Tag Archives: x-men

Logan – Review

6 Mar

The X-Men series of movies seems to have been around forever. The beloved team of mutant heroes were shown onscreen in live action for the first time back in 2000, and there are a few of these actors that are still playing the same roles almost two decades later. In this case, I’m talking about Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X. Now, here in 2017, we’re seeing the departure of these two actors from their respective roles in the newest film of this series, Logan. What a movie to go out on. This isn’t just the best X-Men film to date, it may very well reign supreme as the best superhero film ever made.

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In the not so distant future, mutants are on the brink of extinction and have to go into hiding to avoid certain death squads and other forces that want them gone. One of these mutants is a much older Logan (Hugh Jackman) who is working as a limo driver to support his vices while also supporting a sickly Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). A chance encounter with a nurse ends with a little girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), being left with Logan and Charles who are tasked with transporting Laura to a safe haven for mutants. Laura is soon revealed as a mutant test subject known as X-23, who is on the run from the company’s head of security, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), and his soldiers called the Reavers. Against Logan’s best wishes and attempts to rid himself of the responsibility, he takes both Laura and Charles out of their compound and begin their journey to the haven with Donald and his men hot on their tails.

There’s so much about this movie I want to dive right into that I have to force myself to stay focused. Let’s talk story first. I tried to keep my summary as vague as possible because there are so many layers and feelings that start to peel away as the movie goes on. It would be impossible to try and cover everything that is important in this movie because there isn’t one frame that is unnecessary. The story to Logan isn’t like any other X-Men movie, and it plays out like a very intense character drama as much as it is a graphically violent action film. The main reason this movie worked so well for me is because of how deep the story is and how it explored parts of these characters that were never seen before. The story is about Logan and Charles protecting X-23, but it’s also a story of family, regret, and severe, relentless pain. It’s can be a rough one at times, but I commend writer/director James Mangold and his co-writers for going there.

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The decision to make Logan rated R was a very smart move from 20th Century Fox, especially after the over the top success of Deadpool. This works great for the drama that I’ve already talked about as well as the action sequences. Let’s talk action, now. This is still a superhero movie, and a superhero movie completely devoid of action would be weird. Wolverine has always been viewed as an angry character prone to violent outbursts, and we’ve seen that in previous X-Men movies, but never like what I’ve just witnessed in Logan. This is Wolverine at his most unhinged. Limbs fly, heads roll, and the scenery is often times showered with pieces of whoever got in Logan’s way. What’s cool about it, also, is that it isn’t violence for the sake of violence. There’s a fair amount of action sequences that go heavy on the violence, but it has weight backing it up, and it never gets to a level that’s solely exploitive and gratuitous. It’s very well handled and was never anything less than exciting.

Finally, Logan has an excellent cast of characters and actors who play them to perfection. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have been playing these parts for years, so it’s pretty clear that they have their roles completely covered. Stewart gives a subtle and often sad performance here, where we see Professor X in ways that I’ve never thought I would. As for Hugh Jackman, this is simply his best performance. It’s controlled while also being ferocious, but the quieter and more contemplative scenes is where Jackman really shines by making Logan so vulnerable and appear so broken. There’s also some great newcomers to the series that are memorable. Dafne Keen, despite her relatively young age, is outstanding as X-23 and can really hold her own in terms of the ferociousness that is expected from the character. I also really enjoyed Boyd Holbrook’s portrayal of Donald Pierce, whose villainy oozed through every scene he was in. It’s exactly how I like my comic book bad guys.

I really wasn’t a fan of X-Men Origins or The Wolverine so I was really hoping that Logan was going to do the character right. Well, it sure does and it does even better than I could have hoped. It’s sad to see Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart bowing out of their roles, but this was the send off that they deserved. This is a powerful film that has some really heavy storytelling that will leave you teary eyed yet incredibly satisfied. This is the best written and executed entry of all the X-Men films and it brings something new and exciting to the superhero genre that can potentially change the game. I absolutely loved Logan.

Final Grade: A+

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X-Men: Apocalypse – Review

13 Jun

Ever since X-Men was first released back in 2000, there’s been a slew of movies added to this series to make it one of the biggest superhero franchises of all time. Some of these entries have been outstanding, like X2: X-Men United and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Others have become something of a bad joke, like X-Men 3: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It really seems like the makers had absolutely no idea what to actually do with the material, and what we have left is a storyline filled with time travel, alternate universes, and people dying and coming back to life. It’s all very hard to keep track of. Now we have X-Men: Apocalypse, a film that tries to tie up a lot of loose ends while also introducing some of the most badass characters to the universe to date. This movie may be a bit of a mess, but it’s still a strong installment in the series.

