Tag Archives: James McAvoy

It Chapter Two (2019) Review

Time: 169 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty
Cast:
James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough
Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh
Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom
Bill Hader as Richie Tozier
Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon
James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak
Andy Bean as Stanley Uris
Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Director: Andy Muschietti

Defeated by members of the Losers’ Club, the evil clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) returns 27 years later to terrorize the town of Derry, Maine, once again. Now adults, the childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the others home for one final stand. Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise — now more powerful than ever.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

It Chapter Two was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. The first It was quite good, and from what I can tell adapted part of Stephen King’s classic novel to the big screen rather faithfully. However, that movie only told half of the story, whether it still worked depended on the second half. With the same team returning, and the likes of James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as part of the older cast, I was looking forward to it. It’s ambitious, very well directed, the cast was great, and a satisfying conclusion to the It story.

I’d advise people who are seeing It Chapter Two to watch the first movie somewhat recently beforehand, it’s best going into the movie with Chapter One fresh in your mind. As for people who haven’t seen the first movie at all, Chapter Two is not a movie you can just go into without seeing the first, you’ll be completely lost. There is a long period in the first half that’s necessary to the story and characters but I’m not sure it works as well as it should’ve. It’s mainly consisting of the main characters going back to places they’ve been to as children and remembering certain things. There’s a purpose for doing this with all the characters, however the problem is that for the most part all the scenes follow the same structure: the adult character goes to that familiar place, have a flashback which usually ends in an encounter with Pennywise, and then in present day coming across Pennywise themselves. These scenes are necessary for the plot, it’s just that it felt a little too repetitive. I heard something along the lines that there’d be a version which put the two movies together, placing the scenes in chronological order and that should be interesting. Despite all the things about what I just said and some of the scenes meandering a bit, I was really invested with the movie and the characters, even more so than the first movie. This movie is really ambitious to cover it all in one movie, and most of it works. All the build up in the first two acts really pays off, as the third act is fantastic, won’t go into depth with that here. There are some changes from the books, some of it was shot and removed, others didn’t make it to being filmed. For example, there are subplots like with Beverly’s husband and Bill’s wife that were in the book but not in the movie, I haven’t read the book but I think that it was a good call not to feature them in the movie. Last thing to note, as people have no doubt seen and sometimes complained about, this movie is almost 3 hours long. Considering that the book is 1000 pages long, it’s not really too surprising that it’s this long. If you’re invested in the story, that won’t be a problem for you because it wasn’t a problem for me. Looking back on everything, I’m not sure what exactly I’d cut from the movie, there’s a lot here that’s necessary for the story, even if some of it could’ve been handled differently. Besides, I’d much rather a lengthy movie that takes its time with its story, then a 2 hour 20 minute (studio mandated) version that feels really cut down. Some people have asked whether splitting it into 2 parts was necessary, and looking at everything I’d definitely say yes.

The cast is all around great, with James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone and Andy Bean playing the older versions of the Loser’s Club from the first movie. They actually seemed like older versions of the younger cast (James Ransone particularly seems like an older Jack Dylan Grazer), and when it comes to casting adult versions of child actors, this is one of the best examples I’ve seen in movies. I generally liked what they did with the characters. I also liked what they did with Mike’s (Isaiah Mustafa) character, from what I can tell he really didn’t get to do much in the book, here they gave him more to work with, with him being the only one who stayed in Derry and really the one out of the group who knows the most about Pennywise and what they might need to do in order to kill him. Ever since the movie started being shown, there has been particular praise going towards Bill Hader, and for very good reason. He not only delivers a lot of the funniest moments of the movie, he also delivers some of the more emotional scenes of the movie. I admit I’m not familiar with much of his work (no I haven’t seen Barry yet) but after seeing him here, I really want to check them out. You also see the younger cast appear often in flashbacks, and as usual they are very good in their roles. You don’t see as much of Pennywise, or at least compared to the amount in the first movie, but Bill Skarsgård is great in his scenes. Unfortunately yet again they do tend to overuse the amount of CGI on him, even though there are parts that are absolutely necessary to use those effects, Skarsgård is more effective and scary when he’s just acting on his own without all that. Nonetheless, him and director Andy Muschietti has completely redefined Pennywise and they’ve done a great job at bringing him to the big screen. There are also a couple of cameos worth keeping your eye peeled for.

