I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Editor
Just in time for next month’s theatrical release of X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (the conclusion to the second X-MEN trilogy), all five installments are being repackaged for your home collection.
This isn’t the first time 20th Century Fox has assembled X-MEN (2000), X2: X-MEN UNITED (2003) and X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006) together for a trilogy box set. They did it once before in 2009 before the theatrical release of X-Men’s first solo character film, the abysmal X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE.
So why bother now?
If you’re a fan of the franchise, or if you don’t own the films yet, this new trilogy release is a great remastered set to own. The images sport a bit more clarity, the colors are improved and the sound offers pure sonic assault. Not to mention, the cover art makes it a far more exciting product to display, compared to the previous box set.
While the narrative quality of the first trilogy doesn’t stack to the elite second trilogy, the start of this franchise and focus on the beloved Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) still remains a fun assortment to revisit every so often, especially X2, which is easily the best of the bunch, with its more inventive and focused storyline.
Extras: The box set includes nine discs. Each film comes with a Blu-ray disc of the feature film, a disc for the bonus content (same juicy features as the previous releases) and a DVD and digital copy.
Now, obviously, this set isn’t complete until APOCALYPSE hits the streets on May 27, but if you’re all for watching an updated version of FIRST CLASS and DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, this is a worthy purchase as well.
Filmmaker Matthew Vaughn (KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE) kicked some life back into the franchise with his spectacular FIRST CLASS. With its rich ensemble — seamlessly cast with the likes of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, among others — and delve into characters’ pasts, First Class stands out as one of the franchise’s finest.
Then, original X-MEN director Bryan Singer reclaimed the throne in a big way with DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, expanding upon the characters and essentially erasing all the franchise’s biggest missteps (meaninglessly killing off key players) by exploring the concept of time travel. While it might seem like a cop-out to some, it works extremely well and Singer pulls it off with grace.
Now, here’s to hoping Singer can end this second trilogy on a high-note with APOCALYPSE, instead of a mighty thud like Brett Ratner did with THE LAST STAND.
Extras: This set is boxed in a similar fashion. It’s just unfortunate that it doesn’t include “The Rogue Cut” of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, which is arguably the better version.
Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s first film since his best picture winner BIRDMAN, THE REVENANT garnered 12 Academy Award nominations, with Iñárritu taking home the Oscar for best director for the second year in a row.
Set in 1823 Montana and South Dakota, this bleak, wintry revenge tale stars Leonardo DiCaprio (who also deservedly collected an Oscar for his lead performance) as Hugh Glass, a frontiersman working with a quasi-military hunting party of trappers.
After a vicious bear attack, Glass is left for dead by fellow fur trapper John Fitzgerald (a terrifyingly good Tom Hardy), sending this story into a world of devastation and blood.
While disguised as a revenge film, the heart of THE REVENANT is a story of survival. It’s an ode to the visceral beauty of nature and the relentless and savage force that is life.
Extras: The spectacular A WORLD UNSEEN – A Documentary of THE REVENANT.
Also on DVD and streaming: BARCELONA: Criterion Collection (1994), DORIS DAY AND ROCK HUDSON: Romantic Comedy Collection, FIFTY SHADES OF BLACK, IP MAN 3 (our review), THE LADY IN THE VAN (our review), LOVE 3D (2015), MISCONDUCT, NORM OF THE NORTH (our interview with Rob Schneider), SILICON VALLEY: Season 2, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2: Collector’s Edition (1986), WHAT LOLA WANTS, A Whit Stillman Trilogy: Criterion Collection and VEEP: Season 4.