Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming movie posterSynopsis
Two months after helping Iron Man in Berlin, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) tries to balance his life as a high school student and fighting crime as the masked hero Spider-Man. When he learns that the Vulture (Michael Keaton) has been stealing alien technology and re-purposing them into weapons and selling them to criminals, he tries to stop the Vulture’s operation despite his mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) telling him to let it go.

Review
Spider-Man is one of my all-time favorite characters. So of course, I am always excited to see a movie with him so I don’t exactly feel the over-saturation of the character that others might be feeling. But with that said, how does Spider-Man: Homecoming compare to the other iterations of Peter Parker we have seen since 2002? Well I’d say pretty damn good!

Each actor who has donned the red and blue tights have brought a different flavor to the character. Toby Maguire set the tone of what to expect from an on-screen Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield brought a little more humor to the character, and now it’s Tom Holland’s turn to bring his own take on the character. Holland’s Peter / Spider-Man feels like the best of both Maguire’s and Garfield’s versions, mixed with his own unique elements. His Peter is very innocent and excitable. He gets awestruck when he sees the other super humans, despite being one himself. He’s awkward around girls and gets frustrated for being treated like a kid. This might be the most accurate portrayal of Peter that has graced the silver screen yet.

As great as Holland was as Spider-Man, Michael Keaton was equally as great as The Vulture. Keaton is sinister without feeling melodramatic, yet he still has a family-man side to him. When he first confronts Peter face-to-face, his demeanor switches like that (imagine me snapping my fingers) and it’s amazing to see Keaton make that switch so seemingly effortless. His Vulture is a much more grounded villain in terms of his ambitions than other villains from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). He just wants to make money, plain and simple. Other than maybe Darren Cross in Ant-Man, most villains in the MCU have world-dominating plans. But not, here. The Vulture is much more street-level, which fits very well into the roots of the character, both the Vulture as well as Spider-Man.

I was really excited to see how many elements from the comics were brought into the film. For example, the shot where he holding the boat together with his webs has been done many times in many forms of media throughout Spider-Man’s history. Another iconic moment is when Peter is buried under rubble and has to use all of his strength to lift it up, which is taken straight from The Amazing Spider-Man issue 33. It’s the small things, too. Like running out of web fluid and changing his web cartridges mid-fight, leaving his clothes webbed against a wall when he suits up, or going to great lengths to hide his secret identity, even from his friends and family. There are many more but my point is it feels like there was more attention spent bringing more of the little things from the comics into the movie.

For me, and I’m sure many other Spider-Man fans, one of Spider-Man’s greatest draws in the comics is that, for the most part, it is very lighthearted. Every now and there may be a darker story or narrative, depending on the writer, but it usually doesn’t last long before the book is back to its bright, cheerful self. Spider-Man: Homecoming took inspiration from this and kept its story bright and cheerful, too. There were scenes were the movie became became more serious but never a point that I would call β€œdark.” Soon after these moments, the film would shift back to the fun, bouncy story.

There wasn’t much that I can complain about it this film but I did find it a little disappointing that his suit is decked out with all of the bells and whistles of Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. It feels too good right now. I understand that it was Tony who created Peter’s suit but Peter is smart and ingenuitive and it would be cool to see him create much of that on his own at his own pace. The portion of the film when Peter was in his original homemade costume was cool because it showed he can operate on just his powers alone. Maybe this is small but I think he should have gradually gotten there amongst his movies rather than get it right off the bat.

Speaking of his powers, I was bummed that Spider-Man’s spider-sense wasn’t more prominent. His spider-sense is one of his most unique skills and it is hardly on display, at least not in an obvious way. If they make it more apparent in future films, I can see viewers who are not that familiar with the character thinking this is a feature of his suit and not part of his inherent power set.

As a long-time fan of the character, it was strange to see much of Spider-Man’s supporting cast changed in some way. MJ has a very different personality than her comic counterpart, Gwen was nowhere to be found, and Liz Allen isn’t one of Peter’s love interests. The best friend role is fulfilled by Ned Leeds instead of Harry Osborn, who is traditionally Liz’s love interest and also happens to be missing. Adrian Toomes is more like Norman Osborn, Harry’s father, than Adrian Toomes and Flash Thompson is more of a rich prick instead of a stereotypical sports jock. I have another more to say about why I don’t like this version of Flash very much but I should wrap this review up soon. In any case, there is a lot of character changes to process for die hard Spidey fans such as myself.

