SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

animals, animation, currently reading, just read, Marvel, Netflix, recently watched, Will Ferrell, X-Men

I feel like I’ve had a rough day at work. I can tell because, somehow, it’s 21:30 and I’ve just woken up with no idea where the time went. I think it’s because I had last weekend off so I forgot what it’s like. Still, I am writing this feel a sense of accomplishment because I’ve finally finished another book this year. That means I’m up to about 5. In 2.5 months. That doesn’t feel like a great rate when you put it like that. I need to find more time to read. I used to read on my break at work but I’m getting more sociable. I miss the days when I was a quiet introvert sat in the corner reading. I just need to stop making friends with the people I work with. It’s so distracting to the more important things in my life.

Just Finished

  • The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
I finally finished this book. After all this time. It’s over. And, lacking anything to talk about on Tuesday, and because I haven’t done a book review in a while, I’m going to discuss it then. 

Currently Reading

  • The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion
Finishing my previous books means I finally get to start a new one. This one of the new novel by the writer of The Rosie Project. I read that book last year and, to my surprise, I didn’t hate it. I liked it but felt it was a bit predictable and cliched. I also thought that, despite the positive image it presents of Autism and the potential for love, it somewhat romanticised Don a little. He almost becomes the Asperger’s version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. It meant I never read the follow up novel but it did make me excited for this one. It’s all about growing older and looking back on what you lost along the way.
Recently Purchased
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Illustrated by Alan Lee) 
I already own each of The Lord of the Rings books in various forms but I decided I wanted to buy these illustrated editions. I managed to find them all fairly cheap and I’m so excited. Lee’s illustrations are quite impressive and add something to the story. Tolkien didn’t illustrate these books much because he ended up hating the illustrations he did for The Hobbit. For the majority of texts, the most you’ll get is maps and images of runes and stuff. This is perfect for me but I was interested in seeing what Lee’s illustrations added to my reading experience. Plus, it’ll be the first full set I’ve ever owned.

Recently Watched
  • X2
In honour of the release of Logan and my review this week, I went back and watched this film. Not only was it my favourite in the entire X-Men film series but it was the only one that I hadn’t already reviewed. See what I thought in last week’s TBT review
  • Netflix binges: BoJack Horseman
A guy at work has constantly been recommending this to me but I’m never that sure about adult animated shows. Sometime they’re great but other times it just seems too pointless. Like someone is trying too hard to be risque and it just doesn’t make it. As I watched the first series I wasn’t really bothered until at least halfway through. It just felt like every alternative adult animated comedy and every other story about a middle-aged man doing awful things. Where was the originality? Other than the fact that the man in question is a horse that wasn’t much new or fresh about the show. It certainly picked up towards the end and series 2 feels better. It’s opened up more and given supporting characters more substance. There’s finally light at the end of the tunnel so I’ll definitely stick with it.

TBT – X2 (2003)

comic book, films, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Marvel, Patrick Stewart, review, X-Men

If you’d asked me before I saw Logan last week, which film in the X-Men series was my favourite I would have confidently answered “Bryan Singer’s second film”.  It took all of the good things about the first film but made them much better. It also has one of the best endings to a comic book movie ever. The fact that Brett Ratner fucked it all up is another story. It still remains a fucking awesome cliffhanger. X2 is a remarkable sequel that manages to break the rule that the second films always fair worse than their predecessors. It is clever, well written, well acted, and has some of the best action sequences you could hope for. This post marks the moment that I’ve finally posted a review of all existing films in the X-Men franchise. I’ve seen some great films and some not so great films. This remains one of the best. Had it not been for Hugh Jackman’s swansong this year, X2 would have remained the very best.

X2 picks up where Bryan Singer’s first film left off. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is still trying to piece together his forgotten history thanks to the information Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) found in his head. Magneto (Ian McKellen) has been captured and is being held prisoner by the deadly Colonel Stryker (Brian Cox). Handily, Stryker was also the man responsible for giving Wolverine his adamantium skeleton so, when Professor X and Cerebro are taken by Stryker for his evil plan, the mutton-chopped anti-hero is more than happy to help track him down. Unfortunately. he finds that he must accept help from the X-Men’s greatest foe when Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) breaks Magneto out of prison. Hence, the secondary title of this film: X2: X-Men United.

In keeping with the theme of the original comic books, Byran Singer’s film making certainly evolved between the making of X-Men and it’s sequel. The first one was criticised for being kind of unsure of itself and it was believed that Singer wasn’t the right man to make a big budget, Hollywood action film. Thankfully, he got more comfortable with the sequel and managed to create one hell of a film. I mean look at the fucking opening sequence. In a franchise that in recent years has given us the unforgettable Quicksilver prison sequence, the attempted Presidential assassination by new mutant, Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) still looks fantastic today. It’s kind of breathtaking and really well made… and it was made 14 years ago when films effects were nowhere near as advanced as today’s. Something you can definitely tell whenever Wolverine stands in front of the green-screened Alkali Lake. But, the sequence where Nightcrawler evades Secret Service agents is just mesmerising.

This is X-Men but just that little bit more amped-up. It is bigger, louder, more ambitious and more exciting. Action becomes a key part of the film and there are several impressive sequences that range in size and complexity. It is a darker film without ever straying beyond it’s PG-13 status. After watching Logan I couldn’t help but wish that it had been the R rated wonder that the latter film turned out to be. We could have saved ourselves a lot of time. Still, X2 feels more comfortable being a comic book movie than X-Men ever did. It still has the same maturity that made the first film seem so good but it also understands that it needs to let got once in a while.

