Tag Archives: James McAvoy



For so long the words An M. Night Shyamalan film was something to be dreaded. Then The Visit showed that Shyamalan could still produce a decent if unremarkable movie. Now his latest movie Split is supposedly a return to form and last night I got a chance to see an advance screening of the film before it’s general UK release on Friday.

Three teenagers are kidnapped by a man named Kevin (James McAvoy) who suffers from a form of dissociative identity disorder. Kevin has 23 distinct personality and the 24th is on it’s way, and the girls must escape before he arrives.

Breathe a sigh of relief everyone, for Shyamalan is well and truly back. Long may the likes of The Lady in the Water and The Happening remain a distant memory ! In all serious though Split was a great movie and I really enjoyed watching it. Instead of getting lost on a tangent Shyamalan’s focus seems much clearer in Split, with the story and pacing feeling much tighter then his previous efforts.

The cast is good, and Anna Taylor-Joy makes good on her early promise in The Witch as one of the kidnapped girls. However this is McAvoy’s show, who despite playing numerously distinct different personalities doesn’t descend into caricatures or overacts. Each performace is finely judged and flips between creepy, to humorous to compassionate without drawing you out of the moment.

For those expecting more out and out horror Split is more about building tension and the fear of whether personality number 24 actually exist and what they will be like if they do come out. Some may also be disappointed that, despite the film’s marketing focusing heavily on Kevin’s 23 personalities, we only see a select number of them.

So not up there with The Six Sense or, my personal favourite of his, Unbreakable but Split shows there’s still hope for Shyamalan’s career yet.

Oh and if you are thinking of going to see Split I would do it soon as the last scene is something a lot of people will be talking about (the audience I saw it with was buzzing with chatter as soon as the film ended). So see it before someone spoils it for you.

Rating 4/5 – with some help from McAvoy, Shyamalan is back to making good films-at last!


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X Men: Apocalypse

X-Men_-_ApocalypseThe third chapter in a trilogy is always tricky one to get right, something the teenage mutants acknowledge themselves during the third film in the X Men prequel seires. But it can’t be as bad as X Men: The Last Stand can it?

Its 1983, ten years on from the events of Days of Future Past and mutants are living alongside humans but while they are not at war they are living on a knife’s edge. When one of the world’s first mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) awakes from centuries of slumber he is determine to lay the world to waste and start again, with himself as it’s God. It’s up to Professor X (James McAvoy) , Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and their students to stop him.

OK so Apocalypse is not as good as Days of Future Past or X2 but thankfully it’s nowhere near the flops that were The Last Stand or Origins: Wolverine. Despite the influx of new characters (or returning, younger characters depending how you look at it) the film doesn’t feel overloaded and most get some good moments.

Perhaps the ones that get least development is the new mutants who become the Four horsemen working for Apocalypse aside Magneto (Micheal Fassbender – always good). Out of the three newcomers only Storm (Alexandra Shipp) has some potential. Psylock (Olivia Munn) looks cool and Angel (Ben Hardy) is great looking -apart from the dodgy 80’s hair- but aside from that they make little impact. Oscar Isaac also feels hampered under the prosthetics in what ends up being another generic supervillain, especially compared to Fassbender’s compellingly tragic anti-hero.

Lawrence’s Mystique is served better by the story this time than she was in Days of Future Past and the always dependable McAvoy shines again as Xavier. Out of the new students Kurt/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is instantly endearing and Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey looks set to become an interesting addition to the team. Maybe if they do more movies they can tackle the Dark Phoenix storyline properly this time.

Action wise there are some good scenes even though the climatic scenes feature the over familiar destroying of a major city. One of the highlights of the film is the reappearance of Quicksilver (Evan Peters) who once again gets a scene stealing moment as he rescuing a bunch of mutants from a building. Peters is hugely likeable and very funny in his extended role. So when will we get a solo Quicksilver movie then?

Rating 3.5/5 – fun if a tad long addition to the X Men franchise


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X-Men: Days of Future Past

I used to love watching the X-Men cartoon as a kid, so I’ve always had a soft spot for the mutants. Despite a few fumbles along the way (particularly The Last Stand and Wolverine: Origins), I’ve enjoyed the big screen version of the X-Men. But with time travel and a huge ensemble involved in this sequel will it be an epic adventure or an overloaded mess?

In the future robots called Sentinels are killing mutants. Things have gotten so bad that Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Professor X(Patrick Stewart) have come together with a small band of surviving mutants to try to set things right. When Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) is able to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time (it makes more sense in the film-kind of), he tries to bring together the younger version of Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender) to stop Mistique (Jennifer Lawrence) from making a terrible mistake that will affect all the mutants.

Ok first up the bad points. Anyone who reads this blog knows how much of a fan I am of Jennifer Lawrence. However this was not her best film. Not that she was awful but she looked like she bored the whole way through. It may be because her character Mistique didn’t have a powerful character arc this time around. Most of the time her character was just there to be in the middle of a power struggle between two men. Boring. I also didn’t understand how the character Kitty Pryde got the power to send Wolverine back in time in the first place. Maybe I missed something.

