Logan (2017) Review

Logan (2017)

Directed by James Mangold

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a past-his-prime Logan embarking on a “road trip” across a dystopian future version of America for one final mission.

My Opinion:

I’m not going to say yet again how superheroed-out I am and that I skipped watching all superhero movies last year other than Deadpool & Captain America: Civil War. Oops – I guess I did just say it again? Anyway, I’m not a big superhero geek & don’t read any comics (well, I read Watchmen & Tank Girl so I’m lying a little) but I enjoy these movies when they’re halfway decent. The X-Men movie series has probably actually been my favorite. At least, character-wise, it’s the group of “superheroes” (okay, mutants) that I’ve been drawn to the most. The movies started out pretty good (although a little cheesy) but have ended up so disappointing in recent years. Hell, I didn’t even watch X-Men: Apocalypse or The Wolverine. That’s pretty bad considering how much I loved these characters after the first couple of films.

Then Logan came along, which looked a bit different and had a great trailer (plus a young girl kicking ass!) so I was finally once again excited to watch an X-Men movie. I suppose it helps that two of the absolute best X-Men characters are the stars of this one (Professor X is my personal favorite. Yay, Patrick Stewart!). I honestly didn’t miss having loads of other mutants in this. I find it overkill sometimes when you have too many characters, like in Civil War. Sometimes less is more and I liked so much focus being on Logan, Charles & Laura.

I really enjoyed Logan. It’s a very good film for this genre. I think the more violent, more grown-up thing worked very well for the character of Wolverine but wouldn’t necessarily work for all other comic book characters. It was the perfect “end(?)” to this character’s story (for me). And, I’m not gonna lie – I loved seeing a young girl kicking ass. Plus I love a good father/daughter-like relationship in a movie. Dafne Keen did a great job and I was a sucker for the relationship she developed with Logan as well as with Charles. And of course the further development of the existing relationship between Logan & Charles. I love that kind of shit. A fucked-up, crazy, loving mutant family! Good character development & angst & feelings. I like that! Good stuff.

I admit that I didn’t care too much about the actual story itself. The story was decent enough. I can’t say I ever take these comic book storylines too seriously anyway. With these kind of movies, I always care more about really good characters & just enough action to keep things moving along and Logan delivers as far as these two things are concerned. Did I like it more than the very first two X-Men movies? I don’t know. In some ways, yes. I think it’s the better film but certainly not as much “fun”. But it’s not meant to be – I guess it depends what you want from a comic book movie. I like either fun or serious depending on my mood and I enjoyed Logan as much as the first couple of X-Men films, just in a different sort of way. Other than that, I don’t have much more to say. I’m no expert on these movies as I haven’t read any of the comics so can’t compare. I like the films. I love the characters. I thought Logan was a great final film for Wolverine. For now. Until another sequel or prequel or evil twin or clone or time travel or some alternate reality bullshit comes along…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Chappie (2015) Review

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Chappie (aka CHAPPiE) (2015)

Directed by Neill Blomkamp

Based on Tetra Vaal by Neill Blomkamp

Starring:
Sharlto Copley
Dev Patel
Watkin Tudor Jones & Yolandi Visser (aka Die Antwoord)
Jose Pablo Cantillo
Sigourney Weaver
Hugh Jackman

Running time: 120 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

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My Opinion:

I’m not sure if anyone has noticed but I’ve been on a real A.I. movie kick the past few months. This is a favorite topic of mine in films so, despite some very negative reviews, I still wanted to see Chappie as I’ve been looking forward to it for ages. I really liked Blomkamp’s District 9 but missed out on Elysium (and still haven’t watched it as we all know how well received that one was). I’ve not yet fully read any reviews of Chappie (other than a good one from Writer Loves Movies defending it HERE) but I’ve read just enough to get the general idea: most people hate Chappie almost as much as Elysium while a small minority are defending it. Well, I guess I’m in the minority. I really enjoyed Chappie and think it deserves more credit than it appears to be getting.