I thought Spider-Man: Homecoming was GREAT πŸ˜€ My pal Curt said this feels like Spider-Man: Year One rather than Spider-Man: The Beginning, which is a great way to describe this film. We don’t get another version of Peter learning with great power comes great responsibility. Instead, we get a movie where he is already embraced his role, where is is learning his place in a world already filled with superheroes rather than how his powers work or how he should use them. There have been aspects from the previous iterations of Spider-Man I have enjoyed but Spider-Man: Homecoming finally gives the most accurate and consistent version of the character yet. And personally, I cannot be happier.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jon Watts – Director / Story
Jonathan Goldstein – Screenplay / Story
John Francis Daley – Screenplay / Story
Christopher Ford – Screenplay
Chris McKenna – Screenplay
Erik Sommers – Screenplay
Michael Giacchino – Composer

Tom Holland – Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Jacob Batalon – Ned Leeds
Laura Harrier – Liz Allen
Zendaya – Michelle
Tony Revolori – Flash Thompson
Marisa Tomei – May Parker
Robert Downey, Jr. – Tony Stark / Iron Man
Jon Favreau – Happy Hogan
Michael Keaton – Adrian Toomes / Vulture
Bokeem Woodbine – Herman Schultz / Shocker #2
Michael Chernus – Phineas Mason / The Tinkerer
Michael Mando – Mac Gargon
Donald Glover – Aaron Davis

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Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman movie posterSynopsis
Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) and the Amazons live in isolation from the rest of the world on the island of Themyscira, preparing for the return of Ares, the god of war. When Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American pilot and spy, crashes onto the island and tells of a β€œwar to end all wars” in the outside world, Diana, convinced Ares is behind the conflict, leaves her home with Trevor to stop Ares and end the war.

Review
A Wonder Woman film has been a long time coming. Of DC’s β€œtrinity” (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) she is the only character to not receive her own live-action film. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is easily the highlight of the movie. So how does she do starring front and center in her own film? Well, I can happily say Wonder Woman is the movie the fans have been waiting for in her 75+ year history.

Warner Bros. made an absolutely great casting choice with Gal Gadot. She captures every aspect about the character perfectly. She can be soft and gentle in one scene, like when she was excited to see a baby, or warm and caring in another, like when she had her moments with her team, then she can be strong and tough in the next scene, like when she single-handedly enters No Man’s Land. Gadot gave Diana a sense naivety and wonder about about the world but still felt powerful. I could go on but I’d feel like I was repeating myself. In short, she was positively wonderful.

As great as Gadot was as the titular character, that’s not even my favorite part. I think what I liked best about Wonder Woman was that it actually had a sense of adventure. Also, it wasn’t dark like Batman v Superman or Man of Steel, and it actually had humorous moments. It never became overly doom and gloom, like the previous DC Extended Universe (DCEU) films, nor did it feel as lighthearted as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films. There was a nice balance between the seriousness and the fun sides of the movie.

Every superhero movie these days is building towards the next movie or several movies in the universe, well the DCEU and MCU films do anyway. This is a double edge sword because on one hand, it is fun to see the different characters interact with each other but on the other it can make the movie feel bloated or unfocused. Another one of Wonder Woman‘s strengths is that it doesn’t have this problem. It is completely self-contained. It is book-ended with scenes showcasing where in the DCEU chronology it takes place, but everything in between is its own thing. This works out great because then that means the movie can stay centered on Wonder Woman herself without having to worry about anybody else or future plot points.

Because the film’s focus is strictly on Wonder Woman, the story is very tight and focused for a superhero movie. There are no extra characters. Everyone exists to push Diana’s story forward. Every scene serves a purpose of building Diana’s character or the conflict she faces. There is nothing extraneous, nothing without purpose, or nothing without reason. It is a refreshing change of pace to to see a superhero movie that only focuses on whose name is in the title instead of worrying about anybody else or future plot points.

