Esther McCarthy reviews X-Men Apocalpse and A Hologram for the King
Esther McCarthy reviews another addition to the X-Men pantheon and casts her critical eye over the new Tom Hanks flick.
X-Men: Apocalypse (12A) **
Many modern blockbusters seem to have become bloated and convoluted in a bid to reach the widest possible dynamic and break box office records. The X-Men series appears to be the latest to get on board.
Of course, no studio sets out to make a bad film. But there’s a gloomy inevitability about Apocalypse, which is a real shame.
After all, X-Men movies, have largely aimed to be fun and a little irreverent. There was a sense of mischief and that beautiful period detail that comes with time-travelling mutant territory.
This time out, it’s all fits and starts. We’re given an underwhelming nemesis in the title character baddie (Oscar Isaac, wasted), Michael Fassbender's underwhelmind turn as Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven given little to do but change character. Even the new young cast largely fail to add a spark.
Set over three locations and time zones, the plot revolves around the reawakening of the nasty Apocalypse, the original and most powerful mutant from the X-Men universe, and the most badass.
Unimpressed with the modern world, he recruits a team of powerful mutants, led by a rogue Magneto, to wipe out mankind and create a new world over which he will reign.
Where X-Men like so many recent offerings wobbles is in the padding out of a thin storyline. Several new characters are introduced but barely given enough screen time to breathe, while the overcooked visual effects give little sense of place or peril. Worst of all, there's a dour tone throughout.
A Hologram for the King (15A) **
The ever-likeable Tom Hanks isn't enough to save this tale about a US businessman who undergoes an awakening while on a trip to Saudi Arabia.
Based on Dave Eggers’ novel about a lost man who seeks redemption in a different way of life, Hanks plays Alan Clay, a businessman sent to Saudi to close what he hopes will be the deal of a lifetime.
His mission is to win the tender to sell a holographic teleconferencing system to the ruling royal government. But with conditions far from ideal for his small team of staff on the ground, and wifi nowhere near where it needs to be for a sophisticated system, he’s got his work cut out for him.
Friendship may come into his life in the from of many different characters he meets, from a talkative taxi driver (Alexander Black), to a sophisticated doctor (Sarita Choudhury).
This sort of role is tailor made for Hanks and he is charming as always. But the whole enterprise is simply too muddled and unengaging to really resonate or feel true.