Andi Muschietti returned to direct, and he’s done a really good job yet again. It really looks great, the town of Derry even in the 2010s still really feels uneasy. If you didn’t find the first movie scary, you probably won’t be scared by the second. I don’t go into horror movies judging them by their scare factors, because usually I’m not scared by horror movies. With that said, there are some scares here that are quite predictable and done like plenty of other horror movies have done, for example the classic ‘character looks at a room when they think there’s danger and see nothing, and when they turn around there’s something scary right up in their (and the audience’s) face’ is present multiple times. I do appreciate how graphic and disturbing Muschietti is willing to take this, he really does not hold back in the darker and twisted aspects. The CGI for the most part is good but some of the larger effects are a little too cartoonish and silly at times. Benjamin Wallfisch also returns to provide the score for the sequel and it’s once again effective and elevates the movie even further.

Looking at the reactions, it seems that that It Chapter Two won’t work for everyone perfectly. Despite some of the messiness and some of the issues I have, I do like Chapter Two more than Chapter One. Although I haven’t read the book, I know about it, and I saw the miniseries, which really didn’t work. With these two movies it’s an achievement in itself that they managed to pull this off, and them being as good as they are is. Considering the amount of content that Stephen King packed into that one book (and some of the weirdness that was understandably cut from it in the movies), I think this is probably as good as an adaptation of the book as we’ll probably get. If you weren’t a fan of the first movie, I’m not sure that you’ll like the second. If you like the first movie at all however, I do think it’s at least worth checking out Chapter Two, otherwise you’ve really only seen one half of the story.

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.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

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.

Glass (2019) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & content that may disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Horde
Bruce Willis as David Dunn/The Overseer
Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass
Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple
Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke
Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph Dunn
Charlayne Woodard as Mrs. Price
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast. Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Glass was one of my most anticipated films of 2019. While M. Night Shyamalan has the reputation of being a polarising and hit or miss director, his work on Split was great and one of the most stand out aspects about it was the twist at the very end which indicated that the movie was set in the same universe as Unbreakable. Unbreakable is often hailed as one of Shyamalan’s best films, and seeing him expand on that universe was exciting. Naturally the third and final film of this trilogy had a lot of anticipation behind it, and upon its release, it has been receiving very divided reactions. Having seen it myself though, I’m on the side that loves it, and it just gets better the more I think about it.

While I guess you could watch Glass without watching the other movies, you’ll really only get the full experience if you watch both Unbreakable and Split. If you’re not that interested in these movies, I don’t think you’ll be as invested in Glass as others. Something that should be noted is that this is not a superhero movie. While Unbreakable is sort of a superhero origin story and Split is sort of a supervillain origin story, this trilogy is meant to be a take on superheroes, not necessarily meant to be superhero movies. Because of that, it tends to subvert and play around with a lot of superhero movie tropes, and I really liked that. Glass’s genre and tone is a mix of Unbreakable and Split, but it leans more towards the Unbreakable side. There are a few thrilling scenes but most of the movie is slow paced and smaller scale like Unbreakable, and I loved Unbreakable. There is a lot of dialogue in the movie and going into it knowing that, I really thought it was good and I was invested in the conversations. The movie also doesn’t get as big as some may think. The trailers do oversell the scale of the movie, it really is a small scale and enclosed movie, and I’m glad that it doesn’t get absurdly over the top. There will be some things in the third act that are going to divide some people, I personally really liked where he took it, even if I really wasn’t expecting that at all. It is clear whatever the case however that the direction that Shyamalan took the plot was his plan, it’s not a studio mandated decision or anything, this is what he wanted to do with the story. As for the writing itself I really liked it. It does have the typical writing of Shyamalan, both the good and bad. By the bad I mean that there’s some occasional lines of dialogue which don’t sound human at all, but I’ve become used to seeing that from Shyamalan. In terms of problems I had, the first thing that came to mind was that the second act at times could drag. I wasn’t necessarily bored and I was invested throughout, but I did feel it slow down a little too much. With that said, Unbreakable had more pacing problems than Glass. I feel like I’ll need to watch Glass again to be sure how I feel about it, however my instant reaction after watching it was loving it.

