X-Men: Apocalypse – Review

“Bununununuuuununuuuh, Bununununuuuununuuuh”

That may seem like gibberish but if you’ve spent the whole of the nineties enjoying the dramatic tunes of the X-Men cartoon series – aptly named X-Men – during the nineties that captured us all (well, some of us.) Exciting, the adaptation of the popular comic book series became our colourful, hyperactive series that we watched munching over our sugar addled cereal.

That eventually evolved into – well – X-Men: Evolution (my personal favourite) becoming more hype and exploring darker storylines.

And then, in the noughties, we had Bryan Singer’s first cinematic outing of X-Men which has since seen five sequels, two Wolverine spin-offs, and, of course, Deadpool.

Oh, and don’t forget about the initial comic book series.

So, it’s natural that we all feel all exhausted with the mutant movie musings and it’s only fair that this year, the excitement has ebbed to a quiet lull for the latest entry into X-Men fare…X-Men: Apocalypse: A film that is good but dotted with mindless and rubbish moments.

Spoiler Alert: James McAvoy isn’t one of them…

X-Men: Apocalypse is a middling film that relies on an uneven foundation to build up its premise and charm. After the events of Days of Future Past, there is something stirring within the mutant community. Worshipped as a god since his birth, Apocalypse hunts down powerful mutants to become immortal and invincible. Recruiting more mutants to his fold, including the heartbroken Magneto (after leaving Charles and walking this world alone,) the fate of the world is left in the hands of Raven, Professor X, and the young X-Men.

The action-packed slice of X-Men pie delves straight into the juicy helping with blood-splattering, bone-crunching mayhem that should have Fox whetting their R-Rated trousers as it’s clearly where the studio is heading. From the introduction of Apocalypse to the epic finale of the film, the sequences of hand gestures and CGI-ed powers are enthralling enough to keep our geek pants in a moistened excitable twist. The whole world is on the verge of complete annihilation and Singer fires up the fights to keep us all on the edge of our seats.

Simon Kinberg’s script is a lot less convoluted than Days of Future Past and actually impresses when it comes to the simple Mutant vs God narrative. There is a lot of humour and silliness too that marries charisma with characters, as well as keeping a gleeful cartoony element to the series that never faded since we first clapped eyes on Wolverine’s side-burns.

This being said, Kinberg and Singer have moments that drag down a possibly brilliant movie into an average and mindless affair. Cheesy stuffy dialogue shoved into the crevices of accomplished actors (certainly some of the best of our generation.) These awkward scenes really trembles the film’s triumphant storyline until it crumbles into a pile of average dust, making the overall feel anti-climactic.

Yet X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t terrible cinema and you can once again enjoy the scene stealing Quicksilver whose explosive re-entry into the X-Men lore has you wishing for a literally spin-off! James McAvoy masterfully transform into the wise and encompassing Professor who still has to battle with wits and telekinesis (telekinewits?) whilst Fassbender’s troubled bi-polar respect for the X-Men is underused. The big traumatic and larger than life villain, played well enough by Oscar Isaac, is too somewhat wasted – never aspiring beyond a simplistic human destroying bad guy and never embracing complexities that Brian Cox’s Stryker and Ian McKellen’s Magneto would do.

Apocalypse isn’t the best superhero flick off the year – that goes to foul-mouthed cousin Deadpool. It certainly isn’t the worst (*cough* Dawn of Justice *cough cough*.) And it definitely isn’t the best of its own series. A completely unnecessary film that has a surprising enjoyment to it or an actually alright action film with absolute tosh thrown in for no good reason – Apocalypse meagrely pleases.


5 Amazing Moments of Creed

One of the most surprising films of this year was Ryan Coolger’s Creed. After all, aren’t we a little sick of our favourite movies getting yet another exhausting adaptation on the big screen?

Especially Rocky because we’ve been knocked out by the franchise so excessively, we’re almost like the shuffling has-been boxer himself!

So when it was announced that Ryan Coolger was doing yet another movie revolving around silky shorts and red padded fists (oo-er,) it was another round of frustration as we paced the ring, trying to score a win.

But for those who had watched Fruitvale Station, however, and had seen Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan’s work, faith that this was going to be an intricate, emotional, and powerful piece of cinema peeled itself out from the floor and threw a few punches for good measure. (By the way. Fruitvale Station on Netflix. I’d watch it repeatedly).

The end result was a brand new sporting drama that honoured the past and carved something new for future fans. Creed even earned an Oscar nomination and many furious people felt it should’ve received more (myself included.)

So to celebrate the home entertainment release of Creed, here’s five of our favourite moments from the boxing drama!

Warning: There will be spoilers here.

Tessa Thompson’s singing.

