Blind Spot Series 2017 Rankings

6

So, another year gone, another twelve movies crossed off of my Blind Spot list. For the most part, I had particularly good movies this year. For the most part…

Anyway, as always, I decided to rank them all here.

12. Deliverance (1972)

Well. This. Fuck this movie. I will say it again, fuck this movie. Yep, totally hated it. I am sure you all remember the Shitfest-worthy meltdown I had about this. If you don’t, you are more than welcome to head on back to the review linked above to see how I raged. Ugh…

11. Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Certainly not an underrated gem as I was led to believe, I was so amped to finally watch this gangster movie and was totally let down by it. What a waste of nearly four hours of my life!

10. Cronos (1993)

While I am always up for Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish works, this one was not nearly as great as I was hoping it would be. It was not a bad movie by a long shot, but it does not stand equal to The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth.

9. The Road (2009)

Dark, depressing, apocalyptic, The Road definitely paints a super depressing, far more realistic apocalyptic future than these movies usually portray. Viggo Mortensen is exellent, and Kodi Smit-McPhee also holds his own in the bleak movie. Worth the watch!

8. Say Anything (1989)

So pleased to have seen this –  it is one of those movies that is referenced all over the show, and I have never really known how it all fit in. Man, Lloyd Dobler is absolutely adorable and the boombox over the head scene finally makes sense now. Say Anything is sweet, but not to soppy your stomach churns. Enjoyed this one!

7. The Help (2011)

Okay, so right off the bat, this is not unpredictable, but that doesn’t make it bad. The Help is rather formulaic, and shies away from some of the sick history it is steeped in, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t find other ways to run home the story. There are terribly sad moments, moments that will make you mad, and some great sections with some fantastic humour, and the movie has heart. The cast, too, definitely sold this one.

6. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, but I really liked this one. I thought it was funny and shot really well and rather strange, but it all worked. I would like to rewatch it and see if it holds up as well. I must admit, this is where I finally understood Tom Hiddleston’s appeal to the world – before he was just a decent actor. After this? Impressed. Plus I liked the humour in this. So deadpan. Swinton and Hiddleston make this a treat.

5. The Orphanage (2007)

Another one of those cult classic type movies I have vowed for years to get to and just never did, 2017 was the year that changed. The Orphanage is haunting, sad, beautiful and creepy, and has a solid story as a strong psychological aspect to it, making it a movie that gets under your skin and lingers long after, not just a typical, generic horror movie at all.

4. JFK (1991)

Conspiracy theories galore! Naturally this was totally going to be my cup of tea, and it totally was. There were some solid performances and I was particularly interested in how Stone would set out his case for JFK’s assassination. While I feel that it was heavy handed in forcing his interpretation of events down the viewer’s throat, if you watch this as a theory and not as the gospel of the answers to JFK’s assassination, you are in for a good time. Great starting point for those not too familiar with the intricacies of the infamous case.

3. City of God (2002)

I can see why this movie is so popular – it is so not an easy watch, but it is engaging, gritty, violent, realistic, and truly gets you thinking. It tells a super solid story and it draws you in, getting you invested in some characters from this nasty slum. It is depressing and yet completely enthralling, something I can see myself revisiting.

2. Rear Window (1954)

James Stewart man, what an actor. The man is amazing, and with Grace Kelly at his side, the duo was bound to impress. Hitchcock, too, weaves a tense one-room story, which is carried and fleshed out completely by a talented cast. The tension is palpable, the story is smart and engaging, and the pacing is just right. Rear Window is a well-crafted movie and definitely worth the time.

1. Atonement (2007)

Ah, Atonement. Where do we even start? My goodness, what a watch. While it is not completely perfect or shocking, and it is predictable in places, it is handled so well and is shot brilliantly – truly, what beautiful shots. James McAvoy is absolutely perfect here, sweeping us all up so completely in Robbie. Keira Knightley, too,  managed to not work on my last nerve. The two work together well, and Atonement tells one hell of a story, a journey I both loved and resented in equal measure. I thought it was told so well, and some details were handled with such aplomb. What a movie, though certainly not a light, easy watch.

Review: Split (2016)

6

“You like to make fun of us, but we are more powerful than you think.”
– Dennis

SYNOPSIS: Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th. – via IMDB

This is something I wanted to check out for a multitude of reasons. The front-runner being McAvoy, let’s not play, but another being that it seems M Night Shyamalan is making a tentative comeback. Apparently. I still need to see The Visit, though I have started watching Wayward Pines, which I see he has a hand in (UPDATE: it’s gone horribly wrong, unfortunately). Anyway, the only thing I knew about this is that McAvoy plays a character who suffers from Disassociative Identity Disorder.