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Thousands of years ago, En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), also known as Apocalypse, is betrayed and buried hundreds of feet below ground. Jump to 1983 in what is now Cairo. Apocalypse finally awakens and moves to the surface to start a plan that will rid Earth of the humans who have “destroyed” the planet so that the “strong” can keep living. This presence is soon felt by Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) who is still running the ever growing school for mutants to learn how to harness their abilities. As Xavier tries to pinpoint and identify what’s cause this disturbance he’s feeling, Apocalypse begins recruiting his soldiers including Psylocke (Olivia Munn), a young Ororo Monroe/Storm (Alexandra Shipp), and a completely broken down and hopeless Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender). As the might of Apocalypse is being wrought all throughout the world, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and a group of young mutants find their way to the Professor in order to stop En Sabah Nur from fulfilling his ultimate plan.

While this movie features many of the same actors we’ve seen in First Class and Days of Future Past, there are also a good amount of new faces. I’ve already said that I love James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Xavier and Magneto, and while I don’t like what’s happening to her character, Jennifer Lawrence plays Mystique very well. I’d much rather look at some of the new faces. Sophia Turner is note perfect as a young Jean Grey, as is Tye Sheridan as a young Scott Summers/Cyclops. Alexandra Shipp is also perfectly cast as a young Storm, complete with an accent and back story. Let’s be real though. The stand out of this movie is Apocalypse, himself. Apocalypse is one of the coolest villains Marvel has ever created, and Oscar Isaac is absolutely menacing. He doesn’t even need to be speaking to be terrifying. The looks he gives his enemies is so full of powerful confidence and violence, mixed with the excellent make up that was applied. He steals the show and is one of the stand out characters, for me, in the entire franchise.

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X-Men: Apocalypse has some of the coolest moments in the entire series, which I will most certainly get to later. I also would like to point out that it also has some of the most tedious and pointless moments in the entire series. The movie starts out well enough and there’s more set up that happens than you might expect, but that’s ok. I was going with it for a while. However, there’s a part in the middle that is completely unnecessary to the plot concerning Apocalypse. Anyone who’s seen this movie knows what scene I mean, and it definitely is a cool scene, but I couldn’t help but feel like I got off at the wrong exit and had to turn back around to get back to where I wanted to be. It would’ve been fine, but once that whole section was over it was never discussed again and had no effect on the main story. Plus, I have to say that the X-Men timeline and continuity has gotten so out of control it’s best to just watch these movies and not think too hard about how they all lead into each other.

Now that we got all that garbage out of the way, I’d like to get back to all the awesome stuff. I’ve already mentioned how epic I think Apocalypse is, so let’s move on to more. Evan Peters returns as Quicksilver, and if you thought he was cool in Days of Future Past, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Not only does he get a cooler slow motion scene, but he also gets to do more with the X-Men and has a dramatic arc that brings a lot to his character. I also have to give a huge shout out to the people who worked on the sound and visual effects. Apocalypse’s awakening made the ground rumble and got me so pumped for the rest of the movie. Meanwhile the CGI in the final battle was epic. Things were flying all over the place, buildings were collapsing, and all hell was just breaking loose. This is a really well made movie and acts as further proof that Bryan Singer is the X-Men guy.

X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t the best entry in the series, but it’s also far from being the worst. In fact, it’s a perfectly competent and often times exhilarating exercise in the super hero genre. This series seems to have gone on since the beginning of time, and after seeing this one I’ve realized that I’m nowhere near ready to see these movies cease to exist. They’re just too much fun to forget about.

Deadpool – Review

16 Feb

I’ve been dying to write this review for a long, long time. This is a movie that I’ve been so excited for since it was revealed that it was actually going to happen. We’ve come along way since that test footage was shown at Comic-Con. Now we have the feature length Deadpool. Deadpool is Marvel’s most beloved black sheep, so it’s no surprise that he’s getting this kind of treatment. There was a lot riding on this movie with all of the ridiculous advertising and the fact that Deadpool fans no exactly what they want, and I’m proud to say that Deadpool is the perfect movie for this character and also the most badass Marvel movie since Punisher: War Zone.

