It’s Better Than Last Stand: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016, directed by Bryan Singer)


X-Men_-_ApocalypseIt is easy to forget what a big deal the first X-Men movie was in 2000.  At a time when Joel Schumacher was still the industry’s go-to director for super hero films, X-Men announced that films based on comic books did not have to be campy, silly, stupid, or feature Alicia Silverstone.  When X-Men was first released, critics and audiences were surprised to see a comic book film that was intelligent, well-acted, and actually about something.

The only people who were not shocked were those of us who grew up reading the X-Men books.  We already knew that the X-Men was about more than just heroes with super powers and flashy costumes.  We knew that the battles within the pages of the X-books were always meant to serve as a metaphor for racism and real-world prejudice and, since many of us felt like outcasts and mutants ourselves, we related to the characters.  We already knew that Magneto was often a sympathetic villain while Prof. X was not always a likable hero.  We knew that almost every battle that the X-Men fought came down to the question of whether or not different types of people could peacefully co-exist.  Unlike the critics, we were not shocked by X-Men‘s subtext.  Instead, we were just happy that Bryan Singer did not fuck things up.

All of the comic books films that have followed have owed a debt to critical and commercial success the first X-Men movie.  Without that success, there would probably have never been a Dark Knight trilogy or even an MCU.

FallofmutantsThe success of X-Men has also led to a 16 year-old franchise of movies about mutants and their struggle to live in a world that fears them.  X-Men: Apocalypse is the 9th installment in that franchise and it is based on the Fall of the Mutants storyline, which ran through several Marvel comics in 1988.

Continuing the pattern set by X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, Apocalypse takes place in the past, back when Charles Xavier was still James McAvoy and Magneto was still Michael Fassbender.  (Unlike Days of Future Past, neither Patrick Strewart nor Ian McKellan makes an appearance.)  The year is 1983.  Ronald Reagan is President.  The Cold War still rages.  The music is better than it is today.  Xavier is running his school for gifted mutants youngsters.  Magneto is living, under an assumed name, in Poland.  Magneto is married and has a young daughter and as soon as I saw them, I knew they were going to die.  Magneto’s family never survives.

In Egypt, an ancient and powerful mutant named En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) is awakened after being entombed for centuries.  Readers of the comic books will immediately recognize En Sabah Nur as Apocalypse.  Planning to destroy the world so that he can rebuild it in his own image, Apocalypse recruits his four horseman — Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Magneto.  Apocalypse also wants to recruit Xavier to his side but Prof. X still believes that humans and mutants must learn to co-exist.

livingeraser1What’s interesting is that, even though Fassbender and McAvoy share a few scenes, this is the first X-Men film to not feature any sort of debate between Xavier and Magneto.  Magneto, one of the greatest comic book villains of all time, is actually a little boring here and, without those debates, Apocalypse lacks the subtext that distinguished the best of the previous X-Men films.  The emphasis is less on what it means to be an outsider and more on defeating Apocalypse.  Unfortunately, Apocalypse is a great character in the comic books but he does not translate well into film.  Unlike Magneto, who has several good and justifiable reasons for not trusting humanity, the film version of Apocalypse is portrayed as being pure evil and little else.  His plan to destroy the world never makes much sense and he is almost as bland as Dr. Doom in the latest Fantastic Four reboot.  Apocalypse could be any villain from any comic book movie that has been released over the past 16 years.  He could just as easily be the Living Eraser.

Apocalypse is also an origin story, showing how the modern incarnation of the X-Men first came to be.  We meet young versions of Scott Summers, Jean Grey, and Nightcrawler (played by Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, and Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) makes a brief appearance that feels like it was mostly included to set up the character’s third stand-alone film.  Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Evan Peters also return in the roles of Mystique, the Beast, and Quicksilver.  Peters is featured in the movie’s coolest scene, though that scene is basically just a redo of Days of Future Past‘s coolest scene.

