Tag Archives: Michael Fassbender

300 (2006) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains graphic violence
Cast:
Gerard Butler as Leonidas
David Wenham as Dilios
Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo
Giovanni Cimmino as Pleistarchus
Dominic West as Theron
Director: Zack Snyder

In 480 B.C. a state of war exists between Persia, led by King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas (Gerard Butler), king of the Greek city state of Sparta, leads his badly outnumbered warriors against the massive Persian army. Though certain death awaits the Spartans, their sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against their common enemy.

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While Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead was really well received, the movie that really got him particularly noticed and put him on the map as a director to watch was 300. His visual style and direction was fantastic, and all around 300 is a very enjoyable movie. Although some of its aspects don’t hold up well over a decade later, there’s enough here to keep you really engaged and entertained.

300 is based off the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller (which I haven’t read myself). This movie is quite straightforward and simple: lead character Leonidas leads 300 Spartans against the Persian Army. Not to say that this movie is any lesser because of this, really it’s all done rather well. Despite the amount of scenes filled with screaming and exposed muscular men stabbing each other repeatedly, it’s not just a shallow and violent movie, it does have some emotion and drama behind it, so that you care about what’s going on, instead of just watching a bloodfest.

The acting generally is quite good. Gerard Butler was well suited for his role of King Leonidas. His performance of course does have some ham to it (I don’t even need to get into the “This is Sparta” bit) but it really works for the movie, and just makes it more entertaining. It’s undoubtedly a very memorable performance and it was perfect for what it needed to be. Lena Headey was also great in her screentime as Queen Gorgo. Apparently in the comic book, Gorgo only appeared in the beginning and in the movie they expanded her role much more. While she’s not in large battle scenes like Leonidas and the Spartans, she still gets to play a part in the story, and Headey of course plays it all really well. Rodrigo Santoro was a good villain, he’s quite larger than life but something about his performance works for his character (given that he believes he’s a god), and he’s really effective as a hateable character. Other supporting actors like David Wenham and Michael Fassbender also good, and get to shine in some particular moments.

Zack Snyder is known for his visual style and storytelling and watching 300 it’s no wonder that this is what really put him on the map as a director to pay attention to. It makes sense knowing that this is based off of a graphic novel, but there are many shots and sequences that look straight out of a comic book (which is something that Snyder does quite a lot). The cinematography by Larry Fong is beautiful and just stunning to look at. The action is so gratifying and really entertaining, definitely one of the most stand out and iconic aspects of the movie. I think Snyder does use slow-mo a little too much but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. It was the first movie to really utilise it as a very present component of the action (outside of The Matrix), before way too many movies tried to replicate that and not doing it as well. This movie is very violent and bloody, and it’s stylised and once again made to look like it was from a comic book. I will say that parts of the movie don’t hold up, that being the green and blue screen in some scenes, which occasionally can look really fake and does take you out of the movie briefly. This movie admittedly does have some messy parts to it but the other aspects (especially on the technical side) make up for it. The soundtrack by Tyler Bates only increased the epicness and scale of the whole movie.

300 is visually stunning, entertaining and quite good all round. I wouldn’t consider it one of Zack Snyder’s best but it’s still a pretty good movie. There’s not denying that it was defining for it’s time and really inspired the way that future action movies would be directed (for better and for worse). If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d personally recommend watching it for the visuals at the very least.

12 Years a Slave (2013) Review

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12 Years a Slave

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & sexual violence
Cast:
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup/Platt
Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps
Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey
Sarah Paulson as Mary Epps
Paul Dano as John Tibeats
Benedict Cumberbatch as William Ford
Alfre Woodard as Mistress Harriet Shaw
Brad Pitt as Samuel Bass
Director: Steve McQueen

In 1841, African American Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man, is kidnapped and forced into slavert, under the name ‘Platt’ for 12 years. He faces the hardships of being a slave under the hands of a few different slave owners. Through faith, will power, and courage, Northup must survive and endure those 12 years a slave.

