Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

kubo-and-the-two-strings

Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a Japanese boy who lives in a cave near a small village in Japan with his sickly and forlorn mother, his father has passed on to the next world.  Kubo makes what little money they have by telling stories of the exploits of a great warrior, Hanzo, who fought the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) with his armor made up of The Sword Unbreakable, The Breastplate Impenetrable and the Helmet Invulnerable. The villagers all enjoy Kubo’s tales.

One day, while at the Obon Festival, Kubo tries to summon the spirit of his dead father, but he stays after sunset, and he is attacked by his evil aunts, known as The Sisters. (Rooney Mara) Kubo’s mother holds off her sisters with a powerful spell that knocks Kubo unconscious.  By the time Kubo wakes up his mother is gone, and his monkey charm has come to life. Monkey (Charlize Theron) Kubo, and Little Hanzo, the origami figure that came to life in Kubo’s tales, find Beetle, (Matthew McConaughey ) a samurai warrior who fought with Hanzo, and was turned into a beetle as a curse for his bravery. Kubo must now find the Sword Unbreakable, the Breastplate Impenetrable, and the Helmet Invulnerable with the help of Monkey, Beetle and Little Hanzo, before The Sisters find him and turn him over to the Moon King. Will he find the armor and be prepared to fight the Moon King?

I love this movie, not only is it an epic adventure in the spirit of the Iliad and the Odyssey, but it is also a love story, and a family reunification story.  It blends these three complex storylines with humor, heartache, some scares and some Eastern religious teachings about life and death.  To top it off, the animation is spellbinding, beautiful artistic scenery, and flights of fancy, like Fantasia, Words do this film no justice, it must be viewed to be enjoyed. This is the same studio that did Coroline and The Boxtrolls, if you liked those movies, you will love this one.

The acting is superb.  Charlize Theron is as good as I’ve seen her in anything.  She expresses her love for Kubo by being a protective shield over him, and her love for him is as intense and heartfelt as anything I’ve seen on film.  She also expresses her love for Kubo’s father in a pure, uncomplicated way.  Matthew McConaughey also gives an amazing performance as a simpleton Beetle who must protect Kubo above all, he infuses Beetle with a kind of down-home Texas delivery, that is charming and disarming.  Rooney Mara is intriguingly creepy as The Sisters,  I wish there were more Asian people in lead roles to give the story more authenticity, the Asian actors seem like bystanders in their own story.  Having said that, the acting could not have been better, there was a real emotional connection made between the viewers and these actors.

I know nothing about how to direct an animated film, but however it’s done, the director did what he needed to do, the pacing is good, the performances are very good, and the visuals are good. This is Travis Knight’s first directorial job, but he’s had jobs as an animator in movies like ParaNorman, Coraline, and The Boxtrolls.  He also did animation for Kubo.  The results of his work are beautiful.

Kubo and The Two Strings:  Zing Went The Strings of My Heart

jason-bourne

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is no longer suffering from amnesia and is off the grid, making a living by fighting illegally in Greece.  Former CIA analyst Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is now working with hacktivist Christian Dussault (Vinzenz Kiefer) in Iceland.  Nicky hacks files related to the Treadstone operation, and finds out that Bourne’s father was involved in Treadstone. Nicky and Jason meet during a violent demonstration in Greece, where they are being tailed by a CIA assassin, nicknamed the Asset. (Vincent Cassell)  The asset shoots Nicky, but Jason escapes to Berlin to meet Dussalt.  In Berlin, Jason learns that ex-CIA agent Malcolm Smith (Bill Camp) was intimately involved in Operation Treadstone.  In London, Jason meets Smith, all the while being followed by The Asset.  As the chase continues, divisions grow between CIA director Dewey, (Tommy Lee Jones) and his protégé Heather Lee. (Alicia Wikander )  Lee believes she can bring Bourne back to the CIA without violence, while Dewey wants Bourne dead or alive.

