Tag Archives: Oscar Isaac

X-Men: Apocalypse – Movie Review

From director Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg, X-Men: Apocalypse resurrects the first and most powerful mutant to do battle against the infamous X-Men.

Release Date: May 27, 2016
Writer: Simon Kinberg
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne

Since the dawn of civilization, the first mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) escaped death by moving his essence from mutant host to mutant host. With each transition, he would take on that mutant’s power. As he became more powerful, the humans around him would worship him as God.

That is until that last transition, when the human, who served him, revolted and was able to defeat Apocalypse. But defeat and death are two different things. For the next several millennia, efforts have been made to dig Apocalypse from his grave. All attempts unsuccessful…until the 1980’s.

It has been ten years since the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has built a school out of his mansion home. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) has been rescuing mutants from abuse and exploitation. In the process, she has become a hero to other mutants. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has withdrawn into hidden seclusion with his new wife and daughter.

At the new school, Xavier gives each student a proper education and help in controlling his/her powers. With dreams of one-day uniting humans and mutants, Xavier is optimistic about the progress of his school. He is faced with some challenging students. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is a telepath, which is more powerful and more dangerous than Xavier. Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) emits a dangerously powerful optic blast from his eye and needs help controlling it.

The students are now called prematurely into action when Apocalypse arrives and recruits his four horsemen: Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Oliva Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and yes…Magneto. After the betrayal of his friends and neighbors, Erik’s wife and daughter are killed. As Magneto, Erik joins Apocalypse to once and for all put an end to the reign of humans on Earth.

As you can see, there is a lot of story going on in X-Men: Apocalypse. This is also the main problem of the movie. In a superhero movie, audiences want action and except for a few minor set pieces, the action does not happen until the third act of the film. The first two acts hint at the powers of most characters, but it is really Xavier and Magneto who have the action. This action is McAvoy putting his fingers to his head and people doing what he says. Then there is Magneto with his hands in magicians pose while special effects happen around him.

If there is anything good about this X-Men movie, it is the final fight in the third act, when everyone’s powers are on display. This is the moment that the movie feels like a comic book. The exception is the horrible fights with Beast (Nicholas Hoult). It looks awkward and clumsy. The wire work just looks silly. The problem is you will have to sit through the first two acts to get there.

The early part of the film has good acting, over the top comic book drama, and a little too much humanizing the characters, so that we can relate to the story. You can tell the film still needed more exposition. It is still unclear, what Apocalypse’s powers are. The big cameo just at the end of the second act looks rather silly and a waste of the talent.

Again, my complaint is that we want to see mutant powers in action. It’s clear that Jennifer Lawrence is a big star…rightfully so. But as the chameleon, Mystique, she changes from maybe twice and is rarely ever in her blue makeup. Is this the perk of being a big star. Kodi Smit-McPhee is cool as my favorite X-Men, Nightcrawler. There is a lot of teleporting. Thank you, Bryan Singer. Evan Peters also returns as Quicksilver with a scene that almost tops the slow-motion segment in Day of Future Past. Nice try, Bryan Singer.

By no means, is X-Men: Apocalypse a great X-Men movie. It is barely a good one. By no means, is it as bad as Superman v. Batman. With the strides that Marvel Studios and Disney have brought to the superhero genre, we expect better from a team that is rich in amazing source material.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Movie Review

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, everyone wants to know what happened to Luke Skywalker. 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the Force has gone into hidden and these are the events that trigger its awakening.

Release Date: December 18, 2015
Writer: Lawrence Kasden, JJ Abrams
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega

In the seventh episode, the Empire has been replaced by the New Order. A weakened version of the Empire but ready to return to the Galactic stage with its new Starkiller Planet. It’s thousands of times more powerful than the Death Star. In charge is Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), his padawan Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), his base commander General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and leader of the troops, Captain Plasma (Gwendoline Christie).

Meanwhile on Jakku, the planet where the Empire lost the war is a girl, Rey (Daisy Ridley) abandoned as a child, who survives by scavenging old parts from downed Star Destroyers, TIE fighters and X-Wings.

Up against the First Order is the Resistance led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). They are on the search for Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker who went into seclusion after failing to train Han and Leia’s Son, Kylo Ren. The movie now becomes the search for Luke Skywalker. The First Order wants him found and executed. The Resistance wants his found to help restore balance to the universe.

Paths cross as Rey, former Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), pilot Poe (Oscar Isaacs) and the cutest robot since R2-D2, BB-8 join forces with Han Solo and Chewbacca to find the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker and destroy the Starkiller base.

I came into Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a great deal of excitement. The level of hype was high and could have potentially ruined the movie. Instead, I walked away from the movie feeling like Star Wars was back in my life, but a very different Star Wars.

The first thing I noticed was the look and feel of The Force Awakens was very different from George’s original design. Different is not always bad. Director J.J. Abrams relied heavily on practical sets and practical effects. Very little of the movie was shot in front of a blue screen and more detail was added to set design compared to the lower budget Star Wars: A New Hope. The set of The Force Awakens felt real to me, which was almost a distraction to the fantasy feel of the prequels. As with anything different, I got used to it after about 20 minutes.

It soon became clear to me that Star Wars: The Force Awakens may not have been the best Star Wars movie, which still goes to Empire Strikes Back, but The Force Awakens needed to accomplish a few things before a new story could be told which will be whatever episode eight will be.

Their first accomplishment was to connect the Star Wars of the past to the Star Wars now. It was important to bring back Han, Leia and Luke. They serve as an important bridge to the future and now new stories can be told in their eventually fade away into oblivion.

The second accomplishment was to tell a new story that still feels like a Star Wars movie. In the Force Awakens, J.J. tells a familiar story in a new way. This movie is essentially the introduction of a different Death Star with the Starkiller planet and also the tale of the Resistance destroying said planet.

Finally, the new Star Wars introduced new characters. Daisy Ridley literally came out of nowhere and made the single most exciting impact on the Star Wars universe that could have possibly been made. As Rey, she’s a girl that was abandoned on the desert planet of Jakku and learned to survive on her own and slowly comes to the realization that she may be a Jedi.

As Finn, John Boyega plays a former First Order Stormtrooper that questions the very role he was bred to fulfill. This is new storytelling by focusing on an actual Stormtrooper. Finn soon realizes that even a Stormtrooper has more to offer the universe than being a mere foot soldier to the New Order.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren plays probably the most complex villain in Star Wars history. The others simply followed the orders of his/her master, but Ren is conflicted about his role. This is the first time we see a Sith Lord, who has not been fully realized and the next movie will spotlight Adam Driver’s character in an amazing way.

Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher return as former lovers, Han Solo and Princess Leia. I don’t think it’s any secret that Kylo Ren is their son. In fact, there are a lot of secrets that were called early into the movie, but still dramatically revealed for full, heart-pounding effect.

The Force Awakens spins a wonderful and familiar tale of the force and the destruction of the Starkiller Planet. It also leaves a laundry list of questions to be answered in the next film. Always leave them wanting a lot more.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens send the Star Wars franchise clearly in the right direction. The film feels like it belongs in the Star Wars universe and tells a masterful story. You’ll leave pining for the next episode, which you won’t have to wait three years, but only two. My childhood has returned.