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Review: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) — It’s the End of the World as we Know It, and I Feel… Fine?

Bryan Singer is back to direct his fourth X-Men film; X-Men: Apocalypse. Luke Miksa checks to see whether it stacks up.

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The year is 1983, ten years after the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Upon awakening after thousands of dormant years, the first mutant, the immortal En Sabah Nur, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), embarks on a plan to destroy humanity and remake it under his will. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and the X-Men must band together to face the cataclysmic force that is Apocalypse and his disciples of doom, the Four Horsemen: Storm, Psylocke, Angel, and Magneto — mutants lured by the charismatic allure of Apocalypse.

X-Men: Apocalypse is the sixth X-Men movie — ninth if you count spin-off films from Wolverine and Deadpool — and the fourth run at the helm from director Bryan Singer. Having practically pioneered the modern run of superhero films with 2000’s X-Men, Singer certainly has experience in films of this nature, but this really is his weakest effort with this franchise to date. Not to say that this film is bad, it honestly isn’t, but it just feels like a stale retread as opposed to advancing the X-Men films to the next level.

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As with most X-Men films, Apocalypse features many characters, probably too many by normal standards, but these films have always been about the large ensemble. Most major characters are actually well formed despite the sheer number of them. Their motivations are juggled reasonably well: senior characters like ‘Beast’ Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), ‘Professor X’ Charles Xavier, and ‘Mystique’ Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) get to continue on the paths set from prior films, with the ongoing tragedy of ‘Magneto’ Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) a highlight thanks again to some solid output from Fassbender. But it’s also the fresh faces, the younger cast of ‘Cyclops’ Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), ‘NightCrawler’ Kurt Wagner (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and ‘Storm’ Ororo Munroe (Alexandra Shipp) showing promise for the direction of these younger versions of characters we know and love.

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Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs

With the memory of Spectre still fresh, Luke Miksa breaks down his definitive list of Bond tunes.

Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, has been out for a few weeks now to mixed reviews. I personally liked it, despite its flaws, but one thing that disappointed me was the new theme song from Sam Smith, “The Writing’s On The Wall”. This is a track which lacks excitement and is, frankly, just a little bit boring.

Don’t give me that look, Sam Smith, with your George Michael earrings and perfect voice.

Look, it’s definitely not the worst Bond theme ever produced — that honour goes to Madonna‘s “Die Another Day” (yuck!) — and it’s got some nice Bond-esque orchestration, but it is mid-tier in the canon of Bond themes. It’s especially apparent since Spectre is where modern-era Bond finally embraces some of the sillier tropes of the franchise, the song’s lovelorn lyrics simply do not resonate (much like the love story of Spectre itself).

There is a rich history of Bond music ever since that weird calypso version of “Three Blind Mice” from 1962’s Dr. No, so I have scoured the 50-plus year history to present you the Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs:

Note: The classic James Bond Theme is out of the running, because it is ubiquitous with every film. Dr. No, you’re cut.

10. “You Know My Name” Chris Cornell – Casino Royale (2006)

This song fits the era so well. Daniel Craig‘s debut as James Bond in Casino Royale was designed to update the character for modern audiences in a post-Jason Bourne world. As was the style at the time, the Bond franchise was to get its very own “gritty reboot”, highlighting a raw an inexperienced 007 for the very first time.

“You Know My Name” captures that tone perfectly, with classical Bond pomp and circumstance dropped for an appropriately grungy number from Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. This was James Bond, but as you’ve never seen him before. You know my name, indeed.


9. “Nobody Does It Better” Carly Simon – The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

A guilty pleasure. At this stage, Roger Moore was halfway through his stint as 007, and the movies themselves had skewed into the quip-laden, ‘wink wink’ nature that was synonymous with his run. “Nobody Does It Better” is one of the more commercially successful Bond songs, and is among singer Carly Simon‘s most popular songs (that aren’t about Warren Beatty).

If we’re talking about bedding babes and thwarting criminal geniuses, it’s true that nobody does it better than James Bond. But The Spy Who Loved Me wound up being Moore’s highest grossing and critically acclaimed film, so really, when it came to making successful movies, nobody did it better. Top marks for confidence.

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Disneyland and California Adventure: Hot Tips and Hints for Your Next Trip

Luke Miksa shares his advice for a first-class Disneyland experience.

A trip to the Disneyland Resort isn’t cheap (especially if you come from a great distance, like myself), so undoubtedly you want to make the most of your hard-earned money. The key to a successful visit to Disneyland and California Adventure in Anaheim is to research and plan your days in advance. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over a couple of separate trips:

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Get in Early & Stay Late

Prepare to do most of your attractions first thing in the morning or late at night. The middle of the afternoon is when the Disneyland Resort crowds are at their largest, the sun is at it’s hottest, and lines for popular attractions — such as the relatively new Radiator Springs Racers — can have a wait time of up to 90 minutes!

This may sound mad, but during the afternoon, leave the park entirely. You actually won’t miss anything apart from lines and sunstroke. Go to Downtown Disney for lunch and shopping, or just go back to your hotel. You can chill by the pool (if you have one) or just relax in the air-conditioning.