X2 is a longer film than the first and has a greater array of characters to introduce to the plot. These are mostly handled really well and there is never a sense that there are too many personalities on screen. Each of the X-Men get there moment to really show off their power and are able to reengage with the audience. In fact, it is only Lady Deathstroke that is really wasted here and even she gets a pretty awesome fight scene. I mean Cyclops is obvsiously given short-shrift here but I like to think that’s mainly because he’s naturally a little bit boring. Cool, don’t get me wrong, but not the stand-out player in anyone’s (comic) book.

What X2 does really well is continue the political and social elements that X-Men sets up. The film continues with the idea of segregation and a dersire to wipe out the mutant race entirely. It plays with themes from modern history and creates a story that is more than just good guys beating up bad guys. Considering it is such a huge blockbuster, the scenes that resonate the most are the more personal scenes that deal with these themes. Just take the scene in which Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) “comes out” as a mutant to his parents. It is such a clever, funny, and familiar scene that it gives the classic comic book heroes a more realistic and time appropriate feel. The script is incredibly clever and the actors all play their parts incredibly.

Although, I won’t pretend that X2 is perfect. There are problems with the final act and some loose ends are tied up a bit too quickly or roughly. It’s structure is a bit disjointed and there are certain elements that could have run smoother. However, it is without a doubt the best X-Men related movie to ever have been made… until 2017 that is..

Tuesday’s Reviews – Logan (2017)

comic books, films, fucking beautiful, fucking sad, Hugh Jackman, Marvel, Patrick Stewart, reviews, super powers, superhero, X-Men

We’ve known for a while that Hugh Jackman was on his slowly moving towards his final outing as the character he’s played since 2000. For 17 years Huge Ackman has continued to prove that nobody could have been cast in the role of Wolverine and has gained a phenomenal number of fans. So when the first details of Logan were announced it became a clear the whole thing was going to be fairly emotional.., and that was before the trailer sound-tracked by Johnny Cash’s cover of ‘Hurt’ was even released. I’ve been excited about this film for a long time but I was also faced with a certain amount of trepidation about seeing it. Not because I thought it was going to be bad (everything we were shown pre-release destroyed any fears regarding quality) but because it’s the end of an era. It’s a bittersweet sensation that Hugh Jackman is finally able to do great things in the character’s first R rated outing just before he leaves the role (almost certainly) forever. Suffice it to say I was struggling to hold back the tears as the film went on and was only prevented from bawling like a baby thanks to the awful guy we were sat next to and his inability to shut the fuck up. It’s weird but I can’t help mourning the loss of this character. He’s become so iconic through Jackman’s interpretation and the X-Men movie franchise is always going to feel like it’s missing something now. Thank fuck the big guy went out on a high though, eh.

Logan was primarily billed as an adaptation of the Old Man Logan storyline. I think that description is taking more than a few liberties but there are some distinct similarities. The year is 2029 and mutants have become a rare breed. They are no longer being born and the remaining few are slowly dying out. Amongst them are two familiar faces; Logan (Hugh Jackman), now ageing and losing his healing factor, and Professor X (Patrick Stewart), whose deteriorating brain function is causing his mutant power to get out of control. They are also joined by a new face; Caliban (Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant who is able to sniff out mutants. The three are in hiding in Mexico where Logan has the Prof holed up in an old water tower and pumps him full of drugs to hold off the seizures for as long as possible. The end goal is to make enough money ferrying drunks around in a limo so the group can buy a boat and sail off into the sunset.

Of course, things have never been that simple where Logan is concerned. He is soon left in charge with the first mutant to be born since everything went tits up. This young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen) is being hunted by a team of mercenaries lead by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) who is working on behalf of smarmy scientist, Zander Rice (Richard E Grant). In order to escape the bad guys with guns, Logan takes his new charge and the dangerous nonagenarian on the mother of all car journeys to take her to safety. Whilst Logan is already struggling with his deteriorating powers, he must also come to terms with his new found role of father as he attempts to keep Laura and the Professor safe.

When it was announced that Logan would be Wolverine’s first R rate movie experience audiences got excited. Last year Deadpool showed us that comic book movies and adult only violence could mix really well. However, Logan is an entirely different film. Whilst Deadpool still appealed to the child in all of us, Logan is all maturity. If it wasn’t for the frequent unsheathing of adamantium claws and bionic hands, this wouldn’t feel like a comic book movie at all. This is The Road or The Last of Us. It is a tale of survival but not on the global scale that the X-Men are used to. It’s a very clever and emotionally wrought film. The focus is on ageing and responsibility. It is a character driven narrative that features big action sequences rather than the action based X-Men films we’re used to. Thor the violence, that has been such a huge talking point in the run up to the film, is really neither here nor there. Yes, there is a lot of fight sequences where arms get chopped off and metal claws pierce people’s skulls but it is completely secondary to the story. It’s almost as if it’s there because it has to be. Rather than Deadpool, which almost made the violence it’s biggest draw, Logan relies on its emotional resonance to leave the biggest impact.

So much of this film rests on the actor’s involved and thankfully the 3 main characters are superb. For the most part, Laura is mute but newcomer Dafne Keen does incredibly well to with bringing the character to life on screen. She is silent but deadly and super cool. Her relationship with Logan is slowly realised as the pair come to rely on each other. It’s adorable and loving. However, it can’t hold a candle to the main relationship on screen: namely the one between Logan and Charles. We are faced with a situation almost directly opposite to the one that emerges from the first film. In X-Men Logan comes to Xavier as a dangerous weapon with no idea of his history and the Professor teaches him how to control his powers. In 2029, it is Charles who is the dangerous mutant who Logan must keep controlled using drugs. The pair have come through so much but have a deep love for one another. It is a testament to the actor’s friendship off screen that the onscreen partnership is so strong.