Well, right off the top of my head, McAvoy is, unsurprisingly, great here. Really. When he gets to sink his teeth into bizarre roles, he really shines. He can pretty much play it all, and he is without a doubt the part of this film that keeps it truly engaging, seeing as the entire movie depends on his portrayal and his role. Each one of his personalities was distinctly different from the last, from speech to mannerisms and body language. I really liked that. Ana Taylor-Joy is also very good here, and I thoroughly enjoyed her. I liked her character, and thought she and McAvoy played off each other quite well, and she held her own really well, making her more than just the kidnapped girl on the side. Betty Buckley, too, was quite good, though you really need to question how she did not investigate more thoroughly what was going on when certain personalities/alters were evidently desperate for her help.

Anyway, a lot of people had a lot more to say about this than I am going to. I liked the way it was done, and thought the pacing was good, because the story gets rolling pretty quickly, and then gives you all that time to watch McAvoy splinter and Casey fight for survival, trying to be cunning and escape unharmed, who constantly has us wondering about her past, which we get these flashbacks for throughout, delivered at exactly the right moments. Man, what a messed up story! This movie really is all about the characters, and I feel that they were balanced quite well.

Anyway, Split handles itself well, and is carried by solid performances from McAvoy and Taylor-Joy. It is engrossing, and truly draws you into this bizarre story and crazy world, and Shyamalan style presents many twists and turns, some you see coming/guess at, and others you don’t. Split is quite silly in a lot of aspects, and yet manages to present itself as quite serious. It blends the ludicrous and heaviness rather well. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

February Blind Spot Review: Atonement (2007)

6

atonement-poster

“I don’t know how I could’ve been so ignorant about myself… so… so stupid. And you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You knew before I did.”
– Cecilia Tallis

SYNOPSIS: Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit. – via IMDB

atonement-the-library

GRADE 8.5I have been meaning to watch Atonement for years, and for all sorts of reasons, I never got to it, hence I thought it would be a great addition to my 2017 Blind Spot list. Man, oh man, this movie. My heart! Goodness, there is so much to talk about it, so I suppose I best order my thoughts and try to convey what I felt about this in some form of coherent review. That, and a gif overload. I can’t help it, the movie was beautiful to look at.

James McAvoy is an actor I would watch in anything, and not just for science. The man is ridiculously talented, and this was just another example of how phenomenal he is when he sets his mind to something. I was so taken with his character Robbie. I adored him. I mean wow. Then, opposite him, is Keira Knightley. She is one of those actresses that irrationally annoy the crap out of me (again, thanks for that one Abbi). I don’t know – she’s not a bad actress, but she grates on my last nerve every single time, without fail. Not in Atonement. In fact, I thought she was very well suited to the role.  Knightley and McAvoy have great chemistry and fit together really well, and you are drawn in from the off to see if class was going to be set aside for them to be together. Just watching them was an experience on its own!

atonement-hands

The rest of the cast was incredibly good, too. Saoirse Ronan was excellent as the young Briony Tallis, and demonstrated that even as a young actress, she is a gifted, capable performer. I thought her subsequent counterparts to depict her while ageing were great, as both Ramola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave convincingly looked like her. Benedict Cumberbatch, another actor I adore, made my stomach turn completely here. I mean ick, ick, ick. I knew he was up to no good, but holy crapsticks, you nasty, despicable man! I found it pretty creepy that Juno Temple again played a character that got some nasties done to her by an older man (hem hem Killer Joe).

Anyway, Atonement was truly a heartbreaking story. I felt like the entire world was dark and doomed by the end of it, but I liked it. It was a bit predictable – I wasn’t ever actually shocked, but I was so invested in the outcome, even when I knew how it was supposed to go. That being said, it still had moments to shock you endlessly. The pacing is great because it gets you, and it gets you quickly. Then this story unfolds, flicking between the observations of a child who does not understand what she is seeing, to the actual events taking place. The difference between the two is amazing, and was used perfectly to point out that you don’t always know what you are looking at, and shouldn’t  jump to conclusions.

atonement-typewriter

I thought that visually, the movie was simply stunning. My word, it was shot well, and was a feast for the eyes, pretty much from the opening scene. So many things came together, and besides the performances and score, you could not overlook the specific shots that came together throughout the movie. There were so many scenes that captured such beauty, but I will just show a few here.

