Saturday, June 25, 2016


Although I love watching horror movies during the ghostly time of fall, particularly near Halloween, I’ll occasionally dive into one out of season when the urge arises, especially if it happens to be listed within the catalogue of the Netflix streaming titles.  It’s very rare when I enjoy a film that I pick out from there, but this time I found something that kept my attention…and that was the movie, Hush.

While the situations in these types of films—the home invasion genre—are sometimes hard to watch, especially when you’re sitting in the dark as one is wont to do when viewing this type of film, they still captivate me.  Films like The Strangers, The Purge, and You’re Next are some of the best that I’ve seen and I primarily love this subgenre of horror movies regardless of how they play out.  As in The Strangers, I enjoy the mystery as to why these nemeses decide to threaten the central characters of the story, never finding out their identities or the reason for their misgivings.  But then again, with You’re Next, it’s just the opposite, as the audience is provided answers to those questions and doesn’t end unresolved.  Both films are equally entertaining, but have different outcomes as the story plays out.

Regardless as how these stories present themselves, we—as people who’ve been in these same situations, sitting alone at home during late hours—can relate to the characters in these types of films.  It does happen in the real world, so to see these circumstances in a movie is not so far-fetched.

Before I jump too much further into the subgenre of these types of movies, let me break down the plot of the film.

Maddie (Kate Siegel), a deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer (John Gallagher Jr.) appears at her window.

Short and sweet, right?

When first starting this film, it began to wear on me that the star of the movie was never going to speak as we get a barrage of sign language when she has her neighbor, Sarah (Samantha Sloyan), over for dinner.  Though Sarah speaks her dialogue as she signs her words (which I thought was a nice touch to show what a good friend she was to learn signing), it became evident—or so I thought—that this was what we’d be seeing throughout the film…either that or complete silence as the story plays out.  I’d even stopped this film after a few minutes, thinking I wasn’t going to return to it, but the next day I’d thought better of it and decided to give it another chance and I’m glad I did.

Of course, having the interaction between Maddie and Sarah was necessary to establish the main character as being deaf because if the story had started out with seeing her walk around her house, it’d be hard to convey the fact that she was hearing-impaired.  Plus it was nice to form some character development between them as we get to know Maddie and see what she’s about.

Now, the introduction of the Masked Man was a bit shocking and we fully know what he’s about right from the outset.  The introduction makes it abundantly clear that he has ill intentions towards Maddie which creates concern for the audience in relation to what may happen to the main character.  It actually provided quite a jump scare when his introduction happens and it’s quite a contrast when you see how it doesn’t affect Maddie in the slightest due to her hearing-loss.

Now, I’d mentioned two movies of this same genre, The Strangers and You’re Next, because this movie seems to borrow heavily from them both.  But really, if you think about it, You’re Next appropriates ideas from The Strangers, so it’s a little befuddling to say that this movie takes from both…but I digress.  Like those two movies, the introduction of the villain here shows up with a simple white mask leaving his appearance devoid of emotion.  The fact that we don’t know who he is or that we can’t see any type of facial reactions or emotions is scary, making us feel even more for our main character here.  Not only that, but we—as the audience—see him first as Maddie sits unaware of the danger that is awaiting her. 

I usually don’t enjoy films that use cell phones or computers as plot devices, but in Hush, it was used well and importantly—mostly as a device for the baddie of the film to antagonize the main character in some very creepy ways.  However, there was a scene where Maddie is FaceTiming with her sister, Max (Emma Graves), and the Masked Man decides to walk by in the background, leaving Max to ask her sister who was there.  Seeing that this was early in the film, before Maddie realizes she’s being watched and stalked by a stranger, I felt the filmmakers could’ve explored this a little further to create a more unnerving situation. It was, however, a turning point for the story so I really can’t fault the inclusion of it.

