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“Dark Phoenix” ends “X-Men” series on mediocre note

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Sophie Turner — the immortal Sansa Stark from ‘Game of Thrones’ — showing enormous potential as Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix.’

“X-men” is no stranger to moviegoers and comic book fanatics. Ever since the first movie in 2000, the franchise has acquired a loyal fanbase and spawned some great films. The notable ones are “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Logan” and “Deadpool.” Along with that, it has also produced some stinkers. With this, the supposed last installment to the series with the old gang “Dark Phoenix” has a lot of weight on its shoulders as it concludes the story.

“Dark Phoenix” follows the story of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) a mutant whose power is becoming harder to control as she turns into the infamous “Dark Phoenix.” In order to save her and the world from such aggressive power, the “X-Men” now have to fight with one of their own, while tensions arise within the group.

After the Game of Thrones finale, Sophie Turner returns in “Dark Phoenix” with a good performance. Her American accent is believable, and she portrays the pain that the character experiences with skill and finesse. A dialogue of her with Magneto (Michael Fasbender) shows her range in acting with believable artistry and panache.

James McAvoy is amazing as ever as he again portrays Charles Xavior or Professor X. Though definitely not a villain, he is somewhat responsible for the current combative situation. The movie tells the viewers the reason why he did something in the past that might be responsible for Jean’s anger towards the group.

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Jennifer Lawrence plays Raven/Mystique in the movie “Dark Phoenix.” 

The CGI (computer generated imagery) is decent but definitely could be better. In a shot that involves floating guns, viewers can tell that the weapons look a little “plasticky.” Also, the way the character Hank (Nicholas Hoult) transform into his Beast form has a cheap effect. However, the make-up artistry for him as well as the characters, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is done masterfully.

The movie is not as action heavy as fans might want it to be. There are some fight scenes but they are infrequent, leaving room for the story. Even still, the battles are not as hard-hitting as the other Marvel action scenes. The altercation on a train at the end is easily the best one in the movie, boasting some great choreography and illustrating how the powers come in handy for these mutants.

The group of aliens who are led by Smith (Jessica Chastain) feels almost unnecessary; they are not as intimidating as the villain Apocalypse in the last “X-Men” movie. Chastain is great, but the writing for her character is dull. When the movie cuts to the aliens, audiences may be bored and yearn to be back with the mutants.

“X-Men” is a series that involves a lot of time travel. Therefore, people might think that they need to “catch up” with the lore before watching the movie. With “Dark Phoenix,” it is not the case. The movie provides the audience with enough substantial information to familiarize new viewers to the “X-Men” universe.

While “Avengers: Endgame” ended a series with a bang, “Dark Phoenix” has trouble closing the chronicle. Long-time frequenters can pick out a handful of better films in the franchise. It is still an entertaining movie, but certainly does not conclude the X-Men series in the best way.

What to watch out for in June

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Summer movies are often known for high octane and thrilling spirits. This season, studios are bringing the excitement in a variety of ways, from a musical legend story to big-budget monsters. Here are six that viewers can put on their must-watch list.

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“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” 

May  31,  2019

In 2014, Warner Bros. studio blew audience away with its electrifying reboot of the famous Japanese monster “Godzilla”. Now, the beloved creature is back, and is expected to destroy cities and people once again in the sequel. 

According to Comicbook.com, movie studios Legendary and Warner Bros. said that Godzilla is part of a universe which also features King Kong. Called the “MonsterVerse”, it is Warner Bros.’ answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The movie uses the latest computer-generated technology and showcases a lineup of the expected powerful creatures such as Mothra and Ghidorah. 

The cast stars Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Ken Wantanabe (The Last Samurai).

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“Rocketman” 

May  31,  2019

Movies about musicians were big last year. with “Bohemian Rhapsody” taking home an Oscar for Best Actor, and “A Star is Born” receiving nominations in a variety of categories therefore, makes sense for a movie about the life story of Elton John to come out. Rami Malek did a wonderful job portraying Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and now Taron Egerton (Kingsmen: The Secret Service) will take the role of Elton John. 