Let’s start with Robbie in the flower fields, it was so peaceful and serene.

atonement-robbie-flowers

There was the scene with the water bursting into the tunnels, with everything breaking and the newspaper flying out.

atonement-water

I was particularly fond of the ferris wheel. Everything about this scene just worked, especially with the sun shining through, the bandstand with the soldiers singing, and the smoke rising in the background. So much just came together to give us this.

atonement-ferris-wheel-smaller

Another aspect that just worked was the score. The music set the tone, it did, and I particularly enjoyed the sound of the typewriter keys thwacking away being used to create a score, too. It was original, and so suited for the movie. It was great.

Anyway, as I am sure you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Atonement, and did not feel that the predictability of it hurt it at all. A visual feast to behold, with a love story that will make your heart ache and amazing chemistry between Robbie and Cecilia, I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie. Just know that it is a heavy watch, but worth every moment of your time, even if it feels like the world is never really going to be okay again.

Rapid Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

27

x men apocalupse poster

“Everything they’ve built will fall! And from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one!”
– Apocalypse

SYNOPSIS: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan. – via IMDB

x men apocalypse not all of us can control our powers

GRADE 7Yes! I finally went to see this. My husband wasn’t thrilled (he loves going to the cinema), but he knew it is one of the few superhero movies I will insist on seeing in the cinema. Screw that, any new movie in this franchise will have me tripping out, no matter how many installments. I know, it sounds mad. I think the reviews have been unjustly harsh towards X-Men: Apocalypse, though it is by no means a perfect movie. It definitely doesn’t have the wow factor of Days of Future Past, and the plot is a little messy (okay, maybe a dash more than a little), and there were some holes, and the pacing was a bit off. The villain, Apocalypse, was also quite disappointing in the long run. As much as I like Oscar Isaac, this was really not good. There was so much more that could have been done with this character! His rising and the X-Men battling him was so rushed and quick, his true power and danger is never really realised, which is a pity. Besides that, the cast is, as is to be expected, excellent. McAvoy is a fantastic Charles, and Fassbender, of course, delivers as the tortured Erik. I wish that the two of them had been given more screen time, if I am being honest, but I loved them when they were there. Also, Nicholas Hoult could have done with more screen time, too. Okay, I think one of the large flaws of the film is that there are a ton of characters, and none are really done any real justice. Evan Peters returns and owns as Quicksilver, which I loved. I must say though, his hit scene from DOFP was recreated here, and as entertaining as it was, it wasn’t perfect like the last one, and didn’t thrill me as much. It also felt squished in, like it was expected. Fun, but a little off. Sophie Turner really impressed me as Jean Grey (and trust me, this was something I was extremely leery about), and Tye Sheridan’s Scott Summers didn’t manage to peeve me endlessly, which in and of itself is a feat. Last but not least, I want to talk about how awesome Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler is. I was so stoked to see the Nightcrawler return, and to see him get such a large role was fantastic. Happy as can be! Look, he is no Alan Cumming, but he was still wonderful, and I am hoping to see more of him in future movies. Also, a young Storm? Yay! Yes, I had a total ball with all these things. I actually think this film is going to appeal more to people who love the X-Men franchise, and not necessarily newcomers. That being said, I enjoyed the story, but didn’t love it, it was flawed, but a fun film, the effects were good, but there were issues, but I would definitely recommend it for a watch. I really am such a fan of going back to see how the X-Men formed, how the relationships were, how everything was before, and I really think a great job is being done with that. I am going to stop now, before this review gets excessively long.

Sporadic Scene: X-Men: First Class (2011) – Wolverine’s Cameo

21

I was so stoked about X-Men: First Class. I mean really. There were just way too many things that were going for it for it to bomb, so there was that. It was also nice to have a less Wolverine-centric movie than we have seen in a while, though I must admit that the Wolverine certainly had a cameo that was just perfect on so many levels.

If you have a scene that you would like featured, drop me a mail at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com with a picture/gif/video of the scene and an explanation as to why (should you want to include it).

