Rating: The Good – 74.9 Genre: Action, Fantasy Duration: 132 mins Director: Bryan Singer Stars: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender
Director Bryan Singer brings an assured and classy touch back to the franchise he helped forge in this surprisingly gripping fantasy sci-fi in which two versions of the same X-Men are united across time in an epic showdown to save the Earth against a future army of robot “Sentinels”. Superbly balancing the multiple threads to the story so that the main plot pulses steadily and clearly from start to finish, X-Men: Days of Future Past counts as a rather impressive feat of story-telling. With Patrick Stewart’s “Prof. X” and Ian McKellen’s “Magneto” on one side of the temporal divide, their successors (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectively) on the other, and Hugh Jackman’s “Wolverine” straddling the two, we move between a nicely realised 1970’s and a desolate future as the older X-Men attempt to alter their own history and preclude the invincible Sentinels from ever coming into being. On the technical front, this movie is pillared by some genuinely striking action set pieces opening with an elegantly edited showdown between mutant and robot and peaking with an acutely impressive prison-break in the bowls of The Pentagon. This latter sequence, wryly soundtracked to Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle”, involves Evan Peters’ delightfully impish “Quicksilver” making a high speed mockery of the famous building’s security in a whirlwind of smile-inducing not to mention brilliantly conceived mischief-making. Alongside this brief cameo of what very well might prove to be the franchise’s most lovable character, what really sets Days of Future Past apart from the myriad of modern superhero movies is the sophistication of its construction. Though most of the future mutants offer mere cameos, Singer makes the most of their personalities and powers, deftly interweaving their trials and tribulations with those of their past counterparts and culminating in a suitably rousing finale. Given how uninspired and formulaic the genre has become, it’s genuinely refreshing to come across a simply well made movie.
Rating: The Good – 72.2 Genre: Romantic Comedy Duration: 117 mins Director: Reginald Hudlin Stars: Eddie Murphy, Robin Givens, Halle Berry
Eddie Murphy blew hot and cold during the 1990’s but when he got it right, he usually nailed it. This smart and unusually wise romantic comedy is perhaps the best example of him doing just that. Murphy stars as the soft cracking lady-killer who gets knocked off his stride when he falls for his new boss, a stunning Robin Givens, and sees his caddish ways thrown back in his face by the alpha female. One tends to pigeon hole Murphy as nothing more than a comic but this guy could act (and probably still can) and in Boomerang he mixes this with quintessential humour and bags of presence. He’s excels in both sides to his dual role, from the charming ladies’ man to the charmed boss-lady’s man-slave. Wright is pitch perfect as his ringmaster and the watching him jump through her hoops is genuinely amusing. A radiant Halle Berry is just as good as Murphy’s girl-next-door type love interest and, as his best friends, Martin Lawrence and In Living Color’s David Alan Grier play off each other to hilarious effect. There are so many standout moments here that it’s two hours running time flies by and with a (finally) properly used Grace Jones as a ramped up version of well…herself, most of them will stay with you well past the close of the movie. That said, despite the wealth of comedy talent, the funniest moments involve a man-servant grinning at Murphy as he’s being forcibly seduced by Eartha Kitt’s man-eating 80 year old. Reginald Hudlin gives the whole thing a softly polished vibe that gently evokes early 90’s New York without smacking of it but it’s Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield’s mature and witty screenplay and the manner in which the cast deliver it that allows Boomerang to stand so tall amid the several other rom-coms of the era.
Rating: The Good – 70 Genre: Action Duration: 105 mins Director: Tony Scott Stars: Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans, Halle Berry
Tony Scott and Bruce Willis are in top form for one of the better action vehicles of the 1990’s. With Scott’s trademark soft noir lighting, his liberal use of dry ice, and the pump action sarcasm of Shane Black, Willis shoots, grins, cracks wise, and jibes his way through the movie as the weary private dick stuck in a malaise since he was thrown out of the secret service. When he’s asked to protect a young dancer (a brief but telling performance by a young Halle Berry), he and her boyfriend (Damon Wayans) get sucked into a scheme of blackmail and murder in the high stakes game of pro football. With its over the top action scenarios and hair-brained plot, Scott knows that the key to this is chemistry and with Willis and an in-form Wayans, he had all the right tools. The banter is terrific, the quips are cutting, and the hits and kicks are just as funny. Willis was rarely better outside of his McCain persona, his character here being a perfect blend of his dry wit and irascible charm. Wayans is more than watchable despite his acting limitations thanks to some interesting characterisation on Black’s part. Like all the best action movies, the story is balanced out with a number of memorable bad guys from Noble Willingham’s corrupt franchise owner to his slightly nuts right hand man, Taylor Negron in gleefully nasty form. Needless to say the action sequences are bursting with innovation and though modest in premise (at least compared to those of the Die Hard franchise), they’re executed to perfection and always work effectively with the plot. Can you ask for more?
Rating: The Good – 69 Genre: Action Duration: 104mins Director: Bryan Singer Stars: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen
Even better than the original due to a darker script that involves the X-Men working together to fight a common enemy in the form of a secret government project that is designed to get rid of the mutant threat once and for all. The relationships are developed further than the original as they head into more interesting territory. Singer ups the ante on the action front also so get ready for some nicely choreographed fight scenes which provide a better opportunity to showcase the various mutants’ abilities.