Hugh Jackman

Logan

I had really high expectations for this movie; so much so that I was willing to sit at the front of the auditorium in a sold out show on opening weekend just to see it. I had something personal invested in this one as a long time Wolverine fan. This one wasn’t going to be the let down the others were and I wholeheartedly believed that. I was so excited for this final film to have a hard R rating and I was pumped after listening to early reviews that raved about it. Calling it not just great but one of the greatest comic book films ever made.

Maybe that was a bit too much of an overstatement. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe too much of the film was shown in the trailers. Or maybe it was just too late to try to do Wolverine the right way. I haven’t narrowed it down yet but this movie fell way short of my expectations and not even all the blood or fucks in all their R rated glory was enough to tip the scales for me.

I’ll be careful here because I don’t want to spoil anything, as if trailers didn’t spoil the whole damn movie for us already. I also have no interest in discouraging anybody else from seeing it because I still want the movie to be successful. Success for Logan means there is more potential for more R rated comic book films. It was liked by all I attended the film with and watching it a second time I may feel differently after expectations are held firmly in check.

Without spoiling anything I’ll simply say I didn’t care for the old Wolverine. If they were going to legitimately adapt the Old Man Logan comic that would have been one thing but that isn’t what they did in this movie. In this movie Wolverine is simply old, and he couldn’t physically capture the violence necessary to deliver on that R rating. Not for me anyway. Don’t get me wrong, he has plenty of great scenes in this movie but where was this R rating when Wolverine was in his prime? Where was the final end all be all villain for Wolverine to fight? Be it Sabertooth, Omega Red, or any of the many villains he has personally had a vendetta with over the years? This film really could have used a legitimate villain and what we got simply wasn’t good enough. This movie wasn’t a Wolverine story though, it was a Wolverine ending and too much of the film simply led to that ending.

I think for this movie to have been as good as it was promised to be it had to top all of the other Wolverine performances from the past. I simply don’t think it did. I think the film easily beats out the Wolverine we have seen in his solo movies but it can’t top his roles in X2 or X-Men Days of Future Past. I feel like we needed to see a cooler Wolverine for the final ride and what we saw was an old and defeated Wolverine.

I have been lost on what to think about this movie because I want so bad to like it but I simply can’t. I have accepted my disappointment and will hope I feel differently once I see it a second time. I just think with any hero you have to work the cool factor. If you can’t make Wolverine cool you did something wrong and I don’t think there was anything cool about Wolverine in this movie. Not only was he not cool I wouldn’t even call him likable as the disgruntled old man who doesn’t have it in him to be a good guy anymore.

I didn’t hate this movie and I wouldn’t argue with anybody that liked it. It just wasn’t what I wanted it to be and I found that so disappointing as a fan. Ultimately, even at a PG-13 level I thought Wolverine had better fight scenes in X2 and I thought he was at his coolest in X-Men Days of Future Past. For either of those things to be possible this movie wasn’t what it was supposed to be, for me anyway.

We love Wolverine because he is a badass, but he wasn’t badass in this movie. He didn’t have his iconic look at all, featuring neither the awesome hair or the sideburns. He grabbed cigars at one time but I don’t remember him smoking any of them. He spends more time getting his ass kicked than kicking ass. While Logan is usually gruff I’d call him more ornery and pissy in this rendition. This guy had feral rage and claws that popped out of his hands but that’s about it.

Unfortunately I think the coolest thing about this movie was the Deadpool teaser at the beginning. It was a fun little short that reminds us Fox still has something going for it in the comic book department. I thought Patrick Stewart was great as always and I really liked X-23 and thought the actress playing her was exceptional. Donald Pierce seemed like he was going to be a really cool bad guy but he sort of just fell off as the movie progressed.

Bottom Line: Go see this movie for yourself and form your own opinions. I was the exception when walking out of the theater and plenty of people probably won’t agree with me here. It’s blasphemous I know to criticize Hugh Jackman on his final go around and I’m sorry. I was not impressed with what he and James Mangold did with this opportunity.

