action, adventure, comic book, movie, movie review, sci-fi

June 10th, 2018 Movie – X-Men Origins: Wolverine

xmen origins wolverine

After X-Men: The Last Stand left theaters, Fox decided to make some spin-offs of the series by exploring the back stories of two characters; Wolverine and Magneto. When I first heard about this, I thought that this was a great idea, as both characters have a lot of interesting histories that can make for some pretty good movies. With Wolverine being the first movie, I was curious how they were going to handle it as he has had several origin stories all ret-conned into one giant mess of a life story. So when it hit theaters, I happened to be on reduced hours at work, which made for the perfect opportunity to catch an early showing one day. So let’s see how Fox did with today’s movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The plot: In the Canadian Northwest Territories in 1845, young James Howlett is lying sick in his bed, with Victor Creed, the son of the Howlett’s groundskeeper Thomas Logan, keeping him company. As his father John Howlett comes in to check on him, they hear a commotion coming from downstairs as Thomas enters the house and starts yelling out for John’s wife Elizabeth. John heads down to confront him, followed by Victor, and as James listens to the escalating argument, he suddenly hears a shot and his mother crying out. James rushes out of his room and discovers his father dying from a gun shot wound and as Thomas tries to explain things to James, he suddenly begins growing bone claws from the back of his hands. Enraged at his father’s death, James rushes forward and impales Thomas with his claws but Thomas explains that he, not John, was James’ father before he dies from his wounds. As Elizabeth stares in horror at her son, James runs out of the house, followed by Victor, who explains that they are brothers and they have to stick together and protect each other, then start running as they see a posse out looking for them. Victor and James, head south to the United States, where they end up fighting in the major wars of the country, from the Civil War, to World War I and World War II. During the Vietnam War, Victor ends up killing a superior officer when he tries to stop Victor from raping a woman and as James goes to defend Victor from some of the other soldiers, they both end up being charged with his murder and ordered to be executed by firing squad but due to their healing factors, they both survive and are then placed in a cell. Inside their cell, they are approached by Major William Stryker, who offers them a place on his team, which is filled with other mutants like themselves, and they both agree. After joining Team X for a couple of years James, now going by Logan, and Victor go on a mission with Stryker and their teammates Agent Zero, Fred Dukes, Wade Wilson, John Wraith, and Chris Bradley to Lagos, Nigeria. When they get there, they attack a crime lord in his complex, and Stryker asks him where he obtained a strange meteorite. The crime lord tells them and they head to a remote village, where Stryker has Wade ask the tribal leader about the meteorite. When the leader says it is sacred to their village, Stryker has Victor kill the man and Logan attempts to stop Zero and Victor from killing more people. Victor asks Logan what he is doing but Logan says he didn’t sign up for this and walks away from the group, with Victor yelling at him to come back. 6 years later, Victor pays a visit to Bradley, who is working at a Carnival in Ohio, and when Bradley says he thought it would be Wade that would come see him, Victor tells him that Wade is gone, then proceeds to kill him. Meanwhile, Logan is working as a lumberjack up in the Canadian Rockies and is in a relationship with a woman named Kayla Silverfox. As Logan is at work one day, he receives a visit from Stryker and Zero, who inform him of Bradley and Wade’s death. When Logan asks if anyone else is dead, Stryker says Victor is safe as far as he knows and he asks Logan to help find whoever is killing their old team but Logan refuses and drives off. Logan picks up Silverfox from her school and tells her about Styrker approaching him but he tells her that he refused to have anything to do with him. The next day, Silverfox is on her way to work when she encounters Victor, who scratches up her car as he approaches her. Meanwhile, Logan finds a dead wolverine at his work site and when he notices the scratches on a nearby tree, he realizes that Victor is there. He races off to find Silverfox, eventually finding her car, but is too late as she is already dead. Logan tracks Victor down to a nearby bar and the two begin fighting but Victor easily beats Logan, crushing him underneath some logs before throwing him into a truck and snapping the claws on his left hand, causing Logan to pass out. When Logan