Coming from Dear White People and Selma, Tessa Thompson is a young actress who has already accomplished acting finesse and surely has a stellar career ahead of her. As Bianca, and in the hands of another director, her character could’ve easily been a side-lined girlfriend who cries all the time. Instead, Thompson becomes her own character – a partially deaf singer who is sings, performs, and writes as much as she can before her hearing envitably goes. And when you first see her perform, it’s transfixing – a haunting redolent performance that we all have the same face as Adonis:

Utter admiration.

Rocky’s Cancer Montage

One of the biggest shocks of Creed was the infliction of Rocky. The shuffling, gurning boxer who was teaching Adonis the ropes was diagnosed with cancer but after seeing Adrian succumb to the disease, he decides to throw in the towel and except his fate.

No. Seriously. Anyway, after a pep talk with Adonis, Rocky decides to do what he does best and fight. In a fantastically emotional montage, the pair decide to kick cancer in the arse and it’s an endearing part of the film!

The Run

It wouldn’t be a Rocky movie if it didn’t have the epitomes run in it. Made famous by the first film in which Rocky (wonderfully homaged at the end of this film, by the way,) Creed does its own style power jog as Adonis marches through the rundown streets of Philadelphia, accompanied by cheering children on bikes. Set to the impressive score and filled with such amazing hope, determination, and courage, you couldn’t help but be filled with glorious feelings that toppled out of your eyes.

The Match

What works so well for Rocky, the first film, is that he doesn’t win. The same can be said for Creed as he faces off his biggest challenge yet – the criminal and powerful fighter “Pretty” Ricky Conlan. Spoiler alert: He doesn’t win but he does earn the respect of the boxing community after giving it his all and proving himself, rising from an amateur fighter into a professional one. The scene is very indicative of Coogler’s direction, splicing gripping energy and utmost emotion.

Michael B. Jordan

Everything that Michael B. Jordan touches turns to gold. And don’t worry, we’ve completely ignored Fantastic Four and That Awkward Moment because after watching those turd blossom features, we obliterated our memories with alcoholic beverages. Anyway, regardless of the bad movies, Jordan is always – well – fantastic in them and here as Adonis, he manages to be stellar. The young performer tackles the emotional weight, the physical heft, and the rambunctious nature of his titular character with such ease that his charm effervesces. Simply amazing, Jordan should’ve been nominated for an award here.

Creed is available on Blu-ray™, DVD and Limited Edition Steelbook from May 16th.

Creed by Numbers – Fact Sheet!

1          Enduring legend.

1          New legacy.

         Oscar nominations earned by Sylvester Stallone for his 1976 breakout film Rocky – Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay – making him just the 3rd person in Academy history to be nominated for both the same year, after Charles Chaplin and Orson Welles.

2          Films on which Creed director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan have collaborated, the first being Coogler’s award-winning 2013 drama Fruitvale Station.

2          Fierce opponents who became close friends  – Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed – a connection that is reawakened when Adonis Johnson (Jordan), the son Apollo never knew, convinces Rocky to stand in his corner as he fights for his own identity as a boxer.

3          High-level professional boxers whom Jordan faced in the ring to authentically portray Adonis’s trajectory as a fighter:  Liverpool’s ABA heavyweight champion Anthony Bellew as “Pretty” Ricky Conlan; Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward as Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler; and Philadelphia’s own Gabriel Rosado as Leo “The Lion” Sporino.

4          Onscreen boxing matches choreographed by stunt coordinator Clayton Barber in close collaboration with Coogler – and with invaluable input from screen fight veteran and boxing expert Stallone – each of which tells a distinct story within Adonis’s trajectory as a fighter.

4½       Minutes in which the intensity of Adonis’s fight against Leo “The Lion” Sporino is captured in a continuous single-camera take (a “oner”) – requiring tight coordination between Coogler, the actors, Barber and cinematographer Maryse Alberti to pull off.

±5        Age – or, as far back as Coogler can remember – when he watched the first of many Rocky films with his father Ira, who had his own personal connection to the saga.

6          Rocky films released across 30 years – Rocky (1976), Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985) and Rocky Balboa (2006) – all six written by Stallone, who directed all but two, with Rocky director John W. Avildsen returning to direct Rocky V.

7          Days Jordan and Rosado spent blocking and rehearsing Barber’s intense fight choreography to attain the precision needed for the Johnson/Sporino match.  Steadicam operator Ben Semanoff took boxing lessons to meet the challenge of continuous filming while weaving between the two performers.

10        Oscars for which Rocky was nominated, with the film taking Best Picture; Richard Halsey and Scott Conrad winning for Best Film Editing; and John G. Avildsen winning Best Director at the 1977 Academy Awards ceremony.

10        Months during which Jordan rigorously trained and followed a pro athlete’s diet to attain the skills, physique and mindset of Adonis Johnson and believably perform in the ring against real life pro boxers.

13        Takes to capture the breathtaking Johnson/Sporino fight sequence in a single unbroken shot, with the 11th take ultimately ending up on screen.