Logan is unlike any other superhero movie out there. It is darker and more brutal that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. It lacks the requisite lashings of hope to keep an audience happy at the end. It shows the dark side of humanity and an incredible bleak future. This film is the best comic book movie offering I’ve ever seen. In fact, Logan is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time, Rather than dealing with mass death on a unrealistic scale, this focuses in on the all-too-real issues of mortality and the legacy we leave behind. Just as Jackman is moving on from the character shrouded in the respect and adoration that comes with it, Logan is faced with a reputation that he is struggling to live up to. He can no longer be the man that he once was and, instead of facing off with the bad guy, he aims for a quite life taking care of his elderly father figure. Logan still suffers from some questionable decisions and is far from being the perfect film. However, considering the other solo offerings we’ve seen, it is certainly the best outing we’ve had for the character. Hugh Jackman dominates in the role of weary ex-superhero and, if this really is to be his last onscreen appearance as the mutton-chopped anti-hero, I don’t think anyone could have asked for a better way to end his tenure.

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

book haul, books, Hugh Jackman, Marvel, recently watched, Wolverine, X-Men

I’ve been no help whatsoever today. I was at work at 7 and I managed to spill not 1, not 2 but 4 drinks all over the place. It’s been a tough few days where we’ve had loads of customers and not enough staff. Really fucking frustrating but we got through it. So, it explains why all I’ve done since I got home is nap. It’s pathetic but I needed it. It does, however, mean I’m really late with this post. Which actually sees me finish a book for a change. It’s a joyous occasion but I’ve just got through my first Man Booker 2016 nominee. Now is the difficult choice of what to read next. I have too many great options. Hopefully I’ll get through it quicker now I’ve had the two interviews for the job I applied for. Still haven’t heard but silently hopeful. In preparation for the second interview I’ve been obsessively listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and I’m stuck in another endless cycle of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s genius. It’s so fucking good though. My favourite song changes daily. I’d do anything to get tickets for it’s UK run. I don’t hold out much hope though.

Just Finished

  • His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Fucking hell! I’ve finally done it! It’s over. And, despite how long it took me, I really enjoyed it. I’d have to say it’s my pick for the Man Booker Prize but, then again, it’s the only nominee I’ve read so it means nothing.

Recently Purchased

  • Selection of second hand Pocket books
 Like any other self-respecting bibliophile, I have a pretty strong collection of vintage penguin books. My favourites are, obviously, the classic colour block covers but it can’t be denied that all of theirs books are fucking gorgeous. There’s a vintage books website I like to peruse from time to time to spot any bargains and this time I wasn’t disappointed. I managed to find quite the haul: The Man With My Face by Samuel W. Taylor; The Two Gentlemen of Verona; Maigret Mystified by George Simenon; and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. They’re all bloody beautiful and you’ll no doubt see them on my Instagram some time soon.
  • Penguin Sherlock Holmes collection
I finished work with time to kill before my train the other day so, on a whim, I went into one of my local charity shops. I may sound melodramatic but that simple decision changed my fucking life. As soon I walked in my eye was drawn to a complete boxed set of Penguin Sherlock Holmes books. I barge past all of the other OAP shoppers to get my hands on it and I held it as if my life depended on it until I paid for it. It cost £10 and it was the best £10 I’ve ever spent. I love it.

  • The GCHQ Puzzle Book – GCHQ
I fell in love with this book as soon as I saw it on the shelf. It was beautiful. It also contains a fucking huge amount of puzzles that I’m really not qualified to attempt. But that’s not going to stop me. The GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) is an intelligence and security agency that is full of super intelligent people. They love puzzles obviously so this book is filled with brain teasers of different difficulties and tips on how to get into the mindset of codebreaker. There’s also a competition to find Britain’s smartest puzzler. Considering how badly I’ve done on my brief read through, I don’t need the GCHQ to tell me that’s not me.
Recently Watched
  • Logan trailer
Holy shit! I knew I was going to love the final time Hugh Jackman will appear as Wolverine. I also knew it was going to be sad because that guy has done wonders with this character. I mean for he past 16 years Hugh Jackman has been Logan. It’s incredible. So the trailer makes it seem like we’re in for an epic ride. It also proves that there isn’t anything that old Johnny Cash can’t make better. I’m beginning to suspect his American Recordings are the best thing that has ever been recorded.And Stephen Merchant as Caliban? How fucking awesome does he look? I can’t wait. March 2017 has never felt so far away. 

  • Guardians of the Galaxy teaser
Yesterday I was criticised by a co-worker because I hadn’t seen this trailer yet but, to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered. Teaser trailers are rarely anything to get excited by. The only two that have given me real tingles were The Force Awakens and Days of Future Past. This teaser didn’t exactly make me more excited for the sequel to GOTG but it also didn’t make me any less excited. It was fine… gratuitous use of mini Groot aside, of course. That was just disgusting pandering.
  • Black Mirror Series 3
The new series of Charlie Brooker’s fucking awesome TV show came to Netflix on Friday night. I watched the majority of the first episode as I got ready for work on Saturday and finished the rest before I went to sleep on Saturday night. I was fucking exhausted at work today but it was so worth it. This is not just great TV but it’s clever and thought provoking. It’s augmented but it’s all stuff that you could genuinely see happen in the next few years. It’s harrowing. No wonder I had such difficult sleeping last night!

