The Most Disappointing Film of 2016 so far
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016): With the emergence of the world's first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.
Ok. By this point the word is out on this film. It is…..not great. That said, this is the classic case where ultimately the movie can be described as “It’s fine.” But now I have to talk about it in detail. However fortunately for all of you lovely people that won’t be a problem here. Because the X-Men franchise is one of my favorite superhero franchises. So I have a lot to say about it. (I have a mega-review of the entire franchise through Days of Future Past, which you can check out here) To me, X-Men: Days of Future Past is my favorite superhero movie not called The Dark Knight, and the original film in this new trilogy, X-Men: First Class is another pillar of the superhero genre as well. So how on earth could a film with most of the crew who filmed Days of Future Past returning also film this? Is the fault simply in the source material? How could an actor as charming and talented as Oscar Isaac be so incredibly underwhelming as Apocalypse? I mean it doesn't help that he's under so much makeup and CGI you don't even know it's him, but there's no doubt he was miscast for this role. But, not only that, it looks like the material he was given simply just wasn't workable for him or anyone else! So, how could the sequel to one of the pillars of the superhero genre be just..... fine?
Well, as I hinted to it starts with the villain. Apocalypse is a hugely disappointing character from start to finish. His motivations are never really explained, as he wants to rule the world but.....in his mind in order to rule the world he has to destroy it? Ya. Makes sense right? Why rule over a live civilization when you can rule over a dead one, amirite? But, for me, the biggest disappointment here is the loss of scale. There were several moments in Days of Future Past where the film really made you feel the actions that were happening on screen. There was actually a serious sense of dread and despair, something which does not happen at all in Apocalypse. What I'm trying to say is for me my biggest complaint with X-Men: Apocalypse was how.....by the numbers and ordinary it was. It felt like a pre-Dark Knight superhero film, where the villain is just a cardboard cutout bad guy who wants to destroy the world for some reason and our heroes are. of course, the only ones that can stop him. Throw in your humor to keep the audience entertained (which there's entirely too much of that here) and rinse and repeat. That's not what we got in the previous two installments in this new timeline. There was weight. There was gravitas. Here they completely destroy a major Egyptian city (like....to the point that there aren't even any extras running around in the final action sequences) but nobody talks about it. Not once does anyone address the fact that like Cairo or whatever has been totally and utterly destroyed with millions dead. That's not at all what we see in Days of Future Past or First Class. What happened, guys??
That said, it's not all bad. The acting, outside of Apocalypse (I really hope this doesn't torpedo Oscar Isaac's career because there really was nothing he could do with this material, internet) is fine. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are as charming as always and their scenes together, once again, provide some of the best scenes of the movie. Rose Byrne kills it in her criminally limited screen time, and newcomers Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Sophie Turner are all fine but none of them really stand out. Olivia Munn.....man Olivia Munn cannot catch a break. She is such a talented actress and is once again completely wasted here. I've seen The Newsroom. I've seen what she can be. And we did not get that here. The big however though is this......Quicksilver basically saves this film from being rated any lower than it is. Evan Peters clearly has a blast with this character, and the writers were able to give him some of the funniest and most entertaining moments of the entire film in moments where we should actually expect this! His sequences alone are worth the price of admission. Least they're worth the price of a Redbox rental.
Ultimately, there's no doubt X-Men: Apocalypse is my biggest disappointment of the year so far. While it wasn't Batman V. Superman levels of incompetent, the film certainly left much to be desired, and the incredibly lackluster villain was the twisting of the knife. But it was the end credits sequence and the obvious setting up for a fourth-quel that was like rubbing salt on an already gaping wound. The seeds of corporate greed were already starting to shine through on this installment, and I fear it's only going to get worse from here. We may be witnessing one of the most disappointing falls from grace in the history of cinema for a franchise if that's the case. Please, Fox. Give creative rights of the X-Men franchise back to Marvel before you shame the X-Men like you did Fantastic Four. Please.
The Critique: A cardboard cutout villain, a messy and criminally light story, and an overall lack of gravitas make X-Men: Apocalypse the biggest disappointment of 2016 so far.
