Bryan Singer teases X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover

Superheroes love a good shared universe don’t they? Disney’s Marvel Studios have set the bar pretty darn high when it comes to cameos and crossovers. The Marvel cinematic universe blew us all away with THE AVENGERS and will hope to do the same with next summer’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. Even the Warner Bros. owned DC Entertainment have their house in order, as they begin to roll out their own shared series of films beginning with next year’s BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.

It seems natural then that 20th Century Fox, who own the rights to both X-MEN and FANTASTIC FOUR, are gearing up to combine the two teams in a crossover film; something X-MEN: APOCALYPSE director Bryan Singer says could happen.

Talking to Yahoo!, long time X-MEN collaborator Singer, explains that a crossover between the two could easily work, but also depends on the success of Josh Trank’s upcoming FANTASTIC FOUR reboot.

“Those ideas are in play. That would be natural match-up because they’re both ensemble films and there is a natural mechanism in which to do it. It deals with time. That’s all I’m going to say. We’ll have to wait to see how the [upcoming] film turns out. To just say you’re going to do it would be a mistake, you have to see how the films evolve before you make that decision to completely commit to that.”

Singer certainly has some interesting things to say on the potential crossover. Whether or not the USUAL SUSPECTS director will be involved in any way is yet to be seen, but you’d imagine he’d be on board in some capacity, maybe even to direct. He’s also no stranger to the ideas surrounding time travel as we saw with X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.

With Josh Trank’s reboot yet to hit theatres, amid rumours of extensive re-shoots and concern over the director’s conduct on set (which apparently led to him leaving a planned STAR WARS spinoff), we’ll have to wait and see how well FANTASTIC FOUR connects with audiences, before pinning all our hopes on a live-action image of The Thing tossing Wolverine into battle.

FANTASTIC FOUR flies into theatres August 5, 2015 with a sequel already set for 2017 and X-MEN: APOCALYPSE hits May 26, 2016.

Ant-Man-Quad-v2

“Pick on someone your own size!” Ant-Man review

Director: Peyton Reed

Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, David Dastmalchian, Michael Pena, Bobby Cannavale, Abby Ryder Fortson, Judy Greer, Wood Harris, John Slattery, Gregg Turkington and T.I.

Rating: PG-13/12A

Running Time: 117 minutes

Just how do you follow one of the biggest superhero movies of all time? Go bigger, right? Wrong. Arriving straight off the back of megabucks super-sequel AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, you’d think the story of a low-life crook’s road to redemption was pretty small fry for the ever expanding Marvel cinematic universe. But you know what they say, good things come in small packages, and ANT-MAN is no exception.

Hilarious, heroic and full of heart, ANT-MAN more than measures up to its super-powered peers as one of Marvel’s most enjoyable films to date.

Bringing the MCU’s Phase Two to an end, ANT-MAN feels more like a fresh start than the closing of a grand chapter. But it’s just what the doctor ordered after Tony Stark’s evil A.I. went rogue and levelled an entire city. This film has a human core. Well, sure, there’s ants too.

Enter Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) – a jailbird who vows to go straight for the sake of his daughter. But hard times and the thrill of one more bust pulls Lang back into the world of crime. The loot, however, isn’t a safe full of money. Nor is it precious stones from galaxies far, far away. Little does he know that the beat up black & red leather suit he finds is actually the creation of super scientist Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).

(With great power, comes great responsibi – oh dammit wrong film! Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym mentors the new Ant-Man.)

Donning the suit, helmet ‘n’ all, Lang discovers that this is no ordinary outfit – shrinking down to the size of an insect at the touch of a button, giving him super-strength and the ability to communicate with ants! Busting him out of jail, Pym recruits Lang as the ANT-MAN in order stop his former protégé, Darren Cross (HOUSE OF CARDS’ Corey Stoll), from weaponizing Pym’s greatest invention, the Pym particle.

It has to be said that whilst YES MAN director Peyton Reed’s film was never going to take itself too seriously, ANT-MAN is without doubt the funniest Marvel film yet. I mean, it’s pretty much an action-comedy and Reed absolutely nails it. Just how much of parting director and co-writer Edgar Wright’s (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ) script actually made it in to the film is something we’ll probably never know. Citing creative differences, Wright left the project weeks before filming was due to start.

