Tag Archives: x-men

‘Logan’ a Depressing, Bloody Sendoff

Logan_2017_posterI’m all for trying to shake up the typical superhero formula, but there has to be some sort of a means to an end…


“Logan” marks the ninth and final time of Hugh Jackman playing everyone’s favorite clawed X-Man, and this time he must escort Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and a young mutant (Dafne Keen) from Texas to the Canadian border. Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook and Stephen Merchant also star as James Mangold returns to direct.


“X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” Jackman’s first solo outing as the character in 2009, was botched on almost every front (except for his performance) and is often cited as one of the worst superhero films ever made. His second attempt in 2013, “The Wolverine,” faired a better, with the Japanese and samurai mythos really carrying the film until it betrayed its tone with a cartoony climax. This time around, thanks to the success of R-rated “Deadpool” last February, Jackman got his R-rated swansong; it’s just a shame we aren’t ending things on better terms.


On a technical level, there isn’t much wrong with “Logan.” It looks good, with settings ranging from dusty, sun-soaked Texas to lush, green North Dakota, and for the most part the action is captured well by cinematographer John Mathieson. Mangold and company take advantage of the R rating and don’t shy away from Logan eviscerating henchmen left and right. There are some points where the action does get extra-bloody and they overcompensate, like showing a man get decapitated and having his bloody head roll around. It’s almost as if to make up for the past 17 years of us having to use our imaginations as to what happens when a man with claws impales a human.


Jackman portrays Logan at his most broken-down and vulnerable we’ve ever seen him, although at some points it is hard to see where Jackman’s take on the character ends and his own exhaustion of the role begins. No one is questioning his dedication to the character that he will forever be synonymous with, however there are times throughout the film it appears he is simply going through the motions, which may not even entirely be his fault, as stepping to the same shoes for almost two decades may make putting on that façade second nature.


There are some attempts at humor, and a lot of them do hit thanks to Patrick Stewart’s dry British wit, Jackman’s growling delivery or newcomer Dafne Keen’s nuanced actions, even if it is at the expense of creating a slightly-tonally confused narrative.


Which brings me to my biggest gripe about “Logan” and that is its tone and delivery of its story. Like I started off with, I have no problem with films trying to reinvent the wheel of their respective genre, so that “Logan” wants to be a gritty, grim and realistic take on one of the more tortured souls of the comic book world is fine with me. However the pacing of the story is equally as bleak, with the action all too often not coming across as fun and more so as numbing, and the character moments, as well-acted as they are, feel weary.


“Logan” is made with the best intentions and diehard fans of the character and comics will find more to love in here than the casual filmgoer, but otherwise the film is a letdown, and drags for many portions throughout. If this truly is Hugh Jackman’s final bow as the character of Wolverine then he deserved better, but just as the film strives to tell us: no matter how dark and unsatisfying the world is, you just have to keep on grinding along.

Critics Rating: 5/10

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

‘Apocalypse’ a Boring Waste of Talent

X-Men_-_ApocalypseThe year of the disappointing superhero film continues.


“X-Men: Apocalypse” is the ninth installment of the X-Men series and the sequel to 2014’s “Days of Future Past,” a movie that I loved and is universally accepted as one of, if not the, best of the franchise. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence all reprise their roles from the previous two films and Bryan Singer once again directs. This time around, the X-Men must stop Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), the first-ever mutant who awakens from a 5,000 year sleep and wants to destroy the world (because, cliché).


Like I said up top, 2016 has been a relatively disappointing year for superhero films. “Deadpool” is a good movie but both “Batman v Superman” and “Civil War” failed to live up to their promised epic showdowns. Add “Apocalypse” to the list of letdowns, as instead of being an emotional layered picture with interesting characters and engaging plots like the previous X-Men films, it chooses to succumb to CGI destruction porn and a cookie cutter villain.