Review: Wanted (2008)

28

wanted poster

“Six weeks ago I was ordinary and pathetic. Just like you. Who am I now?”
– Wesley

Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is a depressed guy who is on some serious medication for the panic attacks he is always suffering and working in a dead end job. His girlfriend Cathy (Kristen Hager) is sleeping with his best friend Barry (Chris Pratt), and both of them think he does not know this. He stays in a crappy apartment and his life is just an incessant loop of the same stuff, over and over again. One day, though, Wesley’s life takes a massive change. While collecting his anxiety medication, he meets a beautiful woman named Fox (Angeline Jolie), who tells him that his father was killed on a rooftop by the assassin Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), and that he has pitched to finish the job with Wesley. Naturally, he rejects this story seeing as he never knew his father, but is involved in a heavy shootout. Escaping Cross, Fox takes Wesley to her boss, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), who explains to him that they are a secret society of assassins known as the Fraternity. Wesley is told to shoot the wings off a fly, and he scoffs at the idea. He is told his panic attacks are not anxiety, but instead it is his heart rate speeding up and adrenaline kicking in, giving him superhuman abilities when it kicks in.

wanted gif

“Your father was one of the greatest assassins who ever lived.” – Fox

Wesley leaves the Fraternity, convinced they have lost the plot, but the next morning his bank account reflects that it is not a dream, as well as the gun he finds in his apartment that belonged to his father. At work, he disses his boss to her face and ends his “friendship” with Barry, walking out and meeting Fox, who seems to have known that today he would feel differently about the Fraternity’s proposition. They return to the textile mill that serves as headquarters, and Wesley makes it clear that he would like to begin training to officially follow in his deceased father’s footsteps and  join the Fraternity. Sloan shows Wesley the Loom of Fate, the place where the Fraternity gets its kill orders. Wesley is unhappy that their “orders” come from some unknown place from some crazy loom. He fails his first mission, unable to kill his target, and Fox explains to him why they do what they do.

wanted loom of fate

“Our purpose is to maintain stability in an unstable world – kill one, save a thousand. Within the fabric of this world, every life hangs by a thread. We are that thread – a fraternity of assassins with the weapons of fate.” – Sloan

Soon Wesley is a functioning part of the Fraternity, always waiting for his kill order on Cross, which never seems to come, which is frustrating him more and more. After recovering his father’s gun from his apartment that his ex-girlfriend is staying in with Barry now, it seems that Fox and Wesley are a little more romantically connected than was previously shown too much. Leaving the apartment, Wesley comes across Cross, whom he chases down. The hunt is brutal, and carnage is left in their wake. Losing members of the Fraternity is difficult, and Wesley feels responsible. When he comes across Cross, things change when he shares something with Wesley that completely changes the way he perceives everything.

wanted training

“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing when you have the blood of a killer flowing in your veins.” – Sloan

What is the truth? Is Cross lying, or is Sloan lying? Cross seems to have more corroborating evidence, but it goes against everything Wesley has learned. How is Fox involved? Does she know the truth? What is Sloan playing at, or is Cross just that successful at manipulating other people? Will Wesley kill Cross? Will Wesley return to the Fraternity with his newfound knowledge? Will Wesley continue on with his new life?

wanted fox and sloan

“What did he do to deserve to die? You don’t know. I didn’t know if he was bad. I didn’t know if he was evil. I didn’t know anything about him. We get orders from a loom; fate.” – Wesley

GRADE 7Definitely not the flick to watch if you are looking for something serious and dramatic, but totally up your alley if you want something fun and action packed, relatively well put together and entertaining. Wanted was something I saw years ago and have been meaning to revisit, if not for McAvoy alone then surely for the curving bullets, and finally got around to it after throwing my hands up in exasperation in the midst of studying when I got the the place of what I didn’t know then I was never going to know. This movie proved to be exactly what I needed. It possessed humour, though not overkill, it didn’t take itself awfully seriously (which could potentially have killed the whole vibe this worked for), and it isn’t long. The effects are pretty damn good, and the transformation we witness in Wesley after he discovers more about his past is awesome. He actually grows a spine, and that rocks! Angelina Jolie was very good in her role as Fox, I liked her a lot. McAvoy was pretty good, nothing to really fault there, though I must say I prefer his more in depth and intense roles (think Filth), but he delivered here nonetheless. Ever entertaining, Mr McAvoy – he can play just about anything across the board. The training that Wesley underwent was the only time that things teetered on the edge of getting boring though, there were a few scenes that just repeated themselves, but that was luckily saved due to everything moving along very quickly, and the movie being short. The plot twist also worked for what was coming, changing the dynamic of the movie. It is fast paced and filled with plenty of pretty damn cool things going on onscreen from the get go. Just the film to watch when you just want something entertaining, not too heavy, not too serious, not too stupid, and that looks good (cast and camera) and has some really good, thrilling action moments.

Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

38

days of future past poster

“The future: a bleak desolate, place. Mutants and the humans who helped them, united in defeat by an enemy we could not stop. Is this the fate we have set for ourselves? Could we have done nothing to stop it?”
– Professor Charles Xavier

A dystopian future of bleak proportions play out the days of the remaining mutants. Made made Sentinels are tracking and hunting down the mutants. Mutants and people who attempted to help them have been captured, they are being butchered and hunted and murdered. Their race is nearing extinction. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) works with Bobby “Iceman” Drake (Shawn Ashmore), James “Warpath” Proudstar (Booboo Stewart), Peter “Colossus” Rasputin (Daniel Cudmore), Roberto “Sunspot” da Costa (Adan Canto), Clarice “Blink” Fergusen (Fan Bingbing), and Bishop (Omar Sy). They have been relatively successful at avoiding the Sentinels and their tracking beacons. They meet up with Charles “Professor X” Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr (Ian McKellan), Ororo Storm Monroe (Halle Berry), and Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Kitty is asked to send Charles’s consciousness back to the seventies, when Raven “Mystique” Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) killed Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage), setting this entire debacle in motion. Mystique’s DNA is also what has made the Sentinels so strong. Charles knows his body will not survive it, and Wolverine steps forwards. His body can heal quickly, and he decides that he will be the one that will have to do what he can to make it right.

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Wolverine-ad-Shadowcat

“Basically, your body will go to sleep while your mind travels back in time. Whatever you do won’t change anything, not until you wake up. And then everything will be different, and you’ll be the only one who knew what happened before.” – Kitty Pryde

Returning to the seventies, Logan visits Charles’s school, but finds it shut down. He runs into Hank “Beast” McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), and a fight ensues. Ultimately Logan gets to speak to Charles (James McAvoy), and is shocked to find him walking around, but it seems he is powerless. He is taking a serum created by Hank which allows him to walk but blocks his telepathic abilities. Logan cannot understand how and why Charles is such a shattered man, embittered, twisted, furious with the world. Ultimately Logan convinces Charles that he needs his help, and that his older self and Erik have sent him from the future. They need to get Erik (Michael Fassbender) to help, though he is imprisoned at the Pentagon. Enlisting the help of Peter “Quicksilver” Maximoff (Evan Peters), they break him out. Naturally he and Charles have got issues with each other, but they really need to find a way around them so as to work together to stop Raven, to prevent the ghastly future that Logan has come from. He also does not have a lot of time, seeing as the Sentinels are tracking them in the future, and if they find them there will be a problem.

days of future past charles and erik chess

“All those years wasted fighting each other, Charles.” – Erik Lehnsherr

Trask is having serious getting his Sentinel program approved, and it getting progressively angrier about it, as he perceives mutants to be a terrible threat. Tracking down Raven proves to be a bit of an issue, and nothing about their intervention goes even remotely as planned. Erik has a different idea about saving the future, and attempts to kill Raven after stopping her from killing Trask. Charles is angered, and Logan is losing his tether to this era and really needs to make it back to them. Trask has scraped some of Mystique’s blood off the pavement and is working with Major William Stryker (Josh Helman), but they need more DNA. The world witnessed the bloody fights in detail, and are terrified now that they know mutants exist. President Richard Nixon (Mark Camacho) calls for the execution of the Sentinel program. Mystique needs to recover after having barely escaped Erik’s intentions. Logan, Charles, Erik, and Beast need to find a way to fix what has happened, but they all seem to have other ideas about how they are going to go about it. Logan has to convince Charles to regain his abilities, to make a difference, though Charles seems to have no desire whatsoever of getting back on that track. Charles, meanwhile, is desperately struggling to get through to Raven, to express his apologies, to make things right.

days of future past trask stryker

“There is a new enemy out there: mutants. You need a new weapon for this war.” – Boliver Trask

Will Charles be able to salvage things between him and Raven? Will Erik always have the outlook on the world that he does? Will he and Charles find a way to work with each other? Will Logan be able to band them all together on time and have them change the past, to impact the future? Will Charles give up the use of his legs to harness the power of his mind? Will they be able to create an alternative future, one where mutants are not hunted and slaughtered, where they live in freedom? Will Mystique successfully kill Trask?

