Posted in Movie Review X-Men Franchise

Movie Review – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Principal Cast : James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Jessica Chastain.
Synopsis: Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all of humanity.

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The last gasp of major Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox before their absorption into the media conglomerate that has become Disney, the grand finale of the studio’s problematic X-Men franchise leaves not with an almighty bang but with a confused, ill-fitting whimper. Problematic, because the studio steadfastly refused to engage proactively with it throughout its embryonic years (remember The Last Stand? Yikes) or even its adolescence (hell, that shitty Ryan Reynolds Deadpool in X-Men Origins still brings a tear to my eye), and the fumbling throughout its renaissance and subsequent dive into mediocrity again (Apocalypse wasn’t well received, after the triumph of Days Of Future Past), it leaves us with this dirty, flearidden dirge of a thing called Dark Phoenix. It seems the X-Men’s single biggest enemy isn’t Magneto or failing box office returns, but 20th Century Fox itself. Perhaps it’s with some relief the property has now reverted to Disney’s control? That remains to be seen.

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Movie Review – Logan

Director :  James Mangold
Year Of Release :   2016
Principal Cast :  Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Eriq la Salle, Elise Neal.
Approx Running Time :  137 Minutes
Synopsis: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide-out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

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This review discusses specific spoilers for Logan. Do not read on if you wish to remain unspoiled!

In the ever-changing landscape of comic book films, few constants have remained as resolute, as iconic, as Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (aka, Logan). Against the countless iterations of Superman, Batman, Fantastic Four and the eponymous X-Men from which Logan is derived, Jackman’s gradually ageing, embittered superhuman mutant has remained a crowd favourite, with Jackman himself now forever linked with the property through 17 years of brawlin’ and cussin’. While the character hasn’t enjoyed a successful solo run as one might have hoped – the Origins film was abysmal, while The Wolverine (directed by Logan helmer James Mangold) was a slow-burn character piece that felt like a sidebar to the overall arc – Logan steps into the light as a particularly brutal, prescient final adventure for both Jackman and, in this incarnation at least, Wolverine.

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Movie Review – X-Men: Apocalypse

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Director :  Bryan Singer
Year Of Release :   2016
Principal Cast :  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Lucas Till, Josh Helman, Ben Hardy, Lana Condor.
Approx Running Time :   144 Minutes
Synopsis:  After the re-emergence of the world’s first mutant, world-destroyer Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

*****

It’s amazing to think that Fox’s X-Men franchise, bought from Marvel back when the comic book giant needed to stave off bankruptcy, has been going for 16 years at the time Apocalypse was released. The 9th official in-canon film (including 2016’s other entry, Deadpool), and a direct sequel to X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days Of Future Past (the latter directed by Bryan Singer after a significant absence from the saga), Apocalypse reunites the beloved mutant gang in the 1980’s, as Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), the future Cyclops, is introduced to Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his School For Gifted Children. The “apocalypse” of the title refers to a dual narrative; the character Apocalypse, played here by rising superstar Oscar Isaac, and the fact that the actions of the world’s first mutant (Patient Zero, if you will) will possibly bring about the extinction of humanity. With a staggering A-list cast and engorged action antics with which to play, Singer’s Apocalypse is exactly the tent-pole blockbuster deliverance fanboys and casual audiences will relish in years to come.

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Movie Review – X-Men: Days Of Future Past

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– Summary –

Director :  Bryan Singer
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :  Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellan, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult, Kelsey Grammer, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Shawn Ashmore, Omar Sy, Daniel Cudmore, Evan Peters, Fan Bingbing, Adan Canto, Booboo Stewart, Josh Helman, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Lucas Till, Michael Lerner, Mark Camacho.
Approx Running Time :  130 Minutes
Synopsis:  In the future, Wolverine is sent back to 1973 to prevent an assassination which brings about a war between Mutants and humans.
What we think :  Dynamite action flick delivers all the X-Men action you could want, and then some. Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise heralds a whizz-bang mind-trip that pays tribute to the original 3 films, but also takes the updated First Class characters into new and different directions. Action packed, filled with great effects, and featuring a nice performance by Oscar winning Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Days Of Future Past sets the saga on an exciting new path.

