Archive for May, 2017

X2: X-Men United

Posted: May 31, 2017 in Comics, Movies
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I saw X2 while I was away at college. Walking out of the cinema me and my buddy turned to one another with the biggest grins. We’d just seen one of the best comic book movies to date in 2003. X2 does everything bigger and better than the first film. The plot is more ambitious, the action much more accomplished and the world is expanded with several new character introductions and expansion for those we already know. Bryan Singer, no doubt about it, knocked his X-Men sequel out of the park and it’s still to this day a fantastic X-Men movie.

The plot of X2 sees the government grow more fearful of mutants after the events of the first film. Col. Stryker (Brian Cox) , a black op’s like agent with ties to Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) uses that fear as an excuse to enforce his own deadly plan to get back at Professor X and mutantkind for his own personal reasons. Stryker sees mutants at best as tools to be used and at worse as deadly threats that must be wiped out. Meanwhile Magneto (Ian McKellen)remains in custody for his extremist actions from the first film but it isn’t long before he once more sets out to fight for the rights of mutants whatever the cost. The writers on X2 do a great job of carving out a strong narrative that not only has to serve many, many characters but expand the scope of the X-Men on screen and it’s a credit to them that they achieve it with X2.

Bryan Singer shows off way more confidence this time around. The opening of the movie features one of the genre’s most celebrated sequences that is still praised today as the teleporter Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) carries out an assassination attempt on the U.S. president. Stryker’s assault on the Xavier Institute is a total blast, you get to see Wolverine let loose, several fan fave mutant cameos  and a variety of cool displays of mutant abilities as the students and staff attempt to hold off the soldiers. One of the best parts of the whole film is a knock out brawl between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), a character those familiar with the comics will know and their showdown is flat out brutal.  Composer John Ottman delivers a thumping score throughout the whole movie which is simply terrific.

As I said the roster of characters old and new is massive so forgive me for not mentioning everyone save to say all of the actors are great in their roles. Personally I loved that Mystique (Rebecca Romijin) got way more to do. Her character is used really well. Jackman, Stewart, Cox and Mckellen are fantastic as usual. Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey gets her own subplot throughout with major payoff at the end that comic fans will eat up. Nightcrawler and Deathstrike are good but it’s Aaron Stanford as fire manipulator Pyro who makes the biggest impression and his arc is very interesting. Sadly the always good James Marsden gets sent to the bench for most of the film and it’s a shame as he’s a good Cyclops but with a roster this large someone had to suffer.  Halle Berry’s Storm is also given a lot more to do this time out.

X2 has been cited as one of the best comic book movies of all time and I think it can still lay claim to that. It’s easy to forget in this MCU/DCEU age how hard it is to juggle ambition, scope and stakes while attempting to stay true to the source and while the X-Men movies may not always knock it out of the park they manage to do just that when the right care and attention is put into their making and that’s certainly the case with X2. The closing of the movie promised a thrilling third outing for Marvel’s mutants but sadly that would not exactly go as planned. That’s a tale best saved for another time though.

The Lost Boys

Posted: May 29, 2017 in Movies
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Whether it’s the fun story, the great acting, brilliant visuals or the films amazing soundtrack I can’t say. Maybe it’s all of those elements that have cemented 1987’s The Lost Boys as one of my favourite films. Directed by Joel Schumacher (Flatliners) the film stars Corey Haim and Jason Patrick as brothers Sam and Michael who move to a coastal town which just so happens to become vampire central once the sun sets! It’s a bloody brilliant 80’s movie and you can often find it on many lists of movies that defined the decade. Chances are if you were born in the early 80’s The Lost Boys is probably as loved by you as it is me.

The story focuses on the Emmerson brother Michael and Sam, whose mum has moved them into her fathers house after separating from the brothers father. The chemistry between the family is spot on. You buy Michael and Sam as brothers and when everything goes to hell (in both funny and horrific  ways) you can understand Sam’s desire to try and save his brother from the influence of the vampires. Jason Patrick and Corey Haim are both great as Michael and Sam and the same goes for Dianne Wiest and Barnard Hughes as their mum and granddad.

