2016 Summer Movie Review: X-Men: Apocalypse


Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his lads try to spot Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse

Bryan Singer returns for the fourth time as director in the X-Men franchise. His 2000 film introduced a world of mutants with different abilities. Along with its superior sequel, X2: X-Men United, it definitely ranks among one of my favorite character studies. After the disastrous The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the franchise does back to where things started for Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr in X-Men: First Class and having their older counterparts come back in Days of Future Past—which features one of the coolest action set pieces ever. Along with the other mutants, they begin to face the ultimate test in X-Men: Apocalypse.

In 1983, the rivalry of Professor X/Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) is put to a rest. Xavier is still running his “School for Gifted Youngsters”. He gets an unexpected visitor. Raven (Jennifer Lawrence, who is rocking that ‘80s look) warns Xavier about Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), the world’s first immortal mutant who ruled Ancient Egypt with an iron fist. Now, he is back to gain control of the mutants and destroy humanity to make his own order. Along with Nightcrawler (Kodi Smitt-McPhee), Jean Gray (Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), the mutants try to destroy the Apocalypse.

What makes the new X-Men movies work is the dynamic between Professor X and Magneto. They were two friends who had an idea that turned into a reality. Then, their friendship drifts them apart once they begin saving the world. In the case of Apocalypse, Singer does an exceptional job providing the devastating side of their rivalry. Furthermore, I appreciated Magneto’s backstory living a quiet life with his family in Poland.

However, Singer has made an undoubtedly ambitious movie. And it’s by far his weakest film in the series. It’s not bad as a lot of critics are saying (49% on Rotten Tomatoes). In my opinion, it’s actually very good. But it has its fair share of faults including Isaac’s portrayal of Apocalypse being a mixed bag—half-menacing; half-weak. As well as the CGI-heavy final act getting a bit out of hand. It’s still an enjoyable sequel. Quicksilver becomes a part in another awesome scene that you should see for yourself.


2016 Summer Movie Review: The Nice Guys


Two L.A. investigators (Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe) are solving the case regarding a dead porn star in Shane Black’s The Nice Guys.

Director Shane Black (Iron Man 3) returns to his roots of Lethal Weapon (in which he wrote the screenplay) and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. And brings the classic buddy action comedy back to the silver screen. The Nice Guys, one of this summer’s most anticipated movies, pays tribute to 1970s culture with ‘80s-style action and irony.

In 1977, Los Angeles is filled with crime and conspiracy. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a divorced, middle-aged, non-licensed private detective. His job involves beating the hell out of his client’s enemies for money. Holland March (Ryan Gosling), however, is the exact opposite. He’s an experienced PI but down on his luck. He’s a single father with a 13-year-old daughter Holly (a gifted Angourie Rice).

Unknowingly, the two private eyes team up to investigate the death of porn star Misty Mountains (as happens in the film’s opening scene). Along the way, they track down a girl named Amelia (Margaret Qualley), who might be involved. The situation begins to go all over the place.

One of the reasons The Nice Guys works is the chemistry between Crowe and Gosling. It’s hard to imagine a better duo. They are same but different. They work off each other so flawlessly as two of the worst detectives. There is one scene where a drunken March rolls down a hill and stumbles upon a dead body sitting against a tree. Healy tries to find him, and he responds with a silent scream. Then, they try to get rid of the body by throwing it over a fence and landing on a table during a wedding party. That is one of the movie’s great examples of physical comedy. Who needs an excessive amount of penis jokes if there are references to The Waltons among other original jokes? The jokes don’t stop! With all the wisecracks (“Do you know who else was following orders? Hitler!” March says as a police officer is following orders himself) and sight gags, there is also plenty of fist fights and shootouts to carry through. I enjoyed every bit of this movie.


2016 Summer Movie Review: Sing Street


Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and his friends start a band in 1980s Dublin in John Carney’s Sing Street

John Carney is one of the most unique filmmakers of this century. Once is nothing short of a masterpiece; following two musicians from different countries who share each other’s love for music. They perform a song at a Dublin music store, and begin to form a friendship like no other. Begin Again, which takes place in New York City, is just as great, but doesn’t quite capture the same beauty of Once. Now, Carney returns to his native Ireland with Sing Street (it opened last weekend at Brunswick’s Eveningstar Cinema). This time, he goes back to the past.

The year is 1985. The Irish are emigrating to London to seek a new life. For 15-year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), he is in a tough situation living in Dublin. His parents (Aiden Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy) are fighting all the time and dealing with financial problems. They transfer him to another school, which he is being treated like dirt by the student body and the priests.

Everything changes when he meets a beautiful girl named Raphina (Lucy Boynton). Inspired by watching a music video of “Rio” by Duran Duran with his brother-in-law Brendan (Jack Reynor) who has a massive vinyl record collection, Conor decides to start a band and agrees to have her appear in some music videos before finding a nearby gig (“Rock n’ Roll is a risk. You risk being ridiculed,” Brendan says). As sparks begin to fly between Conor and Raphina, they begin chasing their dreams.