  • Peep Show
I decided to watch the last season of Peep Show last week and, it nothing else, it just made me miss the first 3 series when the show was actually really good. So I decided to watch them again. As of today I’ve looped back round to the last season again. I’d feel ashamed but it was so worth it. Except season 4. That series is just utter shit.

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

books, currently reading, films, George RR Martin, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, X-Men
Today is father’s day so I hope that you’re all treating your dad like a King. Me? I forced him to drive me to work at 6:45 am and left his present on the side for him to find when he got back. Who says daughterly love isn’t alive and well. Still, I guess I owe a lot to my father. He’s had a greater influence on my interests than I really appreciate. He’s a fan of J.R.R Tolkein and bought my my first copy of The Fellowship of the Ring when I was younger. He was the one who bought me a copy of The Philosopher’s Stone when it was released. His love of Arthur Conan Doyle pushed me into reading his novels as soon as I could. It was sitting with my dad and watching The Next Generation that really got me into Star Trek. No doubt there’s more that his tastes have influenced but it can’t be ignored that my father is responsible for some of the greatest loves that have followed me through my life. Without Toklein I wouldn’t have read George RR Martin. Without that first copy of Harry Potter I would have missed out on one of the most important series of books in my life. Without TNG I wouldn’t have grown up knowing what a badass Patrick Stewart is. So, despite my lack of celebration this morning, I am celebrating my father today. Who knows what kind of boring life I’d have had without his influence. 
Currently Reading
  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George RR Martin
I’m getting through this but still pretty slowly. I’d forgotten how dense George RR’s writing can be. I’m absolutely loving it but it just feels like such an immense task to get through each section. As someone who doesn’t want to finish reading for the night until I’ve reached a suitable place it sometimes doesn’t feel worth starting when I’m in bed. I hope I get into this soon. I’ve spent a lot of my day off reading and I’m slowly falling in love with Dunk and Egg’s bromance. I just need to pray for inspiration.

Recently Purchased
  • The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters by Fergus Fleming
Saw this one in a bookshop and knew I had to have it. I love the James Bond films and have tried, unsuccessfully, to get into the books a few times. However, I love reading people’s letters because I’m so fucking nosy. Seriously, though, I always regretted not writing my postgraduate dissertation about the letters of Romantic poets because it’s always so fascinating to read their personal letters. I tracked down a copy of Jean-Paul Satre’s letters to Simone de Beauvoir because of the film The Truth About Cats and Dogs and have loved it. It’s so great getting a look into their personal loves and the difference in their voices and styles is fantastic. I have to say that the best thing about the Sex and the City movie is the moment Carrie is reading the love letters of great men. I have a similar book and adore it. So, I think it’s pretty safe to say I’ll love this book.
  • The House of Ulloa (Pocket Penguins) by Emilia Pardo Bazán
Another edition to my slowly increasing Pocket Penguins collection and it’s a lovely yellow colour. Yellow is fast becoming my favourite colour so I was, probably, sways towards this one more on the cover than the stroy. However, it is also a Gothic novel and we all know how I feel about them. The story of a young priest entering a morally questionable world sounds ideal. It’s like The Monk but, hopefully, with less “beauteous orbs” 
  • The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane
I saw this book and thought the cover was so good I bought it without knowing anything about the story. However, it sounds pretty great even though it wouldn’t make a difference now. Ruth is widowed and lives alone until an unexpected arrival turns up at her door. Frida appears great at first but Ruth starts to hear a tiger prowling around her house at night. Who is this stranger and what does she want with Ruth? See? Doesn’t that sound fucking awesome? Woman/tiger mystery. Looking forward to this. 

Recently Watched
  • X-Men: Apocalypse
I finally got round to seeing this after bloody ages. After spending months feeling absolutely shit about it, I was pleasantly surprised. Still, it wasn’t exactly good. Check out my review from last week. 
  • X-Men: The Last Stand
In order to really get my TBT review correct this week I went above and beyond and rewatched this fucking film. Wanna hear my thoughts? Check out my Thursday post
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (Rogue cut)
After watching Apocalypse this week I went on a bit of an X-Men marathon and finally watched the extended edition of Days of Future Past. Considering how much I loved this film and loved the sound of the Rogue scenes I was excited. Turns out, the extra 20 minutes or so didn’t really add a great deal. I can’t say Rogue made much of a difference and, aside from the super hot Beast/Mystique scene, there wasn’t much I wished had been in the final cinematic release. Still, it’s a fucking great film regardless. 
  • Now You See Me 2
I quite liked the first film despite how ridiculous it was. So I was sort of looking forward to the sequel. Did I like it? Find out on Tuesday.

  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
I love The Lonely Island and they have a permanent place on my Day to Day Spotify playlist. So I was loving the idea of this film. I’m hoping to do a full review in the coming weeks so keep your eyes peeled. 