I liked how the filmmakers showed us how it would it feel to be in Maddie’s shoes, where we couldn’t hear anything except a muffled heartbeat and breathing (although I don’t think someone who’s completely deaf couldn’t even hear that, but I can’t be completely sure).  They do convey how helpless it would feel to go through such an ordeal without an important sense that we all take for granted.  Nevertheless, the filmmakers, at the same time, show us how our main character can use that to her advantage to get the upper hand on the villain.

In a lot of films, the story is sometimes foreshadowed near the beginning with something visual or spoken.  For instance, in the beginning of Back to the Future, as the film opens in Doc Brown’s home, we get a panning shot throughout his main room.  During this scene, we see a bunch of clocks, one bearing the scene from an old silent film, Safety Last, with Harold Lloyd hanging from the clock’s minute hand, which foreshadowed what would happen to Doc Brown at the end of the movie.  Here, it’s not so subtle, as we get a taste of how Maddie writes her books, having a hard time coming up with an ending she likes, so she writes multiple ones and decides later on how it will play out.  Using that same mentality during a pivotal scene of Hush, our heroine uses that logic in her head.  I’d really liked how the filmmakers filmed it and it actually had me fooled when the scene’s first presented.

If there’s anything in this film I can criticize is how the villain of the story unmasks himself to show his face to the main character and staying that way for the remainder of the story.  Though it was critical to the plot of the film, it took away the mystery of who this person was and just made him seem more human instead of a Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers figure.  Another thing that got me and made it easier for the bad guy of the story is how Maddie just leaves her door open for her cat to come back in when she doesn’t find her around the house.  Though she may think she’s safe from any intruders since she’s isolated in the woods, there are still wild animals that may decide to make her house their home…I was waiting for a raccoon or mountain lion to show up before the Masked Man walked in.  Also, there is some subplot during the commencement of this film, showing our main character as having some previous relationship as she plays with the idea of calling this person up only to hang up before they answer.  It follows up with some texts, but never comes back to it later in the film and I really didn’t get why that had to be included in this story.

Finally, I have to say that I was impressed with this director, Mike Flanagan, and surprised at his résumé of films on  Though there haven’t been many films he’s directed, I was more fascinated with what’s coming up for him.   Before this film, he directed the unnerving Oculus, but has Before I wake coming up this year and looks to be set as director of the Stephen King-adapted, Gerald’s game.  I’m always ready to watch a Stephen King adaptation!

Now…my final “bit” on Hush?

As the plot of the film is very simple and short, the film never lets up on the enthusiasm once it gets going.  The acting is well done, the story is tight and never dulls out with any filler or intervals, there’s nothing complicated or implausible here…just an thrilling story of someone being terrorized in an isolated house in the woods.  Though I’d mentioned that I liked watching films like this during the fall time of Halloween, it’s still enjoyable to watch this during the throes of summer, winter, or spring.  Just make sure to lock up your house before sitting to watch this, because you may become unnerved when the meat of this story begins with the introduction of the Masked Man.  All in all, this story is well-written and ends on a high note, satisfying you on all counts.  Hush should not be missed.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight

I’ve raved about my love of 1980s horror movies so much now that I won’t repeat myself with the same rhetoric I’ve written in past posts.  But time moves on for everyone, causing changes in one’s thinking, and evolving as people do.  I, for example, used to love eating spicy food, pouring out the dried chili flakes onto my pizza or taking bites out of jalapeños as I eat some Mexican food; but now, I can’t do it and really don’t enjoy it, as my taste buds prefer blander—yet hardier—food.  It was the same way with my feelings towards the horror films of the 1990s, where I hated most of them and refused to watch them.  But now?  I’ve softened a bit towards them.

A weird analogy, I know.

Most 90s horror I still can’t stand to watch, like The People Under the Stairs or Leprechaun—as they bore me to sleep.  Until Scream came along in 1996, the horror movies in the 1990s were growing to various ridiculous heights of absurdity, making the ones that were released in the 80s seem like very commonsensical films (there was even a great documentary called Going to Pieces: The Rise and fall of the Slasher Film that chronicles this eloquently).  Though they were viewable to a degree, the majority of them couldn’t provide any scares and just relied on a catchy theme or title with plenty of gore.  And as the CGI craze was growing in this decade, it wasn’t long before horror films were ousting the practical effects specialists with primitive computer imagery. 