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(There’s also a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Dazzler, which I guess means that Marvel’s disco queen will eventually be appearing on movie screens.)

X-Men: Apocalypse is not as good as either First Class or Days of Future Past but it’s still better than The Last Stand.  (Since Apocalypse takes place in 1983, Scott and Jean go to see Return of the Jedi and talk about how the third film of any franchise always sucks.)  It’s entertaining but, without an interesting villain or any sort of examination of what it really means to be an outcast,  Apocalypse is also forgettable in a way that X2 and Days of Future Past never were.  As a lifelong fan of the X-Men, I could not help but be disappointed.

Plus, this movie needed more Deadpool! (Note: Deadpool is not in X-Men: Apocalypse.)

Plus, this movie needed more Deadpool! (Note: Deadpool is not in X-Men: Apocalypse.)

One thing that especially bothered me is that Days of Future Past ended with Xavier promising to explain to Wolverine why he, Scott, and Jean were all still alive despite having been killed in The Last Stand.  If you were hoping Apocalypse would clear that up, don’t hold your breath.  I guess that question will remain unanswered until the 10th film.

Speaking of which, First Class was set in the 1960s and Days of Future Past largely took place in the 70s.  Apocalypse is an 80s movie so the next installment should be set in the early 90s.  Will Scott be listening to Nirvana or will he be playing air guitar to November Rain?  I guess we’ll have to wait to find out!

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X-Men: Apocalypse Drops In With It’s Final Trailer


X-Men Apocalypse

20th Century Fox have to be feeling quite giddy and confident with their slate of blockbusters this summer. Deadpool slayed everyone that went up against it during it’s February release and has climbed the box-office charts to the levels I think even Fox executives couldn’t imagine.

Now comes it’s main comic book film property returning this summer with it’s biggest story, yet. X-Men: Apocalypse has been a storyline fans of the Marvel Mutants (not part of the MCU) have been clamoring for ever since the first X-Men film surprised everyone all the way back in 2000.

Bryan Singer returns for his 4th go-round with these new band of Merry Mutants (Hugh Jackman as Wolverine the only holdover from his original cast) with the immortal and first mutant En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse up to no good. We get a bit more of the plot in this final trailer and even more city-wide destruction (I’ll give it a pass considering it’s being committed by someone called Apocalypse and not Superman).

X-Men: Apocalypse will bring the war on May 27, 2016

X-Men Apocalypse Super Bowl TV Spot


X-Men Apocalypse

The X-Men film franchise helped usher in the this golden age of comic book films. Looking back at those early films makes for a love them or hate them reaction. The first two helped establish the beloved characters onto the bigscreen while successive sequels and spinoffs did much to try and tear down the goodwill created by the former.

Matthew Vaughn helped in the franchise course correction with the surprisingly good X-Men: First Class. Bryan Singer’s return with that film’s follow-up with X-Men: Days of Future Past was another step in the right direction. It even marked the beginning of Fox’s attempt to replicate Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe building.

X-Men: Apocalypse is suppose to help build on the foundation laid down by the last film. It also looks to be a sort of reboot of the core characters to their much younger versions. The doomsday vibe of the film really comes off well in the trailer and it shows enough action to excite fans.

Then they show a great looking Psylocke using her psy-blade in a way it was never meant to be as. Just embrace books Fox. Just embrace it instead of mucking it up.

X-Men: Apocalypse will bring the war on May 27, 2016

Review: X-Men: First Class (dir. by Matthew Vaughn)


The name Matthew Vaughn should be familiar with comic book fans everywhere. In 2005, Vaughn was introduced as the director to replace Bryan SInger for the third film in the X-Men franchise. The news was met with some cautious optimism. This was a filmmaker who had quite the loyal and growing following for his work on Stardust and Layer Cake. Months after he was picked my 20th Century Fox news came down that he was backing out of the project due to personal reasons and the film scrambled for a replacement which ended up being Brett Ratner. History was made that day as the beginning of the franchise’s decline began and steep plummet which recently reached it’s nadir with 2009’s Wolverine: Origins.

