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June 15th, 2018 Movie – Logan

logan

Every story has it’s end, and for Hugh Jackman, his time playing Wolverine was fast approaching. Yes, the man Hugh Jackman had announced that the 3rd solo Wolverine movie was going to be his last one, though apparently he has since said that he would be willing to reprise the role if he was in the Avengers or a Deadpool crossover. Anyways, when I first the plot of this movie, I was immediately intrigued because I liked the “Old Man Logan” story line and thought that using some aspects of that for the movie would be pretty neat. Then I saw the trailers and I was even more intrigued when it was revealed that X-23 was going to be a main character as well, as I always thought it was funny that she, much like Harley Quinn, made her way into the comics after first debuting in a cartoon. So when this hit theaters, I decided to go to an early Sunday morning showing and I was not disappointed with today’s movie, Logan.

The plot: In the year 2029, an aging and weakened Wolverine, slowly dying from the adamantium in his bones poisoning his body, is resting in the limo that he drives when a gang attempts to steal his tires. When he confronts them, they shoot him and continue trying to steal the tires but he gets back up and tries again to talk them out of it. When they attack him, he is forced to defend himself, trying his best to avoid damaging his car but when it is accidentally shot, he becomes enraged and begins killing them. After slowly healing and changing his clothes, Logan begins carrying around passengers in the El Paso area. The next day, he encounters a woman in the cemetery where he is working who recognizes him and begs for his help but he tells her to leave him alone and she angrily gets in her car and drives off, with a young girl in the back of the car staring back at him as they pass. After finishing for the day, he heads to the hospital to buy some medicine off of an orderly but when he gets back into his car, he finds a man named Pierce inside. Pierce recognizes Logan and says he is looking for a woman named Gabriela but Logan tells him he doesn’t know any Gabriela. Pierce leaves him his card before leaving and when he learns that Pierce works for Alkali-Transigen, then he gets pissed. As Logan heads across the border into Mexico, he makes a call to someone about a boat he is trying to buy, urgent to get it now, but the seller raises the price when he senses Logan’s urgency. Returning to the junk yard that he lives in, Logan is greeted by Caliban, who tells him that Xavier has had a rough night and claims to be communicating with someone. Logan dismisses what Caliban said and heads into the tank where Xavier is kept, as he is suffering from a brain disease that causes him to have dangerous seizures. As Logan tries to give him his medicine, Xavier has another seizure, paralyzing Caliban in the other room and Logan is forced to struggle to inject Xavier with the medicine. When the seizure stops, Xavier speaks with Logan and chastises him for forcing him to live in the tank like he does. After getting some rest, Logan prepares to go to work and receives a fare at a motel, only to find that it is Gabriela. Gabriela pleads with him to take her and the little girl, Laura, to North Dakota, offering him $20k now and $30K when they get there, saying they have to be there by Friday in order to make their window and cross into Canada. Logan reluctantly decides to take the job and heads back to Mexico to tell Xavier and Caliban he will be gone for a few days but when he returns to the motel, he finds Gabriela dead and Laura missing. When he returns to the junk yard, Caliban discovers Laura’s bag and ball in the trunk of the limo and questions Logan about it, just as Pierce arrives. Pierce questions Logan about Laura’s whereabouts only to be knocked out by Laura, who had stowed away in Logan’s trunk. As Xavier comes out and speaks with Laura, then invites her inside to eat, Logan tells Caliban to take Pierce and dump him out in the ravine but when Caliban goes to do that, he finds Pierce has regained consciousness and his back up has arrived. Back in the junk yard, Logan is getting ready to leave with Xavier when Pierce and his men return and hold restrain Logan while Pierce sends some men to find Laura. As they wait outside, they hear screams and gunshots coming from within the building and Laura soon walks out, carrying one of the men’s head. As she approaches Pierce and the other men, Logan is shocked to see two claws extending from her hands and she attacks and kills two men, then leads the others away. As the men chase her, she manages to attack and kill some more of them but they finally capture her until Logan helps her. Seeing some men going after Xavier in the limo, Logan goes to kill them, then he gets in the limo and drives off, picking up Laura on the way. They manage to break out of the junk yard and lose their pursuers by cutting across a passing train, forcing Pierce and his men to wait until it passes to try to follow them but Pierce tortures Caliban to force him to tell him where