Faith · Film · Marvel · Movie Review · Movies · Uncategorized · X-Men

X-Men: Apocalypse – Review

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It’s already been a summer of superheroes with Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War, many people may have forgotten that there was a new X-Men movie as well. Following up Bryan Singer’s Days of Future Past, the team finds itself in the middle of the 80s and an ancient power has awoken which could mean the end of the world as we know it. X-Men: Apocalypse is just as much about it’s characters as it is about spectacle. Singer knows we come to see them and watch them grow and the film does not disappoint.

Magneto’s Struggle

Eric’s story line is one of the most poignant. After the events of Days of Future Past, he has retired to Poland, works in a steel mill, married a woman (he told her who he was the first night they met) and they have a child. He’s happy in the small life he created until an accident at the mill forces him to use his powers to save a fellow worker. Word gets out who he is and before he and his family can escape, the local police capture his daughter, who is killed in a showdown. Enraged, Eric lashes out at the men, killing them all, leaving him screaming to the heavens, “Is this all I am?”. He cannot seem to escape the darkness within. It’s a clear reminder that there is something inside all of us that we cannot control, that is dark and evil and by ourselves we are powerless to control it. In the movie, it’s Charles, Raven and Quicksilver that help bring Eric back to the light, it’s part of the answer, to realize we cannot do it alone, dimly reflecting the truth of,

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV)

Better Together

Apocalypse, also known as En Sabah Nur, believes himself to be a god among men. He believes that his power instills in him the right to rule. The gifts that he was born with have been used to benefit himself alone. On the opposite side you have the X-Men who learn to harness their power and use it for others and the betterment of the world around them. It’s a beautiful picture of what the Apostle Paul talks about in Corinthians when he discusses spiritual gifts,

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV)

The X-Men series has always been about coming together and Apocalypse is no different. in the fight against En Sabah Nur neither Magneto or Charles is strong enough to destroy him, it takes, Scott Summers, Jean Grey working in concert with everyone else to save the world. Thinking about the film brought the next part of the Corinthian passage to mind,

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:14-20 ESV)

Each member of the team has a gift, that when combined with the others makes them even stronger. The gifts are meant to be used for the welfare of all of humanity and cannot hoard for ourselves, because we need each other. Each person brings strengths and weaknesses to the table and united we form a more perfect union. apocalypse-180759

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this movie. I love the new cast they have playing the younger versions of the people we know from the previous films and Quicksilver is still one of the best things in superhero films. The rest of the character work has me excited for what comes next in the series as hopefully we move to the 90s. Side note, this is how you make a joke about a Star Wars film. This film is rated 3.75 out of 5.

Film · Movie Review · Movies

Best Films of 2014

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In all honesty I found it a struggle to come up with this list. This year was lackluster for me in terms of really good movies. Now, the movies on this list I did feel like were the real highlights. Here’s to hoping that 2015 is better in terms of blockbusters and indie films. Some of the films titles will link you to further content, be sure to check it out.


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1. Interstellar

This movie had me thinking and marveling more than any other film of the year. In my original review I said, “Experimental and challenging, Interstellar is beyond, light years beyond anything seen in years. Nolan has made a movie for movie lovers. Inventive, beautiful and something that pushes the boundaries in thought and the craft” and this is still true.

The-Railway-Man-Poster2. The Railway Man

No movie had a better portrayal of grace in the face of unspeakable tragedy and torture than this. Colin Firth and Hiroyuki Sanada play to perfection the horrors of war, the scars it leaves and the forgiveness that is needed to let go and live life to the fullest. It’s an amazing grace at work and the most powerful film of the year.

captain-america-2-imax-poster-610x8913. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Not only was this my favorite superhero movie of the year, but it was the best Marvel movie for me so far. Marvel finally gets serious and gives us a movie with weight and substance. The issues of domestic spying and what we sacrifice in the name of security hit close to home. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson crackle onscreen together. Comic book movies have rarely been better.

xmen-days4. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men franchise was a welcome one. After the disaster of X3 and the triumph of First Class there seemed to be two different franchises. Singer finds a way to connect all the treads and forge a new path for the series by honoring the past, while creating a new timeline. The Quicksilver scene alone is worth the price of admission.

hr_The_LEGO_Movie_105. The Lego Movie

Not only was it the best animated movie of the year, it was just plain fun. The messages of friendship and what make us truly special, our uniqueness, will make this a delight for children and adults for years to come. This film sets the foundation and the bar for the Lego movies that are coming in the future.

gonegirl26. Gone Girl

Adaptations are difficult, especially to beloved books. Luckily for the film they had author Gillian Flynn as the screen writer and David Fincher as director. The actors are splendidly wicked. Ben Affleck and Rosamond Pike play the despicable characters to perfection and the uneasiness of the ending may leave you breathless. This may be the only time I say reading the book could make the movie less enjoyable for knowing the plot twists beforehand.

mockingjay-katniss-poster7. Mockingjay Part 1

This was the best adaptation of half a book this year. Not only was it a good film it was a timely one. The themes of revolution, civil unrest, propaganda and class warfare make this an important movie, beyond it’s connection to the Hunger Games series. I was surprised to find it was a stand out, especially being only half of the finale to The Hunger Games, but they truly made it work.

