X-Men: Apocalypse: Xpectations NOT Met…

All Has Been Revealed: 

It’s Not The End Of The World, But It Could Mark The End Of The X-Men Franchise As We Know It…

x-men-apocalypse-new-poster

“I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul who comes to my school looking for trouble” – Charles Xavier. 

“I’ve never felt power like this before…” Charles Xavier mutters incredulously at one point during the latest mutant flick: X-Men: Apocalypse. 

Well, Mr. and Mrs. B still can’t explain the wondrous, sometimes giddy, feeling instilled whenever a new X-Men movie is released, and this one was set in 1983 – one of my favourite years! – so it just had to be good. Firstly, let me point out that we both enjoyed watching this new X-Men movie.

However…

This did not meet my x-pectations. Quite simply, this is not the mutant masterpiece it should have been. The startling sequence of a youthful En Sabah Nur constructing a pyramid solely by the power of his mind at the very end of X-Men: Days Of Future Past still stands as my all-time fave post-credits scene. Inevitably, the curiosity as to how this particular mutant movie would turn out was irrepressible.  

Yes, this effects-laden spectacle is worth watching on the big screen, but if you are looking for deep and thought-provoking drama, deft characterisation and gripping storytelling – the defining elements of previous X-Men movies – then you will feel strangely short-changed. 

Sadly, it has not been worth the two years wait…

At one point, a gang of the X-teens come out of a cinema having watched Return of the Jedi. Appropriately enough, Jean remarks: “The third film is always the worst.”

This is regarded as an in-joke, a dig at the lame X-Men: The Last Stand. 

Can this tag now be applied to this latest venture…?

x-men-apocalypse-four-horsemen-941666

“I’ve been called many things over many lifetimes: Ra, Krishna, Yahweh. I was there to spark and fan the flame of man’s awakening, to spin the wheel of civilization” – Apocalypse.  

With two superhero movies already this year foisting the good guys to fight each other, it is a welcome relief to be given a traditional super-villain, and here we have no less than the ultimate: the very first, and most powerful, mutant: Apocalypse.

Played by the Bradscribe Man Of The Year: Oscar Isaac, this was a particularly much-anticipated role.

Does he succeed?

He looks and sounds menacing enough, but there again, Isaac has to deal with an average script offering him no more than the stock: “world domination; following blind leaders” dialogue, but trust my beloved to point out the most pertinent criticism concerning this villain:

Mrs. B thought he looked too much like “the bad guy from the dancing tree movie.”

Didn’t think too much about it at the time, but: good point, lov. Yes, Apocalypse reminds me of Ronan The Accuser from Guardians of the Galaxy. You could argue that both are similar, not only in likeness and mood, but also severely hampered by under-developed characterisation, an all-too-common blight on modern cinema unfortunately.  

Nevertheless, despite the narrative drive faltering at various stages, there are quite a few stunning sequences, including an epic opening scene, set in Egypt 3600 BCE, and En Sabah Nur is betrayed by his Followers and trapped deep beneath a pyramid until resurrected by some local fanatical devotees in 1983.

Wandering through a Cairo bazaar in a hooded cloak – quite frankly, a villain like that, no other clobber would do – it was amusing to see him glare in utter bewilderment at a blaring ghetto-blaster.

no-visor-no-problem-1449872925

magneto-carnage

“IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT FROM ME?! IS THIS WHO I AM?! Is this who I am…?” – Magneto.  

Perhaps the most worrying aspect about this disappointing bundle is the way in which so many characters have been thrown into the mix and have to cope with barely anything of any consequence to do! It has almost got to the point where to refer to them automatically as “characters” seems laughable!

What is encouraging to see are the competent – albeit limited – debuts of Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner and Kodi Smit-McPhee playing Cyclops, Jean Grey and the hilarious Nightcrawler respectively.

Setting the Four Horsemen up as his henchmen, with the suggestion that they were terrifying enough to warrant inclusion in the Bible, is a great idea, but handled poorly. What is their motivation for tagging along with this blue-skinned creep? 

We assume they are disillusioned and devoid of any meaningful purpose in life – but we have to surmise that for ourselves. The only “Horseman” who is fleshed out properly is Magneto, but then we know enough about him from the previous two films. Inserting an back story in Poland, culminating in such an unexpected outcome was a much-needed shot of real drama, but then again, as soon as the devastation begins, Magneto levitates… and does little else. 