they are. Pulling over at a gas station, Logan and Xavier watch some video that Gabriela took with her phone and learn that Laura, along with several other children, were created by Transigen to be used as mutant soldiers and Laura happened to have been created from Logan’s DNA, making him her father in a manner of speaking. When the children hit puberty, they started to rebel against Transigen’s wishes so Transigen decided to make a new weapon and dispose of the children but Gabriela and several other nurses decided to rescue as many as they could and help them get to Eden, a supposed safe haven for mutants in Canada. Charles says that they should help Laura, mentioning that she is just like Logan when he first came to the X-Men, but Logan doesn’t really want to get involved and would rather try to just disappear. Deciding to rest in Oklahoma City, Logan, Xavier, and Laura check into a casino and Logan heads out to get them a new car but as he gets rid of the limo, he discovers that Charles had hidden one of his pills in order to fool Logan into thinking he took it. As he waits for the new car to get tires put on it, he reads some of the comics Laura had brought with her and discovers that Eden was mentioned in the comic and he believes it is just a myth. Returning to the hotel, he finds Pierce’s men outside and he makes his way past them just as everyone suddenly freezes as Xavier has another seizure. Making his way towards the room, Logan sees Pierce’s men frozen in the attempt to capture Xavier and Laura and he kills them in their frozen state while Laura grabs Xavier’s medicine and hands it to Logan to give to him. They make their way out of the hotel as everyone else is still recovering from the event and leave. As they keep travelling, Logan chastises Xavier for not taking his medicine and as they argue, they are almost run off the road by a self driving truck. Seeing a truck carrying a trailer of horses also run off the road and Xavier convinces Logan to help the family, the Munsons, recapture the horses and get there truck out of the ditch and Kathryn Munson offers them dinner for their help, which Xavier accepts. Meanwhile, Dr. Zander Rice, the head of Transigen, meets up with Pierce and after chastising him for his failure in recapturing Laura, he goes to Caliban and begins talking to him to try and convince him to help them locate Laura. At the family’s house, Logan, Xavier, and Laura enjoy the meal and go to leave but Will Munson says the nearest hotel is 2 hours away and offers to put them up for the night. Suddenly, Kathryn says the water is shut off and Will goes to deal with the problem, saying it is some locals that are trying to run them off their land and Logan offers to help him. When they get there, they fix the problem only to be confronted by the major farm’s new owner, who argues with Will about the agreement Will had with the previous owner no longer being good. When he threatens Will, Logan intercedes and runs them off. Back at the house, Laura is sleeping and Xavier tells Logan to let her sleep but as the figure approaches Xavier, it is revealed to be a clone of Logan. The clone, X-24, stabs Xavier in the chest and Laura attacks him but he knocks her out and places her in restraints. The Munson’s son tries to stop 24 but he is stabbed as is Kathryn when she tries to shoot him. Will and Logan return and hear the commotion and Will is stabbed  in the chest and Logan sees 24 carrying Laura away and races upstairs to check on Xavier. In their truck, Rice and Pierce watch 24 bringing Laura back to them when he is confronted by the farmer and his men and when they shoot him, he begins attacking them. Meanwhile, Logan carries Xavier to their truck and tries to keep him alive but he ends up passing away. Rice goes out to try and get 24 to stop and bring Laura back to them only for Logan to attack 24 and try to rescue Laura. 24 is able to overpower Logan and moves to kill him when Will, who was still alive, drives his truck into 24, pinning him to a nearby tractor, then shoots him repeatedly before finally dying. Pierce goes to help get Laura but Caliban, having grabbed some grenades when nobody was looking, pulls the pins and drops them, sacrificing himself to try and stop them. Logan grabs Laura and drives off and they stop to bury Xavier by a lake but when Logan tries to start the truck again, it dies and he takes out his rage and frustration on the truck before collapsing to the ground. When he comes too, he finds himself in a doctor’s office, with the doctor saying that Laura had flagged down a motorist for help. The doctor wants Logan to check into a hospital to get treatment, saying something inside him is poisoning him, but Logan says for his own good, forget he saw them and they leave. Laura leads Logan to a jeep that she had acquired while he was passed out and as he thanks her for saving him, she says “de nada”, speaking to Logan for the first time. This causes an argument between her and Logan as she wants him to take her to North Dakota and he starts to refuse but finally relents. Logan drives as far as he can but as he starts to fall asleep at the