9 items from 2016
'X-Men: Apocalypse' with Oscar Isaac in the supervillainous title role. 'X-Men: Apocalypse' review: Step back for series, but latest 'X-Men' movie 'works well enough' There's a three-way brawl going on in the Marvel universe, but it doesn't involve Spider-Man, Captain America, or Deadpool. Instead, the combatants are the three major movie studios who've divvied up the film rights to Marvel characters in licensing deals, some of which go back decades. In this corner we have Sony, makers of a Spider-Man series that has sunk so low since 2004's Spider-Man 2 that they punted the character back to our second combatant, Marvel Studios. In 2004, after years of seeing the majors compromise their intellectual property by making horrible film adaptations, they decided to finance and produce their own damn movies, in what would develop into an unprecedented winning streak. To this day, just when you think they're finally out of gas, Marvel »
- Mark Keizer
The most representative scene in X-Men: Apocalypse is a pivotal battle towards the end of the film, when an overgrown, all-powerful mutant attempts to flatten another with the strength of his gigantic thumb. That, in a nutshell, is the story of the latest entry in the iconic franchise, helmed by Bryan Singer. Indeed, it is symbolic of the current state of the series itself. These movies have so set out to be bigger, louder, and grander with each new chapter, that they risk being crushed by their own weight. While I do not share the dislike that other critics have voiced for Apocalypse, it is fair to wonder whether this sequel represents a step backwards or forward for the films.
The movie opens with a scene reminiscent of The Mummy. An ancient, powerful creature gets close to achieving immortality but falls short, foiled by prescient humans. Fast-forward to 1983 and, in »
- J Don Birnam
Directors’ trademarks is a series of articles that examines the “signatures” that filmmakers leave behind in their work. This month, we’re examining the trademark style and calling signs of Bryan Singer as director.
Bryan Singer studied film at the New York School of Visual Arts and USC School of Cinematic Arts. After graduating, one of his short films caught the eye of a production company who funded low budget films. He then wrote Public Access with childhood friend Christopher McQuarrie, which he then directed as his first feature film in 1993. Two years later, he had his breakthrough with The Usual Suspects, which caught the eyes of critics at the Cannes Film Festival before ultimately becoming profitable in theaters. Next, Singer adapted a Stephen King novel for the screen, directing Apt Pupil (1998). That film received mixed reviews and was not a financial success. Singer was then hired to direct X-Men »
- email@example.com (G.S. Perno)
Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel has been with Bryan Singer nearly since the beginning, going all the way back to the director’s break-out Oscar-winning hit “The Usual Suspects” in 1995. Their shared filmography boasts four “X-Men” films, including the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which may well be Singer’s last foray helming the story of Marvel’s mutant superheroes. An aesthetic has developed throughout the franchise while maintaining a notable consistency, but for all involved, “Apocalypse” might have been the biggest bite taken out of what has become its own self-sustained cinematic universe. Sigel recently talked to Variety about that evolution and translating the world of the comic book to the screen in a pragmatic way.
You’ve worked with Bryan Singer on each of the four “X-Men” films he’s directed. What do you recall of the early days?
The first thing to remember is that there was not a lot of precedent or comparative stuff. »
- Kristopher Tapley
If you’ve seen one cinematic apocalypse, you’ve seen them all. At least that’s the feeling conjured by “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the latest entry in one of the more reliable comic-book franchises around, this time disappointingly succumbing to an exhausting case of been-there-done-that-itis.
Director Bryan Singer pioneered the contemporary wave of superhero movies with 2000’s “X-Men,” and made a welcome return to the series just two years ago with the time-jumping “Days of Future Past.” Perhaps he should’ve quit while he was ahead. Even though “Apocalypse” hardly reps the franchise nadir (an in-joke midway through this ’80s-set pic throws deserved shade at Brett Ratner’s woeful “X-Men: The Last Stand” as one character exits “Return of the Jedi” and laments “the third one’s always the worst”), this is easily the least compelling, surprising and satisfying of Singer’s entries.
While the best “X-Men” movies are defined by their keen intelligence, »
- Geoff Berkshire
After three initial X-Men films (2 Bryan Singer/1 Brett Ratner), some Wolverine origin stories, a rebooted X-Men: First Class, and a continuity-obliterating X-Men: Days Of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse represents a “fresh” restarting point for Fox’s iconic franchise. The mistakes of old have been erased (*cough* Brett Ratner *cough*) and Charles Xavier’s team has been redefined (Mystique is good? Angel is bad?), yet, while necessary, all the re-reveals and re-introductions have lost their initial allure. Once again we’re shown an X-Men story where Magneto embraces darkness and it’s up to his mutant friends to talk him off the proverbial ledge (sounds awful familiar). Singer is undoubtably working towards a better cinematic X-Men universe (one decade at a time) here, but you’ll end up feeling like we’ve seen this all before – because, to a certain degree, we have.
Picking up after Days Of Future Past, Professor »
- Matt Donato
The biggest threat so far emerges in X-Men: Apocalypse, but do raised stakes make a more effective movie? Ryan takes a look...
In the pursuit of ever higher stakes, X-Men: Apocalypse stretches to exceed the epoch-spanning scale of X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Where that 2014 hit - the biggest financial success of the franchise so far - was about travelling into history to save the future, X-Men: Apocalypse sees an ancient enemy waking up to cause global havoc in the year 1983.
Oscar Isaac plays the Apocalypse of the title - the earliest mutant who ruled as a god in the ancient world. Stirring from his slumber, Apocalypse draws together a band of minions, among them Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Storm (Alexandra Shipp), before turning his attention to the most wanted mutant of them all - the now reclusive Magneto (Michael Fassbender).
Having retreated from »
The biggest problem with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is that it is the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That first film, directed by Ang Lee, remains a juggernaut of international cinema, a brilliantly-made and brilliantly-released film that grossed a small fortune and took home a few Oscars to boot. It announced that a wuxia action movie could be a four-quadrant hit in America, leading to an upswing of impressive Asian action films in the west, including Hero and House of Flying Daggers.
Sword of Destiny, currently available on Netflix, emerges 15 years later diminished and woefully inessential. As a film on its own, it’s perfectly diverting entertainment. Beautiful vistas (the film was shot in New Zealand by the uber-talented Newton Thomas Sigel) and impressively-choreographed fight scenes drive a familiar plot. Written by John Fusco (Young Guns, Thunderheart, Netflix »
- Dan Mecca
While visiting the set of "X-Men Apocalypse" and after a full day of shooting a scene where Apocalypse comes and recruits Angel with his three other horsemen, we find time to sit with director Bryan Singer in his trailer and pick his brain about what we just saw. This time around Bryan is shooting using a 3-D camera, has set this film in the 80's, and has introduced a new set of actors to play younger versions of our favorite characters.
The last scene that we have witnessed today deals with the special powers that pertain to Apocalypse. With the brush of his hands he can enhance your mutant powers as he does with Angel. Here is what Bryan had to say about his version of Apocalypse.
How has your day played out today?
Bryan Singer: It was a very intense day. Just quite a day, extraordinary. I wrote »
- Fernando Esquivel
9 items from 2016
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