days of future past stopping

“Just because someone stumbles and loses their path, doesn’t mean they can’t be saved.” – Professor Charles Xavier

I must say that I was exceptionally impressed with this. This was a fine return to form for the franchise after that awful Wolverine film of last year. Hugh Jackman reprises his role of Wolverine and impressed me endlessly. Then there was the combination of bringing Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart back for their roles as the older Charles and Erik, and crossing that with the younger versions of themselves, portrayed by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. It was amazing to see the two separate generations combined in one film. The effects in this film were amazing and definitely assisted with the thrill ride. The dystopian future which the mutants find themselves in really is dreary and depressing. Seeing Charles and Erik united once more was something to see, always being the best of friends but always being on completely opposite sides. The performances were fantastic, and there was plenty of humour considering the serious subject matter, but that never stopped it from being intense. I really, really liked the plane scene, the reasons Erik and Charles both had, it was one hell of a scene. Evan Peters as Quicksilver is something that I really did not see coming. I adore Peters as an actor, he amazes me, and I was sure he was going to do the best with the material that he had. However, I had no idea that the material was going to be so great, and he was truly a showstealer every second he was on screen. The concept of the film was great, and wasn’t too intense to wrap your mind around. Seeing Charles in his confused state as his younger self was a difficult thing to watch. Angry, embittered and sour, McAvoy truly delivered in his role. Fassbender, too, impressed me endlessly as Erik, imprisoned and furious. The tension between the two was quite heavy, and McAvoy and Fassbender truly sold it. Wolverine was funnier in here than he has been recently, though I have no issues with seeing a serious and dramatic Logan, it seems that the fans only want the lighthearted man, cocky and sure of himself. Then there was the whole Sentinel story, which was exceptionally interesting, coming together extremely well. Lawrence delivered another solid performance as Mystique. Definitely worth hauling out your cash for and seeing in theatre, X-Men: Days of Future Past delivered far more than expected, delivering a solid film for the year!

Review: X-Men: First Class (2011)

23

first class poster

“Mutation. It is the key to our evolution. It is how we have evolved from a single-cell organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow, normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few millennia evolution leaps forward.” 
– Professor Charles Xavier

In a concentration camp in Germany, 1944, young Erik Lehnsherr (Bill Milner) is separated from his Jewish family. In a panic state, he reaches out to them and through some force pulls down the metal gates. Naturally, this piques the interest of Dr Klaus Schmidt (Kevin Bacon), who brings Erik in to study him. Ordering Erik to move a coin, he expects results. When nothing happens, he orders Erik’s mother to be shot before him, which gets the powers going, and he kills the guards and wrecks the room. Erik is a changed man. Back in the states, a young telepathic boy named Charles Xavier (Laurence Belcher) makes the acquaintance of another mutant, a shapeshifter, named Raven Darkhome (Morgan Lily). She moves in with the family and becomes his foster sister.

first class shaw and frost

“We are the children of the atom. Radiation gave birth to mutants. What will kill the humans will only make us stronger.” – Sebastian Shaw

In 1962, Erik (Michael Fassbender) has made it his life’s work to track down Schmidt and kill him for what he did to his mother. Charles (James McAvoy), on the other hand, has made quite the name for himself after having studied genetics. Raven is still with him, though the two seem to be slightly at odds about what mutation means to them. CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) is assigned to follow US Army Colonel Hendry (Glenn Morshower), where she sees him enter the Hellfire Club. There she sees him converse with Schmidt, now known as Sebastian Shaw. With Shaw are his partners, the telepathic Emma Frost (January Jones), teleporter Azazel (Jason Flemyng), and Riptide (Álex González), a mutant who can produce cyclones. He is teleported out of there, and advocates the deployment of nuclear missiles in Turkey. Nobody at the CIA believes Moira, and she decides to take matters into her own hands. She approaches Charles for his advice on mutation, and takes him and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with her to discuss matters with the CIA director John McCone (Matt Craven). It does not go the way that she was expecting, and he flips out. Another CIA agent (Oliver Platt), offers that they accompany him to “Division X”, a secret facility with mutants at the core. There they meet Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), a genius scientist.

first class

“I’ve been at the mercy of men just following orders. Never again.” – Erik Lehnsherr

