Get Off My Face! – Alien: Covenant

10 08 2017

Out in deep space, the ship Covenant is on its way to a distant planet on a colonization mission. After a tragic accident takes place, the crew of the ship discover a planet much closer by which appears to be an untapped paradise with more potential than the planet they are heading for. Upon landing on the planet’s surface however, they realize something odd about this new world, and that more importantly, they’re not alone!

Confession: I have not seen Alien. I have seen bits of it, from John Hurt looking at Eggs, to something strapped to his face and the attempts to remove it (plus the deleted scene where one crew member is being turned into an egg; which sort of lowers the uncivilized level of everything else in the world of the Xenomorph). I have though seen other films in the Alien franchise; I have seen Aliens (as close to watching the whole thing without doing it in one sitting), tiny bits of Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection (in the same capacity as Aliens), Alien vs Predator, Alien vs Predator: Requiem (again much like Aliens) and Prometheus. In fact, Alien: Covenant is the first time I have seen an Alien film on the big screen that features the word Alien in the title. But this does not explain much as to why I have not seen the first film.

It’s not like I have not had a chance too or lack of it being on either. It’s the case that the bits I have seen are the result of it being on TV. There was also the opportunity to watch it at The Dukes in Lancaster too, but I turned it down. So why have I not seen it: because I am not really a fan of gross levels of horror. I am actually rather squeamish, this is particularly true anytime and every time I have walked into a hospital or needed an injection. When it comes to these films, I know what I need to be getting myself into with its Chestbursters and its Facehuggers, but part of me is not really looking forward to those bits. But now you must be thinking; OK, then why watch any of the films in the first place then? Simple answer, I can’t help myself: thing is, I am actually, although rather grossed out by it, very interested in the Alien creature. I am a big fan of Monster Movies as anyone who knows me will testify with an especial passion for Godzilla films. While my Monster movie love though is mainly tied to giant monsters, I am still very interested in the Alien. This mainly comes in the form of its biology and how it comes to life. In the week leading up to the release of Covenant, I spent quite a bit of my time in a philosophical head space as I thought about the creature and came to the conclusion that the Alien creature is actually a rather tragic creation; but that is a story for another time.

Released in 2017 by 20th Century Fox and Directed by Ridley Scott; Covenant is the latest film in the mythical series of Horror/Action films that began in 1979 with the release of Alien. Covenant looks backwards in time, as it looks to continue to tell the tale of the events leading up to the original film, as well as look into how the species was possibly created. The film acts as a direct sequel to Prometheus, but also looks to set up its own future and possibly lead into something bigger.

First thing I would say about this film is something rather obvious from the get go. While the series is technically more of a horror series of films, Covenant lends itself more to that of an action film. It does have its shocking moments that will make you launch a bit, but there is not really a lot in terms of big out of the dark surprises. It’s more like the film makers decided to go from the launch pad that as we know what the Alien is, there is less need to surprise people with what they already know. The film does contain its fair share of visually disgusting moments that we have come to expect from the series such as its facehuggers and chestbursters, but at the same time also weaves in some new little bits to keep some bits of the series fresh. This aside though, it’s content and pacing really does lend itself more to a mini action movie than a horror movie. It comes with chase scenes, tense moments, and events involving large vehicular instruments as well as gun totting characters with a trigger happy attitude when confronted with something that wants to kill them.

The film’s story is nicely brought together as it looks to less provide a ride for the ages and to introduce the series and its elements to a new group of fans with help from those of the past (sort of on a level similar to the release of Jurassic World). On that note though, you do begin to wonder how this film is helping its own series continuity, and how far back the film makers can go in both setting and technology without the events of these films unconvincingly surpass the films that they are meant to be leading up to. The story in itself does have some very interesting use of characters, although those that do stand out early on do feel rather wasted and you are left with one character whose introduction early on shows that he is just going to be un-sympathetic and rotten and thus do not care the slightest what happens to him, in some manner of form it’s actually rather pleasing. Those that remain do their best on their own as much as they can to continue to provide (though it’s hard to mention whom exactly as I don’t want to ruin who gets a feasting). Characters of note include Faris (Amy Seimetz), Karine (Carmen Ejogo), Rosenthal (Tess Haubrich), and Upworth (Callie Hernandez), however my particular mention goes out to the three main stars of this film in my opinion, those being Daniels (Katherine Waterston), Tennessee (Danny McBride) and the combination of David and Walter (Michael Fassbender).

The switcheroo between David and Walter is rather fun to watch as the two different forms of the same looking AI go head to head. On the one hand you have the now rather psychotic David and the more natural butler like machine of Walter. Walter is already a far more pleasing performance than David, but David really does carry that dark sinister sense, where as in Prometheus he is very much just a hindrance, now though he is fully on Badness. Daniels meanwhile is the sympathetic and strong second leader of the team, whose sole job is to make sure the mission is completed on time. Given a tragedy at the start of the film she feels broken, but then comes out strong and hopeful. While her scenes are actually rather enjoyable and strong, she does suffer from not being on-screen more often. She is on more often than other characters, but as the film reaches its central point she is sort of side-lined for a lecture of human philosophy between David and Walter. She comes back on strong and ends nicely that way too, but it’s still something of a miss. For me though the real attraction is Tennessee. This guy is just fantastic. Loyal and respectful, but always working hard to get things done. He shows real levels of passion in the middle stages of the film, and becomes a hard nut in the film’s ending. He is the character to root for the most as you really get attached to how nice but also how practical this character is, and from the beginning of the third act becomes the film’s lead, at least from an audience perspective.

The Xenomorphs meanwhile, although still pretty well done and cool, does suffer from a case of Missing Alien Syndrome. When Godzilla was released in 2014; there was a lot of press which highlighted that the film appeared to have very little of the title monster. Now while I did not necessarily agree with that, I would say however that such comments should definitely be directed this way. For a film that even has Alien in the title, there does appear to be a definitive lack of the Alien creatures. Now, while you could argue that in the same sense that this film is a potential new launch platform for the Alien series and it is of course important to introduce them correctly, there does appear to be large amounts of time between Alien’s being in the scene, and returning to the film. It feels like whole passages of time are passing by as we wait yet again for one to appear. It could be the case that the horror sense of what these films are meant to be is hiding their appearances, but seeing as on occasion, the scene breaks to a shot of the Alien approaching, then why is it taking so long for them to arrive? When they are actively in the scene, they do become the central focus yes; but when not in it, you begin to wonder why their name is even in the film title (maybe it should be called Human: Covenant instead)? Although: there is one big thing however that does sort of get in the way.

The film really likes to talk on the subject of life in a philosophical matter. Talking about life and death and the importance of life given to a species and whether or not they live to that potential. It is something to think on and the film really works hard to slot it in there, to get us thinking and does become the basis of some moments and decisions that characters get involved with. But this is a horror/action movie, not a scientific lecture. It’s good to see certain parts of this film and its series, important points in the creation aspect get covered, but if it’s slowing the films pace down is it worth it? This part, slotted in there really is the bug that is slicing its way through the film. You will have a moment where something is happening and going on, only to then cut to a classroom somewhere to receive a creation and zoology based lecture on creation and the meaning of life. It’s interesting yes, but is this really the time. I mean, here we are, stuck inside a building, fending ourselves off from something that wants to mercilessly shred us to bits, and you want to deliver a scientific lecture David?

The film of course does come packed with a host of visual and special effects but which frankly does not heavily rely on them. The SFX in this film are more on hand to cover and create things which cannot be done with what is available, doing them to a great level of detail, but also only producing what is needed for the film to work. The Alien effects still look pretty gross however, but in a sense are pretty more bearable in comparison to previous films in the series, once again allowing it to lean much closer to action films, not horror films. The scenes are ones that will horrify you still, however they have been done in a format that looks less like a heart transplant given by an unqualified butcher, and more like something is just spilling out of a skin coloured sofa. The shots of space craft and flying ships are pretty well done and cool too, with the Covenant ship looking a bit like the Pegasus front in Battlestar Galactica. These scenes sometimes do feel like a post off cut of Gravity, but these do not distract from the scenes in hand, and don’t want make you feel dizzy, so you can save those feelings for later. There is also a soundtrack but once again feels like it has fallen into that trap of not actually being needed for the most part. Like the SFX, it’s there when it’s needed, but several sections of this film don’t even have much in the way of music, your unlikely to spot it, other than the constant uses of the theme from Prometheus.