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Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is an ex-special forces operative who now makes a living selling his skills as a mercenary to the highest buyer. One night, Wade meets the person destined to be the love of his life, Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin), and the two spend many a happy night with one another. Things take a turn for the worst when Wade finds out he has cancer growing all over his body and turns to a man named Francis, aka Ajax (Ed Skrein) to undergo a highly experimental treatment that will cure his cancer and turn him superhuman. What Wade doesn’t know is how sadistic and controlling Francis is, and he is eventually horribly disfigured while also having his cancer cured and an ability to regenerate. After his betrayal at the hands of Francis, Wade assumes his new identity as Deadpool, whose mission is to find Francis and get his revenge no matter how many mutilated bodies he leaves along the way. If only he didn’t have to deal with Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).

Deadpool is a hard movie to summarize because it’s a movie that has to be seen to believe. Anyone who has ever read a comic with Deadpool or played a game with Deadpool or have watched a cartoon with Deadpool knows that he is possibly the most unconventional comic book character ever created. This left screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and director Tim Miller a lot to work with. The possibilities to break the fourth wall, create chaos in Deadpool’s own psyche, and just have fun with complete anarchy were limitless. Luckily the film makers went all out and clearly had a blast with the material. Deadpool often times blasts into this anarchic blur of mayhem and doesn’t even let up when the end credits start to roll.

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I can’t say I was really worried that the humor and action in Deadpool weren’t going to be on par with everything else I’ve seen the character in, but there was a feeling in the pit of my stomach that caused me some concern. Luckily, I really had nothing to be concerned about. In terms of the humor, it’s vulgar and obnoxious, but also can be very smart and quick witted. Deadpool isn’t called the “merc with a mouth” for nothing, and Reynolds has plenty of great lines to spit, even if it means breaking the fourth wall and bringing meta humor to a much stranger level. As for the action, well, this certainly isn’t the next Captain America. It’s so gratifying to see people explode, get decapitated, smashed, mashed, mushed, and altogether obliterated in a Marvel movie. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Casting Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool seems like the obvious choice, and that’s because he really was born to play this role. It’s great to finally see him get a chance to really play the character after his horrendous portrayal in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Just the way Reynolds moves and speaks makes him the perfect choice to play the character. The supporting cast all did really well too. Kapičić and Hildebrand had some funny scenes and got to show off their own powers while Skrein and Gina Carano played villains that are fun to hate. Finally, T.J. Miller had some great dialogue scenes with Reynolds and provided a lot of great comedic relief in some of the more serious scenes.

Deadpool isn’t the most complex or narratively reward superhero film you’ll ever see, but it is the perfect movie for the Merc with a Mouth. It’s full of great humor, explosive action, and spot on acting. There was so much riding on this movie’s success with all of the ridiculous advertising and the long wait for the movie to actually come out. It’s just so nice to see a beloved character given such a perfect treatment in a movie. I loved Deadpool and I can’t wait to see it again.

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Review

11 Jun

The X-Men franchise, which has been around for over a decade (their movies at least), is a franchise that has had some strong up and some really strong downs. Bryan Singer’s X-Men and X2: X-Men United were both triumphant examples of how a superhero movie should be made. That’s when tragedy struck. X3: X-Men United was a complete disaster that ruined everything Singer had done, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a mediocre entry, and The Wolverine was downright boring. Only with Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class did the series seem to get its footing once again with one of the best entries of the franchise. Now, Singer’s back in the director’s chair and has created the most exciting, dramatic, and action packed entries yet, X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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The future is a bleak place for both humans and mutants. Giant robots called Sentinels have ravaged the planet killing both mutants and normal people who have the mutant gene, leaving the world completely devastated. It is revealed that the cause of this is because the mutant Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) assassinated the designer of the Sentinels, Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage), and prompted the government to capture her and use her genes to create the murderous robots and making Trask appear as some sort of martyr for humankind. Now, the only chance of survival lies with a small group of remaining X-Men, particularly Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), whose consciousness is sent back in time by Kitty Pride (Ellen Page) to bring together the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and find Mystique to stop her before she can carry out her assassination. Meanwhile, in the future, the Sentinels are closing in on the X-Men’s hide out, forcing the survivors to fight for their lives so Wolverine can complete his near impossible mission.