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Remember that this is a favorite topic of mine within my favorite genre so I’m going to automatically like it more than some will. Plus, the last A.I. movie I saw was the disappointing Autómata. Chappie is a heck of a lot better than that one but certainly isn’t as good as Ex Machina, my favorite film of the year so far, or even Daft Punk’s Electroma (which is awesome. seriously. no one read that review – that movie should be more well known!). Yes, Chappie is basically Short Circuit except that Ally Sheedy & Steve Guttenberg weren’t South African rappers calling everyone “motherfuckers” all the time. Actually, that would’ve been hilarious. Who’s Johnny, motherfuckers?! (Sorry, Mike – I had to make the Short Circuit comparison as everyone is. At least I didn’t mention D.A.R.Y.L. or… Hardware). 😉

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I found Chappie interesting in that it actually explores the morality issues involved in creating self-aware artificial intelligence in a slightly different way than other similar films. Okay – this topic has been explored so much now that it’s very hard to be truly unique but even Ex Machina is guilty of not really bringing anything “new” to the table in the A.I. debate. Chappie treats Chappie (the robot) as a child who needs to be nurtured just as a human child would be. There’s talk of consciousness and “souls” (and violence & how to deal with crime, etc, making this not only like Short Circuit but also RoboCop). Overall, there’s probably a bit too much going on as far as all the various morality issues involved in creating advanced crime-fighting A.I. that whatever Blomkamp’s overall point actually is gets lost. The bits with the film’s two biggest stars, Sigourney Weaver & Hugh Jackman, are the weakest parts and I think more focus on the “Chappie as child in its formative years” thing would have been better. These are the most “human” parts of the film and are oddly touching. Chappie (again, the robot) is done very well – he looks great & his character is very well developed to the point that you DO feel for him. He’s no WALL-E but he comes closer to achieving that than I expected (I adore WALL-E). He’s as likeable as Short Circuit‘s Johnny 5 but with much more personality (and swearing). The most important thing to get right, in my opinion, is the character of Chappie himself & I think the film did a very good job there.

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I think the thing that may turn some off this film is the use of South African rap duo Die Antwoord (Watkin Tudor Jones & Yolandi Visser). I’ve known of them somewhat over the years through a couple of their songs & fucked-up videos and find them intriguing. When I heard they’d be in this film, I assumed it would be in smaller roles but they’re really the main stars. If you don’t take to their characters, you probably won’t like the film. Funny thing is, they end up being the best things about it (after Chappie, of course). These two crazy, swearing, “cartoonish” looking criminals end up feeling just as much if not more “human” than Dev Patel as Chappie’s “Maker”, while the film’s big stars (Weaver & Jackman) end up feeling like the cartoon characters. Or maybe that’s the point? I don’t think so… I think Weaver’s & Jackman’s roles are just very poorly written. It’s a shame, really, as it detracts from the more interesting central theme of A.I. consciousness & nurturing its development.

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Summary:

I thought Chappie was a solid sci-fi film and managed to explore the usual A.I. themes we’ve seen in countless other movies in a somewhat unique & quite entertaining way. It’s a weird kind of mish-mash of the heartwarming aspects of Short Circuit & WALL-E with the ultra-violent cartoonish-ness of RoboCop. This may be putting some people off, however, as the film seems a little confused as to what it wants to be. Sigourney Weaver’s & Hugh Jackman’s poorly written “baddies” aside, I enjoyed the over-the-top violent action film aspects but especially liked the more “human” aspects of watching Chappie become self-aware & start to develop his own personality. I know Chappie won’t work for everyone but it worked for me.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Gotta say this may be my favorite tattoo on Watkin Tudor Jones (aka Ninja) 😉

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X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014) Review

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X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)

Directed by Bryan Singer

Starring:
Hugh Jackman
James McAvoy
Michael Fassbender
Jennifer Lawrence
Halle Berry
Anna Paquin
Ellen Page
Peter Dinklage
Ian McKellen
Patrick Stewart

Running time: 131 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story, inspired by the 1981 Uncanny X-Men storyline “Days of Future Past” by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, focuses on two time periods and Wolverine being sent to 1973 to save the future of mutantkind.

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My Opinion:

Review number 3 from my 4-Movie-Marathon from last week! I still say Edge Of Tomorrow was by far the best, A Million Ways To Die In The West was last (but still fun). I really thought Days Of Future Past would be my favorite but, unfortunately, it was a not-very-close second…

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I’ll say it for the millionth time (hey – you never know when I might get a new reader here!), I enjoy comic book movies but have no knowledge of the comic books themselves (well, I read Watchmen but that’s it). When the X-Men movies came along, I LOVED them. I thought the characters were great & they just felt very different to a lot of other comic book movies that had come before them. Plus… Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen! Those two are fucking legends. Love them love them love them!!! They’re still my two favorite characters as well so, don’t get me wrong – it was wonderful seeing them together in this. And I think James McAvoy & especially Michael Fassbender are perfect as the younger versions of these two greats. So no complaints when it came to the scenes involving either generation of these two characters – those were my favorite bits. (And god Michael Fassbender is sexy).