Fans of the musician can expect Egerton to give an entertaining performance as well as focusing more on Elton John as a troubled soul. Where “Bohemian Rhapsody” stayed mostly true to Freddie Mercury, “Rocketman” takes side trips into “what-if” story lines. Aside from Egerton, the movie features Richard Madden (Bodyguard), and Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World). 

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“The Secret Life of Pets 2”

June  7,  2019

While the prequel of “The Secret Life of Pets” rehashed the basic “Toy Story” idea, the movie got mostly positive reviews, as seen on Rotten Tomatoes. Louis C.K. is not returning for the sequel, so Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille) is the voice of the main character, Max the dog. The terrier is back, this time introduced to another family member a young boy named Liam who Max has sworn to protect. 

Max has to learn to overcome his protectiveness, and let the kid have his freedom. The first movie was simple, straight-forward and did the job well, but fell into the hole of gimmicks.

 Additionally, like the original film, there is a chance that the humor content may be inappropriate for younger kids. Other returning characters are Snowball, (Kevin Hart), Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), Duke (Eric Stonestreet) and Gidget (Jenny Slate)

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“Dark Phoenix”  

June 7,  2019

The sequel train continues with Dark Phoenix, the newest installment to Marvel’s X-Men franchise. While the franchise has gone through some ups and downs, it has attracted a loyal fan base. 

In the movie, the main character Jean Grey has to suppress her power, which is becoming unstable, That leads her to spiral out of control, and now the X-Men have to battle Dark Phoenix, Jean’s mutant self. 

The writer of the previous “X-Men” films “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “X-Men: Apocalypse,” Simon Kinberg, is in charge of directing the movie. This installment features Sophie Turner of “Game of Thrones” fame as the title role along with the familiar cast of James McAvoy (Split), Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games), and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds).

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“Toy Story 4” 

June 21,  2019

The first “Toy Story” movie came out in 1995, and it changed the landscape of animated movies forever, with its unprecedented 3-D animation technology. Fifteen years later, “Toy Story 3” was released, perfectly wrapping up the storyline in a trilogy. However, in recent years, Disney announced the next installment to the seemingly complete franchise. 

The new movie can go either way in terms of quality. Regardless, fans of Woody and Buzz Lightyear will get a chance to visit these lovable characters once again. 

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are reprising their roles of Woody and Buzz, along with Annie Potts (Ghostbusters 1984) Keanu Reeves (John Wick) Jordan Peele (Key and Peele) and Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele).

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“Annabelle Comes Home” 

June 26, 2019

Summer is not only for big budget action movies but also horror movies as well. Annabelle is back with “Annabelle Comes Home,” a new movie in the Conjuring Universe, the horror counterpart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Annabelle, the doll, first appeared in “The Conjuring”, then became the main character in her own movie and the sequel. 

After being locked in the artifacts room by two paranormal experts, Ed and Lorraine Warren, Annabelle start reigning terror on their daughter with other evil spirits. 

The terrifying universe has been hit and miss, “Annabelle: Creation” got a 70 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The main cast includes Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring) and Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring).

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is heavy in beast, light in characters

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Godzilla is one of the most symbolic monsters that has ever been created. When the name is mentioned, most people can easily picture an enormous lizard-like creature that stands taller than a skyscraper. This creature has been the star of many different films throughout history; the most recent one was “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” a sequel to 2014’s “Godzilla.” The predecessor used impressive visuals and included a provoking storyline. This time, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” promises a line-up of even more terrifying monsters. Can this new installment to the series wreak havoc in theaters?

This sequel sees a new beast named King Ghidorah, a three-headed dragon, awoken from a “cryosleep.” The creature quickly summons other creatures on Earth and becomes the nemesis of Godzilla himself. Now a group of monster zoologists must fight to save humanity from extinction.

With a premise like that, this movie could be the “Avengers” of the “MonsterVerse,” the Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With that, it brings one of the most impressive visual feasts that audiences can pay a ticket to enjoy. There is quite an amount of monster glory to look forward to in the film. Seeing new creatures interacting with each other perfectly illustrates the ecosystem of these towering animals.