While tailing Bourne, CIA Director Dewey is also meeting with tech wiz Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed) founder of Deep Dream.  Kallor says that Deep Dream is all about internet privacy, but if that’s true, why is he talking to Dewey?  What does Jason learn from Malcolm about Treadstone and his father’s involvement in Treadstone?  Does The Asset find Jason Bourne?

Jason Bourne doesn’t give the audience much for continuity.  The last time Bourne was seen he was swimming away, the movie doesn’t say how he got to Greece.  It’s just an article of faith that he does get away.  There are element of this movie that are interesting, the personal aspect of Bourne’s fight, the involvement of his father, the re-emergence of Nicky Parsons, the distancing of Bourne from the hacker character.  Bourne is not interested in bringing down the CIA, even though he could.  I liked that aspect of the movie.  There are things I didn’t like about the plot, the illegal fighting scene seemed to be more a vanity scene than integral to the plot.  Also the sub-plot with Dewey and Kalloor was underdeveloped, and really seemed unnecessary, and the ending was left open-ended, for yet another sequel, which will happen, because of the commercial success of this movie.

Matt Damon is perfectly suited to play Jason Bourne, the stoic action hero.  Damon uses the economy of words to his advantage, when he speaks it commands attention.  He’s very much in the Clint Eastwood mold in the Bourne movies, he doesn’t say much, but his character acts when necessary.  He’s one of the few people who can play an intelligent action hero.  It’s nice to see Julia Stiles again, she and Damon have a nice onscreen chemistry.  Tommy Lee Jones plays the CIA Director as a no-nonsense gritty character who gets the job done whatever means necessary, something about him playing people in positions of authority, just makes sense.  Alicia Vikander is an interesting addition, her character is not going by the book here, she wants to bring Bourne in alive, but she also wants to impress the CIA director. Vikander walks the tightrope well, but the accent she uses is odd. Riz Ahmed doesn’t fare well here, because the role is underwritten.

The direction is superb, this is first and foremost an action film, and it works as an action film, despite underdeveloped characters and continuity plot holes. Director Paul Greengrass  who’s directed all four of these films knows this territory well, and keeps the action surging forward.  There are two big action scenes one in Greece, one in Las Vegas, and Greengrass keeps the pacing quick enough to keep the movie interesting enough to get to the big Vegas action scene.  He gets mostly good performances from the top-notch cast.  Greengrass also directed United 93, and Captain Phillips, two great movies in their own right.

Jason Bourne:  The action hero born again.

rogue-one

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones, Beau Gladson, Dolly Gladson) is hiding on the planet Lah’mu with her father Galen (Mads Mikkelson) and mother Lyra. (Valene Kane) The weapons developer for the Empire, Orson Kennick  (Ben Mendelson) arrives on Lah’mu and orders Galen to come with him to build a new weapon called The Death Star.  Galen refuses initially, but agrees to go with Kennick when he threatens to kill Lyra.  Jyn escapes with the help of Saw Gererra  (Forrest Whittaker)

Jyn is eventually captured and held captive on the Ring of Kafrene, from there she is transferred to the planet Wobani, where she is freed by rebel pilot Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his droid K250. (Alan Tudyk) The rebels ask Jyn to find Saw Garerra and extract Galen. Their ultimate goal is to find the plans to the Death Star, and pass them on to other rebels to continue the fight.  Cassian, Jyn and K250 travel to the planet Jedha, where the meet Empire defector and pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and blind rebel Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and his bodyguard, Baze Malbus (Wen Jian) Chirrut and Baze help Cassian and Jyn fend off an attack by storm troopers, but while they are fighting, Kennick and Grand Moff Tarkin (Guy Henry) are on the Death Star planning an attack on Jedha City to crush that part of the rebellion.  Do Cassian, Jyn, Chirrett, Bodhi and Baze escape the bombing of Jedha City, do they find the plans to the Death Star and transport them to the other rebels?