comes too, he finds Stryker waiting for him at the hospital and he argues with him about not telling him that Victor was the killer. Stryker says that after Logan left, Victor started getting too out of control and when Stryker sidelined him, he went rogue. Stryker tells Logan that he can give him the tools necessary to kill Victor, but says that it will cause him unbearable pain, but Logan agrees to do it so long as he is able to get his revenge. Stryker takes Logan to a secret base at Alkali Lake and asks Logan if he remembers the African mission. When Logan acknowledges him, Stryker tells him he found the meteorite, which he was able to use to create a metal compound called adamantium that is virtually indestructable, and he plans on infusing Logan’s skeleton with it. Stryker goes to hand Logan his dog tags back but Logan says he wants new ones with his name listed as Wolverine, after a story that Silverfox told him the night before she died. Stryker has the bonding process started and when it is finished, Logan’s vital signs are flatlined and everyone believes he died when his heart suddenly starts back up. As Logan’s vital signs stabalize, Stryker and everyone cheer their success and Zero asks if Stryker wants Logan taken to The Island but Stryker says no, as they have his DNA they can use for the bonding process and he orders Logan’s memory to be erased. Logan hears the conversation and he breaks out of the tank, then escapes the facility and Stryker orders Zero to hunt him down. Logan ends up at the farm of an elderly couple, Travis and Heather Hudson, and they take him in for the night, giving him some of their son’s old clothes to wear. The next morning, Logan is talking with Travis and Heather in the barn when Zero kills them from his sniper’s position on a far off hill. He then orders a helicopter to destroy the barn in the hopes that it will kill Logan but he rides out on Travis’ motorcycle before it explodes. Zero has the helicopter pick him up and they pursue Logan, joined by two Humvees, but Logan uses his new adamantium claws to destroy the vehicles and crash the helicopter. Stryker tries contacting Zero, who is injured but still alive, but Logan gets on the radio and tells Stryker that he is coming after him when he finishes with Victor, then heads off, using his claws to create a spark and set the fuel on fire to blow up the helicopter and kill Zero. Back at the base, Stryker is given a pistol with adamantium bullets, saying it is the only thing that can stop Logan now. He is then told that the mutant he was looking for has been found and he sends Victor out to get him. Logan heads to Las Vegas, where Wraith is living and running a boxing gym and when he talks about where Stryker might be, Wraith says that Fred might no but warns Logan not to comment about his weight. When Logan sees Fred, he is shocked at his size and attempts to ask him where Victor is but Fred, mistakenly thinking Logan called him “Blob” knocks him out of the ring. Wraith tells Logan to try sparring with Fred to let him work out his anger and get him to talking and Logan does so for a while but gets tired and uses his reinforced skeleton to knock Fred out. When Fred comes too, Logan threatens him with his claws and Fred tells him that Victor and Stryker were working together, hunting and capturing mutants as Stryker was trying to find a way to combine their powers. Logan realizes he was set up to undergo the bonding and asks Fred where the Island is and Fred says he doesn’t know but a prisoner named Remy LeBeau (Gambit) had escaped from there and he would know where it is. Logan heads to New Orleans, accompanied by Wraith, and they find Gambit playing poker at a club. As Logan goes to talk to him, Wraith heads to the back to cover the exit and sees Victor in the alley. When Wraith confronts him, Victor comments about killing Fred and Wraith starts fighting Victor but Victor knows Wraith’s patterns and moves his hand right where he is going to teleport, grabbing a hold of Wraith’s spine and severing it. Meanwhile, Logan asks Gambit about the Island but this causes Gambit to use his powers to attack him, knocking him through the wall of the club. Logan lands in the alley, where he sees Victor standing over Wraith’s body, and as Gambit follows him outside, Logan quickly knocks him down, then faces off against Victor. The two start fighting but this time, Logan gets the upper hand and is prepared to kill him when Gambit breaks them up, allowing Victor to escape. Gambit starts fighting with Logan but Logan beats him and tells him he is going to take him to the Island so that he can kill Victor, Stryker, and everyone else in the place. At the Island, Stryker looks at the frozen body of his son as General Munson examines Stryker’s pet project, Deadpool. Munson says that he is shutting Stryker down, as his issues with his