I mentioned the perfect casting of Gal Gadot but I have to commend the rest of the cast as well. Chris Pine was a great choice as the male lead. He feels like a good, grounded counter to Gadot’s innocent Diana. SaΓ―d Taghmaoui as the team’s quick-talking Sameer was a blast to watch. I would have liked to learn just a little bit more about Ewen Bremner’s Charlie and Eugene Brave Rock’s The Chief. Both seem like they have some interesting histories that were barely touched on. However, the highlight for me was any scene with Lucy Davis as Steve Trevor’s secretary Etta Candy. She was an absolute hoot and stole all her scenes. It’s a little disappointing knowing this will be the only time spent with the character because I cold use more Etta Candy in my life.

Like many superhero films, the weakest part of Wonder Woman comes from its villains. General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Hudson) and Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) are the main baddies but they only act as the personification of the evil Diana is trying to stop; There isn’t much to them. It feels like they are villains almost simply because they are Nazis. Ares could be called the overarching villain and big bad of the movie. Yet, his presence isn’t really felt until the very end. And even then, he is very underwhelming. I guess I can’t fault the movie too much since it gets so much else right.

I thought Wonder Woman was GREAT πŸ˜€ Director Patty Jenkins has finally done what every other DC director since Christopher Nolan could not: create a good superhero movie. Gal Gadot strikes a perfect balance of innocence and strength. The movie mirrors that and isn’t too lighthearted but also isn’t dark and gritty. Diana’s sense of justice and need to do the right thing is the tone we should have seen from Superman in Man of Steel. Hopefully WB and DC will keep Jenkins around because she has been their most successful director yet.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Patty Jenkins – Director
Allan Heinberg – Screenplay / Story
Zach Snyder – Story
Jason Fuchs – Story
Rupert Gregson-Williams – Composer

Gal Gadot – Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
Chris Pine – Steve Trevor
Connie Nielsen – Hippolyta
Robin Wright – Antiope
David Thewlis – Sir Patrick
SaΓ―d Taghmaoui – Sameer
Ewen Bremner – Charlie
Eugene Brave Rock – The Chief
Lucy Davis – Etta Candy
Danny Hudson – General Erich Ludendorff
Elena Anaya – Dr. Maru
Lilly Aspell – Young Diana (8)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 movie posterSynopsis
After a botched job, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and the rest of the Guardians are being chased by the Sovereign. They are found by a man named Ego (Kurt Russell), who claims to be Peter’s long-lost father. They go to Ego’s planet to search for the truth behind Peter’s mysterious heritage.

Review
In 2014, Marvel put their blockbuster powers to the test, releasing Guardians of the Galaxy. It was filled with lesser known characters, even to some regular comic readers, who are unique unto themselves. It turned out to be one of Marvel’s best films and now comes the inevitable sequel. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has all of the qualities that made the first so much fun and enjoyable, albeit without the surprise of what to expect.

As I said, everything that made the first film so fun and enjoyable has returned. Everything and everyone are just as quirky and zany as you have come to expect. Chris Pratt as Peter Quill is the main funny man, but Dave Bautista’s Drax get his fair share of comedic moments. Zoe Saldana is the green-skinned bad-ass Gamora. Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel, is more adorable than ever and Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, wants to get a hold of everyone’s prosthetics simply to see their reaction. All the while, it has a rocking soundtrack in the background.

Doctor Strange is probably Marvel’s most visually vibrant films to date, but this movie give that one a run for its money. The most notable is Ego’s planet. The moment the team sets foot on it, it just pops. The fauna are colorful, the buildings are shiny and bright, even the soil is a vibrant color unlike what you would expect. However, it’s not just Ego’s planet. The opening battle between the guardians and an interdimensional creature (a big part of the trailers) and scenes where Yondu’s ship is jumping through several wormholes are also vivid scenes worth mentioning. At the very least, your eyes won’t be disappointed.

