Summer Movie Swing Part 1

Now You See Me 2

The trailer wasn’t strong for this second installment causing the movie to seem more spectacle than heist, but the film itself it’s actually a pretty good follow-up to its predecessor.

10NOWYOUSEE-master768A year after the original heist, The Horsemen are stalling for time, waiting for the right time to reappear after their original heist (sans one member who they just write off). Atlas is anxious to get back into the world even going behind Dylan’s back to talk to The Eye on his own. He is ecstatic when he receives a new mission: take down Owen Case and his all-seeing technology. But all does not go along their well thought out plan so they must out to trick the men who first tricked them.

The trailer captured some the biggest showy moments but the movie is more than just spectacle. There is character growth as each character shows them to be human and not just show men. The plot delves into the back story of Dylan, the almost mythical character that helps the team in the first film. The audience learns why magic is so important to him and his involvement with The Eye

The humor adds a great layer keeping things from becoming melodramatic. These moments are some of the best as tension is relieved through this humor for a great balance in mood. It’s a fun movie and worth the ticket price.

The Conjuring 2

Movies like The Conjuring intrigue me. I like things that are based on actual events but they often disappoint because the movies embellish. I have found that real life if often more scary than the clichés used in horror films. While the first movie was enjoyable, the second movie tries to up the ante but really just makes a spectacle of it.

In England, a girl is possessed by a ghost of a man that died at their home. Levitationhttps-%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fuploads%2Fstory%2Fthumbnail%2F12071%2FThe-Conjuring-2, teleportation and telekinetic events terrorize the poor family. The Warrens are called in to investigate before the church will perform an exorcism. But Lorraine brings personal baggage into the case keeping answers veiled.

The Conjuring isn’t scary unless you are awake at two in the clock in the morning and are envisioning the nun’s face next to yours. The movie depends on clichés of scary faces, creepy voices, and standard horror fare. While it is not gory (a plus), there isn’t much to distinguish this movie from the many that have come before it. While the first one kept afloat by great casting, this installment does not; it feels like a B movie peddled by Hollywood.

The one thing I did enjoy was the way the writers spun the Amityville Horror and the Enfield Poltergeist. T used hey used Lorraine to explain the portion of the cases that were documented hoaxes .The movie uses Lorraine’s personal issues with a spirit to explain why she feels the spirit is at both places. This allows the Warrens to have some credibility after backing the mockery that was Amityville. (While I know Amityville was faked as a publicity stunt, there is still a picture that was taken in that house that haunts me. I’m sure there are emotions from the family murder that hang in the air at that house.) But otherwise this movie is a dud.

X-Men Apocalypse

The third in the story of the younger X-men turns out to be a lot better than was anticipated. Overshadowing and making fun of X-Men 3, this story follows ten years after the events portrayed in Days of Future Past. Mystique is now a hero, Magneto has a family and Xavier’s school is full of students. But when the First Mutant is revived, the world changes for all whether on the side of good or evil.

x-men-apocalypseThe movie does have some problems. The love story of Scott and Jean is shoved down our throats from the beginning. Its makes the love story artificial and staged. The movie also depends too much on the two starlets who producers consider hot right now. Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress but her character has evolved from the comics to make her a central character only because Lawrence won an Oscar and draws in crowds. The tale of her and Erick is repeated over and over, and it’s boring. The addition of Sophie Turner does nothing for the movie. High off her role as an annoying (but now fan loved) Sansa Stark, she is cast as Jean Grey but brings nothing to the characters and gives the same stilted performance she gives in Game of Thrones. The movie finally remembers that it the relationship between Erik and Xavier that truly propel these line of stories and that’s where the best acting and most interesting arcs lie.

But there are a lot of things the film gets right including the relationship between Xavier and Moira, and Erik’s desire to be a normal person. The two best scenes feature appearance by some of the best characters of the X-Men world. Wolverine makes a cameo and the writers did well explaining his intense love for Jean. The second features Quicksilver and the Eurhythmics. Sweet dreams ARE made of this.

Fun, exciting and often meta, Apocalypse is one of the better of the X-Men movies. Not as good as the first film or First Class, it never the less stands on its own.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Tim Burton does not return for this installment but his vision of the world is alive and well. The writing, on the other hand, needs a coffin.

Through the Looking Glass creates its own story instead of taking from the source material. The Mad Hatter is dying and the only way to save him is to find his family; heAlice_Through_Looking_Glass_tea_240516_620_347_100 believes they did not die like he had originally believed. So Alice, fresh off a sea voyage and looking at disaster in her personal life, descends deep into imagination and time to save him. She must steal the Chrono Sphere from Time to find out what really happened to the Hatter’s family.

My first thought was this was supposed to be a movie about Hatter and would let Johnny Depp shine. But The Hatter is not Jack Sparrow, and his entire performance is subpar. As the movie unfolds it seems to be more about the Queens than about Hatter and his family drama. While it was interesting to see how the Queen of Hearts got such big head, the story drags.

