The Crow: City of Angels (1996)

As we all know the original Crow movie turned out to be an iconic piece of 90’s cinema; which was also sadly down to the fact that Brandon Lee was killed during the filming. Despite the shocking death of Lee midway through the movies production the end result was still of a high quality. Even to this day it’s not overly obvious where Lee’s performance ends and a body double starts. For a newbie to the film I’d say its impossible to tell. So the notion of making a sequel was always going to be hard, dare I say sacrilege.

The Plot: Set in a comicbook version of Los Angeles Ashe (Vincent Pèrez) runs a small garage with his young son Danny. One night Danny accidentally stumbles across a gangland killing which leads to the both of them being executed by the gang. Meanwhile, an adult Sarah (Mia Kirshner) from the original movie, starts having bad dreams and visions about Ashe and his son. Somehow she has a supernatural connection with the dead and can feel their pain. She is visited by a crow which leads her to the spot where Ashe and his son were murdered. It’s at this moment that Ashe is resurrected. Sarah helps Ashe come to terms with what happened, eventually painting his face with the familiar markings she witnessed on Eric Draven. Ashe then begins his quest to exact revenge of the ones who murdered him and his son.

So yes this movie was a sequel set within the same universe as the original movie. Sarah is the only character to return and she is now an adult working as a tattooist. So basically, even though the plot is virtually identical to the first movie, it’s surrounding a new victim. So from that one can assume that this happens often in this universe, people coming back from the dead and putting things right. Indeed the movie does point this out at the end with the huge murder of crows sequence. It’s a safe but solid plot route, it makes sense without getting too silly. The question that springs to mind is, why don’t we see tonnes of crow-assisted people running around exacting revenge? Surely with all the murder in this universe it would happen all the time. I could also ask, what power or force is deciding who gets to come back? There would be tricky cases which aren’t so clear-cut, so what’s the criteria? But this could be seen as nit-picking.

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The first thing you notice about this movie is the design aesthetic. Whereas the original movie was very dark and rainy with a lot of black and earthy colours; this second movie has a very greeny, yellowish colour palette, mostly green. This was to reflect the location of the story, Los Angeles on the coast. Hence everything has a more hazy, warm, sweaty, misty vibe running through it. Director Tim Pope certainly went a tad overboard with the mist and smog in my opinion. Almost every scene is thick with coloured mist which whilst adding a nice supernatural vibe, does also hinder being able to see things.

This world is of course a complete comicbook fantasy, even more so than the first movie. One could say ahead of its time because to give Pope credit, this movie does look like it’s been ripped straight from the pages of a graphic novel. Every frame is so outlandishly over the top with its swirling mist, bizarre colouring, and decaying cityscape. You can’t knock this movies visuals that’s for sure. The opening sequence is a brilliant panning shot over a large model cityscape of this otherworldly LA. The city itself is so unbelievably rundown and rotten it’s almost laughable really. I’m guessing the movie is set in the poorer part of the city but blimey! Every single inch of this urban sprawl is crawling with litter, filth, druggies, burnt-out cars, graffiti, broken glass, wrecked buildings etc…Its a living hell, but that is the point.

It’s also worth noting that along with the colour palette coordinating with the location, this movie also featured a lot of motorbikes which are more of a thing on the west coast. Where as in the original movie you saw a lot of cars (kinda) because it was set in Detroit, Pope and co deliberately used more motorbikes for the LA setting.

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When it comes to the inhabitants of this city and their dwellings, things get even more off the wall. Let’s look at Sarah. She now looks like an extra from a Tim Burton movie with her pale complexion, red rings around her eyes, skinny build, and ripped attire. She lives in this apartment that looks more like a floor taken from a gothic castle, and it’s filthy. I understand she is supposed to be poor and moves around a lot but Jesus Christ! The windows are covered with a thick layer of dirt and the floor is dirty bare wooden floorboards! Interestingly, Sarah owns a white cat, the same cat from the first movie. She also still owns the sad clown mask from the first movie, and she wears Shelley’s wedding ring.

Moving on to the main antagonist Judah (Richard Brooks). Now this guy lives in an abandoned church which he has seemingly converted into a BDSM dungeon complete with his own collection of latex bound female slaves (rawr!!). Not only that but he also has his own personal witch or sorceress or prophet (?) that knows all about supernatural stuff including the crow and its powers. Judah a cultist, is a self-declared sadist and dresses in a Kimono type thing on his lower half and is topless on top. He seemingly spends his time brooding and watching his female slaves perform BDSM rituals.

Judah’s vicious gang contains just four members. All of whom are visually excessive for the sake of being excessive. It’s like Pope and co couldn’t really decide so they just threw everything at the wall. The leader of the gang is Curve (Iggy Pop) who dresses like an extra from Gun N’ Roses. Iggy is most definitely the best casting here because this guy suits this environment so perfectly both visually and verbally. He’s not the best actor but he does enough to sell it. Nemo (Thomas Jane) was a strange one that I haven’t figured out yet. He essentially dresses like a glam rock star complete with a dodgy wig, codpiece, and ‘A Clockwork Orange’ style eyelash makeup; but I’m thinking he could be a transvestite also (?).

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Then you have Spider Monkey (Vincent Castellanos) who really does look like a combination of ideas all thrown together simply to make the most outrageous looking baddie ever. Again this guy seems to have a very effeminate vibe about him with his girlish screaming, rock chick hairdo, and of course tight attire. And lastly there is Kali (Thuy Trang), the slinky sexy token female villain who just happens to be south east Asian which I found really weak because it just seemed like Pope was copying the original movie (Bai Ling as Myca). All of these villains don’t really get much time to shine and we never really get a sense of who they are. They all feel like background characters just waiting to be inevitably killed off violently by Ashe.

Swinging back to our protagonist Ashe, I found the casting of Pèrez an odd one. Here was a man with a slight accent (which isn’t expanded on) and a clear receding hairline. Now I’m not having a go at his hair or accent, but he never really looked the part to me. He looked too old, his hair was clearly straightened, he had a large forehead due to the receding, he didn’t really look in shape, and mainly his acting was just off. Sure there are moments when he sells it with a maniacal grin or his face is overcast with shadow, but there are so many scenes which were clearly meant to epic moments of action or emotion and Pèrez just doesn’t sell it. I’m not saying the film required a young sexy ripped male, I just didn’t see Pèrez as the right choice.

As the film chugs along its also evident how silly bits of it truly are. Sarah paints Ashe’s face with his dead son’s kiddie paints. Surely that would just rub or wash off within 30 minutes, yet it stays there for the entire runtime. Ashe wears similar attire to Eric in the first movie including another full length long black trenchcoat. When Ashe goes off to find the first gang member, it takes all of about five minutes of motorbike riding from his old garage to get to his destination! Yeah I know it’s probably supposed to be longer but that’s how it comes across. Ashe kills Spider Monkey by throwing a lit match on some flammable liquid, and this somehow causes the entire building to violently explode.