wheel, Laura forces him to pull over and tells him to rest. When Logan wakes up, he finds that Laura had continued driving and reached a lokout station in the mountains. Logan passes out again and the kids that are there help bring him inside and treat his injuries, giving him some medicine that will help him heal if given in small doses. When Logan recovers enough to get out of bed, he tells Rictor, the kid’s leader, that they should leave before Transigen catches them and Rictor tells him that they will be leaving before dawn. He offers Logan the rest of the money he was promised but Logan refuses it, then argues with Laura again on his actions. The next morning, Logan wakes up to find the kids have all left but as he looks around the lookout station, he sees a bunch of drones flying towards the mountain border and sees some jeeps heading in that direction. Logan grabs the medicine and races towards the woods, injecting himself along the way with the medicine, which super charges his healing factor. As Transigen’s soldiers work on capturing the kids, Logan starts killing some of them, managing to rescue Laura but she notes that the medicine is wearing off as his wounds are not healing. The two sneak up to where Pierce and his remaining men are holding the captured kids and Logan tells Laura to wait for his signal to save her friends. He then approaches and Rice and Pierce move towards him, where it is revealed that Rice is the son of the doctor that helped Stryker put the adamantium into him. Pierce also tells Logan that Rice is the one that released the virus which prevented more mutants from being born, effectively wiping them out, and Logan ends up shooting Rice and injuring Pierce. Laura kills the guards, with some of the children using their powers to help but Pierce lets 24 loose to deal with Logan. As the two men fight, Laura moves to help Logan when he is overpowered and Pierce shoots Logan in the leg with a harpoon to restrain him but the kids all use their powers to kill Pierce. Logan gets free and goes to help Laura only for Rictor to use his powers to drop a truck onto 24. Logan tells Laura and the children to get out of their but 24 recovers and stabs Logan, then impales him onto a log. Laura grabs an adamantium bullet that Logan had kept, when he had contemplated killing himself, and uses it to kill 24. She then works on cutting off the branch and Logan tells her not to grow up to be a weapon like she was created to be before he dies. Laura cries out over his death, calling him daddy as she hugs him, and the kids bury him by a lake, much like Xavier was buried, and as they head to the border, Laura turns the cross they made onto it’s side to form an X, marking Logan’s passing as the last X-Man.

Logan met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Hugh Jackman makes the most of his final outing as Wolverine with a gritty, nuanced performance in a violent but surprisingly thoughtful superhero action film that defies genre conventions.” In the UK, the first wide release showing of this film was at the unusual time of 10:23 p.m., rather than the usual midnight showing for a major release. This is a reference to the film including the character of X-23, as X is the Roman numeral for 10. The movie was a box office hit, earning $619 million off of a $127 million budget and served as a great send off for Hugh Jackman’s final movie in this role.

This was a great movie and honestly one of the best ones in the franchise. The acting was great, with Hugh Jackman putting in an incredible performance as Logan, while Patrick Stewart was equally good as Xavier, with the dynamic between them making for some pretty funny scenes in the otherwise pretty dramatic movie. Dafne Keen was also great in her role as Laura, especially her interaction with Logan, while Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant were good as Pierce and Rice respectively. The story was great, and while I knew that they couldn’t really do a full version of “Old Man Logan” due to the majority of the characters being licensed to other studios, they story they did create was very well written. Since no mutants had been born in 25 years in this movie, this seems like it is in a completely different universe from any of the other movies, though Xavier mentioning the fight on Liberty Island means it at least has some relevance to the original movie. One thing I did like was the odd family dynamic that came about during the movie, especially with Logan being forced into the father/caretaker role, which is something that he is obviously not used to doing or comfortable with. The special effects were pretty good and I liked some of the ways they used the effects to showcase Logan’s deteriorating condition, such as when one of his claws doesn’t fully extend when he is fighting the thugs. Definitely a great movie to watch and a worthy finale to the Wolverine story.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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June 13th, 2018 Movie – X-Men: Days Of Future Past

x-men days of future past