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I had seen 12 Years a Slave many years ago for the first time, and it was quite impactful experience. Having rewatched some other Best Picture winning movies recently, I decided I should give this one a watch again, even though I knew it wouldn’t exactly be a pleasant viewing. 12 Years a Slave still holds up 7 years kater and is just as devastating as when I first watched it, a fantastic and harrowing movie that deserves all the acclaim it’s been receiving.

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Considering the subject matter, one could be forgiven for thinking that the movie might take a manipulative approach, especially considering most of the other movies about slavery, and all the awards that this movie won. However, that aspect was handled right, and I’ll get into some of those aspects a little later. This is first and foremost Solomon Northup’s real life story, and follows him throughout his years of being a slave. The story is handled as honest as possible, and never sensationalises any of it. Now from the title, you know that lead character doesn’t remain a slave for more than 12 years, but the experience isn’t any less harrowing. There are some incredibly impactful and emotional moments that are earned and never feel forced, but genuine.

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This cast is large and talented, and all of them perform excellently in their parts. Chiwetel Ejiofor is incredible in the lead role of Solomon Northup, conveying so much emotion and pain without having to say much, or even anything. This film is continuously following him from beginning to end, this is his movie, and he carries it all powerfully. The rest of the cast are supporting players in Solomon’s story, but they all play their parts well. There are two standouts among that supporting cast, the first is Michael Fassbender, giving one of his best performances as a slave owner. Fassbender really performs excellently, with his character representing pretty much the worst of humanity, he has such a captivating screen presence. The other standout is Lupita Nyong’o, who gives an incredibly emotional performance in her part. The rest of the cast are great and make the most of their scenes, with the likes of Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt. Michael Kenenth Williams, and Paul Giamatti.

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Good writing and acting aside, what 12 Years a Slave would live or die on is the direction. This film needed to be handled by the right person, or it could easily fail. Director Steve McQueen was very much the right person for this movie, and knew how to handle this very sensitive subject. The cinematography from Sean Bobbitt was stunning. Not only that, but McQueen’s use of the camera is effective, forcing the audience watch everything that happens on screen, and not allowing them a chance to look away. When it came to the violence and the aspects of slavery, it was handled in probably best way possible. It’s undeniably brutal and doesn’t shy away from that, and you feel every blow. At the same time, it doesn’t sensationalise or fetishize it, if anything it is uncomfortably casual, and was fitting for the movie. A perfect example of this is a standout moment that takes place a third of the way through, without revealing the context or what the scene is, it’s a few minutes long, full of unbroken shots, and it’s incredibly painful and quiet. Hans Zimmer’s score is great as to be expected, and fitted perfectly with the film.

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12 Years a Slave remains an outstanding and moving film, powerfully acted, excellently directed, and is all around masterful. It is incredibly hard to watch (and indeed the rewatch was just as painful as the first watch was) but is a monumental film and quite frankly essential viewing.

The Snowman (2017) Review

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, horror, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hole
Rebecca Ferguson as Katrine Bratt
Charlotte Gainsbourg as Rakel Fauke
Val Kilmer as Gert Rafto
J. K. Simmons as Arve Støp
Toby Jones as Investigator Svenson
Director: Tomas Alfredson

For Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), the death of a young woman during the first snowfall of winter feels like anything but a routine homicide. His investigation leads him to “The Snowman Killer,” an elusive sociopath who continuously taunts Hole with cat-and-mouse games. As the vicious murders continue, Harry teams up with a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Fergusson) to try and lure the madman out of the shadows before he can strike again.

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I remember The Snowman being one of my most anticipated films of 2017, however upon its release, I heard it was utterly disastrously bad. I had been meaning to getting around to it sometime, and I remember watching it sometime the past year or so, and while I don’t hate it as much as other people, it wasn’t good. It is a complete mess, and not a very interesting or entertaining mess at that. Only some of the performances and the decent cinematography are holding the movie back from being a failure on every front.

