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June 14th, 2018 Movie – X-Men: Apocalypse

x-men apocalypse

Ever since the end of Days Of Future Past, I was curious what they were going to do with this movie. Then the trailers came out and I have to say that I was…..thoroughly unimpressed. Seriously, there was nothing really that compelled me to want to see this movie, and I have always been a fan of the X-Men. I mean, next to Magneto, Apocalypse is arguably the X-Men’s most dangerous villain so you would think that they would go all out for this but every commercial I saw left me feeling “meh”. So I opted out of seeing this in theaters and decided to just pick it up on video when it came out. Let’s see if that was a smart choice as I watch today’s movie, X-Men: Apocalypse.

The plot: in 3600 BC in the Nile Valley of Egypt, En Sabah Nur, the worlds first mutant, is entering a pyramid and performing a ritual where he transfers his powers and consciousness into the body of another mutant, one who has accelerated healing, to himself. As the sunlight activates the advanced technology in the pyramid, some of his guards betray him, unleashing giant stone blocks to take out the pyramid’s support columns while inside, some more guards seal the chamber and attempt to kill him. En Sabah Nur’s elite guard, the Four Horsemen, use their powers to protect him but they are all killed as the pyramid collapses and En Sabah Nur is buried underneath the rubble. In 1983 Ohio, Scott Summers is in class when his eyes start bothering him and he asks to be excused. Heading into the bathroom, he notices his eyes starting to glow red but quickly hide when another student comes in looking for him, thinking Scott was winking at his girlfriend. As the bully tries to get into the bathroom stall to beat up Scott, Scott’s eyes suddenly emit a powerful concussive blast, knocking the door off it’s hinges and sending the bully into the wall. In East Berlin, Mystique enters an underground arena where she sees a winged mutant called Angel fighting Nightcrawler, a blue-skinned teleporter with a demonic appearance. Seeing that the cage they are in is electrified, and armed guards are there to ensure they fight, Mystique takes out one of the guards and shorts out the power to the cage, allowing them to escape, then helps Nightcrawler get away from there, who realizes that she is the hero who saved the president. In Poland, Magneto, living under a false name, is working at a steel mill and returns home to his wife Magda and daughter Nina, who apparently has the mutant ability allowing her to communicate with animals. Scott’s parents contact his older brother Alex, who takes Scott to Xavier’s school. When they arrive, Scott accidentally bumps into Jean Grey, a telepath and telekinetic student, who chastises him for his clumsiness. Alex introduces Scott to Hank and Professor Xavier and they head outside to test his powers, with Xavier gladly enrolling Scott into the school so he can better control them. In Cairo, CIA agent Moira Mactaggert is following a cult that worships En Sabah Nur, but as she heads down into the area where the pyramid was buried, sunlight hits the top of the pyramid, reactivating the ancient technology and reawakening En Sabah Nur. As the cult continues praying, Apocalypse uses his powers to free himself, causing an earthquake that is felt worldwide. In Poland, the earthquake causes a vat of molten metal to fall towards a worker and Magneto instinctively uses his powers to save the man, but then grows worried that some of the other workers might have seen him. In New York, Xavier sends the other students back to bed before heading into Jean’s room, to help her deal with the visions she saw. Afterwards, Hank tells Xavier that his instruments detected an earthquake originating in Cairo and he believes Jean was merely reacting to it so Xavier uses Cerebro to investigate and discovers Moira in Cairo. When he learns that she is returning to Langley to make her report, he decides to head there to talk with her. In Poland, Magneto is making plans to leave with his family when he finds Nina being held by some cops. Magneto agrees to go with them so long as they spare his family but as they move to arrest him, Nina’s powers run wild and some birds begin attacking the cops. One of the cops accidentally lets go of the arrow in his bow, which kills both Nina and Magda and an enraged and grieving Magneto kills all of the cops before raging at the heavens. In Cairo, En Sabah Nur is wandering the streets and encounters a young Ororo Monroe, who uses her powers to help the gang of street kids she leads steal food to survive. In Langley, Xavier and Alex go to see Moira, with Xavier explaining to Alex beforehand about how he wiped all memory of them from her mind, and is surprised to find that she has a son. Mystique and Nightcrawler go to see Caliban, a mutant that can track other mutants, and she asks him to get Nightcrawler papers so he can get out of the country but when Caliban tells her about Magneto, she decides to take Nightcrawler with him to see Xavier. Meanwhile, Storm takes En Sabah Nur to her gang’s hideout, where he uses the TV to learn more about the modern world. Feeling betrayed at how the “weak” have taken over the world, he decides to cleanse the world and uses his powers to augment Storm’s abilities. They then teleport to Caliban’s shop, wanting to use Caliban to help them find more mutants. Caliban’s bodyguard Psylocke moves to stop them but when En Sabah Nur augments her own abilities, she decides to join them and tells them that she knows where to find the mutants they seek. Heading to an abandoned warehouse in Germany, they find Angel still recovering from his damaged wing and Psylocke says he is no longer useful but En Sabah Nur uses his powers to alter Angel’s wings, repairing the damaged one and making them both metallic with the ability to shoot razor sharp feathers from them. Back in New York, Hank makes some special glasses to hold back Scott’s eye blasts and Scott becomes enamored with Jean Grey when he finally sees her. Later, Hank is surprised to see Mystique there and she tells him that she is there to get Xaviers help in finding Magneto, believing him to be in trouble. Meanwhile Jubilee, a student at the school, is showing Nightcrawler around when they encounter Scott and Jean, and Scott suggests