Looking back, it really seemed as if horror movie producers were desperately trying to create the next Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers.  Case in point, check out these movies: 1992’s Dr. Giggles, 1996’s The Dentist, 1997’s Jack Frost…I can name a few more, but I think you get the point.  What’s astounding about the movies I’d just mentioned was that the last two actually landed sequels.  But it didn’t work…there was no killer doctor or psycho dentist franchises created with those movies…they were just silly ideas that had come and gone.

To add insult to injury for the horror movies of this time, it seemed like television received a resurgence of a sort, namely in cable TV channels.  Stephen King actually had quite a few of his novels and short stories adapted to TV movies (on network TV oddly enough) and the cable channels were beginning to produce their own programming, showcasing their own television shows.  And what a genius idea it was to bring shows to the masses without having the impediments of network TV?  Frontrunner HBO had the freedom to broadcast programs with adult themes and language, so why not air a show like “Tales From the Crypt” where they can show a bit of gore and feature some bad language?

Yes, “Tales From the Crypt” was a horror-themed anthology television series that presented different stories every episode.  It even brought in special guests, well-known actors and actresses, to star in these horror shorts and it was amazing.  They kind of had the atmosphere of Creepshow, yet a bit more light-hearted as each episode was bookended with the host of the show—The Crypt Keeper.  He was a ghoulish-looking corpse brought to life mainly by puppetry, wisecracking with awful puns related to death.

It wasn’t long before the TV show became so popular that a movie was finally made, titled, Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight.

Now this film was released during the heyday of my movie-going experiences and I certainly remember it being in theaters.  But I hadn’t really gotten into the TV series, since I didn’t have HBO at the time, and thought I would’ve needed that prior knowledge of the show to understand the film.  However, I’d realized I was wrong when the movie had showed up on movie rental shelves back in the 90s as I picked it up to take a gander in the comfort of my own home.

Before I get too far into my anecdotes, let me break down the synopsis of the film.

A man, Brayker (William Sadler), who holds the last of seven keys—special vials that hold
the blood of Christ and were scattered throughout the world to prevent the forces of evil from taking over—is being hunted by The Collector (Billy Zane).  Brayker has been tracked to an inn in an isolated small town and must assemble the disparate crew of individuals in the rundown hotel to fight the forces of evil and prevent The Collector from taking the last key and bringing an end to the world.

I guess one of the many reasons I love this film is how it feels more like an 80s horror film than a mid-90s flick.  As I’d mentioned earlier, the whole set-up has the vibe of a Creepshow movie, almost like an old EC Comic Book come to life.  Though the situations are a bit over-the-top, it’s okay to enjoy it as it’s meant to be a little on the lighter side.  It’s not really terrifying—although if you were to be in the situations the characters find themselves in, you’d lose your mind—but mostly fun and exciting.
By this time in 1995, I’d recognized William Sadler as usually playing a bad guy or someone without a lot of morals.  When first seeing him in this role, it took me by surprise a little as he’s some sort of Christian disciple.  But by the time we really get into the meat of the story and things start to get exciting, I soon thought less of him as Colonel Stuart1 and more of him as the good guy here.

The big surprise here is Billy Zane as The Collector.  As the adversary of the film, and as evil as he’s supposed to be, he sure is hilarious throughout his performance.  It was almost as if the director, Ernest R. Dickerson, told Zane to channel Jim Carrey during most of his lines.  He inserts quite a bit of magnetism into his portrayal of The Collector that you can believe when some of the characters fall for his charm.  But when it’s time for him to be bad, he certainly does that well, too.

Some of the scenes are laughable, like when one of the characters gets their arm sliced off, yet they’re still able to function and even perform a courageous act to help out Brayker.  I’d have issues if I’d only had a cut on my hand, probably fall into a fetal position and cry like a baby.  But that’s what makes this movie fun and entertaining—the outlandish situations our heroes get themselves into.