One of this films best characteristics is its character development. Most of the second act is spent really diving into the characters and their relations with other members of the team. Some you would expect, like Peter and Gamora, but there are some that you wouldn’t, like Rocket and Yondu or Drax and newcomer Mantis (Pom Klementieff). These interactions do a great job of building the characters and lead to some strong, emotional moments.

Much to my surprise, Yondu (Michael Rooker) has one of the greatest arcs of the film. His moments with Rocket and their similar histories really tug at the heartstrings. As Peter’s adopted father, he had to deal with Peter finally meeting his real father, Ego (Kurt Russell). In the previous movie, he felt like a throwaway character; someone who was there when the plot needed it but didn’t feel like he had much importance. This time, he is front and center and gives the film’s most emotional scene. Speaking of Russell, he was a great as the living planet Ego. Like most villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he isn’t going to have any lasting presence, but Russell gave one of the more memorable villainous performances is the MCU. The relationship between Peter, Yondu, and Ego would make a great conversation starter between step-children and step-parents.

I wasn’t as in love with the soundtrack as I was with the first Guardians movie. It was still bouncy and fun and integrated into the movie well but it wasn’t as entrancing as before. Maybe it’s because I was unfamiliar with more of the songs this time around or maybe it was that I expected a rocking retro soundtrack and it wasn’t as much of a surprise. Whatever the reason, I wasn’t blown away but I still was rocking out nevertheless.

This might sound contradictory, but despite all the great character development throughout the second act, it also felt like the weakest part of the move. Weakest isn’t the right word but I’m not sure exactly what word I’m looking for. During this time, the team is split into two groups. The bouncing back and forth between the groups, as well as the balancing of those serious moments with the humorous ones gave it a really weird pacing. Whenever the movie slowed down to give the great character moments, it immediately went into a joke / gag or changed scenes. I liked that they managed to get as much development in as they did but the jumping around made my head spin after a while.

I thought Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was GOOD πŸ™‚ This movie is a good example of a movie studio giving a director the freedom to do their movie their way. James Gunn brought as much heart and soul into Volume 2 as he did in Volume 1. A slow and somewhat oddly paced middle act does not deter from what this movie does well: great characterization, a fun soundtrack, and plenty of humor to rival any comedy film. It can feel like much of the same but if you liked it the first time, you’re going to like it here as well. Once again, I left the theater excited to see where these characters go next.

Favorite Quote
Yondu: He might be your father, but he ain’t your daddy.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
James Gunn – Director / Writer
Tyler Bates – Composer

Chris Pratt – Peter Quill / Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana – Gamora
Dave Bautista – Drax
Vin Diesel – Baby Groot (voice)
Bradley Cooper – Rocket (voice)
Michael Rooker – Yondu
Karen Gillan – Nebula
Pom Klementieff – Mantis
Kurt Russell – Ego
Sean Gunn – Kraglin
Elizabeth Debicki – Ayesha
Chris Sullivan – Taserface

Doctor Strange Review

Doctor Strange movie posterSynopsis
Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a highly skilled, but arrogant, neurosurgeon. After a car crash leaves him unable to perform surgeries again, he heads to Nepal seeking the Ancient One (Tilda Swinto) to help heal his hands. Strange gets drawn into a world of sorcery and mystic arts while under the Ancient One’s tutelage and must protect the world from being destroyed by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen).

Review
I’ve heard people say that Doctor Strange is Marvel’s next big risk, introducing magic into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), as well as a relatively lesser known property. But really, from a film studio that has a talking raccoon, a hero who can communicate with ants, and Asgard, is magic really that big of a step? Is a film centered around a lesser known character really going to stop the juggernaut that is Marvel Studios?

I’ll be honest, when I heard Benedict Cumberbatch was cast as Stephen Strange, I wasn’t one hundred percent behind the choice. I knew that he is a great and versatile actor but I had a hard time picturing him as Strange. However, knowing Marvel’s past casting history, and my usual willingness to give every casting choice the benefit of the doubt, I trusted Marvel to find the best Strange they could. Now, I’m not going to say that Cumberbatch fits Strange like a glove the same way Robert Downey, Jr. fits Tony Stark, but I am having trouble remembering why I was having doubts in the first place. He was absolutely fantastic.

