Tag Archives: James McAvoy

Cinema Dispatch: Dark Phoenix

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Dark Phoenix and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Simon Kinberg

I’ve probably been nicer than most about the X-Men franchise, going so far as to be somewhat positive about Apocalypse, and even I can’t be bothered to muster any enthusiasm for The Last Stand: Remastered.  I mean I GUESS I can see why Fox would want to prove that it was the other guy’s fault and not their own, and it certainly worked well enough for Dexter Fletcher, but with this franchise being so easily overshadowed by Deadpool, the MCU, and even some of the better DC films, it’s starting to feel more Quixotic than artistically advisable.  Still, I have been surprised by  movies I didn’t expect much out of before, and it’s not like they have much to lose considering this franchise is more or less done whether they make this movie or not, so hey!  Let’s see if Fox can pull it off one more time for old time’s sake!

It’s the radical nineties for the X-Men with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his crew of charismatic comrades more popular than ever; much like the ACTUAL nineties.  Newcomers Jean Grey, Scott Summers, Ororo Munroe, and Kurt Wagner (Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, and Kodi Smit-McPhee) are fitting in well enough, Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) barely contained annoyance with all of this is about as same as usual which is greatly contrasted with Beast (Nicholas Hoult) who looks like he couldn’t be happier to be there, and Quicksilver (Even Peters) is… around.  ANYWAY!  The big difference in this film that I alluded to just now which I don’t BELIEVE was the case last time is that The X-Men have become household names and everyone wants to be them!  No more mutant discrimination, at least not outright, and all the jerk mutants went with Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to some island somewhere to keep things nice and peaceful.  Why, the only thing that could ruin this perfect existence is if one of the high profile mutants on Xavier’s team went off and started blowing stuff up, but what are the odds of THAT happening!?  Yeah, so Jean Grey gets hit by some sort of cosmic ray in the beginning of the film during an astronaut rescue, and it seems to have overcharged her system to the point that she can barely control her powers as well as her emotions; the latter of which is exacerbated by some dark secrets she’s made keenly aware of and have made things rather awkward at the academy.  With one big public relations nightmare that could lead to Mutant internment AGAIN, Xavier and his crew have to find out what’s happening to Jean and if there’s any way to save her from whatever it is that will either destroy her from the inside or give her enough power to destroy us all from the outside.  Oh, and Jessica Chastain is in this somewhere in the background.  I’m sure she can’t be up to any good though!  Will Jean Grey succumb to the power she’s been granted and become the worst enemy the X-Men have ever faced?  Will Xavier finally learn that despite his idealistic rhetoric that he’s made huge mistakes in the past that could bring the world closer to destruction than anything his more militant counterpart ever came up with?  If this is worse than X3, does Fox get like a Lifetime Achievement award for how badly they can ruin a franchise?  I mean they should have already gotten one for their Fantastic Four movies, but you know the Academy!  Give it to them when convenient; not when they deserve it!

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“Here’s to the end of an era!”     “Here’s to the end of my liver functioning properly…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Glass

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Glass and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by M Night Shyamalan

Isn’t it nice that every time an M Night movie comes out we don’t automatically know that it’s terrible?  I mean sure, there are PLENTY of critics of his more recent films, but unlike the bad old days of the mid to late 2000s, it’s not something that’s an unfailing certainty.  I actually like this phase of his career quite a bit with Split being a rather intense and enjoyable thriller, so seeing him make a full on sequel to one of his great works is at the very least something that will grab people’s attention.  It’s been almost twenty years since Unbreakable which came out before the super hero boom in film, so perhaps this is a good time to take a look back and see what’s changed since then from one of the first big attempts at dissecting the genre.  Is this film a continuation of Shyamalan’s rise to prominence and acclaim after such a dismal spate of films, or was the greatest twist of all the one where he convinced us that maybe he was going to make better movies again?  Let’s find out!!