Rogue One gets off to a slow start, in its defense, there are a lot of characters, locations, plot and backstory to unfurl in this movie, if some of that was trimmed maybe the pacing would have been faster, but once all the characters come together, and project a united front, the movie takes off. There’s lots to like in this movie, the main characters don’t necessarily like each other or trust each other at first, I thought that was the right tone to set.  Jyn continues the Star Wars tradition of having strong, assertive women in positions of leadership.   Cassian has doubts about Jyn’s commitment to the struggle, and doesn’t mind telling her, is Bodhi a defector or a spy?  The Chinese characters, which first appeared to be a marketing gimmick, were actually well-written and well-developed. There is just enough use of characters from A New Hope to make it an effective plot device.  The only characters that I thought were underwritten were Saw Garrera and Bodhi Rook, the writers could have done much more with them.  But the ending is emotionally satisfying and ties the story together well.  Rogue One is just a few notches below The Force Awakens, and a good addition to the Star Wars cannon.

Felicity Jones plays Jyn as a strong-minded woman with an immense sense of loyalty to her father, is her loyalty to her father or the rebellion?  Jones does a good job of keeping the audience guessing.  Jones was also excellent as Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Diego Luna is also excellent as Cassian, providing the perfect foil for Jyn, trying incessantly to prove his bonafides as the O.R. Original Rebel.  Riz Ahmed is not given nearly enough to do in this film, I wish his role was more interesting.  Similarly Forrest Whittaker was given very little character development, and deserved better.  On the other hand, Donnie Yen from the Ipman films is very convincing as Chirrut, giving his character a Buddhist monk type loyalty to the force.  The writers even give Chirrut a chant.

The direction was adequate, not spectacular as it should have been.  The pacing was slow, and plodding.  Gareth Edwards did a good job of making the film look like the 1977 classic, but I wasn’t sure if he had his own vision of the movie or was just aping George Lucas’ vision.  The final battle is well-shot, but the earlier battle scenes seem run-of-the-mill. Godzilla his other major movie as a director is not that noteworthy.

Rogue One:  A force to be reckoned with.

 

westworld

Episode 1:  The Original

Westworld is a world where android hosts are built to please human customers.  When one of the androids goes awry, senior programmer Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) is called in to find out what the glitch is.  Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babbet Knudson) wants all the defective androids recalled, but the creator of Westworld, Dr. Robert Ford, (Anthony Hopkins) doesn’t want the androids shut down at all.

This is a very interesting episode, the writers are intentionally vague about several things, when this world is built, who the humans are, and if the robots are becoming self-aware.  The last factor is perhaps the most interesting and makes this series worth watching, at least so far.  The writers are Jonathan Nolan and his wife Lisa Joy.  Jonathan Nolan has co-written some of the most interesting sci-fi movies in recent memory, Interstellar, The Dark Knight, and Memento, to name a few.  So. I hope the writing stays this sharp.

Anthony Hopkins is great as the founder, he’s obviously conflicted between making the androids as lifelike as possible, and keeping people safe.  It’s a very subtle performance.  Jeffrey Wright is also very good as the lead programmer, desperately trying to find out what’s going wrong with the androids.  Evan Rachel Wood is interesting as an android just starting to realize that she may not be human.  Sidse Babbet Knudson gives an intense performance as an operations leader, she wants to keep Westworld safe above all.

The cinematography is superb.  There are beautiful exterior shots of mostly Utah, and those shots set the stage for what is essentially a Western drama.

Episode 2:  Chestnut

Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) is having private conversations with Bernard, which Bernard doesn’t want anyone to know about.  Bernard’s relationship with Theresa Cullen extends beyond the boardroom.  Two guests arrive at Westworld, Logan (Ben Barnes) has been there before, William (Jimmi Simpson) has not. Maeve (Thandie Newton) is having flashbacks to an earlier adventure.  The Man in Black (Ed Harris) wants to know what’s going on behind the scenes at Westworld.  Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) creates a new storyline for Westworld, does Ford approve?

What I like about this show is that there are about 5 storylines going on, and all five are interesting.  The androids having memories, and the programmer and the android having private conversations are the most interesting.  Great acting by Hopkins, Ed Harris and Thandie Newton keeps the tension in the script high, and it never lets up.  The least interesting of the storylines are the new guests, hope that gets better, but I am hooked, oh yes I am.