Like John Carney’s previous two films, Sing Street throws every mainstream musical out of the water. He does such an astounding job bringing the 1980s culture to life. It has a huge heart, humor (some in a typical dark Irish sense), poignancy, a kick-ass soundtrack (which I bought after getting out of the movie), gorgeous cinematography, and awesome, amusing characters who are talented musicians. I guarantee this will leave a smile across your face.

Follow your dreams and get out of your troubles.


2016 Summer Movie Review: Money Monster


Lee Gates (George Clooney) is put in a hostile situation in Jodie Foster’s financial thriller Money Monster

The U.S. has had a long history regards to its economy. With the occasional crashes with the stock market, it’s still running smoothly (as far as I’m concerned). Movies about Wall Street and our economy have always fascinated me–The Big Short, The Wolf of Wall Street, to name a few. Jodie Foster’s Money Monster sounds, more or less, like your standard financial thriller.

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the biggest television personality of all of Wall Street. He is the host of CNBC’s Money Monster, which advises the public on how to use their stocks and which ones to buy. The show is suddenly interrupted by investor Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell, Unbroken) walking on the set holding two boxes; one of them has a bomb vest inside. While putting Gates hostage in front of millions of viewers, he later learns that Kyle lost $800 million in stock. He, along with director Patty (Julia Roberts), must learn more about the situation while wearing the vest and on the verge of being blown into bits.

With the events take place in real time, Foster has made a surprisingly solid film about our economy. Clooney, Roberts and O’Connell are at their finest hours here while the tensions are rising high. While there are funny moments scattered throughout, the humor can lose its touch. And the subplots outside the hostage situation feel redundant. With little to no surprises, Money Monster is solid matinee entertainment.


2016 Summer Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War


Cap (Chris Evans) and others spring into action in Captain America: Civil War

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is now in its third phase. It has come a long way after the release of Iron Man. While Captain America: The First Avenger is nothing but a good old-fashioned WWII extravaganza, The Winter Soldier allowed directors Anthony and Joe Russo to bring politics into the picture while still providing the fun that audiences go see these movies for. Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America having their standalone feats, they saved the world twice in The Avengers and last year’s sequel Age of Ultron.

Now with Civil War, ranking with Guardians of the Galaxy and The Winter Soldier as the best MCU film, the Avengers face two new enemies: one of them being the government, who accuses the initiative of collateral damage. They come up with a law to control their actions causing Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) to disagree with one another. Let the battle commence!

I’m not going to spoil too much of the movie. I can tell you that this is a movie that should not be missed! It’s funny. It’s exciting. It’s devastating as hell. Nothing but pure light-hearted fun.


2016 Summer Movie Preview: May

Time to forget about the crazy weather Maine has had last week, and focus on the upcoming releases for the next three months.

Yes, May is officially here; which means the summer movie season starts tomorrow. Compared to every year, 2016 is off to a decent start for film despite some disasters. I have a feeling this summer is going to kick ass with all the big blockbusters (not to mention sequels) as well as small, independent films (most of which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival). I’m going to do the same thing as the last two years; talk about the ones that are getting a lot of attention and ones that look interesting to me. Without further ado, let’s get started with the films that are coming out this May.

May 6


Captain America: Civil War It’s hard to believe it has already been eight years since the first Iron Man has released in theaters. With every major Marvel superhero—the Hulk, Thor, Captain America—getting their own movie (featuring some minor characters) before teaming up to save the world, everyone got hyped to find out that this is going to be a series. The MCU is now in its third phase. Captain America: Civil War introduces some of the same characters from the previous films as well as some new ones to the MCU (e.g. Spider-Man) is going to be more than just a superhero movie. Bring it on!


A Bigger Splash (opened in limited theaters yesterday; expanding nationwide later this month) – Ralph Fiennes has had a ball this decade. From finishing the final two Harry Potter films as Lord Voldemort to becoming a charismatic concierge on a journey to prove his innocence in The Grand Budapest Hotel, he is going to have a blast here as a rock star on an Italian vacation in A Bigger Splash. I am down for something wild and thrilling.

May 13


Money Monster – George Clooney, one of the highest-paid actors working today, plays a Wall Street expert whose live television show is interrupted by a broke investor (Unbroken’s Jack O’Connell, delivering his best “New Yawk” accent) who puts him and his producer (Julia Roberts) hostage in front of millions of viewers. It does sound intense enough. But with an all-star cast under the direction of Jodie Foster, this seems to be nothing but your standard thriller about the issues on Wall Street. I have a feeling this might perform poorly in the box office.


