Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse (7.4/10)

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There are certainly things to like about this film.  From the introduction of the new X-Men (the new Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Storm, and an increased role for Quicksilver), to the powerhouse acting performances by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, to several memorable action sequences, it’s a 2 hour and 25 minute movie sprinkled with highlights.

Which is precisely where the flaws of the film lie.  The film often drags on exposition and side plots to the point of dullness.  Also, as good an actor as Oscar Isaac is, he was not exactly menacing as Apocalypse.  For a mutant who was supposed to be the very first of its kind, who is able to change elements at will and whose power supersedes that of Professor X, he did not strike a fear into the viewer.  I was not terrified of Apocalypse; rather, my thought shifted to wondering how the X-Men would be able to defeat him.

(As much flak as Marvel has received for its lack of focus on its films’ villains, I gravitated towards the charming yet dangerous presence of Ultron, in the short moments he was featured in “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”  It was really a waste of such a great performance by James Spader.)

It’s only June and already four comic book movies have been released.  I’d ranked them in this order, with the first being my must-see and last being wait for home video release.

  1. Captain America: Civil War
  2. Deadpool
  3. X-Men: Apocalypse
  4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

 

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1 Paragraph Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (3.8/10)

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Granted that I have avoided seeing the films that were generally viewed as major turds of the year (Fantastic 4, Pan, 50 Shades…) I went into “Mockingjay Part 2” with cautious expectations.  “Catching Fire” was great, “Mockingjay Part 1” was slow but acceptable.  This one was… oh god, what the heck did I just watch.  The film was dragged way too long; you can feel each scene being dragged just a bit longer they should just to fill up its 2-hour run time.  It was frustrating and boring at the same time.  The production and cinematography were fine, but the story was handled so badly that this has got to be one of the most unsatisfying endings to a saga I’ve never seen.

 

Quick Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Much praise has been lauded onto the sequel to 2012’s “The Hunger Games.”  The film is well-directed, intense throughout, and boasts strong performances by a large ensemble cast, lead by currently the hottest actress in Hollywood, Jennifer Lawrence.

The biggest obstacle faced by filmmakers today is making familiar plot lines interesting and fun to watch.  We have seen stories like these a thousand times before, but what separates the good from the bad is the execution of the story, the post-production, and the ability to avoid awkward, unintentional laughs.

It had occurred to me today that the story of Katniss Everdeen, a tale freedom and (reluctant) heroism set in a tumultuous political climate and led by a symbolic figure, is pretty much a carbon copy of the story of Maximus Decimus Meridius from “Gladiator”, played by Russell Crowe.  I’m sure many others can name stories similar to this.

“Catching Fire” isn’t remotely genre-breaking, but it’s darn good entertainment and certainly worth the price of the ticket.