The best sequences are those featuring Time. Sacha Baren Cohen is hilarious and great at character acting and he outshines Depp like a supernova. A semi-villain, Time is given only moderate screen time and not enough chances to break up the monotony of the film.

The only other thing that stands out is the Alan Rickman; but don’t get too excited. His butter fly gets two lines at the beginning of the movie. It’s rather sad that this was all there was. I still have not completely mourned for this great and Alice did nothing to help me.

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X-Men Proves That to Go Forward Sometimes You Have to Go Back

After several sequels dragged down the X-Men franchise, it is refreshing to see the latest movies prove that super hero movies can have deep themes and human context. Days of Future Past balances character development with action for an enjoyable movie.

The sequel begins in the future as viewers catch up with their favorite mutants and a host of new ones. Wolverine, Xavier, Magneto and Storm connect with Kitty Pride and her group of refugee mutants hiding from the giant machines meant to kill mutants. Hugh-Jackman-X-Men-Days-of-Future-PastThey need Kitty’s help to send Logan back in time to keep the Sentinels from destroying just not the mutant, but the human world.  Logan is transported into his body to the ‘70s and must keep a young mystique from killing Bolivar Trask the creator of the Sentinels. But to do so he will need the help of young Xavier who is at odds with his powers.

Like First Class, the film does well harking back to themes in the original X-men movie. The film delves into social norms and how we use our gifts when they are against those norms. Xavier and Mystique both fight with their powers and how to use them. It’s about accepting your differences and focusing on whether you express these differences with love or hate.

The film reverses the role of Xavier and Wolverine, and it’s interesting to see these characters outside pre-defined boundaries. The best moment? When Xavier throws Wolverine’s words in his own face.  But for everything we see these two overcome, viewers are still face with an inevitable end with Mystique and Magneto. Or are we?  The movie lags as Magneto rages out against the humans even though this becomes turning point for Mystique. Yes, he is full of rage and hate. We get that by now.  We know what becomes of these characters and of their predestined roles as villains.

But the ending proves we know nothing. The last few minutes of the movies make up for any mistakes made in the last X-Men movie and leaves viewers wondering how much of the X-Men cannon has changed now that the past has been altered. This makes the franchise ripe for the taking. Instead of a new Wolverine, the producers should focus on these changes within the X-Men world. There is so much room to expand whether in the present time or in the First Class world.

X-Men Days of Future Past is thrilling and fun. Though it has one lag, the last minutes of the film make up for any issues with the movie. This franchise can keep going and be successful.

The Wolverine has Claws but no Heart

I love the X-men series. At their best, the films are deep allegories for life. At the worst, they are fun action flicks that bring a childhood story to life. The Wolverine falls somewhere in the middle. Luckily, it’s not Last Stand but it’s not First Class either.
rs_560x415-130327085118-1024_wolverine_ls_32713The Wolverine is Hugh Jackman’s character second stand-alone story. This particular tale spans his time in Japan, both during World War II and present day. Wolverine is summoned to Japan by the man he saved when the nuclear bomb exploded. The old man is looking for everlasting life and offers wolverine a chance to become mortal. Though Wolverine declines, he finds himself unable to heal and stuck in the middle of a corporate conspiracy.
The Wolverine takes the basis of its story from the comic book arc of 1982 but really branches away from the original story. While that is par for the course for many of the X-Men movies, it’s still an issue with comic fans. As a fan of the movies, it does not bother me though I can see their perspective.

For an action film, The Wolverine is visually pleasing and viewers are treated to unique settings with humorous twists. There is a beautiful sequence on top of a train that uses Wolverine’s unique ability to his advantage and gives a new perspective on the train top genre. Blending Wolverine and the Japanese’s fighting techniques leads to exciting hand to hand scene as well as swords to claws scenes. The action is fierce and keeps the plot going.the-wolverine-picture03

As an X-Men film, it lacks a certain hear that was feature in the original movie as well as First Class. These stories were clearly allegories for minorities and outcasts. By bringing bringing them together for a certain cause, the films remind us that we don’t have to be alone. The Wolverine was ripe for this, letting Wolverine truly ponder the idea of immortality. Instead, viewers were treated to scenes of Famke Jensen in a night gown calling Wolverine to the grave. There is no emotional epiphany regarding Wolverine’s decision to stay alive.

The best part of the entire movie is the teaser of Days of Future past. This short sequence brings viewers back into the X-Men world and reconnects with fan favorites. The teaser’ could have only been better if they had brought in the kiddos (the First Class). I am truly excited for the next installment in the franchise.
The Wolverine looks good and packs a punch. While it lacks emotional depth, Jackman’s Wolverine is still commanding and provides a good time.