are not a few fantastically executed sequences.

X-Men: Days of Future Past does rely on character development to embellish its plot. As such, the film does require its audience to have a rudimentary knowledge of the characters. Flipping between the time periods heightens tension and gives a good idea of what exactly is at stake. The screenplay is a highlight, with a number of characters having significant role to play. The humour is welcome.

Special effects in X-Men: Days of Future Past are great. The level of detail is superb. The score is also decent. James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence do well reprising their roles, whilst Hugh Jackman embodies his most famous character. Evan Peters offers a good turn also.

Fans of X-Men: First Class will not be disappointed. A finely crafted addition to the franchise.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of cinematic delights, including the last Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer, the latest X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer, Maleficent, Noah and more!

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Above is the final The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer. Spider-Man is basically fighting everyone. Everyone. He really needs his Amazing Friends. Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane De Haan and Jamie Foxx, The Amazing Spider-man 2 hits UK screens on 18th April 2014.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Here is the latest trailer for sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past. The film features characters from the original X-Men series as well as the younger versions from X-Men: First Class, taking place over two time periods. X-Men: Days of Future Past is released in the UK on 22nd May 2014.

Maleficent

The latest trailer for Maleficent suggests the film will be much more action packed than the standard fairy tale. Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent looks deliciously wicked, yet the trailer indicates that the film will show another side to the iconic character. Maleficent is released in UK cinemas on 30th May 2014.

Noah

I’m sure there are more than two of some of these animals in the latest clip from Noah. Just how big is this ark going to be to fit them all in, with sufficient provisions so they don’t start eating each other? I guess we will find out when Noah hits UK screens on 4th April 2014.

Pioneer

Well this looks tense and interesting. Based on true events, Pioneer is the story of a team of divers going to lay a pipeline in the North Sea. Reportedly due for a Hollywood remakePioneer is released in UK cinemas on 11th April 2014.

Snoopy and Charlie Bown: A Peanuts Movie

With Postman Pat and Paddington Bear getting big-screen features, it is not really a surprise that Snoopy is following suit. This teaser does not reveal too, much other than Snoopy is as cheeky as ever. Snoopy and Charlie Brown: A Peanuts Movie is due for release in 2015.

The Maze Runner

THe latest film to be based on a best-selling young adult movel that I haven’t read, The Maze Runner is an action thriller set in a dystopian world. I like the look of the maze in this film, but with my sense of direction I wouldn’t last too long. Starring Dylan O’Brien and Will Poulter, The Maze Runner is out in UK cinemas on 24th October 2014.

Rio 2

‘It’s a Jungle Out Here’ is one of the songs from the upcoming Rio 2. The animated sequel sees the return of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann and Jamie Foxx. Rio 2 hits UK screens on 4th April 2014.

Film Review: X-Men: First Class

After X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, there did not seem to be much life left in the X-Men franchise. X-Men: First Class has changed that; it is an unexpectedly good prequel that should do great business at the box office.

In 1944, two young boys with very different backgrounds discover that they have special powers. Years later (in the 1960s), the two meet as adults after the CIA discovers the presence of mutants among the human population. Charles Xavier wants to find other mutants in order to train and help them, but Erik Lehnsherr has his mind set on revenge…

Continuing with the superhero theme after last year’s Kick-Ass, director Matthew Vaughn steers X-Men: First Class with some aplomb. It is tricky to keep a prequel engaging, as the audience is all too aware of what is to come. Vaughn does an excellent job of keeping the audience entertained throughout.

The writing team adds sufficient humour to the film, balancing more dramatic scenes with lighter moments in others. The brief cameos are inspired; a nod to those familiar with the X-Men franchise. The inclusion and omission of characters strikes the right balance. Familiar characters anchor the film; it is after all the back story of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. However, the screenwriters are wise not to saturate the film with too many well-known characters, choosing instead to introduce a young group that would mostly be familiar to fans of the comics.

Set in the 1960s, X-Men: First Class links the fantasy aspects present with real-life events. This is a masterstroke, as it secures the film firmly in the real world, despite the fantastical forces that appear. The film creates an imagined history from real events, twisting the Cuban missile crisis so that it included the mutants. Throughout the film, references are made to this period and these events; the group are shown watching Kennedy on a black and white television set, for example.

Performances are solid all round, but it is Michael Fassbender who steals the show as Erik. Playing a character so identified with another actor seems like a difficult task, but Fassbender inhabits the role, bringing great presence to the film. James McAvoy is good as Charles, while Rose Byrne is very believable as Moira.

The art direction of X-Men: First Class is great, as is the sound. The only gripes with the film are very minor. The film slackens in momentum once or twice, but recovers quickly. Similarly there are one or two artificial-looking CGI effects, but overall the film is visually pleasing.

X-Men: First Class is the best blockbuster of the year so far. It has set a bar that the upcoming summer blockbusters will have to match.