By avoiding peak times, you will actually become a more efficient guest and I guarantee you will be able to see and do more in the day. And don’t rule out just how important a mid-day rest can have on your psyche, let alone your feet. Conserve your energy! Avoid the rush!

This advice goes mainly for summer, but is applicable for winter, but remember that winter operating hours are drastically shorter, as are crowd numbers.

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Park Hopper

When you purchase tickets, you have the choice of buying individual tickets to the two parks, or you can purchase a Park Hopper: a pass that let’s you — you guessed it — hop between the parks at will. For a slightly higher cost, this flexibility is invaluable in getting the most out of your Disneyland experience.

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Review: Fantastic Four (2015) — Fantastic Faux Pas: Defying the Odds to Become the Worst Fantastic Four Movie

Fantastic Four is back, and this time it’s serious. Luke Miksa reviews:

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Based on the popular Marvel Comics characters, Fantastic Four is another attempt at a big-screen adaptation for Marvel’s First Family. Directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle), Fantastic Four (Fant4stic if you’re an idiot) is a more serious take at the origin story of the super-team and follows a young Reed Richards (Miles Teller, Whiplash), a hyper-intelligent young man who is recruited into the “Baxter Foundation” and joins a team including Sue Storm (Kate Mara, House of Cards), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station), and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell, RocknRolla). The team develop a transporter capable of inter-dimensional travel, but when the team, including Reed’s childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell, Snowpiercer), encounter problems on “Planet Zero”, they return with their molecules altered, resulting in various powers and abilities which will change them forever.

Fantastic Four is a movie that has been plagued with well documented production problems. I shouldn’t be getting into on-set dramas while reviewing a film, but the squabbles between director Josh Trank and 20th Century Fox have unfortunately manifested into the finished film, which is a jumbled mess of ideas, tone, and plot. What we have with Fantastic Four is two movies. One being the directors vision: a serious scientific exploration into inter-dimensional travel combined with Cronenberg-esque body-horror. The second: an action based movie where the team gets together to stop a cataclysmic event. It’s obvious where the different visions intersect and the resulting mess is the worst-reviewed Marvel-based movie to date.*

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Review: Trainwreck (2015) — Amy Schumer’s Breakthrough in Judd Apatow’s Return to Form

Ladies and gentlemen, Amy Schumer. Luke Miksa reviews her new film Trainwreck:

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“Monogamy isn’t realistic” is the quote a very young Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) repeatedly has drilled into her head by her womanising father (Colin Quinn) in the opening flashback of romantic comedy Trainwreck. As an adult, Amy works at a popular men’s magazine, and her personal life is filled with heavy drinking, carefree sex, and partying — clearly adopting her father’s advice all those years earlier. Amy is assigned to write an article on successful sports doctor Aaron Connors (Bill Hader), mainly because she has absolutely no interest in the subject. As they spend time together, Amy and Aaron develop a romantic relationship, which can only survive if Amy can overcome her pre-existing conceptions on monogamy.

Ah, the look of regret.

Ah, the look of regret.

Trainwreck was written by star Amy Schumer, and is her feature debut both in screen-writing and in a leading role. Schumer’s success thus far has been relegated to stand-up comedy and her very successful sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer. Here, Schumer shows that not only can she write a strong, realistic, and hilariously outrageous female character, on-screen she can carry the whole film to boot! Schumer was a breath of fresh air that has been needed, and she brings a feminist voice to mainstream comedy which has been sorely lacking.

Director Judd Apatow has been in somewhat of a rut for his last few films, with Funny People and This is 40 receiving mixed reviews and mediocre responses. Trainwreck is the first feature directed by Apatow that he hasn’t written himself and it is quite obviously reflected in the final product, as Apatow hasn’t directed something so fresh since 2007’s Knocked Up. Gone is the free-wheeling style of filmmaking, replaced with a fairly tighter script. Although the runtime of Trainwreck still clocks in at over two hours, it moves briskly and is nowhere near as over-long as his previous efforts.

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San Diego Comic-Con 2015: Just the Important Bits

Luke Miksa's: The Negative Space Bar

Last weekend was the annual San Diego Comic-Con, which is increasingly less about comics and more about movie and TV studios pushing their slate of upcoming projects, while giving fans a chance to see their favourite actors and film-makers in-person at HUGE panel events. The big news for 2015 was abundant, so I picked a few of the tastiest morsels to focus on:

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

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The biggest buzz of San Diego Comic-Con this year surely came from Hall H during the much-anticipated Star Wars panel. With practically everybody in attendance — including wheeling old old-timers Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and post plane crash Harrison Ford — all cast and crew involved shared an evident enthusiasm for the project which infected the packed hall. While they didn’t reveal a new trailer, the following behind-the-scenes video actually does a better job at rekindling fond memories and selling the movie more than a new trailer ever could.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens makes its long-awaited debut this December.

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