Besides Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange contains some very good talent. Tilda Swinton’s casting as the Ancient One was surrounded by controversy but I think her casting worked really well. Swinton has this soft but authoritative aura about her that fits perfectly in the mentor role of the Ancient One. Rachel McAdams is sweet and funny as always but she doesn’t have much screen time. I’m interested to see more of Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, Strange’s fellow student under the Ancient One and ally against the film’s villain. The best surprise as was Benedict Wong as… Wong, the librarian of Kamar-Taj (the temple in Nepal where Strange learns about being a sorcerer). I was expecting the film to be humorous but several of his lines made me laugh the hardest.

Now fourteen movies in, Marvel Studios has established a formula for their films, whether you love it or hate it. One reason why they keep reusing a similar structure is because it works. We begin with our hero, they come by some tragedy and go in search of a way to heal themselves. They get gain powers and begin to use them for good, with the film ending in an outrageous fight scene between our hero and the villain. This structure can be seen from Iron Man to Thor to Ant-Man to Doctor Strange. How well this works for you depends on if you are tired of seeing this formula done or not. For me, it has worked so far and I still enjoy seeing the hero’s journey from human to superhuman so I like it. Especially since Marvel injects so much humor into it.

Like many of the previous MCU films, the laughs come naturally and organically. Never did I think β€œOh, I was supposed to laugh there.” Wong (the character) was the surprise comedic relief of the film. Every scene of his contained at least one moment that generated a laugh. McAdams even had a moment or two. It still remains refreshing how light Marvel Studios makes their movies, without compromising the maturity of the film, despite all of the destruction happening in them.

The easiest why to describe Strange’s magic appearance in the comics is β€œpsychedelic.” Many wondered if Marvel Studios would be able to bring that brand of oddness to the screen without feeling too odd. The effects in Doctor Strange feel they were brought straight off the page and onto the screen. Everything is gorgeous and stunning. The scenes when the sorcerers were fighting in the city and manipulating the architecture around them looked like they were straight out of Inception. The Dark Dimension puts some of the more β€œout there” visuals from the Thor films to shame. This is one of the few films that I would really recommend you see in 3D if possible.

Like many of the prior MCU films, this movie’s villain, Kaecilius, is not developed very deeply. Yes, he has his motivations, but they are as basic as many of the other villains that have been seen so far. He is not the worst but he is far from the best.

I thought Doctor Strange was GREAT :-D. I was first wary about Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange but in normal Marvel Studio’s fashion, they proved they know what they are doing when it comes to casting. Although the film doesn’t shake up the superhero movie formula they have created too much, Doctor Strange is very entertaining, finding itself as one of the better films of the MCU.

Trivia
In the comics, the Ancient One is an old man; in this film, the Ancient One is played by a woman. This was a deliberate decision as Scott Derrickson felt the Ancient One was a title rather than a person. -Via IMDB

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Scott Derrickson – Director / Writer
Jon Spaihts – Writer
C. Robert Cargill – Writer
Michael Giacchino – Composer

Benedict Cumberbatch – Dr. Stephen Strange
Tilda Swinton – The Ancient One
Chiwetel Ejiofor – Mordo
Benedict Wong – Wong
Mads Mikkelsen – Kaecilius
Rachel McAdams – Christine Palmer
Michael Stuhlbarg – Dr. Nicodemus West
Benjamin Bratt – Jonahtan Pangborn
Topo Wresniwiro – Hamir
Linda Louise Duan – Tina Minoru
Mark Anthony Brighton – Daniel Drumm

If you would like to join in on the group post I am putting together at the end of the month, you can find all the information here.

Suicide Squad Review

Suicide Squad movie posterSynopsis
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), director of ARGUS, creates a team of super villains, designated Task Force X and led by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), to complete covert missions. When an otherworldly entity attacks Midway City, Waller sends the team of criminals in to retrieve an important asset.

Review
It’s no secret that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), DC’s response to Marvel’s cinematic universe, has been off to a rough start. Man of Steel has polarized fans of the character and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a convoluted mess to say the least. DC turned to David Ayer to try and turn their ship around and begin heading in the right direction to win back the fans. The end result is only somewhat successful.

