Sunday, 22 May 2016


Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Hugh Jackman and Lucas Till. Written by Simon Kinberg. Directed by Bryan Singer. 244 minutes long. Budget $234 million.

So, here it is, X-Men: Apocalypse, or X-Men 6, if you prefer.

So, what's the plot, David? Well there's this big, blue mutant, no not Beast, Mystique nor Night Crawler, but a new one who's blue called – Apocalypse as played by Oscar Isaar. He's a really old baddie, maybe 10,000 years old who gets buried inside a booby-trapped pyramid in 3000 BCE and then gets woken up accidentally in the 1980s by Prof X's on-off squeeze Moira MacTaggart (Rose Byrne). Actually my old therapist used to say there's no such thing as an accident, so in that case, this whole film is Moira's fault.


3000 years later, Apocalypse (who joins a list of people who get things named after him, like Wellington, Sandwich and Crapper) wakes up in the 80s and decides the Earth needs a make over and so recruits four new horsemen, including Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and sets about destroying the world so he can remake it in his image, leaving it up to Prof X, Mystique, Beast, Cyclops, Quicksilver and lots of others mutants to stop them.

After that, it's a whistle stop tour of our massive cast of characters, each getting a good minute or two of screen time to propel this monster of a film on to the next plot point. never pausing for breath or for any other emotion other than angst, moodiness or action, before the huge big-boss smack down at the end of the film in an city weirdly devoid of any humans. Then there's just time for the world to  forgive the X-Men, before we get 10 minutes of credits and the obligatory post credit clip which sets up something really sinister, if you know your Marvel lore.

There's no real story, just pure plot and nothing more, one action beat linking to the next, building to the final showdown, this is a fun-free, thunderously dramatic, action-packed, super-hero smack down which easily eclipses Batman Vs Superman but comes nowhere near being as exciting as Captain America 3: Civil War.

Sticking the old adage of 'more please but bigger' Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg up the ante by unleashing Apocalypse whose actions kill literally 10s of millions of innocent bystanders and civilians who seem to matter not one jot to the X-Men who despite being the heroes make no effort to save anyone. This film also has no time or patience for humour and is as dry as English mustard powder, the only glimpse of lightness comes courtesy, once again, from Quicksilver who, as he did in the last film stars in the highlight sequence of the movie.

Not a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination and it's certainly and utterly action-packed, but this suffers from a strong case of been there, done that, it's entertaining enough, just not very original and the need for upping the ante every time is getting a little wary, Bond film villains don't need this threat of global destruction every time, so why do so many superhero films? Anyway, this should entertain, but like all the best popcorn this will leave you ripped to the tits on sugar but strangely hungry for something more.



Starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Heldberg, Nina Arianda and Rebecca Ferguson. Written by Nicolas Martin and directed by Stephen Frears. Running time 110 minutes. Budget $4.5 million.

This is the sugar-free, bitter-sweet bio-pic of tone-deaf and tuneless Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep), a 1940's New York socialite and patron of the arts who believing herself to be a great singer hires Carneige Hall to perform, while her adoring husband, St. Claire Bayfield (Hugh Grant) hires pianist Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg) to train her for the performance of her life.

Despite being a gentle and funny film, this still manages to leave a bitter taste in your mouth when the novelty of her bad voice wears off and you begin to realise that all she wanted to do sing and entertain and has no idea how bad she really is, thus making you feel a little jaded for mocking her.

Streep and Grant are terrific and it makes you wish Grant had made more films, he's an old school actor and has a natural charm that reminds you of David Niven. Similarly, Streep performs effortlessly and makes Jenkins not a black and white figure of fun, but a character with depth and warmth and rather than mock her you find yourself rooting for her, despite knowing how this sad little tale will pan out. Stephen Frears' direction is, as always tight, and the film looks gorgeous. So it's sad to report that despite so much that is right with this film, it never really sings, it's sort of entertaining but nothing more, you find yourself wanting to learn more of her past which as it is is only subtly hinted at. The end of the film features an actual recording of the late Jenkins singing and it's impressive to see how well Streep captured it.

Also, while the cast, particularly Streep and Grant are great, the same cannot be said of Simon Heldberg who attempts to escape his Big Bang Theory fame by sporting an infuriating accent and a creepily effected manner, however all he succeeds in doing is making you realise he will forever be typecast as Wolowitz.

Still, this was a entertaining and funny romp and a nice distraction from the usual slew of big-budget super hero blockbusters that are slowly filling up the theatres.