that they ditch the school and head to the mall. In Poland, Magneto enters the factory and intends to kill the workers there when En Sabah Nur, Storm, Psylocke, and Angel appear. En Sabah Nur kills all the men and tells Magneto and tells him to come with him. En Sabah Nur takes him to Auschwitz and helps him learn more about his powers and tells him that with his help, they can destroy what the humans built and then build a better world. In D.C., Peter Maximoff is watching a news report about Magneto and when his mother questions him about it, he admits that he is going to go after him. Xavier, Alex, and Moira return to the mansion and Xavier is surprised to see Mystique there. Asking the others to give them a moment, Xavier and Mystique talk for a bit, arguing about what they feel is best for the students there. Mystique tells him about Magneto and Xavier heads down to Cerebro with Alex, Hank, Mystique, and Moira and makes contact with Magneto. Xavier speaks with Magneto, trying to convince him to let him help him, but Magneto says that he tried Xavier’s way and it failed him so he has found a new path. En Sabah Nur, sensing what is happening, manages to take over the connection and uses Xavier and Cerebro to launch every nuclear missile in the world up into space. Xavier tells Alex to destroy Cerebro in order to break the connection but the backlash knocks Xavier unconscious. En Sabah Nur and his group appear in the mansion and kidnap Xavier and Alex tries to stop them but unknowingly causes an explosion that destroys the mansion. Peter arrives at the mansion just before it is destroyed and manages to use his speed to save everyone there except for Alex, who was the closest to the blast. Scott, Jean, Nightcrawler, and Jubilee return to the mansion and when he doesn’t see Alex around, he heads to the rubble to search before dropping to his knees to grieve, with Jean and Nightcrawler joining him. Suddenly, a military helicopter appears and the troops, led by Colonel William Stryker, knock out all of the people on the ground, then take Mystique, Hank, Peter, and Moira captive. Jean uses her powers to prevent the soldiers from seeing her, Scott, and Nightcrawler, then Nightcrawler teleports them onto the helicopter as it prepares to fly away. Stryker takes them to his base and questions them about Xavier’s location and Moira tells him that it wasn’t Xavier but someone more powerful. In Egypt, Xavier regains consciousness and finds En Sabah Nur waiting for him, wanting to use his powers to contact everyone on Earth. Boosting Xavier’s powers, En Sabah Nur uses Xavier to deliver a message to everyone but Xavier fights back, telling those with power to protect those without, while subtly contacting Jean and telling her where he is. Jean and the others are discovered and they manage to get away and find themselves in a test room, where one of Stryker’s experiments is being held. When the soldiers enter, Jean telekinetically opens the cage and releases Wolverine, who has been reduced to an almost mindless animal, and he begins slaughtering the soldiers. Seeing Wolverine running wild and killing all of his men, Stryker decides to abandon the base and leave. Jean and the others catch up to Wolverine just as he is about to leave and Jean approaches him, using her powers to restore a part of his humanity and he stares at them before running off into the woods. Scott rescues the others and when Jean says she knows where Xavier is, they grab Stryker’s plane and fly off. In Cairo, En Sabah Nur uses his powers to bring his pyramid back to the surface of the city, then instructs Magneto to use his powers to destroy everything that mankind built. He then has Angel take Xavier inside the pyramid, where En Sabah Nur plans on transferring his consciousness into Xavier’s body so he can gain his powers. The X-Men arrive and Mystique and Peter, who told them that Magneto is his father, go to try and stop Magneto while the others grab Xavier. Angel, Storm, and Psylocke work on stopping them as the transfer process begins but Nightcrawler manages to trap Angel and then make it inside the pyramid to rescue Xavier. Teleporting him back to the plane, Nightcrawler grabs the others and teleports them onto the plane so they can leave but Angel breaks free from his trap and grabs Psylocke to stop them. Psylocke lands on the plane and cuts a hole in it so Angel can get inside but Nightcrawler is able to teleport everyone to safety as Jean puts the plane into a dive so that it crashes, killing Angel. Nightcrawler is rendered unconscious by the effort and the others try to tend to him and Xavier. En Sabah Nur, realizing what happened, calls out to Xavier and moves towards him but Peter and Mystique try to stop him. En Sabah Nur easily beats them and then mocks Xavier, saying he should sacrifice his own life for theirs. Suddenly, Magneto attacks En Sabah Nur, trying to stop him from reaching Xavier and Scott joins the fight while Beast works to rescue Mystique and Peter. Realizing he and En Sabah Nur are still connected, Xavier attacks En Sabah Nur in his mind but En Sabah Nur is able to get the upper hand. Xavier calls out for Jean’s help and she faces off with En Sabah Nur, both in Xavier’s mind and in the real world and together, with Magneto, Scott, and Storm (who turned against En Sabah Nur when she saw her idol Mystique fighting him) are able to kill him. Jean, Scott, and Beast head back to check on Xavier who turns to Moira and restores her memories of their time together, apologizing for taking them from her, while Storm and Magneto nod to each other and approach them, while Psylocke heads off on her own. Some time later, Magneto and Jean are rebuilding the mansion as the students all watch. Storm approaches Peter and asks if he is going to tell Magneto that he is his son and Peter says one day but for now he is going to stick around the school and Storm says she will as well. Magneto and Xavier talk some more and discuss their differing views on humanity’s acceptance of mutants before Magneto leaves while Xavier watches as Mystique and Beast train Scott, Nightcrawler, Peter, Storm, and Jean into becoming the newest X-Men. Meanwhile, at Stryker’s abandoned base, some men in black suits are busy cleaning up the bodies, as well as taking the data and blood samples that were left behind, all under the guise of The Essex Corporation.