I have to start out by addressing the two best things about this film: Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Deadshot is front and center of the entire film, receiving both the most development and screen time of the villains. Smith himself is such a personality that his characters seem to embody him instead of the other way around. That’s not a bad thing because he is such a great actor, it’s just that his Deadshot ends up being very similar to many of his other film characters.

However, Margot Robbie completely transformed into Harley Quinn. Yes, her outfit was nowhere close to her iconic jester outfit (which does make an appearance, by the way) but let’s face it, that’s not the best outfit for this film. Besides, it does resemble her current costumes, which are more normal outfits anyway, so it works. Moving past her outfit, Robbie nails her character, being completely psychotic and mentally unhinged without a problem. It’s amazing how well she molded into the character.

Another character that many people had their eyes on was Jared Leto’s incarnation of the Joker. Now, I’m not going to compare Leto’s Joker to Heath Ledger’s or Jack Nickolson’s because, quite frankly, they are all different characters. Each actor who has taken up the mantle has focused on a different part of the Joker. Nickolson’s Joker was a gangster, Ledger’s was an anarchist, and Leto’s is a psychopath. I don’t think I can quite say how I feel about this version yet until I get to see him in another film.

And maybe that is an issue. The Joker’s role in Suicide Squad is not as large as the promotional material might have you think. He is a antagonist but not the antagonist. He has a lot of time in Harley Quinn’s flashbacks but only pops up every so often in current day to cause problems for the team, outside of the main baddie. As much as I like the Joker, having two disconnected antagonists in the film didn’t help the story too much.

It seems Ayer tried to learn a thing or two from MoS and BvS and tried to make this movie a more lighthearted affair. The character introductions alone have more color and pop than the two previous DCEU movies combined. I enjoyed this sequence because it gave fun, quick introductions to the main players. Each character also got their own unique song to go with their scene, in a very similar sounding soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy, that was just a blast to listen to.

Also throughout the film, it tries to lighten the mood and actually crack a joke or two. Much of the comedy comes from Smith, because why not, but it works for the most part. Other characters get their moments, like Boomerang (Jai Courtney) or Harley Quinn. Not every joke or obviously-meant-to-be-humorous moment hits their mark but it is good to see DC make a movie that is not super dark.

In ensemble films, it is inevitable that some characters will get more or less screen time than others. As I said in the beginning, a lot of the focus is on Deadshot and Harley, and to a lesser extent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and the Joker. This left most of the cast poorly developed. Even the main villain was affected by this. They don’t have much motivation other than β€œI’m a bad guy.”

I thought Suicide Squad was GOOD :-). Much more of the titular team needed more development besides Deadshot and Harley Quinn, who ended up being the two best things about the movie. I’m interested to see Jared Leto’s Joker again because I really want to get a better feel for his version of the iconic character. Suicide Squad may not be perfect but damn it if I didn’t have fun.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
David Ayer – Director / Writer
Steven Price – Composer

Will Smith – Deadshot
Margot Robbie – Harley Quinn
Joel Kinnaman – Rick Flag
Cara Delevigne – June Moon / Enchantress
Jai Courtney – Boomerang
Jay Hernandez – Diablo
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – Killer Croc
Karen Fukuhara – Katana
Adam Beach – Slipknot
Jared Leto – The Joker
Viola Davis – Amanda Waller
David Harbour – Dexter Tolliver
Ike Barinholtz – Griggs
Ted Whittall – Admiral Olsen
Shailyn Pierre-Dixon – Zoe

X-Men: Apocalypse Review

X-Men: Apocalypse movie posterSynopsis
In Egypt, the ancient mutant En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaacs) awakens and enacts his plan to create a world where only the strongest survive. The X-Men must once again ban together to save the world.

Review
Of all Fox’s Marvel superhero properties past and present, the X-Men franchise has been their most consistent and their longest running as a result. Now nine movies in if you include Deadpool and the two Wolverine films, the X-Men franchise shows no sign of letting up. Some would argue that X-Men: Days of Future Past was the best in the series yet. Can X-Men: Apocalypse keep the train running? Yes. Yes it can.