I love Oscar Isaac. Not to be “that guy” but I’ve liked him for a while, before he was finally thrust into the mainstream last December for starring in “The Force Awakens.” So having him cast as the bad guy in a superhero film should have been a homerun; but it turns out to be a massive swing and a miss. First off, Isaac is buried under a coat of makeup; he is legit unrecognizable and looks like a big blue crayon. Second, his motivations and plan are standard: he wants to destroy the world because he feels humans have ruined it. Yawn. Third, he has three voices: whisper, yelling and autotune. No joke, whenever he starts to yell, his voice sounds like a Britney Spears album. What a waste.


There is a market for mindless destruction films; Michael Bay has made a career off of it. But Bryan Singer is no Michael Bay, and that is a sentence I bet no one ever thought would be typed. Singer’s strengths have always been with his actors and the small, nuanced moments, not the big CGI action sequences. Michael Fassbender again steals the show as Magneto, and has several scenes that really showcase the pain and inner-conflict his character has. But by the end of the film everything is blowing up and the human death count is likely in the millions. If you thought Zach Snyder and “Man of Steel” killed too many civilians then you may want to skip this finale (or this whole movie, if you value your time).


The first act of this movie may be the most boring 60 minutes put on film this year. I am not exaggerating, I rarely check my time in movies but I glanced at the time three times in the first hour. Literally nothing happens: pretentious (and clearly bored and done with this franchise) Jennifer Lawrence is doing her boring search for mutants while standard evil bad guy (who clearly signed onto this before he was approached for Star Wars) is doing his boring search for mutants.


“X-Men: Apocalypse” is a very boring film that can’t even succeed on a mindless action entertainment level. The characters are cliché, boring or just plain wasted (sometimes a combination of the three) and the story is by-the-numbers. I wish the real world apocalypse had taken place while I was in the theater so I would have been put out of my viewing misery; the heavenly hellfire has to be less painful than this.


This isn’t bad in comparison to the fantastic “Days of Future Past;” it is just bad.

Critics Rating: 3/10



Best Films of 2014

Another year of films, another subjective list ranking them. There were plenty of fun times at the movies in 2014, including some surprises like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Draft Day”, and some colorful joy like “The Lego Movie” and “Chef”, all of which were good but did not crack my top ten.

Without further ado…

Honorable Mention: Interstellar

A fun, engaging and well-acted film that could have been great and ranked among the all-time great science-fiction films if it didn’t try and blow the audience’s minds in the final act. Sure, it has the classic Nolan-isms that plague all his films, but this one ranks right below “Inception” on my list of his films.



10.) John Wick

Who thought a modern-day film with Keanu Reeves would ever make anyone’s top films list? Well he does it here in one of the best action movies I have ever seen. The cinematography, the action and the music all are amazing, and I really hope that this is the first child of a franchise.



9.) Whiplash

The film that likely was the vehicle for future Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons, this thing is intense and incredibly well-edited (and that may be selling it short). Simmons and the impossible-to-hate Miles Teller have explosive chemistry and teacher and student, and this is a film I’m sure I’ll only like more upon a second viewing.



8.) Foxcatcher

This was number one on my watchlist for 2014 and it didn’t disappoint. Steve Carell is mind-blowingly eerie as John du Pont and Channing Tatum completely shattered my image of him by giving one of the most physically and mentally demanding roles of the year. This film is based on a true story, which makes the whole thing even more intense and emotional.



7.) 22 Jump Street

Before he was proving me wrong in “Foxcatcher”, Channing Tatum was doing what we all know and love: being a goofy idiot who kicks butt while undercover at school. A rare sequel that is possibly better than the original, this second trip back to Jump Street was hilarious because it knew it was an over-the-top sequel, and made sure to remind the audience every chance it got.



6.) Boyhood

Talk about a full blown nostalgia bomb. Shot with the same actors over 12 years, there was so much that could have gone wrong in the decade-plus while filming this. This movie just has so many things that were a crucial part of my own growing up: from the Oregon Trail computer game to waiting in line for a Harry Potter book to all the early 2000’s songs, this put a lump in my throat and is your cup of tea if you love trying really hard not to cry.



5.) X-Men: Days of Future Past

I’m not a huge X-Men fan, so this one caught me by surprise. It was a great action film as well as political thriller that had me entertained throughout the whole runtime. Plus it had Jennifer Lawrence, so. You know.