Besides the two main opponents, the film features quite a few recognizable faces.  The owner of the rundown inn, Irene, is CCH Pounder, a well-known character actress you’ve seen countless times in movies and television series but really can’t place where you’ve seen her.  The in-house local drunk, Uncle Willy, is played by the great Dick Miller, who’s been in such movies like The Howling, The Terminator, and Gremlins.  To round it off, Thomas Haden Church plays the dirt bag, Roach, Charles Fleischer (known for the voice of Roger Rabbit) plays the soft hearted Wally, and Jada Pinkett (sans Smith at the time) plays Jeryline.

The special effects were fine for its time and maybe that’s why the film reminded me of something from the 80s.  See, this was the time when CGI had become so prevalent and you started seeing it take over the practical effects in horror movies.  But there were none here—or at least none that I remember—and you mainly see people in makeup or costume playing the demons and monsters, utilizing fast editing cuts so that you can’t see the zippers.

Like the television episodes, the movie is bookended by The Crypt Keeper, voiced by John Kassir, which adds to the light tone of the film.  The bad jokes are there, the tie-ins to the film, and, of course, that wickedly creepy laugh.  Mr. Kassir must have a great time during Halloween, opening the door for the kiddies and using that voice and laugh to give them a scare…I know I would.

I’d just purchased the special edition blu-ray, which comes to us from Scream! Factory (they are doing an amazing job, bringing us the forgotten 80s and 90s horror gems), adding to my growing collection of their discs.  One of the many qualities I love about their releases is the redesigning of the cover artwork, sort of throwing it back to the movie posters of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  Though they’re a branch of the Shout! Factory company, they have over 200 releases just in horror films, some of them being original titles.  I implore you to check out their catalog of films.

Well, my final “bit” on Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight is that I highly recommend this gem of a movie.  All the performances add to this upbeat romp of a campy horror movie, yet gives you a few frights for the taking.  You’d think that adapting a television series wouldn’t translate well to film, rationing that it’d probably end up just being a long drawn-out version of a 30-minute episode.  But it isn’t.  So go out to your local rental store or corner Red Box…or just queue it up on your Netflix list, sit down with a bowl of popcorn and soda because Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight is a fun movie.

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1 Colonel Stuart is the antagonist in Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Thursday, June 9, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

It’s funny—there was a time within the 16 years of this franchise where things were appearing grim, seemingly looking like we were witnessing the downfall of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise.  Outspokenly, I’ll say that it was the campy X-Men III: The Last Stand (which I’d admittedly liked) that had put a few nails in the coffin, just waiting for the next installment to hammer in the rest.  Can we blame Brett Ratner?  No, I don’t think so.  How about Bryan Singer’s departure to go and direct Superman Returns?  Probably not.  Did X-Men Origins: Wolverine have something to do with it?  I’d say yes, but I have to be fair and admit that that wasn’t the problem either.  Was it all of the above?  Yes, I think that’s what it was.  All of those turns of events played a part in the murky turn the franchise took, but I’ll tell you what saved it from spiraling any further—taking the story back to the beginning in X-Men: First Class.

Introducing other mutants in the 1960s, as well as tying well-known historical events into the story, was a breath of fresh air.  While it was great to get the characters all together in the original 2000 film, it was nice to see how this all came about—how Charles and Eric became friends, how they became enemies, how Professor X first united other mutants into his School for Gifted Youngsters, how he lost the use of his legs…everything that wasn’t answered in the first set of films were answered in X-Men: First Class.  Although Hugh Jackman was only in the movie for a cameo, the movie was unique in that it was successful without having Wolverine play an integral part in the story.  At this point in the franchise, the four previous movies all featured Jackman, front and center, as the main protagonist or one of them.  So it’s safe to say that everything was turned on its head with the reimagining of the X-Men films.

Speaking of reimagining, X-Men: Days of Future Past really set that in motion, didn’t it?  It was an intelligent and logical thing to do, having the future changed in that story in order to reboot the franchise.  At the same time, the movie gave us one of the best stories in the series, continuing on the backstory of these characters to see how they had gotten to where they are.