The designs of the monsters are beautifully done, giving off an intimidating vibe, especially with the giant butterfly Mothra. In the battle sequences, these creatures look like they have substance which results in the realistic destruction of buildings, ships, cities… The star of the movie Godzilla is bombastic, loud and grand along with King Ghidorah, who is effectively menacing. In some scenes, the movie perfectly conveys how humans are merely lowly insects to the creatures which generates even more of a formidable ambiance

Warner Bros. Entertainment / Courtesy Photo
The big lizard gets angry in ‘Godzilla: King of The Monsters.’

Like the first movie, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” treats these titans as if they were animals and not villains. Similar to “Jurassic Park,” as frightening as these creatures are, they are still animals trying to survive. This adds a new edge to the movie and asks the question whether humans can co-exist with these colossal beings. The destruction these monsters bring is almost justifiable as some may say that they do not know any better.

Despite the monsters, the movie is quite flat. The human characters are almost forgettable. Although the movies have some incredible talents like Milly Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) and Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) their characters are not memorable, and thus, the great acting has little impact. Though the actors definitely try to work with what was given to them, the plot is still boring. The scenes involving these characters can drag on sometimes, and the movie, as a result, feels too long.

As amazing as the monster sequences are, the combination with the humans scenes can make the entire experience tiresome. The center plot involving the family members is both vague and somewhat unnecessary. The tension between the mother (Vera Farmiga) and the father (Kyle Chandler) is not well explained. As for the military sequences, they are both dull and generic.

This time around, it looks like “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” does not have quite as much of a roar as the first one. If one expects breathtaking battles between the monsters, they may be bored in the character heavy scenes. If they expect a memorable storyline, they might be even more disappointed with the movie. Either way, it is not as good as the trailers suggest.

The Battle Angel has landed

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The romance between Alita and Keean Johnson’s character is one of the better parts of the movie, but at times, it can feel forced.

James Cameron’s new movie takes flight

A trend in Hollywood throughout the years around Valentine’s Day is filmmakers luring couples into auditoriums in hopes of cashing in on brandless romantic flicks. People have seen an increasing influx of big budget movies earlier in the year in the recent times. This year is no exception, with the release of “Alita: Battle Angel” raking in over $12.3 million, according to Rotten Tomatoes, it seems like summer is no longer the only time for huge blockbusters.

“Alita: Battle Angel” is set in a distant future, where most people have some parts of their bodies are replaced with cybernetic counter parts. Dr. Dyson Ido, played by Christoph Waltz, discovers remnants of Alita, played by Rosa Salazar, in a junkyard and tries to rebuild her from what he found. The movie shows her progression from being a clueless individual to a fierce fighter, while discovering her past along the way.

With the action genre, 3D can be a gimmick for studios to add more digits to their paycheck. It is not the case with “Alita: Battle Angel.””

The movie is an adaptation from the much beloved manga series “Battle Angel Alita” by Yukito Kishiro is produced by James Cameron. Cameron has made a name for himself throughout his career when it comes to 3D movies.While Cameron is in charge of producing, Robert Rodriguez is directing. The director has proved himself to have skills with films like “Sin City” and “Machete.” With that being said, if one were to say this movie was anticipated would be an understatement.

The first thing that the audience will notice is the visuals being presented in front of them. It is the type of movie that will remain one of the best looking movies of the modern times among the likes of “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Dark Knight.” With the action genre, 3D can be a gimmick for studios to add more digits to their paycheck. It is not the case with “Alita: Battle Angel.” While the movie would be still amazing in 2D, a viewing of it in 3D can enhance the movie drastically. The visual effects and great action scenes alone are worth the money to pay for IMAX 3D. The motorball scenes in the film is heart pumping and gives viewers a sense of being “a fly on the wall” moving along the arena tracks. The 3D is slick and bright. In a lot of scenes, the depth of the image and the overall sense of environment can be felt, as opposed to movies like “Clash of the Titans,” a movie with a flat image even though it is labeled as “3D.”

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The movie shows Alita’s progression from being a clueless individual to a fierce fighter, while discovering her past along the way.