TBT – X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

comic book, films, fucking awful, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, review, TBT, X-Men

It’s been just over 10 years since Brett Ratner’s addition to the series of X-Men films that Bryan Singer started back in 2000 and, without meaning to be too dramatic, it’s still painful that this film exists. I know that Days of Future Past went and deleted it from the film canon but that doesn’t make it any easier. I vividly remember going to see this film with my friends: I was 18 years old, full of hope and excitement at what the next instalment would bring. I left feeling utterly depressed and glad the whole thing was over. A lot of my sadness at the time revolved around the casting of Kelsey Grammer as Beast. I’ve always loved the character of Beast and was glad that he was set to be involved in this film. As a firm lover of Frasier I even, initially, didn’t mind the casting of Grammer; I mean Hank is an intelligent and peaceful creature so I could see where they were coming from. Upon leaving I was bemoaning the fact that Beast had been so utterly wasted. As the years went by my hatred for this film only grew and, had it not been for the even more appalling X-Men Origins 3 years later, I could easily say this was worst film in the whole franchise. And, for once, I’m not just being melodramatic.

I’m so irrationally angry at this films existence that I imagine writing this review is going to be hard so I’m going to simplify it and break it down into the good and bad points.

First, the good:

  • The Cast

This film’s cast does have quite a few plus points as the rest of the films have. Ian McKellen is always a delight as the villainous Magneto and, no matter how much better J Law is at acting, I think Rebecca Romijn will always be the ultimate Mystique. She’s sexy, weird and dangerous instead of endless inspiring and preachy. In terms of the rest of the cast, most of the regulars are just phoning in what little they get to work with but, alongside newcomer Ellen Page as Kitty, the main highlight has to be Famke Janssen as Jean Grey/Phoenix. She gets short shrift in terms of the Dark Phoenix narrative but Janssen is fantastic in the moments she gets to unleash the Phoenix. We deserved more of her.

  • Action sequences

Whatever you may think about Ratner’s directorial style you cannot deny that his action sequences are memorable. Yes, this isn’t always a positive (see the floating house/Xavier shaky jowls moment) but the danger room sequence and final Phoenix showdown are both pretty spectacular.

  • Political Elements

The film’s narrative isn’t exactly strong but there are some aspects that work really well. The attempt to bring in the political elements with the cure provides an emotional struggle for the mutants. It follows the strong human vs mutant struggle we’ve seen in previous films and provides some decent moments. Angel’s storyline, though rushed, has some great moments and Beast’s internal struggle works great (particularly when added to the similar themes in the prequels).

Now the bad:

  • It’s just not very good

There is a lot of shitty parts of this film that stand out. The continuity is all over the shop and the editing is just awful in places. This film isn’t all about the detail it’s just about getting the story told in the most exciting way. Day quickly becomes night, cars have lights on to make shots better and things aren’t where they’re meant to be. It all just shows a lack of finesse and care that these films had under the watchful eye of Bryan Singer. Plus, who ever cast Vinnie fucking Jones needs to get sacked. Hearing his awful cockney accent shouting “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch” was something nobody needed or wanted.

  • Too many characters

There are just too many characters stuffed into this thing that nobody really gets the development they deserve. Even big players like Jean don’t get enough to do and she spends most of her time standing behind people looking bored. The new guys are introduced and ignored until they are needed for a cool shot or funny gag later one. We needed to get to know these characters and care about them instead of see one execution of their power near the end of the film. We needed more Hank for fuck’s sake.

  • Terrible treatment of existing characters

Ratner was brutal in this film when it came to killing off existing characters. Not brutal in terms of number, per se, but in the way he did it. There was no respect for the key characters here and they are completely turned around from the people we know already. Xavier’s characterisation here is completely different to the one we knew and he spends most of him time being a huge dick. It’s almost a relief when Jean kills him off. But then she does and in a really understated way. However, he gets more of a look in than Scott who, thanks to James Marsden’s desire to follow Singer to Superman Returns, gets killed off in the most pathetic way about 10 minutes into the film. Then there’s fucking Rogue who went through 2 films worth of struggling with her identity only to get rid of her powers so she can have sex with Bobby. What kind of fucking crazy message is that to give young girls? Get rid of your uniqueness in order to land a guy: fuck that! It’s a horrible use of these characters.

  • The rushed Dark Phoenix Saga

X2 remains the best film in the franchise in my opinion and it so expertly set up the Dark Phoenix Saga that fans eagerly awaited X3. Of course, The Last Stand managed to fuck that up by gluing this story onto the end of the main mutant cure narrative. This means we only get about 15 minutes of real Phoenix force before everything is resolved. Considering this is such a huge event in the comics, The Last Stand really doesn’t do it justice.

  • Too much Wolverine

By this point in the trilogy it had become clear that Wolverine was the most bankable member of the cast and, as such, Fox had made him the main character. Which is kind of crazy. It also meant that almost every emotional aspect of this plot fell back to him instead of the people it should have done. Xavier’s death: how does Logan feel? Jean’s descent into evil: how does Logan feel? Mutant cure: how does Logan feel? Who gives a fuck!? I want to know who thought it was a good idea to take the Dark Phoenix Saga out of Jean Grey’s completely and give the emotional resolution to fucking Wolverine? I love Hugh Jackman’s portrayal as much as the next guy but this shouldn’t have been his movie.

Conclusion:

By no means is The Last Stand the worst films ever made nor, thanks to fucking Origins, is it the worst X-Men film ever made. The problem remains that it was much worse than the two films is followed. Bryan Singer had made something great with his first two films. He not only set about placing X-Men firmly in Hollywood but also showed the great potential for superhero movies. Arguably, the focus of modern cinema could have been very different without them. So Ratner’s shitty attempt to follow in his footsteps is all the more painful because of the reputation he fucked with. Still, there are some positives. Mostly nothing to do with Ratner but, still, it’s good to know that we can find hope in anything.

