X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)

Director: Simon Kinberg

Writer: John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum (Screenplay) Jack Kirby, Stan Lee (Comic Book)

Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee

 

Plot: Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.


Tagline – The Phoenix will rise.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mostly Forgettable

 

Story: X-Men: Dark Phoenix starts in the world where Charles Xavier’s (McAvoy) group of X-Men, Mystique (Lawrence), Beast (Hoult), Jean Grey (Turner), Scott (Sheridan), Storm (Shipp), Quicksilver (Peters) and Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee) are celebrated around the world for their efforts to rescue people where normal humans can’t reach, with their latest mission taking them to space, where Jean Grey gets infected by an unknown lifeforce.

Back on Earth Jean struggles to control this new power which will lead to tragic consequences with her needing to turn to Erik (Fassbender) for advice before being visited by the mysterious Vuk (Chastain) that wants the power within her.

 

Thoughts on X-Men: Dark Phoenix

 

Characters – Jean Grey is our central character in this film, we see how she has a troubled childhood, before being welcomed to the school, she has learnt to control her powers which become enhanced with the incident, to a level she can’t control anymore. Jean is left wondering who she can trust, Charles, Erik or Vuk, just to find her place in the world. Charles Xavier has seen his school become the place the President turns to, this has made him reckless with the behaviour, willing to risk them when he doesn’t need to, he must face the reality that his school will always be looked at differently and that he hasn’t always done thing correctly. Erik has once again returned to a quiet life, this time helping mutants have a place away from the world, he will do the best to stop any conflict until he learns what has happened.  Mystique continues to have the ability to question what Charles is doing, she wants to keep everybody safe, even if it means going against everything Charles is thinking. Beast is still believing in Charles, until the tragedy hits home, forcing him to question what is best for the students in the school and mutants alike. Scott does play the only character that Jean loves, he can help at times when she starts to lose control, while being one of the few people she wants to protect from the danger she is becoming. Storm, Quicksilver and Nightcrawler complete the X-Men team which sees him just being extra members of the fight for the most part. Vuk is the mysterious being that is searching for the power that has taken over Jean, she is the leader of a group that want this power for their own destructive motivations.

PerformancesThis film has a mix of performances, Sophie Turner does continue to struggle in the leading role, she just never manages to convince with the unsure factor of how she is feeling through the film. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are usually the standouts in these films, but they both don’t get to make the impact they have in the past. Nicolas Hoult does have good moments, but we would have liked more from him. Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp and Kodi Smit-McPhee do everything asked in their roles, while Jessica Chastain seems to be wasted in the villainous role.

StoryThe story shows us a world where mutants are a welcome and used to help sav people around the world, when one of these missions goes wrong the mutants show the danger they can bring to the world, when one gets infected with an unknown power which makes them the most powerful person in the world, while a new group wants that power. It is nice to see the story continue to show how the world has changed from the events in the previous films, even if it does throw a lot of the timeline out the window. We do follow certain lines that we did follow in The Last Stand too, which didn’t feel fresh, the script does have some awful lines which doesn’t help either. Now on the positive side of the story, we do get to flip Charles’s characters showing that he isn’t the all positive figure, it does make him the focus of the story at times though, we do get to see some of the other X-Men unleash their powers is nice to see too. This could easily be one of the weakest stories in the X-Men universe and you can see just how difficult it was.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in the film does have a couple of entertaining moments that do get to see just how powerful each mutant can be when unleashed to their full powers. We do hit new levels for the sci-fi elements as we see the new enemy and power.

SettingsThe film doesn’t give us the best looking settings, most action sequences actually feel like they are just on sets, never inside an environment.

Special EffectsThe effect in the film give us a weird look to the design of the power that is coming over Jean, which does work in places, though it doesn’t look overly interesting in when it comes to the wounds.


Scene of the Movie –
The train sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We should be called X-Women.

Final ThoughtsThis is a forgettable addition to the X-Men franchise, with simple acting and mostly safe actions.

 

Overall: Basic-Men

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Random – Z – The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

Director: Niki Caro

Writer: Angela Workman (Screenplay) Diane Ackerman (Book)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenberg, Daniel Bruhl, Timothy Radford, Efrat Dor, iddo Goldberg

 

Plot: The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Heartbreakingly Brilliant Drama

 

Story: The Zookeeper’s Wife starts in 1939 Warsaw, Poland as we meet Antonina (Chastain) and Jan (Heldenbergh) Zabinski the zoo keepers of the Warsaw zoo, both committed to giving their animals a good life and their customers an experience they could never imagine.