 Episode 3: The Stray

Bernard is still talking to Dolores. He gives her a book, Alice in Wonderland. Dolores learns to shoot from Teddy, after recalling a distant memory.  Bernard learns about an old programmer named Arnold from Ford. Teddy gets a new storyline.  William gets a new adventure. Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) and Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) go in search of a stray android.  Dolores finds her way to William and passes out.

There are some interesting bits here, the continuing evolution of Dolores, Bernard’s fascination with Dolores.  Maeve’s continuing recall, but I don’t like William and his friend, and don’t like Ashley and Elsie. It’s funny the human characters are less interesting than the android characters.  I don’t know if Luke Hemsworth is any better an actor than his brothers, Chris and Liam.

Episode 4:   Dissonance Theory

Bernard tells Dolores that she can go search for the maze and that will set her fee, instead she gets caught in a bounty hunt with William and Logan. The Man in Black is getting close to finding the maze himself, but isn’t there yet.  Maeve continues to have visions, and turns to outlaw Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) for help.  Theresa has a disturbing conversation with Ford.

It’s interesting that the androids are becoming self-aware, but I think the most interesting aspect of this episode is Ford.  I also found Maeve to be more and more sympathetic of a character.  I have my theories about the world that Ford has created, but I will keep those to myself, because it’s only speculation. William and Logan are not interesting characters, William is supposed to be sympathetic, Logan is a macho know-it-all creep. Dolores is starting to annoy me as a character, too much Hamlet type indecisiveness.  Get on with it, writers.

Episode 5: Contrapasso

Dolores, William, and Logan reach Pariah, another Western town.   Dolores is hearing voices, who are the voices coming from?  The Man in Black finds Ford, what do they talk about?  Elsie finds something odd inside The Woodcutter.  Felix Lutz (Leonardo Nam) one of the techies, who patch the androids together, is working on building an animatronic hummingbird.  Maeve comes in for more repairs, and then Felix gets quite a surprise.

Westworld is getting really interesting now, Dolores is hearing voices and lying to protect herself and the identity of the voice.  Maeve is getting more self-aware, and her storyline is coming to a head.  I don’t like the William and Logan characters or their involvement in the storyline, or Elsie and the Woodcutter, which sounds like some kind of fractured fairytale.  But I do like Ford’s character because he always keeps me guessing. A great performance by Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton is also superb as Maeve, quick witted, acid tongued, yet vulnerable, it’s a very good performance.

Episode 6:  The Adversary

Maeve begins a regular day and ends up passed out in the lab with Felix. Elsie sends Bernard to find out what made the Woodcutter act strangely, and then she goes out alone to do more digging.  Lee goes on a drunken rage and runs into Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) a new arrival in Westworld.  Teddy and the Man in Black encounter Union soldiers when trying to cross into Mexico.

I really like the Maeve storyline, that’s the best one they’ve got right now. Thandie Newton turns in another great performance in this episode. Elsie’s storyline was a bit creepy in a scary way, but also dumb. Why is Elsie going to these places at night, alone? Where is Ashley Stubbs?  Isn’t he head of security?  Why isn’t he with her?  Not sure what’s going on with Lee and Charlotte, but Lee is a jerk, so I hope it ends badly for him.  Not sure where the Man in Black Teddy storyline is going, but it seems to be going in circles. No Dolores, William or Logan this week, which is fine by me, I was bored with them anyway.

Episode 7:  Trompe L’oeil

Bernard dreams of his dying son. Theresa and Charlotte want a fall guy for the malfunctioning androids, but Ford has other ideas. Elsie is missing, Bernard tries to look for her. William, Dolores and Lawrence encounter a Native American tribe in their quest to find the maze. Maeve has a plan, but will Felix and Sylvester go along?