 

X-Men Apocalypse

Spoilers Ahead

Here’s the first thing that comes to mind for me, as a veteran comic film fan, and that’s that when I have high expectations they better be met or at the very least come reasonably close. I suppose Days of Future Past spoiled me with this series but this movie just didn’t fit the bill. In truth I think the biggest problem was letting J-Law try to carry the movie, the absence of Jackman in the leading role was felt severely. 

As aesthetically pleasing as the film was it just didn’t deliver on any level. The were two, three scenes tops that were worth wild in this movie and beyond that it’s a lot of disappointment. Everybody looked good though. Olivia Munn as Psylocke specifically looked incredible. The entire costume department for the film did an incredible job with everyone. Yet it was not enough to overcome the plot problems and the lack of action throughout. 

Michael Fassbender is fantastic as always but he wasn’t used properly or enough. Tye Sheridan was great as a young cyclops but I felt Alexandra Shipp was not used enough either. She looked great but didn’t get enough speaking lines, and when she did they were silly a la “I heard he was your father.” That was just weird at the end of the film. If gossip is so rampant at the X mansion that new chick has heard about it how is it Magneto doesn’t know he has a son? 

I thought Jennifer Lawrence was just going through the motions here. For the record I think she is a fantastic actress but not suited for the lead in this film. I didn’t like that the story set up Mystique to be the hero for all mutants because I just didn’t think it was right for the character. Mystique is an awesome character but I like Rebecca Romijn’s version better. Mischievous villain shouldn’t be the one everyone looks to for leadership. I also thought Sophie Turner looked silly touching her head James McAvoy style the whole movie. She has the hair to honestly play Jean Grey but I am not overly impressed with Turner as an actress.

Though the biggest disappointment lies in the main antagonist himself. Apocalypse just doesn’t do enough, or rarely more than glossing over his eyes. I just expected more. He looked great but not big enough, when he is eye to eye with Magneto there is something wrong. He should have been bigger, taller. Apocalypse is an all powerful bad guy who is too easily defeated and not given enough to do.  

In this movie Quicksilver and Wolverine steal the show. Evan Peters is great in the part and he really steals the scene when things get explosive. I didn’t think it made any sense when he took on Apocalypse alone at the end of the movie with seemingly super human strength, but I’ll excuse that in his case. He brought more to the film than most. Hugh Jackman was sorely missed but his small part was one of the greatest in the entire film. So savage and so satisfying was his kill streak through the Weapon X place. I thought his look was perfect with the head gear and the wires as he wreaked havoc through the base.

By the climax of this film I was so dissatisfied I could have walked out and cared less what else happened. I hate that, because I wanted to love this movie. Instead I left the theater wanting and wishing I had just watched Captain America Civil War for a second time instead. Civil War was a fantastic movie and managed to do exactly what this film surprisingly failed to. We did hear people clapping when the movie ended but we have no idea why. I was so disappointed I didn’t even care to see the post credits scene and didn’t wait around to see it.

I have doubts that this franchise will even move forward with whatever was shown in the post credit scenes anyway. I am probably wrong but I don’t think the movie will be successful enough to garner another film in the franchise. I think most likely the studio will move on to other properties like X-Force, New Mutants, and Deadpool with certain X-men popping up now and again like Colossus in Deadpool.

This movie failed to meet my expectations and when people ask me I will tell them so. Your time will be much better spent seeing Captain America 3 than it would watching this film.

Deadpool

Year: 2016
Directed By: Tom Miller
Written By: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie was amazing for so many reasons. For being so clever, and being so vulgar. For proving how successful inventive marketing can be. For being a testament to perseverance by a man determined to prove something to the world. This movie goes against every rule we understand about the genre and it worked like a charm.

This is a movie clever enough to make fun of itself and its genre. From the very beginning as mock credits roll across the screen this movie sets a tone unlike any other we have ever seen. Before anything has even happened this movie immediately manages to be unique and funny. As the movie gets going it doesn’t just earn its R rating but it pushes the limit of R rating. This movie took things to a new level with its rating and it relished in all the opportunity that it presented.

This movie had such interesting marketing methods ranging from using emojis on billboards to Deadpool himself hitch hiking to Comic Con. For months the marketing for this movie was aggressive and the images were, well, weird. Deadpool provocatively laying on a bearskin rug in front of a fire. Deadpool using the toilet in a stall and reading a magazine about himself. Deadpool making a heart with his hands (the movie was  Valentine’s Day release). The emoji thing with the death head skull and a poo followed by an L. These things were so clever and really put the name of the title character on the front lines.