Another pivotal story line gets turned into a movie. Now there was a lot of hype about this movie when it first was announced. I mean, there was a lot of excitement about the Sentinels finally appearing in the movies, as well as tying in the original trilogy of movies to the new series. Personally, I was highly interested in this movie but did have my concerns. I mean, this is another one of the big plot lines in the comics and we all know how bad the last one turned out. Still, I heard the Bryan Singer had returned to direct so I was hoping that he could recapture the magic from the first two movies and makes this one successful as well. Now let’s see how good of a job they did with today’s movie, X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

The plot: In the year 2023, the world has fallen under the control of the Sentinels, robotic mutant hunters who have killed thousands of mutants as well as humans who are shown to carry the mutant gene, preventing more mutants from being born. In Moscow, 3 Sentinels attack the hideout of some of the remaining X-Men; Bishop, Blink, Colossus, Iceman, Kitty Pride, Sunspot, and Warpath. While Colossus, Blink, Iceman, Sunspot, and Warpath attempt to hold off the Sentinels, and are killed in the process, Kitty Pride and Bishop head to a safe room and Kitty starts using her powers to send Bishop’s consciousness back in time a few days to his younger self, thus warning the group and allowing them to move before the Sentinels are able to find them. Professor Xavier, Magneto, Storm, and Wolverine meet up with the group in China and hearing about Kitty’s new ability, Xavier and Magneto believe their plan will work. They explain to the group that the Sentinels were developed by Boliver Trask in the 70’s, who had begun experimenting on mutants back then. Mystique had found out about his experiments and killed Trask in 1973 but she was captured and experimented on herself, leading the scientists to discover the ability in her DNA to adapt, which was used to give the Sentinels the ability to adapt and counter any mutant ability they come across. Xavier wants to send his consciousness back in time to stop the assassination but Kitty says that the best she could do is a month before the mind, even one as powerful as Xavier’s would snap. Wolverine suggests he goes, thinking his healing factor would allow his mind to repair itself as fast as it snaps and Xavier and Magneto reluctantly agree that it is their best choice. As Wolverine prepares for the trip, Xavier tells him to head to his mansion and convince him to help stop Mystique, telling Wolverine that he didn’t have his powers back then. Magneto says he will also need his younger self’s help but says his location is “complicated”. Kitty tells Wolverine that they with them focusing on this attempt, they won’t be able to leave again when the Sentinels find them, then begins the process. In 1973, Trask is talking in front of a D.O.D. panel about his Sentinel program, warning that the mutants could attack them anytime, even in their own homes, but the panel refuses his funding. In Saigon, as the U.S. prepares to close down their base, 4 mutant soldiers, including Alex Summers (Havok) are being prepared to be sent to Trask Industries by Major William Stryker but Mystique, disguised as an army colonel, rescues them. Helping them get on a plane that is leaving, Alex asks if she is coming with them but she tells him that her war isn’t over. Meanwhile, Wolverine wakes up in his younger self and heads to Xavier’s mansion only to find the school has been shut down and the mansion and grounds are in a state of disrepair. When he knocks on the door, a human Hank McCoy answers the door and Wolverine forces his way in to look for Xavier, forcing Hank to transform to try and throw him out. Xavier shows up and Wolverine is shocked to see that Xavier is walking. Wolverine tells him that he is from the future and why he is there and Xavier doesn’t believe him at first but reluctantly agrees to help in order to help bring Raven (Mystique) home. When Wolverine says that they need Magneto’s help, Hank and Xavier laugh and explain that he is being held in a special prison underneath the Pentagon, as he is the one to kill Kennedy. Xavier says that they can’t get him out as it would just be the three of them but Wolverine says he knows a guy that would be a young man back then that would be able to help. Meanwhile, Mystique, disguised as Trask, heads up to Trask’s office and discovers his secret file room, where she discovers the Sentinel’s plans as well as his reports on mutants and their autopsy reports, including autopsy reports on Azazel and Angel. Xavier, Hank, and Wolverine arrive at the Maximoff house and ask to speak with Peter, a speedster, and convince him to help them break Magneto out of the Pentagon. Hank, Wolverine, and Xavier go on the Pentagon Tour, then Xavier and Wolverine break away from the group while Hank uses a device to jam the security cameras. Peter disguises himself as a guard and sneaks down to Magneto’s cell and uses his powers to shatter the glass in his cell. He then braces Magneto’s neck so he doesn’t get whiplash, then races him past the guards