Despite some of its issues here and there, Covenant does not really have much in the way of issues that will make you leap out of your chair and want to tear the screen down in anger; except maybe for the film’s ending. Although it is a rather clichéd film practice which leads up to it, the end of the film creates an unbelievable shock that will leave you reeling. It make you think aloud, begging for there to be more, as it just does not seem right. It leaves you on a sinister twist that I think is very similar to the ending of Gone Girl. It is an unjustified twist that makes it feel like there is more to come, but you desire it now, because it just feels so wrong to end like that.

Altogether, Covenant is a very enjoyable film: it contains its core Alien values as well as a few shocks, but does lack surprises, but in the end does provide a rather sinister twist in a similar vein perhaps to an episode of The Outer Limits. It does have some character development flaws as early characters with promise are killed off, but does allow some good ones to live on, if only for a short time. The special effects are nicely made and blend into the film rather un-noticeably, as does the soundtrack. Alien: Covenant really is more of an action film than a horror film: yes, it will probably gross out some audiences and is definitely not one for everyone (especially those under a certain age), but there is a minimalist approach in its delivery however to provide an allowance for some to try it, without needing an instant throw-up break every now and then. On the whole though you are really getting your money’s worth and more with this one as it really does give the Alien series a bright looking future as well as provide thrills and Chestburster spills for this outing at least.

GENEPOOL (Does anyone else think this film’s plot contradicts that of AVP’s?).

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Other Films Of Note Due For Release In 2017

22 02 2017

the-last-jedi (Lucasfilm - 2017)

As you may know (or not know if this is the first time you have visited, in which case “Hello”), whenever a new year rolls around I like to celebrate my favourite movies of the previous year, and also look ahead into the coming year to see which films are taking my eye. I do this by doing some Top 5/Top 10 posts and choose a selection of which films I am most looking forward to. Sometimes though it can be the case that some films which I also like the look of don’t get much of a mention. This can be particularly sad if those said films turn out to be better than the ones I was looking forward too, and even more if I find out about them later on. Anyway, with a lack of decision-making in terms of posts to write about at the moment, I thought I would do a separate post, highlighting films due out this year that I am also currently looking into.

the-great-wall (Universal Pictures - 2017)

One thing I am going to do though is not rank them. These films look interesting, but at current details are still small in my mind and I don’t want to rank them based on very few details. Instead, I have ordered them by which ones I wrote down first to last when looking them up on Wikipedia (and moved one around for the benefit of the post). So this is more of a general post than a ranked post allowing each one to state their case more equally than based on favoritism. The other rule I have done is; that I think it would be a little unfair to name films that have already been released (at least according to my knowledge), as they may no longer be out and it’s a bit late to mention them (for which I apologize). Anyway, I hope you enjoy this post (I’ll try to be as brief as I can be) and maybe also gain some more insight into this year’s set of movie releases.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Warner Bros. - 2017)

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – Directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law and Eric Bana; Legend of the Sword follows a young Arthur on his journey to becoming the great King of Legend. Do you remember when back in the summer of 2009 a trailer was released for a Sherlock Holmes film starring Robert Downey Jr? I do quite fondly. It was an interesting idea seeing the American actor of Iron Man playing a role that was quintessentially British; either way it worked out really well. Sherlock Holmes was a terrific film and still stands today as a terrific film. While we wait in the wings to see if a third film gets made, it’s good to see that Guy Ritchie has been at work taking another quintessentially British character on a road leading to another big budget movie. This is of course not the first time that King Arthur has had his time on the big screen, but it has been a while. It’s interesting to see the perspective Ritchie has chosen for this film. Upon looking at the trailer, it goes more down the route of fantasy than historical, but also it appears to carry the traits of Ritchie’s earlier works in British gangster and heist movies, with Arthur being something of a rogue before ascertaining his royal lineage. It’s an interesting looking film so far with some great differences in perspectives and is shaping up nicely to become one of 2017’s biggest epics.

Alien: Covenant (20th Century Fox)

Alien: Covenant – Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender; Covenant tells the tale of a colony ship which lands on a remote planet, where they discover a lone android and a race of monstrous creatures. Do you remember (again) when Ridley Scott announced plans to make a prequel film to his science fiction classic Alien? It was pretty exciting news, but the more details that were released before and upon release suggested that it was not exactly the prequel we thought it was, rather a film set some time before Alien and featuring a different mythology (I quite enjoyed it). Yes, while technically meant to be a sequel to Prometheus, Scott has decided that instead of taking a proposed long route round, it might be better just drop some Aliens on a planet and let the feast begin. From first looks, it does look pretty much like most Alien films released to date, but the setting looks a lot nicer being on an earth planet like surface with some foliage instead of an inhospitable wasteland made up entirely of rocks and craters. Popular elements of previous Alien films look set to return, but hopefully it won’t entirely involve the same old plot of someone wanting to keep the creatures alive for the sake of financial gain. From the looks of the trailer it’s looking like a nice combination of action meets real horror and it’s going to be fun to see where this one leads us next (maybe even allowing Neill Blomkamp to have a go).

Despicable Me 3 (Universal Pictures - 2017)

Despicable Me 3 – Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, and starring Steve Carrell and Kristen Wiig; Despicable Me 3 continues the tale of former evil genius Gru now set on his new path as a secret spy trying to bring down a former child star who is obsessed with the 80’s. When the first Despicable Me was released, I was not all that interested, but upon seeing it, I really enjoyed it and was excited to see more. Since then the Minion characters have become stars in their own sense (even though their standalone movie was pretty pants), but have stayed loyal to the series that made them stars. Given the way the story was told for the part of the small girls, with Margo having main light in the first film, and Agnes in 2, it would be nice to see Edith get her turn in this film maybe. Either way, given what the series has delivered so far, hopes are high as Despicable Me returns for a third outing later this year.

lego-ninjago-movie (Warner Bros. - 2017)

The Lego Ninjago Movie – Directed by Charlie Bean and starring Dave Franco and Jackie Chan; The Lego Ninjago Movie sees a group of teenagers hired by an old master to become Ninja Heroes and use spectacular vehicles to protect their home from an old warlord who desires revenge. In honesty I don’t know all that much about this Lego product, I have heard about it and have seen board games of it, but due to my lack of knowledge have not really looked into it. Then when I went to see The Lego Batman Movie last week and saw a trailer for Ninjago, I was mightily impressed. It looked like a good fun animated action film with some level of plot based comedy such as the hero son and villainous father (but not in a way that made me think of Star Wars Episode V, VI; and probably VIII); one thing though that I could not help but think was how similar this looked to Power Rangers.