But there’s no doubt that Wright’s presence can be felt throughout the film, as well as ANCHORMAN director Adam McKay’s, who adjusted the script with the delightfully funny and extremely well cast Paul Rudd. Marvelites will be licking their lips at the prospect of Rudd’s ANT-MAN, Downey Jr’s IRON MAN and Tom Holland’s new SPIDER-MAN firing jokes and trading insults in upcoming movies. I for one, can’t wait.

Staying with funny and almost stealing Rudd’s thunder, is the hilarious Michael Peña (END OF WATCH, FURY), who plays Lang’s burglar sidekick. Expect to see him again somewhere down the line in a Marvel feature.

(Thumbs up if you want to be an Avenger! Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang tries on the Ant-Man suit for size.)

Another masterstroke from Marvel was deciding to go for an older Hank Pym in Michael Douglas. Pym is the original ANT-MAN in the comics and one of the founding members of THE AVENGERS. Playing the role of mentor, the veteran actor still packs a punch, quite literally, and gives a real hearty performance. Pym’s daughter Hope, played by THE HOBBIT’s Evangeline Lilly, also plays a key role in proceedings. Expect to see her again in the future too.

We’ve seen dimensions intertwined and cities razed to the ground, but not until now have you seen the intricate details of carpet fibres! ANT-MAN boasts some of Marvel’s best visual effects yet and they’re even more astonishing in 3D.

With all six of its legs firmly placed in the MCU and with Rudd’s character set to appear in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, ANT-MAN certainly feels like a movie that’d work just as brilliantly outside its larger canon. But whether you watch it as part of a Marvel marathon, or as a stand alone flick, ANT-MAN is this summer’s superhero sensation. And it won’t be squashed.

9/10

“You’re nothing but a relic.” Terminator: Genisys review.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke star in sci-fi/action reboot Terminator: Genisys.

“I’ll be back.” When Mr Schwarzenegger first uttered those immortal words back in 1984 he meant it literally. Walking out before crashing a truck through a building and disposing of an entire police force in search of Sarah Connor, Arnie’s Terminator was terrifying, relentless and unforgiving.

Thirty-one years and four Terminator movies later, Arnie’s back again in franchise reboot Terminator: Genisys as, wait for it – ‘Pops.’ Something, pretty much everything, is very wrong with this picture.

Genisys spits in the face of its much loved source material and completely undermines everything that was spectacularly right with the The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. It’s worse than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, whilst somehow making the Christian Bale lead Terminator: Salvation seem ever so slightly watchable. Genisys is quite possibly the worst Terminator yet.

Things kick off in 2029 with the leader of the human resistance John Connor (played by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Jason Clarke), on the verge of defeating the machines and taking down Skynet for good. But the super-computer has a backup plan, sending the T-800 from the original film back in time to take out Connor’s nineteen-year-old mother in 1984. But we already knew that. Connor, obviously aware of Skynet’s plan, sends loyal soldier and friend Kyle Reese (this time played by A Good Day to Die Hard’s Jai Courtney), back in time as well, to protect his mother and become his dad in the past. But we already knew that as well.

(“Wassup playas!” A T-800 takes a break from murdering to pose for a headshot.)

Here’s where the wheels start to fall off – 15 minutes in. Something goes wrong just before Reese is sent back, winding up in an alternate timeline where Sarah Connor (Game of Throne’s Emilia Clarke) is already a badass with her very own cyborg named ‘Pops’ (Arnie), to protect her. A spoiler free explanation of this new, confusing timeline is hard to achieve. But since the trailer already gives away Genisys’ ‘twist’, if you can call it that, Connor, Rhys and Pops go up against the film’s main villain John Connor, who’s turned into a human-terminator hybrid by Skynet to ensure its own survival.

There’s almost nothing good about Terminator: Genisys.  It’s so desperate to recreate the great things about the first two films it forgets to actually put down a meaningful mark of its own. There are plenty nods to the originals, giving fans a cheap pop, but Genisys has its’ wires crossed from the start.

At least it’s fun seeing Arnie again. However, Pops is basically a parody of Arnie’s previous cyborgs with his character coming full swing from mindless killer to huggable cyborg foster-father.  He still dishes out the one-liners, though they aren’t great, and some nifty CGI work helps him kick some ass, but even Mr Terminator himself can’t save Genisys from self-termination.