When the invasion in hits Warsaw, the zoo is hit hard with the animals running wild many are killed, German zoologist Lutz Heck (Bruhl) does offer to protect the remaining quality animals by moving them to a German zoo, but the rest end up getting killed.

When Lutz agrees to let the non-Jewish couple keep their zoo open as a pig farm, they start doing what they can to help as many Jews escape the ghetto they are being forced to survive in. How many people can they save, how long can they keep everything up before getting caught out by the German’s that is the questions we are left with.

 

Thoughts on The Zookeeper’s Wife

 

Characters/PerformanceAntonina is the animal lover, people lover that works with her husband to help protect as many Jews during the war as possible, she uses her status to help keep the remaining animals safe and people safe too. Jan is the husband of Antonina that takes the biggest risks by going into the ghetto housing the Jews but he becomes increasingly jealous of Antonina and Lutz working relationship. Lutz Heck is the German zoologist that uses the Warsaw zoo for his own desire to continue breeding animals and his attraction to Antonina keeps him returning.

Performance wise, Jessica Chastain is fantastic in the leading role show us once again we how she can become any part put on front of her. Daniel Bruhl does give us a great role in which we absolutely hate his character through the film even though he isn’t truly evil. Johan Heldenbergh is also great through the film standing tall next to the two bigger names of the acting world.

StoryWe have heard this horrific story before, we know what the Nazi’s did to the Jews and we know Schindler’s List is the most famous and well-respected film version of these events. While the plot giving is slightly miss-leading because we are expecting to see more about the animal saving, we do find ourselves looking at the incredible story of how the zookeeper’s risk their lives to save as many as Jews as possible during the war. We know how amazing the heroes of the war were and learning new stories of their heroics is always good to see. I do feel this film does have certain pacing issues because you can have your heart broken in the open 30 minutes as you would be looking to see something slightly different in the next chapters of the story.

Biography/History/WarSeeing the story of the Zabinska’s struggle during the war shows us how brave they were trying to save, the difficult decision they made and the part of history they were part of.

SettingsThe settings all look fantastic putting us in the middle of the war in Warsaw showing us just how difficult everything was for the people involved.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most heart-breaking films you will see this year, but it does fall into another incredible story of how people risked their own lives to save Jews from the Nazis. I would say parts of the synopsis are miss-leading as I was expecting a lot more about how the animals were being saved but saying this we can seeing another incredible story from World War II.

 

Overall: Brilliant story of heroic actions.

Rating

 

 

Jessica Chastain Weekend – The Debt (2010)

Director: John Madden

Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Peter Straughan (Screenplay) Assaf Bernstein, Ido Rosenblum (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciaran Hinds, Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas, Sam Worthington

 

Plot: In 1965, three Mossad agents cross into East Berlin to apprehend a notorious Nazi war criminal. Thirty years later, the secrets the agents share come back to haunt them.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Thriller

 

Story: The Debt starts in 1997 where Rachel Singer (Mirren), David Peretz (Hings) and Stephan Gold (Wilkinson) are about to have their life story about their time in the intelligence agency thirty years early helped take down a Nazi war criminal, but this event brings us David’s suicide.

We flashback to thirty years earlier where the younger version of the characters Rachel (Chastain), Stephan (Csokas) and David (Worthington) learn how they first meet and start to work together to take down the war criminal, but why is that effecting their lives in the modern day, well only time will tell.

 

Thoughts on The Debt

 

Characters – First we will look at the present-day versions of the characters, Rachel is now a grandmother and proud reason for her daughter’s book, Stephan is wheelchair bound that still on the job while David isn’t sure whether to trust Stephan anymore killing himself over just meeting with him.

In the past, we have junior agent Rachel that must first join her partners in the mission but learn about how the field works when it comes to taking on a war criminal. Stephan is the leader of the group, he pulls the strings in the mission as well as warning Rachel of any mistakes she makes. David is the quiet member of the group, he has taken things to a personal level and isn’t willing to let anyone into his life.

PerformanceWe have six great actors here, we have the two different generations which show us just how talented the newer generation are with Chastain, Huntington and Csokas compared to Mirren, Wilkinson and Hinds, they all give great performances throughout.

StoryThe story mixes the two times about the story, first we learn what is on the record about what happened in the 1960’s story, but then we learn the truth about the what happened. When you look at any secret mission going on we get to see how secretive it needed to be when being told about what really happened. We also see how things could be made to be true to cover up a mistake and how they will need to be fixed if things come to light.

