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

X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past movie posterSynopsis
In the future, mutant-hunting Sentinels have either hunted or captured every mutant on Earth, along with the humans who try to help them. To try to prevent this bleak future, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) use Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) powers to send Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) conscience fifty years into the past. Once there, Wolverine must convince the younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to work together to stop the Sentinels from being produced by Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).

Review
I went into X-Men: Days of Future Past with high hopes. Bryan Singer returned to the director’s chair for the first time since the amazing X2: X-Men United and one of the most beloved X-Men stories was finally getting adapted onto the silver screen. Without a doubt, Days of Future Past delivered everything that I expected and more.

First off, X-Men: Days of Future Past starts off with an explosive action scene. Many of the fan-favorite X-Men from the trilogy show up here, along with new mutants Bishop, Blink, Warpath and Sunspot. It does great to showcase how terrible things have become for the mutants and the rest of the world, as well as to display Kitty Pryde’s powers that will eventually be used to send Wolverine back to the 1970s. It’s an exhilarating opening that really got me excited for the rest of the film.

I will admit that I was a little skeptical about Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask, mainly because I haven’t seen him very much. But I was pleasantly surprised how well he did with the part. Dinklage pulls off the savvy business man, and the angry, mutant-hating doctor, and the crazy scientist with ease. The only thing I felt his performance needed was more screen time. It would have been great to see more of such a great performance.

Even though several new mutant characters were introduced, they aren’t seen very much. All the characters from the future don’t get fleshed out at all, mainly because a majority of the film’s focus is spent in the past. Quicksilver is the only new mutant introduced in the past who gets a decent amount of screen time and Evan Peters is fantastic as the character. In what is my favorite scene from the film shows Peters running around to knock out several security guards who pinned him and a few other characters in a small room. He shows off the character’s personality without him saying a word. I was hoping he would be a bigger part of the movie than he was. Peters’ performance stole the show and is probably the most underutilized of all the cast.

Time travel can be a particularly tricky plot device, especially when showing parallel events in the past and future like this movie. There comes a moment when you’re like, “Well if they went to the past and changed events, wouldn’t the future see those changes immediately?” This movie gives a somewhat decent explanation as to why the past and future events are able to happen concurrently. It’s a small point, but it kept me from becoming too hung up on the time travel element like I have with similar stories before.

One of my favorite aspects of X-Men: First Class was the character relationships, particularly between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. Unfortunately, I don’t think Days of Future Past pulled it off quite as successfully. There was a great moment between Charles and Erik during a plane flight, but other than that and maybe the final big action scene, they don’t have as many intimate moments together.

Bryan Singer returns to the X-Men universe with X-Men: Days of Future Past and does not disappoint. An exciting opening sets the stage on what to expect for the action in the rest of the film. Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask and Evan Peters as Quicksilver are two great additions to the cast but are underutilized, particularly Peters. Many of the other supporting characters didn’t have much screen time either, instead focusing on Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr and Wolverine. Days of Future Past is the most action packed X-Men movie yet, firing on all cylinders from start to finish.

Rating
4/5

Also check out my reviews for X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Bryan Singer – Director
Simon Kinberg – Screenplay / Story
Jane Goldman – Story
Mathew Vaughn – Story
John Ottman – Composer

Hugh Jackman – Logan / Wolverine
James McAvoy – Charles Xavier (Past)
Michael Fassbender – Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto (Past)
Patrick Stewart – Charles Xavier (Future)
Ian McKellen – Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto (Future)
Jennifer Lawrence – Raven / Mystique
Nicholas Hoult – Hank / Beast
Peter Dinklage – Dr. Bolivar Trask
Josh Helman – Major Bill Stryker
Halle Berry – Storm
Ellen Page – Kitty Pryde
Shawn Ashmore – Bobby / Iceman
Omar Sy – Bishop
Daniel Cudmore – Colossus
Bingbing Fan – Blink
Adan Canto – Sunspot
Booboo Stewart – Warpath
Evan Peters – Peter / Quicksilver
Lucas Till – Havok
Evan Jonigkeit – Toad
Mark Camacho – President Nixon