The-Hobbit-Battle-of-the-Five-Armies-poster-9-691x10248. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

We visit Middle Earth one last time and Peter Jackson does not disappoint. Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman are sublime as Bilbo and Thorin. In the midst of all the spectacle it’s the small character moments that stand out and make this a good movie. Touching on themes of greed, loyalty and true friendship the saga comes to a worthy conclusion.

Disney_BigHero6_Poster_Baymax9. Big Hero 6

One word, Baymax. Honestly this movie is not revolutionary in it’s themes or it’s execution, but is fun. Baymax will have you rolling on the floor laughing with his fist bumps and cat comments and sometimes fun is enough.

 

edge_of_tomorrow_np10. Edge of Tomorrow

I missed this movie in it’s theatrical run and was slightly turned off by the “Cruise factor”, but the good reviews finally won me over and I gave it a shot on blu-ray. Tom Cruise is actually a great casting choice and Emily Blunt was a fantastic in this sci-fi Groundhog Day. The ending may be a little weak but for the surprise this was, it is worthy of the list.  

Honorable Mention:

Ffury_ver6_xxlgury

This movie was good. Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman are all well cast in David Aryer’s World War II tank film. This is surprisingly one of the most spiritual movies of the year, while at the same time not shying away from the harsh realities of warfare. Worth renting and grappling with.

 

11178319_800What If

This is one of the most honest movies about relationships I’ve seen in a long time. It can be very hard to be just friends, but the reward is also not to be missed. Daniel Radcliffe is astounding and Zoe Kazan will be your new favorite. If you missed this in 2014, see it on 2015

 

Still to see: Wild, Selma, Unbroken, Big Eyes, American Sniper and Boyhood.

Film · Hope · Movie Review · Movies · X-Men

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Review

xmen-daysAfter the disappointing Last Stand, the X-Men franchise was at a crossroads; how to revitalize a once promising film series and breathe new life into something that, up till that point had been fantastic comic book cinema. Matthew Vaughn was chosen to helm First Class and the finished product was everything the name implied. As the next film began the percolate and Matthew Vaughn exited the project, fans were worried that the the series would once again flounder. Bryan Singer, director of X1 and X2, was tapped to return and with him brought us a film that rivals First Class for one of the top spots in comic book movie rankings. Days of Future Past is a film that utilizes the best of the original cast and the newest film to create a mind-bending tale of time travel as well as resetting the X-Men film universe for the future. The Quicksilver scene is alone worth the price of admission. If you have not seen Days of Future Past, do! This film is sure to entertain as well as leave you thinking as you walk out of the theater for weeks to follow.

Hope

One of the hallmarks of the X-Men series has be Professor Xavier’s ability to hope when all seems lost. In this film, we learn why. In the future,  Sentinels have all but eradicated mutants as well as all people who would help them. There is one play the mutants have; send Wolverine back into his past self to stop Mystique from killing a weapons specialist who’s life work will turn into the Sentinels. Wolverine will also need to revive Xavier, who after the events of First Class has lost his abilities (the drug he takes to allow him to walk impairs his mental powers) and his school because of the Vietnam draft. Xavier has lost all hope in the world as well as himself and has descended into wallowing in self-pity and self-loathing. Through his interaction with Wolverine, who allows him to communicate with Xavier in the future, he is able to regain his focus and his hope. It is a powerful scene with the reminder that one cannot live long without hope. Peter reminds believers of this in his first letter when he says,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Belief

There is little in this world that is more harmful to a person than a loss of belief in themselves or the idea that no one else believes in them. Mystique is on the brink. She believes that she is forever set and cannot go back to who she use to be. Estranged from Xavier and betrayed by Magneto, she sees no options for herself. Xavier makes a statement midway through the film in reference to her, “Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn’t mean they are lost forever “. What a beautiful, gospel-filled message that no matter what someone has done, they are not beyond salvation. There is nothing more powerful than the cross of Christ and it is only when we loose sight of that, that we write people off. Xavier realizes at the end of the film that he has been trying to control Mystique instead of believing in her. His ultimate act of giving her the choice in the end brings to light the admonition that people cannot be force into something. Cohesion or control are never effective in winning the hearts and minds of people. It is only through love, belief and authentic relationship that people can change.

Conclusion

The X-Men series is at the top of it’s game. With Apocalypse as the storyline for the next film and a focus on the First Class iteration of characters, the series looks to be poised for greatness once again.