Much of the returning cast from Unbreakable and Split are back and they all do great jobs. Bruce Willis reprises his role as David Dunn from Unbreakable but he wasn’t as prominent as I thought he would be. He was sort of in the forefront earlier on and then gets less screen time over time. With that said it worked for the movie, he was still present in the plot and it was nice to see him again. It’s also the best performance that Willis has given since Looper, he really does seem committed to the role. Also returning is Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr Glass. It was surprising that despite his name being the title of the movie, for a while he doesn’t do much. Even when he showed up in the first half, he was just there, not even saying a single word. It’s really the second half where he is more in the forefront and Jackson absolutely kills it. It’s been 19 years since we’ve seen him in this role and he is back with the same level of dedication and still feels very much like the same character, albeit more certain in his beliefs about superheroes. James McAvoy as Kevin Wendall Crumb/The Horde however was the standout of the entire movie, no surprise really. While David Dunn is in the forefront in the first half while Elijah Price is in the background, as well as vice versa for the second half, Crumb and his other personalities were consistently present throughout. McAvoy was fantastic in Split but he’s even better here. While his character’s split personality wasn’t necessarily a gimmick in that movie, it was quite reliant on it. In Glass it feels like his characters are even more fleshed out and McAvoy just transforms into each of them with ease (sometimes jumping between them in the same shot), convincingly making them feel like distinctly different people. While the personalities we see most are Hedwig, Patricia, Dennis and The Beast, we do see appearances from the personalities in Split, as well as a bunch more new personalities. I’m not sure how you’ll feel about the overall movie but I’m pretty sure that everyone will be able to say that James McAvoy did a phenomenal job, because he really did. An addition to the movie is Sarah Paulson in the role of a psychiatrist trying to convince the main 3 characters that they aren’t superheroes. Paulson is a very talented actress but was often underutilised in some movies, often in minor supporting roles. In Glass she is in a supporting role but she really shines in her role and has a lot to work with. Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard return as their characters, with Anya as Casey Cooke (the surviving kidnapped girl from Split), Spencer as David’s son, and Charlayne as Elijah’s mother. They aren’t in the forefront and maybe weren’t super essential to be in the movie but they fit well in the story and played their parts well.

I’d go so far as to say that this might be the best directed film by M. Night Shyamalan, he does some great things here. The cinematography is immaculate and the visuals are great, particularly the use of colour. This is not an action movie but there are a few action scenes. It’s nothing great but it was more than I was expecting from the movie, and worked quite well. The music by West Dylan Thordson (who made the score for Split) was great. There are also callbacks to themes from Unbreakable and Split and they are very effective.

Glass isn’t going to work for everyone, as evidence from the very polarising reaction from both critics and audiences. If you’re not invested in the Unbreakable/Split stories in the slightest, there’s probably not going to be much point watching Glass. However I personally loved what M. Night Shyamalan did with this film. His direction of the movie is his best work yet, the performances are great (particularly James McAvoy) and as unexpected as it was, I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to what Shyamalan started with Unbreakable. I think I will need to rewatch it at some point as there was a lot to take in, and my opinion on it could change. However the more I think about it, the more I loved it.

Atomic Blonde (2017) Review

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains graphic violence, sex scenes, offensive language & nudity
Cast
Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton
James McAvoy as David Percival
John Goodman as Emmett Kurzfeld
Til Schweiger as The Watchmaker
Eddie Marsan as Spyglass
Sofia Boutella as Delphine Lasalle
Toby Jones as Eric Gray
Bill Skarsgård as Merkel
Director: David Leitch

Sensual and savage, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is the most elite spy in MI6, an agent who’s willing to use all of her lethal skills to stay alive during an impossible mission. With the Berlin Wall about to fall, she travels into the heart of the city to retrieve a priceless dossier and take down a ruthless espionage ring. Once there, she teams up with an embedded station chief to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

While one half of the directors of John Wick continued with the sequel, the other half (David Leitch) worked on an adaptation of a graphic novel titled The Coldest City which resulted in Atomic Blonde. With the talent of the director, as well as the talent of actors involved such as Charlize Theron and James McAvoy, how could I not be excited? And it lived up to expectations. The actors were great in their roles (particularly Theron and McAvoy), the story was interesting enough and David Leitch’s direction were all great.