It’s has now been five years since X-Men: The Last Stand made it to the big-screen and now we have a new film in the franchise. X-Men: First Class has a familiar name behind the director’s seat and it looks like Matthew Vaughn stayed this time around (after directing a smaller superhero film in Kick-Ass for 2010) to craft what could become the best film in the X-Men/Wolverine film franchise. This film is a prequel/reboot of sorts (more on that later) and brings a fresh set of eyes and take on the origin story of this franchise.

X-Men: Last Stand actually begins the film exactly how the first X-Men film began with the 1944 World War II concentration camp setting where a young Erik Lensherr (later to become Magneto) finally manifests his power over magnetic fields as he watches his parents torn from his side. The first film ended that sequence once Erik was knocked out, but this time around it continues with a mysterious man named Schmidt (aka Sebastian Shaw and played with James Bond villainous-flair by Kevin Bacon) taking great interest in Erik and his ability which Erik could only use during bouts of pain and anger. The film continues this slight change in the series’ origins by switching over to Westchester County and into the expansive home of a young Charles Xavier who finds a certain young, blue-skinned shapeshifter named Raven who he invites to stay and become his friend once he realized he wasn’t the only one who was different and with abilities.

These two sequences continue to move the film forward as the we see these two “leaders in the making” adults and trying to find their place in the world of the free-swinging lifestyle and the Cold War culture of the 1960’s. Charles Xavier (played like a well-meaning cad and good-natured naivete about the world by James McAvoy) is a student working on his doctorate in Oxford on genetic theories while his “sister” Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) accompanies him. This is a Xavier who still hasn’t found the patient benevelonce of Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and uses his considerable telepathic abilities to help him pick up on beautiful coeds instead. It’s during such a scene where we see Raven show just a hint of jealousy as Xavier tries his lines and moves on a beautiful British lass. It would seem Raven’s feelings for her ‘brother” may go beyond sibling affection though Xavier doesn’t see her as anything other than a sister for him to protect.

Erik Lensherr’s time as an adult was shown as having become a life of obsession over his treatment at the hands of the Nazi’s and those of Schmidt’s as he travels the world in search of escaped Nazi war criminals. Erik takes him throughout South America as he finds the trail of Nazis hiding out in that region since the end of the war. We see this adult Erik hardened by his anger and single-minded need for revenge on Schmidt and those he worked for. He’s not above using his abilities to kill in order to get the information he requires and there’s a hint of satisfaction when he does kill those he sees as responsible for his tragic upbringing with his magnetic abilities. These two adult sequences continues the film’s theme of the ideological difference between Xavier and Erik being formed through nature and nurture as their lives moved down diverging paths from an early beginning until it convergence for a small, brief period around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The film’s second act begins with Moira McTaggart (Rose Byrne), now a covert CIA Agent, investigating a certain Col. Hendry who she suspects as having betrayed the nation to the Soviets, but instead finds out that the true nature of Hendry’s associations were much more insidious and dangerous. The iconic Hellfire Club of the comics finally make their appearance with Schmidt who actually happens to be Sebastian Shaw (whose powers grant him the ability to absorb all kinetic energy which he uses to keep himself young and can release with explosive results), Emma Frost (January Jones) who’s a telepath with the ability to turn body in a sort of diamond-form, Riptide who can create tornado-like abilities and finally the demonic-looking Azazel whose ability to teleport might give people not well-versed in the “X-Men Universe” a clue as to one-half of parents who may be responsible for Nightcrawler in the second film.