X-Men: Apocalypse met with mixed to negative reviews from the critics, holding a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Overloaded action and a cliched villain take the focus away from otherwise strong performers and resonant themes, making X-Men: Apocalypse a middling chapter of the venerable superhero franchise.”  Apocalypse’s four horsemen, Storm , Psylocke , Angel, and Magneto, had all been his horsemen in other media. Angel and Psylocke would both become Horsemen in the comics (coincidentally, they would both end up becoming Death), while Magneto and Storm would become Horsemen in the animated show X-Men: Evolution. While the film has Apocalypse in the title, the titular villain is never actually referred to by that name in the movie, as everyone always calls him En Sabah Nur. Despite the bad reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $543.9 million off of a $178 million budget and a 4th movie is scheduled to be released in 2019.

Well, I didn’t hate it but I can’t say that I was too impressed with it either. Visual effects aside, this was kind of an average movie. The acting was ok, with the returning actors doing a good job in their roles. I did like the struggle Jennifer Lawrence showed Mystique waging, as she had unknowingly became a role model for several mutants but she didn’t feel like she deserved to be one. I liked Alexandra Shipp, Sophie Turner, and Tye Sheridan as Storm, Jean, and Scott respectively and thought Kodi Smit-McPhee’s portrayal as Nightcrawler was pretty good but I was disappointed with Oscar Isaac’s portrayal of Apocalypse. The story honestly felt too long and didn’t really do a great job in keeping you really invested in the movie. There were some good spots here and there but it really felt like it just kind of plodded along hoping to pick up enough steam to make it worthwhile. One aspect that kind of got glossed over, and I haven’t checked out the deleted scenes to see if it might have been addressed there, but I thought it was funny that Mystique showed up in Germany and rescued Nightcrawler but didn’t care if Angel got away or not. In the comics, Nightcrawler is the son of Mystique and Azazel and in this time line, it has been 19 years since Mystique first left with Magneto and his Brotherhood, which included Azazel. So it is entirely possible that he is her son and she had heard from Caliban that he was captured and gone there explicitly to rescue him, just choosing not to tell him of their relationship. One thing I thought was a bit much was the Peter/Quicksilver’s appearance at the mansion and his rescuing of the students and everyone there. It honestly felt like it was simply a time killer and didn’t really serve any real purpose to help move things along. One thing this movie didn’t really skimp on was the special effects and they were well done but special effects can’t make a movie great if the story doesn’t pull it’s weight. It’s a decent movie but definitely not the best in the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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June 11th, 2018 Movie – X-Men: First Class

xmen first class

A new decade, a new set of movies. Somewhat similar to the Star Wars franchise, this new set of movies decided to try and serve as a prequel to the original trilogy of films. Now I was honestly a little skeptical about this because prequels can be a little tricky, as they try to explain how things we already know come to be. The problem is, if people aren’t completely careful and don’t pay attention, then you make things worse by making things more confusing. Still, I was curious how they would handle this and decided to dial down my skepticism as I watched today’s movie, X-Men: First Class.