Atomic Blonde’s plot isn’t anything special but it works for the movie. There is enough twists to keep you invested in what’s going on from start to finish. Whether all the twists will hold up on a second viewing remains to be seen. The plot kept me pretty interested throughout and I was consistently entertained. One last thing I want to address, I know a lot of people will go into Atomic Blonde expecting Jane Wick but don’t, Theron’s Lorraine Broughton is not like John Wick, and the world that this film is isn’t the criminal underworld from the John Wick universe. The only thing similar in both the John Wick films and Atomic Blonde is the excellent direction. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different. No, Atomic Blonde doesn’t have the fascinating world that John Wick has, but it doesn’t need to. For what the movie that it was aiming to be, Atomic Blonde succeeded very well.

Charlize Theron absolutely owns her role as Lorraine Broughton, she’s fantastic in her action sequences and actingwise she is fantastic as well, she really does have a screen presence. She steals every scene she’s in. However another showstealer is James McAvoy, who is also great in his role as a very wild, shady and morally ambiguous character. There were times when both McAvoy and Theron were on screen and I couldn’t tell who stole the show more. McAvoy was definitely one of the highlights of the film. Other actors like Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones, John Goodman and Eddie Marsan were really good in their roles.

David Leitch’s direction naturally is great. This movie like John Wick is very stylised and was one of the highlights of the film. Unsurprising the action is great with the cinematography capturing all the action clearly, the stunts and choreography looked genuine especially from Charlize Theron and they were very entertaining overall. Probably the most standout action sequence is inside a apartment and at a stairwell later in the movie, it is brutal and unrelenting. It is also a long 7 minute unbroken take (or at least appears to be). That was the best action sequence in the film, so incredibly done. I guess maybe the only negative I can say that its not consistent as to whether the action scenes are stylistic or realistic and brutal and they feel distinctly different from each other but that’s a minor issue. The soundtrack is also really great, along with Tyler Bates’s score, there is a bunch of classic songs that play very well in the film.

Atomic Blonde is a really good action movie, the actors was good, Theron and McAvoy stole the show and it had some truly great action sequences. For those wondering, no, I wouldn’t quite consider it at the level of quality of the John Wick movies but honestly it doesn’t need to be. I actually wouldn’t mind a sequel to Atomic Blonde if it actually happens, I would love to see more of Lorrain Broughton in action. To repeat a point I said before, don’t go in expecting Female John Wick, maybe expect the similar action but that’s it, Atomic Blonde is its own thing, and I’m glad it is.

Split (2017) Review

612254388_1280x7201

split

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror and content that may disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb
Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke
Betty Buckley as Dr. Karen Fletcher
Haley Lu Richardson as Claire Benoit
Jessica Sula as Marcia
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being. Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Ana Taylor Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Split was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. M. Night Shyamalan has been starting to make a comeback with The Visit and from the trailers, Split looked like it has a lot of potential. James McAvoy particularly looks like he was going to give a tremendous performance. Having seen Split, I can say that M. Night Shyamalan is officially back. This film was so great, with great acting, excellent direction and a mostly riveting story. Although it’s not quite the level of greatness of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, Split comes very close. It has some issues but the pros absolutely outweigh the cons.

coasx00vyaa2nz61

I will say that the first act of this movie is a little weak. It just didn’t really have me riveted all the time, the dialogue felt a little awkward at times and it was just okay overall, though McAvoy kept me interested enough. By the second act however, I was incredibly invested in what is going on. Shyamalan keeps everything riveting. Shyamalan in his films often makes the mistake of just having character spurt exposition, telling the audience information. Save for one scene with Betty Buckley in a Skype conversation, Shyamalan handles the information distribution a lot better, giving little tidbits of info, trusting the audience to follow along. This movie has a surprising amount of comedy, most of the time it works. A lot of it is about how odd and strange the situations are, which I like, Shyamalan knows that a lot of the film can be a little weird and he has fun with it. One other thing to note is that Anya Taylor Joy’s character does have some flashbacks to her past. While I understand the importance of them, I felt like they could’ve been done a little better. They felt mostly out of place and the choice of flashbacks could’ve been better. Now this film mostly is realistic but at a point it goes in a ‘different direction’. You really have to just go along with this direction, even if it feels jarring. The ending for me made this direction make sense. This ending of the movie is going to divide some people. I personally think it’s amazing. Let’s just say that if you’re a fan of Shyamalan’s earlier work, your mind will be blown. However it’s understandable that many people don’t understand the meaning of the ending. If you watch Split and don’t get understand it, just look it up.