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Nemo gets killed in a seedy porn store which has a peeping booth. But my one and only question here is, why would anyone pay money to sit behind a glass booth and jerk-off while a girl strips? Surely a bloke like this would go to a prostitute. And all these baddies never seem to learn throughout this movie that guns and knives can’t hurt or kill Ashe. Kali even hangs around for Ashe at one point to try and kill him…with a knife, ugh! What follows is a really bad and obvious ‘martial arts’ fight between two actors who clearly don’t know any martial arts.

Its also around the midway point that you’ll realise there are apparently no cops in this entire city. Yes OK as I’ve already said this could well be the seedy part of town and there could well be less cops. Or the cops have been paid off by Judah. But either way, the fact you never see or hear any cops or sirens is just silly really.

The finale was another part of this movie that never really felt satisfying or well explained. Judah kills the crow (after he is instructed to by his very handy witch/prophet slave, what happened to her??) and takes Ashe’s powers of the crow. So Ashe becomes mortal again? Does this mean Ashe could walk off and remain alive? Does this mean Ashe dies twice in the end? Does that mean Judah is the living dead now?

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In the original movie Eric transfers all the pain and suffering his girlfriend suffered onto Top Dollar. Well here Ashe kinda does the same thing to Judah, I think. Ashe calls on a large murder of crows (all carrying the pain of dead souls) to ‘take’ Judah. I’m not really sure what happens next, the crows fly through Judah and take his soul piece by piece? The crows eat Judah piece by piece? The crows merely suck him into the afterlife? I dunno. Does Judah’s newfound power not have any sway here? And does the power of crow revert back to Ashe straight away making him dead again?

This movie never really got much praise when it was released and was always seen as a poor follow up to the original. And to be honest it is a poor follow up, but it’s not as bad as its made out to be. There are some really good touches here, some great visuals (albeit a bit MTV music video-esque at times), decent ideas, and another solid soundtrack which is right up there with the original in my opinion. Yes OK Pope does rely a bit too much on greenscreen and superimposition here and there, some of which is horrendous, but at least they stuck with practical effects for the most part.

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The setting of LA does add an interesting fresh angle especially with the inclusion of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival at the end. There is a lot of religious iconography throughout the movie (some Mexican) which also adds to the supernatural element nicely. It’s not top heavy with these religious themes, but in a more traditional graphic novel kinda way with stark striking imagery and motifs.

It’s definitely an odd movie with various clashing themes I can’t deny. There’s traditional biker gangs, tattoo parlours, and squalid graffiti-ridden urban areas. Various religious motifs, supernatural
prophets, the predictable abandoned church setting, and a traditional national holiday. And then there’s a heavy BDSM theme throughout complete with fetish club and hot wax torture sequence! A little insight into Tim Pope’s personal preferences perhaps?

Yes this movie is way more graphic and violent than the first and yes this movie follows the original almost beat for beat, scene for scene. But on a visual standpoint, this movie is undeniably excellent and showcases some highly stylish visual sequences (backed up with some thumping tunes). Upon reflection I’d say this is a solid gothic action movie. Obviously not as good as the first but still an engaging ride which should just about please fans of the franchise or people into this type of genre (it would probably be far better than any modern remake).

6/10

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The Crow (1994)

Back in the day there weren’t really very many comicbook movies, they existed but most were pretty poor or wasted opportunities. Richard Donner turned things around somewhat with his now iconic Superman movie in 1978; but it wasn’t really until the late 80’s that Tim Burton’s surprisingly decent Batman movie literally changed the game for the genre. But despite that things still took time to actually change in a positive way. There were a few movies that weren’t too bad and looked good (in some cases very good), but failed to really light up the box office or gain much interest after their release eg. Dick Tracy (1990), Darkman (1990) and The Rocketeer (1991).

But putting basic comicbook movies aside, apart from Tim Burton’s vision for Batman in 1989 there was literally no such thing as a gothic comicbook movie, it was virtually a new untapped genre. Tim Burton had certainly given cinema audiences a strong dose of gothic grandeur but no one had really seen a dark, gritty, violent, adult action movie in that visual style, yet.

Then along came James O’Barr and his dark personal opus. In 1978 O’Barr’s fiancée was killed by a drunk driver (two weeks before her 18th birthday) which left him virtually destroyed inside. A talented artist O’Barr began working on a personal creation in a way to cope with his loss. With the combination of his own grief and a local murder case in Detroit, The Crow was born. The tale of young couple Eric and Shelley who are both murdered on their wedding night (Devils Night, the night before Halloween) by a vicious gang. One year later Eric is brought back from the grave by a mysterious supernatural crow, at the same time giving him powers of strength and invulnerability. Eric is seemingly granted the chance to exact revenge upon his killers so that both he and his fiancées soul can finally rest in peace.

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So lets look at the various differences between the Comic and the movie. Now whilst the movie was generally well directed and included almost everything from the original source material, there are many differences. But I must stress that whilst these differences are typically very Hollywood, they aren’t necessarily bad. As a large plot alteration was basically somewhat required for the movie, this meant major changes to almost all the characters. This included most of the villains, some goodies, and the removal of some characters along with the inclusion of new ones.

Firstly in the comic the entire murder of both Eric (no last name of Draven in the comic) and Shelley is nothing more than a random attack by the drug crazed gang. There is no purpose behind it and thusly Eric’s story is pure and simple revenge, no other factors. In the comic there is also no head honcho running the show, its just a bunch of thugs. For the movie they had to add more romance and a narrative in the form of both Eric and Shelley fighting unlawful tenant eviction from their apartment (owned by Top Dollar) which leads to the fatal attack; and of course they had to add a big boss villain for Eric to showdown with. Of course its still not really that good because essentially…what does Top Dollar want to achieve? He just wants to see the city burn? And then??

Devils Night: The night before Halloween which the movie centres around and is often mentioned. In the comic Devils Night is not mentioned.

Eric: In the comic Eric is clearly based more on the classic rocker look of the 80’s, but fitter and more toned. He has a very stereotypical 80’s rock hairstyle matched with a slightly anime look to the face. At times he also looks like a young jacked-up Rod Stewart. In the movie Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) has a very early 90’s MTV music video vibe about him, mainly because it was the early 90’s and that long black leather trench coat trend was started by this very movie. Its also interesting to note that in the comic there is no mention of Eric being a musician, playing the guitar. That seems to be another Hollywoodism to boost his ice cool sexual appeal.

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Tin-Tin: Visually he looks about the same in both the comic and the movie (an African American male). He is still the first to be killed by Eric in both the comic and movie, but by gunshot to the head I believe. In the movie they also gave him some more personality with the addition of being a knife wielding expert (played with aplomb by Laurence Mason).