Tuesday’s Reviews – X-Men: Apocalypse

disappointing, films, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, meh, Michael Fassbender, review, X-Men

Anyone who has been following this blog for long enough knows that I’ve had a long and tortured relationship with the X-Men film franchise. I’ve been a fan of your friendly neighbourhood mutants ever since the amazing 90s cartoon and X-Men Evolution back in early 2000. Then, of course, Bryan Singer brought the gang to the big screen in 2000 with X-Men and its superb sequel. Still, the films that followed never quite managed to achieve the original greatness so I wasn’t exactly loving the prospect of X-Men: Apocalypse. Especially when each of the trailers were such utter shit. Still, a guy at work saw the film when it first came out and insisted that it was worthwhile. He pretty much loves anything he watches so I wasn’t exactly convinced so it took a while to get round to it. So, will Apocalypse fall into the same traps that we saw The Last Stand did?

Before all of the action kicks off in X-Men: Apocalypse a group of teenage mutants sneak out of Professor Xavier’s mansion to watch Return of the Jedi. Upon exiting the film, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) utters the immortal phrase “everyone knows that the third movie is always the worst”. It’s a funny enough line considering the franchise’s history but the question remains about any potential self-awareness hidden underneath the humour. Were Bryan Singer and co. really calling out Brett Ratner for the disastrous The Last Stand (something they erased from the canon thanks the events of Days of Future Past) or were they preparing for the inevitable criticism of the end of their new trilogy?

I mean whatever your interpretation, it doesn’t bode well that the script is already preparing you for a shitty ending. Especially when the opening scene sets you up pretty well. The scene lifts off where the post credits scene of the last film left off. We are in Ancient Egypt and Apocalypse/En Sabah Nur is in the process of transferring his consciousness into the body of Oscar Issac. Unfortunately, before he can bring about the end of the world, the first ever mutant is betrayed by his people and ends up buried under the remains of his own pyramid.

Of course, we all know that’s not where he’ll stay and, thanks to some interference from Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrn), Apocalypse is risen from the dead and takes an instant dislike to the modern world. As the myths dictate he goes about rounding up his four horsemen to aid in his task. Storm (Alexandra Ship), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy) and, our old friend, Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Of course, Erik’s return to the world of evil causes concern for his ex-ally Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and he and his mutant students quickly find themselves embroiled in the disaster.

However, there is a lot more to the story than the above summary suggests. The action takes place 10 years after the climax of the last film so there are several old faces to reintroduce alongside all the newbies. The first hour basically consists of little vignettes detailing each character’s new storyline and it takes fucking ages. We see Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) acting as a vigilante in Berlin, Erik settling into a human life complete with wife and daughter in Poland, Alex Summers (Lucas Till) helping his younger brother Scott (Tye Sheridan) come to terms with his powers, and Jean Grey having nightmares about a coming evil. And, really, that’s not even scratching the surface. The film reintroduces us to Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult); reminds us, as if we could forget, that Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) still exists; and introduces Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Pyslocke, Angel and Jubilee (Lana Condor).

There are a lot of players in this latest instalment and, because everyone has their own share of baggage, the whole things feels stuffed to bursting. It inevitably means that character plays a secondary role here and most people get little, if any, development. Scott and Jean get some chance to make a connection with the audience but they still don’t get what they deserve considering their history with the audience. Charles, Hank and Moira really get little to do and the rest of the new cast are pretty much just set dressing. I mean what is the point of introducing a villain like Apocalypse and making him so fucking undefined? Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to overload the film so much that there is no real sense of characterisation here?

Instead, the studio have focused on the characters that they believe are most bankable people. That’s why it is Eirk and Mystique who once again have to battle with their inner demons just as they have been doing for the past two films. The Last Stand failed because it was so wildly different to the preceeding films. Apocalypse fails because it’s so fucking similar. We’ve had two films of Erik killing people because his family are killed and Charles trying to convince him of his hidden goodness. We didn’t need another. He’s murdered so many people by this point you’d probably just give up. Then you have Mystique who has gone so far into Katniss territory that it’s embarrassing. I get that J Law can do no wrong but that doesn’t mean I need a 2.5 hour film of her making trite, inspirational speeches. It’s another Hollywood cliche at this point.

The film makers have got Apocalypse all wrong. X-Men hasn’t succeeded on spectacle or grandeur. It works well when there is depth and emotion. It works because we get to know the characters and appreciate their struggles. This film has more in common with Zack fucking Snyder that it does with its own franchise. At its climax the film just descends into the same wanton destruction that has become such a staple of the modern superhero film. Thanks to a kickstart to his powers, Magneto finds that he can manipulate the metal deep in the Earth and pretty much destroy everything in existence. He tears down buildings and ships thousands of miles away. Masses of unnamed people must be killed in this epic finale but its all so low-key. There are no consequences, no drama, It’s all just action.

I have to admit that I didn’t hate this film as much as I thought and I think there is great potential within the new cast for some future movies. However, I think this went too far. There was so much going on that there was no room to develop the main story. The film isn’t that long when compared to many recent releases but it felt neverending. It’s difficult having to compete with films like The Avengers where so many familiar faces are pushed together and make millions in the box office. Fox clearly just pushed things too far and the film-makers couldn’t handle it. The story isn’t all that interesting when you get down to it and the villains are just pathetic. We don’t even know anything about Apocalypse. What are his powers? What motivates him? Why does he pick the mutant he does? We don’t fucking know because there was no time.