The movie features a host of 80’s cinema icons!  Kiefer Sutherland is big bad vamp leader David and he makes for one hell of a scary vampire. David in full on vamp form scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. The worse part is how Sam and the vampire hunting Frog Brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) are just kids and David is going to kill them! I felt like it could be me he and The Lost Boys would be after next! An attack on the vampires lair leads to a tense escape sequence and it’s still really effective and exciting 30 years on! The beautiful Jami Gertz does great work here as Star, the sole female member of David’s Lost Boys and the film keeps you guessing somewhat to just where her loyalties lie throughout the film. As I mentioned earlier both Corey Haim and Corey Feldman star and the two would go on to star in many 80’s movies after The Lost Boys and seeing the chemistry the two have on screen it’s not hard to see why they would go on to work with one another so much.

Practical effects are king in The Lost Boys, the vampires able to take on both their human and demon guises at will. The details on their faces once they have transformed into vampires are simple (contacts, make up, fangs etc.) but excellent in execution through the tried and tested combination of performance, make up, lighting, soundtrack and editing. No CGI here folks and it’s a lesson more and more modern filmmakers should take note of. You get gore here too. It gets pretty crazy in some scenes! Stuff EXPLODES!

The Lost Boys is a great movie. It’s fast paced, has a boss story, great action and it’s very funny AND scary. Oh and the movies soundtrack? Best. Soundtrack. Ever. Forget Guardians of the Galaxy. It can keep it’s mix tape!

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James Gunn does that so rare thing with Guardians of the Galaxy VOL.2 which is create a comic book movie that manages to entertain on the surface but packs one hell of an emotional gut punch. At the forefront of VOL.2. is not action and spectacle (which you will get, so don’t panic) but family. See each member of the Guardians was a loner, adrift from their fractured families only to come together to form one of their own and this theme runs through the core of the second installment of Guardians.

This time out we find Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana)running foul of high priestess Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) and her race of genetically engineered people. A bounty is placed on the heads of the Guardians of the Galaxy and a whole host of folks are zeroing in on them. Help comes in the form of Ego (Kurt Russell)who we learn has strong ties to Star-Lord. Along the way the heroes meet new characters such as Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and get reacquainted with old foes Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Yondu (Michael Rooker). If the cast of characters seems stacked that’s because it is but fear not, thanks to a great script and an excellent pace each character gets to shine. That does it for me plot-wise. The less you know the more you’ll enjoy! I’ll say Marvel have taken some hits on their villains in the past but the baddie in Guardians VOL.2. is brilliant.

Apart from the surprisingly emotional story, Guardians of the Galaxy VOL.2 really excels with it’s visuals. Much like it’s predecessor Guardians VOL.2 takes the audience on a truly cosmic adventure and it certainly showed me sights I’d never dreamt imaginable. This is one beautiful looking movie and my hat goes off to all of the people who worked in the art direction and design teams. See I’ve never been a big reader of the cosmic side to the Marvel universe but I can imagine that those who are would feel like they are seeing scenes ripped right out of the comic book pages and brought to life.

Action wise what you get is good but ya know what there’s not THAT much in it! Certainly this movie is not as action packed as the first film but I think that this has been a very deliberate move on Gunn’s part. Instead Guardians VOL.2 is it’s own entity, at times very trippy (Ego’s ship is like some crazy art deco piece come to life!), a movie that pays attention to what it set up previously and delivers pay off. Case in point the attention given to Nebula and Yondu, two characters who easily could have been left out of this adventure and their potential wasted, only to not only return but to be the basis of a lot of the films plot points and pay offs.

