Dark Phoenix ★★☆☆☆

It’s been a long and ardours journey, but the latest instalment of the X-men saga has arrived. With the Disney merging fast approaching, can the franchise sign off in blaze of glory? Picking up 10 years after the events of Apocalypse our heroes find out there’s a threat much closer to home than they expected.

Directed by Simon Kinberg

Starring Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender,Nicholas Hoult


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Passengers : Style over Substance

Fortunately, we have seen a revival of good space ferrying films, some of my favorites of recent years have been Interstellar and The Martian, so I was highly anticipating watching Passengers with the cross genre between Romance and Science Fiction.

Set on the self-navigated spaceship Avalon, 5000 people are travelling in hibernation pods to start a new life on the colony Homebound 2. The trip should take 120 years but due to an unexplained jolt in space, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and then Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) are awoken 30 years too early. The story revolves around Jim and Aurora accepting their 90-year journey together forming a deep and meaningful bond. However, not all is quite what is seems when a series of supposed malfunctions put the lives of the 5000 unconscious human beings under threat, and it’s up to the only human passengers, Jim and Aurora to save the day. There is a short guest appearance from Laurence Fishburne which keeps the film ticking along, but the most notable performance goes to the Android bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen).

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The overall premise of the film is compelling, but the first 30 minutes of the film is a disappointment mostly due to Chris Pratt’s lacklustre performance, as he tries desperately to illustrate the highs and lows of living alone. From waking from his chamber, Jim tries to make the most of his unfortunate circumstances and turns his attention to the delights of the ship including holographic dance offs to indoor space basketball. This quickly dissipates into Jim becoming depressed knowing he would never speak to another human being again. It reminded me a little of the loneliness portrayed by Tom Hanks in Castaway, a forlorn soul longing for human contact becoming more disheveled in appearance as the days go on. However, Chris Pratt is no Tom Hanks nor can he shine in stand alone scenes.

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The story becomes a lot more watchable when Aurora steps into the picture. Jennifer Lawrence stuns in every film, not only visually, but her wit, charisma and has a good backstory to her character. As a writer, Aurora start to narrate the story of her life on board the starship, telling the viewers she wanted to travel to Homebound 2 to be the only writer  on ‘overrated Earth’ to share the experiences of colonist life. Her character has purpose, momentum and sass, in stark comparison to Jim’s weak performance and lack of character development. There is some chemistry between the two main leads, but you quickly feel that the plot was designed to showcase two beautiful individuals on screen together.

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The saving grace of this film is the android bartender Arthur. Michael Sheen effortlessly conveys a witty and heartfelt performance still maintaining mechanical expressions, which is a difficult feat in itself. Even Michael Sheen said it was hard to ’make drinks and not look down’. I especially loved how Arthur had a human body and electronic legs to remind the audience that Arthur is a part of the Ship and Jim and Aurora are really alone.  The film also uses Arthur as prop to become a sounding board to the main characters, which allows the film to explore the depths and questionable ethics the characters must face, being the only conscious human beings in space.

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Overall this film fails to be a cutting edge science fiction debut or memorable romantic comedy. I think the film’s greatest strength was the notion that perhaps one day that we will be able to travel in space cryogenic-ally frozen, but for now as the film likes to remind us, that we are simply passengers on this journey, and its far better to be happy to accept our surrounding than long for a life that’s unobtainable. Would I see this film again, no, but if you want to sit and watch two beautiful stars for 2 hours then by all means watch this film.

 

‘X-Men : Apocalypse’ Review

The X-Men series has been on a long road to recovery. The Last Stand was an underwhelming ending to the original trilogy. Since then, the success of ‘’First Class’’ & ‘’Days of Future Past’’ have seen the fortunes of the franchises improve, the latest chapter to the saga looks to seal the revival.

Apocalypse picks up following the events of DOFP. Magneto is trying to reintegrate into a normal human life secluded away in Europe. Mistique is now seen as a hero to many mutants, and Professor X’s school is up and running.

The story follows the return of Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). The ‘’original’ mutant, dating back to the Egyptians.

Following Civil War, this is another ensemble cast, with various characters getting show time.  The lead duo of McAVoy and Fassbender are fantastic as they have proven before. The chemistry between to two works well, and they have become a capable replacement for Stewart & McKellen from the original trilogy.  This film also sees characters such as Cyclops (Tye Sherian), Jean Grey (Sophia Turner) & Storm  (Alexander Shipp) all get recast.  This gives all the characters a second chance, one which Cyclops most definitely needed.  The supposed leader of the X-men played second fiddle in his previous incarnation.  Quicksilver once again returns, and his cameo is even better than his set piece from DOFP. Nightcrawler’s (Kodi Smit-McPhee) addition also worked really well, and provided moments of comic relief, especially his interaction with the fellow young X-Men students.

The main part of the plot was that Apocalypse will recruit 4 warriors, he so called ‘4 horseman of the Apocalypse’ to be by his side during his reign.  It’s here where the film loses some of its edge. Apart from Magneto, the rest don’t really have a serious agenda. Storm,  & Angel all seem unnecessary, and compared to Magneto, a real step down. They spend most of the film posing by the side of Apocalypse. The main antagonist himself is a bit one dimensional, he is just evil for the sake of being evil. No real reason to why to wants to rule the world.  The role of Mistique is also a bit perplexing; it looks like they forced Mystique into being one of the main characters, solely down to Jennifer Lawrence’s name. Her attempt to lead the X-men feels much like her character in The Hunger Games!

Overall Apocalypse is a thoroughly entertaining film, the set pieces are amazing, the characters are mostly well done, and there are several humorous moments. The cameo from a certain X-Men was good to see, although it was spoiled in the trailers! If your after a great popcorn flick, this certainly delivers.

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