(You can’t be the mother of dragons AND the mother of mankind’s saviour all at once Emilia! Got it!?)

A microwave could probably give a better performance than Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. Nobody can top Michael Biehn’s original portrayal, but Courtney is so dull you’d think he was an actual robot. Mother of dragons Emilia Clarke does enough as Sarah Connor but she’s not entirely convincing. Jason Clarke is as equally boring as Courtney. Also, JK Simmons wins the award for ‘strangest casting of a good actor with not enough screen time in an awful film.’

The action sequences make the popcorn a bit easier to swallow. Arnie vs Arnie is fun while it lasts near the beginning, but the rest is nothing new and instantly forgettable. Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor and screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier have created a muddled mess that gets caught up in its own poorly written dialogue and mediocre action, with some cyborgs chucked in for a laugh.

Before the credits roll, microwave, I mean Jai Courtney’s Reese, mutters that “the future isn’t set.” With Terminator: Genisys the first in a planned trilogy of Terminator films, let’s hope the microwave is right.

3/10

“You didn’t ask for reality. You asked for more teeth!” Jurassic World review.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the park with genetically modified dinosaurs! When Steven Spielberg first opened the gates to the awe-inspiring world of Jurassic Park back in 1993, he could probably envision its success overnight. However, he could’ve also predicted the inevitably uninspiring sequels to come.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park had its moments. But even Jeff Goldblum couldn’t save it from its absolutely ridiculous ending that still doesn’t make sense no matter how many times you watch it. Oh and I almost forgot karate gymnast girl who loves to boot Velociraptors through windows. I mean, come on.

Let’s not even get into Jurassic Park III.

But twenty-two years after park creator John Hammond (played by the late, great Richard Attenborough) decided not to endorse Jurassic Park, because you know, the dinosaurs started eating everyone, along stomps Colin Trevorrow’s fourth instalment to the saga, Jurassic World.

(‘Everything is roar-some!’ The Indominus Rex gets ready to chow down.)

Where Hammond’s original park had only a handful of different species of dinosaur, a simple safari style tour and two programmers that controlled the entire Costa Rican island, this new park makes the old one look like a flea circus. Now a fully-fledged theme park with monorails, futuristic cable cars, nifty little self-controlled glass orb thingys and dozens of species of dinosaur, Hammond’s dream has become the new Disneyland.

The film has many a nostalgic pop; Mr DNA, the heavy so they’re expensive night vision goggles, even Dr Wu is back from the original. But Jurassic World’s supreme sentimental moment and one of the best moments of the film, comes after we follow young Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) out onto the balcony of his hotel suite, getting our first proper look at the park. If the combination of sweeping visuals and John Williams’ infamous Jurassic Park theme (slightly modified by Star Trek composer Michael Giacchino) doesn’t give you goosebumps, then you’re dead inside.

Gray and his bigger brother Zach (Nick Robinson), who’s clearly more interested in girls than Gallimimus’, find themselves at the park after their parents send them off to spend some quality time with aunty and park operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard).

(Erm…)

Clearly though, normal dinosaurs just aren’t enough for some people, with investors keen to maximise the park’s potential by tampering with dino genetics creating new hybrid species that will really wow visitors and spike attendances.  “They’re dinosaurs. Wow enough,” says Raptor trainer – yes you heard me, Raptor trainer – Owen, played by Chris Pratt, who executes his best Indiana Jones audition yet.

Enter the Indominus Rex. Jurassic World’s big, and I mean big, bad. Of course it escapes and of course they can’t contain it, sending the park into meltdown with thousands of lives, including Claire’s nephews’, in danger.

Obviously Jurassic World is no match for the original. No past, present or future Jurassic film will ever be. Trevorrow knows this and instead of trying to recapture the feel of Spielberg’s classic, The Safety Not Guaranteed director shoots straight for an all-out dino disaster movie. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It’s pure box office gold. A record breaking $1 billion to be precise. At times it’s a mindless blockbuster; an utterly predictable, CGI blasted gumf. Mostly however, it’s a really fun and enjoyable thrill-ride. Will we see another Jurassic sequel in the near future? A billion dollars says we might.

7/10

“My world is fire. And blood.” Mad Max: Fury Road review.

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron put the pedal to the metal in George Miller’s sequel/reboot Mad Max: Fury Road.