X-Men: First Class spends much of this second act like it was Ocean’s 11 as Xavier and Erik get recruited by the CIA to find other mutants and create their own mutant team to counter Sebastian Shaw’s Hellfire Club and his goal of initiating World War III between the US and the USSR and thus destroy all of humanity and leave the planet for the mutants to rule over. Yeah, it is this part of the film’s plot which may strain the suspension of disbelief for some audiences who never grew up reading the comics, but it shouldn’t. Ian Fleming’s James Bond series used scenarios just as ludicrous with villains just as Machiavellian in the form of SPECTRE so X-Men: First Class and it’s world domination plans shouldn’t be too farfetched to fans of that British superspy and his adventures.

This middle section of the film is where X-Men: First Class actually begins to lag after a strong first act. I don’t know if the sequences of the new recruits training, bonding and learning how to use their powers could’ve been written to move much faster without losing some of the character building scenes. From how this second act played it seemed to look like scenes were actually cut out to try and keep the film from being too long (it’s final cut being just a tad over two hours already upon release), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the DVD/Blu-Ray release actually has a director’s or uncut version that actually expands this middle section to really give life to it instead of having it play out like a perfunctory training montage with a dash of character beats.

The film hits it’s action-film stride with the third and final act as Xavier and Erik’s team of young mutants must now use their abilities to stop Shaw and his Hellfire Club and at the same time prevent World War III from beginning and not freaking out the humans who are still unaware of their existence as a whole. It’s this third section which we see too much of it in the trailers and tv spots that one might say we’ve seen it all before we even see the film as a whole, but it still kept back a lot from those ads to make the whole final twenty minutes of the film thrilling and action-packed.

All of this could just mean that X-Men: First Class was just your run-of-the-mill superhero action film that we get on a yearly basis come summertime, but it’s a testament to Matthew Vaughn’s direction and the strength of the script by Vaughn, longtime collaborator Jane Goldman and Thor scribes Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz that the film goes beyond being just an action film with all it’s sturm und drang coupled with fancy special effects. The previous films in the series always explored important cultural and moral themes that’s always been the bread-and-butter of the X-Men stories in the comic books. We just don’t see the film explore the ideological difference between Xavier’s peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants alike, but also we get more detail on why Magneto finally comes to the conclusion that war between humans and mutants was an inevitability and why his stance doesn’t fall under the aegis of being evil, but something that anyone could understand and even support whether one was human or mutant.

The story also doesn’t just pay lip-service to the idea of how mutants view themselves and how even within the mutant community there’s a visible rift between those whose abilities are invisible to the general population and those whose abilities and genetic mutation physically manifest themselves in such ways that to many might not look to appealing. This idea really gets a major exploration in the subplot involving Raven (soon to be Mystique), Hank McCoy and, to a certain degree, Xavier and Erik. We see how those like Xavier whose abilities don’t show in a physical manner have a sort of “don’t ask, don’t show” about those like Raven when it comes to their power when in public.

Raven (played beautifully by Jennifer Lawrence) is caught between Xavier who wants her to remain incognito so as not to shock the world too soon in realizing that mutants exists and that of Erik who sees Raven’s original blue-skinned form as beauty and perfection and how she should never hide who she truly is. This tug and pull between her two mentors makes for a convincing subplot in how Raven comes to the conclusion which would take her to the side of Magneto in later films, but also highlight how the two sides in later films have so much intertwining bonds of friendship and relationship that seeing them against each other becomes a tragedy on its own. Civil wars are not just a thing of humans but those who sees themselves apart from them.

The great performances by most of the leads add to the film’s strength. McAvoy and Fassbender, at first, look to be unconvincing in terms of their appearance as the younger versions of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, respectively. This becomes a non-issue once they’ve established themselves through their performances which gives new layers to the personalities of Professor X and Magneto. Many people always saw these two as the comic book version of Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X, but that’s an oversimplification. The film and the performances by McAvoy and Fassbender digs deeper into both their characters’ motivations and ideologies and how their past experiences and upbringing couple with their time together as brothers-in-arms and friends show more about these two than just being mutant-proxies of MLK and Malcolm X. The other young mutants do an adequate enough job that they don’t seem lost in the film. Nicholas Hoult as the young Hank McCoy and how he plays off Lawrence’s Raven during their little subplot in the film is one stand-out that I hope gets explore even more in any follow-up sequel.

