Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Image is property of 20th Century Fox, Regency, and Queen

Bohemian Rhapsody – Film Review

Cast:  Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Allen Leech, Mike Myers

Director(s): Bryan Singer (Dexter Fletcher)

Synopsis: A look at the lives of the legendary rock band Queen, charting their formative years and initial success leading up to their Live Aid concert performance in 1985.

Review: There’s a moment in this biopic where one music executive completely rubbishes the idea a song that spans six minutes could possibly become a radio hit. Oh how wrong he was. That six minute song in question is of course “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the band behind this true masterpiece of a song was Queen. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that as a band, Queen produced some thumping great tunes, and the legacy and impact that they have had on the music industry is truly substantial, and will likely continue to endure for decades to come.

Of course, not every band achieves such phenomenal success instantaneously so when we first meet Farrokh Bulsara as he was known before adopting his more familiar name, he spends his days working at London’s Heathrow Airport and going to gigs at night. During one such gig, he meets Roger Taylor (Hardy) and Brian May (Lee), who as luck would have it need a new singer, which Freddie gladly accepts. With John Deacon (Mazzello) also on board as the bass player, their royal highness, Queen was born.

However, the journey to get this Queen biopic to the big screen has not been an easy one. With original director Singer having been fired quite late into filming, up stepped Dexter Fletcher to complete the film. In circumstances like this, there’s a substantial risk that the whole film could completely fall apart. Though Singer gets the sole director credit, the work that both directors put in ensures that this biopic does not bite the dust.

The screenplay by Anthony McCarten, does feel a little paint by-numbers in terms of its structure. The film spends a substantial amount of time focusing on Freddie’s relationship with Mary Austin. Which ultimately does leave certain aspects such as his relationships with men, and his battle with AIDS as something of an afterthought.  These aspects are touched upon, but it is perhaps in not the extensive detail that it maybe could have been. However, what this film does above all else, is choose to celebrate the band’s incredible music, which given how utterly amazing said music is, that’s not a bad thing at all.

The man to step into the great Freddie Mercury’s shoes was a bit uncertain for a long time. Initially it was Sacha Baron Cohen, then came Ben Whishaw, but ultimately Rami Malek was the man who stepped up to the microphone. Though it would have been interesting to see what the former could have done with the role, Malek is simply outstanding giving such an incredible performance that sees him pretty much transform into Freddie Mercury himself. Everything from the hair and make up, to the costumes is completely on point. Though Malek’s Mercury does steal pretty much every scene he’s in, the rest of the band mates are also excellent, but their development is scarce at best.

Towards the second act is where the tension is really injected into the film, but again certain aspects of Freddie’s career are only given the barest minimum of development. It is when we get to the Live Aid performance, that the film really perks right back up again. The work that is done to recreate that is just simply breath-taking, you will have a hard time not singing along. As Queen themselves sang “We Will Rock You,” Malek and co do exactly that. Killer Queen(s) indeed.

Though the screenplay could have gone into much more depth, Malek’s career-defining performance and the celebration of their stellar music ensures that this biopic hits (mostly) all the right notes.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

X Men: Apocalypse (2016)

xmen apocalypse
All image rights belong to 20th Century Fox, Kinberg Genre, Marvel Entertainment and Bad Hat Harry Productions

X Men: Apocalypse – Film Review

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, Oscar Isaac, Alexandra Shipp, Olivia Munn

Director: Bryan Singer

Synopsis: After awakening from a multiple millennium long sleep, the world’s first mutant En Sabur Nur otherwise known as Apocalypse finds himself in the 1980s and seeks to bring about human extinction, and Charles Xavier and the X Men must stop him.

Review: Despite the nine films we have now had in this franchise, the events of 2014’s Days of Future Past scrambled those timelines for good and effectively erasing all the X Men films from existence, with the exception of 2011’s First Class. The reboot that set the wheels in motion for this new trilogy and the new direction that the franchise is heading. The first X Men trilogy certainly had after two great instalments, an ignominious third chapter is probably the reason the whole franchise got rebooted to get to where we are now. After two spectacular entries to the new trilogy, one could have hoped for that brilliant third chapter, yet sadly, the latest instalment once again falls short of matching the great quality of the films that came before it.

This isn’t to say that Bryan Singer’s latest venture into the world of mutants is anything like the car crash that was The Last Stand, it certainly has its moments, but there are problems too. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender having firmly established themselves in their roles as Professor X and Magneto bring very credible and powerful performances to the mix. For Magneto in particular when it looks as things are looking up for him in a new life, it isn’t long before it all goes very badly wrong. While she doesn’t give her strongest performance as Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence, also brings some solid acting to the mix.  Without doubt one of the highlights of Days of Future Past was Quicksilver’s moment of brilliance. He has a similar scene here, and it is fun to watch him in action, but it’s nowhere near as glorious as his moment in Days of Future Past.

Of the newcomers, by far the biggest stand-out is that of Sophie Turner’s young Jean Grey, a perfect casting choice as she gives off that vulnerability but extraordinary power that we saw from Famke Jensen in the first two X Men films, with her love interest Cyclops now played by Tye Sheridan. The two of them share a connection over their powers and it is exciting to see where this could go. Similarly Kodi Smit-McPhee gives an excellent performance as a young Nightcrawler. The script by Simon Kinberg does give each of these characters to flesh out their characters, but this isn’t applicable to every mutant.