There is a big reveal in this week’s episode, I can’t say I was shocked by it, I wasn’t.  I don’t like the Dolores William storyline.  William already knows the secret of Westworld and Maeve has already found out, so why have Dolores and the Man in Black trying to find the same thing?  I like the Maeve storyline, her character has grabbed the center of attention in the show, and again, Thandie Newton is very good.  She doesn’t have a lot of dialogue in this episode, but it packs a punch.  Anthony Hopkins is at his creepy best, the viewers will grow to loathe him, but that’s just good acting.

Episode 8:  Trace Decay

Maeve wants new skills to advance her plan, will Felix and Sylvester help her?  Bernard tries to forget what has happened to Theresa.  Dolores and William are still looking for the maze, as are the Man In Black and Teddy.

The Maeve storyline continues to be the best one, the writers tried to integrate the Maeve and Man in Black storyline and did not succeed, on my opinion.  The Bernard storyline is pointless after the reveal.  I do not like the Maze storyline, the writers seem to want to shroud this Maze in mystery, but it is not interesting to me.  The writers leave this episode on a cliffhanger, but not a very interesting one.

Episode 9:  The Well-Tempered Clavier

Bernard and Ford have a long discussion about existence in Westworld.  William and Logan reconcile, or do they?  Dolores meets Arnold, or is she simply losing her mind? The Man in Black is still looking for answers, does he find any?

This is a much too philosophical episode, too existential, too metaphysical. The episode reveals more about Bernard, but the viewer already knows about him, so it doesn’t really help. It reveals more about The Man in Black, but I never really cared about him. The lead up to the finale is muddled and raises more questions than it answers.

 

Episode 10:  The Bicameral Mind

Ford unveils his new narrative.  Maeve sets her plan in motion.  The Man in Black reaches his destination.  Dolores realizes what she’s meant to do.  William learns the art of survival in Westworld.

This episode reveals a lot, but there are more questions raised, some of them frustrating.  The viewer and the blogger (me) will supposedly have to wait until 2018 to find answers to these burning questions.

Overall, the storylines were incredibly well-written.   I wasn’t as enamored with the Western storyline as the others, it seemed to drag on and on, neither William Logan, nor Dolores was very interesting.  Dolores started out interestingly, but they made Dolores too much of an enigma for my liking.  The Maeve storyline was the best storyline, so I was bit disappointed in her character’s finale.  Bernard was an intriguing character for a while, but after his reveal, my interest in him waned.  What the writers did best was blur the lines between android and human.  The show did it right off the bat, and kept viewers guessing who was human and who was android. What I didn’t like was the extremely violent finale, and the never ending bullets.  Nobody ever runs out of bullets in Hollywood.  But whatever shortcomings the series has, it asks big philosophical questions like.  If we create self-aware beings is it right for us to keep them as playthings? Sometimes it gets too philosophical, but mostly it’s a great sci-fi adventure.

The acting was superb.  Anthony Hopkins played the role of his life and played it to the hilt.  He has a God complex and he thinks he can control people just like he controls androids.  Hopkins really turns up the creepy factor in this performance. Thandie Newton was amazing as Maeve Millay, this was undoubtedly the best performance of her career.  She mixed excellent comedic timing with a sad irony that showed in her face and her words, just a great performance. Jeffrey Wright was also very good, a very restrained understated performance.  On the other hand I didn’t like Evan Rachel Wood’s performance, it was too much a one note performance, she’s not supposed to be emotional, but she could have been a little more emotional than she was. Jimmi Simpson was just plain dull as William, he had a big role, but he is not very good at playing the complexities he was given. I like James Marsden, but his character was a total non-entity in this season’s episodes, maybe that will change.  I hope so.  I expected more from Ed Harris too, he put in a routine performance as the Man in Black.

The direction was good. Jonathan Nolan directed the pilot and the last episode, and other directors directed the episodes between. The pacing was generally good, the cinematography was excellent, and the performances were mostly good.

Westworld:  It rocked my world!