Fast-paced, frenetic and fuelled by an unquenchable thirst for chaos, George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is exactly what it says on the tin.

After several years in development dating back to 2001, Miller’s latest foray into the nightmarish, post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max, brings Mel Gibson’s incarnation of the revengeful road warrior to an end. Fury Road introduces a new Max played by Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Returns, Bronson). Whether or not this is the same Max from the previous three films is entirely up to you, as Fury Road is as much a reboot as it could be a sequel.

Miller’s fourth film in the series hardly needs an introduction, despite getting one from Hardy’s gravel-voiced Max. Bringing up to speed those who aren’t so savvy in the ways of this nitro-fuelled world of craziness, Fury Road starts as it means to go on – with twisted metal and burning rubber.

Max is taken prisoner by the War Boys, white painted, bald-headed punks, who serve the tyrannical and skull-masked Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Joe’s champion, the robotic armed action-woman Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), leads a mission to collect much-needed fuel for his citadel. But, after Joe discovers Furiosa has secretely smuggled his young, innocent wives out of his lair, he sends his War Boys and surrounding armies (including a flame throwing electric guitar playing person) to hunt her down.

Sound weird? It is.

But how does Max become involved in all this? Nux (Nicholas Hoult), an ambitious young War Boy, uses Max as a ‘blood bag’ (a kind of weird blood transfusion) whilst tearing through the desert in chase of Furiosa.

(Bane has the weirdest holidays! Hardy’s Max isn’t happy playing prisoner.)

Many intensely choreographed and visually stunning action sequences later, Max strikes an unlikely alliance with Theron’s Furiosa and her escapees, helping them free the clutches of Joe along the fury road with his armies in hot pursuit.

This unrelenting piece of cinema form George Miller is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It has a real visceral quality about it, certainly more so than his previous Max outings.

With breath-taking action sequences, ramped up even more by the film’s penchant for practical CGI and in camera stunts, Fury Road is pure adrenaline flowing action. Namibia’s deserts provide the perfect backdrop for this nuclear ravaged world, as clusters of motorised monsters rip through the sand in a blaze of fire and brimstone.

But sadly it’s nothing more.

(Enter guitar playing flamethrower man! Yes, this is a real thing, in real film. Brilliant.)

Hardy’s Max is rather dull and Theron’s Furiosa is well, also rather dull, leading her gang of models through the never ending wasteland of outlandish characters and generic B-movie dialogue. There’s no real story here, even to the characters, which seriously damages the film’s appeal.

To begin with Fury Road doesn’t appear to take itself too seriously. Its cartoonish characters and ridiculously fast paced narrative remind you of Wacky Races – on speed. But as the minutes tick by Fury Road sets out its stool as a one-dimensional, all out action fest.

An undoubtedly surreal experience that has its moments, Fury Road is a disappointing joyride across a desert of what could have been. Max went ‘Beyond Thunderdome’ in his last sequel. Perhaps he should’ve stayed there.

5/10

“I’ll be on your time.” Whiplash review.

Miles Teller and JK Simmons star in the Oscar winning drumming drama Whiplash. 

Whiplash: a sudden, forceful injury usually sustained by a severe jerk to the head. Well, that’s the official definition anyway. Damien Chazelle’s triple Oscar winning film Whiplash, about an aspiring jazz drummer and his oppressive conductor, is a psychological car crash that hits harder than most and stays with you long after its final note.

Miles Teller (21 & Over, The Spectacular Now) plays promising 19-year-old drummer Andrew Nieman, who in his first year of music college, is cherry-picked by studio jazz band conductor Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons).

Excellent in pretty much everything he does, from the cartoonish J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man to the caring but quirky Dad in Juno, Simmons gets serious here as the autocratic and intensely punishing Fletcher.

(JK Simmons has got a mean game face as the intensely overbearing Fletcher)

Exactly on the stroke of the hour, he bursts in through the studio doors like a drill sergeant greeting his jarheads at morning inspection, barking orders in the form of bars, time signatures and tempos. Fletcher owns the room and his time better be the only one.

It’s a deserved Oscar for Simmons in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role. The image of Fletcher’s clenched fist appearing over and over again in disapproval of a note out of tune or a fill out of time, is one of utter dread.