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My mutant power would be sex appeal.

Expectation often breeds disappointment, especially with films. Just take The Matrix Reloaded for example. Or The Phantom Menace. Monumentally successful films off the back of enormous public expectation, both films were met with critical “meh” not long after release. That’s the trouble with an audience’s expectation – there’s almost no way a director can accomplish all that might be expected of them to satisfy enough people to be considered a “success”. Days Of Future Past had a whiff of that expectation about it – Bryan Singer, the man who guided Fox’s X-Men franchise through its first two films (and set the template), had decided to return and turn one of the comic’s most famous storylines into a movie, combining both original X-Men cast and recent First Class characters into a single, enormous, blowout. Like the prodigal son, Singer’s return was met with fervent expectation from fans of the franchise, which only rose once they figured out which story he’d be turning into a film, leaving many to question whether the film’s $200m budget was folly or favor. Easily the most expensive X-Men film to-date, would Days Of Future Past deliver the story and entertainment needed? Or would Singer’s spotty track record (*ahem Superman Returns*) come back to haunt the franchise only just re-set from the crappiness of Wolverine’s Origins film?

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Movie Review – Wolverine, The

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– Summary –

Director :   James Mangold
Year Of Release :   2013
Principal Cast :  Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rila Fukushima, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Brian Tee, Famke Janssen.
Approx Running Time :   126 Minutes
Synopsis:   Summoned to Japan so a life debt can be repaid, Logan finds himself embroiled in a bitter dispute over a large corporate empire, and one old man’s desire to steal his mutant healing ability.
What we think :   For a film with Wolverine as the star, there’s less action here than you might think. Instead, the film goes for story and character before action, although when Wolverine does need to fire up, you know folks are gonna get hurt. Plot threads and character details from previous X-Men franchise films are given some closure, and the way is paved for an eventual sequel, so The Wolverine knows its job and delivers it well. Hardly groundbreaking, but definitely worthwhile.

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 Outcast. Outnumbered. Outmatched. Sounds fair.

For a film set in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise, The Wolverine feels less like it belongs than any of those which came before. Even the dire X-Men Origins: Wolverine at least shoehorned in a bunch of garish other mutants for Logan to battle – here, there’ just Wolvie, some bad girl named Viper, and a Japanese precognitive, and that’s it. Hugh Jackman’s right at home in the limelight of this film, as Logan, aka Wolverine, now isolated and alone after the events of the first three X-Men films, which saw both Professor Xavier, and Logan’s romantic interest Jean Grey, killed. Now, I’m no great font of Marvel hero knowledge, but apparently the popular Wolverine comics arc in which Logan spend time in Japan formed the basis for this particular cinematic outing, which sees Logan travel to that country and find himself conflicted by his desires: his desire to no longer remain immortal, and his desire to do good even if he doesn’t admit it. A lot is riding on this film, at least in terms of the character, after Origin’s disastrous performance and the fact that the main X-Men franchise continued quite nicely without the character in Matthew Vaughn’s First Class outing. Helmed by 3:10 To Yuma director James Mangold, and written by Mark Bomback (hmm) and Scott Frank (yay!), The Wolverine had plenty going for it in terms of behind-the-camera quality; now it was up to the story to deliver something worthy of the mantle. The question remained, though: would The Wolverine stack up to the best of the X-Men films, or would it once again resemble Origins in being a solo-feature disaster for our favorite mutant?

