Tag Archives: Oscar Isaac

Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

xmen apoc posterX-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

PG-13 / 144 min

Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence

Director: Bryan Singer

The X-Men movies have always been low on the totem pole for me.  When you look at the different franchises that Marvel has put out, the X-Men universe usually ranks pretty low because I don’t have the affinity for the characters as much as I do with some of the other franchises.  It also gets confusing when they throw in a bunch of different characters and plot points, especially with the Days of Future Past and First Class.  In the series’ latest addition, X-Men: Apocalypse, the stakes are raised but the movie manages to provide more of the same.  I went in with pretty low expectations and came out pleasantly surprised, despite some of the movie’s misfires.

xmen apoc 1
via Fan Pop

Maybe the name of the movie hasn’t jumped out at you yet, but it should be easy to hypothesize that this movie has heavy circumstances at stake, including the end of the world and it’s up for the X-Men, once again, to save the earth from the clutches of evil.  Sound like a superhero movie yet?  After being buried thousands and thousands of years ago, the first mutant, who goes by the name Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), remerges from the dark depths with the intent of taking a steamroller to society, starting fresh again under his rule.  Think of it like Noah’s Ark, except with much worse intentions.  Although his powers are seemingly incredible, he can’t carry out his mission by himself, which is why he assembles a team of powerful mutants, including the likes of Angel (Ben Hardy), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Pyslocke (Olivia Munn), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

After Apocalypse literally sends a ripple through the earth, the mutants at Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) academy realize that they are going to need to unify in order to take down the looming threat.  Retuning folks like Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Havok (Lucas Till), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and even Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) make an appearance while newcomers Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) share the screen as well.  Whew, got all of the names out of the way.  There’s a bunch of characters vying for screen time but the film’s handling of these characters is one thing that Apocalypse gets right.  There’s character moments galore, especially with the fan-favorite Quicksilver who steals the show numerous times, to no surprise.  Although most of these moments don’t really amount to much, they still put a smile on your face. In terms of the newcomers, both Sophie Turner and Kodi Smit-McPhee did a great job with their characters, while Tye Sheridan’s depiction of Cyclops was hit or miss.  They were collectively alright, but some shined more than others.  It’s also worth mentioning that Jennifer Lawrence was pretty great as well.  It’s looking pretty murky for the future of her involvement in the series, which could be a big blow for subsequent movies going forward.

xmen apoc 2
via Zap2it

As I’ve mentioned before, the scope and brevity of this movie is hard to deny.  With a movie that teases the end of the world, it only makes sense that the bars are raised.  The story, plot holes and all, might not mean that much in the end, but it provides for a dumb fun roller coaster of a ride.  The set pieces are gigantic and the fight scenes are well choreographed and engaging.  There were a couple of times where I was like, wow, this movie looks pretty great.  Days of Future Past featured Magneto’s upheaval of RFK stadium, but Apocalypse has a moment or two that definitely rivals its predecessor’s crowing moment.

Where Apocalypse trips up is with its titular villain, and his surrounding four henchmen.  Oscar Isaac’s early moments as the god-like villain were fun to watch, but as the second and third act started to unfold, his powers started to become inconsistent as he constantly bended the rules.  The concept of a dangerous doomsday villain like Apocalypse is cool, but they mishandled his character, giving him powers that made me wonder why he even needed any help in the first place.  In fact, he probably could have single handedly taken out the X-Men himself if he really wanted to.  Speaking of his hour helpers, what was the point of even having them in this movie?  With the exception of Storm, the other three mutants on Apocalypse’s team were pretty unnecessary as far as story goes.  They’re also never painted as being dangerous.  I’m not going to spoil anything, but let’s just say the team gets broken up in the form of a little whimper that will easily be forgettable the second you step outside the theater.  It’s a shame because they could have been so much more.  Instead, they were relegated to throwaway character material.

xmen apoc 3
via Collider

Apocalypse leaves things in a pretty good place as it comes to a close, which should give any fan of the series some hope for the franchise’s future.  Let’s be honest, the X-Men series has had its fair share of ups and downs.  It’s why I set my expectations for this movie pretty low.  Although the movie carries some flaws, it was actually a lot better than I thought it was initially going to be.  Maybe this is a product of my low expectations.  Who knows, this could be a pretty bad movie.  However, I’m pretty confident that if you’re a fan of the X-Men, then this might be a movie worth seeing.  As for everyone else, it’s another superhero movie…so do with that what you will?

xmen apoc score


Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

the force awakens poster
via iDigital Times

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

PG13 / 135 mins

Action / Adventure / Fantasy

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac

Director: J.J. Abrams

Duuuuuuuuh-duuuh-duh-duh-duh-duuuuuuuuh-duuh-duh-duh-duh-duhhhh…. (Just imagine the rest of this review like it’s the iconic Star Wars intro title crawl with the iconic music in the background for added effect)