Looking particularly awesome is Olivia Munn, who – in keeping with the 80s theme – dazzles across the screen in a purple leotard. At last, an effort to make the costumes resemble their comic counterparts! But that is a description of her, not a character trait!

One cannot help but wonder if she would be a much better choice to play Wonder Woman: she’s more beautiful, more tough and – let’s face it – has more screen time; she certainly looks more Amazonian than Gal Google…

Of course, Quicksilver has to return to put in another entertaining, time-bending, scene-stealing sequence, this time accompanied by Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams – does this, perhaps, disguise a lack of original ideas here? 

Considering what the two of us have been through over the last two months, this movie came at the right time: to escape with some rather good comic book action, this accomplishes that basic need at least, but X-Men: Apocalypse should have offered so much more, and it is baffling when you consider how reliable X-Men stalwart: Bryan Singer usually is. It would appear that even he has off-days…

Thankfully, it’s not as turgid as Batman V Superman as some reviews have suggested, but but still has a heck of a long way to go before it can sit alongside the vastly superior X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

Although this does not improve nor expand the X-Men Cinematic Universe in any rewarding form, there are plans for more X-movies – most encouragingly, a possible cosmic adventurein the works.

Let’s hope they can get back on course… 

x-men-apocalypse-can-change-the-film-series-895617

Only The Strong Will Survive – sadly, this wasn’t strong enough…

Captain America: Civil War: The Bradscribe Review

Hey, You Wanna See Something Cool?  

cw-airport-fight-gif

“Wow, it’s so weird how you run into people at the airport. Don’t you think that’s weird?” – Iron Man.

civilwar-ironman-cap-blast-shield-700x343

“Sometimes I wanna punch you in your perfect teeth” – Tony Stark.

Ever since Tony insisted that everything special about the Cap “came out of a bottle” (during that infamous spat in the first Avengers movie), it seemed inevitable that these two really would put on their suits and go a few rounds. 

It takes the pressing matter of the Sokovia Accords – a UN-agreed charter devised to hold all enhanced individuals accountable for their actions, especially in heavily built-up areas anywhere around the world – to finally open up their differences, question their objectives and split their team allegiances.

The first two Captain America movies were extremely enjoyable, a couple of the MCU’s finest, IMO, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier as runaway contender for the most sleek and sophisticated comic book movie EVER produced. So expectations for this outing seemed too dangerous to run up too high.

Never fear. 

Captain America: Civil War, happily, almost miraculously, delivers on all accounts.

It’s amazing to see Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr): the resident rogue become a dour conformist, and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans): the soldier expected to do things by the book decide to defy this hefty tome.   

It has to be said that right from the beginning – that thrilling action set-piece in Lagos – to its dramatic denouement, there is hardly a dull moment in this movie. Evans and Downey Jr are exceptional as the main characters. Aww, what the heck, in such a bulging ensemble pic, nobody puts a foot (or a fist!) wrong.  

Special mention must go to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely who have once again crafted an amazing screenplay. And, of course, Joe and Anthony Russo have succeeded – almost effortlessly – in directing another gripping instalment in the saga of Steve Rogers: America’s first Avenger. 

“They’re not stopping!”

“Neither are we.”

cw-vision

vision-in-sweater

“A pinch of paprika… a pinch?” – The Vision. 

The Vision in a V-neck. 

Of all Civil War’s pre-release promotional images, that is the one that grabbed my attention the most. (It harks back to his dapper moments in the original Avengers comics). Vision has always been my fave Avenger (as you can see here) so, not surprisingly, news of his participation in this movie was closely – if a tad apprehensively – followed.

What a relief: Paul Bettany’s performance and the portrayal of this synthozoid here, is faithful to how this extraordinary character was depicted in the comics.

One question though: just how deep into the Earth’s core does Wanda actually fire him?!  

Naturally, everyone is gushing over that MAIN EVENT at the airport. When you all compile your Top 10 Best MCU fights, will the fact that it is practically ALL digitally animated affect its eventual place? There are one or two moments that give the artificiality away, but the sequence contains some of the most enjoyable – onscreen comic book action you are ever likely to see.

And it even got this ol’ CGI-phobe to marvel (geddit?!) at its technical wizardry. 

Equally stunning is Tony’s introductory scene: with his parents in 1991 via Binarily Augmented Retro-Framing (BARF – yeah, Tony, you’re really gonna have to work on that acronym, fella). The FX department really put the Jr into Robert Downey Jr! 

“Be nice, dear, he’s been studying abroad.” 

Really? Which broad? What’s her name?” 

