Archive for June, 2016

In preparation of X-Men: Apocalypse there are six X-Men movies to watch again and one to watch for the first time.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – * 

The acting is flawed and some of the special effects as well. It’s an action movie. Period. Sure, it tells the background story of Wolverine. But that’s not really compelling. The story doesn’t really help you appreciate the other movies more. There’s little humor and no social commentary at all, which was so great about the first trilogy.

X-Men (2000) – ***

Back in 2000 it was quite refreshing to see a team of comic heroes come to live on the big screen. Especially since the story touched social elements that are now even more relevant. Just think about how muslims are treated nowadays. Some have evil intentions and other don’t, but the former group causes fear and gets all the attention. So what is the other group to do?

Same happens in the original X-Men movie. A politician gains success with his promise to deal with the mutants who are potentially dangerous. One group of mutants (the X-Men under guidance of Professor Xavier) wants to help human kind and has hope that one day men and mutant can live together. Another group (under guidance of Magneto) sees it differently and wants to take over control. After all, mutants are the superior beings. It’s a battle that already kicks off from the very first moment. The acting is great. The special effects are still fascinating. The story is told well. There’s a bit of humor. And lots of action.

X2 (2003) **

Second time around, this sequel doesn’t really compel. It’s an action movie where all mutants are in danger and both teams behind Professor Xavier and Magneto have to work together to stop their kind from being killed. It’s fun, but the social comments are gone. The visual effects are still fascinating though. It’s the kind of movie that you better watch in the movie theatre.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) ***

Probably the best of the first trilogy! It has everything. It has the social references that the made the first movie great and it has the action and special effects that surpass the second one. This time around they found a cure for the mutants. Some are interested in getting the cure (Rogue for instance). Others of course can’t stand the idea of someone trying to cure them. Think about how some evangelical churches want to cure homosexuality for instance. Of course some of the government wants to use the cure as a weapon. And so, again the X-men have to bond together.

The Wolverine (2013) *

Euh. Ok. So, not sure why this movie was made. The Wolverine is mourning the loss of his beloved Jean Grey in a remote nordic place. A young woman comes to pay him a visit and tells him he is expected in Japan. A man, whose life he once saved when the bomb fell in 1945, is dying and he wants to see Logan for a very last time. But he has a last request and offer. He wants Logan’s ability to heal and in return Logan would get back to being ‘normal’. Things change rapidly when the old man dies and his grand daughter is on the run for her father and the yakuza, while Logan is hunted by another mutant. It’s all very chaotic. The action scenes aren’t really that spectacular. The fight scene on the roof of the high speed train is mediocre. The samurai fights are boring. There’s zero chemistry between the characters (not even in the love scenes). And there’s no humor. If this is the first in a new trilogy involving Wolverine than it kind of makes you not want to see the other parts.



X – Men: Apocalypse – **

Posted: June 23, 2016 in 2016, Action, USA, XX

A first mutant reigned millennia ago in ancient Egypt. He was able to transport his powers and gifts into a new body every other generation, making him even more invincible. But he somehow got buried under the rumble of a collapsed pyramid. He always had his cult followers, but when he finally wakes up (after +3000 years) nobody knows what to expect. He finds himself some mutant allies and is also able to get Magneto on his side, whose wife and daughter were just killed by humans after his mutant talents are revealed. He’s more than happy to prepare for the apocalypse where mutants will finally destroy humankind or make them their slaves.

Apocalypse isn’t a bad movie. It’s just overlong and the story isn’t intriguing. The action is over the top, but it entertains. There’s even some humour. There are, however, a few elements that are very annoying. This is the final episode of the new trilogy focussing on the years when Professor X and Magento were much younger. In the two previous episodes, First Class and Days Of Future Past, there were really good references to the older trilogy. In this one, the references just don’t make sense. It’s nice to see familiar characters being re-introduced, but there are a lot of discrepancies in their background/development.

A bit of a disappointment really. 

99 Homes – **

Posted: June 16, 2016 in 2014, Social Drama, USA, XX

A family is evicted from their home in Florida by a ruthless real estate guy and the cops. He swears to do anything to get back his home! So when he gets the chance to work with the guy who evicted him, he accepts the job offer and soon starts evicting other families.

The real estate crisis (in Florida) was as corrupt as it was devastating. Its reality is very present in this movie. You get to see all kinds of reactions to getting evicted and it does grab you by the throat. It’s an intriguing social drama. But to label it as a moral thriller is a bit too much. There is tension, sure, but it’s also very predictable. The Faust-like element of a good guy sealing a pact with the devil isn’t all that well developed. Nevertheless, Andrew Garfield is quite powerful in the lead role and you empathize with him from start to finish even when he’s taking the bad decisions.

Ethan Hunt isn’t quite as iconic as James Bond. He isn’t charming or cool. He’s not parading around with fancy gadgets. And he has very few catchy one-liners. Yet all of the movies around his character are as entertaining, if not more entertaining, than the British spy movie series.

In this fifth instalment our rogue American spy is on a quest to bring down ‘The Syndicate’, an obscure group of former secret agents causing havoc all over the world. In the meantime the CIA was able to close down the IMF where Ethan works for, so he’s basically acting on his own and without any governmental support.

This instalment unashamedly copies the James Bond franchise. There are again several location shoots (a vinyl store in London, the opera in Vienna, the streets of Casablanca, …) and the chase scenes and fights feel like they were taken form the draft board of the 007 production team. There’s even a Hunt-girl! There’s just no sex.

But it’s entertaining. The action is good. The girl is pretty and kicks ass. Tom Cruise does what he has to do and somehow manages to not have the movie focus around him. Which is a feat on its own! It’s a bit overlong and the story sucks, but who cares? It’s over before you know it.