The plot: In a Nazi concentration camp in 1944 Poland, young Erik Lehnsherr is separated from his parents and as he tries to get to them, his powers begin to manifest as he starts bending the metal gate until a guard knocks him out. Nazi scientist Klaus Schmidt witnesses the feat and has Erik brought to his office. Speaking to Erik about how genes are the future of mankind, he asks Erik to move a coin on his desk. When Erik can’t, he has Eric’s mother brought into the room, then threatens to shoot her if Erik doesn’t move the coin. Klaus counts to 3 and when Erik is unable to move the coin, he proceeds to shoot her. Enraged at the loss, Erik’s powers go out of control, killing the two guards and trashing the objects in the lab next door, all to Klaus’s delight. Meanwhile, in Westchester County, New York, a young Charles Xavier is woken up by a noise coming from the kitchen in his family’s mansion. When he goes to check it out, he finds his mother there but quickly realizes it is an imposter. Speaking to the intruder telepathically, the intruder reveals herself to be a young shape changing mutant named Raven and Xavier, happy to finally meet another mutant like himself, invites her to stay with him, which Raven accepts. Years later, Xavier is graduating from Oxford University and Raven, now his adopted sister, has accompanied him there but she has started feeling uncomfortable always having to hide who she really is. Meanwhile, Erik is trying to track down Schmidt and after heading to a bank known to secretly deal in Nazi gold, he is able to learn that Schmidt is in Argentina, then warns the banker not to warn anyone he is coming. In Las Vegas, CIA Agent Moria MacTaggert and her partner are staking out the Hellfire Club when they notice U.S. Army Colonel Hendry entering the building. Disguising herself as one of the prostitutes being let inside, Moria finds a hidden entrance to the club’s offices. Inside the office, Hendry is meeting with Schmidt, who now goes by Sebastian Shaw, and his associates Emma Frost and Riptide. Shaw is telling Hendry that he wants the U.S. to deploy nuclear weapons to Turkey but Hendry refuses, as it would escalate tensions with Russia and possibly start a nuclear war. When Hendry refuses to do so, Shaw has Riptide produce a small cyclone and use it to attack Hendry, slamming him into a wall. Moria, who had discovered some Russian files in Shaw’s desk, hears the commotion and watches as Emma changes into a diamond form after telepathically threatening Hendry, then Shaw summons Azazel, a red skinned teleporter, to take Hendry out of there. Moria makes her way out of the club and tries to tell her boss what she saw but her boss says that Hendry is in the war room advocating for missiles to be deployed in Turkey and dismisses her. Meanwhile, Erik heads to Argentina and when he arrives at a bar and orders a drink, he notices a picture of Shaw with two men on a boat. The two men happen to be sitting at the bar and when Erik learns that they are former Nazis, he kills them, then heads after Shaw. In D.C., Hendry boards Shaw’s yacht and when Shaw threatens to have him killed, Hendry produces a grenade and threatens to pull the pin. Shaw takes the Grenade from him and pulls the pin, then absorbs the blast from the explosion, revealing that he is also a mutant, then kills Hendry by touching him, transferring the force of the explosion to him. At Oxford, Moria approaches Xavier after his graduation and asks him about his thesis, in which he talks about mutants. Scanning her mind, Xavier sees her memories of Emma and Azazel and he agrees to help her. Moria takes Xavier and Raven with her to CIA headquaters but when the CIA director thinks what Xavier is saying is crazy talk, Xavier and Raven both reveal their gifts, shocking everyone. The CIA director thinks they are spies and wants them taken out of the building and one of the officers says he has an off site facility they can use and as they are leaving, Xavier telepathically contacts Moria and tells her to meet them at the parking garage. Erik travels to D.C. and confronts Shaw, who recognizes Erik, but Emma psychically stops Erik’s attack and knocks him into the water. Suddenly, the Coast Guard show up and Emma senses Xavier on board and uses her powers to block their thoughts from his. Riptide uses his powers to blow away the small boarding craft approaching the ship but when Erik uses his powers to use the anchor to destroy the ship, Shaw, Emma, and Riptide quickly head down to the lower decks, which house a secret submarine. As Shaw and the other’s escape, Erik uses his powers to try and stop them but the sub is too big and he ends up being dragged underwater until Xavier dives in and telepathically convinces him to stop. The CIA officer takes Moria, Xavier, Raven, and Erik to his facility, where he introduces them to Hank McCoy and Xavier unintentionally reveals to the officer that Hank is a mutant, whose gift is a genius IQ and prehensile feet. Later that night, Hank and Raven are talking, having bonded over the fact that their mutations are both physical, and Hank asks Raven for a sample of her blood, thinking he might be able to fashion a cure from it. Meanwhile, Erik steals the CIA files on Shaw and goes to leave but is confronted by Xavier, who tries to convince him to stay but tells Erik he won’t use his powers to do so. The next day, Erik agrees to stay but says that any mutants they discover should be approached by himself and Xavier, not CIA suits, and Xavier agrees, much to the CIA officer’s disapproval. Hank has turned a radar tower into a transmitter and hooked it up to a computer so that using Xavier’s telepathy, he can locate mutants and the computer will print out their location. Calling the device Cerebro, Hank activates it and Xavier begins locating mutants all across the world. Using the device, Eric and Xavier approach Angel Salvadore, Armando Munoz, Alex Summers, and Sean Cassidy, who agree to go with them, but the 5th mutant they approach, Logan, tells them to “Go fuck yourself.” Meanwhile, Shaw tells to head to Russia and when she asks about the other telepath, he tells her that the Russians made him a helmet that can block telepathy and has her try to read his mind when he is wearing it and she says she can’t. Later, Emma tells him that she can feel the other telepath’s range has expanded and he is recruiting other mutants and Shaw tells her to go to Russia and he will deal with the telepath. Back at the CIA Division X facility, Raven and Hank are talking with the new recruits and Raven says they should come up with code names. Raven decides to call herself Mystique, Sean calls himself Banshee, Armando calls himself Darwin, and they decide to call Alex Havoc after witnessing his powers, while Angel simply decides to use her stripper name of Angel. At CIA Headquarters, the director tells Moria that she was right about Shaw going to meet with the Russians and agrees to let her take the mutants with them, though one of his officers, Agent Stryker, protests using them. When Moria meets with Erik and Xavier to tell them, Erik is unsure if the other mutants are ready to take on Shaw and after seeing the mess they made of the room, Xavier reluctantly agrees. Moria, Xavier, and Erik go with a CIA team to Russia, where they see Emma meeting with the Russian general instead of Shaw. Moria wants to fall back, as their mission was to capture Shaw, but Erik says that Emma is Shaw’s right hand woman and she would know where he is and what his plans are. Eric uses his powers to subdue the guards and he heads inside, followed by Xavier, where they find Emma psychically tricking the general into thinking they are fooling around. Xavier uses his powers to render the general unconscious but Emma shifts into her diamond