Top Dollar: In the comic this guy is just a regular gang member, a regular drug pusher. Again visually he looks about the same (a white male) apart from a beard in the comic. He is the second gang member to be killed by Eric in the comic, again via gunshot to the head. For the movie Top Dollar (Michael Wincott) has been promoted to the main crime boss and controls everything, including ordering the hit on Eric and Shelley’s apartment. He’s a white westerner with an obvious appreciation for Japanese culture judging by his samurai-esque hair and choice of weaponry. He is also a very clean cut dapper looking villain dressing in period styled attire complete with old fashioned officer boots.

Tom Tom/Skank: Tom Tom does not appear in the movie, instead this character seems to have been combined with Skank. Where as in the comic Skank is not a part of T-Bird’s crew, Tom Tom is. Skank is killed early on in the comic, after Tin-Tin and Top Dollar via decapitation. In the comic Skank looks very different to his movie counterpart, same gender and race but just very different. The movie version of Skank (Angel David) is basically a cowardly character. All mouth but weaker than the rest, possibly abused by the rest, used as bait by Top Dollar, and eventually tossed out of a window by Eric.

Gideon: Again visually this character is similar in both comic and movie. Both are middle aged, tubby with facial hair. Only main difference is in the movie Gideon is bald (played by Jon Polito). This characters fate differs once again as in the comic Eric guns him down, where as Top Dollar executes him in the movie.

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Funboy: This character looks very similar when comparing the movie version (Michael Massee) to the comic. A white male with long flowing blonde hair. In terms of his fate, its similar but with varying degrees of impact. In the movie its quite a powerful scene with Eric also rescuing Sarah’s mother Darla. In the comic Funboy regrets and shows remorse for his previous crimes. He offers Eric a deal that if he gives him T-Bird’s location, Eric will allow him to commit suicide (fourth to die) by overdose instead of Eric killing him.

T-Bird: This character displays the biggest change visually. In the comic he seems to be an African American male with long dreads, where as in the movie he’s a short white male played by David Patrick Kelly. In both the comic and the movie T-Bird is the leader of the gang but in the comic he is the final character to die at the hands of Eric. Surprisingly, much like Tin-Tin and Top Dollar, T-Bird isn’t as big of a character as he is in the movie. Overall all the villains in the comic are far more throwaway type characters than displayed in the movie; they are simply cannon fodder for Eric to slaughter.

Then in the movie you also have Sgt. Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) who is a composite of two comic characters; namely Captain Hook and a nervous rookie beat cop. Top Dollar (in the movie) has a sexy sultry female sidekick called Myca (Bai Ling) who doesn’t appear in the comic. This character is a little weird as Top Dollar refers to her as his half-sister yet he also seems to have an obvious sexual relationship with her so…kinky? Myca also seems to be some of dark oracle or witch, something which is never really fully explained but merely hinted at throughout the movie. The young girl in the comic who Eric befriends is called Sherri, in the movie its changed to Sarah. In the movie you have the henchman called Grange (Tony Todd), who was based on the character of Shelby the giant in the comic. And finally the mysterious Death-like character called the Skull Cowboy is completely absent from the movie except for a deleted scene.

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Its also worth noting that in the comic the actual crow is far more supernatural than in the movie. In the comic the crow not only leads Eric around but also talks to him, passes him information, goads him, berates him for dwelling on past memories etc…In the movie Eric simply follows the crow and occasionally sees what it sees, but no talking. The movie also introduced the notion that if the crow is killed, then whoever it raised from the dead can be injured or even killed again. As if the crow is merely a shield for each unsettled soul and its body. But how can you kill someone who’s already dead? Unless their body (the shell) becomes mortal again which enables you to mortally wound it? Could the Crow take that persons soul to another body if needs be? This is a major plot issue that carries through into the sequel.

Of course there are many more little Hollywood touches that are included simply to make the whole feature more appealing to a mass audience. Before Eric kills T-Bird in his rather nice 1973 Ford Thunderbird, there is an entirely pointless car chase with the cops. Despite Eric being invincible he allows himself to get his ass kicked and shot on numerous occasions just so we the audience think there might be a threat or risk to the protagonist. Eric ends up needing Albrecht’s help throughout despite being invincible; again to give us a sense of risk, some human compassion amongst the carnage.

The hugely over the top climax in the huge gothic cathedral that leads to a very over the top sword fight on its roof amongst its gothic gargoyles and spires. This also felt extremely ripped off from Tim Burton’s Batman finale. And finally the fact that Top Dollar is now interested in the occult/supernatural and has a witch-like sidekick to help him try and unlock the crows powers. Again this gives us a sense of risk for the protagonist which was totally absent in the comic where Eric was unstoppable.

For the most part the effects for this movie have admittedly not aged well (they weren’t exactly great for the time). Whilst its nice that practical effects were used for a lot of the movie you can unfortunately see them very clearly. Various model/miniature shots of buildings and cityscapes do look pretty ropy in places, especially when live action (projection?) shots of cars were added to them (the fires look even worse because they did use projection technology for those). The big finale in the cathedral is an example of how the effects and sets did work effectively, but at the same time still a tad fake looking. The shadows and lighting helped in setting the mood but also in covering these obvious flaws.

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Hell in all honesty even Eric’s grave and surrounding graveyard looks pretty hokey these days, looks totally plastic. The only images/sequences that still do look quite good are basically all the shots with the trained raven (yes raven, not a crow). These are all genuinely innovative and highly atmospheric despite being obvious superimposed shots with thick black lines around all the edges.

Speaking of Eric, considering how early CGI effects were back in 1993/4 it is actually very impressive how the effects crew were able to superimpose Brandon Lee’s face into certain shots. Lee had completed most of the required scenes needed but after his death rewrites and reshoots were needed. Using a body double strategically obscured by shadows the team merely slapped Lee’s face on top of the body doubles face and kept the reveals minimal. For the most part the results being an effective quick glimpse which does look a little off-kilter but generally works fine. Other times the team had to use completely different footage of Lee and superimpose him against a totally different background. Eric breaking down in front of a broken mirror in his old apartment, and stumbling into said apartment for the first time were both entirely superimposed shots combined with CGI. Amazingly I never even knew this, never even noticed, which shows how good it was.

Where as some practical effects might now look incredibly dated, the stunts and action were handled very well. There aren’t that many blazing action scenes but what we do get is very satisfying. Each gangster takedown by Eric does deliver a sense of justice, you do feel vindication for both Eric and Shelley. Although they don’t follow the source material 100% there is a nice sense of variation and imagination in these death sequences. There is one highly impressive shot of a stunt double taking the full force of an equally impressive explosion in the scene where Eric blows up Gideon’s pawn shop. I’m genuinely not sure how this guy didn’t get burnt in this shot.

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The main gun fight between Eric and various gang members in a dark dingy club is a highly vibrant and atmospheric sequence which is heightened by its accompanying thumping soundtrack. The blazing gun muzzles lighting up the gloomy room, the sparse lighting, the various baddies getting sliced diced and blown away by a frenzied Eric hellbent on revenge. Looking back the editing is a tad questionable as you can tell they chopped this sequence up (work print shows us how much they cut), but it does still work nicely. Alas the same can’t be said for the helicopter chase sequence across the rooftops which really does highlight some terribly dated and obvious superimposed shots against model backgrounds.