js117974731_film-stills_film-split_transzgekzx3m936n5bqk4va8rwtt0gk_6efzt336f62ei5u1

This is the best performance I’ve ever seen James McAvoy give. He had to portray 9 (of the 23) personalities, all with unique quirks, mannerisms and aspects to them. Not only that but he had to make it all feel real, not just cartoony and crazy. Sometimes during one shot he’d change from one to the other and you can really tell when this happens, all the personalities are very distinct. This couldn’t have been easy to pull off. There’s particularly one scene in the third act which really shows how fantastic of an actor he is. Definitely one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time. Anya Taylor Joy was also incredible as the main girl Casey. As previously stated, her character has a backstory, a pretty unfortunate backstory to say the least. Without revealing anything, Anya was very convincing as her and it was easy to follow her character. Betty Buckley plays Kevin’s psychiatrist and she was also great, especially in her scenes with McAvoy. If there’s any weak parts in terms of acting, it’s the other kidnapped girls. They weren’t horrendous but they are like typical horror movie girls, there wasn’t anything really to them.

split-41

The cinematography is fantastic but that’s not surprising, since Shyamalan brought on the Cinematographer of It Follows. So naturally it looks great. The music by West Dylan Thordson was also really effective. Shyamalan really knows how to make situations creepy and unsettling, despite some issues in the story, I can’t really say at any point in the movie the direction faltered because it doesn’t really. This film has many legitimately scary moments, and went further than I thought it would.

screen-shot-2016-07-27-at-12-01-38-pm1

Now as I said this movie does have some problems with regards to its story really in the first act. However, all the positives of the film are so great that I almost forget about these issues. Everything from the acting, direction and most of the story made this such a surprising and great movie. And let’s just say that after the ending, I’m hyped for M. Night Shyamalan’s next project. However this movie is not really for everyone, just a heads up.

X-Men Apocalypse (2016) Review

x-men-apocalypse-599467l[1]

X-Men Apocalypse

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, Offensive Language and Content that May Disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast
Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Phoenix
Olivia Munn as Elizabeth Braddock/Psylocke
Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havok
Director: Bryan Singer

Worshiped as a god since the dawn of civilization, the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) becomes the first and most powerful mutant. Awakening after thousands of years, he recruits the disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and other mutants to create a new world order. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Professor X (James McAvoy) and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) lead a team of young X-Men to stop their seemingly invincible nemesis from destroying mankind.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

X-Men Apocalypse has been one of my most anticipated films of the year, with director Bryan Singer returning from Days of Future Past along with his very talented cast. So does it deliver on its promises? Absolutely. This is so far one of my favourite films of the year and it’s in at least my top 3 in the X-Men series. There are some minor flaws in regards to the treatment of some of the characters, but for the most part, X-Men Apocalypse gets almost everything right.

42588[1]

This is definitely the darkest X-Men movie yet with what happens to Magneto in the beginning, some of the deaths and not to mention that it’s the end of the world (obviously), there are some moments which were surprisingly dark and violent and I like the guts that the film had to go there. To offset the seriousness and grimness was the humour, which is also integrated very well, at no point does it feel forced in at all like it sometimes does with other comic book movies. One problem I have is some of the characters don’t get to be developed fully, a key example is Apocalypse’s ‘horsemen’ aside from Magneto. Storm, Archangel and Psylocke join him on his quest to take over Earth… just because. What’s worse is that the decisions that Storm makes doesn’t make much sense, especially when you factor in the fact that she’d eventually join the X-Men. However it’s easy to see why some characters are better developed than others, seeing as Singer had to handle so many characters at once.