 

 

fantastic-beasts

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) comes to New York in 1926.  He has a suitcase full of creatures that he is sure won’t hurt anyone.   He runs into Non-Maj Jacob Kowalski, (Dan Fogler) who works in a cannery, but dreams of being a baker. Jacob has a suitcase full of baked goods.  They accidentally switch suitcases, which gets Newt in trouble demoted wizard investigator, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) who accuses Newt of being an unregistered wizard, and takes the case to the Magical Congress of the USA, who dismisses the case, despite widespread accounts of property damage.  But then, without warning, a Senator, Langdon Shaw (Ronan Raftery) dies, and Newt’s animals are still on the loose.  Are Newt’s animals responsible for the Senator’s death or is something else at work?  Will the Senator’s death result in a war between humans and wizards in America?

Fantastic Beasts is a good movie, but it takes a long time to bring its disparate storylines together.  It tries to be a comedy with Jacob Kowalski being the comedy relief, it tries to be a romance, and to be a social commentary with dialogue about the anti-wizarding laws present in America at the time, which could draw parallels from anything to the Salem Witch Trials to McCarthyism, to the Holocaust, to anti-gay or religiously restrictive laws that may come in the US.  The oblique references to darker issues were not the problem. The real problem is that ithe script spends too much time on the beasts, which at times are treated as rescue animals or worse, characters from Pokemon Go. The story picks up with the death of the Senator, and maintains the interest throughout.  JK Rowling wants to make the story an epic, with plenty of characters and therefore has to do a lot of exposition, but  she would have been better served making the story more focused and cutting the superfluous story elements.  Fantastic Beasts is not as good as Harry Potter, but is different enough to be interesting and can stand on its own.

The acting is superb.  Eddie Redmayne gives Newt a playful nature, in keeping with the lightness of the script.  Redmayne implies with each sly smile that he is a wizard, but that shy charm may be his most powerful spell.  Katherine Waterston gives a serious, subtle, grounded performance.  Tina does not seem to be overwhelmed by the circumstances surrounding her.  The relationship between Tina and Newt, if there is one is very subtle. Dan Fogler was welcome comic relief, it was nice to see Rowling’s adult characters have some fun for a change.  Allison Sudol adds an ethereal touch to Queenie, Tina’s sister, and Jacob’s love interest, as if she might be too good to be true.  Adding some shades of gray to his performance, Colin Farrell commands attention as Graves, the senior wizard investigator.  Despite his short time on the screen, he finds ways to make his character interesting in different ways. He deserved a bigger role.

The direction isn’t bad,  the pacing drags at times, but that could be from the sheer number of characters and plotlines that need to be introduced  The special effects were well integrated into the story, and therefore didn’t seem to take over.  The performances were very good, but is that the director’s doing or the actors playing them?  I don’t know.  Colin Farrell is a very good actor, and Eddie Redmayne, even at a young age, has proven himself a huge talent.  David Yates, the director has directed four Potter movies, so he knows what this kind of story entails.

Fantastic Beasts:  Beast not afraid, there’s four more movies to come.

Movie Review: Don’t Breathe (2016)

Posted: December 9, 2016 in Action, horror

dont-breathe

Small-time burglars Money, (Daniel Zovatto) Alex, (Dylan Minette) and Rocky (Jane Levy) are tired of small robberies.  They hear about a man who got a six-figure settlement after his daughter was killed.  Rocky has a dream to steal the money and leave Detroit for good with her daughter, Diddy. (Emma Bercovici)While casing the house, they realize the man is blind.  Alex has second thoughts, but decides to go along with Money and Rocky.  The trio breaks in, but The Blind Man (Stephen Lang) finds out that Money is in the house.  They struggle, what happens next?  And what happens to Alex and Rocky?

