Tag Archives: Evan Peters

Dark Phoenix (2019) Review

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Phoenix
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops
Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe/Storm
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler
Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver
Jessica Chastain as Vuk
Director: Simon Kinberg

This is the story of one of the X-Men’s most beloved characters, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), as she evolves into the iconic DARK PHOENIX. During a life-threatening rescue mission in space, Jean is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. Wrestling with this increasingly unstable power as well as her own personal demons, Jean spirals out of control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the very fabric of our planet. The film is the most intense and emotional X-Men movie ever made. It is the culmination of 20 years of X-Men movies, as the family of mutants that we’ve come to know and love must face their most devastating enemy yet — one of their own.

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Dark Phoenix has received an immense amount of scrutiny leading up to its release. It’s the last movie in the X-Men universe (done by Fox) before they move to Disney, the X-Men series for a lot of people was at an end already and at this point wasn’t particularly loved (especially after Apocalypse), and they’d be making yet another take on the Dark Phoenix comic storyline (after the previously hated take in The Last Stand), so I think a lot of people just wanted the movie done with. Not helping was the reshoots that were being done, which just generally doesn’t inspire confidence (even if it happens a lot of the time with movies). It felt like a lot of people were really going into it expecting to not like it (and unsurprisingly ended up hating it). There are definitely a lot of problems with the movie, however I get the feeling that I’m going to be one of the people who likes the movie more than most. It’s messy for sure but there are enough things in the movie that I really liked that I’m fine enough with what we got.

I would talk about the treatment of adaptation of the Dark Phoenix storyline, however I never read the storyline (I generally don’t read comics), nor am I very familiar with it, so I’m going to treat the movie as its own thing. It is like another attempt at redoing The Last Stand, which also had its attempt at the storyline (it’s worth noting that Simon Kinberg wrote both). Personally, I felt that it worked a little better than how The Last Stand did it, even though there are some similarities with certain aspects of the plot. It’s a much more personal storyline than you’d initially expect it to be. Despite some of the large scale things that happen, it seemed to have taken some notes from Logan in trying to be a quiet goodbye, and personally I liked that idea much more than a full on large scale finale. It’s also one of the bleakest movies in the series, for some it could make the movie rather dull and depressing but it wasn’t for me. I think I just have a thing for dark, bleak and more grounded comic book movies, so I guess that part worked for me. In a way, yes, much of the movie feels inconsequential, for the stakes being high it doesn’t matter too much, though maybe it’s because we know that this is the last movie in the series and that we are getting a reboot soon. Anyways, I personally liked the more personal take on the story.

Generally I was fine with the writing, however there are some lines of dialogue that really stand out as being cliched, out of place, or even flat out bad, however not enough to take away from the overall experience of the movie. The movie is 2 hours and after watching it, it occurred to me that they really condensed things down. Everything in this movie is centred around Jean Grey, there’s no subplots or anything. On one hand it definitely would’ve benefited from at least being 20 minutes longer, and the short runtime really does mean that only a few characters get some development or have their arcs (some of them unfortunately feel a little rushed), while the others are regulated to just showing off their powers at best. Then again, considering how The Last Stand had the Dark Phoenix storyline running as almost a subplot alongside the whole Mutant ‘cure’ plotline, it’s nice to actually see it being the focus of the entire movie. There are some inconsistencies regarding the plot and storyline, and I’m not talking like how many cast members should timeline-wise appear a lot older than they do (by this movie you should come to expect this from the series, this isn’t anything new). Without spoiling what I’m talking about, I’ll just say that by the end of the movie I’m a little confused as to what timeline this movie is in (at this point there must be like 4 timelines now). Now much has been said about the reshoots for the movie. Personally, if I didn’t hear beforehand about them, I wouldn’t have noticed it while watching. It’s apparently mainly the third act, changing the climax from space to a more grounded location. The change was done to avoid similarities to a recent comic book movie (probably Captain Marvel) and I’m actually fine with the change. As I said I liked the more grounded take for the movie, so it only felt appropriate that it’s set at a more grounded location instead of going completely left field and going to space. I should mention that there is no end credits scene, so no need to stay for it.

