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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.

Jeremy Saulnier – Green Room Interview

by David Hayles

Director Jeremy Saulnier has followed up 2013’s hugely acclaimed revenge thriller Blue Ruin with Green Room, a tense, gruesome chiller starring Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots, about a punk band who find themselves at the mercy of a gang of neo-Nazi skinheads led by Patrick Stewart.

How did you get Patrick Stewart to play a neo-Nazi psychopath?

He’s up for an adventure – he was looking for something like this, something dark and unsettling. He really responded to the opportunity to step into a role that would require a downplayed, quiet authority, to be part of an ensemble, in contrast with this very young cast… just, I think, to take a break from studio franchises or TV shows and get his hands dirty on an independent film… it didn’t take much to convince him actually.

Did you have him in mind for the role?

I’m not that presumptuous… I certainly just wrote for authenticity for characters based on research or from my youth. A lot of the band is referring to real life friends I had growing up that were in the punk rock hardcore scene, but I definitely didn’t envision someone of Sir Patrick Stewart’s stature stooping so low as to be in our movie! So I was delighted and he had a really good time playing someone so nasty.

Was it all ‘Sir’ Patrick and bowing when he turned up?

He was like anyone else, he just showed up on set, did his work, came prepared, asked all the right questions. Very much on the same page. I vet all my cast by enthusiasm too – I just want to make sure that everyone on set wants to be there because that creates this wonderful energy, that’s just supportive. You know, we’re all very vulnerable making movies and oftentimes it’s just exhausting, so when you’re surrounded by people who actually want to be there you feed off that collective energy – it’s great. And Patrick Stewart was one of the ensemble, and also at the same time commanded so much respect it translated to his character, and all his skinhead underlings were really sort of impacted by his presence in a perfect way – which achieved the dynamic I was looking for.

After Blue Ruin’s tremendous critical acclaim did you have actors queuing up to be in your next film?

It certainly helped having Blue Ruin as a reference, as actors can see how much I care about performance, how much weight I put on their shoulders. Blue Ruin is very bare bones, it’s so much based on Macon Blair’s central performance. They say there is a certain amount of loving care that goes into the movies I make… and you can’t do that having a toxic relationship with an actor. I guess you can but I don’t want to do that. Blue Ruin also served a very important purpose for Green Room, which is a tonal reference – because if you read Green Room on the page and you don’t quite get what I’m going for, this could be discarded as a typical horror/slasher movie. But having Blue Ruin really helped actors understand what I was going for. They felt a lot safer going in.

What was the thinking making your heroes a punk band – it’s not a typical thing is it?

For me it is – I was in a hardcore band in my youth, I was around a lot of punk music, heavy metal… so these are the kids I knew growing up. The key was to not get too bogged down in punk ideology and what have you, but to pull from experiences. They’re scavengers, like kids out of a Mad Max movie – the busted van, trying to siphon gas from parking lots. It has nice on-the-road, almost Road Warrior feel to it, of course downscaled into the real world – but I thought aesthetically it would be perfect. And I wanted to archive the music, for me and my buddies growing up.

By the end of the film you feel like you’ve been put through the mill – but was it one of those films that it was great fun to make?

The cast and crew had a blast. I think it was exhausting for the cast because of the physical nature of the performances, but as soon as we called cut and wrapped our days it was a lot of fun. Everyone loved each other. Having to do twenty days of non stop crying and mayhem and action – but we all genuinely liked each other, which is very rare, from what I hear… we benefitted from having a tough shoot but with very like-minded, invested individuals who made it more an insulated comfort zone.

You’ve got Blue Ruin, Green Room… is this going to be your Three Colours trilogy?

It is not. I’ve got no more colours in me right now.

So what is next for you?

I’m waiting to hear on a project that will be an amazing step up for me, visually and tonally. It’s in the process of casting, which will trigger off the money. I’m flying to LA tomorrow to have a meeting about a studio movie, and eventually I’ll write something for myself. I think it’s good to keep writing because I need a insurance policy to have my own script that I control. Because for so many reasons films fall through at any step in the process.

Do you have any particular films you watch before you start a project to inspire you?