Captain-America-Civil-War-Trailer-TeamIronMan-low-res

“Can you move your seat up?” – Bucky Barnes.  

Having ignored the intense (like, INTENSE!) brouhaha over the over-used Spider-Man and prepared to tolerate it when it came, Tom Holland’s contribution is actually kinda cool, and not nearly as annoying as it might have seemed.

If our (packed) audience reaction is a reliable indicator, then the scene with Tony Stark spouting about retro-tech and onesies in Peter Parker’s bedroom is easily the movie’s most hilarious. Interestingly, this is Tony at his traditionally wise-cracking best – how we would usually expect to see him.

Holland plays the awkward-teen-cliche rather well, but he still hasn’t engaged my enthusiasm for yet another Spider-Man movie. 

But please, spare us the Empire Strikes Back nod. The MCU is a fabulous arena in itself, so doesn’t need to borrow from other great franchises, thanks.

“Really old” movie, huh? Cheeky youngling…  

STAY DOWN, kid, or Brad will call your Aunt May!

Hey! It’s Marisa Tomei! So gonna call her anyway…

black-panther-gif

“…And now, because your friend murdered my father, I also wear the mantle of king. So I ask you, as both warrior and king, how long do you think you can save your friend from me?” – T’Challa.  

“So you like cats?” 

Well, we sure do in this neck of the MCU. Chadwick Boseman puts in a sterling debut as Wakanda’s own superhero. As both charismatic T’Challa, and suited up as the mysterious Black Panther, he is a welcome addition to the MCU. This bodes well for the Black Panther movie (due in early 2018); if the producers can find writers of Civil War’s calibre, then we should be in for an awesome treat.

Such a shame that a certain juvenile arachnid gets all the attention…

Hey, let’s not forget the GIANT contribution that Ant-Man – another of my all-time faves – puts in. From his startled appearance (in the back of a van) to his toppled finale (on his back!) the Tiniest Avenger won the crowd. Having had reservations concerning the casting of Paul Rudd last year, here his comedic input provides welcome relief amidst the politics and heavy clash of ideologies dominating these proceedings.

“Way to go, Tic-Tac!”

Perhaps the one major gripe about this movie concerns the catalyst for all this infighting himself. Daniel Bruhl as Zemo should have been a threatening – maybe even creepy – villain, but ultimately comes across as quite lacklustre. Where is Mads Mikkelsen when you need him?!

For those hankering for a genuine comic book villain, Crossbones proved to be supercool as well as superbad, but then of course his all-too-early demise (and its inadvertent consequences) is what triggered the Accords in the first place.

Yes! This is a superior Marvel package with some great ingredients: the Falcon, Bucky and the Cap all squeezed into a battered old Volkswagen Beetle (“low profile” – ha!); an amusing Stan Lee cameo; even cooking with Vision and Wanda!

Cap-Bucky-Civil-War

“You remember that time we had to ride back from Rockaway Beach in the back of that freezer truck?”

“Was that the time you used our train money to buy hotdogs?”

“You blew three bucks trying to win that stuffed bear for a redhead.”

“What was her name again?”

“Dolores. You called her Dot.”

“She’s gotta be a hundred years old right now…”

“So are we, pal.”

With so many familiar – and new – character appearances, this feels like an Avengers movie, but in my book, you just can’t have an Avengers movie devoid of Thor! 

No, the attention centres on the Cap, and his ol’ buddy from Brooklyn: James “Bucky” Barnes. It’s the interaction between these two pals thrown out of time – especially this touching, personal moment (above) – which, for me, makes this extravaganza soar into Instant Classic status.

This superior mass enhanced individual assault on the senses marks a fantastic introduction to Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

And has got me super-psyched for MORE!

Praising Captain America: Civil War: Brad could do this all day. 

Hey, heads up, DC/Warner: THIS is how you make an AWESOME and ENJOYABLE blockbuster!

*

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

captain-america-shieldcaptain-america-shieldcaptain-america-shieldcaptain-america-shieldcap-vibranium-shield

cw-attaboy-cap

ATTABOY, CAP!

captain-america-civil-war-spider-man-gif

You have a metal arm? That is awesome, dude!” – Spider-Man. 

The Lost Scribe: Where Is Brad?!

Bradscribe Has Vanished… 

UNBALANCED: "Why did he leave...?"
UNBALANCED: “Why did he leave…?”