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Geostorm – Directed by Dean Devlin and starring Gerard Butler; Geostorm is about a man who goes into space to try and prevent climate controlling satellites from creating a mega storm, while back on earth; everything is not so rosy. Currently details are rather sketchy with this one, but I do have a major reason to be excited about this one. You see, this is the feature directing debut of Dean Devlin. While that name may not stand out for many people, Devlin does have over 20 years’ experience producing several major titles as a producer; with films to his name including Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla (1998), The Patriot and Independence Day: Resurgence. OK, yes he has worked a lot with Roland Emmerich, but given what this film currently looks like, and the projects he has worked on over the last 20 years, I think it’s going to be interesting to see how this film translates, and what kind of Director he becomes in the process.

wonder (R.J. Palacio - 2012)

Wonder – Directed by Stephen Chbosky and starring Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts; Wonder follows the story of a young boy born with a facial deformity who tries to fit in at a new school, and in the process teaches others around him that beauty is not constrained to the outside. When I was studying Creative Writing at the University of Central Lancashire, I did a module on Writing for Children, a module I still consider the best and most fun module I studied. During this module, one thing we did as a class was read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio of which this film is based on. It was a very interesting book (which I managed to complete in one sitting) which really did show what it was like for someone to live with a facial deformity and how it impacted the lives of others around them. Upon hearing about this film earlier this year, my interest was immediately grabbed. It’s a very thought-provoking book and if the film does the same thing it could be an interesting film. One thing that grabbed my attention was the choice of Owen Wilson. Now given that I have not seen him much in a non-comedic role, my thoughts began to wander as to what this film turns out to be like. As I have not seen him in a non-comedic role it would be interesting to see how it turns out, but my one hope is that this film does not accidentally become a comedy for some audiences. One of the real beautiful things about the book is that even though you know the character of Auggie has this deformity, the book is respectful not to describe it, nor have other characters do the same; more just suggest it, keeping a level of respect for those who do. Having seen images of the film, it’s hard to really see how they are going to do it, but given that it appears to be in the third person, it does bring a level of worry and caution that needs to be respected throughout, as in my belief, this film should really be seen from the eyes of Auggie when he is in the scene, keeping that respect and magic from the book into the film, because in the third person I don’t know how respectful some audiences are going to be towards that character.

10-cloverfield-lane (Paramount Pictures - 2016)

God Particle – Directed by Julius Onah and starring Daniel Brühl; God Particle is about a group of Astronauts aboard a space station  who must fight for their survival after the Earth disappears, and a space shuttle appears. Yes, it does sound like Alien, and normally films like these don’t grab my attention, but this one does as it’s a part of the now finally running Cloverfield Franchise. While not a sequel to the wonderful 10 Cloverfield Lane or the first Cloverfield, a spin-off still gets me excited. Details are a bit low right now but one positive is that series creator J.J. Abrams is actively producing it. While it does sound a lot like the original Alien, given what the this franchise has delivered so far, I think it deserves the benefit of the doubt on this one and the allowance to speak for itself.

colossal (Voltage Pictures - 2017)

Colossal – Directed by Nacho Vigalondo and starring Anne Hathaway; Colossal focuses on a young woman who upon losing her job moves back to her hometown. Weirdly however she appears to be very connected with a Giant Monster (or Kaiju) currently in the process of attacking Seoul. This is a pretty recent discovery for me, which is strange given my love for Monster Movies. The trailer looks pretty good and the film is already set to be quite an interesting science fiction as well as a potentially laugh out loud comedy. It has some traits of Godzilla 2014 in its visual effects while also carrying elements of an inspired mix of both The Host and Cloverfield in its look and ideas. I don’t really have an idea of what this going to be like on the whole, but from what I sort of know and have seen so far, I am pretty, if only minorly, excited by this.

GENEPOOL (If there is anything else not mentioned here that you are looking forward to, please let me know).





Everything They’ve Built Will Fall, And From The Ashes Of Their World; We’ll Build A Better One – X-Men: Apocalypse

21 12 2016

x-men: apocalypse (20th Century Fox - 2016)

“You have no idea who you’re messing with Xavier”; a line spoken by the Mutant Mesmero in the X-Men: Evolution episode; Mindbender. An insignificant line to those who may not have seen X-Men Evolution, but to me, it is a line that took me on a journey of discovery. It was the beginning of a story Arc involving the resurgence of a powerful Mutant Villain in the X-Men World. A villain, who since the first time I heard speak of his name, I would become besotted by, and looked for any and all opportunities to find out more about him. It’s been maybe 13+ years since I first came across his name, and I know so much; and upon learning of his upcoming movie debut, I could not wait and anticipated the arrival of this film and more importantly the movie debut of APOCALYPSE.

apocalypse

Released in 2016 by 20th Century Fox, produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, and directed by Bryan Singer; X-Men: Apocalypse is a super hero movie where the Uncanny X-Men attempt to save the world from an ancient Mutant who wishes to destroy Humanity. X-Men: Apocalypse is the direct sequel to Days of Future Past and stars the cast of the First Class series of X-Men Films, but which also looks to introduce new stories in the long-term and introduce and also reintroduce both old and new characters. At the same time it looks to introduce the arrival of the first major super villain for the series, and attempts to do this with the insertion of the first mutant; Apocalypse. The story is based on the X-Men comics Apocalypse Story Arc, as well as the X-Factor Story; Fall of the Mutants.

In Ancient Egypt, the Mutant En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) rules the land with 4 followers dubbed his Four Horsemen. While performing a transferral ritual, he is entombed in his pyramid where falls into a deep sleep. In 1983, kid Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) discovers he is a mutant while at school, and his brother Alex (Lucas Till) takes him to Xavier’s School for mutants run by Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Dr. Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult). In Berlin, shape shifting mutant Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) helps rescue teleportation mutant Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) from an underground fight club and takes him to Xavier’s school; where he meets Scott, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Jubilee (Lana Condor). Meanwhile in Egypt, CIA Agent Moira MacTaggart (Rose Byrne) is on the lead of a mysterious organisation, who are searching for something underground, and there she comes across the remains of En Sabah Nur’s pyramid, which wakes him up, sending a vivid dream to Jean Grey who foresees the end of the World.

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Upon leaving his underground tomb; En Sabah Nur walks through the streets of Cairo, to discover that the world is under the rule of Humans. He finds street urchin Ororo Munroe (Alexander Shipp) who is a mutant capable of controlling the weather and recruits her into his team, enhancing her powers in the process. En Sabah Nur then goes on to hire mutants Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Angel (Ben Hardy), while still searching for a fourth. In Poland, Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), also known as Magneto, has found himself with a job at a steel factory, and lives with his wife Magda (Carolina Bartczak) and daughter Nina (T.J. McGibbon). One day at the factory, he rescues someone with the use of his powers, but this tips off the authorities. After an accident in an attempt to capture him results in the death of his family, Magneto kills the militia and then goes to kill the steel mill workers who tipped them off. When he arrives though he is found by En Sabah Nur who kills the steel workers, then takes Erik to Auschwitz where his powers were born. En Sabah Nur informs Erik that he cannot escape his past, and says that he was sorry for not being there when Erik needed him most, finally recruiting him and enhancing his powers.

Back at the school, Mystique wishes to talk to Charles, who has gone to see Moira McTaggart to talk to her about some of the research she has been conducting about the history surrounding a mysterious mutant called Nur. Upon returning to the mansion and talking to Mystique, Charles uses Cerebro to locate and talk to Erik, but En Sabah Nur uses this connection to tap into Charles’s mind, and use Xavier’s Telepathy to get into the minds of everyone around the world, and to launch the world’s entire arsenal of Nuclear Weapons. Alex helps destroy Cerebro to turn it off, but En Sabah Nur arrives at the mansion and kidnaps Charles. Alex tries to stop them, but accidentally causes an explosion that rips through the mansion killing him. Quicksilver (Evan Peters), a super-fast mutant; shows up in time and manages to rescue everyone inside the mansion as the explosion tears through it. With the Mansion in pieces, a military helicopter arrives which disables most of the mutants unconscious. The men on board the helicopter led by Colonel William Stryker (Josh Helman) kidnap Moira, Mystique, Quicksilver and Hank. Before they leave however, Nightcrawler, Jean and Scott sneak on board the aircraft as it takes them to a mysterious base in the Canadian Mountains.