Ryan Reynolds was specifically embarrassed by the first rendition he portrayed of this character and he made it his personal mission to rectify that. He should have been embarrassed, we all were. Truthfully, Wolverine X-Men Origins was an overall embarrassment for everyone involved but Reynolds may have gotten the worst of it. Deadpool has a lot of serious fans and they were real pissed by the abomination Reynolds portrayed on screen under that name. Reynolds had hoped to get a solo film for the character but the response was so poor the studio decided against it. Reynolds persevered for years before secretly shooting test footage of the character and leaking it onto the internet. The response was so great that it effectively twisted the studios’ arm into green lighting the project. A couple of years later and we have this awesome film to enjoy. Thank you Ryan Reynolds for never giving up and congratulations on all your success with the project.

Ryan Reynolds’ sense of humor makes him a perfect actor to portray Deadpool who has his own unusual sense of humor and style. The mercenary type of comic character never really did it for me so I had never read any Deadpool comics before. I was aware that as a character he was self-aware and knew he was in a comic, occasionally addressing his audience directly. I thought that was interesting and the character looked cool but knew little else beyond that. I think Reynolds determination to do right by the fans after the Wolverine debacle drove the character to being so true to the comics and well received.

I love how R rated this movie is, but I do not think it is appropriate for children. When Amber and I saw this movie in the theater there were two young girls sitting behind us and that was not cool. Those little innocent kids didn’t deserve to have their minds polluted by this debauchery and no others should. As adults we should be able to have something without assholes ruining it by creating controversy. Damnit people, be responsible parents and don’t take your young children to see something that we should be able to enjoy in all our maturity as adults, without the guilt of spoiling innocence. I just don’t feel right laughing at all the sex jokes while there are two little girls my daughter’s age sitting in earshot, and it made me mad at whoever was so irresponsible to bring them to the film.

This movie changes the scope of what comic book films are able to do and I think that is awesome. It sets a precedent for success at a level that didn’t need the teenage audience. It made a ton of money with a limited market audience and more importantly it made an incredible amount of profit. I look forward to what else we might see in the future. Not since Blade have we had a comic book film about a Marvel character so satisfyingly violent and profane. This doesn’t mean we should expect anything like this from Marvel Studios. Disney will keep with its own way of doing things, which is fine, but the door is wide open now for other properties owned by Warner Brothers, Fox, and others. I would specifically love to see an R rated Batman film because the general movie going audience is so misguided about the character. Batman is not family friendly, he’s dark and he’s a violent vigilante that often has the police chasing him. We need to see a real Batman movie and despite the disaster BVS has turned out to be I still think Ben Affleck is the guy to give us the dark and R rated Batman.

In the aftermath of Deadpool’s success we are verified to see an R rated Wolverine film coming in the near future. Hugh Jackman’s final performance as the character is coming and they are pulling out all the stops this time. I was really disappointed that Jackman didn’t make an appearance in this movie but I will hold out hope for a Deadpool cameo in the final Wolverine film. The references to Jackman throughout this movie are really funny but after doing all that they owe us an actual on screen pairing of the two characters. It’s widely rumored that the final Wolverine movie will be based off of the Old Man Logan comic. I have read that comic and it is awesome but they shouldn’t base the third Wolverine movie on it. It should be an original story. Due to property rights to characters the Old Man Logan comic would leave far too many holes and come out all convoluted.

Wolverine 3 should bring back Liev Schrieber as Sabertooth, throw in a little Deadpool, and just go nuts with the opportunities of an R rated movie. They should make it a true Wolverine movie only better. I think roles for guys like Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart would be really cool. This is all wishful thinking so it doesn’t matter. Casting announcements are coming out now and beyond its R rating there is little known that isn’t a rumor.

Deadpool currently still has a box office presence but it is closing out as the second highest grossing R rated movie of all time. Second only to the Passion of the Christ by a mere $10 million. I wish so much they would re-release the movie for just one week so it could take that record. I have always found box office statistics fascinating and specifically love when a movie I enjoy so much can break records. This was the movie the studio was so reluctant to do and all its success is awesome but that number one all time record would have been the cherry on top.

