Weekend Watch: 'X-Men' Unleashes Its Giant Cast, Rivals 'Avengers'
The fifth 'X-Men' movie merges universes, presents a legion of superheroes for fans.
Box office gold arrives this weekend in the form of X-Men: Days of Future Past, 20th Century Fox's answer to Disney's The Avengers. The fifth, and latest X-Men movie is the biggest yet, including no less than 20 characters and a slew of big name actors. DFP will merge the first three X-Men films with the last one (X-Men: First Class) by introducing time travel and allowing young and old versions of Professor X and Magneto to share the same screen. Fans of the comic can't get enough of this stuff and the $220 million price tag guarantees a spectacle, but will the film live up to those expectations or disappoint, like so many comic book movies before it?
X-Men: Days of Future Past
While a huge cast of characters can be the death knell for a comic book movie, The Avengers proved in 2011 it can also work spectacularly. X-Men: DFP will try to repeat that formula and if there's another movie than can do it, this is it. Led by Lawrence, Jackman, Fassbender, and X-Men stalwarts McKellan and Stewart, DFP isn't just an assembly of no-name talent. Like Avengers, it has the star power to lend its crazy story the gravitas it needs. The plot centers on Wolverine traveling back in time from the present to convince the young versions of Professor X (McAvoy) and Magneto (Fassbender) to help him stop an army of Sentinal robots from murdering both mutants and humans en masse. How they're supposed to do that won't be spoiled here, but the film's based on Chris Claremont and John Byrne's 1981 Uncanny X-Men storyline. It's a good place to start. See it.
The newest Adam Sandler cultural submission promises easy jokes, crummy writing, but also the reunion of the former SNL funnyman and his greatest muse, Drew Barrymore. The two have shared the silver screen four times now, including Sandler's best movie, The Wedding Singer. But that was a long time ago and Blended feels too much like what it is: a haphazard attempt to rekindle the magic of the past. The story presents us with middle-aged, parental versions of Robbie and Julia as parents who, after sharing a terrible blind date, find themselves stuck together at an African resort. Take a guess what happens next. Skip it.
Cold in July
A potboiler in the vein of Killer Joe and other recent southern pulp films, Cold in July is a unique thriller that mashes realistic suspense with horror sensibilities. Director Jim Mickle has stated his film is an ode to the John Carpenter movies of his youth and any horror fan will recognize the reference upon seeing it. Paced by a haunting score that immediately recalls Halloween, Cold in July folds and folds again on itself, abandoning one plot line to pick up another, more sinister one. The movie follows Dexter star Hall as a working class East Texan in 1989 who kills a burglar in his own home. Hailed as a local hero, he finds serious trouble when the robber's father (Shepard) shows up from prison looking for revenge. But the two men soon find common ground in mutual enemies and their partnership takes them to depths of evil they couldn't have imagined. See it.
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn
Director Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams) returns to feature work for the first time since 2002's The Sum of All Fears. His wheelhouse was always light-hearted material so his involvement in this non-heralded little New York comedy is promising. Williams stars as a curmudgeon who learns he has 90 minutes to live and tries to make amends with every person in his life in that time. The Angriest Man in Brooklyn should provide some minor laughs and Williams' fans should be excited to see him in hyperdrive, but there's nothing special about this one. It's comedic formula at work. Skip it.
Words and Pictures
Perhaps a bit sentimental, Words and Pictures relies on its two charismatic leads, Owen and Binoche, in its story of two teachers with opposite philosophies falling love at an elite boarding school. Owen is the brilliant but washed up writer and Binoche is the brilliant but washed up painter. They challenge and inspire one another, as well as their students, while dealing with Owen's character's potential dismissal. Movies like this cake on the melodrama, but it usually works despite itself because, well, everyone wants to believe in love. See it.