Of course, I’m leaving a lot out of that quick little plot summary because there really is so much going on in this movie, to the point that it’s almost mind boggling. Time travel movies are rarely simple, but I found that this one was not too difficult to understand, and that has a lot to do with the writing and directing. I could tell, right from the opening scene (which might be one of the most violent scenes in this entire series) that this movie was not only going to be entertaining, but it was also going to impress me. There’s so much to love in this movie from the action and drama to its strong sense of style and humor. Finally, but the end, it becomes obvious that Bryan Singer fixed everything that was ruined, at least for the most part.

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One of the most impressive parts of this movie is the cast, but I feel like that really goes without saying. When I first heard that the casts from both the original X-Men movies and First Class were going to be in the same movie that involves Sentinels and time travel, I was immediately down with the entire idea. Everyone really brings their A-game to this film as well. Hugh Jackman gives his expected performance as Wolverine, which has really been a perfect combination right from the start. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen also give their expected performances as well, which says a lot because I’ve never seen them off their game in anything that they’ve been in. In my opinion though, the real scene stealers come from the people in the past. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender have difficult jobs in this entry, being that both of their characters appear to be at the lowest points in their lives. McAvoy, especially, delivers his lines with such emotion and power, it’s hard not to get just a little choked up. How could I forget Evan Peters, though, and his brief role as Quicksilver? Not only was his brief role one of the most memorable parts of the movie, but it also showed Singer’s strength as a film maker.

To go off from the main story a little bit, this movie got me very curious for what’s to come with the X-Men movie franchise. The post credit scene was crazy enough, but I just mean with things that were added in the plot itself. It’s almost as if Bryan Singer was standing on the side, wiping off his hands, and proclaiming “There. I fixed it.” Not only is the story put completely back on track, but there’s finally some style that’s returned in both the writing and the directing. That being said, kudos have to be given to the screenwriter, Simon Kinberg.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is, without a doubt, the best entry in this franchise and is also a refreshingly awesome and dramatic summer blockbuster. There’s a lot to marvel at with the outstanding special effects that add a level of epicness, but the dramatic story and social critique is just as excellent. The characters aren’t stupid and neither is the story, which only makes this film all the better. If you’re looking to just be mildly entertained, watch X-Men Origins. If you want to be blown right out of your seats with pure amazement, check out Days of Future Past.

 

The Wolverine – Review

2 Aug

Wolverine and the X-Men are some of the most beloved characters in comic book history. Their powers combined with the team work aspect and some great villains have proved to be success for readers and with their more cinematic endeavors (mostly). In 2009, Wolverine got his own movie with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and that was anything but successful. Now it’s four years later and his second attempt at a stand alone movie is aptly titled The Wolverine. With promising trailers and marketing, which include some excellent posters, I thought that nothing could go wrong. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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Taking place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is living in seclusion in the forest outside of a small American town. Haunted by his past with Xavier’s team of mutants, the loss of his beloved Jean Grey, and the constant struggle of the life that he has been living, he feels the desire to live a normal life. This wish seems to be granted when he is picked up by the mysterious mutant Yukio (Rila Fukushima) and brought Japan to meet with her boss and mentor, Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi). During World War II, Wolverine saved Yashida’s life and now that he is dying, Yanshida wants to return the favor. Unfortunately for Wolverine and Yashida’s grand daughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto) there are people who want Wolverine and his adamantium for mysterious reasons, and they won’t stop until they succeed.

I’m pretty convinced that 20th Century Fox released this movie just so we had something to hold us over until Days of Future Past is released. This does not feel like an X-Men movie at all. It could be argued that it is strictly a Wolverine story, but there are so many tie ins to the trilogy that it still has to be considered part of the canon that the previous movies have established. Jean Grey does pay Logan some visits in his dreams, and that’s pretty cool the first time it happens, but to keep having him get knocked unconscious and fall asleep multiple times just so we can have these scenes feels like overkill of a good idea. That’s a petty complaint, and just the start of a long list of reasons why The Wolverine is a major disappointment.

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I will say that this movie does have some pretty cool scenes, but I’m not saying that it’s a pretty cool movie in the least. A few scenes doesn’t make up for the rest of the movie. The scene on the train is a great action sequence that reminded me a lot of the climax of the first Mission: Impossible movie. The other cool part starts with Wolverine having an issue with a handful of ninjas and ends with a duel with the Silver Samurai (who gets incredibly poor treatment in this movie, and may be as big a disappointment to me as the Mandarin in Iron Man 3). Unfortunately, that’s about it. The first big action sequence that is really supposed to hook the viewer is so shaky that it made me nauseous. There were times when the camera man wasn’t even running after the action, and the camera was still shaking! Come on. That’s just stupid film making.