The personal attacks are hard to watch, yet Fletcher justifies his cruelty by stating that he is there “to push people beyond what’s expected of them.” His psychological bombardment fuels Andrew’s desire to be one of the great’s like Charlie Parker, but it take its toll on the young man both mentally and physically.

(“Somebody got Ketchup all over the kit! Come on guys!”)

Teller’s performance is just as tight as Simmons’. He plays a driven Andrew with a touch of melancholy, which in turn, builds to an almighty crescendo at the end of film’s second act.

A drummer from the age of 15, Teller did actually play the music his character performs in the film. Broken into chunks and then shot piece by piece, Chazelle and editor Tom Cross (who won an Oscar for his work on the film), made it look as though Teller was actually playing the whole way through, most notably in the film’s glorious climax.

Whiplash isn’t for everybody but, you don’t need to be a lover of jazz to appreciate its layered storytelling, incredible musical performances and first-class acting. And though you may not come back to it with a great fondness, Whiplash demands to be seen, heard and experienced.

8/10

“If you step out that door, you’re an Avenger.” Avengers: Age of Ultron review.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and co. re-assemble to save the world in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Joss Whedon’s Marvel-ous superhero sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, swoops in at a lengthy 2 hours and 21 minutes.  But you know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun, and Age of Ultron is exactly that – fun.

The Avengers are back and well and truly assembled this time around, finding themselves up against a tyrannical artificial intelligence called Ultron (James Spader). Spawned from a programme designed by Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) in order to protect the world form all things villain-y, Ultron sets out to destroy The Avengers and re-shape the world as he sees fit.

But hold on a minute! Let’s backtrack slightly. After taking care of Loki and bonding over Schawarma back in Avengers Assemble; Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), all went their separate ways.

Yet, they’ve clearly had time to attend the odd team-building weekend. The film’s grand opening introduces us to the fictional country Sokovia, where Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have come to recapture Loki’s sceptre from HYDRA baddie Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann).

(Strike a pose! Earth’s Mightiest plunge into battle)

After disposing of his henchmen with ease, and even posing for a team photo (not literally), the team hit a snag in the form of twins Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Piotr Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a.k.a Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver. (This Quicksilver is not to be confused with X-Men: Days of Future Past’s Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters, which is a completely different incarnation. Your welcome).

The “he’s fast, she’s weird” combo prove a handful, especially when the latter messes with Iron Man’s mind revealing his fear of seeing his friends killed, which in turn, results in Mr Stark creating Ultron.

Despite reports before the film’s release that Age of Ultron was darker than its predecessor, Whedon’s baby still packs a punch in the laughter department. Though its lighter moments mainly arrive in the first half, there’s plenty of them, and the scene where each Avenger attempts to lift Thor’s hammer in order to ‘prove themselves worthy’ will be a favourite of many.

But what about Age of Ultron’s title character? Will he go down as one of comic book movie’s greatest villains? Probably not, no. James Spader’s (Stargate, The Blacklist) mo-capped mechanical monster looks great and even sounds great but, Ultron, like most of Marvel’s villains (apart from Loki), suffers from a rather one dimensional outlook.

(“I’m the Hulkbuster, bitch!” Iron Man limbers up to tackle the Hulk)

However, Ultron does serve as a worthy foe and certainly allows the Marvel cinematic universe to further develop some of its flagship characters like Iron Man and Cap, ahead of next year’s colossal showdown in Captain America: Civil War.

As well the main characters jostling for screen time, some of Avenger’s lesser figures come to the fore here. In the first film it was Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk that stole the show. In Age of Ultron, it’s a rather surprising turn from everybody’s least favourite Avenger, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. This turns out to be a masterstroke from departing director Joss Whedon who isn’t returning for Avengers: Infinity War, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier maestro’s, the Russo brothers, taking over.

Of course, there’s plenty of action to geek out to with story development often playing second fiddle to long, expansive action sequences. ‘But this is The Avengers! We want action!’ And boy, do we get it, especially in the form of Hulk and Iron Man’s ‘Hulkbuster’ going toe-to-toe, levelling an entire building or two.

All in all, Age of Ultron is one of Marvel’s strongest films to date. Although it probably falls short against the likes of last summer’s smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this action-packed sequel is a thrill-ride from start to finish, and offers just a glimpse of what’s still to come from Marvel Studios. We’ll be watching.

‘Nuff said!

8/10