own son have made him to close to this, so Stryker kills him. Gambit flies Logan to The Island, which happens to be Three Mile Island, as Stryker uses the nuclear reactors as cover to keep people from poking around. Logan makes his way into the facility and confronts Stryker, who is finishing his operation on Deadpool, but is shocked to find Silverfox there. Stryker explains that Silverfox was keeping tabs on Logan for him, as he was holding her sister captive on the Island. Logan feels like he was betrayed by Silverfox and just walks out of there and afterwards, Silverfox begs Stryker to release her sister but he says he can’t do that yet, as they still need to examine her mutation. Victor shows up, upset that Stryker allowed Logan to leave and demands he give him the adamantium but Stryker tells him that he wouldn’t survive the process. Silverfox tells Victor that Stryker is just using them but Victor, upset at what is going on, grabs her by the throat and prepares to kill her. Logan hears her screams and runs back into the lab and begins fighting Victor, beating him again but Silverfox stops him from killing him, then asks for his help in freeing her sister. As Logan and Silverfox make their way to the prison area, Stryker tells his assistant to activate Weapon XI. After freeing the captive mutants, Logan and Silverfox start to lead them outside only to encounter Deadpool, who has adamantium blades extend from his hands to counter Logan’s claws. Logan tells Silverfox to get the kids out of there, then confronts Deadpool, whom he recognizes as Wade but with his mouth sewn shut. As the two begin fighting, Silverfox tries to lead the kids out of there but they come under fire from Stryker’s guards. Silverfox’s sister, Emma is able to shield them with her power and Scott Summers uses his powers to take out the guards. Silverfox tells Emma to lead the kids out of there but says she has to stay behind and as Emma reluctantly leaves her, Silverfox is shown to have been hit by one of the bullets. Meanwhile, Logan and Deadpool’s fight has made it’s way to the top of a reactor tower and just as Deadpool is about to kill him, Victor shows up and saves Logan. The two brothers work together and finally manage to kill Deadpool, with Wolverine slicing off his head, and afterwards, Logan tells Victor it doesn’t change anything between them and Victor heads off. Gambit shows back up, rescuing Logan from some of the falling debris from the reactor tower and they start to leave when Logan hears Silverfox and tells Gambit to go help the kids get off the island. As Logan reaches Silverfox and picks her up, Stryker begins shooting Logan with the adamantium bullets, with the last two hitting him in the head. Before he can reload the gun to finish him off, Silverfox grabs his ankle and uses her powers to force Stryker to start walking until his feet bleed. As the kids make their way out of the lab, Scott begins hearing a voice in his head telling him where to go and they emerge from the lab to find Professor Xavier, who had been guiding Scott telepathically, to him. Xavier tells them that they are safe and offers to take them to his school and they board his plane and leave, just as Gambit arrives and watches them go. Logan recovers from being shot just as Gambit returns but he has no memory of who he is or what he was doing there. Gambit convinces Logan that he is a friend and says they have to leave but as they do, Logan sees Silverfox’s body and stops to stare at her, then tells Gambit to leave as he will find his own way and the two men separate as the authorities start to arrive. On a road in the middle of nowhere, Stryker is continuing to walk as Silverfox told him when he is stopped by some military police, who tell him he is wanted for questioning over Munson’s death. At the rubble of the reactor tower, Deadpool’s blades are shown to be retracting back into his hands as they reach for his head, just as his eyes open and he whispers “Shhhh” to the audience.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine met with negative reviews from the critics, holding a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though Hugh Jackman gives his all, he can’t help X-Men Origins: Wolverine overcome a cliche-ridden script and familiar narrative.” Hugh Jackman recommended Liev Schreiber to play the role of Sabertooth, citing his having the necessary competitive streak for the role. During filming, that competitive nature came to play as the two would dare each other to perform more and more of their own stunts. Despite the negative reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $373.1 million off of a $150 million budget and would lead to two more Wolverine spin-off movies; The Wolverine and Logan, while the plans for a Magneto origins movie would be cancelled and worked into the prequel movie X-Men: First Class.