54[2]

The cast from the previous two movies return and are usual great. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are unsurprisingly incredible in their roles. Evan Peters returns in the role of Quicksilver and like last time, he stole the show, he is just so enjoyable to watch. He gets a much bigger role than in DOFP and is again great, I can’t wait to see more of him as the films progress. Before going into this movie I was a little concerned about Jennifer Lawrence, because it looked like they were taking her character in a different direction, part of the cases made I agree with. She’s fine in the movie, though I don’t think that this was the best direction for the character and I wouldn’t lose any sleep if she left the franchise. There are also some recasting of previous X-Men movies, as well as some new characters. Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler were perfectly cast, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. Oscar Isaac was so incredibly great as Apocalypse. The trailers did him a disservice and made him look like a generic ‘end the world’ villain but there is so much more to him. This character is so larger than life but Isaac manages to balance out the ‘bigger’ moments with the more subtle moments, he was definitely one of the highlights of the movie. While I felt that they didn’t get their chance to show off more due to not much being written for them, Alexander Shipp and Olivia Munn did great work with what they were given, and acted well enough for me to say that I’m looking forward to seeing them in the sequels.

xmen-apocalypse-oscar-isaac-storm-psylocke[1]

Bryan Singer directs X-Men movies excellently and he does it once again with Apocalypse. All of the action is so entertaining and many are amongst the best scenes in the series. I think a special scene that should get a shout out is the opening scene, which is a flashback which takes place at Egypt, everything in that sequence was done incredibly. I have to say, before seeing this movie I didn’t think it was possible for there to be a Quicksilver scene that tops the one in Days of Future Past. With Apocalypse, I’ve been proven wrong, all I’ll say is that it is excellently done and was one of the most memorable parts of the film. This film has the most destruction out of any of the X-Men movies, sometimes that’s shown off well, but there are times where the CGI and greenscreen looked a little fake, most of the time it really works though.

xmen42-e1461640296859[2]

I am so glad to say that X-Men Apocalypse is one of the best films in the series. With the entertaining action scenes and excellent portrayals of these characters (for the most part), X-Men Apocalypse is a movie that you absolutely must see. Don’t let the critics’ mixed reviews sway you, go out and see it for yourself. If you love the X-Men films, I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy this film as well.

X-Men: First Class (2011) Review

X-Men-First-Class-Cast[1]

X-Men First Class

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr/Magneto
Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
January Jones as Emma Frost
Nicholas Hoult as Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast
Oliver Platt as Man In Black Suit
Kevin Bacon as Dr. Klaus Schmidt/Sebastian Shaw
Director: Matthew Vaughn

In the early 1960s, during the height of the Cold War, a mutant named Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets a fellow mutant named Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). Despite their vastly different backgrounds — Charles grew up with a wealthy family, while Erik lost his parents at Auschwitz — the two become close friends. As the world teeters on the brink of a nuclear war, Charles and Erik with other mutants join forces to save humanity. However, a situation soon tears the friends apart.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Superhero prequels are often doomed to fail, which is why some people were a little sceptical of this movie actually being good. The fact that it had an entirely new cast and look (not to mention that it came after X Men 3 and X Men Origins Wolverine which were the lowest points of the series), didn’t help. However with Matthew Vaughn as director, he actually ended up creating one of the best X Men movies. The talented cast (many of which played already established characters) did a fantastic job and the story ties into the X Men franchise very well.

858VS6HP51H20003[1]

One problem I had with the original X Men trilogy is the lack of proper characterisation, aside from a few characters like Wolverine and Rogue, there were many characters that weren’t that developed. First Class was the first X Men film that fixed that issue, sure there are characters that don’t get fully explored but most of the main characters are established well, and that’s a huge step forward when compared to the previous movies. There definitely are some inconsistencies with the plot when compared to some of the other movies (such as with the flashback in X Men 3) but I was able to overlook that.

30.1552414_0[1]

The casting was excellent. James McAvoy as Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Magneto are really in the forefront of the movie and they are terrific. You can really buy their friendship and you can tell how this would carry over into the original trilogy. Jennifer Lawrence was also great as Mystique, I know a lot of people prefer Rebecca Romjin’s Mystique but while she looked the part she wasn’t given any depth whatsoever. Lawrence gets to actually explore the character, and she did a great job. Kevin Bacon actually was good as the main villain, the way his character tied into Magneto’s past was so great. The only casting I had a little bit of a problem with was January Jones as Emma Frost, she didn’t feel very believable and felt a little fake. That was the only miscast of the movie, everyone else was great.

woman-in-white-and-the-man-in-black-x-men-first-class-5120x2880[1]

The action scenes are great (no surprise there) but something felt different, Vaughn’s directed action scenes added something special. This film had some very memorable moments, the last act features many mutant battles and it is glorious to watch. The soundtrack by Henry Jackman was also really good, it feels big, grand and epic.