As Deadpool promised in the end credits scene; there will be more to come in this franchise. I look forward to it and can’t wait to see how it turns out with what will undoubtedly be a larger budget. I think this is a great movie and would recommend it to any adult out there with a cool bone in their body. If you’re cool, you need to see this movie.

I do not think this movie is appropriate for children. Please please please spare your little ones the adult content of this movie. This is too much, like anything Trey Parker and Matt Stone do. It’s awesome, but don’t allow your kids to see it, it’s for us and they should have to wait till their old enough.

The Prestige

Year: 2006
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Priest (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

After Christopher Nolan knocked our socks off with the start of a brand new Batman franchise in 2005 he immediately followed it up with this little nugget. A film with a spectacular cast, a story that kept us guessing the whole time, and an ending that blew us away. This movie, more than any other at a time when I was just learning who Nolan was, convinced me that this guy was for real and somebody to keep an eye on. I had yet to see Memento at that time, and while I had seen Insomnia I gave it little thought and made no connection. In 2006 I was young and eagerly looking for a new favorite filmmaker two years removed from both Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino disappointing me in the worst of ways. There were the Coen Brothers of course, and I liked several others as well but this movie officially ushered in a new player to the ball field.

Christopher Nolan is not my favorite director today but he is part of a handful of directors I am always excited to hear have something new coming out. Nolan is a smart director who keeps his filmmaking crew together for most of his films. That continuity, as much as his mind and capabilities, goes a long way in making his movies a head above the rest. I have recently been disappointed by Nolan as I thought Interstellar was painfully awful. However I still have faith in him despite that long and uneventful film I anticipated so much. There are people out there who have the audacity to call Interstellar great but they are only lying to themselves. That movie was garbage, but Nolan’s prior track record speaks for itself. This movie was awarded to Nolan over others because Christopher Priest, the author of the book, specifically wanted him. Nolan took it and hit the ground running to produce another good film in the downtime between the groundbreaking and moneymaking giant of his Batman franchise. Aside from his Batman films, Nolan’s movies are typically the type that make you think and will keep you guessing. What better story to do that with than one about magic and illusion? As we come to the actual prestige of the movie what we find is not only shocking and surprising but a haunting reality for both magicians.

This movie also played a big part in my becoming a fan of Christian Bale. Bale had been around for some time but I had never given him any credit until after I saw Batman Begins for the first time. I still wondered then if he was just good in that particular movie but this film proved he could do more. Bale has since gone on to achieve even greater success over the years but I will always remember this role as the one that officially caught my eye and made me realize his potential. In this film I couldn’t get over how awesome it was simply to see Batman and Wolverine on screen together. This movie came out the same year as the ultimately disappointing X-men Last Stand, but it wasn’t Hugh Jackman’s fault that movie sucked. Jackman is always great as Wolverine and I thought he was great as the charismatic side of the two feuding magicians in this film.

The rivalry between Jackman and Bale in this movie progresses into darkness early on. Their hatred and competitiveness drive the intrigue of the movie as much as the mystery of their magic does. As each man raises the stakes the audience edges closer to the edge of their seats. Ultimately the climax of this feud is satisfyingly dark and perverse with neither of the two winning but only destroying one another. Magicians and showmen who become what they practice are such interesting men. The pressure on the showmen like Jackman to continue to impress and keep the audience interested can drive them to dire straits. Then there are the true wizards, like Bale’s character, who have an early understanding in how to fool the entire world with an act that is always on. Magicians have to keep you guessing and a movie about them has to do the same.

As good as Jackman and Bale were in this movie their performances are made even better by a stellar supporting cast. In the sunset years of his career Michael Caine only seems to shimmer brighter. An obvious favorite of Christopher Nolan, Caine has been able to stay in the spotlight with great parts in most of his films. I am a huge fan of Caine and love every opportunity to see him on screen. He has an aged dignity and air of respect to him that often reminds me of my own grandfather who is very endeared to me. They are the exact same age and while they don’t look or sound anything alike it’s about the way they carry themselves and the presence that they hold that make me connect the two.

