*NEW* X-MEN: APOCALYPSE REVIEW *NEW*

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Was another one really necessary? Probably not BUT with Singer at the helm, I knew I was in for a treat.

After the re-emergence of the world’s first mutant, world-destroyer Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

I loved the X-Men movies (Yes, even The Last Stand. No, really! I’ve seen worse. Trust me). BUT I couldn’t get into X-Men: First Class and felt the Wolverine spin-offs were a massive let down (Although I still have high hopes for Logan!). A shame considering the cast, the characters and Hugh flippin’ Jackman!

Disappointing affairs that there were either too long, too dull or riddled with far too many plot holes and I didn’t even read the comic books.

Thankfully Days of Future Past was a return to form and mixed the old cast with the new perfectly. Singer’s direction being the missing ingredient. I had to laugh at his sly dig about the third movie always being the worst in a “Star Wars” debate. Righting so many wrongs in one action packed package.

So here we are . . . *WARNING POSSIBLE SPOILERS!* After the bombshell that was delivered at the finale of Days of Future Past, I really wanted to see the next installment. BUT one that followed on. NOT going back into the past again! I was a little disappointed BUT it was still a highly watchable and enjoyable effort.

The idea of mutants existing through history and NOT just from experimentation was a different angle.

The opening felt like something out of The Mummy (The Stephen Sommers saga) with all the crazy golden swag everywhere and demented ritual stuff. BUT it got things going and set up the chrome-esque Humpty Dumpty looking and (poorly named) Apocalypse quite well.

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Looks a bit like Ivan Ooze.

Despite all that make up and silly voice tampering, Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina) was still a convincing super-villain (Even if he spent the majority of the film monologuing). A god hell bent on bringing the Second Coming with the help of his chosen Horsemen.

Writer Simon Kinberg and Singer explored the origins of the old favourites quite well. Tye Sheridan (Scouts’ Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) was very good as a young Scott Summers/Cyclops. Sophie “Game of Thrones” Turner was excellent as Jean Grey. Her accent was impeccable.

There wasn’t enough of Kodi Smit-McPhee’s (Let Me In) Nightcrawler. He captured Alan Cummings’ mannerisms perfectly and stole every scene. Alexandra Shipp’s Storm was tragically lost in the mix far too much. A bit like her older counterpart in Future Past. Shame.

It was intriguing to see Fassbender’s Magneto portrayed as the tormented anti-hero. Doomed to never have a normal life after trying to start a family in Poland. The only problem was that despite giving an extra depth to the maniacal metal man, it left him skulking around for the rest of the film. Gutted.

I loved the transformation of Mystique’s character. To change from a morphing femme fatale to a conflicted symbol for the mutants’ fight for survival. BUT then again what did you expect when you have Jennifer Lawrence taking on the role?!

The only problem was that it felt like a retread from FP with Raven refusing to take the call. Even though you knew the inevitable outcome.

BUT where Singer and Kinberg explored old faces, they tried to bring in new ones which didn’t quite work. Ben Hardy’s Angel and the beautiful Olivia Munn’s Psylocke were a waste of time. Even Sabre Tooth and Toad made more memorable minions.

However, there was one face I was happy to see return and that was Evan Peters’ (American Horror Story) Quicksilver. He stole the show in Future Past and did it yet again. Featuring in one of the best animated sequences I’ve seen in a long time.

You thought the prison breakout was impressive in FP, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The detail. The effects! Fantastic. It may have taken months to shoot BUT it was worth every frame. And all perfectly timed to the rhythmic beat of Eurthymics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).

It was entertaining as hell as Quicksilver kung fu kicked doors and moon walked across fiery hallways while his clueless comrades stood frozen in time; oblivious of their impending doom.

I was a little annoyed with the influx of new faces that didn’t get enough back story to make a proper introduction. Scott’s brother Alex or Havok (Lucas Till) was hyped up as such a crucial character BUT it was his first appearance in the franchise. An unnecessary addition by the time the credits rolled.

The pace did test in the final third and the finale, despite the amazing visuals, felt like a retread of FP and First Class with Magneto sulking and wanting to end the world (Again). Yawn.

It might help to have watched the other entries to appreciate all the little nods. Especially First Class because I had completely forgotten about Rose Byrne’s character and her silly little love subplot with Professor X. Thankfully Singer and co. did a quick recap to jog the memories of those who aren’t up to speed on their X-Men history.