There’s a nice burgeoning young love chemistry between him and Lawrence as Beast and Raven that doesn’t seem too tacked on to create a the prerequisite love couple in any film. Their common trait of having physical mutations and how they seem to both feel apart even from their fellow mutants develop their characters in ways the previous films in the series never did. They never want to rid themselves of their mutant powers. They just want to look normal and still keep their abilities. It’s a having your cake and eat it too mentality that has some surprising results for both Raven and Hank.

X-Men: First Class has had some fans of the series put in a very difficult situation. The film definitely is a prequel to the previous films, but it also does a major time in rewriting continuity in the series. I was one of those fans and thought it would ruin the film in the context of the franchise. I’m surprised that in the end I didn’t really care and actually hope that this film actually is a reboot of the franchise. I see this film and forget the previous three as being part of it. This film was just too good and fun in it the end for continuity issues to become the major flaw that sinks it. I liken this film as similar to Christopher Nolan rebooting the Batman film franchise. That film honored the contributions to the character, but went on it’s own way to tell that character’s tale. I see Vaughn doing the same with this film. He has done something which many thought was a near-impossible task and that’s make the X-Men franchise relevant once more in a pop-culture landscape that seems to have left the franchise behind after the disastrous Wolverine: Origins of 2009.

This film delivered on the ideas that made the comic books so beloved by millions of fans for almost a half-century. It made great use of the 1960’s time and setting to tell a story of these characters beginnings as heroes and villains (though the latter shouldn’t be seen as them being truly just evil bad guys). Even the inclusion of real-world historical event like the Cuban Missile Crisis was a nice touch which gave the film a foundation in realism. Again, this film played off like a superhero, Marvel version of an Iam Fleming James Bond story. For those who are huge fans of the previous films there’s even two brief cameos of those films two favorite characters that appear in this film. They don’t come off as cheesy and unnecessary and actually come off as great additions. I won’t mention who these cameos were but the audience’s reaction to them was very vocal and very positive. I say the same should be said for X-Men: First Class as a film that resuscitates the franchise.

X-Men: First Class (2nd Official Trailer)


Today we saw the release of the second official trailer for the upcoming X-Men prequel/reboot helmed by British director Matthew Vaughn.

X-Men: First Class looks to show the early days when Professor X and Magneto were still friends and allies instead of the adversarial relationship they had in the first three films in the franchise. This new trailer shows more of the characters who will be involved in this film. It also shows the mutants and their powers in action. I must admit that I wasn’t too thrilled with the previous trailers shown about this film, but this latest shows more action and finally reveals it’s summer blockbuster pedigree. The sequence with Magneto lifting the submarine out of the water was really cool.

It’s still not the superhero film this summer that tops my must-see list, but this trailer has put this film in the running as one of the films I must-see.

X-Men: First Class is still slated to have a June 3, 2011 release.

Review: Battle: Los Angeles (dir. by Jonathan Liebesman)


The last couple years have seen the return of an old trend from the 50’s and and 60’s. Those decades were what one would call the Golden Age of alien invasion films and stories. We had alien invasion films both serious and comedic. They ranged from classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing to the awful like Plan 9 From Outer Space and tons of titles I could barely put down. In 2009 we had an alien-themed film which one could call the return of the genre back to the forefront. District 9 by South African filmmaker Neil Blompkamp was universally hailed as one of the best scifi films of the decade and even got nominated for an Academy Best Picture.

Then there’s the other alien-invasion film from 2010 which covers the low-end of the equation. The Strause Brothers’ own Skyline was universally panned by critics and audiences alike. While some did enjoy the film for it’s “so bad, it’s good” quality (I use that term as loosely as redlight hooker). This film was everything that was opposite of District 9. While I did enjoy that film because it was bad I don’t look back at it too fondly.