Andy Serkis plays an important part in the film and for once we actually see him, as opposed to simply his movements and voice via motion capture suit. Serkis is one of the most talented actors out there that nobody ever actually sees. He has an extraordinary talent for acting in the advanced technologies of the modern movie era. Among his resume are roles like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit series, King Kong in the 2005 remake, Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes franchise, and he will be adding a new one at the end of this year with a role in J.J. Abrams new Star Wars film. I once saw a behind the scenes look at Serkis performing in the motion caption suit as Gollem on the set of the second Lord of the Rings film. It was like more than ten years ago when I saw it but to this day I still marvel over watching him perform that scene. An incredibly talented actor who has such unique skills. It’s nice to see him in the flesh now and again though. In this movie he brings an eerily creepy character to the film that adds to the intrigue of it all.

The part Serkis plays is the main assistant to a real life man of mystery, Nikola Tesla, played by a man who himself is oddly mysterious, David Bowie. As an undertone to the movie is the battle of minds that went on at the time between the electrical pioneers of Thomas Edison and Tesla. I know little about both of these men in truth but this movie does motivate me to look into the real history. Seems like there is a really interesting story there that I missed out on along the way.

I suppose it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Scarlett Johansson plays a significant role in the film. She is a very beautiful actress but I have never really felt there was anything that set her apart from say Piper Perabo who plays a smaller yet equally as important part in the movie. Johansson has found much more success than Perabo but I tend to think this is the work of agents more than it is talent. In the movie industry pretty faces are a dime a dozen and at the mercy of whatever popularity they can mustard in the years given to them. The window is short when time is the enemy of what keeps you in the spotlight. I find most people consider me crazy when I mention not being a big fan of Johansson. I don’t really know what it is but I just don’t see it. I tolerate her in the Marvel films as Black Widow but I can’t even get behind her in a role like that. There is nothing wrong with her performance in this movie, but I just don’t see her as anything more than a pretty face. However, that being said, this film can only be considered a success for her.

This is a really cool movie but I don’t love it with multiple viewings like I do most of my favorite movies. I don’t think that has anything to do with the film though and everything to do with its content. Magic and illusion is an art that is only really effective the first time. The more you see it the more you figure it all out and the excitement is gone. This movie is a terrific film to watch for the first time. The intrigue will draw you in and the climax will knock you back a few steps. This movie is important to me because it got my attention and encouraged me to see more from Christopher Nolan. It’s not his best but at par with what he is capable of and the par for Nolan is a step above the norm for the rest. This is an interesting movie with terrific performances and great all around effects. It is more than worth your time to see and I think it’s one anybody will enjoy.

NEXT MOVIE: The Princess Bride (1987)

 

 

 

Les Miserables

Year: 2012
Directed By:  Tom Hooper
Written By: Victor Hugo (novel) William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg, and Herbert Kretzmer (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW 

I think this is one of the greatest stories of all time, yet I have never actually read the book.  About 15 years ago it was our assignment during my sophomore year in English class.  I specifically remember utilizing the internet for the first time to read the Spark Notes for the novel.  What I found to be so interesting was how much I loved the story simply reading the synopsis.  I enjoyed it so much I actually earned the highest grades in the class on all the tests even though I hadn’t actually read it.  I was very vocal during discussions too because I had a lot to say about the story back then.  I think I was about 15 at the time and I thought I was so clever but despite being lazy and cheating on the assignment I still felt I learned something from it.  It’s a great story with powerful characters in it, I hope it is still required reading today and kids are putting more effort into it than I did despite what I may have learned or felt about it.

I did enjoy this story when I was in tenth grade but hadn’t revisited it in the years that passed before this movie came out and had forgotten most of it.  I had looked forward to this movie at first because the cast was shaping up to be significant but when I heard it was a musical I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  I always tell people that there is no room for musicals in the movie industry these days and then something this great comes out and makes me look like an idiot.  What’s funny is it’s a mistake I continue to not learn from.  I should have learned my lesson when Chicago blew me away but I didn’t.  This movie too has made me take back a statement or two.  When we finally sat down to watch it I was really dreading it too; I couldn’t have been more surprised by how wrong I was.  This movie is incredible from beginning to end and every single one of the actors literally blows me away with the power of their performances.

