Tag Archives: Michael Fassbender

X-Men: Days of Future Past | Review | Film

X-Men Days of Future PastAs bands of misfits go, it’s difficult not to relate to the X-Men. As the seventh film in the franchise (depending whether you have a selective memory about X-Men 3: The Last Stand or not), the series has gone the distance without succumbing to the allure of a reboot, and here’s hoping there’s a long way to go yet.

X-Men Days of Future PastHugh Jackman might be typecast as the poster boy for the X-Men, but there’s no hiding that he carries the role well, and this film is no exception. In Days of Future Past, Wolverine is integral to the plot, acting as the time-defying bridge between the ‘current’ cast and that of the 2011 prequel X-Men First Class.

Getting your head around the contorted plot might prove a challenge of you’re someone who needs to understand things rather than take them at face value. The key to the story is Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page)’s new mutant ability, the power to send people’s consciousness back in time.

Like many aspects of the film, no explanation is given for this, but it does give us a good excuse to why there’s two versions of a few characters in the movie, namely Professor X and Magneto.

The past sections pick up 10 years after the events of First Class and the years have not been kind to the Professor (James McAvoy) who has sacrificed his powers for the ability to walk again, thanks to a handy serum developed by Hank McCoy (Nicholas Holt), which explains why you’ll have spotted him walking in some of the trailers.

Herein lies the beauty of what Director Bryan Singer has created. Touches like that which seem like a disregard for the established canon are expertly explained. It’s clear that Singer has a great love for the franchise, and from his track record fans were excited to see him return to the helm.

Even more reassuringly, Singer’s work here is easily up to the standard he set with the original X-Men and X-Men 2. Getting the balance of so many characters right is a tricky skill, one which went awry when Brett Ratner picked up the third installment with disappointing results.

All of this adds up to a film packed with familiar characters – with big name actors to do them justice – and a complex but exciting plot. All it needed to top things off was a devastating new enemy: the sentinel.

Created by Dr. Bolivar Trask (Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage on top form), these towering robots, with more than a hint of the fire-breathing titan from Thor, can adapt to the abilities of mutants when they are attacked, and since they soon decided to get rid of most humans as well, a bleak future awaits mankind – unless James McAvoy and the gang cant stop them.

X-Men Days of Future PastBack in the 70s alongside Professor X is Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who has been locked in the most secure building in the world – The Pentagon. Luckily, Wolverine knows someone who can help them, leading to the introduction of the most fun character in the entire film, Quicksilver, who can move at incredible speed. One gripe with this film could be that we didn’t see enough of him.

The stakes are high with this film, not just in the story but for the franchise too, since a critical flop could have led to a loss of faith from fans. Fortunately Bryan Singer has delivered a film which ticks all the boxes and is consistent in a universe wrought with irregularities.

Whether the already announced X-Men: Apocalypse can keep up the standard remains to be seen but for now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the best film of the year so far.

Rating: 5/5

James Michael Parry

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Ten most anticipated titles of 2014 – Part 2 | Opinion | Entertainment

2014 ones to watch pt2That’s right, we ran out of space to fit in ten before – there’s just so much to talk about. In case you missed it, have a read of the first five things we are excited about this year, then take a look at another five below. After that you may go, or if you’re feeling really interactive you can leave a comment with what yours are.

X-Men: Days of Future Past – 22 May

X-Men: Days of Future PastIs more always better? We aren’t so sure. It definitely made Spider-Man 3 messy and is history is threatening to repeat itself with the second remake (see part one). That said, it’s difficult to bet against the pedigree of the cast involved with X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Promising new-ish talent in the form of Evan Peters as Quicksilver and rising star Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, while old guard like Hugh Jackman (born to be Wolverine) bring some gravitas to proceedings and knights of the realm Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart bringing up the rear.

Of course this time roles are doubled up, as both Michael Fassbender and McKellen take on the iconic role of Magneto and make uneasy alliance with James McAvoy and Stewart’s Professor X.

To say that this is an anticipated title would be an understatement. Original film series helmsman Bryan Singer is back and there’s some fantastic writers on board as well, with so many great characters, special effects and action sequences to come – what can go wrong? If the trailer is anything to go by we are in for a treat.

House of Cards: Series 2 – 14 February

The first of two multimedia TV choices on this list, both significant for different reasons. Last year House of Cards was Netflix’s first real foray into the world of original programming, and thanks to its success a handful of shows, both established and brand new, have followed suit. Now they have to do it again to prove that it’s not just a one-trick pony or a fluke – a second series is serious business.

The show isn’t strictly original, since it’s a remake of a UK show, but I think given the differences between attitudes and political systems in the two countries it can stand alone with its head held high. Kevin Spacey nails the part of Frank Underwood expertly, so much so that he gained a number of award nominations, but, alas, only a (well-deserved) Golden Globe win for Spacey’s co-star Robin Wright. Netflix will want to improve on that this time around, to prove that they ‘count’ in the big leagues.