The Soundtrack: What can I say? One of the best movie soundtracks ever? Yep its up there. Back in the 90’s there were a few things that nearly every young person into rock agreed on. Nirvana were the dogs bollocks and you had to own ‘The Crow’ soundtrack. It was almost mandatory, the way things were. And frankly who could blame them, the tracks on this compilation are now almost as iconic as the movie itself. In fact most of these tracks are probably known as well as they are solely because of the movie. Admittedly at the time I didn’t know who most of these bands were but most were instantly likeable and fit so well with the movie. They even had two bands (Medicine and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult) cameo in the movie which sometimes can date a movie badly. Not here, somehow they just blend in perfectly as trashy acts in a scummy nightclub. Heck for a long time I didn’t even know they were real bands.

But not only is the soundtrack fantastic the score is also top notch. The calm yet haunting orchestral score that accompanies Eric throughout the movie is terrific; a beautifully emotional selection of pieces that really can bring a tear to your eye (considering the circumstances of the movie). The final curtain of the movie and fade out to Jane Siberry’s It Can’t Rain all the Time still brings a lump to my throat.

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Brandon: Would this movie have such a cult status had Brandon not died? Well this is the million dollar question isn’t it. In all honesty I would have to say no and I say this because, although its a morbid thing to say, the death of Brandon added to the supernatural vibe/element of this movie. I mean, you couldn’t script it any better if you think about it, its almost like a horror story in itself. A movie about someone dying before their time only to come back from the grave to tie things up; and then at the same time in reality that exact incident occurs to the actor performing in the paranormal feature. Had this occurred in any old silly action/adventure flick then the whole scenario would be totally different. It was the nature of this specific film that made the difference. The final interviews with Brandon where he speaks about mortality merely serve to ramp up the eerie atmosphere tenfold.

Unsurprisingly I do indeed consider this movie a cult classic. Lighting in a bottle. It was a game changer. A tour de force that came outta nowhere and kickstarted an entire genre and trend  that stood the test of time. It positively dripped with gothic splendour and dark energy which even to this day many movies simply can’t top. The movie is a totally different beast to the original comicbook but still manages to stand on its own offering an alternative (dare I say better) version. Yes you can argue that the movies plot is chock full of holes, makes no sense, and the characters are one dimensional. For instance Eric was just a regular guy before he died. But when he comes back from the dead he’s suddenly an expert with all weapons, he can fight and perform various acrobatic moves. So the crow somehow gives you the power of being a martial arts military expert? And why the hell does Eric eventually have what looks like black bin liners and rope wrapped around him?

Nevertheless, the movie virtually overcomes all of this simply through solid direction from Alex Proyas, great pace, terrific set pieces, a superb atmosphere, quality performances, and of course Lee who haunts every frame with his strong yet ethereal performance. The über intense brooding superhero in the darkness. You could almost compare this movie to ‘Robocop’ in the fact that it made such a lasting impact and many of its stars (the villains) seemed to disappear after the fact, apparently not capitalising on the hit. I do think the movie would still have been a classic had Brandon not died, but not on the same level. Changes were made after his death which changed the movie in the long run, was the movie better for that? I guess we may never know that, debatable.

People seem to forget about this movie nowadays which I find incredible seeing as, along with Batman 89 and ‘Blade’, its easily one of the greatest comicbook movies ever made. Amazingly better than its source material in many ways. People talk about wanting good R rated comicbook flicks, yeah they already did that and this is it.

9.5/10

Justice League (2017)

So this was it, the main event, the big one to rival Marvels ‘The Avengers’. Only five movies in and DC (along with Warner Bros.) felt it would be a shrewd decision to whack out their superhero team-up flick, hmmm.

This was always gonna be a hard sell with the performance of previous DC movies. Superman hadn’t really set the world alight and the Suicide Squad was a nice idea that was badly executed. Wonder Woman of course did well (boosted by a political agenda) but that now seems like a flute more than anything. We hadn’t had any stand alone movies for Flash, Cyborg or Aquaman up to this point, something that just felt totally wrong. So not only was this a sequel of sorts to the previous Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman offerings, it was also a slight origins kick off for Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman (despite previous cameos).

Alas the plot is anything but fresh (its a superhero flick). A long long long long time ago on Earth, the evil supervillain Steppenwolf (stupid name) tried to take over the planet using three gizmos called Mother Boxes. He was beaten back by a whole team of other superhero types and said Boxes were hidden on Earth (if you wanna protect Earth, why not hide them elsewhere? Like in the far flung reaches of the universe). Much later in the present day the Boxes are triggered by the death of Superman? Or the presence of Superman? Are these things sentient beings? I have no friggin’ clue but they activate and this gets Steppenwolf’s attention. So he comes back to find the Boxes and try to take over the Earth to please his master Darkseid. Why he didn’t just do this before I dunno, don’t delve too deeply into this plot.

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Enter our team of heroes, the Justice League. First up its good old Batman (Ben Affleck), the leader who’s super power is being very rich (his own words). Alas this comment really hits home because his presence is really kinda stupid. Why would you need a regular human dressed in bat armour in a fight with super powered aliens and metahumans? He provides them with some cool vehicles…which they don’t need, umm…he also lets them kip at his place? Unfortunately Affleck also seemed to not care about this movie seeing as he clearly didn’t wanna be there, and he looked tubby. When he takes off his batsuit the shirt he has on underneath also has a muscle structure built into it. Methinks they had to cover his actual physique.

Then we have Supes (Henry Cavill) who is basically the same as before. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) who essentially struts around making smartass comments all the time. Apparently the success of Gadot’s only movie has gone to her head because my God does she act smug for the whole time. The Flash (Erza Miller) is the obligatory comic relief which is enjoyable for what its worth but is at odds with the movies tone. Also where did he get that Nasa material to build his suit? Next up is Cyborg (Ray Fisher) who is another character that doesn’t really fit here. Like what does this guy do? He’s basically an agile Terminator, but it seems like he could be easily destroyed at any point. And lastly there is Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the final pointless character here unless you’re fighting underwater. But wait, Aquaman seems to have powers on land in this movie too because plot necessities.

One problem I had with this movie were the effects and general look of everything. Firstly its that same old drab, metallic, dark, shadowy atmosphere that DC (via Zack Snyder) has been pushing this whole time. The movie looks awful, the colour palette is terrible, and it all looks the same. Naturally there is abundance of CGI which is to be expected but again its poor and obvious looking, whilst having that strange DC/WB videogame-esque look to it. Did I mention the greenscreen? Oh my God it was horrendous and so very very obvious. The battle between Steppenwolf’s army and the Earth defenders at the start was horribly dated looking. Almost all underwater sequences looked bad plus you couldn’t really make much out. Steppenwolf himself looked like a character out of a Mortal Kombat movie. And Cyborg was quite jokey looking at times, he looked like he was made out of tinfoil with a bad face job.