The Snowman is based off a novel of the same name, I never read the book, but I’ve heard it is great and is probably not done justice in the movie. The Snowman has a bizarre feeling throughout, and not really the one intended. Much of the way things are played seriously come across as being unintentionally hilarious. For one, the lead character played by Michael Fassbender is named Harry Hole, which immediately opens up so many obvious jokes. Harry Hole was the name of the lead character in the book, however it was pronounced something like Harry Holy, so they could’ve either pronounced it that way or just changed it, but they didn’t. However, the name thing is just a minor issue in a movie full of major issues. The script itself wasn’t that good, its full of familiar serial killer and thriller tropes and doesn’t really do anything unique, but the story itself isn’t particularly interesting either. The first act had me on board, it wasn’t good but it was starting out, so I was willing to give it a chance. However, at the end of the first act, I began to realise that the plot hadn’t really started yet. It threw in a bunch of subplots with a bunch of random characters, and it became incredibly hard to follow anything that was going on. There is a subplot with Val Kilmer that the movie would randomly cut to, it’s only later that you learn why he’s somewhat important, but it’s really distracting when he seemingly has nothing to do with the plot and it kept focussing on him. Then there’s also a subplot with J.K. Simmons and I don’t remember why the movie spent so much time with him. The Snowman is also not very engaging, it’s just tedious to watch. The 2 hour runtime feels closer to 2 hours and 30 minutes. I will say that the experience is improved by doing literally anything while watching it, so if you have a computer or phone in front of you while watching, it’s an alright way of watching it. The third act is incredibly rushed, and if the movie hadn’t already gone to its lowest point, it certainly did by then. When the killer was revealed, it wasn’t necessarily something I predicted, but it was also something I didn’t really care for. By the time the reveal happened I had lost any shred of interest in the plot, but I’m not entirely certain that the character got any setup or hints suggesting that they would be the killer. It’s also worth noting that the director admitted that there was a short filming schedule and that 10 to 15% of the script remained unfilmed, leading to narrative problems when editing commenced. While I’m sure that the film would’ve retained much of its problems even with the extra footage, it definitely would’ve made the movie at least more comprehensible than how it turned out. At the end they even try to tease a possible sequel with Fassbender’s Hairy Hole (since there’s a book series featuring him, The Snowman is not just a one-off) which probably won’t happen.

This movie has such a great cast and doesn’t manage to use any of them to their fullest potential. Most of them aren’t bad and they are trying their best, however they aren’t great either. Michael Fassbender’s Harry Hole is disjointed, and I don’t mean that in a good way. His character is an alcoholic but there’s no real reason given as to why he is one. Everyone also keeps mentioning how he’s some kind of legendary detective, but we get nothing to see to really back it up. There’s no real defined character for him and he is all over the place, in that it feels like the writers didn’t know what to do with him. Fassbender played him as best as possible given what he had to work with, but needless to say this is far from his best work. Rebecca Ferguson is also the other lead in the movie and also does what she can, however she also doesn’t have much to work with and can only do so much. Charlotte Gainsbourg is pretty good as Hairy Hole’s ex-husband, but again there’s really only so much she could do in her role. The rest of the cast of characters seem out of place and pointless. J.K. Simmons is here playing some shady business tycoon, who I guess is one of the suspects or something (it’s hard to remember), but he doesn’t really add to anything. Not to mention he’s doing this random Scandinavian accent that really does nothing to help his performance at all. Toby Jones is also here for some reason, even though his character could be played by literally anyone. No one in the rest of the cast is really worth mentioning with the exception of one notable actor, and that is Val Kilmer in a supporting role as some detective that the film would cut to occasionally. Kilmer is not looking quite like himself, and it’s not from intentional makeup, he was actually suffering from a form of mouth cancer. That probably explains why his mouth is not moving that well and why there is terrible and out of sync dubbing, with someone’s voice that is clearly not his. Maybe he was put into the movie as like a favour but for his own sake it might’ve been better if they got someone else to play the role.