Charles meets Erik when Shaw has been tracked down (Moira’s people have found him). It seems that Erik has also finally worked out the whereabouts of his nemesis. Charles manages to rescue Erik, who damn nears drowns when attempting to pull Shaw’s submarine out of the ocean. Together they head back to Division X, where Erik meets the team. Hank explains that he has developed a machine called Cerebro, one that cal locate other mutants. Charles uses this machine with his telepathic abilities and tracks down mutants. He and Erik set out across the country to recruit these mutants to join them. They discover Alex “Havok” Summers (Lucas Till), Sean “Banshee” Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones), Armando “Darwin” Muñoz (Edi Gathegi), Angel Salvadore (Zoë Kravitz). These kids all get together and seem to enjoy themselves, picking their mutant names and dubbing Charles “Professor X” and Erik “Magneto”. Erik sets out on a revenge mission to take down Shaw, with Charles and Moira coming along. However, Shaw is not at the designated meeting place in the USSR, and Erik flips out. Charles ultimately goes to help him, and there they capture Emma Frost. It seems that Shaw is intent on starting World War III. Returning to Division X, they find that the place has been wrecked, Riptide, Azazel, and Shaw had been there, killing everyone but the mutants. They were recruiting, and only Angel left with them. The kids are in shock. Erik gets them set on a path for vengeance, to avenge the death of Darwin, to make things right.

first class charles and erik playing chess

“Are you really so naive as to think that they won’t battle their own extinction? Or is it arrogance?” – Erik Lehnsherr

Shaw has managed to convince the USSR to install missiles in Cuba. Hank is sure that Raven’s DNA contains the cure for their appearances, and develops a cure. Erik, on the other hand, is advocating that they should be proud of being mutants, and encourages Raven to remain in her natural blue form. Charles has a mansion which he uses for them all to move to, somewhere where they can train, master their abilities. Will they be able to stop Shaw? Will Shaw succeed in starting World War III?

x-men-first-class-movie-photo-03

“There’s so much more to you than you know, not just pain and anger. There’s good in you too, and you can harness all that. You have a power that no one can match, not even me.” – Charles Xavier

An 8/10 for X-Men: First Class. This is really a favourite of mine, something I have fun with all the time. I think it was incredibly well put together and that a wonderful cast was chosen to represent the younger mutants we have come to know and love over the years. James McAvoy is a phenomenal younger Charles Xavier, and I cannot fault his performance. I liked how he managed to bring it though (especially watching him with Raven), that he was preaching something but not necessarily always practising it in his youth. He talks about being proud of being a mutant, but is always encouraging Raven to hide herself. McAvoy is an incredibly talented actor, and this was just another place he shone. Then there is Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr, and I thought that he was also just fantastic as a young, powerful and incredibly embittered man on a revenge mission of note. Kevin Bacon was entertaining as Shaw, and really was just an evil dude. I liked the effects of this movie, the back story for all the characters as well as who was cast to play them now. I liked the progression of the plot, it construed the story nicely and wasn’t too jumbled. I thoroughly enjoyed Hugh Jackman’s cameo as Wolverine in here, had me laughing. Watching Charles and Erik develop and begin their fantastic friendship was awesome. They were both at opposing ends in their beliefs, but friends down at the core of it all with an immense amount of respect for each other. Jennifer Lawrence is also a pretty cool younger Raven, and I thought she did that rather well, handling Raven’s confusion about being a mutant as well as where/how she fits in to society. A wonderful addition to the franchise, and definitely a much needed breath of fresh air.

Review: Filth (2013)

33

filth movie poster

“The games are always, repeat, always, being played but nobody plays the games like me, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, soon to be Detective Inspector Bruce Robertson.”
– Bruce Robertson

SYNOPSIS: A corrupt, junkie cop attempts to manipulate his way through a promotion in order to win back his wife and daughter while also fighting his own inner demons. – via IMDB

filth same rules apply

This perfectly sums up the movie (which is freaking fantastic):