I certainly watch movies before I start writing movies… because it’s hard, I have three kids and a busy life and I’m always doing so many things, and it’s had to get back into that headspace where your brain and your creative juices are aligned and it’s quiet enough to actually write. I’ll definitely binge on a few movies, more to get excited about cinema, to remember why I make films, to get these feelings back circulating in my system. For Green Room. I watched Straw Dogs and Robocop. I watched a bunch of cool Seventies and Eighties movies that had a lot of texture and grit to them. Some Coen Brothers’ movies. For the next one I write, it might not start for two years, who knows… It’ll be more of an adventure movie I think.

Both your films seem very unique – often reviews just say ‘it’s this film meets this film meets this film’ – and with your films it’s not so easy to do that.

The intention is certainly not to just mash a bunch of films together. When I write there’s no intentional references – other than the atmosphere and feeling some of my favourite films create. It’s never trying to do this typical Hollywood pitch: X movie meets Y movie.

Have you got a favourite punk movie?

Ahh man – Repo Man. Because it doesn’t try too hard to be punk. It’s just in there. It’s really cool and it’s bizarre and irreverent and lovely.

By the way, the bit with the box cutter in Green Room is one of the most horrible things I’ve ever seen, in a film.

[Laughs] Well, you’re welcome.

Green Room is released in UK and Irish cinemas on Friday 13th May
Read our review! 

Room (2016) – DVD and Blu-Ray Review

There are spoilers here.

The jaunty music rang out across the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood as the 87th Academy Awards were in full swing this past February. The song perhaps grated against the usual swell of classic film scores and elegance that populated grand events such as this. For keen ears, it is the music that  was uttered softly, in hushed pain, from the winner of Best Actress – Brie Larson in Room and for many big fans of Lenny Abrahamson’s seminal work, Big Rock Candy Mountain was a soulful nod to the past year’s best performance.

And Brie Larson completely deserved the golden gong.

The 26 year old actress was pretty much the sole frontrunner of award season. The performer, who started acting throughout her teens and gained traction during her early twenties in films such as Scott Pilgrim vs the World and 21 Jump Street. She gained acclaimed for her role in Short Term 12 – a film which you all should see by the way – but it was this year’s heart-wrenching Room that solidified her as one of the world’s greatest actresses (oh, and my Twitter friend for about three months.)

The actress has soared and if you missed her impeccable performance in Room, which fought off the likes of Charlotte Rampling and Cate Blanchette, then it is luckily out on DVD and Blu-ray today.

Room revolves around Joy who, seven years ago, was kidnapped by a man known only as Old Nick and is held in an 11 by 11 foot enclosure. Giving birth to a son, Jack, Joy makes the decision to tell him that life within Room is all there is and everything within the television does not exist. However, urged yet again to escape when Old Nick takes away their power, Joy tells him the truth and Jack is forced to confront a larger world than the one he has known – the little and dingy Room

A commented bounded around from a dear critic friend who stated that Room was very similar to The Revenant: The Oscar winning movies were about survival and perseverance. Whilst one battle with the harsh nature and brutal beauty of the world, the other took on the brutality of man in all his sickening horror. Joy’s story, told through the round eyed innocence of her son Jack, is the endurance through kidnap, rape, and confinement and then, the preservation of her son when he is unwantedly born.

More so than the obvious and physical entrapment displayed here, Room excavates a remarkable understanding of mental illness such as Ma switching off for days on end whilst inside the room and her inability to readjust outside of Room. In fact, two of the arguably more troubling scenes within the film are when she faces what has happened to her and Jack that, juxtaposed against the seemingly idyllic and now foreign world she used to live, breaks her spirit all over again which is shown in the conflict with her mother and the news-reporters contempt for sensitivity (accusing her of being an unfit mother for not allowing Jack to escape.) Room never tackles the subject matter with a clunky hand.

Brie Larson is the spirituous and intricate performer who solidifies these themes. She is able to layer Joy with the realist emotional changes that her vitriol and rage as well as hope and courage are all utterly believable. The sense that this young woman was taken in the prime of her life and suffered for seven years under the command of someone else rocks throughout the film and Larson handles this story – a very true one for some people – with completely control and sensitivity, weaving the heftiness of her suffering in understated gestures, the bags around her eyes, and the pain etched into her voice. Larson takes a role that could’ve been wrongfully enhanced by melodrama and, instead, quietly hurts. Surprisingly, it’s a performance louder than most.