I like the director Tomas Alfredson, who also made Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let the Right One In (the latter of which I haven’t seen yet). He’s clearly a more than capable director, yet for some reason parts of the direction just wasn’t working here. The cinematography by Dion Beebe is one of the best parts of the movie, it actually looks quite stunning, especially in the scenes taking place amongst a lot of snow. It does elevate the movie just a bit, so it’s not an ugly looking movie. The music choices were terrible, most of the score is fine if generic and uninspired. As for the non-score bits, there are some other songs that randomly make an appearance and don’t fit in at all with the movie. The editing in many of the scenes is terrible, the editing between the scenes is jarring and doesn’t fit together but even some scenes have been cut up very roughly. Many of the ‘tense’ scenes are just disjointed that they’re hard to get into.

The Snowman is such wasted potential, and I’m not sure how this movie ended up the misfire it was. At best it’s an average but good looking and passable thriller, at worst it’s a disastrous, laughable mess of a film, that shouldn’t have been approved for release. I guess it might be okay to watch if it’s on in the background as that’s what I did, and I didn’t hate it that way (I can only imagine what it was like seeing it in the cinema). However, if you are like a fan of the book or are genuinely looking forward to the movie, you’ll be disappointed with this movie. I don’t put this up to American adaptations ruining the book or whatever, after all David Fincher did well adapting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, another Swedish thriller. Hopefully, The Snowman will get the proper live action treatment that it deserves.

Inglourious Basterds (2009) Review

Time: 153 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Brad Pitt as Aldo “The Apache” Raine
Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus/Emmanuelle Mimieux
Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa
Eli Roth as Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz
Michael Fassbender as Archie Hicox
Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmark
Daniel Brühl as Private First Class Fredrick Zoller
Til Schweiger as Hugo Stiglitz
Director: Quentin Tarantino

In World War 2, a group of American soldiers led by LT. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is sent into Nazi occupied France to kill as many Nazis as possible. A plan is made to kill high ranking German officers at a movie theatre. That movie theatre belongs to Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), a Jewish refugee who witnessed the deaths of her family by Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). When she finds that every major Nazi officer is attending for a premiere, she hatches a plan of her own.

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Inglourious Basterds is widely considered one of the best films from Quentin Tarantino, and for good reason. The acting, direction but most of all the writing makes this such a unique, different and entertaining movie, which has gotten better every time I’ve watched it. One of his most complete movies and definitely one of his top tier movies, if not his all time best.

It’s no surprise that Quentin Tarantino’s writing is fantastic, in its 2 hour and 20 minute runtime it doesn’t miss a beat. From start to finish the film is riveting, a good example of one of these scenes, happens to be one of the best scenes, which is at the very beginning; it was a very tense and it’s a credit to the actors and Tarantino. One thing that is different from his other movies is the way it is structured; the film is broken up into chapters, focussing on particular characters. It’s only in the final chapter where both the Basterds, Hans Landa and Shosanna are in the same chapter. As usual the dialogue is fantastic, and while Tarantino could be considered self-indulgent with some of the dialogue in this movies, here all of it feels just right. Another difference is the use of 4 multiple languages throughout the movie, which was definitely a different turn from Tarantino and made things interesting. The final act of this movie is exhilarating and very entertaining in one bloodbath of a finale.

Tarantino gets the best out of everyone who stars in his movies and Inglourious Basterds is no exception. Brad Pitt is hilarious in this movie, especially with his very overplayed accent. Other actors like Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender and Daniel Bruhl, all have great moments in this movie and contribute to the movie immensely. There are however two standouts among the cast. The performance that steals the show of course is by Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa. Waltz is magnetic when he’s on screen, that aforementioned opening scene establishes him as an absolute screen presence. Melanie Laurent is often overlooked in this movie but she’s really fantastic here, definitely deserving of much more praise.

Quentin Tarantino effortlessly directs this movie with his style and infuses it with a lot of energy. Tarantino really helps to set the film in the 1940s, from the production design to the costumes, all of it was done well with great detail and it really paid off. Helping this is the music picked for it, even when some of the songs that are used in a much later time period (including Cat People by David Bowie), they fit perfectly in the scenes they are placed in.