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In Cairo, En Sabah Nur informs Charles of his plans to destroy the world of Humans, and how he plans to possess Charles’s body with the same ritual as earlier. Charles broadcasts En Sabah Nur’s message to the world, while also sending a secret message to Jean. At the base in the Canadian mountains, Jean, Scott and Nightcrawler discover a savage mutant who has been experimented on (Hugh Jackman) and release him on the men in the base. Upon rescuing the others being held by Stryker; the team travel to Cairo where En Sabah Nur has rebuilt his pyramid; and while Magneto uses the world’s magnetic fields to destroy major cities, Nur’s other recruits attack the X-Men team. Nightcrawler is able to rescue Charles from the transferral just in time, but it has left him scarred. Quicksilver and Mystique attempt to convince Magneto to join them, as they’re his family too, and Charles uses his connection with Nur to get inside his head and attack him from there, but Nur is just too powerful. Even when Ororo and Magneto join the fight against him, they still struggle, until Jean releases the raw power of the Phoenix Force, which burns Nur to ashes. Back at the school, Magneto helps Jean to rebuild the school, Moira has her memories of Charles returned to her and Mystique with the help of Hank, trains the first X-Men team.

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I was very excited about the release of this film, so much so that I pretty much went to see it as soon as it came out. I was expecting and hoping for so much. I was watching the trailer over and over again, watching cartoon clips of Apocalypse’s Quotes, as well as clips of Apocalypse from the film saying that Amazing line. I was so excited and was hoping for so much. X-Men 2 has always been my favourite, but my hopes and dreams, especially after Days of Future Past, was that this film was going to be glorious and possibly better than X-Men 2. It was my final day of work where I was working at the time, and to sort of celebrate, as soon as I got back to Lancaster, I checked the VUE to see if it was on and if I could pre-order a ticket (just so I could go home, drop my bag off and get changed). When it was true that I could, I did just that and went to the cinema with great excitement.

Upon seeing the film, my overall opinion was: right….? One thing that I have always found with films in the X-Men series is that it’s always best to give them a couple of watches to really get down to the nub of them, and that’s why I have waited until I could see it again before I reviewed it. It’s just the case that in the past when I have seen them again a second time, I have understood them a bit more. In terms of Super Hero movies they are in a class of their own as they deal with more than just guys with powers, as the X-men have other issues to deal with especially that of Mutant Racism that is so entwined within who they are. I think the issue for me was that I finished work that day too; at a job I was enjoying and was hoping that a treat may create some closure, but instead, my head was conflicting as my hopes and dreams for Apocalypse lay dashed on the pavement. Upon seeing it again though with a clearer head, I am a lot more favorable for it.

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The film has its issues, and the issues are a few. It’s not that they are generally bad; they are just issues that it doesn’t help, and could have with more development or better execution. The major issue it has is that it has a lot to fill in. In the past the series has orientated itself by keeping the team strong but the cast relatively low. The X-Men are a team and it’s important that they remain like that, but the more effective team is better than the biggest, if you get my drift; they’re not an army. The issue here is that, we have one big villain that of course has his own minions to do his bidding, but in order for it to make sense, it needs to be made up of new but still popular characters, so we therefore have a team of five people vs another team, but this time made up with characters that were being reintroduced to the series, important characters that needed to be introduced sooner than later as they have not been seen for a while (except for clips in DoFP of course). With so many characters to introduce, not to mention other characters taking some spotlight, it was going to be hard to fit them all in the allotted time, so what did the film makers do: extend it, but then again it doesn’t really work! It introduces, and well I will say, characters like Nightcrawler, Scott and Jean Grey, plus allow some development time if not a lot. However, on the other hand Apocalypse’s team is hardly introduced at all. They are sort of sacrificed for the benefit of other characters, which is actually a big shame as some of his team are made up of X-Men Superstars who have been members of the comics longer than most.

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Due to this issue of extra time, the film commits some faux pas that only goes to confuse the viewer rather than enhance the film. It has characters to introduce and a lot to show; what it ends up doing is showing scenes (scenes that are very interesting I might add), making you want to see more, and basically changes scene to another perspective which is OK, but then does it again, and does not return to that original perspective for a while, say between 5 and 10 minutes. With that out of your head, you feel like you have walked in to a scene from a TV Drama completely unawares as to what is going on and with no way of finding out. It’s got all these really good bits, but doesn’t put them together close enough for them to really take you anywhere: if the gap was quicker or shorter, then it would probably be alright. You can actually see how long it feels in reality as you realize that even 47 minutes of the way through, it still feels like it’s the first act, and is still introducing people, and not creating an incidental moment that takes it to the next big thing (at least not until the end of the first hour). What does not help this further is Apocalypse’s plan to destroy several major cities at once. You just don’t feel it. You feel it when you’re there; the final battle takes place in Cairo which is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re trying to show global devastation it would be better if you focused on one city then moved out. Put one city in peril, for the sake of everywhere else. The images of destroyed cities are very vivid and visionary, but because the scene is not there, it does not feel like anything. If the final battle was in say Washington, New York, maybe even Tokyo or London; these are big major cities of the world, but have the final battle there, and show the expanding devastation there, so those who go to see this film can at least connect more strongly and really feel for the destruction. I don’t like Part 1 and 2 films that are being done all the time right now, it’s a motive by the studio to make more money, not really for the film’s sake to have a stronger/better story, here however I can see an argument for a film that should have a Part 1 and 2. It’s trying so hard to cram so much into what is already a very long film, if it spread things out a bit more, and split into 2 films, then at least we could have a much better developed story and things could happen quicker and better.

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Much like said above, X-Men: Apocalypses cast can be in spots feel a little wasted. They really pushed the boat out with mutant characters and have featured an all-star cast of X-Men Comic mutants which include single appearances from mutants like Blob (Giant Gustav Claude Ouimet) and Caliban (Tomas Lemarquis) as well as small appearances from Apocalypse’s original Horsemen (Warren Scherer, Rochelle Okoye, Monique Ganderton, Fraser Aitcheson), but it is rather sad that strong characters and re-introductions to this series like Angel and Psylocke are once again pretty much shoved to one side despite how much their images were used to promote the film. I am especially a big fan of Angel and was hoping his new role would be a strong one, much like Psylocke, but again it was very little and he pretty much died a quick death. Psylocke for what time she was given did provide some strong moments, and I would like to see more of her in the future. Like previous films in the series, some major guest actors were brought in to play big but still very short parts, but their inclusion does help ripen the roles of senior characters where required, with the use of such actors as Zeljko Ivanek. But these roles are meant to be one shot spots, whereas major villains or even hero characters should have more. For instance, I thought it was rather odd, that the filmmakers go some distance to include Jubilee in the story, but leave her appearances to the very minimal, especially to introduce her in such a well-developed fashion and not include her in the final battle of which the same could be said for Havok, who was a major introduction in First Class, but not really used beyond, despite how well he is played either way.

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The uses of other characters are just weird though; for instance: I genuinely believe that Hugh Jackman has no point of being in this film other than to make a small appearance. The whole scene in the Canadian mountains shows no real major point, except maybe to introduce the post credits scene, in which case, why not create a very different post credits scene? Everything is going well and Ok, then they just slam this scene in there for no real major story point. What is a real shame though I find is that the film’s major cast (who have since become major stars since their first appearances in this series), seem to be underused. They are there, and feature prominently, but given that Days of Future Past has shown what power they can give in these roles, it’s a shame that they aren’t used to perfection. Most of this could be as an after effect of the convoluted scene by scene irritation I mentioned above, and all the while they still provide goodish performances, it just feels like they have lost effect. James McAvoy for instance seems to have returned to a docile past and feels like he needed to get younger over a 10 year period. That welcoming friendliness is still there, but the power from the previous film has gone. Jennifer Lawrence (who I consider to be my favourite actress) seems to have lost passion as Mystique, she seems to talk more than do more, and does not really deliver any reason for being there, other than maybe for being Jennifer Lawrence. Nicholas Hoult just doesn’t swing it for me much in this film, and just appears to fade into the background mostly while at the same time minutely trying to provide the emotional instability between his character of Beast and Lawrence’s character of Raven/Mystique. I know these films take place 10 years apart from each other, but I didn’t know the actors not the characters had to age in between! As for Fassbender, while he is still very capable of getting very emotional which is a very good trait of his, I think it’s getting rather clichéd that he has to get low and emotional. Why couldn’t he be the big bad strong villain that he is supposed to be playing, only to be enslaved by Apocalypse rather than just join him. Why can’t Magneto just be Magneto? Rose Byrne has a waste of a performance. She was fantastic in First Class, but due to a lack of appearance in Days of Future Past, she is brought in here, and sort of reconciles with Charles really too quickly, not allowing their relationship to really blossom, and so for the most part serves as a double-edged joke and not as the inspired cast choice that she once was.