So with X-Men: First Class being set in the 60s and X-Men: Days of Future Past being set in the 70s, of course X-Men: Apocalypse is set in the 80s (Why go off the rails with a successful theme like that?).

Going back to the first statement of this post, how the franchise appeared to be losing steam…there was the teeniest bit of wishful thinking—by me—of that happening.  A lot of other comic book fans (especially fans of Marvel Comics) would love to see the franchise go back to Marvel Studios and have them incorporate the characters into their cinematic universe, which is why I had that minuscule crumb of hope.  Sony has already agreed to share Spider-Man, Fox had lost the rights to Daredevil, Punisher might land in there somewhere, The Fantastic Four may slip away from Fox…so maybe we’ll see the X-Men meet up with The Avengers sometime in the future…who knows?  The cash-cow of that franchise, Hugh Jackman, has just announced that the next film he’s working on will be the last time he plays the character of Wolverine (although it’s thought that he may return to team up with Ryan Reynolds in a Deadpool sequel), so what will Fox do after that?  They can’t go on making X-Men movies (completely successful anyway) without him.  I’ll say that they’re in a pickle.

So, until that day comes, we’ll just have to enjoy Fox’s X-Men cinematic universe, where all the other Marvel characters don’t exist—no Spider-Man, no Hulk, no Iron Man, No Captain America—just these mutant superheroes.  But it’s not so bad.  In the meantime, let me synopsize X-Men: Apocalypse and you can judge for yourself…

The first and most powerful mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), awakens after a centuries-long slumber and takes on his Four Horsemen—Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender)—to destroy the world in order for the mutants to take control.  Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), with the help of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), must lead a group of young mutants to defend the Earth against this new powerful enemy.

I must say, straightaway, that this movie was quite good and enjoyable, continuing on from the teaser we’d all seen after the credits of X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Most of us have been trained now to sit through these comic book movies, waiting for an extra scene that’ll give us a clue or Easter Egg as to what’s to come in the sequel.  Sometimes it’s a clear message as we’d first seen in Iron Man, seeing Nick Fury show up to talk about The Avengers Initiative; but sometimes you need to be a lifelong comic book reader to understand, like when they showed the teaser at the end of Days of Future Past.  I have to admit, I was a bit lost until I scoured the internet to find out what that scene (a weird-looking blue guy obviously using some colossal power to build the pyramids in Egypt) meant and how it would play out.  X-Men: Apocalypse eloquently continues that after-credits stinger seamlessly and answers the question right from the get-go.

Even though Bryan Singer, along with Fox and their execs, are utilizing these new actors and actresses as they take the franchise back and through earlier timelines, this new film loses that feel of the two previous films—First Class and Days of Future Past—going right back to the feel of the very first two outings.  Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it just seems like Singer wants to make sure this is his baby and that he’s back on it for the long haul.

Let’s discuss the characters, with the new mutants first.

Apocalypse is the new baddie, as I’d mentioned in the synopsis.  He’s an all-powerful mutant who is unstoppable and thinks of himself as a god, able to kill anyone and everyone he sees and can give more power to any mutant he chooses.  Now this is how writers can trap themselves, because I’d noticed that, yes, he kills a lot of people—some in very horrible, yet, cool ways—with simply a thought to do whatever.  But why is it that he doesn’t use such powers when he can?  Like, say for instance, when he comes across the mutants as they stand up to him…why doesn’t he tear them apart with a simple thought?  But I do like some of the powers he uses, like when he changes the molecular composition of rock to liquid form and have it swallow someone up, changing it back to rock.  Sometimes he uses that power to put someone in, head first, so they’re obviously going to die a horrible death, suffocating inside a rock.  Overall, I just felt he was a bit inconsistent as the main heavy.

Psylocke is a character we haven’t seen before within the films of the franchise and she looked to be pulled right out of the pages of the comic books.  Her throwback outfit kept my attention—in more ways than one—and Olivia Munn’s portrayal was impressive.  Not being too familiar with the X-Men comic book run, I hadn’t really heard of the character, but the simplistic representation of how she’s able to form some sort of lightsaberish sword from her hand was pretty awesome.  I’m looking forward to seeing this character in further X-Men films.