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Wolverine was… Fine. Maybe I’m just a bit Wolverined-out (and I’ve not even seen The Wolverine yet – the only one I’ve missed out on). Hugh Jackman is still great but he just wasn’t my favorite character in this one. (And was he always so veiny?!). I liked Quicksilver and a couple scenes with him were probably the highlights of the movie. I don’t really have any complaints about Jennifer Lawrence in this and I liked Peter Dinklage (hey! I’ve finally made a start on Game Of Thrones, people! DON’T TELL ME ANYTHING! I’ve only seen 4 episodes!). So… All these things I’ve mentioned were good. Or at least okay. But………..

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I thought the story was a bit of a mess. Sorry! Sorry! I’m sorry! Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful! (Lol – you may all be too young to get that reference). Like I said in my Edge Of Tomorrow review, that film had the more complex plot yet it managed to pull it off nicely whereas Days Of Future Past just felt totally convoluted. I didn’t really think the future scenes worked at all & it kind of threw me out of the film whenever they’d go back to those scenes. But without them, there’d have been no Stewart & McKellen, so… that would have sucked, I guess. I just wish those scenes had worked better.

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Plus there were these new characters thrown in there that I didn’t know and they weren’t introduced at all so they meant nothing to me as I don’t read the comic books. We got zero character development on the new “future” characters yet we’re meant to care about their fate (well, Storm was there but who actually likes Storm??). Also, I often get a little annoyed at “time travel” in movies that aren’t actually ABOUT time travel. Or aren’t sci-fi. Well let’s just stick time travel in any ‘ol movie then! So, the overall plot here is what didn’t really work for me. I still love these characters. I still love the X-Men universe. This movie certainly isn’t the worst of the X-Men films (I’d personally place it as the fourth best) but it was a weaker entry than I was hoping it would be.

My Rating: 7/10

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Prisoners (2013) Review

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Prisoners (2013)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Starring:
Hugh Jackman
Jake Gyllenhaal
Viola Davis
Maria Bello
Terrence Howard
Melissa Leo
Paul Dano

Running time: 153 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
When two young girls go missing, the father of one of the girls (Hugh Jackman) feels he must take matters into his own hands while the police investigate but seem unable to find out what happened to his daughter & her friend.

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My Opinion:

This will be a quickie. I’ve been a terrible movie blogger lately! I’ve been busy so have done very few reviews & when looking at the list of films I’ve watched this year, I see I’ve not reviewed 24 of them. Pathetic! So I’ll try to crank out some short ones over the next few weeks. I’m too wordy anyway!

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The Story:

Prisoners is very highly rated & recommended but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed by the end of the film as I left with far too many unanswered questions. The investigation didn’t feel at all like how one would go in real life (not that I exactly know). The cop (Jake Gyllenhaal) did far too much on his own. Don’t they have partners in real life? Especially for potentially dangerous situations? And there were a few things that seemed so obvious to anyone watching the film yet this cop, who has apparently solved every case he’s ever been on, completely misses these clues or figures them out too late. Like with a lot of movies in this genre, some of the characters do things that don’t make sense and you can’t help but get annoyed when they do something stupid. All in all, there were just far too many loose ends for me to be able to leave the cinema feeling satisfied by the story.

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The characters:

Luckily, the movie is helped by some believable characters & good performances. Hugh Jackman is by far the best thing about the film. He’s very good as the desperate father who will do whatever it takes to find his daughter. His wife (Maria Bello) didn’t have much to do but the parents of the other missing girl (Viola Davis & Terrence Howard) were also very good as two parents going through their worst nightmare.

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The thing that probably annoyed me most about this movie, aside from the problems I had with some plot holes, was the underdevelopment of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character. His character felt like he had a very interesting backstory but this wasn’t explored at all and I left feeling like he must have more scenes that explained his character’s past but were left on the cutting room floor. Which is especially disappointing as, at a length of two and a half hours, you would think they could have devoted a little time to his past. Jackman’s character also suffered a bit from this lack of development. I don’t know. Seeing as the story just didn’t quite come together, getting to know a bit more about the characters & their motivations (what’s with the religion? being a survivalist? having nervous ticks & lots of tattoos?) would have been nice.

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Summary:

A tense thriller with some very good performances that’s unfortunately let down by an investigation that doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny & lack of character development. The film’s biggest strengths are the performances from its stars and some strong and (potentially) very interesting characters. However, these interesting characters deserved to have much more of the two and a half hour running time devoted to their development. I really felt like we were missing so much of whatever made Jackman’s and especially Gyllenhaal’s characters who they were. Had we learned more about these seemingly deep men with strong beliefs that aren’t explained, I’d have been able to overlook a few problems with the plot.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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That was still too wordy…