Wake! For the Sun, who scatter’d into flight 

The Stars before him from the Field of Night, 

Drives Night along with them from Heav’n, and strike

The Sultan’s Turret with a Shaft of Light” – Omar Khayyam.

He was blogging along merrily as usual until – all of a sudden – readers drifted away and the Stats plummeted. It is hard to believe how one so cosmic – so totally with it – could have just upped and left… 

But Kismet decreed that if there were to be no readers, there would be no incitement to write. For the time being, at least. Thus, these unforeseen circumstances provided an ideal time to recharge his creative battery, and prepare for a stupendous comeback, when he would – like Ant-Manbecome bigger and better than before. 

And so, the past few weeks presented the opportunity for him, and his fabulous wife, to detach themselves – albeit briefly – from the technological trappings of the “modern age.” And escape, literally, into the Middle of Nowhere. To seek out the Centre of Knowledge. 

They “got away from it all” – yay, Mr. and Mrs. B got off the grid. 

No surprise, really. It’s as if he has completely fallen off this quadrant… 

Most likely, he skedaddled to the Outer Rim – even his ol’ mate: Maz said: “There, you can disappear…”

Some say there were rumours – nay, stories – of him traipsing off on some foolhardy pilgrimage across the galaxy to the Mojo Temple, to rediscover what he had lost…  

THE WANDERER: "Seeking out the poorer quarters Where the ragged people go, Looking for the places Only they would know."
THE WANDERER: “Seeking out the poorer quarters, Where the ragged people go, Looking for the places
Only they would know.”

“He probably enjoyed being a man of mystery. He embraced the allusions in his life just as much as those that appeared in the many stories he wrote” – J J Furie. 

STARDATE: 04.05.2559.

They left the land-speeder halfway up the mountain – the gradient seemed far too steep to climb. Sure, it was really hot, but still too early in the morning for the sun to have reached its searing zenith.

Out there – in the back of beyond – you would be lucky to have any electricity, let alone a reliable internet connection. Among a cluster of wooden chalets at the summit, the guru awaited their arrival. She had sought his counsel many moons ago; he had read several of his inspirational articles in the papers – this monk seemed like the right Ajarn [teacher] to visit at the right time… 

There was no time to linger and inhale the incense in the Inner Sanctum. 

All three talked for ages. The Scribe had countless questions on philosophy and spirituality – too many for that session – so promised to return one day soon… 

And before the westerner departed, the easterner asked him if he would – at some point – consider becoming a monk…

As the sun gradually diminished that evening, the world-weary wordsmith reclined to view the glorious blood-red and orange sky – it’s not every evening you can watch something as awesome as that back in the Western Regions.

And he beamed heartily at the Field of Night, safe in the knowledge that most of his stress had dissolved…

And all those pursuers were far, far away…

BRAD'S ARMY: He fights the dreaded Zandokan Shokk Troopers... so you don't have to.
BRAD’S ARMY: He fights the dreaded Zandokan Shokk Troopers… so you don’t have to.

“I don’t pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about” – Arthur C. Clarke.

Meanwhile, halfway across the galaxy… 

The elite division of Shokk Troopers stood aside, allowing the dreaded Dark Lord: Zegreatme to stride forth.

The denizens of that spaceport dared not look directly at his visor, for fear that – with one flick of his glistening bionic hand – he would order their instant execution… 

The Zandokans stopped outside the Ravenous Greedo Cantina – yeah, this looked like the sorta crummy dive that blogger would frequent. The Troopers burst in, laser-rifles at the ready; the Dark Lord drummed his talonic fingers on the hilt of his laser-sword impatiently as he surveyed a cluster of i-monitors along the far wall. 

His agents detected high levels of chocolate cream around one console, indicating that quite considerable cake consumption had occurred in this vicinity, very recently. 

And the nacho crumbs proved to be a dead giveaway…

Their sensors revealed a half-completed Captain America: Civil War review saved in the hard drive. The Dark Lord face-palmed, knowing only too well that the Scribe had fled not long before their Imperial Skorpion Kruiser had landed…

“Vhere ees Bred now?!” he growled.

Gesturing manically to his minions to get back outside and question each and every passerby, stopping any denizen to ask them THAT question proved to be a futile move.

For the frightened locals just stared in bewilderment and uttered the same response:

Bradscribe…?! I thought he was a myth…”

NOT AS BRAD AS IT SEEMS...: "And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up..."
NOT AS BRAD AS IT SEEMS…: “And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up…”

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life” – Marcus Aurelius.

Bradscribe will return…

 

………………………………??