The cast for the most part do very well in their roles. The main cast members who get to shine the most are Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult. Turner is really the lead of the movie, with the whole movie surrounding her. She plays both Jean Grey and the Dark Phoenix side of her very well, threatening, vulnerable, and all around was a real screen presence. McAvoy and Fassbender always kill it in their respective roles as Professor X and Magneto and get to have a lot of great moments in this movie. And Nicholas Hoult also manages to deliver a really good performance here, even though he’s already generally good as Beast. Even if not all of the characters were handled well, they at least got to really show off in their action scenes, Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) were decent enough in Apocalypse action wise, but here they really go full force in the last act particularly. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver and Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique really got shafted the most, they acted okay enough with what they had. The villains of the movie were pretty standard alien characters, and we really don’t get enough of them or learn about them. You can just tell that originally they were going to be Skrulls but then no doubt some script changes and reshoots altered their identities. Jessica Chastain is the central villain of the bunch, she acted fine enough in her role but was incredibly forgettable, it felt like you could’ve swapped her out for any other actress and she would’ve been exactly the same.

I know a lot of people were worried about Simon Kinberg making his directorial debut here, he’s produced and been a writer on a number of the X-Men movies but never actually directed a film until now. Despite some problems with the script, I don’t have many problems with his direction, actually it was much better than expected. The visual effects are great, way better than those in Apocalypse. While Apocalypse had these big sequences of massive things happening, oddly a lot of it looked really fake, especially considering the movies that came before it. Dark Phoenix’s visuals look really good though, especially with the phoenix effects. While the action scenes throughout are good (and are honestly amongst the best action scenes of the series), the last act particularly shines with the action. Hans Zimmer composes the score and it’s no surprise that it’s amazing, he really does something special with the score and elevates the movie immensely.

Dark Phoenix is really not going to work for a lot of people, and there are many problems with it. If you just generally don’t like the X-Men movies, I highly doubt Dark Phoenix will be any different for you, and if you are going in expecting it to suck, you’re probably not going to like it. It isn’t quite the sendoff that the X-Men deserved, but there are also some strong parts to it, particularly the cast, visuals, music, and the dark and grounded take on the story. Thinking about it more, I’m not entirely opposed to what we got. And no, it’s not even close to being the worst X-Men movie, it’s better than The Last Stand, it’s better than Apocalypse, and it’s definitely way better than Origins Wolverine. If you’re a fan of most of the X-Men movies, you might at least get something out of Dark Phoenix.

American Animals (2018) Review

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, drug use & offensive language
Cast:
Evan Peters as Warren Lipka
Barry Keoghan as Spencer Reinhard
Blake Jenner as Chas Allen
Jared Abrahamson as Eric Borsuk
Udo Kier as Mr. Van Der Hoek
Ann Dowd as Betty Jean Gooch
Director: Bart Layton

Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan), Warren Lipka (Evan Peters), Eric Borsuk (Jared Abrahamson) and Chas Allen (Blake Jenner) are four friends who live an ordinary existence in Kentucky. After a visit to Transylvania University, Lipka comes up with the idea to steal the rarest and most valuable books from the school’s library. As one of the most audacious art heists in U.S. history starts to unfold, the men question whether their attempts to inject excitement and purpose into their lives are simply misguided attempts at achieving the American dream.

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I had been hearing some small but noticeable attention for American Animals. The only names that I recognised were that of actors Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters and I knew that it was a heist movie based on a true story. Not a lot of people have seen the movie but the people who have really praised it heavily. After finally seeing the movie I can see why it has been receiving all the acclaim, especially with the performances and the way the story was told.

American Animals opens not with a message saying “This is based on a true story” but rather “This is a true story”, and it really does live up to that. It is worth noting that the director Bart Layton has made documentaries in the past, which has clearly influenced his way of telling the story. This movie has had some interesting ways of telling its story. Something that wasn’t shown in the trailers is that it’s partly retelling a story while also having documentary parts to it, with the real 4 people appearing on screen, mostly in an interview style to give commentary about their thoughts at the time and about what happened. Something I also liked is how it showed how some differently the real life people saw what happened, acknowledging the grey areas of what happened and that you have to pick and choose which you think happened (though the differences in perspectives were mostly focussed on smaller things). This can be a little jarring for some people but it mostly worked for me. I guess the only times that went a little too far is when the real life people interacted with the actors, that was a little too much but fortunately we don’t get a ton of that. The first half of the movie is very fantastical as the 4 main characters are planning out the heists. These people are shown to be amateurs with them using movies as a way to figure out how to perform the heist, they even give each other codenames at one point like in Reservoir Dogs. It’s fun to see them try to plan everything and it all feels like everything is going to go as planned. The second half of the movie however turns drastically realistic and darkly serious, when the actual heist happens. As comedic and entertaining as the first half is, the second half is very tense. These characters are not prepared for their situation and it all falls apart. All around the movie manages to be both thought provoking, yet entertaining as well.

