Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with filmmaker James Mangold, who also directed 2013's The Wolverine. But this doesn't feel like any other X-Men movie; it strikes a sombre, gritty tone from the start to take the audience on a dark and rather brutal road trip. So while it feels rather long and repetitive, the movie also has a strong emotional kick.
It's set in the year 2029, when mutants have been wiped off the planet, and no new ones have been born for years. Hiding out in a drunken haze as a Texas limo driver, Logan aka Wolverine (Jackman) has stashed Charles aka Professor X (Patrick Stewart) across the border in Mexico, watched over by albino caretaker Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Then a nurse (Elizabeth Rodriguez) appears asking for Logan's help to transport the young Laura (Dafne Keen) to North Dakota. And Laura clearly has a genetic connection with Logan. It also turns out that she has escaped from a Mexico City hospital, so as Logan, Charles and Laura hit the road, the ruthless henchman Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and sinister Dr Rice (Richard E. Grant) are hot on their trail.
Mangold holds all of this in careful control, never tipping over into the usual whiz-bang Hollywood superhero action chaos (the violence is especially grisly). The story moves at a steady pace that adds an involving note of desperation to each sequence. This also makes the movie feel a bit repetitive and even wheel-spinning at times. Since the baddies are able to stay right on the heroes' heels, it's clear that even a nicely offhandedly sojourn with a farmer (Eriq La Salle) and his family will be short-lived. But the gnawing intensity, while never quite building into proper suspense, gets deep under the skin as it fleshes out the characters.
Continue reading: Logan Review
This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The Last Stand, the final part in the original X-Men trilogy: it shifts the focus from character detail and social commentary into a more standard effects-heavy action brawl. There's still a lot of strong character detail, and a big story that can't help but be entertaining. But it's impossible to escape the feeling that the film's scale is far bigger than it needed to be.
It's now 1983, and while Professor X (James McAvoy) works with Hank (Nicholas Hoult) to set up his school for young mutants, his old friend and nemesis Erik (Michael Fassbender) has started a family in a rural corner of Poland. But he can't hide forever. Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) is roaming the world helping mutants where she can, meeting the teleporting Kurt (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in Berlin before heading to Cairo. There, CIA operative Moira (Rose Byrne) has just uncovered a bizarre underground cult that has revived the ancient super-mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who immediately sets out on a quest to cleanse the planet and start over again. He needs four assistants, and the question is which of the X-Men will go over to the dark side.
This is the third comic book movie in a row about superheroes fighting each other, after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. And it's similarly enormous (all three films are around two-and-a-half hours long), with mammoth battles that don't quite make logical sense but are compelling enough that the audience goes with them. This film has a bit more emotional depth, including back-stories that have been developed with unusual complexity. But some characters fall through the cracks.
Continue reading: X-Men: Apocalypse Review
Both the filmmakers and the characters on-screen are so pleased with themselves that this might just be the smuggest movie ever made. Thankfully, it's also very funny. It's a passion project for actor-producer Ryan Reynolds, who throws himself fully into his role as a snarky mercenary who becomes an indestructible superhero with nothing to lose. And in addition to a constant stream of irreverent humour, he underscores the film's snarkiness with some real emotion.
Reynolds plays Wade, a thug for hire who works out of a bar run by his comical pal Weasel (T.J. Miller), and when he meets fellow mercenary Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), it's love at first sight. The feisty pair match each other with sharp tongues and brutal physicality, but their romance is shaken when Wade is secretly diagnosed with end-stage cancer. His only hope lies in a shady treatment from the ropey Ajax (Ed Skrein) and his sidekick Angel Dust (Gina Carano), which turns out to literally be torture. Sure, it cures his cancer and sparks his innate mutant healing power, but it leaves him hideously scarred. As he sets out to get revenge, two young X-Men (Brianna Hildebrand's Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Stefan Kapcic's Colossus) try to recruit him to their cause. And Wade, now known as Deadpool, tries to work up the nerve to show Vanessa what's left of him.
All of this is revealed early on, as Wade's back-story is recounted in a series of flashbacks in the middle of a massive opening action sequence. And once we're caught up, the story heads into a succession of massive climactic action sequences. Fortunately, there are some quieter moments in between that are both hilarious and involving. Reynolds effortlessly bridges the film's wild mood swings. His sassy attitude and feisty physicality feed cleverly into his riveting chemistry with Baccarin, whose character starts off strongly before dissolving into the standard hackneyed girlfriend role.
Continue reading: Deadpool Review
Continuing to be the most original and resonant of the Marvel superhero franchises, the X-men return in the capable hands of director Bryan Singer, who again stirs plenty of meaty subtext beneath the thrilling action. He also has one of the best casts imaginable, including Oscar winners, cinema royalty, rising stars and matinee idols.