back to the elevator. Xavier and Wolverine meet them in the kitchen and when the guards show up to stop them, Peter uses his speed to save them all. Thanking Peter for his help, Xavier, Hank, Wolverine, and Magneto head to Paris to locate Mystique and during the flight, Xavier and Magneto argue, accusing each other of abandoning the other, but later they appear to reconcile. The next day, Mystique disguises herself as a Vietnamese general and heads to a secret meeting that Trask has with the Vietnamese and Soviets, attempting to sell his technology to them. When his technology detects a mutant in the group and outs her, Mystique takes out the guards, including Stryker, but before she can kill Trask, Stryker recovers and uses a taser to stop her. Wolverine and the others arrive and rescue Mystique but after looking at the plans for the Sentinels, Magneto decides that their best course to stop the Sentinels is to kill Mystique. As Hank and Xavier try to stop him, Wolverine notices Stryker and suddenly starts having flashbacks to the Weapon X program, causing him to lash out in the future and wound Kitty. Magneto manages to wound Mystique and follows her in an attempt to kill her but Hank transforms into Beast and stops him, allowing Mystique to get away before Magneto is able to restrain Beast and get away himself. In the future, Kitty is able to regain control of Wolverine, causing him to calm down and remember why he is there in the past. After getting her injuries treated, Mystique locates Magneto and threatens to kill him for trying to kill her but he tells her about Wolverine’s message and how she is the downfall of the mutant race. He tells her that they have her blood now so they are still in danger but Mystique feels that she can still stop this if she kills Trask and leaves. In Washington D.C., President Nixon asks his cabinet about the Mystique and Magneto, wondering if they have any sort of defense against them and Trask, who was in attendance, tells him about his Sentinel program. He tells Nixon that he has 8 prototypes ready to launch and Nixon says he wants them at the White House for a demonstration to assure the public that they are safe. Xavier, Hank, and Wolverine return to the mansion and Xavier’s powers start returning but Wolverine convinces him to stop using the drug to suppress them, so that they can use Cerebro to find Mystique. Xavier tries but is unable to handle hearing all of the thoughts from everyone around the world, causing a power surge to black out the mansion. Xavier says this is hopeless and tells Wolverine that they sent the wrong man and Wolverine agrees with him, saying they meant to send him (Xavier) but he wouldn’t have been able to survive the trip. Wolverine convinces Xavier to look into his mind to see his future, and Xavier ends up speaking with his future self, helping to boost Xavier’s confidence so he can try again. Xavier manages to locate Mystique and tries to convince her to stop but she refuses to budge from her plan to kill Trask. When he tells Wolverine and Hank that she is heading to D.C., Hank shows them a news report about Nixon unveiling the Sentinels at the White House and how they have samples of Mystique’s blood and Xavier fears that if she kills Trask at that event, the future will be set in stone. Meanwhile, Magneto heads after the train carrying the Sentinels to D.C. and using some rails from the train tracks, infuses the Sentinels with metal so that he can control them. Xavier, Hank, and Wolverine fly to D.C. and during the flight, Wolverine tells Xavier that he saw the good that was in the future and asks him to find the X-Men. They arrive at D.C. and head to the White House, where Xavier is able to locate Mystique, disguised as a Secret Service agent, and stops her from moving, then has Hank and Wolverine go to try and get her. Meanwhile, Magneto appears and lifts the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium from it’s foundation and as he approaches the White House with it, takes control of the Sentinels and makes them start attacking the crowd. The attack causes Xavier to lose his focus and Mystique continues after Trask, making her way to the secret bunker Trask and Nixon have taken shelter in. In the future, the Sentinels have located the X-Men and sent a fleet after them and Storm and Magneto work to try and stem the tide. The appear to destroy them all, but several Sentinels survived and kill Storm while Magneto, injured by some debris from the Blackbird’s destruction, uses the remaining debris to barricade the entrance just as Blink uses a portal to send him inside. Back in the past, Wolverine and Hank, transforming into Beast, go to attack Magneto but he turns one of the Sentinels on them. Beast attacks the Sentinel and Wolverine goes after Magneto but he uses some metal rebar to attack Wolverine, forcing it throughout his body, then tosses him into the Potomac. In the bunker, Trasks alarm reveals a mutant in the area and Mystique is captured before she can kill Trask but the bunker is suddenly ripped from the ground by Magneto and opened up. Turning the TV camera to face them, Magneto addresses