First, I like to mention that in terms of the franchise’s timeline, this was the perfect time to do the Apocalypse story. In the comics, the Age of Apocalypse event occurred after a character named Legion goes back in time and changes the past. This caused Apocalypse to show himself earlier than he originally did. What happened in Days of Future Past? Time travel and history changing. Whether or not this was intentional or Fox simply felt it was time to introduce one of the X-Men’s biggest villains, it worked out well for comic book nerds such as myself.

One of the highlights of Days of Future Past was Quicksilver’s super-speed scene. Naturally, he got a similar scene in this film, and it is just as great. This film has him running through the school, saving the students from an explosion while listening to Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Quicksilver also has a much bigger role this time around, which is fantastic since he was very underutilized in the last film.

Like all of the X-Men films not named after Wolverine or Deadpool, Apocalypse introduces several new characters, or at least new versions of them. The First Class trilogy is inching closer to where the original X-Men film kicked off, so we are meeting younger versions of many of those characters. Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm all get younger selves, as well as a younger Nightcrawler. I especially liked seeing Nightcrawler again since he is my favorite X-Man. In a film with many subplots, it seemed like theirs received a significant portion. Hopefully the next one will be more tightly focused and look at this new team and their dynamic as they grow together.

These new actors do pretty well, especially the new X-Men. Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, and Kodi Smit-McPhee bring these characters to life. Turner gets one of the best line of the films, saying third installments are always the worst. The new mutants who serve as three of Apocalypse’s four horseman don’t fare so well. Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp, and Olivia Munn’s characters pretty much just get names and that is about as far as their development goes go. With so many introductions, some development was bound to be pushed to the side and in this case it fell on the new villains. It’s too bad that most of the young actors weren’t given much room to show what they could do.

Something that bothered my probably more than it should have was the physical appearance of the characters who have been around since First Class. Apocalypse takes place roughly twenty years after First Class and characters like Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), looks exactly the same. In First Class, they are roughly in their early twenties, that would make Beast and Mystique forty-ish, and Xavier and Magneto even older, in Apocalypse and yet they look exactly the same. I know it shouldn’t be that big of a deal but it did take me out of the film a little bit.

X-Men: Apocalypse contains many different plots throughout the film. This is mostly due to the large roster. As a result, the first half feels like it drags on because of all the character introductions. Once all the players are on the board, it moves along more evenly.

Oscar Isaac is a pretty well rounded actor but he felt stuck in the confines of the role of Apocalypse. Like most of the actors of the other new mutants introduced, he wasn’t given the room he needed. It reminded me of Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending. Both are great actors who just had the unfortunate luck of being trapped in a one-dimensional character. Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t seem as emotionally invested in Mystique like she was in First Class or even Days of Future Past. I’m not sure if she is getting tired of the role or if she was having an off movie or what but she felt off this time.

I thought X-Men: Apocalypse was GOOD :-). The more I was writing this review, the more I realize I had less positives to say than I originally realized. However, you can call me a sucker for explosions and summer blockbusters because I still had a good time watching this film. This isn’t on the same level as First Class or X2, but it still offers a fun ride for you to sit back, relax and munch on some popcorn.

Also check out my reviews for X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Bryan Singer – Director / Story
Simon Kinberg – Screenplay / Story
Michael Dougherty – Story
Dan Harris – Story
John Ottman – Composer

James McAvoy – Professor Charles Xavier
Michael Fassbender – Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence – Raven / Mystique
Micholas Hoult – Hank McCoy / Beast
Sophie Turner – Jean Grey
Tye Sheridan – Scott Summers / Cyclopes
Kodi Smit-McPhee – Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler
Evan Peters – Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver
Lucas Till – Alex Summers / Havok
Oscar Isaac – En Sabah Nur / Apocalypse
Ben Hardy – Angel
Alexandra Shipp – Ororo Munroe / Storm
Olivia Munn – Psylocke
Rose Byrne – Moira Mactaggert
Lana Condor – Jubilee
Josh Helman – Col. William Styker