ThrillerThis does keep us on the edge of our seat as we wait to see what happened to make this a difficult situation for the elder characters.

SettingsWe have the different times for each setting which shows us the different worlds our characters faced the same problem.

Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The love triangle does feel forced.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good thriller that does keep us on edge through the film, we are left to guess just where it will all go and what was the truth from the past.

 

Overall: Good intense thriller but lacking the final punch

Rating

 

 

Jessica Chastain Weekend – Lawless (2012)

Director: John Hillcoat

Writer: Nick Cave (Screenplay) Matt Bondurant (Novel)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman

 

Plot: Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a trio of bootlegging brothers are threatened by a new special deputy and other authorities angling for a cut of their profits.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Standard Historical Crime Story

 

Story: Lawless starts as we meet the three brothers Bondurant, youngster Jack (LaBeouf), Forrest (Hardy) and Howard (Clarke), the eldest two have a reputation of being indestructible, the three are bootlegging alcohol during the prohibition era in America. Business is great and their reputation keeps people away from.

This changes when Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Pearce) arrives looking to clean up Franklin County, Virginia, this helps Jack learn how to be part of the business in the violent side of the business. This leas Jack to make a deal with the deadliest bootlegger Floyd Banner (Oldman) and the war begins between gangs and cops.

 

Thoughts on Lawless

 

Characters/PerformanceJack is the youngster brother, he has always looked up to his brothers to do the dirty work but now he wants to get out there and get his hands dirty, Forrest if the toughest member of the family, he the one conducting most of the business and he will also be the muscles when someone messes with them. Howard is the eldest member of the brothers, he survived the war and now looks for fights while drinking. Charlie Rakes is the man trying to shut down the bootlegging business, he will kill the people involved to send his message. Floyd Banner is the biggest name in the business and now he works with the brothers but will kill anyone who crosses him.

Performance wise, Shia is good in the leading role fitting the part of lead well, Hardy is the best performer where here as the ruthless member of the team, otherwise the rest of the cast are all good throughout the film all doing what you would expect from the genre.

StoryThe story follows the bootleggers during the prohibition era in America, we see the rise of one, the downfall of another an mostly just how things went down in the battle to be the men that get turned too for supplies. This isn’t the most interesting story as none of the characters are overly likeable.

Crime The throws us into a crime world of the prohibition era which shows us just what this would have been like for the men involved.

SettingsThe settings show us just how shady the operations were on the back-country roads on America.

Final ThoughtsThis is fine, nothing special movie that can easily be forgotten when it is all set and done.

 

Overall: Fine but nothing special.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – Z – Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writer: Mark Boal (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong

 

Plot: A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.


Tagline – For ten years one woman never stopped searching for the most wanted man in history

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Intense Thriller

 

Story: Zero Dark Thirty starts as we see how Maya (Chastain) joins an interrogation unit ran by Dan (Clarke) who is looking for answers to the location of Osama Bin Laden, the man behind the 9/11 attacks.

As the information gathers, so does her desperation to catch and kill Osama, this shows on how she goes against any orders to follow leads, as well as risking her life to get to the moment in history where Osama Bin Laden was killed by a Navy SEAL team.

 

Thoughts on Zero Dark Thirty

 

Characters – Maya is the lady we are following through this whole film, she is determined to use the intelligence gathered to kill Osama Bin Laden, she stands up to authority and never backs down from a lead. We get to meet a whole host of other people that either taught, worked with or tried to stop Maya along the way.

PerformancesJessica Chastain is brilliant in the leading role, she once again shows us all the talent she has when it comes to being in a leading role. We have a host of actors that went onto become leading men here too including Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt showing that once again Bigelow knows how to select the next big things.

StoryThe story follows the manhunt for Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks, we follow the 10-year pursuit for the terrorist as we follow one lady who would never give up on finding the man, using the information gathered to bring this man down. This showed us just how many people took a part in the biggest manhunt known to man. The story unfolds in order as we see each lead set the people in the right direction they need to take to bring down the terrorist.

ThrillerThis does keep you on the edge of your seat as you see the mission unfold, even if we do know the end of this story.

SettingsThe settings take us to the events of the terrorist attacks, and the locations the mission would have taken place in.


Scene of the Movie –
Night mission.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too long in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is an excellent look at how Bin Laden was taken down, the people who gave up time in their own lives to bring down the terrorist.

 

Overall: A must watch for the thriller fans out there.

Rating