Inglourious Basterds has gotten better every single time that I’ve seen it. The performances from its large and talented cast (especially from Melanie Laurent and Christoph Waltz) were great, and of course the writing and direction is at the core of what made it work so well. Though we are still a little while away from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, at this point in time I’d say that Inglourious Basterds may well be Tarantino’s best film yet. Definitely watch it if you haven’t seen it already.

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.

Assassin’s Creed (2016) Review

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Michael Fassbender as Callum “Cal” Lynch and Aguilar de Nerha
Marion Cotillard as Dr. Sofia Rikkin
Jeremy Irons as Alan Rikkin
Brendan Gleeson as Joseph Lynch
Charlotte Rampling as Ellen Kaye
Michael K. Williams as Moussa
Denis Ménochet as McGowen
Ariane Labed as Maria
Director: Justin Kurzel

Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender) travels back in time to 15th-century Spain through a revolutionary technology that unlocks the genetic memories contained in his DNA. There, he lives out the experiences of Aguilar de Nerha, a distant relative who’s also a member of the Assassins, a secret society that fights to protect free will from the power-hungry Templar Order. Transformed by the past, Cal begins to gain the knowledge and physical skills necessary to battle the oppressive organization in the present.

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Assassin’s Creed was one of my most anticipated films of 2016, which was unusual because that (along with Warcraft) was a video game movie. I wasn’t just curious because I liked the video games. It had some great talent involved, with Macbeth 2015 director Justin Kurzel and actors like Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard involved. It could’ve been something special, but watching this movie reminded me to never get excited for video game movies, because 95% of them won’t be good. Assassins Creed is not terrible and is just okay but it’s a barely an above average flick and is ultimately wasted potential.

I liked the Assassins Creed games but that didn’t improve my enjoyment of the movie. I am glad that they tried a different story within the Assassins Creed universe instead of trying to replicate use the story and characters from a game but it didn’t really change much. It is surprising how little I cared about the plot, its really boring during most of it. One of the biggest worries about the movie is that most of the time the movie would take place in modern day in this prison of sorts, and only some of the time is spent with Michael Fassbender as his ancestor as an assassin. Unfortunately that’s the case for the movie. As for how much time we actually spend in the flashbacks, from what I can remember there were only 3 to 4 sequences, and they were for action scenes. The prison sequences aren’t interesting at all and really drag. The characters also aren’t interesting, the only reason you’re giving them a chance is because many of the actors you recognise as being great in other roles. I personally couldn’t recall anything about the characters. The movie seems to have ended on a point for it to be open to sequels that are never going to be made. Despite it being under a couple of hours long, the movie really drags from start to finish, it almost takes real effort to make all the ideas of the Assassins boring in a movie.

This movie does have a lot of great actors, Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Kenneth Williams. You can see them doing well in their roles but their roles are incredibly limited because of how underdeveloped their characters and there’s not much really that they do. Aside from a random scene of Michael Fassbender going nuts and singing about how he’s crazy, there’s nothing particularly memorable about the performances. Even if Jeremy Irons went to Dungeon and Dragons levels of crazy that would’ve added some level of entertainment to the movie.

The direction by Justin Kurzel a lot of the time was really good, the action sequences were nice to watch and the cinematography was pretty good. The problem is that I was just not interested in the story and so felt bored a lot of the time, even during the well done action scenes. I don’t really get why the violence was bloodless, the Assassins Creed games weren’t bloodfests but they had blood, adding blood would’ve spiced the scenes up a bit. It was no doubt done in order to increase the box office and given the state and reception of the movie, it really needed all the money it could get, so maybe it was a wise decision. The score by Jed Kurzel was also really good.

Assassin’s Creed is still better than most video game movies but that isn’t really saying a lot as most of them are terrible. It is nice seeing these great actors give okay performance and watching a lot of the action scenes. But it is so difficult to care about what’s going on that it diffuses a lot of the decent aspects of the film. I don’t know if you would be interested in the movie, even if you liked the Assassins Creed games. I guess if you’re somewhat curious about this movie, check it out if you’ve got nothing better to watch, otherwise you’re not missing much.