Finally, let’s talk about the story. So much potential is had here, especially with Wolverine losing his regenerative ability for some time. Nope. Wasted. Wolverine is shot and beaten, and the only thing that really happens is that he needs to chill for a few seconds and maybe take a nap. Great, so all of that potential suspense is totally lost. It would have been great seeing Wolverine try a new approach to taking down his enemies than just doing what he usually does and flail and stab about until they are all dead. It would have been awesome to see him adopt a more ninja-like style, using stealth and surprise. Also, there is a romance in this movie. Why, oh why? It really makes no sense to have it there and it has absolutely no bearing on the story a whole. It just slowed down an already slower than need be movie.

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So all The Wolverine really did was bore me silly. There is a scene during the credits that is absolutely necessary viewing, and is definitely a lot better than the movie itself. Major lore was changed in a way that was really stupid, there was a romance that felt forced, and the story was just wasted. There are other movies out there to see that are infinitely better than The Wolverine. Die hard fans may want to see it because it’s the newest movie in the X-Men universe, but don’t expect anything particularly good. I hate saying this about movies, but this one was just stupid.

X-Men: First Class – Review

4 Nov

The saga of the X-Men, whether read or watched, is long, often tragic, and occasionally funny. X-Men and X2: X-Men United were testaments to this and powerhouse super hero films. X3: The Last Stand held its own despite its flaws, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine passed by the skin of its teeth, or maybe claws might be more appropriate. I have just watched X-Men: First Class all the way through for the second time, and I will still defend it as being the best X-Men movie to date, and easily holds a place in the upper echelon of superhero films.

 

Despite having different motives, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) share a unique bond, their own separate mutation, that allows them to find themselves as allies. When an old Nazi enemy of Erik’s, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), resurfaces and threatens the world with the promise of World War III, Xavier and Lensherr are hired by a secret branch of the American government to put a stop to him. After acquiring a team of young mutants, including Raven Darkholme aka Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Hank McCoy aka Beast  (Nicholas Hoult). Once assembled, there is only a short time to perfect their powers and learn to control them.

What is arguably one of the most important aspects of this movie is the chemistry between Charles and Erik. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen worked so well with each other that the pressure was certainly on for McAvoy and Fassbender. Fortunately, they forge a complex and engrossing relationship with ease, never once feeling like a strained attempt at character drama. While on the topic of chemistry, Fassbender and Bacon also share memorable scenes as two sworn enemies who also have reasons to respect one another.

 

What else is important in an X-Men movie? Action, of course. Whether it’s on top of the Statue of Liberty or in the hallways of the X Mansion, this series has plenty of memorable action sequences for fans to choose from. First Class is no exception from this. In fact, the entire final battle culminating on a dramatic stand off on a small island is pulse pounding excitement from start to finish with an incredible AHA! moment at the end. Seeing Erik lift an entire nuclear submarine out of the water while holding on for dear life to the wheel of the X Jet is certainly satisfying.

Probably the most abstract area of enjoyment for me was just the way the story was told. The rhythm of the movie remained constant and every scene seemed necessary, no matter how minor it seemed. Not once did I stop to see how much time was left or get distracted by something else because there was never a truly dull moment. There may be quiet scenes that reflect the more intimate sides of these characters, but they serve as an extra layer that adds depth and sympathy.

 

For a movie of this genre to evoke such a strong emotional response is commendable. It’s challenging to put these characters onscreen because we all know them so well that it may be hard to imagine them being anything else that fictional characters. Matthew Vaughn has achieved something remarkable in making these characters seem more grounded in reality than any other time of this series, or even in any other Marvel movie. Seeing the bond grown between Charles and Erik only to have it break in the most devastating of ways definitely tugged on the heart strings.

In summation, X-Men: First Class is not only the best X-Men movie yet, but also one of the best superhero movies I have seen, along with The Avengers and The Dark Knight. While The Avengers had the action, The Dark Knight had the heavy internal conflict, X-Men: First Class is about relationships and acceptance. They’re deep themes for a comic book adaptation, and while it may take a lot of liberties when it comes to sticking with the source material, this is a high quality film that will offer the viewer an excellent two hour ride.