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Movie Review – X-Men: First Class

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– Summary –

Director : Matthew Vaughn
Year Of Release : 2011
Principal Cast : James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Oliver Platt, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, Lucas Till, Ray Wise, Caleb Landry Jones, Jason Flemyng, Rade Sherbedgia, Michael Ironside.
Approx Running Time : 132 Minutes
Synopsis: A band of mutant humans, each with their own unique powers, tries to prevent nuclear war breaking out during the Cuban missile crisis – only to find that perhaps a new war is only just beginning.
What we think : Terrifically entertaining X-Men film, well cast and solidly scripted, First Class is a genuine ball-out-of-the-park home-run for director Matthew Vaughn. It may not be the best comic book film ever made, but it’s a gem of an effort in its own right, and has me itching to see a sequel made, and right quick.

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Okay Matthew Vaughn: you got me. Here I was thinking X-Men as a franchise on film was pretty much in the toilet, ever since the considerable debacle that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine nosedived into the sewer. Thankfully, First Class manages to scrape off the barnacles on this mighty franchise and polish things up to a sparkly, telepathic-enhanced shine. Director Vaughn re-cast the key roles of Magneto and Professor X, reset the timeframe to the 60’s (specifically around the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis) and introduced even more new mutant characters to enjoy. Filled with subtext on many levels, not just the obvious “reverse racism” material that the earlier films dissected in detail, First Class has plenty to offer both the long-time viewer and the franchise newcomer. For those who came in late, the previous entries into this X-Men world came in a trilogy of films: X-Men, X-Men 2, and X-Men: The Last Stand, all of which was followed up by the Wolverine-centric X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The latter film, in which Hugh Jackman couldn’t elevate a diabolical script and terrible narrative beyond a B-movie turd, could have spelled the end to the franchise had 20th Century Fox not approached Matthew Vaughn after his stunning work on Kick-Ass, inviting him to revamp a once might series. Thank goodness he did, because Vaughn has managed to helm a film which is on par with, if not better than, the original Singer-directed duo. It’s flashy, flamboyant, classy, emotional, and altogether exactly what a team-up film ought to be.

Click here to get your mutant freak on!!!

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Movie Review – X-Men Origins: Wolverine

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– Summary –

Director : Gavin Hood
Cast :
Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Lynn  Collins, Taylor Kitsch, Will.I.Am, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan, Ryan Reynolds.
Year of Release :
2009
Length : 2 hours.
Synopsis:
Two brothers, born well before the American civil war, and who seemingly live forever and cannot be killed, are recruited to a special government task force to locate meteorite fragments that have fallen to earth. But when one of the brothers refuses to resort to violence during the mission, this sets in motion a chain of events that will see mutant pitted against mutant, and eventually, brother against brother.

Review : Energetic, yet fatally flawed comic-b0ok film which falls far from the lofty heights of The Dark Knight, Iron Man or even, gulp, the original X-Men for character development and narrative cohesion. A plethora of second tier characters, all with limited screen time, simple seem to get in the way of the mighty Wolverine, without really adding anything to the mythos of the character. Second rate effects, and a script bordering on anemic, only add to this film’s woes. Enjoyable only as a lowbrow entry into the mighty X-Men saga that does nothing to further Fox’s cause to make more.

 

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Entertaining, yet narratively diabolical, follow-up to the original X-Men trilogy, X-Men Origins: Wolverine suffers too much from a case of bending the story to suit the historical facts of the previous films. By being required to conform to the story set out in the Singer/Ratner films, director Gavin Hood finds himself curtailed in his ability to explore the character too much; essentially, whatever the film is about, we all know that eventually Logan (for that, if you’ve been watching, is Wolverine’s name!) has to gain amnesia, find himself interacting with other mutants, and obtain a skeletal structure made from adamantium, the hardest known substance on the planet. And, truthfully, Hood ticks all the boxes. The mandatory triple-claw sequences scattered throughout the film, as well as superfluous and unnecessary fight sequences between characters with little (or no) development, ensure that Wolverine goes down as merely overdressed nonsense, like Daredevil and Elektra before him.