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I think the epitome of dross in this movie came when Aquaman surfed on a parademon whilst falling from a great height. He then crashes into a high-rise building, smashes all the way through it from top to bottom, and comes out surfing at the bottom with a grin on his face. This was literally cringeworthy cartoon garbage that also looked shit.

The other main problem here was the entire movie simply being cheap. As in using dated tropes and cliches whilst being just plain stupid. Thing is this was somewhat expected with the characters you’re dealing with. Aquaman, he’s useless, he merely pops up to do stuff that involves water because he’s the water guy. Oh everyone’s about to be drowned by a huge tidal wave!! Enter Aquaman…hurray! Oh we need someone to hack into this computer control panel thingy and do some hi-tech computer type stuff? Enter Cyborg because he’s the robot guy. Oh we need someone to get somewhere really quickly or rescue some people in the nick of time? Enter Flash because he’s the fast guy. Batman turns up to every battle in some yuge mechanical battle vehicle (because otherwise he’s useless)…and it gets wrecked instantly. Batman loses a lot of gear in this flick. Wonder Woman strolls out of every battle without her lipstick even being smudged, ugh!

The acting was pretty dreadful across the board (except for Gal Gadot of course, because you can’t say anything negative about her now). As said Affleck was clearly uninterested, Fisher swaggered as much as he could but was still awful, Momoa had big muscles and lots of hair, whilst the character of Steppenwolf was basically a live action pantomime. Of course there were numerous other characters throughout offering other actors a crack but its all cameo stuff really. A too many cooks situation basically, heck whilst the big finale battle was going down humanity was represented by one small family, probably because they literally couldn’t fit anymore people in.

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All in all I really struggled to find anything positive in this movie. The small sequence where the team brings Supes back from the dead was quite enjoyable. It was fun watching Superman knock the team around; I especially liked the eerie moment Supes spies Flash whilst he’s zooming in his superhuman speed zone. Although, I’m not really sure why Supes would fight the team after his resurrection. OK he’s understandably disorientated but why does he see the others as threats? The opening Batman sequence was also nice and harked back to earlier Batman movies in tone and visuals. Twas also lovely to hear a very short burst of Danny Elfman’s Batman 89 score in one scene. It was literally a few seconds but even that was enough to really swell the scene in terms of awesomeness and nostalgia.

That’s virtually it! That’s pretty much the only bits in the movie that I genuinely liked. The rest of this effort felt very much like (ironically) a Joel Schumacher movie. Yes it is indeed that bad. The entire movie generally looks poor, the effects are very suspect at times (Cyborg), the greenscreen is some of the worst I’ve seen for some time, and the plot is generic as fuck. Add to that the even more generic villain Steppenwolf with his hordes of flying goggle wearing goblins, and a finale that was possibly the biggest anticlimax in years (considering the content we’re dealing with here). And even now I still can’t help but think Superman could of done this all on his own. Why is Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Aquaman even here?? Flash was probably the only other genuinely useful person. This really felt like bad a movie from the mid 90’s. The bottom line, its ugly, dull and unbelievably uninspired.

4/10

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The fifteen movie in the Marvel cinematic universe, the Guardians travel all over the universe trying to unravel the mystery behind Peter Quill’s parentage. That’s the plot right there, that’s it.

So the start of this movie shows us the origins of Quill’s parents with a de-aged CGI Kurt Russell, something we’ve seen before and is becoming more popular. Gotta be honest, this looked very impressive. Twas impressive with Michael Douglas in ‘Ant-Man’ and its impressive here with Russell. From there we zip straight over to the opening credits which roll whilst the Guardians are fighting a big alien monster. Amidst the chaos Groot plays and jigs to ‘Mr Blue Sky’ by ELO via Star-Lord’s walkman. Its a quirky intro and certainly enjoyable…except for the choice of song, but that’s just me.

So as I said the basic plot involves Quill finding his father who turns out to be a God-like celestial called Ego (Kurt Russell). Naturally Ego would like to rule the universe with his son at his side, and Quill is curious, but sharply declines after discovering Ego’s dark secrets (he killed Quill’s mum). Of course whilst all this is going on the other characters have their own little subplots. Gamora is fighting off her sister Nebula once again. Yondu has been hired to capture the Guardians by the Sovereign race because Rocket nicked some precious batteries from them. This causes Yondu internal conflict which results in a mutiny by some of his men. Groot is still slowly growing up, and Drax starts a slow burning romance with Ego’s assistant Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Oh and Rocket is still a wise-ass.

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I think the main thing I noticed with this sequel was the increase in comedy…silly comedy. Its a little bit too obvious that Gunn is trying a little bit too hard with the gags, but anyway. In the first major space battle Quill and Rocket are arguing about who is the better pilot. Rocket remarks that later later on he will put a turd in Quill’s bed. But not one of his turds, one of Drax’s turds. Drax immediately laughs out loud and proclaims ‘I have famously large turds’. Its at this point that I asked myself, are they actually throwing out dialog about poo? Putting poo in each others beds…like school kids would say? By jove they are! I also noted a few other scenes that did make me smile such as Drax ripping on Quill’s secret crush on Gamora (unceremoniously revealed by Mantis who can read people’s feelings).

There is a great little sequence where Groot must find Yondu’s head fin so both he and Rocket can escape from his traitorous men. Groot takes about six attempts to find said item as he doesn’t really understand and keeps coming back with all manner of things. A tad predictable but nicely done. Quill calling Rocket a trash panda was a good one although the following dialog was a bit laboured. Rocket trying to explain to Groot about which button (the death button that needed to be covered with tape) to press on the bomb to kill Ego etc…OK lets just say that most of the good stuff comes from Rocket when he verbally clashes with the others.

As for the main crux of the story which was Peter and his father Ego, meh…it was fine but nothing special in my opinion. In all honesty I don’t really think they could of done anything drastically original here and what they did was perfectly fine. But the main problem simply was it was all completely predictable fluff that’s been done before. Each step of the way, each beat was wholly formulaic frankly. Peter and Ego get along fine at first as Peter wants to learn more out of curiosity. Ego teaches Peter the basics of his God-like powers. As the subplots all start to come together Ego finally reveals what he’s been up to (again its no real surprise) and Peter understands what he and the Guardians must do. Then after a long finale battle with the good guys on the brink of losing, unsurprisingly Peter suddenly conquers his own internal God-like powers and uses them to hold off Ego just long enough for the others to do their bit.