X-Men: First Class Review

X-Men: First Class movie posterSynopsis
In the midst of the Cold War, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) is trying to incite World War III. The CIA recruits Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) to stop Shaw. Xavier and Lensherr put together a team of fellow mutants consisting of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Angel (Zoe Kravitz), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), and Havok (Lucas Till). Together they must learn to control their mutant powers to defeat Shaw.

Review
After X2: X-Men United, the X-Men franchise didn’t quite hit the same quality with X3: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. They lacked a good story and heart. X-Men: First Class finally breaks the downward trend and present a story that not only has a lot of heart, but has a great cast and is a lot of fun.

First Class starts off with the same scene as X-Men with a young Erik in the German concentration camp being separated from his parents and bending the metal gates. It was smart to start the same way so it’s obvious this story exists in the same universe as the X-Men trilogy. Some of the events that happen throughout the movie make it seem like it is a reboot but by sharing a scene with the original movies it says ‘Nope, same place, new story.’

I thought this movie was awesome as a period piece. The fact that the story wove around actual events (the Cuban Missile Crisis) was pretty cool. Some movies try a similar approach of using historical events as their backdrop but aren’t always as successful as First Class. The setting was also used to show off Shaw’s character. By manipulating both sides he was able to display how smart and strategic he can be. I felt this was an great representation of his character.

The cast of First Class is amazing. Kevin Bacon is always enjoyable to watch on screen, but he is especially fun here as the villainous Sebastian Shaw. He’s very suave and laid back, but when he gets serious, watch out. James McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique do well, too, but I would have to say my favorite performance would have to be Michael Fassbender as Magneto. Fassbender brings a charisma to the role that portrays the confidence, but at the same time the vulnerability, of the character. The students of Charles and Erik are fun to watch, too, especially when they are showing off their powers. And there is a great Wolverine cameo.

Despite being an ensemble movie, the plot never gets too convoluted. In the beginning, Shaw is set up as the big baddie and the rest of the movie is either him and his team of mutants trying to start manipulate the US and Russian governments or Charles and Erik and their team of mutants getting ready to stop Shaw. Other than a few of the supporting bad mutants, most of the characters get their fair share of screen time and character development, leading to a fun little training montage. Most of the time is spent focused on Charles’ and Erik’s relationship, but this is to be expected since their bond is such an integral part of the X-Men’s history. Even though you know how their friendship plays out, seeing how it begins makes the breakup even more painful.

After the disappointments that were X3: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class sets the X-Men franchise back on course. The casting was perfect, particularly the core cast of Kevin Bacon, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence. The chemistry between McAvoy and Fassbender really made the relationship between Charles Xavier and Magneto come alive. Even though the cast was fairly sizable, every character received their time in the spotlight. First Class has set up the franchise’s future and I can’t wait to see how Fox builds off the events of this film.

Rating
4.5/5

Also check out my reviews for X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Mathew Vaughn – Director/Screenplay
Bryan Singer – Story
Sheldon Turner – Story
Ashley Miller – Screenplay
Zach Stentz – Screenplay
Jane Goldman – Screenplay
Henry Jackman – Composer

James McAvoy – Charles Xavier
Michael Fassbender – Erik Lensherr
Kevin Bacon – Sebastian Shaw
Rose Byrne – Moira MacTaggert
Jennifer Lawrence – Raven / Mystique
Zoe Kravitz – Angel Salvadore
Nicholas Hoult – Hank / Beast
Caleb Landry Jones – Cassidy / Banshee
Edi Gathegi – Armando Munoz / Darwin
Lucas Till – Alex Summer / Havok
Oliver Platt – Man in Black Suit
January Jones – Emma Frost
Alex Gonzalez – Janos Quested / Riptide
Jason Flemyng – Azazel
Glen Morshower – Colonel Hendry
Matt Craven – CIA Director McCone

X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer #3

Official Synopsis: The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from “X-Men: First Class,” in an epic battle that must change the past – to save our future.