form to prevent him from reading her mind. Erik uses his powers to trap Emma against the bedframe, then coils part of it around her throat and starts constricting it until her throat cracks, then releases it as Emma quickly changes to human. Xavier is then able to read her mind and learns that Shaw plans to start a nuclear war so that more mutants will be born, with himself as their leader. Xavier says they are taking Emma to the CIA, as they will want to question her further, but Emma says that they have bigger problems to worry about. At Division X, Shaw, Azazel, and Riptide attack the facility looking for the mutants. After killing all of the humans, Shaw approaches the mutants and offers the a chance to join him. Angel takes him up on his offer, as she didn’t like being looked at like a freak by the CIA agents. Darwin also appears to join but as he approaches Angel, he grabs her and yells out for Havoc to attack while he uses his powers to defend himself and Angel. Shaw absorbs Havoc’s attack and then uses the energy to kill Darwin, making him explode, while he leaves with Angel, Azazel, and Riptide. Some time later, Shaw appears in Russia and meets with the general and tells him to send missiles to Cuba, knowing it will provoke a response from the United States. Meanwhile, Xavier, Erik, and Moria return to the facility and Xavier wants to send everyone home but they all refuse, as they want to avenge Darwin’s death. After talking with Erik, Xavier agrees to this provided they begin training and learn how to better use their powers and they all agree, and Xavier takes them back to his and Raven’s mansion to use as their new training ground. As the tensions between the two countries continue to rise, Xavier works on helping the others with their abilities. Banshee learns how to use his sonic scream to fly and Havoc, thanks to a suit from Hank, is able to fully control his powers. Xavier tries to help Erik with his powers by having him more a nearby radar dish so it’s pointing at them and helps him realize that anger isn’t the only thing that powers his abilities by reminding him of the memories of his mother that he had long forgotten. When the President makes his remarks about the rising Missile crisis in Cuba, Erik says that Shaw will be in Cuba, as he will want to make sure that the war he has been planning starts. That night, Hank goes to Raven’s room and shows her the cure he made from her blood cells, saying that they can finally be normal, but Raven tells him that they are normal as they are and shouldn’t have to hide who they are but Hank sadly walks away. Raven goes to Eric’s room and attempts to seduce him and when he tells her he wants to see the real Raven, she changes and he kisses her. Meanwhile, Hank injects himself with his cure but instead of making him human, it increases his stalled mutation, causing him to begin growing fur. The next day, Xavier and the others enter Hank’s lab to find it trashed but no sign of him anywhere. They don the uniforms he fashioned for them and head to the hangar where his supersonic jet, the Blackbird, is kept and Hank meets them there, revealing himself to have mutated into a more leonine, beast form with blue fur. Hank, dubbed Beast by Havoc, pilots the jet to Cuba, where the opposing fleets are watching as the Russian ship carrying the missiles continues towards Cuba. As the ship nears the embargo line, Xavier uses his powers to learn that Azazel has killed the crew and set the ship towards the line. He then takes control of a soviet sailor and has him fire on the ship, destroying it and preventing a war from starting. Shaw realizes what has happened and, donning his helmet, makes plans to absorb the energy from the sub’s reactor to turn himself into a weapon. Realizing that Shaw must be in his sub, Banshee uses his powers to dive into the water and act as a sonar system, allowing Xavier to locate the sub. Magneto then uses his powers to lift the sub out of the water and move it towards a nearby island. Riptide emerges on deck and uses his powers to attack the plane, causing Erik to lose control and crash the sub, just as the plane is damaged and crashes as well. As Xavier checks on everyone, he and Moira realize that Shaw is draining power from his reactor and they have to stop him. Erik, Beast, and Havoc see Angel, Azazel, and Riptide waiting to stop them and Havoc attacks first, slamming Riptide into the sub. Azazel teleports behind them and attacks Havoc but Beast grabs Azazel and they teleport away, eventually landing on a U.S. ship. Magneto rips open the sub, knocking Riptide unconscious with the falling debris, and Xavier uses his powers to guide him towards where a void exists that Shaw must be in. Meanwhile, Hank and Azazel continue fighting, teleporting off the ship, while Havoc is about to be arrested by the sailors when Angel attacks them all, damaging Havoc’s suit in the process. Suddenly, Banshee reappears from underwater and attacks Angel, then rescues Havoc from the sailors. Angel attacks them, damaging Banshee’s suit and causing them to crash onto the beach but as she goes to finish them off, Angel fires at her and damages her wings, bringing her down as well. Meanwhile, Beast and Azazel continues to fight each other, eventually moving back to the beach and when Azazel is about to kill Beast, Mystique, disguised as Shaw, distracts him long enough for Beast to knock him out. On the sub, Erik powers down the reactor and Shaw opens the chamber and begins talking with Erik. When Erik attempts to attack him, Shaw easily rebuffs the attack, then slams Erik into the wall, cracking it open and allowing Xavier to uses his powers to see inside. As Erik and Shaw continue to fight, Erik tricks Shaw and manages to remove his helmet, allowing Xavier to take control of Shaw’s body and stop him. Erik then dons Shaw’s helmet and approaches Shaw, telling him he agrees with what he said about mutants being the future but he is still going to kill him for killing his mother. Erik then takes the coin that Shaw asked him to move, which he kept all these years, and uses his powers to push it through Shaw’s head. Erik then leaves the sub, moving Shaw’s body before him, and tells everyone to stop fighting, as the real enemy is out there, pointing to the U.S. and Russian fleets, which have both received orders to fire on the beach. As the missiles and rockets head towards them, Erik takes control of them and uses his powers to send them back. Xavier tries to stop him but Erik is able to fight him off and pin him to the ground. When Moria tries to shoot Erik, he deflects the bullets but one of them hits a rising Xavier in the back. Concerned for his friend, Erik lets the missiles and rockets crash to the sea or explode harmlessly as he quickly removes the bullet from Xavier. He then attacks Moria, saying she did this but Xavier tells him that he did it, causing Erik to release her. Erik then speaks to the other mutants and asks them to join him and Mystique does, stopping to say goodbye to Xavier and asking Moria to take care of him. Angel, Azazel, and Riptide join as well and when the others refuse, Azazel teleports them out of there. Beast, Banshee, and Havoc rush to Xavier’s side and Xavier tells them that he can’t feel his legs. Some time later, Moria is pushing Xavier in his wheelchair as he is talking about turning his mansion into a school for mutants to learn how to control their abilities but when they share a kiss, he uses his powers to wipe her memory, as he doesn’t want to have her report this to her superiors. As Moria is giving her report and explaining the memory gaps, an explosion is heard at CIA headquarters. Inside their secret prison, Erik, now going by Magneto, frees Emma and invites her to join his new Brotherhood, which she accepts.