This cast is amazing. Gunn delivers a cracking movie with true stakes and honestly I’m way more excited for anything Guardians related than I am Avengers. The soundtrack delivers once again and as you would expect from a Marvel movie there’s a ton of surprises and Easter eggs for your enjoyment. Guardians of the Galaxy VOL.2 is a rare gift and I hope fans appreciate it for the movie it is and not the one they were expecting because this fan would take this over a safer rehash of the first film any day of the week.

MV5BMzY4MzQ1OTU3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTc2OTEwMzE@__V1_SX1503_CR0,0,1503,999_AL_Sony pictures have found a director for their Spider-Man spin-off movie Black Cat/Silver Sable. The talented lady is…Gina Prince-Bythewood. I am not familiar with the directors work but I understand she’s highly regarded with her resume including Beyond The Lights, Love and Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees. The most recent draft of the script was written by Thor: Ragnarok’s Chris Yost although Bythewood is expected to do a re-write of the latest draft.

Look. I am excited for this movie and I have no issue with Sony focusing on solo adventures for Black Cat/Silver Sable and Venom. I’ve heard a ton of “Well if there’s no Spider-Man it just doesn’t make any sense!”. I don’t agree with that. Venom, Silver Sable and Black Cat are all great characters and I’d rather see them get explored on the big screen than ignored. No one knows for sure yet what the Sony/Marvel deal includes. For all we know Tom Holland may be able to appear in these movies or even if he won’t maybe Tom Hardy’s Venom will be Sony’s version of Spider-Man. It just all depends on the execution.

Sony has gone about this the right way so far. Hiring talented writers and directors and then going after the on-screen talent. As for who will play either of the two leading ladies well that’s still to be determined!

Black Cat/Silver Sable (I’m sure they’ll change the title of the movie!) is set to shoot this Autumn with a release set for next year.

Tom Hardy IS Venom!!

Posted: May 20, 2017 in Comics, Movies
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That’s how you get the world hype for a Venom solo movie folks. You hire Tom Hardy. What a casting! Sony Pictures announced yesterday that Hardy will star in their Venom movie which is set to shoot this fall.

Venom, an alien symbiote that takes over it’s host, was created by artist Todd McFarlane and is one of Spider-Man’s most famous villains. Throughout his many incarnations the Venom Symbiote has been both villain and hero and linked to several different hosts.  In Sony Pictures Venom Hardy will take on the role of Venom’s most famous host Eddie Brock.

The solo movie, to be directed by Zombieland and Gangster Squad’s Ruben Fleischer is said to be a R rated horror/sci-fi movie. I can’t wait. This could be amaze.

Twin Peaks debuts this weekend!

Posted: May 20, 2017 in TV
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Wow. So folks I had no idea Twin Peaks was so close, I knew it was May but I thought it was due at the end of the month. It’s not. It’s THIS weekend. In case you’re not aware you can check out the two hour premiere this Monday at 2am on SKY Atlantic. The show will be repeated Tuesday’s at 9pm. So there you have it. It’s finally here and on Sunday night (if you live in America!) the whole world will once more take a trip back to the weird, frightening and wonderful world of David Lynch and Twin Peaks.

Check out the trailer above and get hype! Don’t worry the trailer is spoiler free. I won’t be covering Twin Peaks weekly as I don’t want to talk about it and risk spoiling it for anyone but rest assured I will do a season review once the whole thing is over.

Wow. I still can’t quite believe this is real and it’s happening.

I always said (didn’t I always say? Haha) the BEST home for live action X-Men adaptations is not the cinema screen but is in fact the small screen. X-Men (like it or not) is as much a soap-opera as it is a super hero tale. It’s episodic by nature so I am all for giving this brand new series, that is set within the X-Men universe, a shot. It’s from Bryan Singer and the creator of Burn Notice, which I haven’t seen but I’ve heard it’s decent. Hopefully The Gifted does the X-Men universe justice.