The character of Jubilee (Lana Condor) is featured throughout this movie, almost as a background character, but never establishing what her powers are.  In fact, I had to go online to look up what they actually are and they’re actually pretty cool.  I guess she’s able to generate bright bursts of energy from her hands, mentally controlling them to strike out at varying levels of power.  Why Bryan Singer chose not to depict that in the movie and elected, instead, to just present her as a background character seemed a bit off.  Hopefully we get to see the character’s full potential in later films.

Now, for the characters that we’ve seen before as adults, but showcased here as younger versions, were rather notable.

Sophie Turner plays the younger version of Jean Grey and I really can’t fault her performance because she played the part very well.  However, the casting of the actress had me a bit troubled.  As the scene played out where we first meet her in this film, I had no idea who she was.  Watching this strawberry redhead with blue-green eyes walk into the scene, I’d just thought she was some new mutant we haven’t seen before.  Knowing that Famke Janssen played the adult Jean Grey in the original three films (as well as a cameo in Days of Future Past), I was familiar with her features, namely the brown eyes.  It just takes me out of the movie a bit when the filmmakers are trying to convey to the audience that this young girl is the same character.  I don’t know…maybe I’m a bit picky in that regard.  But her character is developed quite well at the beginning and radiantly (literally) at the climax. 

Although there was a younger version of Scott Summers in the ill-begotten X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the origin of the character was given to us a little better and more logically in this film.  I have noticed the actor in this film, Tye Sheridan, in a few other movies before seeing him here.  He had played a wonderful part in a small indie film, Joe, with Nicolas Cage and I knew this kid was going places.  He had a lot of heart playing the young Cyclops here and it was very believable he’d grow to be the confident older version we’d seen in the original films.  Sheridan filled Marsden’s shoes convincingly and the franchise is in good hands with this young man.

One big character in the X-Men comics, and one who’d made a big splash in the film franchise when he made his debut in X2, is the character of Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler.  Though Alan Cumming had done a terrific job bringing the mutant to life—and I don’t know why he hadn’t come back for the Last Stand sequel (that was a HUGE letdown, Fox), Kodi Smit-McPhee was equally as impressive as the adolescent version of the character here in X-Men: Apocalypse.  Able to nail down the German accent and mannerisms already established, Smit-McPhee seemed a little wasted here and I wish they would’ve taken advantage of him more in the story.  He did have a few amusing stolen scenes (like smiling for the ID photo), but for the most part, he’d just remained a background mutant.

A big upgrade to the character of Ororo Munroe/Storm came from the performance of Alexandria Shipp as she performed the younger version of the character we associate so well as being played by Halle Berry.  Though Berry gave it the best she could with the material she had to work with, Shipp tripled that effort with adapting the look the character has in the comics and working well in the situations she was given.  With the original set of movies, Berry was criticized for trying to keep up a weird accent in the first film and losing it in the following films.  However, Alexandria Shipp presented her accent perfectly and seemed to use the power of Storm to great effect.  She seemed a lot more useful to the story given here, more so than during every one of the other movies Berry had been featured in.

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender return to form powerfully, with Fassbender giving us a little more depth with Magneto than we’d ever seen before.  As with the First Class film, his character is driven because of similar circumstances and he really hammers it home here.  Yet, during some of the story, especially within the third act, he seemed useless and it’s questionable as to what he’s doing exactly in some scenes.  I don’t think it gives much away, but during a good portion of the climax, he spends a lot of time floating within a sphere of metal debris, not saying or doing much, but seemingly meditating as he waits for the battle to conclude.