Since the scrabble up the political ladder was vicious and frantic at times in series one, viewers won’t want Frank’s journey to get too easy this time around. All the episodes drop in at once on Valentine’s Day, will they make enough impact to tear people away from their loved ones?

The Halo TV Series – TBA

HaloThe Xbox One announcement was undoubtedly a multimedia entertainment affair, rather than a reveal of ‘a games console’. Microsoft had their sights set on something greater, and still do. Filming a TV series though, takes time, and with collaborator Steven Spielberg working on other TV projects as producer his time is sure to be in high demand.

The potential of this show is what makes it such an exciting prospect though. The Halo 4: Forward  Unto Dawn web series demonstrated fantastic production values and, crucially, a compelling story which wasn’t over-reliant on the games – a very difficult balance to get right.

The expectation from series fans is high, and as one of Microsoft’s key exclusives, they will definitely want to take the time they need to get it right first time. Particularly considering all the flack they got in 2013 for various PR mis-steps.

The potential of the concept is huge though, and there’s a lot to play for. A massive captive audience and exclusive delivery platform just waiting to get going, while the interplay between the show and the game series itself, which is also keeping its audience hungry. MS have an opportunity to make a bold statement about what they can achieve in multimedia. It might not come this year in the end, but there is sure to be more revealed by the end of the year.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – March 28

Captain America: The Winter SoldierPoor Cap. Thanks to merely his name, his origin story wasn’t as well received in the UK as it was in his homeland. Luckily he has another chance with The Winter Soldier, and early forecasts are looking extremely promising.

The character established in the first film had a surprisingly deep arc compared to his fellow Avengers, and as such was short-changed by critics. In this instalment the trailer paints a very compelling picture.

Cap is still working with SHIELD, including Nick Fury and Black Widow, and is beginning to question the motives and methods of this highly destructive organisation. Not a gritty superhero story like The Dark Knight trilogy, but a very personal story which explores his character – albeit with some explosions thrown in for good measure.

Directing are little-known pair Anthony and Joe Russo, who are sure to bring their own spin to proceedings, while the rest of the crew are equally unknown to the Marvel film universe, meaning the film has that mixture of excitement and fear you often find with an unknown quantity.

The next Google Nexus tablet – TBA

Google Nexus 10 2 concept imageGoogle have been making strides over the past few months, buying up companies left and right and making progress with both software and concept hardware such as Google Glass, but since the release of the Google Nexus 7, things have been quiet in the tablet division.

The advertising for Google Play as the place to get your music, films and TV shows has seen a marked increase, giving the softest of indications that the next logical step on their tablet journey may be coming.

Another patent deal with Samsung done and dusted in the smartphones division means there’s a few more patents to play with and since there has been a lot of expectation for a more specced iPad or wearable tech. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES), product launches from Google were conspicuous by their absence and after Apple’s shares took a tumble on the back of less-than-overwhelming sales performance – now is the time to strike.

The technology needed isn’t a million miles ahead of the excellent Google Nexus 10, produced by Samsung, with its screen in particular going down well and generally performance stacking up to the equivalent offering from Apple. To really turn heads though, they will need to go further. Does that mean a Nexus 11? Time, as ever, will tell, but there’s potential there for the taking.

The ones to watch: Watch Dogs, Titanfall, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Division, The Fray – Helios, Rancid’s new album, Robocop, 300: Rise of an Empire, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Steam Machines, Oculus Rift, Hannibal and Game of Thrones.
James Michael Parry

Film | Review: Prometheus | This Is Entertainment

In director Ridley Scott’s mind, there are two kinds of people – those who have seen 1979
sci-fi thriller Alien, and those who haven’t. Prometheus tries very hard to cater to both
groups, and largely does a fantastic job.

The film begins with a beautiful sweeping landscape, immediately hitting you with the
beauty and vastness of the spectacle you are faced with, before contrasting it with the
appearance of a huge, flying saucer style spacecraft.

At once the strong sense of style which flows from the film’s director is apparent. The sets
ooze sci-fi stereotypes, but all taken from a style which Scott himself (with his team) set
up with Alien and BladeRunner. The ship, the space suits, the corridors all look just the
way you expect them too, and go a long way to convincing you that you are in the same
universe as the creepy face-hugging aliens from yesteryear.

The strongest link for Alien fans comes in the form of the world-building terraforming
company the Weyland Corporation, ‘the company’ who will send out Ellen Ripley and
the crew of the Nostromo some 30 years later. It’s founder, Peter Weyland, finances the
Prometheus mission to discover the origins of humanity after a string of archaeological
finds which point to a specific star cluster in deep space.

The discovery is made by protagonist Doctor Elizabeth Shaw (the original Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, Noomi Rapace), who is brought along with partner Charlie Holloway to conduct a scientific study of a moon which
contains an atmosphere capable of supporting life.

The ship’s crew is made up of a band of clashing personalities, frequently not given enough
time or material to develop into more than stereotypical supporting characters, who help or
hinder Shaw in finding the truth.

