2016 Summer Movie Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

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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.

3/4

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2015 Summer Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

It's literally a mad, mad, mad, mad, world for Max in George Miller's latest reboot

It’s literally a mad, mad, mad, mad, world for Max in George Miller’s latest reboot “Mad Max: Fury Road”

If there is a movie that everyone should see this summer, Mad Max: Fury Road would be it.

For someone who has not seen the original Mad Max trilogy starring Mel Gibson, I think Mad Max: Fury Road stands on its own. Aussie director George Miller returns to the franchise 30 years after the release of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. It lives up to the hype by giving what the audiences want: an insane thrill-ride with a surprisingly convincing narrative. What can be more awesome than flames shooting out of the neck of a guitar?

In a post-apocalyptic future, humanity has been broken and the remaining survivors are driven mad in need of  necessary resources such as food, water, and gas. Max Rockanstansky (Tom Hardy), one of the survivors, is haunted by his past. He believes the only way to live in the desert wasteland is survive. However, he gets kidnapped by a cult led by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Max is held captive as a blood bag for Nux (Nicholas Hoult), one of the “War Boys” working for Joe. After realizing his five “breeders” are missing, Joe sends his cult to drive through the desert – in one of the best action sequences of the year – in pursuit of a rig carrying 3,000 gallons of gasoline driven by the Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Then, Max joins forces with Furiosa to help the “breeders” to safety.

Nowadays, summer blockbusters have been overstuffed with CGI and shaky camera work. What Miller does with Fury Road is none of that. Most of the effects are practical, giving the sense of realism and insanity of the action. It’s refreshing to see what is going on during the action with the steady camera work (although a little shaky) and fast-paced editing. There is great tension; making the audience feel like they are in the rig with Max and Furiosa.

Miller started filming in his native Australia. But after the amount of rainfall changing the landscape, he moved the production to no better place than in the deserts of Namibia. The scenery is downright gorgeous; with the shades of orange capturing scenes in which take place during the day and blue capturing the scenes taking place at night. The majority of the film takes place on the go, but it’s more than just a two-hour chase sequence. It’s a story of hope for humanity, willing to survive, and a chance for redemption. Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult kick ass in one of the best action films ever made.

4/4