While not as disappointing as The Last Stand, this was still a bit of a disappointment. The acting was ok, with Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber doing good jobs as Wolverine and Sabertooth respectively. Ryan Reynolds was absolutely the best choice for Wade Wilson (I will get into the “Deadpool” travesty in a sec) and I thought that Will I. Am was good as Wraith but I was honestly a little “meh” towards everyone else. The story was pretty interesting, showing a few elements from the “Origins” mini-series while mainly focusing on Wolverines time in Team X, the black ops team he was in as part of the Weapon X program. trying to explain the memory loss in the process. The special effects were pretty good and did add some flash to the movie but there was some time where they felt unnecessary, especially during some of the fight scenes. Of course, the thing that pissed every fan of the X-Men universe off is what happened with Wade Wilson at the end of the movie. As much as everyone loved it when Reynolds showed up as Wade Wilson, when Wilson’s character reappeared as Deadpool, with a hodgepodge of mutant abilities, built in adamantium swords, and his mouth sewn shut, unhappy was a very mild way of putting their reaction. Everyone I knew was cursing and lambasting the producers and directors for practically ruining one of the best characters to come out in recent years. Thank god it got fixed later on when they essentially decided to just completely do away with everything from this movie in context with the rest of the X-Men universe. It has some fun moments to it but this was a bit of a let down of a movie.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review

November 20th, 2017 Movie – Wonder Woman (2017)

wonder woman 2017

Finally, DC managed to put out a good entry in their “DCEU” series. Now when I first saw Diana Prince make her appearance in Batman V Superman, I knew that a solo movie would be coming relatively soon, which was a big concern. See, solo female superhero movies have never really worked out well in live-action form, with Catwoman and Elektra being two of the more recent less than stellar attempts. However, the initial trailer that was shown looked amazing so I ended up getting my hopes up that finally, things would be different. Boy was I surprised when I went to see it in theaters and I decided to pre-order Wonder Woman (2017) as soon as it came out on video so I could enjoy it again and again.

The plot: In the present day, Diana Prince arrives for work at the Louvre in Paris, where she receives a suitcase from Wayne Enterprises. When she opens it, she finds an framed, old photograph of herself and 4 soldiers during World War 1, with a note from Bruce saying he had found the original photo and that he would love to hear the story one day. Diana thinks back to her childhood on the island of Themyscira. Diana is eager to begin training for war like the rest of the Amazons but her mother, Queen Hippolyta, refuses to allow her to train. Hippolyta tells Diana the history of the Amazons, how Zeus had created them to restore peace and protect mankind from the evils inflicted by Ares. As Hippolyta led a crusade to end the wars of man, the gods rebelled against Ares so Ares killed all of them except for Zeus, who was able to strike down Ares, then created Themyscira to hide the Amazons and the weapon he created which could kill a god. Diana sneaks off to train with her aunt Antiope and when Hippolyta eventually catches them, she sends Diana away before arguing with Antiope. Antiope argues that Ares is still alive and Diana needs to be prepared to battle him and Hippolyta reluctantly agrees, telling Antiope to train Diana harder than any Amazon before her. As the years pass, Diana has become a young woman and continues training, defeating the strongest Amazons in combat. As she spars with Antiope, Diana gets the upper hand but when she turns to seek Hippolyta’s approval, Antiope knocks her down and presses the attack, lecturing Diana that war isn’t fair, when Diana slams her bracelets together, causing a shockwave that sends Antiope flying. As some Amazons tend to Antiope, Hippolyta worries about what she has done while Diana apologizes, then runs off after seeing the looks on the other Amazons faces. Heading to a cliff to think about what happened, she sees a damaged airplane piercing the mystic veil protecting Themyscira and crashing into the ocean. Diana dives into the water and rescues the pilot, Steve Trevor, and carries him to shore, unaware that German troops were searching the area for his plane and also discover the island. As the Germans approach the island, Hippolyta and the other Amazons attack them as they land on the beach. Steve and Diana join the battle but Diana, fighting her first real battle, gets distracted by seeing her fellow Amazons dying and is almost shot herself but Antiope leaps in front of her and takes the bullet herself. Grieving over her sisters death, Hippolyta prepares to kill Steve but Diana jumps in front of him, saying that he fought at her side. When Steve refuses to answer, he is brought into the city and tied up with the Lasso of Hestia, which