Also returning is Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult as Mystique and Beast respectively.  I don’t know what to think about the saga of Mystique, as we all know she’ll become this weird villain that sticks to Magneto’s side, yet in films leading up to this one, she kind of goes back and forth.  In First Class, it seemed she was good until she decided to side with Magneto at the end of the film.  When it came to Days of Future Past, she appeared to be the baddie throughout the movie until she developed a conscience when it ended.  Now, she’s back to being the goodie-goodie mutant, not seeming as if she’ll ever turn bad.  Some people have expressed an interest in having a Mystique standalone movie, but I think that’d be boring…if she wasn’t in this movie, I wouldn’t have missed her.

Alex Summers/Havoc (Lucas Till) is back to introduce his little brother to the group and remains a sidekick to Professor X throughout the beginning of this film, not doing much else until a pivotal part of the movie…there’s not much more I can say about Till’s performance.  Maybe we can really see his range in the film, Monster Truck, when it’s released.

Another rebooted character, Angel, is played by Ben Hardy and he doesn’t do much but play second (or third or fourth) fiddle to Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s a pretty cool character, especially after getting his armor from the main villain, but he just remains a contextual character with a few battle scenes here and there.  Just like Psylocke, however, I hope to see more of him in future films.

I guess that just leaves the standout of the movie, just as he had been in Days of Future Past—Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters).  Although the scene he’s featured in here in this film is a lot like the one in the previous film, it’s both powerful and comedic as he saves the day.  But his interactions with the other mutants is wonderful and with quite a bit of chemistry as he seems to mesh with the other characters brilliantly.  Peters has very good comic timing and adds a lot to this film.

So, the direction, as I’d mentioned, is not bad.  Bryan Singer is a very good director, establishing himself as a go-to man for superhero films such as this.  Though he’d missed the mark when trying his hand in the Superman franchise, I’d hazard a guess it was not all his misdoings.  He seems to be trying to right all the wrongs fans have complained about since he’d started his career within the X-Men series, so I really can’t fault him for that, nor can I say he’s not a good director.  However, it was nice to see a fresh take in the X-Men mythos when Matthew Vaughn took over the directing reigns when he had helmed First Class which seemed to help out Singer when it overlapped into Days of Future Past.  I’d say if Fox wants to save the Fantastic Four franchise and not let Marvel have the rights back, they should probably let Bryan Singer take over and direct (or produce) a reboot.

The special effects, at times, were a bit extreme and didn’t seem realistic, sometimes going balls-out with too much CGI.  Most of the time, however, it looked awesome and blended well with the actors during a lot of the action scenes.  The scenes, especially, during Quicksilver’s heroics at the mansion were spectacular and really gave the audience an idea as to how fast this character can take his powers.  All in all, the effects have improved throughout these films.

If there’s a complaint that I could make, it’s that the third act seems to play out too easily, that the battle concludes without a hitch.  Also, and I don’t think this spoils anything if you’ve seen the final trailer to this film, the cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine seemed unneeded.  Bryan Singer went on the record to say that the scene is pivotal to all the X-Men films and I really don’t see what he’s talking about.  It seemed like a cheap way to get Wolverine fans excited as a way to get more tickets sold for the movie.  Don’t get me wrong…the scene was cool and I loved it, but don’t tell me there was something essential about that cameo, Singer.

So, my final “bit” on X-Men: Apocalypse?

Throughout the X-Men canon of films, there have been ups and downs, whether it was a standalone movie or one of the sequels.  What we have here is one of the ups, definitely, but there have been better ones in the inventory of X-Men flicks.  Days of Future Past has set the bar so high, I don’t know if Fox could ever get better than that…it’s possible, but I don’t see it.  Apocalypse is certainly up there in entertainment and I look forward to whatever they do next.  I wouldn’t mind seeing this one again and I highly recommend it.  Now…bring on WOLVERINE 3!!! 

As a post script, and it goes without saying, but there’s an after-credits scene.  As a forewarning, you have to be an X-Men comic book fan to understand it.  As passionate as I am about comic books, this was something I knew nothing about until I researched it online when returning home.  So don’t expect a Hugh Jackman scene or something so easily understandable…it’s a scene for the diehards and it sounds big as it seems to be setting up a bigger villain for the next movie.