The Recommendation: Netflix or Redbox it. I know you still want to see but it's really not worth it. Patience.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 5/10 Painfully Average
Oscar contention in May?
The Nice Guys (2016): A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles. (114 Minutes)
Wow where did this movie come from? When I saw the trailers for this flick I thought it looked.....quirky. I honestly wasn't sure director Shane Black could take on this style of film. I mean sure he directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang so I knew he could handle the voiceovers, but could he handle a Wes Anderson level of attention to detail in the set design? Could he handle a Paul Thomas Anderson/David O. Russel kind of storyline? Well, after watching the movie, the answer is.....yes and no. Yay vague answers! So, for starters, he nails the set here. Maybe a little too much so, as there were a few 70's references that felt like references for the sake of references. But the houses, the interiors, and the costumes all screamed 70s. The story....I think I'll say the story was far better than Inherent Vice, but not quite as good as American Hustle. Now, that's a pretty wide spectrum there I know, but honestly to me this is the film that inherent Vice should have been, but the wackiness of the third act here just got to be too much for me. Hence why it's not as good as American Hustle. Ok so now that I've properly confused you, let's dive in!
Let's talk positives. The set design is where I would expect an Oscar nomination. The Academy loves this sort of set design, and for good reason! There's attention to detail everywhere, particularly in Gosling's apartment. Actually, Gosling's character as a whole was a walking 70's cliche and I loved it. Additionally, the hippie scenes were some of the funniest scenes in the film, and the "damsel-in-distress" character was the embodiment of this in the film. She was hysterical. For that matter I laughed a LOT during this film. A lot more than I was expecting to. This film is absolutely hilarious, but the quirky, witty banter we see here has always been a strong point of director/writer Shane Black. Just re-watch Lethal Weapon if you need more proof of that. The acting was also fantastic. Gosling had this weird accent early on in the film that he dropped pretty quickly, but after that he was hilarious, and Russell Crowe was, well, Russell Crowe. The one who stole the show for me, though, was newcomer Angourie Rice. This is only her second major supporting role, and we may have a new Chloë Grace Moretz on our hands here. She is wildly talented as she is asked to basically outact Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. Which she does. I look forward to seeing what she does next because if she plays her cards right (and doesn't start picking films like a Carrie remake and Muppets Most Wanted) we may have a future superstar on our hands. Also gotta give a shoutout to now superstar kid actor Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World, Insidious, Iron Man 3) showing up in this film for LITERALLY a single scene. That was very funny to me because I thought Jurassic World was by far his weakest performance. We'll see if his career is ultimately just that brief.
But in everyone's life some rain must fall. This film is not perfect by any means. There were definitely more 70s references than there needed to be, and that took me out of the film overall at times. However by far the biggest problem with this film is the final action sequence. To me it felt kind of out of place for a noir film, which is ultimately what this is paying homage to, and it had me crossing my arms and shaking my head in disapproval. Shane Black went full Iron Man 3 here and had a HUGE action setpiece that just didn't fit with the rest of the film. That said was the scene still witty and funny and fun-to-watch? Yes. But it definitely felt like a superhero scene (Gosling even pulled his best Captain America during it) than noir piece. I mean my biggest complaint about LA Confidential, (another film starring Russell Crowe) which I believe is one of the best film noir pieces ever made, was the fact that the final showdown was a bit on over rambunctious side, but it's NOTHING compared to what we got in The Nice Guys. Before that I was looking to give this film a 9. Now....gotta dock the score a little bit. That said, this is a heck of a good film, especially for May as we head into summer blockbuster season, and will certainly get some Oscar attention come the end of this year. Go see it.
The Critique: A gem of a film, The Nice Guys is a witty and comedic ode to the classic film noir genre, despite an overzealous finale.
The Recommendation: I'd say anyone would like it, but I think the older generation will enjoy this film a lot more than my age group.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Image Credit: http://static.srcdn.com/slir/w1000-h500-q90-c1000:500/wp-content/uploads/nice-guys-movie-review-crowe-gosling-angourie-rice.jpg
All the Superheros
Captain America: Civil War (2016): Political interference in the Avengers' activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.