compels him to tell the truth. Steve tells them that he is an American spy working with British Intelligence and had been undercover at a German war factory, where General Erich Ludendorff and his chief chemist, Dr. Isabel Maru, are working on developing a new mustard gas that can eat through Allied gas masks. Steve stole Maru’s notebook and managed to escape the factory, bombing it on his way out, and was attempting to make it back to Allied headquarters but was shot down in the attempt. Diana argues that they should go fight in this war, as it surely means that Ares has returned, but Hippolyta refuses to allow it. After talking some more with Steve, Diana decides to help him leave the island, sneaking into the armory and taking the Lasso and the “Godkiller” sword as well as her armor. Diana leads Steve to a dock where a ship is ready to sail but before they leave, Hippolyta and her guards arrive. Diana approaches Hippolyta and says she has to go and Hippolyta says she knows and allows Diana to leave but as they watch the boat sail away, one of her guards asks Hippolyta if she should have told Diana the truth but Hippolyta says that the more Diana knows, the faster Ares will find her. Meanwhile, Ludendorff and Maru have survived the bombing and set up a new factory to manufacture their weapons but Maru is still not having any luck without her notebook. She gives Ludendorff some gas capsules, which increases his strength, and as he recovers from the effects of the gas, she finds some crumpled notes and realizes she might have the answer to their problems. Diana and Steve arrive in London and Diana wants to head straight to the war but Steve convinces her to let him get the notebook to his superiors first. Steve takes Diana to get some more modern clothes so she can blend in but as they head to the war council, they are attacked by German spies and Diana is able to quickly defeat them. Reaching the council, they listen as Sir Patrick Morgan attempts to discuss negotiating armistice with Germany. After handing over the notebook, the generals try to interpret the book and Diana recognizes the languages the book is written in and is asked to translate it. When she tells them of the new mustard gas Maru is working on, Steve tries to convince the generals that they need to send a team in to take out Maru but they refuse. Diana argues with the generals before Steve drags her out of the room and tells her he will take her to the front, despite being ordered not to go. Steve and Diana head to a nearby bar, where they recruit Steve’s mercenary friends Sameer and Charlie, and Sir Patrick arrives to wish them luck on their mission into Belgium. Meanwhile, Ludendorff arrives at a council meeting, where the other generals are discussing the upcoming armistice. Ludendorff says that he can still win the war but the other generals overrule him and say they plan on telling the kaiser to sign the armistice so Ludendorff has Maru throw a gas grenade in the room, then Ludendorff locks the generals inside with the gas to be killed. When Diana and the others arrive in Belgium, Diana is saddened by the sight of all the injured she sees but Steve tells her they have to keep moving so they continue moving forward. The eventually meet up with Chief, a smuggler who supplies items to both sides of the war, and they make camp for the night. The next day, they arrive at No Man’s Land and when she hears what has happened to the nearby village of Veld, Diana decides to help the villagers. Heading up out of the trenches, Diana makes her way towards the German line and Steve and the others, inspired by her bravery, follow after them. They are soon able to take out the German soldiers in the trenches and make their way into the village, taking out all of the soldiers there and liberating the people. After posing for a photo, Steve makes contact with his secretary, who tells him that Ludendorff is hosting a gala close by to the village but Sir Patrick tells him not to go to the gala, as it will disrupt the armistice treaty. That night, the villagers celebrate their newly won freedom while Steve and Diana dance and end up getting closer to each other. The next day, they head to the gala and Steve tells Diana not to go inside before he heads there in disguise with Sameer, but Diana steals a woman’s dress and makes her way in. At the gala, Steve begins speaking with Maru and attempts to persuade her to work with him but he gets distracted when he sees Diana enter the room. Diana makes her way to Ludendorff, whom she believes to be Ares, and the two discuss the war and the Greek gods while they dance before Ludendorff takes his leave. Diana moves to kill him but Steve stops her and argues that it won’t help them find the gas and tells her she might be wrong. As the two head outside, they see Ludendorff ordering cannons to fire at the village and Diana rushes back to the village and Steve follows her, telling Chief and the others to trail Ludendorff. When she reaches the village, Diana finds everyone inside dead and she blames Steve for their deaths, believing his preventing her from killing Ludendorff allowed this to happen. Steve sees some nearby smoke and tells