Fans of X-Men who saw the latest two movies — Logan and last summer’s X-Men: Apocalypse — probably noticed something kinda weird about one recurring character. Despite offering no continuity or explanation as to why it happened this way, the mutant Caliban showed up in both, in Logan played by Stephen Merchant, and in Apocalypse by Thomas Lemarquis. Despite a bit of an accent on Lemarquis’ part, they both looked mostly the same: albino, weird eyes, bald. There was just a weird lack of continuity, and James Mangold recently explained why.
Simon Kinberg is everything an aspiring writer could hope to be. He’s written some of the biggest and most expensive blockbuster movies of his generation. He’s leveraged his talent as a writer into a lucrative career in film and television producing. He’s pushed the boundaries of superhero films and will even tackle his very own Star Wars sequel in the not-too-distant future. He’s been nominated for an Academy Award. By any measure of success, Kinberg is one of Hollywood’s best and brightest.
When is a superhero movie like Game of Thrones? When it’s the most pirated movie of the year, of course. On a new list of all the movies downloaded from popular torrenting site BitTorrent, the merc with a mouth tops the chart over Batman v. Superman, Captain America: Civil War, and The Force Awakens.
The Internet Movie Database is a fount of helpful information. With a few simple clicks, users can learn who shot the Miley Cyrus vehicle So Undercover (Things to Come cinematographer Denis Lenoir), which sequel in the Hellraiser franchise featured a performance from a young Adam Scott (the fourth one), or how old Taraji P. Henson is (who looks that good at 46?!). As a repository for loose factoids from in and around the world of screen entertainment, it can’t be beat. As a source for critical perspectives on those same films, however... hoo boy. Just take a gander at any comment section for a movie’s page and marvel at the IMDb is the site where rabid anti-Ghostbusters zealots congregated to downvote Paul Feig’s movie into oblivion weeks before its actual release, and the newly-released IMDb Top 10 provides an even clearer view of its user base.
With all due respect to the major acting and directing categories, I’ve come to really appreciate the Academy Awards’ technical categories in recent years. Whereas the performances and movies at the top of the program are often culled from a predictable pool of art films and auteur projects, the VFX Oscars tend to be a bit more egalitarian in nature, honoring whatever movies are the most impressive regardless of overall quality. This is often how populist film genres not typically noticed by the Academy — action, science-fiction, fantasy — slip into Oscar contention.
The X-Men villain Apocalypse is like something out of Darwin’s nightmares. A devout believer in the most twisted form of evolution, he repeatedly tests the mutants of the Marvel Universe. The weak are culled. Only the strong survive.
X-Men: Apocalypse didn’t have a very great summer. The movie itself was not great, and its ad campaign, featuring huge billboards of Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse choking Jennifer Lawrence, was roundly criticized for showing excessive violence against women.
Centuries from now, when scholar look back on 2016, they will note several key events. They will discuss the year’s President election, one of the most bizarre and tumultuous in our nation’s history. They will note the deaths of great artists like Prince, David Bowie, and Gene Wilder. And they will ponder with great curiosity the opening credits to Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse, surely one of the most bats--- insane moments to ever kick off a $200 million movie.
About two months ago, on a day when I was in no way questioning my career path and life choices, I asked a question: “Is 2016 the worst summer movie season ever?” In early July, it was probably a little premature to raise that issue, but with theaters were filled with dreck like Independence Day: Resurgence, The Legend of Tarzan, and Alice Through the Looking Glass, it was hard not to wonder. At that time, I looked at the Rotten Tomatoes ratings from hundreds of wide releases from the last decade, and found that while the overall scores from 2016 were basically in line with those from ones from each of the last five years, the scores for just the biggest movies, the ones like Tarzan or Independence Day with budgets in excess of $100 million, were way lower this year.
I have a dream job. What could be better than watching and talking about movies for a living? Nothing; the answer is nothing. But lately my job has been a lot less fun than normal, because the movies themselves have been a lot less fun. Quite frankly, this summer sucks.