Thankfully there is plenty of good things in this movie. The highlight of which is Quicksilver (Evan Peters), one of the new mutants brought into the film franchise. He’s of particular interest because his character is appearing in both this movie and in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Based on what we’ve seen here, Marvel Studios have got their work cut for them trying to beat this version. Peters’ speedster Quicksilver has just a few scenes but his Quicksilver is funny and interesting. The sequence when we see things from his perspective as he speeds up and everyone slows down is brilliantly realised. The humour, the music, everything is perfect. I’m also glad they kept him to just those scenes as he could have been overused but instead it’s one of the memorable moments of the film.

Out of the future mutants I was really interested in was Blink (Fan Bingbing) and her portal creating abilities. I hope we get to see more of her. While it could have been mutant overload with the two timeline worth of characters sharing the screen, the film never feels messy and it easily flits back and forth between the two settings. There is also a lot of welcome humour amidst all the drama. Jackman’s Wolverine has a lot of the best lines and it’s always fun to watch him step back into the role. It’s also great to see both versions of Magneto and Professor X again, and we even get a scene where both Charles face each other for a pep talk.

Occasionally this movie drags a bit in between the action. However it tends to pick itself up again quite quickly. And I have to say I love the ending. The last few scenes are great and leaves you eagerly anticipating the next film.

Rating 4/5 – exciting, fun and full of action, in other words a great summer blockbuster


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Based on the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh, Filth is a darkly comic/drama/crime film. Fans of Welsh’s book went mad when the lovely James McAvoy was picked for the role of distrubed detective Bruce. Was McAvoy the right choice for the role? And will audiences get Welsh’s story of a mentally unstable and thoroughly horrible main protagonist?

The story revolves around Bruce (McAvoy) a manipulative, homophobic, racist and obnoxious detective who plans to use all his scheming against his fellow officers to secure a promotion while supposedly serving a murder. Along the way he bullies his friend Clifford (Eddie Marsan), makes obscene phone calls to Clifford’s wife and is generally awful to nearly everone he meets.

Ok so that discription may not sound like a fun film to watch, but it’s actually a very funny film.  Lots of black humour of course. We see everything from Bruce’s point of view, where he believes he is supirior to everyone else around him and can outwit his colleagues to get a promotion. As the film goes along the humour only gets darker  as its obvious Bruce’s view of the world is skewered, and as we go along we realise just how messed up Bruce is.

Essentially this is a film about someone going through a breakdown and is in serious need of help for his mental state. I wouldn’t say Bruce ever becomes a sympathetic character but he becomes more complex as the film continues and you do wish Bruce could get the help he so desperately needs but won’t ever admit.

The film goes between the real world and Bruce’s fantasies, and as it goes on you get the feeling that Bruce’s narration is somewhat unreliable. Director John S. Baird does a great job in switching between these sequences. Some of Bruce’s visions have disturbing images and they are brought to the life really well.

The film has a great supporting cast. Jamie Bell impresses as DS Frank Lennox-the butt of a lot of Bruce’s schemes. Imogne Potts is also strong as DS Amanda Drummond, the single sane person on the force and the only one who can see Bruce for who he really is. Jim Broadbent is also great value turning up in Bruce’s dream sequences as a doctor. However this is James McAvoy’s film. Those who had reservations about him taking on the role of Bruce will be pleasently surprised at how McAvoy embodies Bruce. Ok he may not be the exact physical description of Bruce as described in the book but he clearly enjoys playing someone so distrubed. His Bruce is repellant and amoral, yet you are still willing to follow him on his downward spiral. This is a prime example that a film does not need a likeable protagonist, as long as you make his story interesting and compelling enough for an audience to keep watching.

I doubt there would be any chance McAvoy will be up for an Oscar next year, although he clearly deserves it. Perhaps Filth would have better luck at the Bafta as it deserves to have some recognition.

Rating-3.5/5-dark, disturbing and James McAvoy on top form, if you’re easily offended stay well clear


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Trance is a Danny Boyle’s thriller that was released earlier this year. It is one of three films this year which has actor James McAvoy  trying  to  explore darker, more complicated characters (the others being Welcome to the Punch and Filth).

McAvoy plays Simon, an art auctioneer who plays an inside role to a robbery at the gallery he works for. However after a knock on the head he gets amnesia and forgets where he put the painting they were going to steal. Naturally his fellow robbers are not happy about this and try torture the answers out of him. When that doesn’t work, the leader Franck (Vincent Cassel) gets a hypnotist called Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson)to get the painting from him. However the truth is a lot more complicated than it appears.

The film starts out strong, as though this will be a smart thriller about people with dubious morals. However as the film goes on, there are too many twists going on and when you think about them it doesn’t make sense. In the end it seems like an awful lot of hard work just for one character’s end goal.

Not every movie needs a sympathetic or relatable character to follow, but there is no one in the film interesting enough to care what happens to them. The cast do what they can, and McAvoy clearly relishes playing a character that isn’t a straight forward good guy, but I think he’ll have more luck with his upcoming film Filth.

Probably only worth watching if you want to see Dawson naked. Hilariously the film tries to make  Dawson’s full-frontal nudity seem like an important plot point in the film, when obviously they just wanted to see Dawson naked. Just be honest Boyle!

Rating 2.5/5-a good start gives way to a film that has to many twists and turns for its own good

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