Song to Song (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language, nudity & drug use
Cast
Ryan Gosling as BV
Michael Fassbender as Cook
Rooney Mara as Faye
Natalie Portman as Rhonda
Cate Blanchett as Amanda
Lykke Li as Lykke
Val Kilmer as Duane
Bérénice Marlohe as Zoey
Holly Hunter as Miranda
Director: Terrence Malick

Set against the Austin, Texas, music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling), and music mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender) and the waitress (Natalie Portman) whom he ensnares — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.

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Song to Song was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. I admit I was a little nervous going in because I didn’t know what to expect. The main attraction to me was the talented cast but even though I liked director Terrence Malick’s films Badlands and Tree of Life, I wasn’t really a fan of Knight of Cups. He has a very unconventional directional style which really makes him stand out, for better or for worse. Fortunately, I liked Song to Song, it seems that Malick had backed off from his style that he indulged in too much in Knight of Cups.

Song to Song, like most Terrence Malick films is very unconventional. It didn’t bother me as much, probably because I had recently seen Knight of Cups, which was way more arty than what we have with Song to Song. I think the reason why Song to Song worked for me more than Knight of Cups is because the main characters had personalities and characters of their own. In Knight of Cups, the supporting characters have more personality than the protagonist, and they usually only appeared in brief segments before disappearing. Here though, the main characters played by Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender have actual characters to work with. On top of that, unlike Knight of Cups, it’s not just a whole bunch of ideas thrown together, there is sort of a story (though not a very conventional or straightforward one at that). It doesn’t have much of a structure, it jumps between time periods and characters so it can be quite jarring and confusing. Despite how jarring and drawn out it could be at times, it had my attention. After a while it does tire you out, I wasn’t necessarily bored but the sequences often take a long time, it requires a lot of patience.

With Song to Song, Terrence Malick again has a great cast and fortunately this time they are actually utilised well. Apparently there was no script for this movie, so it’s a real credit to the actors for the performances that they gave. Rooney Mara is a standout, if there’s a main lead of this movie it would be her. Mara hasn’t really played this type of role before, and she is great here. Mara proves herself to be one of the best actresses working today. Ryan Gosling was also good, a lot of the main relationships that are focussed on most involve both Gosling and Mara and the two of them have really good chemistry. Michael Fassbender is also a standout in every scene he’s in, he really was a screen presence here and was great. Natalie Portman isn’t in it a lot but she is really great in the screentime she gets and made quite an impression. Other supporting actors like Cate Blanchett are also good in their screentime and make an impression. Other actors like Holly Hunter and Val Kilmer are very much just cameos in the movie and don’t really get to do much.

The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki (who has worked on many Terrence Malick films) is great and beautiful, like with all Terrence Malick films. Malick also encapsulated the music scene in Texas quite well. Terence Malick is also known for his odd editing, there have even been actors in his films who were cut out of the final product (Christian Bale for example was originally in this movie). So I had come to accept that there would be some odd editing here, however there was a bit of a problem here that wasn’t present in Tree of Life or even Knight of Cups. A lot of the times there are no scene transitions, so it would jump from one scene to the other and it feels clunky and messy, it doesn’t even feel like a stylistic decision. It jumps in time periods and locations and even if that was intentional, the way it was done was very off putting and isn’t particularly smooth. It felt like an amateur filmmaker editing these scenes and not a fully established filmmaker.

Song to Song is not for everyone and I can understand why a lot of people don’t like it. The film did drag as it went along and the editing was quite jarring and clunky. However there were a lot of aspects that really worked, especially the cinematography and its great performances from its talented cast (Mara and Fassbender being the standouts). As someone who liked Tree of Life and didn’t really like Knight of Cups that much, I liked Song to Song. I can’t tell whether you’ll like it or not but if you are familiar with Malick’s other films, I’d say give this a chance.