Alien: Covenant (NO SPOILERS)

Posted: May 13, 2017 in Movies
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Alien: Covenant is a good Alien movie. It does what I wanted which was to bring the alien back to forefront of the franchise. The storyline focuses on the colony ship Covenant whose crew find themselves on a remote planet which holds many deadly secrets that could cause extinction like levels of damage. Threats coming from different angles all through a unique (for the series) setting on the idyllic like planet that is a far cry from the confined corridors of a spaceship/space station/prison.

Ridley Scott doesn’t disappoint with the visuals. There are some incredible shots in Covenant, one of my favourites being the ship getting ready to recharge power in space using these kite like appendages, the scope of it all is breath-taking. Whether it’s exploring an alien landscape or the fine details in and around the variety of spacecraft Ridley Scott’s eye for detail and awe does not disappoint. I’ll say this too, Ridley has heard the fans loud and clear. Didn’t think Prometheus had enough horror? Well the kills in Alien: Covenant give any of Jason Voorhees most gory kills a run for their money. The red stuff is aplenty in this movie and the deaths are nasty. I’ll go as far to say that Alien: Covenant is the goriest entry in the series to date.

One aspect of the film I loved was it feels like an ensemble, all the crew of the Covenant have a job to do on the mission and it reminded me of Alien in that respect. Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) is good as Daniels who finds herself having to deal with escalating threats as the film goes on. Billy Crudup (Almost Famous, Watchmen) as Oram is one of the more interesting characters who balances his faith with the expectations of his role aboard the Covenant and he does great work. Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down, This Is The End) as Tennessee brings a lot to his role and I liked him but the film belongs to Michael Fassbender who takes on dual roles this time out. On one hand he’s loathsome as David (who returns from Prometheus) and on the other the total MVP as Covenant android Walter. Walter is a boss new addition to the series and he gets a great arc throughout the film. Covenant has a large cast and I can say that everyone puts in good work.

Now how are the aliens? Well, well, well. What can I say here without giving anything away? Okay. If you wanted aliens but felt short changed from Prometheus well you will get your money’s worth with Covenant. Will they be as shocking or as terrifying as in the original movie? Erm, no of course they wont. Look we’re talking about what is technically the SIXTH entry in a franchise. Freddy wasn’t as scary as he was in the original Elm Street in Freddy’s Dead was he? Scott knows how to use the aliens to inject fear and destroy and that’s what you get here. There is some SAVAGE carnage on display in this movie.

Thinking about the film last night I was weighing up what it added to the overall mythology of the series and to be honest I guess the answer is not a lot. There’s no real revelations in regards to what we learned in Prometheus or say anything revealed on the scale of the Alien Queen from Aliens yet what you do get is one hell of a ride and a damn good sci-fi horror flick. I was happy with Covenant and I hope it does well because I can’t wait to see what goes down in the next one.

 

Jumanji

Posted: May 11, 2017 in Movies
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Stay with me for a second. Okay? Here goes – I only saw Jumanji on Monday. Yep. I had never seen this 90’s classic. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for myself mostly because had I seen this movie back in ’95 I think I would have ranked it as one of my fave 90’s movies. Jumanji has shades of Gremlins and Back to the Future and feels like one of those really well made 80’s kid flicks that seem next to impossible to get right these days.

Robin Williams leads a great cast in a fantasy movie that centres around a mysterious board game that has very real world effects on those unlucky enough to come across it’s path. Williams plays Alan Parrish who tragically is swallowed by the game in the films excellent opening sequence. Once the the present day story kicks off the audience is reintroduced to Williams character who must team up with two kids (Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce) and help them beat the game or they too may fall victim to Jumanji!

The game itself has a jungle vibe to it so the consequences from each throw of the dice range from murderous monkeys, devastating stampedes, posionous mosquitos and various other potentially life ending jungle threats that leap from the game to attack the players! It’s brilliant. There are some pretty dark ideas in Jumanji for a kids movie that help to give it an edge and stand out. Of course these darker themes will be lost on the kids but as a adult I appreciated the film all the more for it.

