Split Shines

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan” is a phrase that’s been associated with several cinematic disasters. The less said about the likes of Avatar, The Happening, After Earth and The Lady in the Water have all been savaged by the critics & fans alike. A roll of dishonour! It wasn’t until The Visit (2015) that his slow climb back up to redemption started. Split is the latest release by the eccentric director, will this movie prove that Shyamalan has still got it, or if The Visit was just a one off?

Split, as the name suggests, is about Kevin (James McAvoy), a person with split personalities, 23 of them to be exact! Kevin abducts 3 girls, and it’s via his interactions with his therapist, that we come to find out the sinister workings of our conflicted figure.

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McAvoy is by far the strongest aspect of the film, and does an outstanding job in portraying his various alter egos. Obviously the movie doesn’t show all 23 egos in the film, but the ones that do get screen time are wonderfully unique in their own way. We have ‘Dennis’, the intimidating alpha male, ‘Ms Patricia’, the caring mother, ‘Hedwig’, the immature 9 year old boy & ‘Barry’, the colourful fashion designer. It’s not just the simple costume changes that convey each character, but the body language and mannerisms that McAvoy manages to assign each persona. It’s a great shame the film missed out on the Oscar nominations for this year.

The supporting cast is a mixed bag, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) our main protagonist, and the wisest of the three kidnapped girls, does a solid job as the calm, collected, yet emotionally scarred heroine. As her past is slowly revealed, you do feel for her, and care for her survival. Her other two friends though, feel disposable, and their lack of smarts pretty much makes them forgettable. Betty Buckley as Dr Fletcher makes a challenging foil to Kevin, it’s her interactions with our psychotic kidnapper that really opens up the clashes within his mind.

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The film is essentially told in 3 segments. Kevin, Dr Fletcher and the girls.  The scenes with Kevin & Dr Fletcher are the most intriguing, and provide the best parts of the movie. It’s the scenes featuring the trapped girls, where the film tends to fall into the horror cliches. It’s pretty predictable what will happen to them in their scenes, and slows the movie down a lot.

Split is by far the best movie that Shyamalan has released in well over a decade, after a string of disasters; it’s relieving to see a throwback to his earlier movies, such as Signs, Unbreakable & The 6th Sense, when his directing was more visionary than sporadic. Split builds up the suspense in is tremendous ways, and this is mostly due to the charisma of McAvoy, the plot does well to weave in the multiple personalities, but the ending is quite hit & miss. It’s not as dramatic as The 6th Sense, the finale is a lot more subtle. I can see viewers either loving the ending, or being disappointed by it. Long term fans of Shyamalan will be delighted by the cameo at the end, so stay seated after the final scenes!

January hasn’t been a stellar month for releases over here in the UK, and Split isn’t the perfect movie, but it is by far the best film to hit our shores at the start of this year!

‘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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