The latest film in this alien-invasion resurgence is from another South African filmmaker and one whose body of work is mostly genre films of the low-budget variety. Jonathan Liebesman’s own entry into this scifi genre is Battle: Los Angeles and it lands smack  dab between District 9 and Skyline in regards to overall execution. It’s a workman-like film which takes an epic alien invasion war and brings it down into the pavement. We see the film through the eyes of a rifle squad of Marines and that’s where the film really becomes a really fun experience.

Battle: Los Angeles begins in medias rea with the war between the unknown alien invaders already having made their initial surprise landings and the U.S. military making it’s countermoves. We learn from a hasty news conference held by a military commander that the alien forces have landed at over a dozen or so coastal cities around the world have begun to move inland. I was somewhat discouraged to find out that San Francisco didn’t even last half a day and was lost. With Los Angeles the last major coastal city on the west coast that still had a viable military presence we hear one of the film’s tagline in that they cannot lose Los Angeles.

After this brief intro we go back 24 hours before the battle begins to get the character introductions sorted out. We see the Marines who will make up the squad the audience will follow through the rest of the film get their brief time to get introduced with some basic backstory to give them some personality. The one which stood out from all the war film archetype characters was Aaron Eckhart’s grizzled and retiring Staff Sgt. Nantz. He becomes the anchor that holds all the players into a cohesive unit and who also keeps the film from spiraling out into Skyline territory. Some of the cookie-cutter characters we meet would be the commanding officer straight out of Officer Training School who has never seen combat but is eager to lead his men and sees the combat-experienced SSgt. Nantz as someone who might usurp his authority. We also get the Marine whose previous combat tour has left him psychologically damaged and tries to earn his mind back into fighting state. We even get the young Marine who everyone sees as the little brother and who also happens to be a virgin.

To say that the characters in Battle: Los Angeles looked like they came out of old-school World War 2 war film casting call would be an understatement. The film just gives these characters (outside of Eckhart’s veteran noncom) enough personality that we’re able to distinguish one jarhead from another. Characterization is not one of this film’s strong suit, but once the bullets and alien stuff begin to start flying the need to get more character moments from these individuals really go out the window and the audience just holds on as they follow this Marine rifle squad into combat with an enemy force better equipped.

The film borrows much from battle sequences from Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan as director Liebesman opts to use a cinema verite style to give the audience a documentary, imbedded reporter look to the whole proceeding. The shaky cam look this filmmaking style uses may turn off some people, but the way the action sequences (which pretty much takes up close to 3/5’s of the film’s running time) were edited actually keeps the shaky cam from becoming too overwhelming. The film actually does a very good job of showing the confusing nature of battle, but also the fog of war for the grunts on the ground.

Before I get to what about this film really worked for me I will have to admit that the film’s screenplay is it’s biggest weakness. It’s a major weakness that for some viewers will sink the whole film no matter whatever bright points it might have. The film’s core story was actually pretty good. A story about an alien invasion told from the point of view of human soldiers on the ground trying to repel the invaders was a concept that hasn’t really been explored in this type of film. While that foundation for the film is strong the dialogue and how the characters were written left much to be desired. I put the onus on the flimsiness of most of the characters on the screenplay more than the characters themselves. Spielberg and Scott were able to use the very same war film character archetypes and make them work in their film, but that was possible due to much stronger screenplays.

In this film the dialogue’s very hokeyness doesn’t inspire as much as it makes for some wince inducing moments. I can’t say that all of the dialogue was bad. They’re no worse than most war films both good and bad. The dialogue just didn’t seem to have any energy to them and sounded as if it was still being read from an earlier and much rougher draft. I do believe that if the screenplay had been given a couple of doctoring by competent, veteran screenwriters the film would’ve benefitted greatly from it. Instead, the film ended up having to have a strong veteran actor in Aaron Eckhart deliver these average lines with enough conviction and gravitas to keep the film from becoming a parody of a war film. The fact that the film still manages to hold together despite the weaknesses in the screenplay is a testament to one actor performing the hell out of that script. I won’t even go into some people’s issues about the science or battle tactics in the film since I believe the film was consciously built to keep those vague. The film is not about the who or what about this invasion and why the aliens are here, but about that rifle squad from the 2/5 Marines.