Best of all, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) returns to the fold after two less-than-thrilling solo adventures. He's at the centre of everything here, as Professor X and Magneto (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen) ask Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) to send Wolverine's consciousness back 50 years to 1973. His mission is to prevent Dr Trask (Peter Dinklage) from inventing mutant-hunting robots, because they will go out of control and cause a present-day dystopia in which mutants and anyone who sympathises with them are killed. But Wolverine's biggest task will be to get the then-feuding Professor X and Magneto (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) to work together to keep renegade mutant Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) from making everything worse.
Thankfully, Simon Kinberg's script doesn't worry too much about the whole time-travel thing, shrugging off dubious logic by keeping the focus on the characters. And there are a lot of people to keep an eye on, which makes the film sometimes feel a bit crowded and leaves some characters barely on-screen at all (blink and you'll miss Anna Paquin's Rogue). The best newbie is Evan Peters' Quicksilver, who gets the film's most entertaining sequence as he races around tweaking an action sequence frame by frame. Other set-pieces are grippingly darker, and some don't quite make sense (why does Magneto feel the need to levitate an entire stadium?).
Continue reading: X-men: Days Of Future Past Review
It's only been four years since 2009's X-men Origins: Wolverine, and it's hard to see how this film does anything to correct that film's messy plot, harsh editing and uninteresting action. This one has a much more interesting Japanese setting and some great characters, but its focus on action over depth leaves it feeling gratuitous and empty. We may be entertained by the whizzy chaos of it all, but we never feel much suspense.
It begins in Alaska, where Logan (Jackman) is still licking his wounds after the death of his lover Jean Grey (Janssen), who appears regularly to him in sexy, soft-focus dreams. Then a young woman (Fukushima) turns up, insisting that he return to Japan to see Yashida (Yamanouchi), whose life Logan saved in the A-bombing of Nagasaki. But in Tokyo, Logan finds that the near-dead Yashida wants to relieve him of his healing immortality with the help of a sinister blonde doctor named Viper (Khodchenkova). Meanwhile, Yashida's son Shingen (Sanada) is miffed that his daughter Mariko (Okamoto) is the heir to his father's fortune. And there are armies of tattooed goons and arrow-shooting ninjas chasing Logan wherever he goes.
The film has a brisk pace, barely pausing to regain its breath before plunging into another massive action set-piece. But none of these sequences stands up to even the slightest scrutiny: laws of logic and physics are abandoned as the hugely muscled Logan battles everything in sight. Even after Viper steals his powers, he still has those retractable adamantium claws, which come in handy when you're fighting tenacious thugs on top of a speeding bullet train.
Continue reading: The Wolverine Review
Patrick Stewart and Halle Berry are among the cast and crew of 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' to chat about their on-set experience and their characters at a presentation at Comic-Con in San Diego. Among the others are Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, Jennifer Lawrence, screenwriter Simon Kinberg , producer Lauren Shuler Donner and 'The Wolverine' producer Hutch Parker.
The cast and crew of upcoming X-Men film 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' congregated for a presentation at Comic-Con in San Diego. Director Bryan Singer, writer Simon Kinberg and producer Lauren Shuler Donner were there alongside a vast ensemble cast including Evan Peters (Quicksilver), Peter Dinklage (Bolivar Trask), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), James McAvoy (Charles Xavier) and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine).
Lily (Dakota Fanning) lives in rural South Carolina with her no-account abusive redneck daddy T. Ray (Paul Bettany) and the family housekeeper Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson). Her mother died when she was very young, and the circumstances have haunted the young girl ever since. When President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1964 into law, Rosaleen decides to register. In the process, she is assaulted, beaten, and arrested. In a moment of opportunity, she escapes the police, and takes Lily out on the run. They wind up in the care of the Boatwright sisters -- August (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys), and May (Sophie Okonedo). Successful beekeepers, their safe haven gives Lily a chance to face the demons from the past and plot a course for the future.
Continue reading: The Secret Life Of Bees Review
Dakota Fanning, Lauren Shuler Donner, Gina Prince Blythewood and Nate Parker - Dakota Fanning, Lauren Shuler Donner, Gina Prince Blythewood & Nate Parker Thursday 16th October 2008 at Walk Of Fame Los Angeles, California
Without too much regret, I can say that X-Men will be palatable to fans and newbies alike. It's not a great film, but it will probably follow the arc of the Superman and Batman movies -- tons of sequels of variable quality until an abrupt and dismal end a decade later.
Continue reading: X-Men Review
Pretty badass, right? Definitely. Deep and meaningful? Hardly. This is a violent and apocalyptic story, based loosely on the Hellblazer graphic novels by comic book legend Alan Moore. And much to the relief of comic book fanboys everywhere, this adaptation adheres to the heavy, religious-war foundational spirit of Moore's work.
Continue reading: Constantine Review
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