Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on social media with your friends.
WHAT: When a powerful mutant named En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) reawakens in 1983 after thousands of years in hibernation, he recruits Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and three other mutants to join his side as he attempts to destroy the world and remake it in his image. Standing in his way his Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his X-Men, including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) and new students Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Cyclops (Tye Sheridan).
WHY: “The third one is always the worst.” That’s an actual line of dialogue from Bryan Singer’s “X-Men: Apocalypse,” and though it’s technically referring to “Return of the Jedi,” it could just as easily be applied to the latest installment in the long-running superhero franchise. Messy, overstuffed and generally dull, there’s so much wrong with “X-Men: Apocalypse,” beginning with its titular villain. Not only is the all-powerful mutant surprisingly unimposing, but the movie completely wastes Oscar Isaac by burying him under layers of makeup and giving him very little to do. The same goes for stars Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence, none of whom look particularly interested this go-around, as well as the young X-Men, who are well-cast but get lost in the shuffle of the crowded ensemble. What initially seemed like the franchise’s biggest asset (its deep roster) has quickly become its Achilles’ heel. There just isn’t enough time to service all of these characters, and yet that doesn’t stop Singer from cramming as many as possible into the story. Although “X-Men: Apocalypse” has a few good moments (including yet another fun Quicksilver set piece), it’s so far behind what Marvel is doing with their movies that Fox would be better off handing over creative control (see: Sony and Spider-Man) and reaping the benefits.
EXTRAS: In addition to an audio commentary by director Bryan Singer and writer/producer Simon Kinberg, there’s an hour-long making-of documentary, deleted scenes, a gag reel and more.
Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapicic
A Deadpool movie has been bandied about for years – particularly by star Ryan Reynolds, who’s been dying for another shot at playing the so-called Merc with a Mouth after his bastardized appearance in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” – but it wasn’t until the test footage shot by first-time director Tim Miller was leaked in 2014 that Fox decided to move forward with the project. And it’s a good think they did, because although the film deviates slightly from its source material and relies a lot more on the included love story than expected, “Deadpool” is a fresh and entertaining action-comedy that demonstrates why studios should take more risks, especially when it comes to the superhero genre.
Before he went by the name Deadpool, Wade Wilson (Reynolds) was a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary just trying to earn a living and help people out along the way. But when he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer shortly after meeting his kindred spirit, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Wade accepts an offer to take part in an experimental treatment from a shadowy organization run by a deranged mutant named Ajax (Ed Skrein), who takes pleasure in torturing his patients. Miraculously, Wade’s cancer is cured and he gains accelerated healing abilities not unlike those of a certain X-Man, but his entire body is horribly scarred in the process. After he escapes from the facility, Wade decides to wear a disguise and assume a new identity in order to exact revenge on the man responsible for both saving and ruining his life, unwittingly dragging Vanessa into the conflict.
Sebamed first hit store shelves in the 1960s, which makes it about twice as old as Sabretooth, famous archenemy of X-Men character Wolverine. Maybe if Sabretooth used Sebamed, his pH levels wouldn’t be so out of whack and he wouldn’t be as vicious. He would at least have better skin.
Speaking of which, healthy skin has an intact protective barrier which defends against environmental irritants and guards against dehydration. In fact, the surface of the skin is covered with a hydrolipid film called the acid mantle that is slightly acidic (pH 5.5). The acid mantle is essential for supporting the barrier functions of the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum. And you thought the acid mantle and stratum corneum were obstacles you encounter during the Tough Mudder.
“Acid mantle? Stratum corneum? What is all this stuff, Paul? The active ingredients in Sebamed sound like something straight out of X-Men. But it’s just another facet of aging, and as you age, you start to care about stuff you never thought you would. Like warranties, APRs and how rezoning of the local school district may impact what school your daughter attends. You also want to avoid crow’s feet and other examples of skin pushed to the limit without the intercession of a tender hand. And that is where the tender, caring, nurturing hand of Sebamed makes the difference, just like the tender hand of Professor Charles Francis Xavier aka Professor X.
Disruptions in the skin’s barrier function can lead to sensitive and dry skin. The skin then becomes susceptible to outside (allergens, irritants, weather, infection) and internal (stress, hormones, diseases) factors which can trigger skin inflammation. Moisture is lost through unprotected cracks in the outermost layer of the skin and the skin is also more prone to infections.
I tried the Sebamed for Men After Shave Balm and the mix of botanical phytosteroles and chamomile extract had a soothing effect, like a fat tax refund. It didn’t dry my skin out because it isn’t loaded with alcohol or mentholated.
But the product that I really enjoyed was the Sebamed Balsam Sensitive deodorant. What I really liked is that it is aluminum free. Amazingly, almost all name brand deodorants contain aluminum, and I just don’t think there’s any way that is good for you, unless you are Magneto, primary villain of the X-Men. It was also applied via roll-on applicator and reminded me of Certain-Dri in terms of consistency and application.
Sebamed isn’t going to wow you with an awesome marketing campaign like Old Spice’s “Mom’s Song,” but that’s not their brand. Sebamed is the old standby that doesn’t jump up for attention, like Mystique, who is there and you’re glad, because they hit the mark every time.
Famke Janssen made both her film and television debuts in 1992, but it wasn’t until a few years later, when she became a Bond girl by the unforgettable name of Xenia Onatopp in “GoldenEye,” that everything started to come up roses for her. In the intervening years, Janssen has made multiple films, most notably starring as Jean Gray in the “X-Men” franchise, but 2013 marks her inaugural foray into a full-time TV series gig…and by “TV series,” what I really mean is a Netflix series. “Hemlock Grove,” produced by Eli Roth, kicks off its first season on Friday, April 19, but Bullz-Eye was fortunate enough to chat with Janssen way back in January, at the Television Critics Association press tour, about her new series as well as a few of her past films.