X-Men: First Class met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With a strong script, stylish direction, and powerful performances from its well-rounded cast, X-Men: First Class is a welcome return to form for the franchise.” While they were adversaries in the movie (though they later joined Magneto at the movie’s end), in the comics, Azazel and Mystique were lovers, with the result of their union being the X-Man Nightcrawler. The movie was a box office success, earning $353.6 million off of a $160 million budget and would go on to spawn two more prequels, with a third movie coming out next year.

So I will say that this is a pretty good movie all around, though fanboy me did have some problems with some of the things in it. I thought that James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender both did great jobs as Xavier and Magneto respectively. I also liked Nicholas Hoult as a young beast but was kind of “meh” on Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique and Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw. The story was pretty interesting and I liked the initial set up for them such as how the X-Men initially worked with the government but after the government turned on them in fear, Xavier felt it best to sever the ties and keep them a secret. I also liked how they try to set up some things for the future, such as having Stryker’s father being one of the CIA special agents that didn’t trust Xavier and the others from the start and wanted them destroyed, setting up how that would carry over to his son’s work. One slight problem with continuity that they had was in regards to Shaw’s helmet, which Magneto would later come to possess. In the first movie, Xavier didn’t know what was allowing Magneto to hide his thoughts from him, with the helmet was somewhat pivotal in the second movie as well. But in this movie, he did learn of the helmet and would have known later on why he was unable to read Magneto’s mind. It’s minor, true, but an annoying bit of a continuity error. The other thing I didn’t like was their dealing with the powers of Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw. With Emma, they made her powers more like the current comics version, where she had a secondary mutation giving her the diamond skin, which was annoying to me but not really necessary as they could have simply left her as just a telepath and made her more of a foil for Xavier in trying to keep the X-Men from stopping Shaw’s plans. With Shaw, they seemed to have more fun in changing his powers. In the comics, he did absorb the kinetic energy of anything that strikes him, which does allow him to survive explosions and what not, but that trick he did with Darwin was honestly some Hollywood BS in my opinion and simply a way to kill off Darwin. On that note, the special effects were pretty good and I loved the setting of everything being during the cold war in 1962, as this was right at the time the silver age of comics was getting started, though a full year before the X-Men first appeared. Still, my annoyances aside, this was an entertaining movie and a good way to bring some new life to the franchise after The Last Stand.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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November 12th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones

star wars episode II - attack of the clones

Ok, so we have the next entry in the prequel trilogy and the only thing I was honestly excited about regarding it was the introduction of Jango Fett. I honestly felt it was a little bit poetic that Boba Fett was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, the second movie in the original trilogy, and now we get to see his father in this movie. While that was my main reason in this movie, I will admit that finally seeing the Clone Wars, which was mentioned was back in the original Star Wars. So let’s see how this story progresses as I watch today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones.