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It really comes down to the rest of the cast to sort of make up for the casting and performance mess; and some of them do more than any other. The X-Men are a team (already made this point), and as such the characters should have more of a part in the overall battle instead of leaving it to single players to do the job. Scott Summers for instance carries attitude, but not much of anything else to make his part worthwhile. After the death of Alex, he really should have more drive, but he sort of confidently hides in his shell. The same could be said for Nightcrawler who is just there to oppose Angel, and rescue Charles, but nothing much of anything else. And even though she is not part of the team, Storm is a major character in all X-Men related media, and just to be given a few speaking roles and some small appearances, it just again feels like a waste. Quicksilver does get another appearance and a much bigger one plus uses the knowledge of Magneto being his father to increase his position within the film. His rescue of the people in the mansion plus his fight with Apocalypse are two very good and well done scenes and really help to get the final half of the film going. The film’s cast though really does come down to two amazing actors delivering Fantastic Performances. I had never heard of Oscar Isaac when I first heard he had been put in this role, but I absolutely loved his performance. On the one hand I do think Apocalypse was too well held down to begin with and was very much just used to provide philosophy and theory, we didn’t get much of a chance to see his powers until the Nuke Scene and of course the final battle. I was a bit disappointed that his comic book essence, his true powers were not really put on show, but they were minor in reference. However, much like Apocalypse in Comics and Cartoons, his performance, his voice, his presence, were powerful. They were really good scenes, and ones I could both look forward too and much enjoyed. While he did take time to be seen, he was still the main villain and presented as such. I really feel like he should make a future appearance again, a villain like that does not die-hard, but I hope that if it were to be done that Isaac be brought back to play him again and that he is more like his-self in the comics, rather than filmmaker philosophy, but here and now, still well done, and also has the best quote of not just the film, but of any film released this year.

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But for me, there was one person who was better than all the rest. From start to finish her role was pretty mysterious, but the performance provided was unlike any other in the whole film and for her to become the real hero, it was wonderful to see. I absolutely loved Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, she was just epic, and for hours and days after seeing the film, I could still see Sophie Turner whenever I thought of this film. A perfect casting in my opinion that is one I definitely want to see more of in the future (please be cast again in the future).

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The film like its previous series entries does feature a bewildering level of Special Effects, which help to not only show special powers, but also help create scenes and scenarios that cannot be made but are asked of. Some of these sections I feel could have helped in other sections where they may have helped either sped up or at least not slow down the pace of the film. The destruction of cities is very visionary, and the film works hard to create its more iconic big effects like Quicksilver’s running scenes, to destruction on a large scale, to even launching the entire world’s Nuclear Arsenal. But as I have always found, no matter how great the effect is, the soundtrack always delivers more. The soundtrack (composed by John Ottman and Michael Louis Hill) once again features that incredible X-Men opening theme and titles, but does not hold itself down to just that, as it creates some amazing pieces for some of the film’s more outstanding moments, moments such as the launch of Nuclear Missiles (which is played to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7), Ancient Egypt, Quicksilver’s Mansion Run (Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics), and of course the final battle with Apocalypse, especially the rise of the Phoenix. These two things while considered maybe separate never fail to impress or provide great moments for the series, always delivering, always enjoyable, and always powerful.

I wouldn’t consider X-Men: Apocalypse to be a disappointment, nor a bad film (it’s better than at least 2 X-Men films I can think of). It’s more like an unpolished attempt leaning on the edge of greatness. Even with its issues, it has its scenes and moments; although while largely separated for long periods of time, these scenes still deliver really fun enjoyable and powerful moments that give you a good surge of pleasure. The characters may be hit and miss and mostly underused; doesn’t mean that they still can’t bring the pain; they just need to get out of their personal pain to begin with. Apocalypse might not be the same as he usually is, but he still makes a great villain and his introduction let’s open the gates for other major super villains such as, oh I don’t know, Mr. Sinister perhaps? What I would class this film as, is a good attempt. It’s something that throughout is working ok, but never gives the final push it needs to truly breakout and be what it really can be. I had high hopes, and while it did provide hours of real enjoyment, it just wasn’t enough to truly be. Maybe it’s just that I am a fan of X-Men: a fan of the comics, cartoons, (nearly) all the films, maybe that is why it did not fully work for me? Maybe, but even still, I enjoyed X-Men: Apocalypse to a large degree.

GENEPOOL





Top 10 Most Exciting Films In 2016

28 01 2016

Film Reel 2016

I don’t know if you saw my Top 7 Films of 2015 post – if you did, thanks for the support, if you didn’t; why not? – but in that post I had a little gripe at the film awards season. It was more of trying to understand why they are held in February, and not January or December, and why was it films released between February and February, and why was it Always films neither me nor the rest of the cinema going audience in general is going to see. But anyway, I had a little gripe at that before going into my Top 7 films. Why 7; well it’s because I was going to do 5 instead of 10 like I did in 2014, but then I saw a film I wanted to mention (Spoiler Alert – something I don’t generally do, but just thought I would include one here); It was Krampus by the way, but then I don’t like the number 6 so I increased it to a number I do like…7. Anyway, had a slight gripe at Movie Awards before presenting my Top 7. It’s sort of like a Movie Award, being my favourite films of the year, and it’s from someone who enjoys telling people what films he’s seen in that particular year. Anyway why am I talking about this now, well, this is also something like a movie award, but not as prestigious, for an entirely different reason.

Joy (20th Century Fox - 2015)

Basically, the year has passed, some good films, others not, and in the time-honoured tradition since 2012, this blog is going to announce what films the blog writer (me), is looking forward to in the coming year. It’s sort of like an award, but not as prestigious as it’s a list of films that look good this coming year, but if the examples of last year are anything to go by, there is no guarantee that the films in this list will feature in the Top 5 (or whatever number I do Next January/December time) of my favourite films of that year, or generally if they are any good or not. Now while all of these films look pretty good (there’s a major issue with number 10…and number 6), there is at least one other film I can think of that I would have liked to have add, but seeing as it was released well before time of writing, I thought I would just briefly mention the Jennifer Lawrence film Joy. The reason for not including it is the same reason why Birdman was omitted last year, because it had already been released. Anyway, Joy Looks good and I thought I would let that one have some promotion. Anyway, enough of all this, let’s look forward to some stuff. So without further ado, here are the Top 10 films I am most looking forward to in the coming year.

Godzilla Resurgence (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2016)

10. Godzilla Resurgence – I know what you must be thinking; “Why is a Godzilla film, let alone a new Japanese Godzilla film only at number 10 in this list?” Good question. Don’t worry, I am still a huge Godzilla fan, but as to why this is so low in the list is simple enough to answer, just rather longer to explain. The simple answer is that I don’t know if I will get to see it or not. The longer explanation is; that when it comes to the release of such films in the UK, let alone anywhere in Europe, The UK and Europe are consistently ignored. Most of my Godzilla collection is American Region 1 Imported DVD’s and one Blu-ray (try to guess which one). The only DVD’s that are not included in that are a BFI release of the 1954 film, King Kong vs Godzilla released in 2006 for the DVD release of the 2005 King Kong…I think, the 1998 film, and the 2014 film. So, as I can get hold of some DVD’s sort of OK, watching the Japanese films themselves on the big screen are close to an impossibility in my home country, so the reason for this being so low is that “Why should I build up my excitement for something that I probably won’t get to see at all this year?” Ok, I do keep up to date with news of it, and like to hear new stuff. Yes there is something of a trailer out for this, plus I have seen the ‘interesting’ poster for the film, so I am not completely against this film (it’s not the new Star Wars). Hopefully I will get to see it sometime, plus apparently overseas markets are being looked into, so there is some, if be it little hope, that I may get to see it after all. So there is some allowance for Excitement (plus it’s also one of two films being released this year with the word Resurgence in the title).