So yea, we have a new trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past, even though the second trailer was released merely three weeks ago.  There is a lot of new content in this trailer, like pretty much the whole thing.  Wolverine takes center stage in this trailer and it focuses almost entirely on the past.  We finally, finally get to see Quicksilver.  The sentinels are seen up close in more detail than last time as well.  X-Men: Days of Future Past is looking to be the largest of the X-Men movies yet.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is directed by Bryan Singer and hits theaters May 23, 2014.  Returning from the X-Men Trilogy are Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, and Daniel Cudmore. Most of the core cast from X-Men: First Class is returning, including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Lucas Till.  New to the series is Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask, Booboo Stewart as Warpath, Omar Sy as Bishop, Bingbing Fan as Blink, Adan Canto as Sunspot, and Josh Melman as a young(er) William Stryker.

X-Men: Days of Future Past movie poster

X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer #2

Official Synopsis: The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from “X-Men: First Class,” in an epic battle that must change the past – to save our future.

I must say I am very, very excited for Days of Future Past.  The great cast alone is worth the ticket price.  Plus Bryan Singer.  Yes please!  This trailer is good because it doesn’t give much of the story away, that was left for the  so instead it focuses a lot on the action and powers.  Oh man, the powers.  So many of the characters’ powers are shown, including newbies like Sunspot.  Even established characters like Mystique and Magneto are doing some cool stuff with their abilities.  One thing lacking from the first trailer were the sentinels.  I’m happy to see the are shown more prominently this time around.  The only thing that isn’t here is a clear close-up of them.  There are several full body shots but they are moving quick and mostly dark.  Although it is probably a good thing they are saving the big reveal for the movie itself.  Speaking of saving reveals for the movie, I was really hoping to see some footage of Quicksilver, especially since the character was recently seen on a cover of Empire Magazine.

Also, Patrick Stewart should do more voice overs.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is directed by Bryan Singer and hits theaters May 23, 2014.  Returning from the X-Men Trilogy are Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, and Daniel Cudmore. Most of the core cast from X-Men: First Class is returning, including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Lucas Till.  New to the series is Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask, Booboo Stewart as Warpath, Omar Sy as Bishop, Bingbing Fan as Blink, Adan Canto as Sunspot, and Josh Melman as a young(er) William Stryker.

X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer

Synopsis: The X-Men must travel back in time to change a major historical event that could globally impact on man and mutant kind alike.

So if the mid-credits scene in The Wolverine didn’t get you excited for the next X-Men movie, then hopefully this trailer does the trick.  We get a solid look at most of the cast, including new mutants Bishop, Sunspot, Warpath, and Blink, as well as Bolivar Trask, the antagonist and creator of the mutant-hunting Sentinels.  The future mutants have much darker costumes than in the trilogy, cementing the bleakness they are trying to prevent.  Not much is shown from the First Class cast outside of young Professor X, young Magneto, Mystique, and Beast.  Maybe they are trying to save the reveal for the final trailer, but there wasn’t anything of Evan Peters as Quicksilver, who was probably the character I was most interested to see.

Needless to say, the cast is huge.  Returning from the X-Men Trilogy is Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, and Daniel Cudmore. Most of the core cast from X-Men: First Class is returning, including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Lucas Till.  New to the series is Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask, Booboo Stewart as Warpath, Omar Sy as Bishop, Bingbing Fan as Blink, Adan Canto as Sunspot, and Josh Melman as a young(er) William Stryker.  X-Men: Days of Future Past is directed by Bryan Singer (who also directed X-Men and X2) and hits theaters May 23, 2014.