15        Brutal rounds Rocky lasted in the ring with world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed in the original Rocky, ultimately losing the fight but winning a victory for underdogs everywhere.

±15      Days actor and musical artist Tessa Thompson spent working with Ludwig Göransson, the film’s Swedish-born composer, along with a number of guest artists, to collaborate on the songs performed in the film by her character, the singer/songwriter Bianca.

21        Tracks on Göransson’s dynamic score for Creed, which combines symphonic elements with modern production and beats, infused with interpolations of “Gonna Fly Now,” Bill Conti and Carol Connors’s Oscar-nominated Original Song from Rocky.

27        Age at which Coogler pitched a skeptical Stallone on his idea to tell a new story from the Rocky mythology that would explore Rocky’s relationship with Apollo’s forgotten son; it would take two years of work and a leap of faith by Stallone for the filmmaker to realize his vision for Creed on the streets of Rocky’s home city of Philadelphia.

30        Age at which Sylvester Stallone, determined to make Rocky his way, turned down a lucrative offer for the rights to his screenplay, inspiring producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff to take a chance on the young actor/writer in the title role he would make iconic.

72        Stone steps at the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the legendary training sequence in Rocky was captured guerilla-style by Steadicam pioneer Garrett Brown, who filmed while racing up the steps with Stallone before anyone could stop them.

2006    Year Sylvester Stallone gave his own emotional goodbye to the iconic character he created and embodied across three decades with his acclaimed 2006 film, Rocky Balboa.

2012    Year Coogler, fresh out of film school, made his debut film, Fruitvale Station, on a shoestring budget across 20 days of principal photography in his native Oakland, California.

2013    Year Fruitvale Station swept the top prizes at the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, and went on to resonate with critics and audiences alike, opening the door for Coogler to realize his vision for Creed.

2015    Year Coogler assembled the cast and crew in Philadelphia, PA, to film on location at iconic landmarks from the Rocky saga and explore different parts of the city to shape a new legacy with Creed.

2016    Date that audiences across UK can experience Creed, from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with New Line Cinema, when the film opens in cinemas everywhere.

Creed is available on Blu-ray™, DVD and Limited Edition Steelbook from May 16th.


Don’t Breathe – Brand New Trailer!

Teenagers, aye?

When you are one yourself, you are invincible! When you get older, they become irritating bags of annoyance. But cinema loves them – especially in horror movie where they are relentlessly pursued by entities out to destroy them! Gah!

Now it’s less murderers and ghosts and now a shuffling old blind man!

Starring Goosebump’s Dylan Minnette and Suburgatory’s Jany Levy, the film revolves around a down and out girl trying to accrue money to escape her deadbeat parents. The only way she can find that money is to rob houses with two of her friends in fits of desperation.

The trailer is tense and feels a little bit more like Panic Room for the modern age.  Plus, since the release of Hush where a deaf woman protects herself from an invader, the rise of disabled protagonists and antagonists, capable of so much more, seems to be heading our way!

This could be genius though!

Don’t Breathe is out 9th September

Trainspotting 2 – Teaser Trailer!

X-Men: Apocalypse is out May 18th

Remakes, sequels, and reboots – Oh my!

Yes, we are in that really rubbish time where nothing original seems to be coming out and films are leaping off from products that have come before it. There are a heap of rubbish follow ups to movies long forgotten or long revered and, frankly, it’s completely exhausting.

Except Trainspotting 2.

Fucking excited for Trainspotting 2.

The film has released its first teaser to mark official filming today. Which means it’s not really a teaser or a trailer but a homage to the classic film and whetting our appetities by telling us – yes, the original cast returns as does Danny Boyle. Oh. And it’s called T2.

Yes. Isn’t that shit your pants exciting?

T2 is out January 2017  

X-Men: Apocalypse – “To Fight” Clip

One of these years we are going to have non superhero movies. None at all.

And it’ll beautiful.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the genre but I am exhausted by the over-saturation in our film industry and the reliance of those spandex clad folk. There needs to be at least one year where we aren’t inundated by superpowers all that nonsense so that they aren’t dominating the big screen.

Because we have already had three films with superheroes. And now we are getting a fourth – X-Men: Apocalypse.

After the events of Days of Future Past, there is something stirring within the mutant community. Worshipped as a god since his birth, Apocalypse hunts down powerful mutants to become immortal and invincible. Recruiting more mutants to his fold, including the heartbroken Magneto (after leaving Charles and walking this world alone,) the fate of the world is left in the hands of Raven, Professor X, and the young X-Men.

The reviews haven’t been so kind on the sixth movie of the franchise (officially) and I can see why everyone is exhausted by these X Folk. That being said, for those interested in the film, it could be good. Though in this clip, Mystique is basically a blue Katniss Everdeen.

X-Men: Apocalypse is out May 18th