After serial killer Kevin Wendell (James McAvoy) managed to escape custody at the end of the last film, he has been linked to a series of similar murders throughout Philadelphia and has cemented himself as THE HORDE in the minds of the general public.  In doing so however, he has painted quite a large target on his back for David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who has a security shop that he runs with his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) while also moonlighting as a vigilante that the media has dubbed THE OVERSEER.  Eventually the two cross paths as David finds his latest victims before they get eaten by Kevin but the super hero battle is cut short when the police show up and throw them into a mental institution under the care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) who specializes in treating those who believe themselves to have super powers.  Along with these two, she’s also working with Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson) who has been at this mental institution since the end of Unbreakable, though he seems to be more of a side project since he spends most of his time in a catatonic state due to the amount of sedatives he’s provided on a daily basis.  Now that she’s got these three stooges under one roof, can she solve their mistaken beliefs that they are actually super powered beings?  Alternatively, will they finally show not just her but the world at large that people like them exist?  Will I sound TOO insufferable if I declare this movie to be better than Avengers: Infinity War?

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“I can’t say that I’m too impressed with The Philadelphia Avengers.”     “Look, we’re trying, alright?”

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Jumping the Soapbox: Let’s Look At the Trailers from Comic Con 2018!

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The images in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

For ninety-nine percent of people out there who don’t get to go to Comic Con in person, our experience is basically a giant pile of news being dumped about upcoming movies and television shows, and while the coverage this year was overshadowed by the senseless firing of James Gunn (#RehireJamesGunn), there was still quite a bit of news worth paying attention to; especially some of the trailers that got released, and I’m not just talking about that crappy Titans one!  So let’s go ahead and take a look at some (certainly not all) of the trailers that we saw for the first time this weekend!

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SHAZAM!

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Directed by David F Sandberg; Owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical moody teenager who’s been placed in yet another foster home, but everything changes when the mystical space wizard SHAZAM (Djimon Hounsou) chooses him to inherit his spectacular powers.

I like what I see here, but what I’m seeing isn’t much.  Granted this is the first trailer and we’ll surely see more as we get closer to the release date, but the UNIQUE SELLING POINT of this movie needs to be more than it NOT being like the last few DCCU movies.  It’s brighter, it has genuine humor, and it focuses on the HERO part of being a Superhero.  That’s all great, but it still feels REALLY lacking.  The film looks VERY small in scale which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lack of spectacle needs to be compensated in other areas and I’m not really seeing much beyond DECENT in this trailer.  I like Zachary Levi in the role and he seems very natural playing a boy in a super hero’s form, but his dialogue is far from sterling, and the cinematography seems kind of flat for the most part.  I’m sure I’ll like this more than the overly ambitious Batman v Superman or the bloated but safe Justice League, but being light and family friendly doesn’t mean it has to be trivial and yet that’s a lot of what I’m getting out of this trailer.  If nothing else though, they’ve got a GREAT director behind it as the guy made two of the better horror films of the last few years (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation), so hopefully he’ll bring some of that creativity to this film even if this first trailer doesn’t quite get it across.

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“I know we’re taking this, but we stopped the bad guys in the process so let’s just call it a wash, alright?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Atomic Blonde

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Atomic Blonde and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features

Directed by David Leitch

Holy crap!  The day has FINALLY come, hasn’t it!?  There are usually a handful of movies that I genuinely look forward to each year and for most of 2017 the big one was this Charlize Theron spy thriller with a lot of bloodshed and a lot more attitude!  The trailers looked phenomenal with Theron putting her heart into this John Wick knock off (it even has one of that movie’s directors) and James McAvoy being… well James McAvoy, but that’s why we go to see him in movies!  Still, a trailer isn’t always true to what a movie will ultimately be about and while I certainly have high hopes for this, I should PROBABLY temper them lest my expectations get too astronomical and I end up setting myself up for disappointment.  But still!  CHARLIZE THERON PUNCHING DUDES IN THE FACE!  How COULD it go wrong!?  Well if it does, we’ll certainly find out!!