Don’t Breathe tries to manipulate the viewer in several ways.  The kids are poor, one is a single mother, they are “clean cut,” they could be anyone’s kids, so they should get some sympathy.  The “victim” is an old, blind man, seemingly defenseless from the teens, so he should get some sympathy.  The problem with the script is that neither the kids nor the blind man is worth pitying and all of them seem damn near indestructible, an old horror movie trick.  The plot also seems to run out of steam pretty quickly, and the viewer gets a tour of every room in the blind man’s house, which is just another excuse for more mindless violence.  And when the writers get sick of gunplay and beatings, the script takes an uglier turn.    What’s the moral of the story?  Don’t give a blind man a gun. The real crime here is that this movie was made for 9 million dollars and grossed 89 million, which means the director will get a lot more work

The direction is interesting visually, there are shots in allies and in-between buildings, and all kinds of interesting angles, and they succeed in making Detroit look like a foreboding place, but the pacing was slow, it took forever to get to the end of a 90 minute movie. I don’t know if the performances were good or not, because there was such little dialogue.  Were these actors being paid by the word? Sam Raimi is the producer here, but its scares on a budget. But Raimi knows his way around a low budget horror flick.  He produced Evil Dead on a low budget with the same writers and director.

Don’t Breathe:  Don’t Waste Your Breath.

xmen-apocalypse

The first mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) has re-emerged in Egypt after a long hibernation.  He has absorbed many of the powers of the mutants in his time and now wants to take over the world and remake it in his own image.  He gathers an army, modeled after the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.   Storm (Alexandra Shipp) who is the first mutant Apocalypse meets and transforms.  Angel, (Ben Hardy) who Apocalypse transforms into Archangel, Psylocke (Olivia Munn) who uses psychic energy as a weapon,  and Magneto. (Michael Fassbender)  Now, Apocalypse has tapped into a way to use Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) communication device to talk to every mutant in the world.  Can Xavier, Mystique,  (Jennifer Lawrence) Beast (Nicholas Hoult) Quicksilver (Even Peters) Cyclops  (Tye Sheridan) Nightcrawler (Kodi Smid McPhee) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) stop Apocalypse’s plan to win mutants to his side and rule the world?

I have liked all the other X-Men movies in this series, I did not like X-Men Apocalypse.  The writers chose the wrong protagonist, in my opinion, and they spent so much time developing Apocalypse as the Original Mutant, and they wrote parts for so many mutants, that there was next to no character development for any of the mutants, especially the newer ones, why is Storm a follower of Apocalypse? Mystique seems like the more natural choice to follow Apocalypse, and Eric and Charles could have fought over Mystique like they  did in the first two reboot movies.  The writers tried to model this version of X-Men after Avengers Civil War, with X-Men pit against X-Men, just like the Avengers were pit against one another. One of my favorite characters in the entire series was barely in this movie, and by the time the epic battle unfolded, it didn’t really matter.  Days of Future Past was so creatively written and centered on the right protagonist.  X-Men Apocalypse had a basic plot, too many characters, and very little character development, and it suffers by comparison to Days of Future Past.

James McAvoy is very good as Charles Xavier, almost as good as Patrick Stewart.  He’s got that same restraint as Stewart, he should have had a bigger role.  Michael Fassbender is as good an actor as there  is in movies today, he plays the conflicted Magneto well, and waivers maddeningly between good and evil very well. There is also very good banter between Stewart and Fassbender.  The acting goes downhill from there.  Oscar Isaac is a good actor, he was great in The Force Awakens, and Llewen Davis, but he didn’t have much to do in Apocalypse, except stand around and look menacing.   The writers ask Jennifer Lawrence to carry huge chunks of this movie she is simply not a good enough actress to do it.  Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones is a good Jean Grey, they should have made her role bigger.  Kodi Smit-McPhee looks and sounds too young to play Nightcrawler, he was a child actor.  Olivia Munn is totally underutilized, and one central cast member is reduced to a cameo.

Bryan Singer wrote and directed this movie, and he’s been involved with 4 of the 6 X-men movies, including Days of Future Past, so I don’t know how he thought the screenplay was worth directing.  As a director the pacing was very slow, the special effects were mediocre, and the acting was uneven.  I don’t even have a clue how to fix it, but here are a few suggestions.  Center the story on another character, make Mystique darker, let Storm team up with Charles, and that would at last have made the story more interesting.

X-Men Apocalypse:  Not nearly X-cellent enough.