The plot: Ten years after the Trade Federation’s blockade of Naboo, thousands of systems are considering leaving the Republic, with a former Jedi named Count Dooku leading this Separatist Movement. Padme Amidala, the former queen of Naboo now turned Senator, arrives on Coruscant for an important vote when an attack occurs when her ship lands, but the attack kills her decoy instead. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is meeting with several members of the Jedi Council about the Separatist Movement and the possibility of war arising when Amidala, and other members of the “Loyalist Committee” arrive. After speaking about her attack, and Padme voicing her belief that Dooku was behind it, Palpatine suggests that Obi-Wan Kenobi be assigned to protect Padme and the Council agrees. Later that day, Obi-Wan and his Padawan, Anakin Skywalker, arrive at Padme’s chambers and Padme is shocked to see how much Anakin has grown. Anakin and Obi-Wan argue on their course of action, then later discuss Anakin’s dreams concerning his mother and his feelings towards Padme. Meanwhile, the bounty hunter assigned to kill Padme meets with his associate, Zam Wesell, and hands her a tube filled with venomous centipedes to use in another attempt on Padme. Zam gives the tube to a droid, which flies to Padme’s window and unleashes the centipedes into Padme’s room while she is sleeping but Anakin and Obi-Wan sense the centipedes and Anakin is able to kill them before they attack Padme. Obi-Wan spots the droid and leaps through the window, grabbing onto the droid as it flies away while Anakin grabs a speeder and chases after them. The droid heads back towards Zam, who shoots the droid out of the sky but Anakin catches Obi-Wan as he is falling and they continue chasing after Zam. The eventually catch up to her at a night club, where Obi-Wan cuts off her arm when she tries to shoot him, but as they take her outside to question her, she is killed by the other bounty hunter, who uses his rocket pack to blast off into the night sky. The next day, the Jedi Council assigns Obi-Wan to track down the bounty hunter and has Anakin escort Padme back to Naboo for safekeeping. suggesting Anakin speak with Palpatine to convince her to go. Anakin speaks with Palpatine, who says he will order her to leave, then congratulates Anakin on his first solo assignment while elsewhere, Obi-Wan voices his concern to Mace Windu and Yoda about giving Anakin the assignment. After Anakin and Padme leave, Obi-Wan heads to a diner run by his friend Dexter Jettster and asks him about the dart used to kill Zam. Dexter tells him that it is a Kamino Sabre Dart and tells him where Kamino is, saying that the citizens there are cloners and are friendly enough if you have a big enough pocketbook. Obi-Wan searches the Jedi archives but finds no record of it in their system so he interrupts Yoda, who is teaching a class of children, about the matter. Yoda uses it as a teaching exercise for his pupils and they determine that someone had erased the information from the Archives, and Yoda says he will check on it as Obi-Wan heads off to Kamino. Meanwhile, Anakin and Padme, along with R2, arrive on Naboo, and Padme discusses the current situation with the new Queen but as Padme’s security arrangements, Padme overrules Anakin’s suggestions, which upsets him as she seems to be treating him like he is still a child. Obi-Wan arrives on Kamino, where he is greeted by Tuan We, who says that he was expected and escorts him to the Prime Minister Lama Su. Lama Su tells Obi-Wan that the Jedi’s order of a clone army is on schedule, with 200,000 units ready now and 1 million more underway. Obi-Wan then learns that the order was placed by Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas 10 years ago, which startles Obi-Wan as Sifo-Dyas had been dead almost 10 years, the Lama Su invites Obi-Wan to inspect the clone army being built for the Republic. As he is shown the clone army, Obi-Wan learns that the genetic template for the army came from a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, who asked for an unaltered clone as part of his payment and Obi-Wan asks to meet him. Meanwhile, Anakin and Padme arrive at Padme’s island home but as the two spend time together, they start to become romantically attracted to each other, with Anakin kissing Padme at one point, even though romantic love is forbidden in the Jedi Code. As they have dinner later that night, Anakin speaks about his feelings for her and suggest they can keep their love a secret but Padme says that they would be living a lie and she couldn’t live like that. Back on Kamino, Obi-Wan meets Jango and his “son” Boba Fett and questions him on if he has been on Coruscant recently, then asks if ho knows Sifo-Dyas but Jango says he was hired by a man named Tyrannus and after Obi-Wan leaves, Jango tells Boba to get ready to leave. Obi-Wan returns to his ship and contacts Mace and Yoda, explaining what he learned and asking them if the Council had authorized the creation of the army. Mace tells him no and Yoda says to bring Jango back to Coruscant for questioning and after ending the communication, the two Masters discuss telling the Senate how the Jedi’s ability to use the Force has diminished but Yoda fears that the knowledge will increase their enemies. Obi-Wan confronts Jango as he is about to leave and the two fight but Jango, with the help of Boba manning his ship’s weapons, manages to get away but Obi-Wan manages to throw a homing disc onto the ship, Slave 1, as it lifts off. Back on Naboo, Anakin has a dream concerning his mother in great pain and tells Padme he has to abandon her to go find out if she is ok but Padme says she will go with him. The two travel to Tatooine and go to see Watto, who tells Anakin that he sold Shmi to a moisture farmer named Cliegg Lars, who freed and married her. Meanwhile, Ob-Wan follows Jango to the planet Geonosis and after tricking Jango into thinking he was killed, follows him down to the surface, noting the large amount of Trade Federation ships in the area, before he lands and goes to explore. BAck on Tatooine, Anakin and Padme reach the Lars’ farm and are surprised to see C-3P0 working on the vaporators. After 3P0 introduces Anakin and Padme to Cliegg Lars, his son Owen and Owen’s girlfriend Beru, Anakin asks about his mother and Cliegg explains that she was kidnapped by Tusken Raiders. Anakin leaves Padme with the Lars and heads out to find the Tusken Raiders, eventually finding their camp. Anakin locates Shmi and frees her but she ends up dying in his arms, and in his anger and grief over not being able to save her, he slaughters all of the Raiders in the camp. Back on Geonosis, Obi-Wan sees Count Dooku working with the Trade Federation to enlist other planetary groups to the Separatist Movement, promising that their droid army will be able to overpower the Jedi. Obi-Wan tries to contact Coruscant but he is too far away so he contacts Anakin, leaving a message for him to relay to Coruscant only to be attacked and captured during it. Back on Tatooine, Anakin returns with Shmi’s body and as Cliegg, Owen, and Beru prepare it for burial, Anakin tells Padme what he did, upset over his inability to save his mother and how he slaughtered the Tusken Raiders. As they funish the funeral, R2 approaches them and informs Anakin and Padme about Obi-Wan’s message and they relay it to the Jedi Council. Mace orders Anakin to stay where he is and protect Padme while they help Obi-Wan but Padme says the Jedi won’t get there in time so she decides to head to Geonosis to help, with Anakin, R2, and 3P0 going with her. On Coruscant, Palpatine is given emergency powers to deal with the Separatist Army, and Mace heads out to help Obi-Wan while Yoda heads to Kamino to take command of the clone army. On Geonosis, Count Dooku speaks with the captive Obi-Wan and tries to convince him to join him, saying that the Senate was under the control of a Sith Lord named Darth Sidious, but Obi-Wan refuses to believe him. When Anakin and Padme arrive, they attempt to sneak into the droid manufacturing plant but they are soon captured. As they are taken to the arena to be executed, Padme tells Anakin that she loves him, wanting him to know before they die, and they share a kiss. The two are chained up to poles next to Obi-Wan, and the Geonosian leader orders their execution, having three creatures released to kill them. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme manage to free themselves and attempt to fend off the creatures just as Mace Windu arrives with the other Jedi to rescue them. Dooku summons the droid army, including the new Super Battle Droids, and they begin fighting with the Jedi, with Jango attacking Mace but Mace decapitates him. As the Jedi begin to get overwhelmed, Yoda arrives with the clone army to rescue the surviving Jedi. As the two armies clash, Dooku and the Separatist leaders plan to retreat, with Dooku taking the plans for their ultimate weapon with him. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme spot Dooku leaving and go after him but when their ship is attacked, Padme is knocked out of the ship and falls to the sand below. Anakin wants to go back for her but Obi-Wan convinces him to help him and Anakin reluctantly agrees. When they reach the hangar that Dooku was heading towards, Anakin rushes in to attack him but is knocked back by Dooku’s Force lightning. Dooku attacks Obi-Wan, first with lightning and then with his lightsaber, eventually scorching Obi-Wan’s arm and leg to cripple him. As Dooku goes to finish him off, Anakin recovers and stops him, and Obi-Wan throws him his lightsaber to use as well but Dooku easily defeats him, severing his right arm and shoving him aside. Suddenly, Yoda appears and begins fighting with Dooku and the two end up evenly matched but when Dooku causes a pillar to start to fall on Obi-Wan and Anakin, Yoda is forced to let Dooku escape in order to save them. Dooku makes his way to Coruscant, where he meets up with Darth Sidious, who refers to Dooku as Darth Tyrannus, and says everything is going as planned. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan speaks with Mace and Yoda about what has occurred and wonders if Dooku was right about a Sith Lord controlling the Senate, as Palpatine and the Loyalist Senators watch as the Clone Army boards the various ship to head out into battle. Meanwhile, Anakin has escorted Padme back to Naboo, where the two get married in a secret ceremony.