858V9AU051H20003[1]

X Men First Class was a lot better than what we initially thought it would be. With a very talented cast, a pretty good story and Matthew Vaughn’s direction, this movie was a solid entry in the X Men franchise. I honestly think that it’s better than any of the original trilogy, though not quite better than X-Men Days of Future Past, which I’ll review soon. I’ll just say this though, people claim that it’s X-Men Days of Future Past which brought the X-Men franchise back for good but for me it was First Class that achieved that.

Filth (2013) Review

The Pursuit

Filth

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating:
79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence, offensive language, sex scenes and drug use
Cast:
James McAvoy as Bruce Robertson
Jamie Bell as Ray Lennox
Eddie Marsan Clifford Blades
Imogen Poots as Amanda Drummond
Brian McCardie as Dougie Gillman
Emun Elliott as Peter Inglis
Gary Lewis as Gus Bain
John Sessions as Bob Toal
Shauna Macdonald as Carole Robertson
Jim Broadbent as Dr Rossi
Director: Jon S. Baird

Scheming Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), a bigoted and corrupt policeman, is in line for a promotion and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Enlisted to solve a brutal murder and threatened by the aspirations of his colleagues, including Ray Lennox (Jamie Bell), Bruce sets about ensuring their ruin, right under the nose of unwitting Chief Inspector Toal (John Sessions). As he turns his colleagues against one another by stealing their wives and exposing their secrets, Bruce starts to lose himself in a web of deceit that he can no longer control. His past is slowly catching up with him, and a missing wife, a crippling drug habit and suspicious colleagues start to take their toll on his sanity.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Based on the book of the same name by Irvine Welsh, Filth lives up to its title with flying colours. The film by itself is pretty good, but it’s the performance by James McAvoy that really makes the movie. It’s not a film for the easily offended but if you are up to it, you may find yourself really liking it.

filth-james-mcavoy[2]

Filth for the most part follows Bruce Robertson. There are a lot of subplots (like the murder he’s assigned and getting the promotion) but for me, the main focus is Bruce’s descent. I think in terms of how Filth is marketed, it’s kind of like how In Bruges was marketed. Both looked like at first straight up comedies, when in reality both of them have dark elements to them. The comedy starts to die down at the halfway point of the movie as Bruce’s demons start reappearing in his life. Don’t get me wrong, the comedy is good when it’s there, it’s not the best dark comedy I’ve seen but it was well done. However I most captivated by the deep story and I personally like the second half more than the first. The movie can be emotionally captivating at times and it was well put together, especially the ending which was effective and really well done.

Film-shorts[1]

James McAvoy here gives so far the best performance of his career. Bruce Robertson at first seems like the most unlikable character ever, he’s so corrupt that he’d make Nicolas Cage in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans look like a boy scout. Despite this, McAvoy manages to convey many emotional moments and moments of empathy for this, at times reprehensible character. Without spoiling anything, Bruce Robertson has a lot of issues, all which are shown in the movie. So much of this movie relies on the main character, and James McAvoy managed to do really well in this. Other cast members like Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan and Imogen Poots are also great in their scenes and do great jobs to stand out.

Filth

The movie looks great and it is neatly edited together. A lot of the film is seen from Bruce’s perspective, so it helps that the whole movie is narrated by James McAvoy. Also, as time goes on, Bruce starts hallucinating things, sometimes he looks in a mirror and sees a pig, at one point he sees a tapeworm creature. These images I felt were surprisingly when they appeared and were well done as we see what Bruce sees. The soundtrack is also well put together, whether it be Clint Mansell’s score or other music put into it.

descarga-10[1]

For first time director Jon S. Baird, Filth was pretty good. It is definitely not for everyone, its main character may turn some people off and it does have some lurid content. Even if you’re not certain whether or not to watch it, it’s worth watching it for the well put together character of Bruce Robertson and acting by James McAvoy.