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That’s not to say there is anything wrong with all this per say, it works here, but I can’t not mention how utterly corny and conventional it all is. Again in all honesty I also thought the ending was so so very soppy that it almost spoilt the movie. Sure the Guardians have now become a proper family so to speak (ugh! the whole family thing again?) and all the various plots are tied together nicely, but boy do they pile on the schmaltz. I did also found it quite bizarre how the Sovereign are so obsessed with wanting to kill the Guardians because Rocket stole their batteries, Especially as it looks like we’ll be seeing more of the same in the next movie from these guys. Its also kinda funny how the makeup for this alien race consists entirely of gold body paint, literally just painting all the actors gold and that’s it. Just seems so…made for TV-ish. Odd for such a big blockbuster.

Anyway, despite this essentially being more of the same from the first movie, I did enjoy this. I personally found the entire movie to be much tighter with better dialog, better action and a better array of characters. Ego being a surprise decent villain…clearly helped along by casting Russell. Also the combination of Drax and Mantis being a decent surprise double act. Whilst both movies do still feel very cliched and unoriginal, borrowing many elements from many sci-fi movies, for me its the quirky roster of heroes that sells the flick. I can’t deny that Rocket is fast becoming a firm favourite of mine. Naturally everything looked slick and shiny, plenty of comicbook nods dotted around, and another retro soundtrack which I didn’t really like this time truth be told. I actually thought many of the songs were completely out of place with some of the scenes, but that’s just me (dunno what the kids think of these old tunes, do they even know what a walkman is?).

Yes I found this movie more enjoyable than the first (which I think was somewhat overhyped). Even though they are clearly trying a bit too hard with the goofy comedy and visual retro love letters to the 80’s (although I do appreciate the retro goodness), generally I think Gunn and co have perfected this particular team of space cowboys. What they must not do now is push it too far and spoil it. But I will finish by asking, why am I not seeing a (preferably adult) Howard the Duck reboot yet? Surely I can’t be the only one who thinks a Rocket and Howard team up needs to happen?

8.5/10

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (FR, 2017)

Awesome name right, flippin’ awesome. This attractively titled movie is based on the French comicbook series Valérian and Laureline. I’ve never heard of this comicbook series but apparently its one of the biggest Franco-Belgian titles around. There is also an animated series of this comic too, who’d of thought it.

I really liked the basic setup for this movie. Via flashbacks in the opening credits we are told the story of the International Space Station (ISS). It starts off historically accurate showcasing the station being placed into Earth’s orbit, and then slowly over the years sections being added and different countries joining the crew. But as we progress further into the future things obviously become more fictional with the station growing larger and larger and eventually alien creatures greeting humans on-board in diplomatic, historical events. It gets to a point where ISS is so big it becomes a danger to Earth, so its moved off into deep space and renamed ‘Alpha’. And thus we have the massive space city of a thousand planets (referring to all the alien species that live within the city).

This one concept is fantastic, love it. The rest of the films plot not so much. Essentially what we have is yet another Avatar-esque story surrounding a primitive race of aliens that have their home planet unceremoniously wiped out by nasty humans. It wasn’t an intentional act mind you but whatever. These aliens infiltrate the massive Alpha city to assimilate human knowledge in order to build a new ship that can recreate their home world (I didn’t understand this part). This also involved finding a couple mcguffins and some kidnapping hijinks, which in turn brings in our human protagonists, Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) to solve the case.

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Right lets look at the best part of this movie, in fact its the only good thing in this movie. So Valerian and Laureline have been tasked with finding the ‘Mül converter’, a creature that can clone anything it eats, and it can apparently eat anything? This meant going to a vast open desert which is the location of an extra-dimensional market place, and tourist attraction. Within the extra-dimensional marketplace they must infiltrate an alien gangsters lair to steal said converter.

So basically what this means is, somewhere else in the universe (and in another dimension) there is this huge Tatooine-esque town and market. But the only way to reach or visit it is via special attire that allows the user to cross space and time in an instant. The user is basically a projected hologram in the distant extra-dimensional market place; whilst back in the desert the user walks around almost like they’re using a virtual reality headset.

At the same time Valerian is able to use smaller versions of this technology in the form of a simple cube device. This allows him to simply put his hand into the cube which contains a portal of sorts. So on one side of the cube his hand is in the extra-dimensional market place, like a dismembered floating hand; whilst the rest of him is still in the desert in relative safety. It all sounds quite complex and its hard to explain in writing, but trust me its a fantastic bit of futuristic visual fantasy.

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In short what we get for the first half of this movie (after a rather soppy beginning involving the primitive alien race) is a superb slice of science fiction that encapsulates amazing imagination, mind boggling futuristic technology, wonderfully designed alien beings, an atmospheric setting, and a thrilling rollercoaster of a ride. Admittedly its not all perfectly original as we’ve all seen sandy alien marketplaces before…ahem, but that’s being picky.

But here lies the problem with this movie. After this mesmerising sequence of innovative action the entire movie literally falls to pieces, its crumbles under its own weight. For a start it won’t have escaped your attention that the two protagonists are utterly terrible and miscast. Both DeHaan and Delevingne come across like emotionless robots with glazed over eyes. The duo don’t gel together romantically or when the action kicks in. Its actually quite remarkable really, both come across like CGI characters devoid of any real human characteristics, its like they were both grown in a lab by Hollywood. DeHaan looks like a younger DiCaprio but with none of the talent; whilst Delevingne has one default facial expression she obviously learnt from her fashion modelling days.

These main character issues obviously affect other parts of the movie. Naturally you as the viewer don’t care about either of them; you know neither will die anyway but you couldn’t care a less because they’re so robotic. When we are first introduced to both Valerian and Laureline, Valerian proposes to Laureline, but she says no. This is supposed to make us feel emotion for Valerian, but because they are both so zombie-like in performance and we know nothing about them, its falls completely flat. In the fantastic marketplace action sequence the duo actually infiltrate said marketplace with a team of other elite police officers. All these guys get killed…but who cares? Well clearly Valerian and Laureline don’t, just another day at the office.

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On space station Alpha during an important summit meeting to discuss the mysterious toxic zone at the centre of the station, the primitive aliens break in and kidnap Commander Arün Filitt (Clive Owen). This really made no sense because we are led to believe that technology is so advanced in this age that the sheer notion of anyone being able to sneak into an important area in the station and actually take out all the security…would be nigh on impossible. Yet the so called primitive race manage just this and kidnap the commander. They also managed to land their craft nearby, and no one detected this? The fact these primitive aliens also seem to be so very environmentally friendly, passive and perfect makes this political move even more unbelievable really. We’re talking about half naked aliens covered in seashell jewellery here people.

This leads to a large chase sequence where Valerian suits up in some other super hi-tech suit thing which enables him to smash through any and all walls. This gives us a brilliant sequence showcasing all the various environments within Alpha. Problem is these different environments include underwater sections and areas which are clearly finely balanced for their alien inhabitants. But none of that matters because Valerian smashes through walls, seemingly obliterating balanced environments yet not causing any major catastrophes such as huge leaks from the underwater areas.