Bullz-Eye: “Hemlock Grove” marks the first time you’ve ever taken on a series-regular role for television. Did you have any trepidation about taking that kind of a plunge for a show that’s being delivered to viewers in a non-traditional manner, or was that part of what drew you to it?
Famke Janssen: Trepidation about that element? No. Doing a series, period? Yes. [Laughs.] But to me, I think the fact that it was for Netflix and not your traditional network or cable show was one of the deciding factors—or certainly an added bonus, anyway—because it felt like we were kind of in the wild west, with new territory to explore. It wasn’t this whole weight of a specific way of working that we had to carry through in some way. So with that, I was hoping that there would be less control coming from above, and not so much like a big studio standing there with a whip, making you feel like you’re more of a puppet than anything else. Also, the whole 13-episode part was attractive as well, because I’m designed my life in such a way now that I’m trying to go back and forth between writing and directing and acting, and signing up for something that would’ve taken an entire year, as a network show would’ve…I hadn’t considered that at all, just because I don’t have the time for it. I don’t want to tie myself down. So in that regard, it was a perfect set-up, because I can make money and then I can pursue my passion of writing and directing in my free time.
BE: So what can you tell us about Olivia Godfrey without divulging anything too spoiler-y?
FJ: Olivia’s still mysterious even to me, and I’ve lived with her now for 13 hours onscreen, not to mention many more hours shooting the series, of course. She’s married into this Godfrey family, a family with a lot of money, but she comes from a lot of money as well…or she seems to, anyway. But whether she does come from a lot of money or where she really comes from or what her deal really is, nobody really knows, and maybe nobody will ever find out. [Laughs.] She’s highly manipulative. She loves her children, but she’s also somebody who just has an agenda most of the time. And she’s in love with her husband’s brother, and…there are all sorts of integral relationships with bizarre things going on within this small town as well as with these family members. [Shrugs.] It feels like “Twin Peaks” to me. That’s what it felt like. That’s the reason why I really liked it: because it is, in a good way, nonsensical. It’s not linear. You’re not gonna…not everything is going to be explained. There are going to be a lot of mysteries surrounding it all. Nothing is going to be wrapped up with a neat bow.
I’m sure some would still try to argue this point, but in a world where it seems like just about every comic-inspired movie finds itself atop the box office on its week of release, it’s hard to pretend that comics are strictly the domain of the geeks and the nerds. (Would that this transition could’ve occurred when I was still in high school.)
As such, Bullz-Eye is going to try to tackle more stories from the medium…and when I was sent a copy of “Ides of Blood,” a new series from DC / WildStorm which is – at least according to the press release – not entirely unlike a blend of “True Blood” and “Rome,” it certainly seemed like something that our readership might be interested in learning more about.
God bless DC’s publicity department: they quickly put me in touch with series creator Stuart Paul, who gladly answered a few questions for us about his own introduction to comic books, the origins of “Ides of Blood,” his semi-controversial decision to have characters in ancient Rome use modern colloquialisms, which of DC’s stable of superheroes he’d like to take a shot at writing, and much much more.
Since I’ve seen the phrase “new to comic books” used in conjunction with your history of writing for the medium, what’s your personal background with comics? And don’t be shy: if your memory stretches back that far, feel free to offer up the very first comic you remember buying.
My childhood experience with comics was pretty limited. Other than reading the occasional issue of Moon Knight or X-Men at my friend’s house, the only comics I personally bought were “Star Trek” comics—mostly “Next Generation” and some of the original crew that took place in the post-“Wrath of Khan” time period. It wasn’t until college that my girlfriend reintroduced me to comics through Sandman. Once I realized there were comics for adults out there, I started reading them more and more. Initially, I stuck with the superstars—Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Brian K. Vaughan, Garth Ennis. I was kind of a Vertigo whore at first. I guess I still kind of am, but not as much. I have to hear a lot of good buzz about something before I’ll invest in a whole series like Walking Dead, but I’ve definitely branched out. Once I discovered Urasawa’s Pluto, I started getting into manga more. Right now, I’ve got 20th Century Boys, Basilisk and Lone Wolf and Cub to read. I also went through a period of reading a lot of DC superheroes. Jeph Loeb’s Batman stuff is my favorite. Sometimes I’ll still read X-Men, but it’s pretty rare for me to read superheroes these days. My favorite series right now is probably Okko. I think Archaia is doing some of the most creative and well-made comics today. Also, Chew is the only series I read on a monthly basis. Everything else is TPB’s, although the iPad is kind of changing that.
There’s been much talk about how fans of both “True Blood” and “Rome” will find much to enjoy in Ides of Blood. Is that combination what led to the concept for this series? If not, what were its origins, and how do you feel about those points of comparison?
No, neither show existed when I originally came up with the idea and wrote the first draft. I mean, I don’t have a problem with people using those as points of reference. It’s an effective shorthand, but it’s the type of thing you’d bring up in a Hollywood pitch meeting. The problem is that you don’t necessarily know what connotations those shows have for the reader and also, they’re such current references that it makes the comic sound like it’s just trying to exploit the zeitgeist. I mean, if you said it’s “Gladiator” meets… well, actually, “Dracula” might have too much baggage attached to the name, so I guess “True Blood” probably is a good descriptor. The point is, I don’t mind the comparison, but I do think it has as much potential to put-off readers as it does to draw them in. Anyway, the concept for the series came out of boredom. I don’t really like vampires, so it started as a challenge to myself to figure out what I’d have to do to make vampires interesting to me. Julius Caesar just popped into my head.