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones met with mixed praise from the critics, holding a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones benefits from an increased emphasis on thrilling action, although they’re once again undercut by ponderous plot points and underdeveloped characters.” When Jango is boarding Slave 1 after fighting Obi-Wan, he bangs his head on the doorway, which was intentionally done as a nod to the infamous goof in A New Hope, where a stormtrooper hit his head on a doorway. The movie was a box office hit, earning $649.4 million off of a $115 million budget, however it was the first movie in the franchise to not be the top box office hit of the year, being surpassed by both Spider-Man and The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers.

You know, this was a decent movie all in all. The acting was ok, with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Lee doing good jobs in their roles of Obi-Wan and Count Dooku respectively. Now, I know this is going to sound somewhat blasphemous, but after watching this again a little more objectively, I do think that Hayden Christensen did a good job in his role as Anakin. Despite all of his powers and abilities, Anakin was essentially a teenager trying to act like an adult and getting frustrated by all the rules and responsibilities he is forced to follow or when things don’t go the way he wants. This is pretty much what a lot of teenagers go through in life and this is exactly how Hayden played the character. The story was honestly a little weak and while it essentially had two main parts to it, Obi-Wan’s mission and Anakin and Padme’s romance (which both tied together to start the beginning of the Clone Wars), the back and forth between the two plot lines felt disjointed and they could have done a better job with the transition between them. Added to this was the fact that the dialogue honestly sucked, with Anakin’s soliloquy on sand just sounding stupid. The special effects were pretty good but I have to admit that the coolest effect was something that wasn’t actually an effect. On Tatooine, when Anakin talks with Padme before he leaves to find his mom, his shadow against the building resembles Darth Vader and according to the DVD Commentary, this was entirely a coincidence. A decent entry in the series but it could have been done better.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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