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X-Men Apocalypse: Mutant’s Closing Chapter Offers Great Visuals But Fails to Raise Stakes
The fourth and supposedly last film in Bryan Singer's X-Men reboot trilogy has a decent mix of action and visual splendor enough to keep the fans happy; only the movie is not short of stretched out running time and lack of emotional gravity.
Set in the early eighties – almost a decade after the events in Washington D.C exposed mutants to the world at large - the story begins with Professor Charles Xavier (McAvoy) seemingly happy teaching at his school for the gifted where we get to meet several new faces, including Scott Summers' Cyclops (Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Turner).
Meanwhile, Magneto is keeping a low-profile somewhere out in Poland whilst Mystique (Lawrence) is busy travelling around the world looking to free enslaved mutants, coming across a special young man known as Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee).
When the remains of En Sabah Nur – a.k.a. Apocalypse - (Isaac) are discovered in the deepest trenches of Egypt, the powerful mutant is soon awakened and he is not happy.
With plans to rule the world, he recruits The Four Horseman including, Psylocke (Munn), Storm (Shipp), Archangel (Hardy) and Magneto himself and it doesn't take long before he begins his reign of terror upon the world, forcing the students – led by Mystique and Beast (Hoult) – to come together and learn to control their powers in order to fight the new evil.
While it does reach a certain level of superiority above its previous installments in terms of visual grandness and action set-pieces, X-Men: Apocalypse has failed to raise the stakes in its supposedly closing chapter– sure there is more death and devastation on display but the consequences are free from any emotional impact - with Singer struggling to find sentiment and meaning in his a little too serious world of mutants.
On the other hand, however, the movie delivers on the action front with a couple of sequences - including Quicksilver's (Peters) dazzling showdown inside of a burning building and Magneto's takedown of Auschwitz – while Apocalypse's very own mythological beginning earns the movie points for creativity.
Performance wise, X-Men's younger cast doesn't exactly ooze confidence in their very first X-Men outing, however, they are all still very likable and watching them learn to embrace their powers is entertaining. Meanwhile, the turbulent relationship between Xavier and Magneto – both McAvoy and Fassbender reliable in their roles– takes a seat back with the duo sharing very little screen time this time around.
As for the major villain of the story, well, he is not as threating as the movie might want him to be and despite Isaac's best intentions, he doesn't really manage to resonate as anything but a one-note villain.
X-Men: Apocalypse may not be one of the series' finest entries to date. Big, colorful and not as loud as it should have been, the movie offers more of the same; which, depends on how you look at it, is not exactly a bad thing.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.