I've watched a lot of movies lately. As such, writing full reviews might not be possible given the amount of time I have to devote to my blogging. That said, I still want to share some initial thoughts on several films I just finished watching.
They are as follows: Spotlight, both of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films, and X-Men Apocalypse.
This is a film with a heavy topic and very powerful imagery. The scene in the film Spotlight where Jim Sullivan circles the names on Robbie's list. All of the names of all 87 priests suspected of child molestation.... and confirms it. Yeah, that's what makes Spotlight the winner of the Oscar for best film. Powerful scenes like that one.
That along with many more powerful scenes like it are expertly folded into a flawless script and superb acting and direction. And the casting of the film is pure genius.
Granted, it's not a cinematic or artsy spectacle. But it doesn't need to be. It has powerful moments that stick with you long after the film is over. Partly because what happened was so shocking. And then, when the credits roll and they list all the other cities, towns, and countries which have uncovered priest molestation cases and the Catholic church covering it up. That list is so freaking long.
If part of the reason the Academy gave the film best picture was simply to get that message across to the most viewers possible, then I have no problem with it. Those priest scumbags need to be held accountable. As for the church, no amount of hail Marry's or praying for forgiveness will work. Infinity is too long to say you're sorry. As for God, well, if he exists it's all one big joke on us, isn't it?
Yeah, powerful film.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Out of the Shadows and that first one too)
Watched both new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies. Thought they were both great! Just like the 90s cartoon series, but with live action and much uglier version of the turtles. That said, I did like how the movies focused on April O'Neil as a reporter uncovering the story of The Foot. I liked Krang in the second film. I didn't find Casey Jones a compelling character. Seemed rather blah. But he wasn't wasted in terms of storytelling, so I can get over it. Overall, I recommend TMNT.
I though the casting was solid, and I love how the Turtles are the best representation of their video-game and cartoon personas to date. There are tons of fun Easter-eggs in these films too. And for someone who grew up on the Turtles, I happened to like the fact that these films were actually kid friendly. I know a lot of grown up die-hard fans wanted an adult TMNT in the same way the Transformer films are geared toward those who grew up on it. But I enjoyed watching TMNTs with my kids and they found the films funny and fun. And that experience was worth more to me than getting a hardcore "rated R" TMNT film. I have a practically perfect Deadpool film to watch if I need my fix of hard R. Otherwise, I'd say the new Turtles films are excellent family entertainment.
I also watched X-Men Apocalypse. I wasn't so impressed. And compared to the energy of the Ninja Turtle films, X-Men was kind blah. I liked the cast. But the story was choppy, going from slow to fast, then fast to slow. Magneto didn't know what to do in the film it seemed. He was going to become a real villain, and then Apocalypse shows up and steals his thunder. And I don't think we as an audience needed to be reminded that Magneto is angry so let's do something even more dramatic to make him even angrier then negate that anger by having Apocalypse co-opt him and try to manipulate him.
And, this isn't really a spoiler, but showing how powerful Magneto was then not having him be the one to defeat Apocalypse seemed like a huge missed opportunity. At least from a storytelling standpoint that is.
I mean, I don't mind how they did defeat the big baddie, but that should have maybe been a slow build to a reveal in a later film, especially since they had to re-introduce us to so many of the 80s-90s characters. Assuming they'll make more X-Men films with these characters (never mind the wonky decade gap between all the prequel X-Men films that doesn't make any sense).
X-Men Apocalypse is one of those films where you can find missed opportunities for making it an excellent movie, and the filmmakers (mainly Bryan Singer in this case) went with odd choices, imho. I mean, the whole Quicksilver scene is amazing, yeah. But it's such a deus ex machina that it slaps the audience with the biggest insult of the film at the same time as being the coolest scene in the movie. And I was like... WTF? Come on, Bryan Singer! I love you, man. You made the television series HOUSE, M.D., my all time favorite show, but you're ruining X-Men. Time to hand the reins over to some fresh talent and a fresh perspective on the franchise.
Can I recommend X-Men Apocalypse? I'm on the fence about it. It's not as good or even compelling as Days of Future Past, the previous film, but it's better than many previous installments, 2, 3, that first Wolverine movie that everyone wants to forget. So, I guess, if you're a fan of the franchise it's worth watching. If not, then probably not.
By day I am an educator and a cultural ambassador. By night I entertain notions of being a literary master. In reality I am just a family man and ordinary guy who works hard and loves writing just about as much as I love my family. Just about.