Dad's Army (Universal Pictures - 2016)

9. Dad’s Army – What originally sounded like a bad adaptation of a popular British Sitcom, now looks like a really promising film. I have seen the trailers a few times and it does look rather funny. Set to star Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Gambon, expect laughs galore for what so far looks like a faithful rendition to an old TV favourite.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Nickelodeon Movies - 2016)

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – The sequel to the surprise film of 2014. Ok, it wasn’t much of a surprise, in the end it was alright and Fun, and did get into my Top 10 (just) for 2014. It was a funny film and at least for me was faithful to its original material, particularly the character of Raphael. So far the new film looks like it will improve over the first film, which I felt was rather quick and got bogged down too much in the origins story of the Turtles. The first trailer released a couple of months ago makes a good first impression and already looks like a major improvement. Don’t get me wrong I am looking forward to this film; I just think this film needs to accomplish more than the first and get the series on the proper track. So far it looks like the main cast is returning, along with some new cast members (including WWE wrestler Sheamus) to play old favourites. Who knows, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could turn out to be the big surprise of the year, or not as the case may become.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (Dreamworks Animation - 2016)

7. Kung Fu Panda 3 – It’s been nearly five years since the last Kung Fu Panda was released, and the reasoning as to why this has happened is rather sketchy as I thought DreamWorks would have been more pro-active in releasing the next film sooner. Good news however, it is a sequel and in no way a reboot. Original cast are back along with new cast members Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons and Kate Hudson in a story that so far sounds like an adaptation of Seven Samurai, which pings my excitement a little more. Kung Fu Panda 3 so far looks like good old Kung Fu Panda fun, and all being well should be good enough to plug up the hole that it has created since the release of its predecessor. The trailer also looks really funny.

Gambit

6. Gambit – The first of three X-Men films to be featured in this list. Gambit is of course a standalone film about my Favourite X-Men character. The film is set to star Léa Seydoux and Channing Tatum, an actor whose career I am not familiar with, but already sounds like a promising choice (as does the casting of Lea Seydoux). Thankfully the film appears to be in no way connected to the events of Origin’s, however as far as my knowledge goes, it appears the film is yet to begin filming, so right now does not sound all that promising for a release this year, and if it does; the relevant quality also. However, given the quality of the X-Men series recently, I am hopeful that when the release date finally arrives, be it this year or not, that it should be worth the wait in the end.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Lionsgate - 2016)

5. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – What began as a film series that was worthy of a chance has grown into a series to be looked at. Divergent was a really fun film; Insurgent meanwhile was a vast improvement over the first with plenty of enjoyable quirks to make it stand out as one of my Favourite films of 2016. Now I am more and more looking forward to the next film in the series, and see where it goes. So far all I know of this film is what I have seen from the trailer, which just looks weird. I don’t get it at all. Ok, maybe the books will highlight some of the more weird bits the trailer is showing, but as I have not read the books, it’s kind of hard. Also, I don’t fully understand the casting of Jeff Daniels in a film like this, he just looks like someone who walked onto the wrong set, well as a far as the trailer goes. I am just worried that the high quality walls that Insurgent built, are just going to be flattened, just as the series is finally making some good headway. No matter, we’ll see what we’ll see. I mean so far it does look interesting and fun, and includes previous cast members in Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoe Kravitz and Naomi Watts (one of the big standouts of Insurgent). So while it is a mad looking trailer, the promises and successes of previous films in the series are good enough for me to put this high on my list.

X-Men: Apocalypse (20th Century Fox - 2016)

4. X-Men: ApocalypseApocalypse is a character I have been fascinated by since I first heard mention of his name in an episode of X-Men Evolution. Since hearing that name I have for many years been researching his character, and waiting for my opportunities to experience him in some manner of speaking. Either be it in the comics, cartoons or films. So upon hearing what the plan for the next X-Men Film was going to be after Days of Future Past, I could not wait. Since after the release of DoFP, I have been checking in and out with the news of X-Men Apocalypse. I have looked into casting, filming, and even saw a rough copy of the trailer that was filmed at Comic-Con. But it’s only recently I got to see the actual trailer. The film is set to star the main cast of the First Class series so far, with returning actors including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and the return of Rose Byrne who was sadly not in DoFP. Also in the spotlight for the next film includes classic comic characters Nightcrawler, Archangel and Psylocke to name a few, with rising actor Oscar Isaac taking the coveted role of the film’s lead villain. Also set for a return is the winning team that started the whole series from the word go, in producer Lauren Shuler Donner and director Bryan Singer (with any luck the X2 theme will return as well). As is the case though with the X-Men film series, the trailer does not show much in what is likely to be happening and appears to be a bit mad on the whole, and so it’s hard to see what the film is going to be about, however as this is the next film in a long line of extremely good films, I am hopeful that come release day, everything is going to be great.

Deadpool (20th Century Fox - 2016)

3. Deadpool – Since the dawn and for nearly every year in the current century, cinema appears to be awash with movies about Comic Book Superheroes. Now while this is all being well, and most of these are usually fun, there seems to be a level of child-friendly-like-ness to all of these films so far, and very little of the blistering action seen in the comics, as said fights could be considered un-child-friendly. Well in 2016 that is all likely to change with the release of Deadpool. Based on the X-Men Character of the same name, this will be one of two ‘planned’ standalone X-Men films due for release this year. This is not Deadpool’s first time on the big screen, but his last appearance did not go down to well, and was one of the low points of an already bad film. Things have appeared to move on however, and so far Deadpool is beginning to stand out as one of the must see films of 2016. Returning to the role, of which he also played in the bad film; is Ryan Reynolds. Looking at the trailer, the film appears to have Deadpool presented in his correct red and black, sword wielding, gun shooting, breaking the fourth wall…ing self that has become so loved by fans of the character everywhere. The trailer looks fantastic and from what I have seen of images here and there, Deadpool may not be the only X-Men Legend in this film, as the film looks like it will also star Colossus. Deadpool looks Fantastic, and it also looks really funny too, if this film lives up to the hype, this should be one of the best films of 2016.

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd - 2011)

2. A Monster Calls – About this time last year, I read a book. Ok, I read many books, but I read a book in the space of just a few days, and at the end of which made me cry, becoming the first book I have read to make me do so. Since then I have looked through bits of it every now and then, and have come to like it as one of my 2 Favourite books. The book is written by the 2 time Carnegie Medal winning author Patrick Ness whose other works include The Chaos Walking Trilogy and More Than This. Anyway, why am I talking about this so far yet un-announced book? Well, in 2016, there is due to be a film release of this book, of which the title is, as the book: A Monster Calls. Not much info is readily available about this film other than Juan Antonio Bayona is directing it, Patrick Ness himself is writing the script for it, and that Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson are going to be starring in it. Ok, so there is quite a bit of info on it actually, but not as much as other big films of the year, but given from what I experienced in paperback form this time last year, if that is anything to go by, then A Monster Calls already looks very promising.