the world and tells any mutants that wish to join him against the humans to do so. Hank is overpowered by the Sentinel so he uses the drugs to turn him back to human, causing the Sentinel to attack Magneto but he easily destroys it. Nixon leaves the bunker to face Magneto but as Trask and the others look in confusion, it is revealed that Nixon is still in the bunker. Magneto prepares to kill Nixon when Nixon, who is actually Mystique in disguise, shoots him with a plastic gun and bullet, hitting him in the neck and then using the distraction to knock him out. She then points the gun at Trask but Xavier freezes everyone to try and convince her not to kill Trask, saying that all people have seen right now is her saving the President’s life. Mystique reluctantly lowers the gun and in the future, the Sentinels finish killing the X-Men and are preparing to kill Xavier, Magneto, Kitty, and Wolverine when they all suddenly disappear. Mystique walks away, grabbing Magneto’s helmet as she does and Xavier uses his powers to take control of Magneto and lift the debris that is on him and as Hank helps him up, Xavier and Magneto speak briefly before Magneto flies off. Logan wakes up in a new future and is surprised to see everyone alive, including Jean and Scott, and the school thriving. He goes to speak to Xavier and when he comments on not remembering anything after 1973, as his memory of history is different, Xavier recognizes him as the Logan from the past and welcomes his friend, saying that they have a lot to catch up on while back in the past, Logan is rescued by Mystique, disguised as Stryker, while a newspaper shows the Sentinel project is scrapped and Trask is arrested for attempting to sell military hardware to the Soviets. Meanwhile, in the distant past, a crowd of Egyptians chant out “En Sabah Nur” as a figure telekinetically moves stones to form a pyramid, while 4 horsemen watch from a nearby hilltop.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise’s finest installments.” The filmmakers chose to bast the story on the “Days Of Future Past” story line in order to try and correct some continuity errors that occurred with the prequel movies. The movie was a box office smash, earning $747.9 million off of a $205 million budget, making it the second highest grossing movie in the franchise behind Deadpool, and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects, making it the first film in the series to receive a nomination.

Aside from a few personal issues I have, this was a great movie. The acting was good, with all of the returning characters doing good jobs reprising their roles. I thought that Peter Dinklage did a great job as Trask and I also liked the surprise returns of Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Anna Paquin, and Kelsey Grammer as Jean, Cyclops, Rogue, and Beast respectively. The story was good, capturing the basic premise of the original comic story but making some necessary changes due to characters not being introduced or already killed off. See, in the comics, Kitty is the one to go back in time to stop the assassination of Senator Kelly by Mystique, being sent there by the future daughter of Cyclops and Jean, Rachel Summers. This is one of the rare times where I was actually able to shut down fan boy me and enjoy the movie for the most part and not constantly think in my head “that’s not how it happened.” One of the issues I did have with the movie though was them using Kitty to send people back in time.  See, Kitty’s power was the ability to phase herself, and anyone she is touching, in order to make them intangible. She doesn’t have the power to send people’s minds to the past and they never really explained how she was able to do it. I would have liked it better if it was Emma or Xavier that was constantly doing it. I did like how they tried to tie in the old movies with the new one and essentially set it up as that they occurred in a “now” alternate timeline. The other thing I didn’t like was the end, as I thought the set up for the next movie was honestly a little too blunt. The special effects were pretty good and did a great job in accenting a lot of the action during the movie. All things considered, this is still a great movie and a lot of fun to watch.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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June 12th, 2018 Movie – The Wolverine

the wolverine

So with the X-Men franchise getting some new life in it, Fox decided to attempt to make a second Wolverine spin off movie. Unlike the last movie however, this movie took place after the events of The Last Stand, and had a somewhat darker story line to it. To be honest, that is what a lot of people hoped the first solo movie would be like, as Wolverine is a rather dark and somewhat of an anti-hero character. Personally, I wanted to see it because it was touching on Logan’s time in Japan, which did have an integral part in the development of his character. So I decided to take a chance and headed to the theaters one Sunday morning to give today’s movie, The Wolverine, a shot and I have to admit that I wasn’t disappointed.