filth is a lot of things

GRADE 8.5Now, I didn’t really have a clear idea as to what this was, just that someone was going to be taking a lot of coke. Everything indicates that. Then the story started unfolding, and it was nothing like I was expecting, but I was hooked. I can listen to James McAvoy go on for ages, he is just amazing, and this movie was no exception. He was enthralling and reprehensible at the same time but kept you guessing as to what was going on, the story with his wife as well as rooting for him despite the fact that he is a tool. The characters that surround him added to the story, and the events as they transpire are never boring. What starts as an incredibly entertaining comedy quickly gives way to darker humour, more serious, and then total anarchy of the mind, and the trip is totally worth taking with Bruce. As reprehensible as the man is, you sort of continue to root for him to get his life back together. I felt so sorry for Clifford Blades, he was so awkward and a genuinely decent person, and it was rough to see how things went with him and Bruce. I thought the story progression was very good, too, and I enjoyed the camera work. The film entertained me no end and had no dull moments and delivered exactly what the title would suggest. It was done very well though, and never actually had me squirming and uncomfortable, which says to me it wasn’t the way it was just to be disgusting, there was actually a point to it. I liked the performances all round, though the best for me was, undoubtedly, James McAvoy, though he is closely followed up by Eddie Marsan, whom I thought was perfectly cast. I cannot explain it to you, he just sold Clifford to you. I also liked the little plot twisty thing that came in later. I didn’t really expect it and I loved it! The score also worked exceptionally well for this film. I found this to be a fantastic movie and I would highly recommend this, though probably not for overly-sensitive viewers, it might be offensive. Had I seen this last year it would certainly have made my top ten film list!

Review: Trance (2013)

22

trance 2013 movie poster

“The memory is not destroyed, it is locked in a cage, and with enough force, enough violence, the lock can be broken. It comes back, the memory, not completely, not entirely, but enough to drive you, to make you feel you have been cheated, enough to make you angry.”
– Elizabeth

Simon Newton (James McAvoy) is an art auctioneer, trained to attempt to remove painting should a heist take place, though not to put his life on the line. His training is tested one day when a group of men break into the auction house and attempt to steal the painting. In the attempt to evacuate the painting, Simon runs into a man names Franck (Vincent Cassel) and attempts to stun him, which fails. Being savagely smacked on the head with a gun, Simon is out while Franck makes off with an expensive piece of art.

trance franck robbed

“No piece of art is worth a human life.” – Simon Newton

Simon wakes in the hospital, wanting to return home, but knowing that his life is screwed. Franck is looking for him, wanting to know why his inside man went through with another script. Franck is furious to find that the stolen piece of art is not in the canvas that Simon was trying to evacuate, and pays his colleague a visit. Tortured by Franck’s people, Simon continually claims that he has no knowledge of the whereabouts of the painting. Franck tells Simon to pick a hypnotist at random, desperate to discover the location of the painting, knowing that it is in Simon’s head somewhere. Simon chooses Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) and sets off to see her, wired to transmit his session back to Franck and his men.

?????????????

“I was really good, but not good enough. And not good enough really isn’t very good.” – Simon Newton

Elizabeth soon realizes that there is more going on than “lost keys” after she looks into Simon, and makes it clear in the next session that she wants to help him. She meets with Franck and his crew and together they work on a way to try and crack his mind. Many things are tested and failing. Franck and Elizabeth soon start a relationship, which will naturally complicate things as Elizabeth is building a rapport with Simon, and suggests to Franck that she start seeing him romantically and sleep with him in an attempt to lull him into a false sense of security as well as reveal the location of the painting. However, something seems strange, and the relationship between Simon and Elizabeth seems to go back more than just his most recent visit to her as a hypnotist, which others notice though Simon does not.

simon trance

“To be yourself you have to constantly remember yourself.” – Elizabeth Lamb

Will they be able to recover the secrets locked in Simon’s mind? Will Simon ever get over his paranoia that Franck is just going to get the location from Simon and then kill him? Will he ever let Elizabeth in, and love her completely? Will the painting reappear, and will Simon ever get his life back? Will anyone figure out who is double crossing who?

I would score Trance a 7/10. I enjoyed it, quite a bit, even with multiple viewings. The film kept you guessing, but not the deep “I really need to know immediately” kind of guessing. The film had times where you were not sure which scenes were dreams, which were trance, which were memories and which were reality, which actually worked really well, joinging you up with Simon. The premise was interesting, but something that could rapidly get boring (I mean seeing a hypnotherapist to recover a stolen painting without letting her know what you are looking for? How many times can you see her before it all goes faulty?), but it was never really allowed to get dull, which I really liked. However, there were times that the thread was lost. James McAvoy delivered a great performanc, and he impresses me more and more every time. The story tried to get too clever and complicated at a stage, which made the film suffer a little, but it was no dealbreaker. I did enjoy the look of things, and the camera work was great and the film looked beautiful. I liked how it flipped between states so effortlessly. It is not a bad watch and it takes you for a fun ride nevertheless. The film really catches up in a good way and is well worth a watch.