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Movie Review – X2: X-Men United

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– Summary –

Director : Bryan Singer
Cast :
Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Alan Cumming, Kelly Hu, Famke Janssen.
Year of Release :
2003
Length :
120 minutes
Synopsis:
The X-Men return in this sequel, to thwart the efforts of Magneto to rule the world, and to combat the very government they are trying to protect, as General Stryker becomes involved.

Review : Louder, faster, more epic sequel see’s the original cast return, plus some new faces, to increase the scale of the massive mutant conflict. Superb entertainment masquerading as decent, comic-book fun.

 

With the enormous success of the first X-Men film, it was only natural that Fox would want the follow-up to be pushed straight into production. And it was. Director Bryan Singer returned, as did the entire original (surviving) cast, plus a few new faces. X2 delves into more detail with the anti-mutant factions building up, and reveals a lot more about Logan’s past (although, honestly, not enough to keep fans happy!) while at the same time, maintaining the generous character development as begun in film 1. Wolverine, Storm, Magneto, Rogue, Cyclops: plus newcomers Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) and Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), X2: X-Men United is a high-budget expansion on the previous film’s limited scope. Logan goes off to “find himself”, two newbie X-Men Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and Pyro (Aaron Stanford) develop their interpersonal relationships with different mutant leaders, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) is still torn between her husband Cyclops (James Marsden) and Logan, Storm (Halle Berry) is relegated to piloting the X-Men jet, and a frighteningly powerful military general (Brian Cox) seems intent on hunting down, and capturing Logan, and anybody who gets in his way.

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Movie Review – X-Men

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– Summary –

Director : Bryan Singer
Cast :
Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Tyler Mayne, Bruce Davison, Ray Park, Shawn Ashmore.
Year Of Release :
2000
Length :
120 minutes
Synopsis:
Wolverine, a mutant human struggling to fit into society, becomes involved with a group of fellow mutants known as the X-Men, battling the evil forces of Magneto and his followers. The fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Review : Exciting, fresh comic-book film with a star studded cast that pays off handsomely. Convincing story, effects and performances make this an above average film.

It all begins here.

Wunderkind director Bryan Singer, fresh from success in Hollywood after the runaway classic The Usual Suspects, brought his considerable talent to bear on the Marvel Comics stable, with the first big screen adventure of the X-Men, a collection of mutants who exist in a world that despises them. With a hugely talented cast of big name stars, there was almost no possible way this film could fail financially, however, the risk was that mainstream audiences wouldn’t click with the storyline (which, to be fair, wasn’t a Superman or Batman, which are synonymous with superhero comics). Still, Fox persisted, and with such a cast and popular director involved, expectations were raised.

The film essentially told the genesis of the X-men, at least, the inclusion of the Wolverine character into the fold, as well as pitting them against Magneto, one of the Marvel comics big-time villains. Hugh Jackman, an Australian actor and relative unknown in Hollywood, was cast as Wolverine, the arrogant, angry, indestructible mutant named Logan, whose skeleton had been enhanced with a strange metal alloy known as Adamantium. Coupled with his ability to regenerate from any injury, Logan’s Adamantium enhancement allows him to produce three metal spikes from each fist, giving him the Wolverine moniker. Capitan Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, was cast as X-Men mentor (and leader) Professor X,  Charles Xavier, the mentalist able to read minds and possessor of other, unknown psychic abilities. Gandalf, Ian McKellan, was cast as Magneto, a fellow mutant who stood for everything the X-men did not, that is, the integration of mutants into humanity. Magneto felt that mutation was the next evolutionary step in humanity, and thought himself a superior being, and wanted to push mutants into an upper echelon of power and control. The X-Men, led by Xavier, felt a peaceful co-existence was a better solution.

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Movie Review – X-Men: The Last Stand

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Recently, while on sick leave from work, I managed to squeeze in watching a couple of films I hadn’t watched in a while. X-Men 3, directed by Brett Ratner, was one of those films.

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