Sunday, April 16, 2017

Three Strikes

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016): based on characters and stories by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Len Wein, Dave Cockrum, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Walt Simonson, Louise Simonson, and many others; written by Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, and Dan Harris; directed by Bryan Singer; starring James McAvoy (Professor Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/ Mystique), and Oscar Isaac (Apocalypse): Once you've got more than five X-Men in a movie, maybe you should make a miniseries instead. The bloat of X-Men: Apocalypse didn't affect me because I watched it over three nights on TV, thus making it into a CW superhero four-parter with a really high production budget. But it is bloated. And while Oscar Isaac's decision to underplay Apocalypse makes for an interesting arch-villain, it doesn't make for a very exciting arch-villain.

The acting from everyone who didn't date Aaron Rodgers is fine, and some of the visual effects are really lovely and sublime, though there are so many of them by the end that all effect is lost. Certainly not the 'bomb' that some critics suggested it was, however. Lightly recommended.

Light's Out (2016): adapted by Eric Heisserer from a short film by David F. Sanberg; directed by David F. Sandberg; starring Teresa Palmer (Rebecca), Gabriel Bateman (Martin), Alexander DiPersia (Bret), Billy Burke (Paul), and Maria Bello (Sophie): Short, taut, and to-the-point supernatural thriller pits a family against a ghost-thing that only comes out at night. Or at at least when the lights are out. I'd have liked a scene in which the main characters hit a hardware store to buy every portable light source imaginable from flashlights to glow sticks. They do have enough sense to pick up a crank-flashlight, given that the ghost-thing can affect utilities and batteries, so Kudos! Recommended.

Patrick Dennehy
Disgraced (2017): directed by Pat Kondelis: Marvelously assembled Showtime documentary on the 2003 Baylor University basketball scandal that started with the murder of Patrick Dennehy, the team's best player, and then became a horrifying story of American university athletics spun entirely out of control, aided and abetted by a local legal system stacked with Baylor grads. Then-Baylor coach Dave Bliss, secure in some false sense of untouchability, is actually stupid enough to be interviewed by the film-makers in the present day. It's gratifying to learn that once the documentary aired, he was fired from his then-current job as coach at another 'Christian' university. Highly recommended.

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