Fans applauded Singer when he retrospectively altered the timeline and got rid of everything that happened in The Last Stand. He wiped the slate clean and did what fans have been doing ever since 2006: forgetting it ever existed. It’s just a shame, then, that he went and fucked it up by doing another shit third film. It’s by no means as bad as Ratner’s contribution but there is so much that needed to be defined and tweaked by this film. There are too many dinner party guests and not enough chairs or plates. Unfortunately, it’s also the audience that is going hungry.

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

book haul, currently reading, Marvel, murder, Ricky Gervais, television, women, X-Men
I so nearly got through this week without buying a single book but the Kindle store and Buzzfeed have coerced me again. It’s been so hot recently that it’s been perfect reading weather but I always find myself avoiding the sun. I’m one of those incredibly pale individuals who comes out in a rash and burns completely if anyone even mentions sunshine. If I’m going to be reading outside I’ll be dressed like a Victorian and sitting under the biggest parasol I can find. Although, I love having an excuse to go outside for some Instagram opportunities. It gets a bit dull just working with the same background every time and shooting from above. Unfortunately, the heat has made me even lazier than usual and I’ve neglected my account for a few weeks. I’m trying to get back into it but I’m not feeling incredibly creative right now. Good to see that whatever happens elsewhere I’m always failing in at least one area of my blogging life.
Just Finished
  • Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald (Kindle edition)
Still not sure of this one as I’ve only just finished it. I enjoyed most of the book because it wasn’t actually a crime thriller. Siobhan MacDonald presents a great character study in the guise of a crime novel and the first three quarters are addictive, if quite slow. What MacDonald has created is an interesting and engrossing family melodrama about two identical families thousands of miles apart. I’d have like to have seen more deth in the relationship instead of the setting up of misdirection. It’s in the last quarter that everything really falls apart for me though. The last three or so chapters feel rushed and clumsy as the killer reveal is shoehorned in. There are two novels here and neither of them are developed as well as they should be. Although, it’s a decent début novel and I MacDonald actually managed to fool me… which in itself is noteworthy. 
Recently Purchased
  • The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie (Kindle Edition)
This is one of the novels shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. I admit I first became interested in it based solely upon the squirrel book cover. However, the synopsis on the back sounds promising enough so when it appeared on the Kindle store for only 99p I couldn’t resist. I’ve only heard good things and the books normally nominated for the Women’s Prize are worth checking out. 
  • X-Force #8 (March 1992) by Mike Mignola , Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld
Another week, another Domino comic. Yes, I’m still stuck on this obsession. This edition marks her first real appearance in the comic books.
  • Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Think I saw this on one of those What to read right now style book lists and it sounded intriguing. Albeit in a ‘is this YA or not?’ kind of way. I’m still not really sure if it’s YA or not but I’m willing to give it a go. The story of a young girl lead astray by the new girl at her school. We’ll see how it goes but feedback seems positive as far as I can tell.


Recently Watched
  • Special Correspondents
Good thing you won’t have to wait Tue many days to hear my thoughts on this. 
  • Orphan Black
Now I’ve wanted to watch this for ages but never got around it until now. I’ve loved everything about the show so far but I hate starting something that is already so well-established. Anything that already has more than 2 seasons by the time I start it just feels like a slog I’m not ready for. There is a huge part of me that just wants to read ahead on Wikipedia instead of watching the story progess. I don’t want to commit my time to a show with four seasons unless I know it’s building to something good. If it’s not worth it I know there’s something better out there. My attitiude to television shows is a pretty good mirror of my attitude to relationships.

Recently  Played
  • Heavy Rain
I recently went on a PS3 game buying spree to get all those games that I never got the chance to play when they came out. There’s loads in the pile including Beyond: Two Souls and Bioshock Infinite. I’m super excited about them all but I started with this one. It’s a great game but I have to say the controls are fucking annoying. I find it so irritating and slow going to get through a chapter. Still, the narrative is great and the visuals are worth it. Shame I’m so late to the party. 

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

book haul, books, Buffy, comic book, currently reading, Deadpool, X-Men
Today has been a horrible day at work. If I could avoid working a bank holiday weekend again then I would. So I’m in a bit of a rush to finish this as I’m supposed to be editing my future brother-in-law’s personal statement for a job. I say editing: I’ve basically started rewriting it all. It’s why nobody should ask me to read anything for them. I always assume I’ve got a better way with words than they do. The reading thing hasn’t been going well this week as I’ve just bought a load of old games to play. Games have beaten literature in the battle for my spare time. Heavy Rain is an amazing story even if the game play is a little frustrating at times. Mirror’s Edge is as great as I remember but I think I’m a shitter gamer now. I’ve fallen off so many buildings. Next on my list is Beyond Two Souls but I want to finish Heavy Rain first. I may be late to these parties but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a good time. If only I could also keep reading. I’m just so tired at the moment.