BUT there was still enough fun and action to keep me entertained. The only problem by trying to fill in the gaps and explore new territory, Singer unwittingly put more cracks in the time frame from the original efforts. There was a revelation surrounding one character that came out so half arsed that I wondered why they even bothered in the first place?!

Despite my gripes, Apocalypse still fitted perfectly as a precursor to the first X-Men movie (That’s the 2000 release for those who want to be pedantic with the crazy time frame) and wasn’t quite the wash out that people had me believe.

The cast were great, the effects and set pieces were breathtaking and I still had fun after 16 years and 7 films (Does The Wolverine count? Okay, 8. What about Deadpool? Steady on).

3.5/5

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AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON REVIEW

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Did the second instalment do what the first couldn’t?

Was I left fuming yet again? Or did I have to swallow my words?

They’re back. Bigger, badder but better? There’s only one way to find out.

When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron (James Spader), things go horribly wrong and it’s up to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans

I will admit straight off the bat. I really didn’t like the first Avengers. I know? SACRILEGE! It just didn’t do it for me. Overlong, mind numbing and overhyped. If not for Tom Hiddleston’s superb turn as Loki and a thrilling 30 minute closing crescendo, I would have given up on the franchise.

I was furious at how rushed the endless superhero entries were. Just to get to the Avengers release date. Okay, the Thor films were fantastic. Hawkeye and The Black Widow didn’t even get an origin story. Iron Man 1 and 3 were good. Don’t get me started on 2.

The numerous Hulk origin attempts with Bana and Norton misfired (I actually liked the Ang Lee blockbuster. What?). Captain America was rushed. I was happy to see more of the superhero fighting in the past. BUT the Winter Soldier sequel did restore my faith a little.

Inevitably after the crazy money that the first Avengers film took, we had another. And after much deliberation and note taking, I can firmly say . . .

Well done, Mr. Whedon. You have won me over.

The opening was racy, fast paced and straight to business. The team finally gelled together and in the zone. The special effects were fast and furious. The overuse of CGI did make things a little too cartoony in parts. But how else are they going to create a nine foot Hulk?!

There were numerous SHIELD references that went over my head in the opening. I knew it had something to do with Marvel Agents of SHIELD but I’m not that big a fan. It might help to recap on Thor or the first Avengers as a certain sceptre is used quite heavily again.

Whedon’s witty one liners zinging left, right and centre like the endless cannon fodder. The banter between the team was top notch. The old fashioned Cap (Chris Evans) telling Stark off for using foul language being an ongoing joke was a particular highlight.

The team dynamic really worked for me and made for great viewing. I mean even the scene in which the gang were trying to lift Thor’s hammer as a drunken party trick shouldn’t have worked but was so funny.

Ultron was a perfect maniacal menace. Spader (Ol’ Red from The Blacklist) applying his gravelly gravitas with aplomb. The animation and detail was excellent.

I liked the brewing romance between Banner/Hulk and The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). The lullaby that they use to calm the Hulk was a nice touch even if it reminded me of Shrek and Fiona. But I honestly thought there was always something between The Widow and The Cap? Oh, that cheeky minx. Anyway . . .

Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson made a more convincing couple as the Maximoff twins than they ever did in Godzilla. My only quibble with Taylor-Johnson was that his character Quicksilver was very much like a character in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Evan Peters played him. He ran really fast. What was he called? Oh yeah. Quicksilver. Hmmm . . . Interesting that. Copyright issues were there?

Olsen was always my Kryptonite even if she has been in some terrible movies. But she did the role of the Scarlet Witch justice as did Kickass.

I wasn’t really bored. It just got on with it and zipped along. Dipping only in a few parts to allow some much needed character development on some neglected heroes. *Cough* Hawkeye *Cough* Black Widow.

Renner had taken to the role well. But he was so one-dimensional. I mean, come on Whedon. Surely you’ve seen Arrow? But without spoiling anything, Whedon finally ventured into his background and gave him more depth. He was able to stand out among the ever-expanding roster of superheroes.

The trippy dream sequences that the Witch uses to play on her opponents’ minds was interesting as we got a little peak into The Black Widow’s past; most notably her training.

It was funny, intense, action packed. Great acting (Check), top banter (Check), cheeky Stan Lee cameo (BIG CHECK!). There were a few surprises to be had. BUT I couldn’t help but feel that there were too many characters from the Marvel-verse being introduced. Paul Bettany’s The Vision was an addition that felt like a mish-mesh of everybody else and didn’t really make as much of an impression as I expected.