Alien Covenant (2017) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Michael Fassbender as Walter/David
Katherine Waterston as Daniels
Billy Crudup as Christopher Oram
Danny McBride as Tennessee
Demián Bichir as Sergeant Lope
Carmen Ejogo as Karine Oram
Amy Seimetz as Faris
Jussie Smollett as Ricks
Callie Hernandez as Upworth
Nathaniel Dean as Sergeant Hallett
Alexander England as Ankor
Benjamin Rigby as Ledward
Director: Ridley Scott

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, members (Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup) of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think to be an uncharted paradise. While there, they meet David (Michael Fassbender), the synthetic survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. The mysterious world soon turns dark and dangerous when a hostile alien life-form forces the crew into a deadly fight for survival.

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Alien Covenant was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. I am in the minority of people who loved Prometheus and the story it was going for. With Ridley Scott returning to direct the sequel, I had high hopes for Alien Covenant, and it didn’t disappoint. The story as usual was great, the acting was really good, and Ridley Scott as usual delivers at making an intriguing, intense sci fi thriller. What makes it work even better than Prometheus though is that it makes the story even more interesting and engaging, while adding some of the horror elements, which didn’t detract from the interesting story.

This film is a mix of Prometheus and Alien. Don’t go in expecting a full on Alien movie, go into it expecting a Prometheus sequel. With that said, there are many ties to the Xenomorphs, and you get to see more of them here than we did with Prometheus. The film does take its time to explore thematic elements (exploring ideas such as creation and A.I.), but it also has the suspense and horror element from Alien. This movie’s story is better than Prometheus’s, it delivers an interesting story but it’s a lot more engaging and fascinating, the movie on a whole is a lot more entertaining too. The characters themselves aren’t spectacular (aside from Fassbender’s David) but they are better than Prometheus’s characters. Part of that is due to the fact that they felt more believable and more like real people and while they do make some dumb decisions (like the characters from the first movie), here it is believable that they would make them, because of the situations that they are placed in. As for the ending… I’m intrigued to see where the franchise goes from here. If there’s any problem I can possibly find, I guess while I like the third act, the tones did clash just a little bit, especially with the action scenes. But even then it’s not a huge flaw.

The acting was all around really great from a large cast which includes Katherine Waterson and Billy Crudup. A stand out amongst these actors is Danny McBride who was surprisingly great in his role. The stand out performance from this movie however is Michael Fassbender, in dual roles as Walter (the Covenant’s android) and David (from Prometheus). He does well particularly acting across from himself, in fact these interactions and conversations are some of the best scenes in the entire film. He is especially great as David, that character is so well written and performed, at this point he’s one of the best characters in the entire Alien/Prometheus universe. That’s all I’ll say about him, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. Fassbender might be one of the best parts of this whole movie, and that’s saying a lot, because there’s a lot of great things here.

This film a lot of the time felt like Alien, the opening titles for Covenant was very much like the opening titles for Alien, even the score by Jed Kurzel is literally Jerry Goldsmith’s Alien soundtrack at times. While it’s not necessarily essential for the film to have it (and I’m not really sure why they had it), I really liked it. This movie is beautiful, with the cinematography, production design, the CGI, everything about this movie is gorgeous. The Xenomorphs themselves, I won’t go into detail about them, but I’ll say that they are handled so great. Yes, they are computer generated but they don’t feel fake at any point. This movie is very intense, Ridley Scott really nailed the horror aspect excellently here, and when this movie is violent, it is really violent.

Alien Covenant is a great film overall, it continues on the story from Prometheus and improves upon it in almost every way. I won’t give away a lot about this movie, just know what you are getting into, it’s a Prometheus sequel with Alien elements, which is better than the original. I’m pretty sure that no matter your thoughts on Prometheus, you’ll like Covenant a lot more. I am curious about where Ridley Scott is going to be taking this series. I am a little concerned that it could get repetitive (Alien, Prometheus and Alien Covenant have all had the scenario of people visiting a planet and aliens attacking and killing them), I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I trust Scott. Prometheus was great, and Covenant was even better. I can’t wait to see what Ridley Scott has planned.