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Things go from bad to worse as we are introduced to the three exposition aliens that try to simplify the plot for us when things get too ridiculous. There’s an entire underwater sequence with a Captain Nemo type character that is completely pointless. There’s the casting of Rihanna as a shapeshifting alien dancer called Bubble (pretty awful CGI effects). Much like the Captain Nemo character Bubble is also pretty pointless and could have quite easily been removed. Obviously Besson wanted Rihanna in for the star power. Speaking of wanting star power, there’s also Ethan Hawke as Bubble’s pimp, again pointless. There are jellyfish type creatures that can read your brain and show you pretty much everything that’s ever popped in there, including dreams and visions. Huge sea creatures live in sections of Alpha apparently. And there are also entire undiscovered civilisations within Alpha, that’s how big it is.

There is so much I could write about this movie both good and bad. The reason being there is so much in-depth detail and world building in this movie, its quite an achievement really. Luc Besson has outdone himself here and easily bettered his other famous sci-fi ‘The Fifth Element’ in my opinion. Although I have no idea how accurate this is to the original source material. But the one huge sticky problem is…the movie just can’t sustain itself and just collapses. It goes from being a reasonably intelligent, exciting and unique space opera into a formulaic, messy, incoherent, unoriginal snooze fest. Don’t get me wrong, the movie looks incredible with its lavish other-worldly designs and vivid aliens, but talk about an anti-climax. So kudos for nearly everything, but maybe they should have focused the movie around that first marketplace location. Really wanted to love this but in the end I can’t help but feel disappointed.

6.5/10

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Holy spandex we’re back with another Spider-Man movie. The Raimi movies came to a grinding halt after a well rounded start, and the Marc Webb movies (hehe Webb) never really got off the ground. So Marvel stepped in and secured a deal with Sony to gain back the rights of Spidey, sort of. We were then presented with yet another Spider-Man reboot but this time under the guidance of Marvel (along with Columbia, Amy Pascal and Sony).

The plot pretty much does exactly what anyone would expect it to do really. The only difference being this time they have skipped the whole origins part of the tale. We jump straight into the story with Parker already established as Spider-Man (something everyone knows because it follows on from ‘Captain America: Civil War’). We do get the origins of this films villain, Adrian Toomes/Vulture, and we do get a lot more of Parker amongst his young high school buddies. But bottom line, Toomes is trying to scavenge Chitauri technology (from ‘The Avengers’) so he can build and sell advanced weapons. Toomes is essentially an arms dealer and Parker must stop him, the end.

So initially we are introduced to Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his men as they salvage Chituari technology. They are stopped and ordered to cease their work at once by the Department of Damage Control (a partnership of Tony Stark and the US government). This pisses off Toomes and he asks his men to stay with him so he can build a powerful suit…and make weapons illegally. Firstly this entails a large operation which I’m not too sure how Toomes manages to keep under wraps. Secondly, why would his men stick by his side knowing they are doing illegal shit? OK they need work, but illegal work? And they help Toomes build his all powerful Vulture suit…why?? Surely alarm bells should be ringing with these blue collar guys by now.

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From here its back to school with Parker (Tom Holland) and his amazing bunch of diverse friends. Yep just like Star Trek this movie has taken the tokenistic route by literally representing every group of people with each character. Nothing wrong with that but it always tends to come across as a little too on the nose; a little bit too perfect looking. But anyway in this movie we have a young girl called Zendaya playing a spunky character called MJ who isn’t the classic MJ we all know of. Yes for some reason the powers that be thought it would be cool to play with everyone’s mind by making us think they race swapped MJ. But then they went and race swapped Flash Thompson for real so…hurray? Of course to blend in with present society this MJ is a kind of weird emo SJW type who refuses to go up the Washington Monument on a school field trip because she claims it was built by slaves…ugh!! Thing is no one actually knows for sure if said monument was constructed by slaves, so this line comes across sounding very smug and stupid.

The idea of updating Flash to a more nerdy looking, book smart, spoilt, wealthy rich kid was a nice idea but ultimately it just didn’t work. Flash needs to have a bigger frame than Parker for this confrontation to work, visually at least. Although Tony Revolori did a fine job he just didn’t come across as threatening in any way and the whole idea just fell flat. I realise they went for a more fun jokey angle but it just didn’t work, for me anyway. I mean they could of at least cast a bigger person surely. Then again we have another character with the same name as the original comicbook character (Ned) but we aren’t sure (yet) if its the same person. But seeing as this movies Ned is played by a rather large chap (Jacob Batalon), and in the comics Ned becomes the Hobgoblin, I’d say it isn’t the same guy. Liz Allan, Parker’s love interest has also been race swapped, oh and they also race swap Shocker within the movie for good measure.

As for Holland’s portrayal of Parker/Spidey, is it the best version thus far? Yes I’d say so, but mainly because he is just about the correct age, and looks it. This has been the issue with previous Spidey movies, the fact that Parker/Spidey just looked too damn old and was also too damn moody. This time they have successfully captured the light-hearted, youthful, bubbly, optimistic side of Spider-Man; heck you could almost see speech bubbles popping up over his head every time he spoke. So yes overall Holland has the youthful looks, he genuinely looks fit and athletic (not overloaded with muscles), and his acting chops fit the bill perfectly. My only issue would be his suit which was way too over the top with Stark technology. Drop all that gadgetry and we’re good.

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But lets cut to the chase here, there was only one stand out element in this movie and that was Michael Keaton as Toomes. I’m gonna be brutally frank here, most of this movie was a wash, rinse and repeat scenario in my opinion. Yes Holland is the perfect Spidey and yes the visual are of course good. But the main action sequences were the same shit we’ve all seen before. Hero saves his friends from disaster. Hero saves a load of people from a big disaster, in this case stopping a ferry from splitting in two which was basically ridiculous in so many ways. Hero faces off against guy in super suit. Hero saves the day with more carnage at the end…yet no emergency services turn up? Usual Marvel hero quips throughout and Happy Hogan was an annoying asshole.

This movie was all about Keaton and his creepy yet grounded performance as the Vulture. Yeah OK the Vulture is essentially Doc Ock in this movie, its the same basic thing just replace tentacles with wings. But by Jove does Keaton nail this roll, its like he was born for comicbook roles. He goes from an average blue collar boss to a somewhat maniacal villain, and then to a loving father and family man, all in one fell swoop (no pun intended). The fact that Toomes own daughter starts dating Parker is obviously the highlight of the plot. The sequence where Toomes sniffs Parker out whilst driving him and Liz to their school prom was crackling. In fact this was probably the best sequence in the movie, although I found it odd that Toomes recognises that Parker saved his daughters life and vows to never forget that. Yet he then proceeds to threaten to kill Parker if he messes with his plans further. Errr…he saved your daughter remember? I guess he does Parker that favour by not revealing his identity later on.