Currently Reading
  • Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald (Kindle edition)
Not sure what to think about this but it’s pretty easy to read. Something that I really need at the moment. I’m wanting to do everything except read right now. I’m not sure I approve of the dual perspectives and it kind of feels like a crime-y version of The Holiday. We all know my feelings on that film so I don’t have high hopes for this book. 
Recently Purchased
  • New Mutants (1983-1991) #98 by Fabian Nicieza, Rob Liefeld (Kindle edition)
Bought a lot of comic/graphic novel type things this week. Starting with the comic that contains the first appearance of Deadpool. Although, that actually had nothing to do with my purchase. It also happens to be the first appearance of Domino who I’ve been getting more obsessed with her ever since it was announced that Cable would star in Deadpool 2. Basically she’s fantastic and I want to be her. 
  • X-Force: Sex and Violence (X-Force Volume) by Christopher Yost, Craig Kyle, Dell’Otto, Gabriele (Kindle edition)
Another Domino story but this time she’s teaming up with Wolverine. Living up to its name, there’s plenty of violence and sex in this graphic novel. The story isn’t great or very memorable but it’s interesting. The pair also work well together.
  • X-Men Origins: Gambit #1 (X-Men Origins (2008-2010)) by Mike Carey, David Yardin, Ibraim Roberson (Kindle edition)
A one shot about everyone’s favourite Cajun mutant. I’ve always loved Gambit and, thanks to the 90s cartoon, he’s been my favourite member of the team for years. I really can’t wait to see Channing Tatum play him on screen so I decided I’d reacquaint myself with him. 
  • X-Men Origins: Beast #1 (X-Men Origins (2008-2010)) by Mike Carey, J.K. Woodward (Kindle edition)
Another of my all time favourite X-Men is Beast and it has always upset me that he’s never done well out of film adaptations. Kelsey Grammar? That kid from About a Boy? For god’s sake. Beast is an amazing character with a great deal of potential. Potential that has never been realised on screen. I’m glad this was recommended to me after I bought Gambit


Recently Watched
  • Absolutely Anything
Tuesday. Tuesday. Gonna hear about this on Tuesday. 
  • Little Britain
This appeared on my Netflix page when I was in the need for something easy to watch whilst I get ready for work. I loved this show when I was younger now it mostly makes me cringe. 
  • Buffy
After watching the early seasons of Little Britain again, I’ve rediscovered my love of Anthony Head. I’ve been pretty madly in love with Giles for many years so have taken to watching my favourite Giles episodes again. It’s pretty wonderful if I’m honest.

TBT – X Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

comic book, fucking awful, Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, TBT, Wolverine, X-Men

I’ve read a lot of mixed criticism about Deadpool since I watched it last weekend. It’s upsetting because, whilst it does have its flaws, it was a refreshing addition to the comic book genre. Yes, it’s not going to change anything and, unless it comes up with a few stronger ideas, it won’t become Fox’s new big franchise. However, it should be said that it definitely made up for Deadpool’s first cinematic appearance. It’s been 7 years since the unrecognisable version of the character appeared in Wolverine’s origin story but the hurt still runs as deep as ever. Ryan Reynolds knew he had to get this movie made to apologise to fans like him for allowing Fox to fuck up such an iconic and loved character. If you ask me, he more than did… and, considering how much ground he had to make up, that’s a fucking huge achievement.

After all the of the success of the first two X-Men films it was Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine who stood out most for fans. Audiences loved Jackman’s portrayal of the straight-talking Canadian so it made sense, from a financial point of view, to make a standalone Logan film. Although, I question why we needed to revisit his origin story when we’d already seen that in X2. It’s a story we’ve been shown from the first film so it seems redundant to go over this ground again.

Still, it does give us a fantastic opening scene where we see Logan fighting in multiple wars, jumping through the years. It’s a stunning, if incredibly hard-to-follow, sequence that shows the sheer breadth of his life. Then we stop in a more recent year to revisit a story we already know. Although, this time Logan’s not alone. This time he’s joined by a half-brother in misguided and desperate attempt to utilise some of the previous films’ characters. Going against the canon already set by Fox and the comic books, turns out Logan is related to Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me either but what the fuck can we do about it now.

Now during their many years of military service, Logan and Victor see a lot of death. Victor gets a taste for blood and the pair end up in front of a firing squad. As both have healing abilities, they are imprisoned and taken under the wing of William Stryker for his secret team. They are joined by a few fellow mutants (mostly forgettable and underdeveloped) and a wisecracking mercenary, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). They do a few jobs for Stryker before Logan sees the light and leaves. Opting out of professional killing and living in the middle of nowhere with his lady love, Kayla (Lynn Colins).

Although, it’s no big surprise to anyone that his perfect life goes tits up and Stryker pulls him back in for a mission of revenge. Along the way he undergoes the all too familiar experiment that bonds metal to his skeleton and meets a few new faces. Unfortunately, there is nothing in Origins that isn’t just a massive comic book cliché. It’s all just too familiar and, frankly, really fucking boring. None of the new characters are given any real introduction or depth. All of the returning ones are just floundering.

Even Logan, when you set him apart from the rest of the X-Men, doesn’t necessarily scream main man. He needs the rest of the team to bounce off. What made him so good in the first two was the way he argued with do-gooder Scott, flirted with Jean, and saw through Xavier’s slightly pompous image. When he’s leading the show he wears a little thin and the whole escapade just seems like its missing something. Not that Hugh Jackman doesn’t play the part well, it’s just that the character is too much of a side-kick to be able to handle a full-narrative.

This film makes so many mistakes that it’s just outrageous. Bryan Singer’s films were so successful because they revived the camp superhero genre into a serious and noteworthy affair. After The Last Stand undid most of that works, Origins almost destroys any credibility the franchise had left. The fight sequences are shot in the most absurd manner that means its almost impossible to follow, the CGI is more than a bit dodgy and the script is so cringe worthy you should probably watch with the sound off. No matter how hard Hugh Jackman tries to keep it together, Origins is just X-2‘s tired, bloated and embarrassing older brother.

To paraphrase the man himself, Wolverine may be the best there is at what he does” but, as Origins more than proves, what he does best isn’t very nice.