Yet when it comes to the villains, this is where the film REALLY loses its way. Oscar Isaac may have been an inspired choice to play the titular villain as he’s fast becoming a very prolific and great actor. Yet frustratingly, his performance while having its menacing moments, does feel somewhat underwhelming in a similar vein to Ultron in last years’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. This is supposedly the most powerful mutant to have ever existed and he is nowhere near as menacing as he could and perhaps should be. This frustration extends to his horseman, Storm, Psylocke, Angel and Magneto. With the exception of Magneto, their motivations are not entirely made clear and they are also given very little material to work with and flesh out their characters, unlike the younger mutants who are fighting for the X Men.

The plot is a little bit disjointed and messy in terms of its pacing at times, and there is one side arc that arguably could have just been cut out of the film altogether, although it is quite possible that it was there to help set up a future X Men film down the line. The CGI remains of a decent standard and the action scenes in particular the final throw down are enjoying to watch, but they are nowhere near as enthralling as those that were helmed by Vaughn in First Class and by Singer himself in Days of Future Past. Thus ultimately this was a real missed opportunity for Singer to make a film worthy to its two predecessors and to cement itself as a great X Men trilogy. The film’s extensive cast all certainly give their all, but with so many characters all vying for screen time, some do get left in the shadows of the great Egyptian pyramid that Apocalypse emerged from.

McAvoy and Fassbender bring the best performances, and a handful of new performances shine, but the underwhelming villain mean this doesn’t match the quality of Days of Future Past.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

X Men- Days of Future Past (2014)

DOFP
Image is property of 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment and Bad Hat Harry Productions

X Men Days of Future Past Film Review 

Cast:  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Nicholas Hoult,  Ellen Page, Evan Peters.

Director: Bryan Singer

Synopsis: In an apocalyptic future, with humanity enslaved and the X Men on the brink of extinction. Wolverine is sent back into the past in an attempt to change the future and prevent the extermination of all mutant kind.

Review: With the original trilogy of X Men films that came out in the 2000s, and the 2011 prequel X Men First Class, as well as the two Wolverine stand alone films. There were two different  timelines of this popular franchise with different casts.  Two loose ends that needed tying up. They were tied up and the end result is an enthralling combination of both of these timelines as past and future collide in epic proportions with the triumphant return of the man who launched this universe way back in 2000.

That man, Mr Bryan Singer has pulled out of the bag the best X Men movie that has been put to screen, whilst at the same time erasing the wrongdoings that went down in his absence (cough, The Last Stand). The amalgamation of both the First Class storyline and the present day X Men storyline is a master-stroke, and full credit for that must go to screenplay writer Simon Kinberg. Under Singer’s direction these two sets of actors, both of which are all exceptionally talented, go all out .Every one of them give excellent performances from the veterans like Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, to new recruits such as Fan BingBing as Blink.

The mutant race is facing a dire threat in the form of the Sentinels who are coming to eradicate them. The mutants, past and future alike must stand together to avoid the extinction of all mutant kind. The real scene stealers come from The First Class cast, but the original cast are by no means out of their depth. One of the stand out performances comes from James McAvoy as the young Xavier. He is at his lowest low after his fall out with Magneto and must be urged to come to the fore once again. First Class really humanised the wise Professor X, and with Days of Future Past, that carries on.

Similarly as the young Magneto, Michael Fassbender, has similar grievances with Xavier and once again these two men clash. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine has had a tendency to stand out in previous X Men movies and while he is central to this story, and he is still a really cool character, he’s outshone on this occasion by the younger versions of Magneto and Professor X.  Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique is another character who takes it up a gear. Her role in this movie requires here to be a lot more of a badass when compared to her role previously, and she pulls it off well.

With the old cast, they are not in the movie as much as their First Class counterparts, they feel somewhat underused, and some only make fleeting appearances. Likewise with the new selection of mutants, there are some exciting action scenes with these new characters, but they are almost over before they really get going. Yet with the central action of the film being focused on the events surrounding the First Class cast, it is understandable why the original cast have comparatively little screen time. With one scene involving one new character that you WILL remember once you have left the cinema.

The main antagonist in the form of Bolivar Trask, the man who created the Sentinels and brilliantly played by Peter Dinklage. While his motives are not completely clear, he nevertheless he gives an excellent performance. The action here is not quite as intense as First Class. The battle is not being waged right in the middle of the Cuban Missile crisis, but it gives it a great run for its money with a superb final showdown taking place in Washington DC.

Time travel films can be horrifically inconsistent if they are done badly, and plot holes can be found in abundance. Luckily with this film that is just simply not the case. The story is solid and it is very well done with excellent directing and great execution. It makes you care about all the characters and they all provide memorable performances. It breathes new life back into the old franchise that suffered a regretful fate following X Men 3. Furthermore, the franchise returned with a bang following First Class and with Days of Future Past, it is clear that this particular line of comic book superheroes still has a lot of Xciting things going for it!

With such a large cast of old and new, it means some characters do not have a large amount of screen time. However with Singer’s return, the amalgamation of these two franchises results in the best X Men film that has ever been made. 

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