The movie begins with the death of an MI6 agent (Sam Hargrave) in East Germany right at the tail end of the Cold War, and the British Government are in desperate need of someone to clean up the mess the poor bastard left behind.  Enter Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) who given two objectives to complete once she gets there; find THE LIST that the MI6 agent had secured before getting a bullet in the head (you know, that list of EVERY SPY EVER that’s in EVERY SPY MOVIE EVER) and find a double agent known simple as Satchel who is more than likely responsible for this whole mess.  Her only contact in the country is MI6 agent David Percival (James McAvoy) who’s gone DEEP undercover in the Berlin punk scene but has more knowledge of the country’s inner workings than anyone else.  Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems as there’s a French agent rather conspicuously following them around (Sofia Boutella), there’s like five different German/Nazi dudes who hate punk music trying to find her, and she keeps getting stymied at every turn presumably to the machinations of that darn double agent!  Will Lorraine find this list that could CHANGE THE TIDE OF THE WAR before it falls into the wrong hands?  Who is this mysterious double agent, and could they be closer than she dares to believe?  How is it that all the hired goons keep finding her so easily!?  Is it the hair?  It’s probably the hair.

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“All natural.”     “Oh you are SO full of crap!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Split

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Split and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by M Night Shyamalan

We all want Shyamalan to have a comeback and to find a way to make up for the last fifteen years of his career; especially when it includes such unmitigated disasters like After Earth, The Last Airbender, or even The Happening which is fun to watch but for none of the reasons he intended it to be.  Now he did manage to knock out at least one decent film recently which was The Visit, but it was also a clear sign of how far his status has fallen that he was picking up Blumhouse scraps on a dopey premise with a found footage gimmick.  Now it WAS probably the best thing he made since Signs, but even with that it still wasn’t all that great and wasn’t something that I could imagine a dozen other much less accomplished directors directing along with three other direct to video horror films that year.  With this movie though, it seems he’s making a much more earnest effort; not just a paycheck to keep his name relevant, but an honest attempt to make the next great M Night movie that we’ve been waiting for since Bush won reelection.  Does the latest M Night thriller finally bring him back into the spotlight, or is this the final curtain call for the much maligned filmmaker?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the teenagers, Claire, Marcia, and Casey (Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, and Anya Taylor-Joy), being kidnapped by a mysterious dude for clearly nefarious purposes.  Once they wake up from this… spray the guy uses (do they actually make Knock Out spray?), they find themselves in some sort of basement with two beds, a small bathroom, and a locked door.  Not long after they wake up, they are confronted by their captor Dennis (James McAvoy) who doesn’t give much details but makes it clear that he isn’t about to let them go.  Sometime later, they meet Patricia (James McAvoy) who apologizes for Dennis’s rude behavior, and eventually they meet young Hedwig (James McAvoy) who tells them they’re all screwed.  Now if you couldn’t pick up on it yet, or you haven’t seen the trailers, these are all the same person as their captor, given name Kevin, has Dissociative Identity Disorder and is said to have 23 distinct personalities, though maybe five or six are relevant to the movie.  From there, the movie just builds the tension as more time passes and the women are dreading what their captor has planned for them which, according to Hedwig, are PROBABLY not good things.  While that’s going on, Kevin’s therapist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) is getting messages from one of his identities, Barry, claiming that they DESPERATLEY need to see her, but whenever he comes in, he seems perfectly fine and is sorry to be wasting her time.  Hm…  So just what does Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig have planned for the women in his basement?  Will the good doctor find out that everything is certainly NOT fine before it’s too late?  What exactly are those other identities we don’t to see really like?

 

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“Did Igor bring you here so we can work on our experiments?  I mean, I prefer the bodies to be cold BEFORE I bring them back to life, but I can work with this.”