Shaw is gifted with more development, the daughter of a Christian father who finds
reassurance in her faith, literally wearing it around her neck with a sign of the cross, and is
challenged by the revelations she experiences throughout the film, taking her on a spiritual
journey as much as a dramatic one.

Rapace does Shaw justice as a doctor caught between science and religion, and convinces
the audience to follow her down the rabbit hole, though things don’t hold together quite as
smoothly as the action ramps up in the closing act.

The development of the story is interspersed with foreboding, and for many fans the
expectation for creatures to leap on faces or out of people’s chests at any moment, but
flows along at an even pace, with the intrigue of what exactly the team are looking for
growing with each new plot point. This leads to a sense that there are more questions asked
than answered, but for the majority of viewers the pay-off of the final climax is adequate, if
not definitive.

The star of the show is Michael Fassbender, as inquisitive android David, who’s motives
are vague, but the character is constantly irresistible – with a combination of childlike-
curiosity and a callous attitude to humanity. Fassbender delivers his lines with the
calculating precision of a machine, while giving the constant impression of emotion, which
remains unflinching throughout.

Charlize Theron’s evil overseer role as Meredith Vickers gives a first impression of being
one-note, but she allows the characters emotions to gradually bleed through a hard exterior
shell, creating a well-rounded, if not quite likeable representative of the company.

While not the ground-breaking slice of sci-fi Alien was, it would be hard for Scott to out-
do himself in the genre, but after so many years away, the film is fun, entertaining and
dramatic, something which has the inspired touch of a visionary but also the measured
approach of a master in his field. A few light years from perfection, but when you are
thousands from Earth, it’s quite difficult to notice.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

Film: Review – X-Men: First Class

Getting their mutant on

Mutation is “groovy.” At least according to Charles Xavier, played by James McAvoy,   following in the wheels of the great Patrick Stewart in this latest instalment of the superhero franchise.

It’s back to where it all began for the X-Men, with the film’s opening echoing the beginning of the first film back in 2000. A young Erik Lehnsherr screams in agony as his parents are taken from him in a German concentration camp during the World War II. As he reaches out to them, the gates which separate them contort and bend, his desperation activating his devastating mutation. Little does he know he is destined to become Magneto, the villain who was brought to life in the first three films by Sir Ian McKellen.

In First Class Michael Fassbender plays the metal-manipulating mutant, delivering a dominant and icy performance of a man driven to vengeance by the horrors he suffered as a child.

Luckily his path of destruction is halted when he meets Charles Xavier, a young Oxford graduate with the power to read people’s minds. Charles convinces Erik to work with him to bring mutants together to take down the ultimate threat, a man named Sebastian Shaw, who wants to start World War III by provoking Russia and America in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis.

Shaw (Kevin Bacon), and his band of mutants known as the Hellfire Club, threatens various political figures to take steps towards war through the film, leading to a fleet-on-fleet face-off just off the coast of Cuba, where the X-Men intervene and we discover both where Magneto gained his signature helmet and Xavier lost the ability to walk.

The mutants of this film are a combination of the new and the familiar, including a perfectly-timed cameo from one series regular, with the striking blue duo of Mystique and Beast probably being the most well-known. New recruits include Banshee, who can produce glass-shattering screams and sonar, and a relative of the more familiar mutant, Adam Summers, otherwise known as Havoc, who can create arcs of red energy around his body.

The film is very much within the continuity of its predecessors – with the odd inconsistency, such as how Mystique can be a teenager in 1960 and middle aged in 2000, explained away with some well-placed techno-babble. Some of the films funniest moments come from quips about Charles’ hair, but equally there is much enjoyment to be had if you’d never heard of these characters before, so you don’t have to be a massive X-Men geek to keep track of what’s going on.

The dynamic of the plot is built around the difference in ideals between Charles and Eric; Charles seeks cooperation and peace with humanity, while Erik does not believe mutants will ever be accepted and pushes for dominance and superiority.

McAvoy shines as a young Charles, more cheeky and charming than Patrick Stewart’s incarnation, and yet his conviction and dedication to what he believes are solid, with the wisdom of his later self just waiting to be unlocked.

Fassbender too makes a bold impression, building on Erik’s single-minded nature in the opening act to a complex character struggling between his emotions and actions, with his anger at his past and determination to avenge his mother’s death epitomised with the immortal phrase: “Never again.”

The rest of the cast complete the team brilliantly, with each character having their own revelations and growing as their confidence builds and they hone their powers. No one character seems overbearing or left out, a testament to the skill of Director Matthew Vaughn, who is no stranger to superheroes after directing the superb Kick-Ass last year.

In all the film delivers everything you could want on celluloid: action, emotion, a glimmer of romance and believable characters who you really care about, even if some are a tad larger than life. The balance between every aspect, from story to special effects, is perfect, and takes you on an action-packed thrill ride with real substance. The bar for all superhero films, if not action films in general, has been raised.

Rating: 5/5

James Michael Parry