Independence Day: Resurgence (20th Century Fox - 2016)

1. Independence Day: Resurgence – In 2012, The Walt Disney Company purchased the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas with plans to make some new films. More than likely; 20th Century Fox probably weren’t best pleased by this announcement, especially as it was 20th Century Fox who took the original risk to produce the space film series after practically every other major studio turned down Lucas’s idea. It would be fair to say that 20th Century Fox were probably a bit miffed by this news; if it wasn’t for them having their attention on something else far more promising. You see as far back as 2011, they have had their eyes on the sequel to a film which when released in 1996 cast a shadow over the world’s cinema’s and did so well that all other films to that date were left in its shadow; and now, 20 years later; INDPENDENCE DAY returns. It’s been a long time coming, but the team of director Roland Emmerich, producer Dean Devlin and actors Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman return once more to save planet earth from an impending alien invasion. News of this film has been mostly scarce (except for those actively looking for it) but just a few weeks ago, a trailer was finally released, and it looks EPIC (and I don’t use that terminology all that often). Everything I have read to date, plus the number of times I watched the trailer continues to get me excited about the release of this film. This time around it looks like the invasion from 20 years ago was just a Beta test, and things are going to be a whole lot worse for planet Earth. The trailer looks Fantastic, I have not been as excited about a single film trailer since the first teaser for the 2014 Godzilla film in December 2013. I have watched it over and over again since I first saw it, and I simply can’t get enough. It won’t long now until the film gets released, but I am more excited about this film more than any other due to be released this year. I don’t know how it’s going to turnout when it is finally released, but like many other films in this list, it’s one I am going to be keeping a keen eye on in the year to come.

GENEPOOL (2016 will feature a resurgence in the word; resurgence…..possibly).





Sometimes We All Need A Little Help – X-Men: Days Of Future Past

25 10 2015

X-Men: Days of Future Past (20th Century Fox - 2014)

The subject of time travel in the movies is a difficult one to work around. Due to the level of Sci-fi fans out there, if you get it wrong, you’re doomed. The issue with time travel though for the most part is changing the future, a subject that has been used time and again. But what if changing the future for the better was possible; what if you could change the lives of many by one quick trip into the past; would you do it?

Released in 2014 by 20th Century Fox, produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Directed by a returning Bryan Singer; X-Men: Days of Future Past (or DoFP if you want) is the seventh and most recent film in the X-Men film series. Based on the Days of Future Past storyline from the early 80’s; the film sees the return of both the main cast from X-Men: First Class as well as the cast from the original trilogy, as both have to work together in separate timelines in an effort to change the world from its current grim reality.

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In the future, the world the X-Men inhabit is a broken world. Giant robots called Sentinels patrol seeking, capturing and eliminating mutants and anyone else who dares help them. A band of mutants including Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Bishop (Omar Sy), Warpath (Booboo Stewart), Blink (Bingbing Fan) and Sunspot (Adan Canto) continually evade capture from the Sentinels thanks to Kitty’s ability to send someone’s mind back in time a few days and warn them about the upcoming attack. The group eventually gets in contact with Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Storm (Halle Berry) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) at a monastery in China. Xavier tells them how the world came to be this way; that it was through Mystique who tried to bring mutant rights forward by killing Sentinel creator Bolivar Trask. She is however captured, and Trask’s death causes public outcry for a response to the mutant threat. Xavier and Magneto have a plan to send someone back in time, and try to warn the past about what is to come in the hope of changing it. The only one able though to make the trip is Logan, who has his mind sent back to his younger self in 1973. During this period, Trask (Peter Dinklage) has already started to try and get support for his Sentinel Program, but is constantly refused. In Vietnam; Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) helps some mutants escape from being tested on.

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Logan heads for the X-Mansion where he meets young Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) who tries to make Logan go away. Eventually, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) appears. The school has been closed for a number of years after the students and teachers were drafted into the Vietnam War. Charles, having lost his legs, his pupils and Raven in the previous film is a broken man. He is able to walk thanks to a serum provided by hank, but his powers are sacrificed. Xavier just wants to be left alone, but Logan tells Xavier and Hank about the future and persuades them to help him change it. He also says they need Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender), who is being kept in The Pentagon basement. With the help of mutant Pietro Maximoff, aka Quicksilver (Evan Peters), are able to break Magneto out of his Plastic Prison. The atmosphere between Erik and Charles though is less than happy. In Paris, at the Vietnam War peace talks, Trask tries to get the support he needs for his Sentinel Program only to discover Mystique is masquerading as a Vietnamese General. The group of Logan, Hank, Charles and Erik arrive just in time, but things go awry as Logan sees the younger self of Stryker (Josh Helman), Magneto tries to kill Mystique and in the process both along with Hank are revealed to the world on TV. With the world now horrified as to their existence, Trask manages to get President Richard Nixon’s (Mark Camacho) approval for his Sentinel Program for a public demonstration. Erik meanwhile regains his helmet and manages to lace the plastic sentinels with metal. Back at the mansion, Xavier is persuaded by Logan to try using his powers to find Mystique. Initially he is unsuccessful, but then he reads Logan’s mind. He sees and meets himself in the future who tells his younger self, that what they need him to do; is to hope again.

Charles manages to locate Mystique who is on her way to Washington to kill Trask. He tries to convince her not to assassinate Trask, but she refuses. In the future meanwhile, the Sentinels finally find the remainder of the X-Men and go on the attack. In the past at the White House, Nixon unveils the Sentinels while Logan, Charles and Hank try to find Mystique. Erik however has taken control of the Sentinels, uses them to attack the event goers and using a whole stadium he has lifted off the ground, sets up a perimeter to make sure he is not disturbed. In the future, one by one the X-Men begin to fall to the superiority of the Sentinels abilities. In the past, Hank and Logan try to attack Erik, but he uses a sentinel to attack Hank, and manages to throw Logan into the river. After lifting the secure safe room the President and Trask are in, Erik puts on a show trying to announce a future where Mutants are no longer hiding in shame. Mystique however manages to subdue him, and prepares to kill just Trask. Charles makes himself appear in her mind and tries to convince her of a better path; saying “everything that happens now is in your hands. I have faith in you, Raven.” This works on Mystique, and she drops her weapon. In the future, things change instantly. Logan returns to the future, unknowing what has happened other than the future he came from. He wakes up to find himself in Xavier’s School, where everyone who had died from the future he experienced, are alive and well. He walks around seeing a grown up Hank (Kelsey Grammer), Rogue (Anna Paquin), Iceman, Colossus, Storm and Kitty. Not just them though, others who were dead, are now alive too. He meets up with Xavier, who realizes that Logan is finally back helps Logan fill in the pieces of where things left off after he drowned in the river.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past is a very powerful film. It has of course lots of action, fights and what we have come to expect from Superhero films in general, however, it’s also a very emotionally driven film. Many times have I watched this and during specific scenes have felt something deep down and emotionally driven than I have felt in any other super hero film. The film returns to the state of what the first X-Men film was like, but shows: A dystopian vision of the future and how mutants were first revealed to the public light. But on top of that though, this film sort of concludes the story line that started from X-Men 1 too. In that film, Mutants are oppressed by humanity and are fighting for their rights of existence, and then here a future is created that for now better supports mutants in a way they were hoping for. Days of Future Past also deals with themes such as independence not just in the global form, but inside the personal one too, as well as the subject of Hope. The degree of passion in this film from its characters as to what they feel plus see is remarkably strong, and more detail is added with the references to previous mutants, and what has become of them. It’s a nice little story that just keeps plodding along at a nice pace but is not intermixed with minor points. In my opinion, it’s not really a sequel to First Class, but a sequel to both that and Last Stand also. The characters from the original trilogy are a nice addition and means that there is plenty for fans of both trilogies’ to get involved with. Much like recent films in the series, DoFP tries really hard to include more from the comics and expand its own little universe. The way it does this more than most in this film is through setting the story in the Days of Future Past storyline showing the gravity of the situation in the future, from enslavement to suppression of both Humans and Mutants, to of course introducing the Sentinels.

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The Sentinels themselves have been a mainstay of the X-Men franchise through both the comics and cartoons. Their introduction in here is brilliantly done and whose design matches both the sentinels of the past, to their design of the future. Their unstoppable nature is also well presented through how merciless they are plus how cold their killing nature is.