her to follow it, as it is Chief and the others telling them where Ludendorff went. Diana heads out and finds Ludendorff at a nearby airfield, where the gas is being loaded onto a bomber heading for London. Diana starts fighting Ludendorff and eventually kills him but is shocked to discover that the Germans are still loading the bombs onto the plane. Steve arrives and tries to convince Diana to help him stop the Germans from using the gas again but Diana is too confused by what is going on and wonders if mankind is even worth saving, so Steve and the others head out on their own. Suddenly, Diana sees Sir Patrick appear and realizes he is Ares and goes to confront him but when she attempts to stab him, the Godkiller sword is destroyed. Diana looks on in horror and Ares tells her that she, not the sword, is the Godkiller, being the last child of Zeus that he left behind to be used as a weapon against him. Ares attempts to convince Diana to join him but she refuses so he begins attacking her. Steve and the others discover the gas being loaded onto the plane and make plans to disable the plane when they see Diana and Ares fighting. Maru orders the plane to take off and Steve comes up with a plan, telling the others to clear him a path to the plane. When Diana is knocked back by an explosion, Steve goes up to her and starts talking to her, though she can barely hear him as her ears are still ringing from the blast, and he hands her his father’s watch before running and getting on the plane. After knocking out the pilot, Steve pilots the plane as high as it can before setting off the explosives, sacrificing himself in order to destroy the gas in the explosion. Diana, who had been trapped by Ares, sees the explosion and cries out in grief over Steve’s death, enabling her to access more of her power, which she uses to attack the Germans attempting to kill Chief, Charlie, and Sameer. Ares tells her to use her powers to help him kill mankind, offering up Maru for Diana to kill. However, Diana thinks back to what Steve was telling her before he got on the plane and how he loved her, and realized that despite the evils some men may show, there is good in mankind. Ares attempts to attack her again, using lightning this time, but Diana is able to absorb the lightning with her bracelets and uses it to kill Ares and the soldiers end up laying down their arms. Back in London, Diana and the others see a memorial to various soldiers that died in the war and Diana touches Steve’s picture on the memorial before turning and walking away. Back in the present, Diana places the picture back in the suitcase, along with Steve’s watch which she still had, then sends Bruce an email thanking him for the picture before hearing sirens in the distance and, donning her armor, heads out to save mankind once again.

Wonder Woman was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Thrilling, earnest, and buoyed by Gal Gadot’s charismatic performance, Wonder Woman succeeds in spectacular fashion.” Gal Gadot was 5 months pregnant when she had to do reshoots for the film so the crew made a costume that included a green screen around her belly, which they removed during post production. The movie was a box office hit, earning $821.8 million off of a $149 million budget, and set several box office records; including being the highest grossing live action film directed by a woman and the highest grossing super-hero movie with a female lead.

There were a few flaws, but this was a great movie and worth the praise people were giving it. The acting was really good, with Gal Gadot doing an amazing job as Diana, while Chris Pine (Steve), David Thewlis (Ares) and Danny Huston (Ludendorff) were equally good. I also thought that Connie Nielsen (Hippolyta) and Robin Wright (Antiope) were fantastic as Amazons (seriously, Buttercup became a real bad-ass) while Said Taghmaoui and Ewen Bremner made for some pretty good comedy as Sameer and Charlie, while Eugene Brave Rock (Chief) did a good job being the straight man for them. The plot was one of the better origin style movies to come out in recent years. Yes, I know that in the comics, Wonder Woman appeared pre-World War 2, not World War 1, but I think the different setting helped set it apart a little more (and might have also helped keep some of the regular movie-goers from trying to compare it to Captain America: The First Avenger. On a side note, I literally LOLed during the scene where Diana is eating ice cream for the first time, as that was almost identical to a scene in the animated movie, Justice League: War. The special effects were really good, with the battle in No Man’s Land being exceptionally well done and choreographed, as was the Amazon’s battle against the Germans. The only mild drawback for me was the final battle between Diana and Ares, as it felt like the went a little too overboard on the special effects during parts of the battle, when a “less is more” approach might have been better. All in all, DC finally got their act together and made a good live-action movie. Hopefully, they can keep this up.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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