Take William’s character for example. The poor kid is sucked into the game for almost thirty years! While he’s been trapped in some magical/deadly jungle his poor family assume he’s either ran away or been murdered, Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) his friend who witnessed him vanishing has been driven mad and then to top it all off he finds out his folks are dead and lost everything trying to find him! It’s heavy stuff! Another point I appreciated was how the film touches on Sarah’s guilt because she indirectly is pretty much responsible for Alan being trapped for so long and it’s why she too is once again dragged back into playing the game as their previous play was left unfinished.

Director Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III, Captain America) does a good job with the film, the pace and the performences are great and the comedy and thrills hit with no misses in sight. Sure some of the special effects are dated now. The CGI on display is not Jurassic Park quality but it has it’s own unique animated style that gives the monkeys in particular a ton of character; yet you get a good blend of practical and CGI on display here and the film is all the better for it. Johnston is a great director so it’s not a surprise to see he was able to deliver the goods across the board with this movie.

It took me enough time. Wow. Almost as long as Alan was stuck in the game haha yet I’m happy to have finally watched Jumanji. Right in time too! I hear a sequel starring The Rock and Jack Black is due out this year! If it’s as good as the first movie then fans are going to be in for a good game- I mean movie!

 

 

 

 

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I love Harry Potter but sadly I can’t say I love those Harry Potter movies. I recognize they’re well made and have their fans so I am not trying to take away from that but as a big fan of the books I found I didn’t like them. Some are better than others, granted and I think I saw each one only once so maybe a re-watch is in order? Point being I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Directed by Potter mainstay David Yates the film is written by none other than J.K. Rowling herself. In that respect it demands attention because this is a brand new original work within the Potter universe by it’s creator. The film follows a young writer named Newt Scamander ( a name Potter fans will recognize!) who arrives in New York in the mid 1920’s. On him is a enchanted case full of magical creatures which soon end up outside of the case and a fun adventure ensures as Newt must track down the missing creatures! That’s the A. plot. Now what surprised me with this was the other plot running through the film, which is pretty damn dark and focuses on Salem, magic pursecution and the right to live free whether beast or wizard/wicth. Honestly the darker tones of the film should not have been a shock considering Rowling wrote the script and I really loved how it all felt like this was setting up bigger things to come in the following movies but in the right way.

Another strong part of Fantastic Beasts are the many new characters the film introduces and the strong cast across the board who bring them to life. Eddie Redmayne is really good as Newt but it’s Dan Fogler who stands out as a muggle who finds himself dragged into the magical mayhem. Strong support comes in the form of witch sisters Tina & Queenie, the later of the two bringing a lot of heart to the film. Colin Farrell does great work too as the mysterious Graves…who I would stop short of calling the films villian. There are a lot of layers with the characters and I appreciated that. I must mention also Samantha Morton and Carmen Ejogo, both actors do good work here and play interesting characters with limited screen time.

Now…the Beasts themselves. Okay. They’re cool. They’re adorable but wow…are they so obviously CGI that at times I just found myself asking couldn’t the film makers have at least attempted to do some form of practical/CGI hybrid effects? Maybe they did but it sure didn’t look like it. Nothing here is on the same level as say Jurassic World. All the CGI stuff looks like CGI, even during some of the magical confrontations, espechially this pretty big one, the threat just looks like some CGI cloud of nothing. Another slight issue was with Ezra Millers character Credence (Miller is great in the movie FYI). The arc of this character didn’t sit well with me. That’s all I can say on that.

Overall Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a strong return to the Potterverse and the fact that it is not beholden to any of the actual books in the series means that the film makers and indeed Rowling herself can go nuts and pretty much explore whatever they like which is a very exciting thing for fans of the series like myself. Maybe you’re like me and never really felt the original movies did the books justice? If so then this film may surprise you because it’s exploring all new stuff and it seems to have a confident grasp on where it’s expanded mythology is heading which is very exciting for Potter fans!