The action sequences of the movie is drenched in beautiful camera movements. The movie is not perfect, however, as their are some aspects that are not quite as good as the visuals. The storyline is somewhat flawed. While everyone did an amazing job portraying their characters, the movie feels rushed. Within the first minute, the viewers go from Christoph Waltz’s character stumbling upon the remains of Alita to her waking up. Even though the movie’s fast pace is a plus, it still can get jarring at times. The villain in the movie is not so fleshed out, and the main motive is not so clear. The romance between Alita and Keean Johnson’s character is one of the better parts of the movie, but at times, it can feel forced. And lastly, the film’s ending can leave the audience unsatisfied because it is hinting at the inevitable sequel.

Story flaws aside, “Alita: Battle Angel” is still a stunning experience and a breathtaking adventure. It is worth paying for a ticket because once it comes out on digital download, the small screen in the living room will not do it justice. With its amazing visuals, the problems can be overlooked and the film can be enjoyed on at least an entertaining level. If you are a person who loves the action genres or a movie nerd, this is simply a “must-see.”

‘Deadpool’ close to busting his way onto the big screen

Here are some reasons why people are excited for this infamous “Mercenary with a Mouth”

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Marvel’s Deadpool breaks every superhero rule there is. He kills because he loves it, he does whatever he wants whenever he wants, and most of all, he breaks every boundary between the comic book and the real world.

Deadpool, also known as Wade Wilson, has regenerative powers. He got them from the X-Man superhero, Wolverine. Though he is seemingly ageless, and can regenerate any wounds he receives, he also has skin cancer.

An anti-hero is a superhero who is lacking in conventional heroic attributes. These attributes usually consist of being selfless, kind, and always on the side of justice. Deadpool is a selfish, destructive, fun loving madman.

The cancer was the original reason why he underwent the experiment that gave him his powers, so now his skin is literally falling off from within his suit.

Deadpool’s strength and “wits” are of his own mentality, however. He’s skilled in every way of “killing bad guys,” which he very much loves to do. Deadpool is somewhat insane--no, very insane.

Whether this was from the experiment or he was already a little off, and being on the verge of death then getting immortality becoming the last straw to set this vulgar merc off on his gleeful insanity.

“Breaking the 4th wall” is when a character in a fictional story acknowledges the real world. A character looking at the camera, speaking to the audience, or mentioning anything about their fan base and trends that formed about that character outside of the story.

Deadpool manages to break through the 4th wall so hard he built a 5th wall just because he wasn’t satisfied enough with the destruction.

He consistently comments about his situation, and will either narrate to himself in varied voices, complain about a troupe--meaning the predictable events that happen in a specific genre of story-- in comic books and how much he wants to break the troupe.

Or he’ll blame the writers for putting him somewhere he doesn’t want to be in.

One example of Deadpool’s wall breaking skills would be when he is working with another comic book anti-hero, the Punisher: when they are standing in front of a bad guy and Deadpool kills him in front of the Punisher. “Why’d you do that?” The Punisher asks.

“Because you were gonna do it, and this is my book!” Deadpool responds. The Punisher is confused, “Your what--?” and Deadpool drops it by saying, “Nothing.”

Another instance of Deadpool’s antics is when someone asks him if he remembers where someone went, he responds, “I remember, the Alamo, the Bee Gees, a whole bunch of quotes from the Golden Girls, and that 4CHAN thread where the devil makes potty.”

Deadpool is not within the “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” he is part of the X-Men universe. The difference is that Marvel/Disney own the rights to the Avengers such as Iron Man, Daredevil, Spiderman, and Captain America.

Whereas 20th Century Fox owns the rights to the X-men, such as Wolverine, Magneto, and even the word “mutant.”

Deadpool was depicted on the big screen before, in X-men Origins: Wolverine (2009), portrayed by Ryan Reynolds.

The movie had mixed feelings, mainly leaning towards the negative, especially their treatment of Deadpool’s wacky character.

20th Century Fox/Marvel then decided to redeemed the highly appreciated character, they casted Reynolds again as Deadpool, but scrapped his origins from the 2009 Wolverine movie, and are giving him a chance to breath life into the character again.

The upcoming Deadpool movie is telling the full origin of Deadpool, as well as what he does after he gets his powers- a typical superhero movie, but if the movie follows the way Deadpool stories usually go, it’ll be chaotic, hilarious, and an all around ride of a lifetime.

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