Prometheus (2012) Review

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw
Michael Fassbender as David
Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers
Idris Elba as Janek
Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland
Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway
Sean Harris as Fifield
Rafe Spall as Millburn
Director: Ridley Scott

The discovery of a clue to mankind’s origins on Earth leads a team of explorers to the darkest parts of the universe. Two brilliant young scientists lead the expedition. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) hopes that they will meet a race of benevolent, godlike beings who will in some way verify her religious beliefs, while Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) is out to debunk any spiritual notions. However, neither the scientists nor their shipmates are prepared for the unimaginable terrors that await them.

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Prometheus is one of the most unfairly disliked movies of the 2010s. The highly anticipated Alien prequel (with director Ridley Scott returning) was met with some very mixed opinions. Some loved it, others were immensely disappointed with what they got. While there are some writing issues and it would’ve benefited from being longer, most of the film is actually great. It’s has a very intriguing and suspenseful story, and does tie into Alien quite well, despite leaving some unanswered questions. Prometheus is very underrated, and it will hopefully be better looked upon in the future.

False expectations likely played a large part in this movie being unfairly judged. This is not a direct prequel to Alien, you won’t see the Xenomorphs attacking people or anything like in the classic Alien movies, you really need to know all this going in, or you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment (like plenty of people already had). It has a lot more depth and is also its own thing, with religious themes that it explores and more. You also need to know that it doesn’t answer all the questions that this film asks. It’s possible that Scott wanted to expand his prequel story over multiple movies, which is why many things aren’t addressed. But I did find this movie very engaging and suspenseful. I was interested throughout, I wasn’t ever bored. It added new levels of history to the Alienverse and learning more and more about it was absolutely investing. That’s not to say that this movie doesn’t have any issues. Prometheus infamously have many cases of characters just making some really dumb decisions, two in particular (one involves people running away from a large falling object and the other involving a newly discovered alien life). The characters aren’t really that interesting (they really weren’t the high point of the movie), the best characters were Noomi Rapace’s Shaw and Michael Fassbender’s David. The biggest problem however is the length of the movie, 2 hours and 4 minutes. It really feels like this movie should’ve been longer than it actually ended up being. I did see some deleted scenes of the movie and some of them did really work for the movie. I’m not suggesting that this movie was unfairly cut down or had editing issues, I just feel like it should’ve been longer, so that this movie would be able to go even deeper.

There are two highlight performances. One is Noomi Rapace, she’s the lead of the movie, a lot more history and depth have been given to her character compared to many of the other characters, and on top of that Rapace did a great job in her role. The other highlight performance is Michael Fassbender as an android named David, who basically steals the show. He is just so convincing and unsettling, you can’t tell what his intentions are. Definitely one of Fassbender’s more underrated performances. As I said earlier, most of the characters aren’t that interesting, everyone else other than Rapace and Fassbender didn’t leave much of an impression. I guess the only other performance which is really memorable is Idris Elba, but that’s because of his effortless charisma, which elevated his role in the movie. Other actors like Charlize Theron and Logan Marshall-Green were fine but they really didn’t stand out much, mostly due to their boring and uninteresting characterisation.

The direction by Ridley Scott is absolutely fantastic here (unsurprisingly). The visuals are beautiful, the CGI is great and is implemented well in the movie. The designs of all the locations, ships and creatures are so well put together. Also when Ridley Scott directs horror and suspense here, he does it so well. There are many cases of this but the biggest example involves a surgery, if you’ve seen the movie you know exactly what I’m talking about. Directionwise this movie is pretty much perfect.

Prometheus is not a perfect movie. There are some issues in the writing and characterisation, and it would’ve much benefited with a longer running time. But it is definitely worth a watch, and doesn’t deserve all the hate its been receiving. It has a story which is interesting, suspenseful, creepy, and very engaging. And it was nice seeing some of the connections with the first Alien (even if it doesn’t address everything, yet at least) With Alien Covenant coming out very soon, I’m expecting a Prometheus sequel, just with slightly more Xenomorph content than we get here. And I’m completely fine with that.

X-Men Apocalypse (2016) Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.