The Darkness – I’m not a big fan of horror movies. Hell, most 21st century horror movies I’ve seen or heard about weren’t all that good, because of the over-reliance of gore and cheap scares. The Darkness has the potential of being good or bad. I will see anything starring Kevin Bacon, so maybe I’ll see it.


The Lobster – This hit at last year’s Cannes Film Festival has one of the most oddly intriguing premises in recent years. Taking place in a futuristic society, people at a hotel must find love within 45 days. If that doesn’t happen, they turn into the spirit animal of their choice and released into the forest. An all-star cast featuring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, among others are the direction of Yorgos Lanthimos. With dark comedy involved, The Lobster is one strange love story I’m looking forward to see.


Love and Friendship – For over a hundred years, Jane Austen’s work has been adapted into some of the best movies of all-time (e.g. the 1940 and 2005 versions of Pride and Prejudice and the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility) and even parodied (this year’s guilty pleasure Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). One of Austen’s least popular stories—Lady Susan—becomes adapted into one of Sundance’s big hits, starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. For someone who has never read any of Austen’s work but seen some of her movies, this looks like one hysterical comedy of manners with beautiful sets and costumes.


High-Rise (expanding nationwide in June) – Known for playing Loki in Thor and The Avengers, Tom Hiddleston is one of the biggest international sex symbols of this decade. He can be as intimidating as he is charming (I can see him take over for Daniel Craig as James Bond). He stars in what looks like one of the most stylish and insane thrillers directed by Ben Wheatley—High-Rise.

May 20


The Nice Guys – Now that’s what I’m talking about! A comedy-thriller directed by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) and starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as two detectives investigating a murder of a porn star in 1970s Los Angeles. Then, crap ensues. I had never laughed so hard during a trailer in a long time. I’m ready!


The Angry Birds Movie – Ah—a corporate sellout, yay. I wouldn’t be surprised if kids will fall in love with this movie based on the beloved game. I’m pretty sure adults will be bored to death. Just because it features a star-studded voice cast, doesn’t make the movie look good.


Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising – Is this really necessary? For someone who kind of enjoyed the first Neighbors (despite the countless dick jokes), nobody asked for a second film. Instead of facing against a fraternity next door, Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, and Zac Efron battle a sorority. Skipping this one, for sure.

May 27


X-Men: ApocalypseX-Men is one of my favorite superhero series. X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past both made up for the catastrophe known as The Last Stand by not only bringing back the mutants we know and love, but also introduce younger versions of them (except for Wolverine who is immortal). Bryan Singer returns the director’s chair to direct the younger mutants facing a new enemy. Please don’t be bad…please don’t be bad.


Alice Through the Looking Glass – Yay, a sequel to the visually stunning yet disastrous 2010 remake of Alice in Wonderland. Skip!


Most Anticipated: Captain America: Civil War, High-Rise, The Lobster, Love and Friendship, The Nice Guys, X-Men: Apocalypse

Least Anticipated: Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Angry Birds Movie, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

I hope you enjoyed reading on what my thoughts are on several movies for the month of May. Tell me in the comments below on what your most anticipated movies are for the month of May. Stay tuned for a movie preview for the month of June after Memorial Day. Take care.

Movie Review: Keanu


Rell (Jordan Peele) and Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) have one hell of a weekend to save a cat in Keanu, from the creator of Key and Peele.

Key and Peele are the greatest comedic duo working today. After finishing five seasons of Comedy Central’s sketch comedy series (I only seen a few of their sketches, and I get a kick out of them), the duo—as well as creator Peter Atencio—begin to make their transition to film. Keanu is a parody of John Wick (one of the best and, sadly, most underrated films of this decade); not only does it have the laughs it also has the violence and cuteness.

Rell (Jordan Peele) is feeling lonely after getting dumped by his girlfriend. His life takes a big 360 degree turn when a kitten arrives on his doorstep. He names him Keanu, and decides to take pictures of him for a calendar. His family-man cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) is also in love with him. One night, after coming back from the movie theater, they find out that Keanu has been taken by a group of drug dealers, led by Cheddar (Method Man). Rell and Clarence both go to the other side of Los Angeles; in order the get the cute little fur ball back, they go gangsta!

Fans of the show will have a blast with the movie; as for newcomers of the duo, Keanu is a good place to start. It provides fast-paced energy, ranging from having fun with the African-American—and drug dealer—stereotypes, film references galore, celebrity cameos, and a soundtrack featuring George Michael (those jokes had me in stitches). The chemistry between Key and Peele makes up for the flaws, not to mention the most adorable cat to ever grace the silver screen (the movie used seven cats to portray Keanu, according to Peele).

It might feel like an overlong Key and Peele sketch. The action-filled final act, although better than most action sequences today, loses a bit of steam. Nevertheless, I had a great time with Keanu, and I look forward to see more of the ingenious duo.