So yeah, as I’ve already said. In general, overall, this movie didn’t really do much for me simply because I’ve seen it all before now a shitzillion times. Not only in other comicbook flicks but in other Spider-Man flicks! I genuinely can’t understand how so many people get so excited over a movie that is essentially the exact same thing as before, but with a different villain. You could literally swap Spider-Man and the Vulture out of this movie with any other comicbook characters and it would be the same spiel, the same beats. At this point wash, rinse and repeat is an understatement. Yet! The movie is saved by one man, and that man is Michael Keaton. Yes Holland is good but Keaton is better and without him this film would be completely forgettable. As it stands its not entirely forgettable, that is until the nex…oh too late.

6.5/10

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Logan (2017)

And so we reach the big finale, the final curtain for Huge Jackman and his run as the infamous X-Men character Wolverine. The tenth installment in the X-Men franchise, the third solo Wolverine movie and the first R rated movie. Taking much inspiration from the classic comicbook series ‘Old Man Logan’ the movie is technically a stand alone story clear of any previous events in early movies. But this seems to be unclear with some saying it is a sequel to ‘Apocalypse’ but not a direct sequel. Or its a sequel to the ‘Days of Future Past’ timeline. Myself I have no clue, the X-Men franchise is so convoluted and I can barely recall anything from the earlier films anyway.

Its the year 2029 and mutants seem to be slowly dying out as none have been born for the last 25 years. Logan is now an aging, grey haired, broken man whose special healing ability has weakened over time. He now spends his time working as a limo driver whilst caring for Professor X. The professor is now also very old and weak, suffering from a brain disease that causes violent seizures which has resulted in many X-Men being killed.

Logan reluctantly accepts a job to escort a woman and young girl to a refuge in North Dakota. Alas it seems the young girl (Laura) has the same powers as Logan and a shady outfit are after her. The shady outfit in question being Transigen, a company that uses children with mutant DNA to create weapons. Transigen created Laura and want her back. And so Logan must now help Laura reach the refuge in North Dakota.

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So the main hook with this movie seemed to be the fact it was an R/18 rating. This would be the first time we would see Wolverine really getting stuck into his enemies, swear and showcase a lot of claret. In all honesty that pretty much seemed like the entire reason for the hype to me. This time there would be no cuts, we’d see Wolverine stick his claws through someones head…and there would be blood, awesome. But was it? Was it really? I mean sure twas cool ‘n’ all but Jesus Christ I didn’t cum in my pants or anything. I guess for a teenager this might have been epic but for me I saw nothing special.

But that aside lets look at the story and acting. The plot isn’t anything amazing, its essentially a standard chase formula. Bad guys are trying to catch the good guys as both parties tear across the countryside. Wolverine is the typical reluctant hero, he doesn’t really wanna have to deal with it, he has his own problems, but he now finds himself in the thick of it. The girl he’s stumbled across was more of a pain at first, uncontrollable, a burden; but as time passes he becomes attached to her, he becomes her guardian. Its all relatively bog standard stuff we’ve all seen before.

Obviously the movie revolves around Jackman and his gritty performance as Logan. As I just said, at first he doesn’t really wanna get involved with Laura, he has his hands full with Xavier. So naturally he’s grumpy, rude, kinda selfish in a way, but ultimately tired and weary of his existence. He’s aging and slowing down, he’s not as agile or fit as he once was and his claws hurt him as they extend and retract. He doesn’t wanna get into any fisticuffs but still finds himself raging out and killing people, mostly scummy criminal types of course. But is this really anything new? I mean lets be honest here we’ve seen Jackman do this grumpy, gritty, no-nonsense persona before with Wolverine, its not really that new. Is he good at it? Yes, very much so, but this wasn’t an outright Oscar performance or anything, he didn’t blow me away whilst watching.

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I feel the same way about Patrick Stewart’s performance as Xavier. Was this a good performance? Yes very much so, Stewart like Jackman have both perfected their performances as these characters and it would be hard to see another person in the roles. But did I see anything that blew me away or was any different to what he’s done before in previous movies with this character? No not really, it was a solid performance but nothing more than what I’ve come to expect from this franchise. There is a shit-tonne of emotion radiating throughout this movie and at times, namely the ending, its quite poignant. But at the end of the day I didn’t really see anything that I haven’t seen before in previous movies, it was just more heightened this time.

As for the kid actor, Dafne Keen (Laura), yes again she was good in her role, but she hardly had any dialog and merely acts like a feral child when the action kicks in (which always looked kinda cringeworthy in my opinion). Yes I understand she’s just a child actor and yes she did put in a solid performance for her age, but again it didn’t blow me away, it really didn’t. Seeing her growl and bounce around (mostly by a stunt double) like a lethal Gollum just didn’t wow me I’m afraid. Its only towards the end when she starts trusting and caring about Logan that she actually comes into her own.

I did also notice that all the other child characters in this movie were mostly minority actors. Because clearly director James Mangold and co needed to hammer home the political narrative of minorities/refugees and borders, striving for freedom, and the evil white man chasing and trying to enslave/kill them. Its kinda sad that almost every movie these days has these little, not so hidden, political angles to appease certain demographics and groups.

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For me I really couldn’t get past the fact it was just another samey superhero flick. Despite all the grit and emotion packed into it, at the end of the day it was the same old thing. The villains were the same corny bunch of faceless kill fodder they always are. There only seems to be a dozen or so hencemen throughout the movie, then come the finale there’s loads of them! Loads of bad guys for all the hero characters to merrily kill. I didn’t really understand the point of the bad guys either. They wanted this mutant kids back because they created them, OK sure. But they only wanted to exterminate them, so why go to all that trouble to try and capture them? And with all this future tech on display, you’re telling me that no one could have added some kind of device in these mutant test subjects that would shut them down, or kill them with the flick of a switch, if needs be? Surely by now these evil companies would have thought to do that because they all seem incapable of keeping their creations under lock and key.

I also really disliked the entire clone of Logan aspect, I realise that’s a major part of his characters backstory but seeing two Jackman’s (one looking kinda goofy with those muttonchops) fighting each other just looks stupid. The effects were handled well (inevitable CGI superhero stuff aside) but that kind of thing always looks daft to me. Also the clone of Logan (X-24) could have easily killed him at any point, just taken his head off, but no we gotta do the usual throwing thing. That’s the other thing about these X-Men.superhero movies, the action is very repetitive. In other words what else do you expect a bloke with claws to do all the time, exactly. Seeing Logan slice ‘n’ dice people isn’t awesome anymore folks, we’ve been there and done it. Simply adding blood and gore doesn’t really make it any more exciting or better.

I just get the impression this movie seems to have been blown way way outta proportion simply because it was Huge Jackaman’s last outing as Wolverine and everybody likes him in the role. Oh and of course it was an R rating so that makes it instantly cooler, apparently. Was this a bad movie? No. Was it a good X-Men movie? One of the best ones? Yes. Was it a stunning movie? No, it was a solid but completely unoriginal chase movie in a superhero wrapping. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t not like it, its certainly one of the better comicbook superhero (based) flicks, I just didn’t see what all the fuss was about. In no way does this movie deserve the hype it got, in my opinion.

7/10