You know, when I watched Batman V. Superman I mentioned I was feeling superhero'd out. I hadn't watched a great superhero film since Guardians of the Galaxy, and the films were starting to become far too serious than they actually should be. But then Captain America: Civil War comes along and reminds me what a great superhero film is like and why this genre can be an absolute blast. Now, there are some problems with this film, but ultimately? Yes. It is an amazing spectacle and just might be the best superhero movie to date.
Let's talk about positives first. The list of actors in this franchise at this point is ridiculous, and almost all of them show up here. But let's talk about the newcomers, because these were the people that really stood out to me. First off, Daniel Bruhl. His performance was awesome as the "villain" of the film, but his character was somewhat underutilized. But, the man who just might be the most underrated actor in the business right now brings it in his biggest performance yet. Then there's Tom Holland. This relative newcomer (though he does have some experience alongside Thor in the underwhelming In the Heart of the Sea) easily captured the hearts of everyone in the theater as Peter Parker. It only took one scene for me to be so thankful that Marvel finally got the rights back to this beloved character. He is somewhat underutilized in this film, but Tom Holland did more than I ever could've imagined in his limited screen time. Martin Freeman also shows up for just a few scenes and has VERY little to do in this film. It's obvious that his character will be used more in upcoming films, which I look forward to seeing. My favorite of the newcomers, though, was definitely Chadwick Boseman. If I took anything out of this film, it's that I cannot WAIT for Black Panther. Boseman quickly became my favorite of the group, which is saying something because I've always considered Spider-Man to be my favorite superhero. But I digress. This film really is an actor's showcase, but I'll talk about some other positives. The action. Zack Snyder, can you PLEASE take some notes about how this action was shot and, you know, do that? It wasn't perfect, but dear God was the big fight scene between the superheros better choreographed than Batman v. Superman. AND the Russo brothers were smart enough to film this in DAYLIGHT. You know, where you could SEE everything. Wow! What an amazing concept!
Buuuuuuut it was not perfect by any means. First off, HOLY CRAP THIS FILM IS WAY TOO LONG. This film comes in at 146 minutes , and it could've very easily dropped about 30 minutes off of that. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I have no problem with a film being long if it's filled with content, but there were definitely some scenes here that felt like excess fat as this film tried to establish some "seriousness" where there shouldn't be any. There were some great jokes to help us take a break from the tone of most of the film, (the banter between Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan was some of the best banter I've ever seen in a superhero movie) but overall the film was too long and too serious. What other issues did I have? Right. The action. The big superhero fight of the film had too many cliches. Too many times would a certain superhero be in just the right spot at just the right moment to do just the right thing that some other superhero needed to have happen to, supposedly, save their life. It was a little eye-rolling during what should've been easily the best moments of the film. Finally, we come to my biggest gripe of this film as a "fan." We have now had two films where Vision, the character who, in my opinion, is BY FAR the most interesting character in this entire franchise, has been MASSIVELY underutilized. I get that they kind of have to do this to him since he is essentially a god, but they could've given him more screen time talking AT LEAST. The scenes where Vision was explaining his motives and thought-processes were easily the most interesting scenes of the film. Why isn't he getting his own film??? PLEASE CHANGE THIS MARVEL All that said....this film is still a great film and will definitely stand the test of time as one of the best superhero films to come out of this whole craze. Well done, Marvel. Thanks for reminding us that superhero films can actually be fun.
The Critique: While not perfect, Civil War is a refreshing reminder of how much fun superhero movies can actually be.
The Recommendation: Everyone is going to see this film so, uhhhhhhh.....go see this film. That's all I have to say about that.
Rewatchability: Moderately High
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
"Like" Enter the Movies on Facebook for the latest and greatest on all things movies! OR ELSE FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A KILLER RABBIT. Sorry about this one, guys. Not my decision. He volunteered. And is just absolute dynamite!