4.) The Imitation Game

Featuring an amazing performance from Benedict Cumberbatch and one of my favorite screenplays from 2014 by Graham Moore, this was a very interesting biopic about the men (and woman) who created the world’s first computer in order to beat the Nazis.



3.) Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Much like “Boyhood” this film was unique on a technical level, and it could have just turned out to be a gimmick that came up flat. Each scene is one take, and the whole film is edited to look like it is all one continuous shot. It really is amazing and offered mind-blowing performances from Edward Norton and Michael Keaton.



2.) Fury

Hands down one of the best war movies I’ve ever seen, right behind “Hurt Locker” (oh, shut up, haters). Brad Pitt kills Nazis with a Macklemore haircut, and the end battle sequence is as fun as it is heart-breaking. Honestly, though, ever single aspect of that finale is perfect.



1.) Captain America: The Winter Solider

When I saw this movie back in April, I was blown away by not only how much fun this film was, but how smart and well-directed it was, too. The first Captain America was, for lack of better words, not that good, so expectations were not so high for this one. But it turned out to be the second best Avengers movie behind only the first Iron Man, and I am glad it stuck at number one for over 8 months. I kept waiting for a movie to come along that was more fun, more well-made and just plain better than “Captain America: The Winter Solider”, but to my great surprise: none did.



Agree with my list? Are there any 2014 films you think deserved to be on here or some that you shocked made the cut? Let me know in the comments!

‘Days of Future Past’ Best X-Men Yet

X-Men_Days_of_Future_Past_posterThere was a time when the X-Men franchise was the best in the business. The first film, released in 2000, really was the first big-budget comic book-based film. The sequel, which brilliantly titled “X-Men 2”, was considered better than the first. Then writer/director Bryan Singer left and “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” were released, both being met with mixed reviews, and even some hate from fans. Hope seemed lost. Then a very successful prequel, “X-Men: First Class” came out, and that brings us to today.

In “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, the X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants. Bryan Singer returns to the director’s chair, and Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen return as Professor X and Magneto, respectively, among other stars of the original trilogy. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender portray the younger versions of Professor X and Magneto, and Hugh Jackman once again plays Wolverine.

I’ve never been the biggest X-Men fan. I love superhero movies (“Spider-Man 2” and “Iron Man” are among my favorite all-time films), but for whatever reason I have never fallen in love with the X-Men. So I am surprised that I loved “Days of Future Past” as much as I did.

Hugh Jackman is great in most every film he does, so it is no surprise that he once again kills it as Wolverine. He carries the film for the first half, as he is tasked with convincing a depressed Professor X (McAvoy) to help him save the future. He has his sarcastic moments along with his badass ones, but he also has a few scenes of pure emotion, which is rare for such a normally stoic character.

My personal favorite character of the film is Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters. Some people, myself included, were worried when they saw the character design (a punk teen), especially compared to the one that will be featured in the Avengers sequel (yeah, there will be a different Quicksilver in a different movie played by a different actor, it’s confusing). But Singer handles him well, inserting just enough humor into the character so he doesn’t come off as corny, and Peters in fact adds an extra sense of fun to the film.

For the most part, the special effects are top notch, and the action sequences are very well shot. Whether it is mutants fighting robots or mutants fighting mutants, the action is clear and crisp, and doesn’t fall victim to the PG-13 rating. There was one instance, however, where I was actually in shock that the sequence made the final cut. The CGI looked so obviously fake that I actually chuckled; luckily that is just one 10 second segment of the film.

There isn’t much that “Days of Future Past” does wrong. As with most summer blockbusters, it may drag a little towards the middle and of course the time-travel aspect has some holes when you really think about it, but these are minor flaws that do not hold the movie down too much.

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” benefits from the return of the old cast and especially the presence of Singer in the director’s chair. Even someone who does not know much about the X-Men (like me) will be entertained, and the movie explains any and all necessary plot points from previous films. “Days of Future Past” is immensely entertaining and at times emotional and thought-provoking, and it is some of the most fun I’ve had at the movies all year.

Critics Rating: 8/10