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DoFP has a great cast of characters. While in some places the number of new and old goes near over the top, everyone has a part to play and produces some really memorable characters. From the characters in the future we have old favourites like Iceman, Kitty, Colossus, Storm, Xavier and Magneto; all played as well as they were in the original series. For me though, I think it’s a real shame Rogue doesn’t have much of a part. A central character throughout the original series whose appearances in Last Stand were a bit dwindling, I would have preferred it if she had more a role. While there is the recent Rogue Cut, I probably won’t be buying it. Despite this though, it is just splendid to see these characters played by these actors once again. It’s been a long time coming and I hope they get to return again soon, possibly for a much bigger film.

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As the rest of the future cast go, I like how Bishop is in it. I have been a fan of Bishop for a while now; and even though his Hand Guns aren’t on show, it’s just nice to have him featured. Other characters like Warpath and Blink are a nice little addition too, although I think Sunspot isn’t given as much appearance time. Quicksilver meanwhile is a fun little extra providing some moments of hilarity but also allowing the film to create one amazing set piece. Much like First Class, DoFP features a stellar cast of extras playing significant minor roles. The one standing out for me most though is Mark Camacho as Richard Nixon. I love this portrayal of Nixon. While he does look and sound more like the Futurama head in a jar Nixon than a real picture of Nixon, I like how well he is portrayed. This is all set before Watergate and shows Nixon at a time when he was in power. While he does appear to be dodgy in talking with Trask, he comes to be a good guy in the end closing down the sentinel program after Mystique lowers her weapon. Whatever you think of Richard Nixon, in this film he is brilliant. Alongside Nixon of course is Peter Dinklage as Trask. In what I see as an interesting cast choice for the role of Trask, Dinklage delivers a superbly sinister, villainous role while trying to maintain a level of professionalism too. His short stature also enables him to have some moments of quick scorning wit from other characters too but for the most part is thanks to his style of talking, persuasion and manipulation, coupled with his experimentation on mutants that makes him the central villain of this film. He is not necessarily a dastardly villain with a maniacal laugh, no; he is just a more intelligent one.

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I feel like Magneto is not as good as he was in First Class. In First Class (to me) he was the most important and best character. He had a great build up and some terrific moments, but in this he feels like a much more minor role in comparison. He does have his moments, but I just don’t feel as drawn to him as I did in First Class. In that he was a growing villain, in this he tries to play something of a prophet, particularly during that speech, but it just does not work for me. Other moments like his Pentagon scene with the silver balls, to nearly crashing the plane are really good moments, but they’re just let a bit down. Hank meanwhile has a much larger role I think, but like Magneto doesn’t really stand out for me. It feels like a disappointment. His moments as a tech wizard are cool, but he is missing something, possibly connected with his relationship with Mystique. Hugh Jackman on the other hand is rather good. Now his seventh appearance in the series that made him a star, this time though his role is much, much bigger as he has to change history. He like the series has changed a lot and is now having to be what Xavier was to him in the first 3 films, to a younger Xavier. He is a focal narrative point throughout this film and is constantly having to remain patient instead of lashing out, like he used to.

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It’s Mystique and Charles though whom this film is really about. Both characters complement each other through this film and it’s only through their moments that things change and improve for everyone else. Charles has lost everything, a broken down, depressed man who is finding it hard to simply move on. He is able to pick himself up enough to help, but he needs curing. Mystique meanwhile has become someone pursuing a vendetta, going out to try and save all the mutants who have been persecuted and experimented on by Trask; basically going along similar lines to what Erik did in First Class. Charles though becomes the instigator of both their pain. Reading Logan’s mind, talking to himself in the future, a student asking a guide – my favourite moment of this film. The struggle, passion and pain from Charles to his older self, and what the older, much wiser Xavier has to say. However, Charles is not yet fully healed, he now just needs to move on. He still holds on to the possibility of Mystique coming home, but then discovers what he really needs to do. He gives Mystique her freedom, and this changes her. Mystique supposedly still trying to move on from Charles herself, his control of her, now realising she is free of that, she listens to him. Both the above mentioned Hope scene and the scene between the two at the White House are the two most powerful moments in Days of Future Past and make these two Amazing characters stand out more than everyone else. I love both these scenes and the actors/characters that make them so.

Days of Future Past is in no way toned down in the amount of Special Effects it has. From the mutant powers of its characters, to bold set pieces to some of the biggest uses of Special Effects seen to date. The Sentinels are of course the main use of Special Effects in this film and good detailed care has been taken to make them look outstanding but also rather realistic. From the Jet fans inside their bodies to the weapons. Then to their future stream lined look where they look less robotic, to a more alien lifeform appearance. Then there is their control of superpowers used by the X-Men and how they use this to their advantage. All of them amazing effects. Set pieces are in form too with Quicksilver’s kitchen scene standing out more than most, but also little additional ones like Magneto and his tour of the Pentagon, and Prison cell. One effect for me though stands out more than most. To say that the other films are toned down in large uses of Special Effects would an understatement. I mean, who can remember the Golden Gate Bridge being repositioned, or the sub lifted out of the ocean, or even the Silver Samurai. In this though, they produce one incredible piece of movement, that in the lifting of an entire Stadium. A little destruction and crumbling can be spotted, but it’s not until the Stadium is seen flying through the air, like one of the Spaceships from Independence Day or Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.. It’s an amazing shot, terrifying and awe-inspiring. It may only be brief, but just seeing that is something else. Just this large thing approaching before it drops around the Whitehouse.

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DoFP’s soundtrack is Fantastic. It is a well composed (by John Ottman), brilliantly arranged soundtrack consisting of different styles, sounds and themes. The future is a dark, inconceivable place that has an end in sight. But a fight still rages on. The future is therefore a scene of many battlegrounds, and as fights rage on, the soundtrack compliments the situation. Scenes like the opening fight, the final fight and the moments ticking by as the mutants fate nearly comes. The arrival of the Sentinels is a piece I rather like. One that has this nice smooth drumbeat that starts off rather calm, but sadly I feel like should continue a little bit more. But as the severity of the situation rises, so does the tension in the soundtrack. And then as the first X-Man dies, a more sorrow note comes in, showing what that death means plus how easy it has come in the future. Many of these tunes are shared in the past timeline too and include the White House Attack at the end.

In the past though, everything is not so bleak, and so several pieces come to light including music from the time (such as The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack and Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce), plus much more cheery tunes. Although many of these change to the serious notes again and music is brought back to compliment them, as well as scenes of high levels of emotion, including the scene between Charles and Charles, and Charles and Mystique. Some of the music from the past though is rather memorable; including a French Song (Stop au nom de l’amour by Claude François) played the night before the peace talks. It strikes out as the scene changes and just grabs the audience’s attention and the scene. Plus it’s rather catchy as a tune and chorus go. The best bit of the theme though, is something I have been wanting and hoping for a return of since X-Men 2. That is the main theme (see top of the post for opening credits……….I put it there thinking it would be a great way to start the post). While it’s a little altered in sound, the tune is exact. I have always thought that the theme from X2 should be used throughout the series as the series theme. Possibly being for the return of John Ottman and Bryan Singer is why this tune has returned. When I went to the cinema to see it, and I heard that track, the tingles drove up my back as I couldn’t believe it. It is a fantastic piece of music and by far my favourite bit of the soundtrack (and top moments of the entire film).

Altogether, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a Fantastic Film. While I do not rate it as highly as others in the series, I absolutely adore it. I love it for its story, characters, themes, soundtrack, effects, all those things, but also for the power it gives off. It provides some highly charged emotional scenes that show more character than most other superhero films do and create such amazing moments between characters that your heart-strings will be plucked and tugged. While it does have its side issues, these are all pretty minor and together create not just one of the strongest films in the series, but one of the absolute best comic book/super hero films to date.

GENEPOOL








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