Who knew Wolverine could sing? I literally had no idea and during that scene when he rips up his papers I was literally floored by the strength of his voice.  He put on a powerful performance all throughout the film but when he walks out of that house holding that note for what seems like forever my jaw dropped.  I hope he didn’t have to do too many takes for that scene because he looked on the verge of an aneurysm at a certain point.  I have liked Hugh Jackman since he first hit the scene playing Wolverine for the first of seven times, so far.  I have been a fan of most of the movies he has made and of course there is nobody out there that can bring one of the coolest Marvel characters to life like he does.  I think he did a great job as Jean Valjean and have a new found respect for an actor who already had plenty of my respect.

Surprising me even more than Jackman is Russell Crowe.  Seriously, who knew he was capable of this? I have said it many times now, but Russell Crowe always brings it.  Think he can’t do something? Don’t hold your breath because just when you count him out he is belting out these songs with a range that seems completely out of nowhere.  Javert is one of the coolest characters ever even though he is an antagonist in the story.  He is the enemy of Valjean but only because the two find themselves on other sides of the law.  Javert is noble and true to the point that he would rather die than dishonor himself.  I love that in the character, it’s an honesty worthy of respect and Crowe carries it on his face throughout the film.  Despite how much a dick Crowe is rumored to be in real life he pulls off noble and honest characters really well.  He didn’t get nominated for his role in this movie and I am surprised by that because so many were.

Anne Hathaway did win the Academy Award for her role and definitely deserved it. Her performance is so profound I nearly feel bad for all those things I said in our Havoc review.  She is too good and talented an actress to talk about so shamelessly. She is a rare actress who actually has the skills to match her flawless beauty.  I look forward to what else she can do as an actress; the sky is the limit for her.  I thought she would have a longer role in this film but that just goes to show how little I remembered about this story that had such an impact on me in my youth.  Sadly Fantine isn’t in the film for very long but the fact that she won the Oscar despite that is a testament to what she accomplished.

Amanda Seyfried is nice on the eyes but I didn’t think she was exceptional in the film, or maybe she was just drastically outshined by her peers.  Helena Bonham Carter is great in everything she does and this is no different.  She is seemingly ageless and bringing her talent to a wide range of films lately. I was a huge fan of Da Ali G Show and for a while thought Sacha Baron Cohen was a genius and probably one of the most incredible comedians out there.  Once the game was up and he couldn’t get away with his type of comedy anymore I lost interest.  He does a great job in this movie but I just haven’t been a big fan of him as an actor.  The rest of the cast is more or less unknown to me but I thought they all held up well and held their own next to these huge stars.

I am always pleased to be surprised by a movie and this one surprised me in many ways.  I went in with a bad attitude about watching a musical but found myself enthralled by the power of the film.  It captivated me immediately and by the end of the movie had earned my respect. I like the songs, I like the actors in the movie, and I think the story is incredible.  Hands down this movie earned its keep in our collection and I think it is without doubt worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is truly incredible. The way the music carries you through the entire film, but isn’t confusing at all is a work of genius. I don’t even know how they were able to sing an entire movie and I was able to keep up and understand. And the immense talent that this film has in it is remarkable. Anne Hathaway blew me away. I just think she is the bee’s knees when it comes to acting. She started in the silly little film about becoming a princess and here she is lighting it up on the big screen singing across from Hugh Jackman. She completely impressed me as well as the entire cast. This film is an amazing adaptation and it is well worth anyone’s time, even if you aren’t the biggest musical fan.

Cosette-Official-Movie-Poster-les-miserables-2012-movie-32280133-864-1280

I love this poster. The coloring is spot on for the mood of this movie. And this girl is almost the reason for hope. The hope to be something better and to live a better life where you can dream to be better. Her eyes are stark and draw you in. I love the proportions. She is a little off center to the right and her hair goes to the opposite direction. This creates a dramatic view of movement. The typography is great and almost has a bit of passion to it. I love this poster. I think the designers did an incredible job.

NEXT MOVIE: Lethal Weapon (1987)