The Star Wars prequels left a bad taste in the mouths of fanboys across the world.  Episodes I, II, and III had their moments but they were largely underwhelming and incomparable to the original masterpieces of IV, V, and VI.  Making matters worse, it’s been ten years since Episode III came out, meaning the bad taste has just lingered and festered for years.  Fans started to become anxious for the next installment in the storied franchise, just something to cleanse their palette.  Enter Disney.  Famed Star Wars director George Lucas sold his baby to the entertainment juggernaut that is Walt Disney and soon to follow this news was the announcement that a new trilogy would soon be making its way to the big screen.

the force awakens 1
via Vanity

Star Wars: The Force Awakens slowly became one of the year’s most anticipated movies.  Directed by J.J. Abrams, the movie would continue the story of famed movie heroes like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia, along with some newer characters joining the fray.  It is made clear that The Force Awakens is on a mission to set the series back on the right track of what made the classics great.  Now we have something else to talk about instead of the prequels sucking so much.  I don’t know if you’ve heard, but The Force Awakens has been selling gangbusters and breaking records left and right.  It has become one of year’s biggest movies.  J.J. Abrams has successfully accomplished his mission and has made a Star Wars movie to rival the classics.

The Force Awakens takes place thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi.  A lot has happened since then.  The First Order, led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver of Girls fame), is the omnipotent evil that spans the galaxy.  The Jedi are just a myth of the past.  The characters from the previous films are all doing their own thing now.  Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is still the general of The Resistance, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) are still the rebel bounty hunters that we came to love, and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is missing, which is the main crux of the movie’s story.

the force awakens 2
via Daily Actor

Within the first couple of scenes we are also introduced to the new faces that will drive the new trilogy for the years to come; Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.  These two are the new fresh faces that this series needs.  Daisy Ridley plays Rey, a scrapper from Jakku who is under the impression that one day her long lost family will come back to find her.  John Boyega, on the other hand, plays Finn, a Stormtrooper who wants to change his ways.  The two character’s paths meet up in a play of destiny and they are set on a mission after finding the cute little droid BB-8 that has part of the map that will lead the Resistance to Luke Skywalker.

the force awakens 3
via comicbook.com

John Boyega’s Finn was probably one of my favorite new characters from the movie.  His humor is a refreshing change of pace for the movie and he has an energy that is undeniable.  Daisy Ridley is amazing as well.  I believe that both of them will have what it takes to carry the monolith that is Star Wars into the future.  This movie was their proving ground and they took the baton from the established cast and are ready to move on into the future.  I also want to mention that Adam Driver did a fantastic job as Kylo Ren.  His character was perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch.  Ren is a unhinged and emotional apprentice to the Dark Side that is afraid that he will never live up to Darth Vader.  Driver captured this character’s unstable nature amazingly and I really look forward to perhaps taking a deeper dive into the shroud that this character withholds.

the force awakens 4
via Flickering Myth

The nostalgia factor is out the roof the second the notorious title crawl starts scrolling up the big screen.  Everything from the sights to the sounds bring back pangs of nostalgia and reverence to the original trilogy.  The use of practical effects in The Force Awakens alone is super cool in that it adds to the old school mantra that this movie upholds.  It really made the movie feel like the original trilogy.  In fact, this movie was super similar to A New Hope, maybe a little to its detriment.  Everything from the locations to the story seem to fit right in line with A New Hope, almost like it was trying to play it a little safe, using the already established classic as a crutch to carry it forward.  This doesn’t mean too much right now, but if the next movie starts to fall in line with The Empire Strikes Back, then maybe we should start to feel alarmed.

There’s also the convenience factor that started to make me question a lot of the things that happened in the movie.  I fear that if I started to go deeper into what I mean by this, spoilers would start to arise so I am going to stay out of the mud for now.  If you see the movie, you’ll know exactly what I mean.  Things line up in ways that seem impossible and characters run into other characters at opportune times that make you shake your head a bit.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a problem that a lot of movies have, but that doesn’t make it excusable.  Similar to my point about The Force Awakens being too similar to A New Hope, this isn’t a big problem in the movie, but you can add it to my list of small gripes that I have with it.

the force awakens 5
via comicbook.com

It’s been a while since a movie instilled a feeling of pure childish giddiness in me but The Force Awakens really did that for me.  The feeling of going to see a new Star Wars movie in theaters again was just a delight in itself.  Luckily the movie was pretty fantastic to go along with these nostalgic feelings.  The movie took its time and established the new characters and paid homage to the old in ways that seem to set up the future movies pretty well.  (I should also mention that the movie’s last shot was pretty amazing, setting up the cliffhanger that will be picked up in Episode 8) Whenever J.J. Abrams had his hesitations with signing on to the iconic series, I understood why he would have these feelings.  He can rest easy now because he accomplished a lot of great things with The Force Awakens.  This is the Star Wars movie you have been looking for.

the force awakens score