The major characters are really the 4 main leads played by Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Jared Abrahamson and Blake Jennifer. All of them are great with Peters particularly standing out. They do a good job at not necessarily making them likable but fun and interesting to watch. They each have their own motivation, while they are trying to get money out of the heist, they really have their own personal reasons for doing all this. They particularly shine in the last half when the heist becomes really messy.

As previously mentioned, Bart Layton has made documentaries in the past, and so he brings his filmmaking style to this story. His direction is one of the most stand out parts to the movie and part of the reason it works so well. It is very stylistic and as previously mentioned it does a good job at portraying ‘true events’, with it also cutting between the actors and the real life people. The editing was a big part of why the movie worked so well, some of the best editing of the year. The tone in the story is complimented by the direction, the first half being fantastical, and the second half dialling up the tension level to 11, with the actual heist being incredibly stressful, its really like you’re right there with the characters.

American Animals is a surprising movie, with great performances and a unique take on the ‘based on a true story’ type of movie. It also features some of the best directing and editing in a film this year. Unfortunately, not enough people are seeing it, and if you haven’t you really should, it might be one of the surprise best films of 2018.

The Lazarus Effect (2015) Review

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The Lazarus Effect

Time: 83 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Horror
Cast:
Mark Duplass as Frank Walton
Olivia Wilde as Zoe McConnell
Sarah Bolger as Eva
Evan Peters as Clay
Donald Glover as Niko
Ray Wise as Mr. Wallace
Director: David Gelb

Medical researcher Frank (Mark Duplass), his fiancée Zoe (Olivia Wilde) and their team have achieved the impossible: they have found a way to revive the dead. After a successful, but unsanctioned, experiment on a lifeless animal, they are ready to make their work public. However, when their dean learns what they’ve done, he shuts them down. Zoe is killed during an attempt to recreate the experiment, leading Frank to test the process on her. Zoe is revived — but something evil is within her.

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Most horror movies nowadays are terrible, with the exception of a few gems like The Babadook and Oculus. Most of them are by the numbers, have bad horror clichés and straight up aren’t scary at all. So how does The Lazarus Effect hold up? It doesn’t, it’s not scary (and as you probably guessed, relies on unscary jump scares), it felt dull and failed to thrill despite its initially interesting premise. However I wouldn’t call it a terrible movie. It does have a decent cast and the direction for the most part is fine and it’s nowhere near as bad as some other horror movies of today. But still, it’s not a good movie and not worth your time.

M182 (Left to right.) Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde star in Relativity Media's "The Lazarus Effect". © 2013 BACK TO LIFE PRODUCTIONS, LLC Photo Credit: Suzanne Hanover

This movie does have an interesting premise with the whole resurrection element, and what happens after people die. Despite this, at many points this movie just feels boring and dull, and there were so many missed opportunities to take the film into a scarier or at least more interesting level. Olivia Wilde dies like 30 minutes into the movie before getting brought back, that’s a third into the movie, so you can imagine how boring the road felt leading up to it. The tension only appears during certain scenes of the movie, it’s not maintained throughout most of the movie. It doesn’t help that this movie isn’t scary at all, but I’ll get to how the ‘scares’ are handled later on.

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This movie has a great cast, which was one of the few things that this movie had going for it. The cast was filled with talented actors such as Olivia Wilde, Evan Peters and many more. I thought that they did well with what they were given, despite not having very well written characters. They might actually be the best part of the movie and might be the only thing that sort of works, which is sad really.

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With the exception of the actual horror scenes, the movie is generally well directed and the production value is quite decent. Unfortunately when it comes to the horror scenes, it follows plenty of horror clichés. The Lazarus Effect, like other horror movies of today rely on jump scares, there are at least 10 of them, I counted them. Most of the jump scares I saw coming, though I will say that out of all the jump scares only 1 of them was a fake jump scare, but that’s hardly a compliment at this point in time.

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Overall The Lazarus Effect could’ve been an interesting horror movie with an interesting premise and a great cast but given the reception of this movie I didn’t go in expecting much and I got what I was expecting. It was brought down by unscary ‘horror’ scenes and a somehow bad plot, even though it promised a somewhat interesting result. It’s one of those movies like Transcendence which have good ideas but still doesn’t culminate in a good movie. Still, it’s nowhere near as bad as other horror movies of today like Ouija, that’s not saying much though as most movies aren’t at that level of horribleness.