Now, what really worked for me about this film is the battle itself. For a fan of both alien invasion and war films this one combined the two and succeeding in delivering what the filmmakers promised. Battle: Los Angeles gave a visceral look into the trials and tribulations of a squad of Marines as they do their part on the ground to fight off a much more advanced enemy. There’s a scene when the Marines are flying over Santa Monica on their way to their Forward Operation Base and we see a running battle on the gorund below between human defenders and the aliens who have moved up from the beach. Even the firefights Nantz and his squad were in once they entered the battle behind enemy lines looked to be influenced with the many battle footage of American forces conducting ground war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The special effects both CGI and practical to make Los Angeles look like a wartorn urban battleground was done very well. The aliens and their machines were given a look that wasn’t sleek and shiny but utilitarian and efficient. Some have said that the design of the aliens and their machines looked lazy, but I actually believe that if the filmmakers had fallen back on traditional advanced futuristic designs that would have been lazy. These aliens looked like they were design with only one thing in mind and that was to wage war on a people.

The score to the film by Brian Tyler was good and serviceable as his own modern riff on the old-school World War 2 film score, but I thought what this film needed was a veteran composer who knows how to bring out the machismo, gung-ho and esprit de corps of the Marines the audience followed throughout the film. It’s a shame that film composer passed away several years ago because he definitely would’ve given Battle: Los Angeles the kind of score which would’ve elevated the film from a thrilling war film into an epic one.

In the end, Jonathan Liebesman’s first foray into a bigger budget production hit more than it miss though one of those misses many of it’s detractors have seen as a fatal flaw in the film. Battle: Los Angeles doesn’t reinvent the alien invasion film, but just takes a new angle on the whole proceedings. It’s a film that shows influences from better war films by better filmmakers, but also gives hints that this young South African filmmaker has shown glimpses of talent that could take him places that his compatriot Neil Blompkamp has reached with his own alien-themed film. Battle: Los Angeles is just an old-school war film dressed up with modern fatigues and arrived onto the screen with all the positives and negatives of those very same traditional war films people love and hate since film as entertainment was created. It’s not on the same level as District 9 but it is definitely heads and shoulders above the very laughable Skyline of 2010.

As an aside, while I was watching the film I was struck by how this film looked like a preview of what Blompkamp’s potential sequel to his District 9 would look if and when Christopher Johnson came back to Earth with an armada of very pissed off Prawns…and speaking of pissed off Prawn: pig cannon.

X-Men: First Class Official Trailer


Of all the Marvel Comic book films coming out this summer it is the one not being made by Marvel themselves which seems to be getting the biggest amount of negative press and buzz from the fans. The last couple weeks has seen pictures from the set either leaked by accident or on purpose to gauge fan reaction. To say that reaction has been underwhelming would be an understatement.

The film is 20th Century Fox Studios latest film on the X-Men franchise. A franchise which is now batting 2-for-4. The first two films in the franchise were thought of as being very good to great and the last two seen as a major mess or just plain awful. Now the fifth film has just released it’s first official trailer and from the look of things it looks to be retconning all the vents which occurred in the first four films. The scenes used for the trailer looked very good and the looks of the many (people complaining about the amount of characters in the third Nolan/Batman film will be apoplectic once they see First Class) characters gives me some hope.

The film has Matthew Vaughn just fresh off of Kick-Ass and it will be up to him to create a gem out of the rough stone people seem to be judging the film at the moment. X-Men: First Class is set for a June 3, 2011 release.