Lenny Abrahamson demands the excavation of the human soul in most of his work that the ferocious director encroaches from whilst the young Jacob Tremblay, who, during press junkets and red carpet shenanigans became our adoptive son, is a revelation and can tackle the arc of wonder and frustration tremendously well.

Room is a marriage of Emma Donoghue’s story with these superb talents and it liftst into this powerful and superb feature.

Room is out on DVD and Blu-Ray 9th May

Green Room – Review

There are movies out there that refuse to let go. As you appear from the shadowy room, the credit sequences rolling through the names and pounding out a feverish song, you peel yourself from the seat and shakily make your way down the stairs. Your wobbly legs threaten to topple you over as you gather your belongings and are shuffled out with an equally bemused crowd. Tired, sweaty, and utterly exhilarated, you know that whatever you’ve witnessed on the big screen has viscerally gripped you and changed your entire being.

Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin is that type of film. The story of a revenge plot put the director and his leading actor Macon Blair on the map. It also altered your complete DNA and made you a better person and film watcher in the process. Now Saulnier is back with Green Room and yet again, we’ve had to change our name, passports, and entire make-up because we’re a whole new person right now.

Green Room
 is certainly May’s must-see gory thriller. Scratch that, it’s the one of the year’s greatest movies and one that you need to witness on the big screen.

Starring Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Imogen Poots, and Callum Turner, Green Room revolves around a down and out punk band named The Ain’t Rights who stop for a last minute gig in Oregon, only to find out that it’s filled with racist violent skinheads. After stumbling upon a murder, they are locked in their dressing room while the rabid masses try to dispose of their witnesses….

Like the crunching wail of a guitar that scratches down your back in agonising pleasure, Green Room is not for the faint-hearted. Even before the blood cascades on the screen, the tension that mounts is devilishly palpable and throws you to the edge of your seat almost immediately. Grim and unrelenting, the torturous titular cell that The Aint Right’s have been trapped in echoes the terror to the audience who feel the claustrophobia and terror almost similarly to the characters. The atmosphere catches you breathless as you yearn for the prisoners to escape. Bloody and vicious, the punches that Green Room delivers leave indelible bruises on your skin and soul, etched in brilliant brutality.

That’s not to say that Saulnier has drenched this movie with gritty and gruesome gore. Instead, his skilled writing keeps you invested because the band – Sam, Reece, Tiger, and Pat – as well as their captive friend Amber are likeable characters. Without an abundance of exposition, Saulnier keeps us in the moment and we immediately empathise with a struggling band thrown into a pit of awful purely because of circumstance.

It helps that the casting is spot on. Yelchin uses his boyish charms to develop this panicky troubled guitar player into the hero of the piece, and greatly so. Yelchin has certainly moved beyond being a mere Star Trek alum and his furore into independent movies has been stellar. He also spouts this amazing monologue that is one of the most emotional moments of the film. Though somewhat underused, Patrick Stewart’s menacing club owner Darcy is this brutal character that captures the worst of humanity in these tenderly spoken threats, making him completely petrifying. The addition of British actors such as Imogen Poots, Callum Turner, and upcoming favourite actor Joe Cole add different elements to this ferociously grisly film. American actors Marc Webber and Saulnier’s muse Macon Blair add a conflicting component to the pursuing skinheads, making the enemy force multi-faceted, human, and, therefore, even more chilling.

Green Room, in a small way, is not a slick as Blue Ruin. Some obstacles such as the runaway storyline are too underdeveloped to feel right. Also, some may hate the way the film carries on so quickly after a death but in many ways, it adds to the sicking, remorseless, assault. Saulnier curves into the fear and relishes the thick unease, juxtaposing the quick attacks against the slow and agnosing wait the survivors have to take which enhances the experience completely. Pulsating with fear and glorious revulsion, Green Room is this year’s ultimate thriller.

Green Room is out 13th May 

X-Men: Apocalypse – “The History of Apocalypse” Featurette

…..What did I say yesterday? Exactly. There is going to be a lot more X-Men shenanigans as the movie is only a few weeks away! And now we have a brand new featurette.

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 latest featurette poses some interesting questions about the upcoming film. The History of Apocalypse shows that he has inhibited the body of different mutants and it suggests that he may do the same with Xavier. Especially because there is a battle where Xavier stands – it makes sense that it’s in his mind.

Also. He is played by Oscar Isaac.

That is all.

He can inhabit my body any day.

X-Men: Apocalypse is out May 18th