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Cinema Dispatch: X-Men: Apocalypse

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X-Men: Apocalypse and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Bryan Singer

It’s that time again for another X-Men movie to try and prove its relevance in a post MCU world!  So far, I think they’ve been doing a fairly good job of keeping this series humming along since Mathew Vaughn kicked the franchise back to life again five years ago.  The post First Class movies haven’t been perfect, but the second shot at a Wolverine solo picture and the one that brought Brian Singer back to the franchise were both fine enough films, and now that Deadpool is kinda sorta in the mix, there may be hope yet that this franchise can make that leap to the big leagues instead of sitting comfortably as the acceptable knock off.  Is this movie the start of that transition, or is this series just gonna keep spinning its wheels until another X3 disaster kills it off for good?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up about ten years after Days of Future Past which is still about twenty years before the original X-Men, which I THINK is still in continuity (only X3 is the one we know for sure got blinked out of existence).  In the intervening time, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has finally set up his school, Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) has gone into hiding and now has a family in Poland, and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence)… well she’s basically doing the same thing as she as in the last movie, only now she’s a symbol of peace rather than a violent radical after she had saved the president from Magneto.  Things seem to be at a tentative state of peace with the humans being somewhat okay with mutants and Erik more or less retiring Magento so he can live a normal life.  We don’t come to an X-Men movie to see people be happy though!  What’s gonna screw it up for everyone!?  Well two things really.  First is that Erik suffers a tragedy that throws him back into his anti-human hobby, and second is that there is a millennia old mutant calling himself, among other names, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) that just so happened to wake up from his deep slumber and is ready to take over the world (presumably after getting a shower and a bite to eat).  It doesn’t take long for him to make his presence known so the X-Men must reunite and get some of the new students to fight the greatest threat to all of humanity… at least now that the Sentinels aren’t gonna be a thing anymore.  Can Charles and Mystique whip these newbies into tip top shape to fight the new bad guy and save the world?  What exactly will Erik do now that he’s given up on ever finding peace for himself?  How many times are they gonna blow up the damn school!?

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“What happened this time?”     “Someone left a fork in the microwave.”     “SERIOUSLY!?”     “Well… we put the microwave next to the jet fuel storage container.”     “Did you at any point think that was a bad idea?”     “Oh THANK YOU Captain Hindsight!  Where would we be without your input!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Victor Frankenstein

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Victor Frankenstein and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Paul McGuigan

Does anyone even remember when the last good Frankenstein movie was?  Can Reanimator REALLY be the last one of these movies to get the formula right!?  Well at least this movie isn’t trying so hard to make a faithful adaptation of the Mary Shelly story like Kenneth Branagh did, but is instead going after Young Frankenstein’s crown by practically making a spoof out of the whole thing.  Geez, if making a good Frankenstein movie was a herculean task, then making a good Young Frankenstein movie must be a Sisyphean one.  Still, the trailers really sold this as a fun throwback to old school horror schlock and it has two really talented actors who aren’t afraid to ham it up when appropriate.  Will this be a fun re-imaging of one of cinema’s oldest stories, or is this yet another terrible interpretation of this story right up there with the abysmal I, Frankenstein?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) and Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), both working together to solve the mysteries of life and to hopefully reanimate a corpse for reasons of SCIENCE.  After breaking Igor out of the circus and fixing his back, they become close friends and Igor’s intelligence about humanity anatomy and medicine (self-taught which makes it more impressive) becomes instrumental to Victor finally having a breakthrough with his research.  Unfortunately, as Victor starts to escalate his experiments, an inspector at Scotland Yard (Andrew Scott) becomes more and more obsessed with stopping the mad man’s machinations before his schemes can come to fruition.  Can Igor and Victor complete they’re greatest work before being shut down by The Man, or has Victor taken things too far?  Will Igor continue to justify the mad doctor’s methods, or will he betray his best friend in hopes that he can be talked down from the brink of insanity?  These two are REALLY close, aren’t they?

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Oh I WISH they’d pull the trigger on that!

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