And considering the huge ensemble, there were a few faces not to make an appearance. Merely mentioned in a passing comment. I’m looking at you, ladies. Ms Portman and Paltrow.

Inevitably it is all left wide open for more. SPOILERS! Behave. BUT this time round, I cannot wait for the next installment. I’m actually a little excited.

Well done.

3.5/5 With grounds to change to a 4

NOTE: Obviously stay behind and endure the relentless credits for a cheeky ten second teaser.

X MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST REVIEW

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X Men Give It To Ya! Days of Making Good Films At Last! Finally! Thank you! Welcome back Mr Bryan Singer. A little while since X Men was released, I know, but so many bad movies got my pulse racing that I pushed this little gem to the drafts.

But low and behold, a film that entertains, intrigues and keeps you engrossed. Everything you could hope for. Singer is deservedly back at the realm to resurrect a flailing franchise. To be honest, I loved Singer’s entries (easy now) and didn’t mind the X Men First Class and (cough) The Last Stand. What? The Last Stand wasn’t perfect and lacked Singer’s direction. Sorry Mr Ratner but it wasn’t all bad.

It was a shame that the Wolverine spin offs were so turgid and flat. If not for the bravado of the legendary Hugh Jackman, they would have been a complete write off. So much rich material and yet they go for the slow meandering cliché rubbish that is . . . not in the comic. If not for the little teasers of a reunion I might not have bothered. However, not this time. I mean I’m not going to lie. I am not a comic book guy but I love the adaptations. There may be too many but none the less. Most of them are alright and this one, most certainly, is.

After an incredibly dark and action packed opening in which an apocalyptic war has broken out between humans and mutants. We see our heroes hiding and struggling against a new foe, the ever-adaptable Sentinels. However, it’s up to Wolfie to go back in time to stop the turning point that led to the Sentinels’ very origins – an assassination attempt in the 70s by a murderous Mystique (the lovely Miss Jennifer Lawrence). But of course, it’s not that easy as Wolfie must work with an angry Xavier and vengeful Magneto at the time where they couldn’t be farther apart. Leading to a good movie.

The only irritating thing is that we lose out on the epic duo of McKellen and Stewart but it’s not all bad as they are upgraded with their younger counterparts, the talented McAvoy and Fassbender or McBender. The pair work well together and deliver their take on two iconic characters played by two iconic actors to perfection. Hugh Jackman is fantastic as Wolverine. And the dude is hench. 45 and ripped like that. Damn. It was great to see old Tyrion, Peter Dinklage getting his teeth into a villainous role. Shame it was a little part and no that was not an intentional jibe. Come on, I’m above that. (What?)

The 3D is a worthy investment. A fantastic prison escape sequence in which new guy Quicksilver (Evan Peters – American Horror Story) is able to show his talents is worth the ticket alone. Slow motion, glass and water flying out the screen, brilliant. Peters was fantastic as Quicksilver and provided a memorable supporting role. I feared adding more characters might be a case of too many cooks in the broth but not this guy. The same cannot be said for the collection of mutants that appeared in the futuristic opening. Sorry, Bishop and Warpath. I’m looking at you.

Basically your overall reaction will always be down to a few things. A) How much of an X Men fan you are – obviously. B) How you felt about the other instalments? C) What Bryan Singer, a man who has shared quite publicly, his distaste on how certain sequels *cough* The Last Stand *cough cough* may have messed things up.

Now if you were a director who could come back and had time travel as a plot device, what would you do? That’s all I will say.

The film is not without its imperfections. My main issue was that with such a huge number of characters at Singer’s disposal and the plot line, there is always that fear that a favourite character will be removed, restricted or not even included.

Singer does his best to include as many as possible but being that they are battling a genocidal war in the future, it just easy to say they died for the cause. However, you are then sitting there, asking how? But the film would have been three hours or another movie, which although tempting, would have taken the Michael. However, it’s well written, well-acted and the pace rarely dips. An unexpected but equally predictable climax does inevitably leave things open yet again.

Also don’t wait for the end credits, it’s not worth it. I’m sure it will be on YouTube. That will save you ten to fifteen minutes learning who was the PA of the PA for Sir Ian McKellen.

BUT in comparison to the number of hit and misses that have tortured my normally tolerant resolve, this gets a solid 4. INVEST.

Currently ranks 18 out of 184!