The plot: In 1945, Logan is being held prisoner in a Japanese military prison when the base sounds an alarm and starts evacuating personnel as a B-29 approaches the nearby city. As he looks out through his isolation cell, he notices one of the officers, Ichiro Yashida, freeing the other prisoners, then notices Logan watching him. He approaches the cell and frees it, then tells Logan to leave but Logan, knowing what that plane is carrying, says there is no out running it and that he is safer down there with him. Yashida’s commanding officer calls out to him and Yashida joins them, watching as they commit seppuku just before the bomb drops. As Yashida watches the explosion occur, he starts to commit seppuku himself but Logan stops him and tells him to run back to the isolation cell, then shields Yashida from the blast with some debris. After the fire passes, Yashida watches as Logan heals himself, then tells Yashida to wait, as it is not safe outside yet. In the present day, Logan is living as a hermit up in the mountains in the Yukon, plagued by visions of Jean Grey, whom he was forced to kill. When he heads into town to get some more batteries for his radio, he notices a group of hunters preparing to head out into the woods. That night, he hears some screams and gunshots coming from the woods and when he goes to investigate, finds a campsite trashed with several of the hunters dead. Following the bear’s tracks, he soon locates the bear dying from a poisoned arrow and is forced to put it out of it’s misery. Logan heads into town, where the survivor is telling everyone about the attack and he jabs the arrow he removed from the bear into the man’s hand. Logan tells him that because he didn’t track down the bear to finish the job, the poison drove it mad and caused it to attack and kill his friends. The man attacks Logan and he moves to use his claws on him but he is stopped by a young Japanese girl named Yukio, who tells him not to worry about them, saying they will die soon anyways, then has him leave with her. Inside her car, she tells him that Yashida sent her to find him to deliver a sword to him and ask that he come to Japan so he can say his goodbyes in person, as Yashida is dying. Logan argues with Yukio at first but reluctantly agrees to go to Japan to say his goodbyes. On the plane there, he speaks briefly with Yukio about her saying that the men would die soon, saying her being specific about it is quite a gift, and asks if he will die on this plane and she cryptically says no, not on this plane. When they arrive at Yashida’s house, Yukio explains that the Yashida’s have had trouble with the Yakuza, hence the armed guards, and then leads Logan inside. As they approach Yahsida’s room, they see his granddaughter Mariko inside and when she leaves upset, Yukio tries to ask what is wrong but Mariko tells her it is nothing, then says that Logan can’t see Yashida like that. After forcing Logan to get a bath and shave, Yukio brings him in to see Yashida, who dismisses his oncologist Dr. Green so he can speak privately with Logan. Yahsida tells Logan that he can remove Logan’s immortality so that he can die like a normal man, and in the process use it to restore his own life, but Logan refuses the offer, telling Yashida he doesn’t want what he has. That night, Logan has another dream about Jean and as they kiss, he finds himself suddenly kissing Dr. Green, who slips something inside him during the kiss. When he pushes her away but finds no sign of her, he dismisses it as a dream, just as the house becomes ablaze with activity as Yashida dies. The next day, Yukio brings Logan to the funeral and he notices Dr. Green seeming to give him a lot of attention, as well as a man sitting on a nearby rooftop. Yukio introduces Logan to Shingen, Yashida’s son, and Logan offers his respects to him. As the funeral commences, Logan feels something is off and tries to warn Mariko, as Yashida had asked him to protect her but she dismisses his warnings, only for the priests, who are Yakuza in disguise, to begin attacking the funeral and attempt to kidnap Mariko. Logan is shot and discovers that his healing factor is not working properly but he continues to fight the Yakuza and manages to escape with Mariko, with Harada (the man on the roof) helping them escape by shooting some of the pursuing Yakuza with his bow. After ditching the pursuers, Mariko tries to leave Logan and get on a train but he follows her, arguing that where she is heading would be the first place they will check. As Logan heads to the bathroom to try and tend to his injuries, he encounters some more Yakuza and ends up fighting them, ending up on the roof of the train during part of the fight. After getting rid of them, Logan returns to Mariko and tells her they need to get off the train and ends up checking into a love hotel to hide. As Logan finally passes out from his injuries, Mariko has a veterinary student, who is the hotel owner’s grandson, come in and treat him. Meanwhile, Dr. Green, also known as Viper, meets up with Harada and Viper chastises Harada for not finding Logan, telling him that he is mortal now and easy to capture. When Logan regains consciousness, Mariko leads him to Yashida’s family house in Nagasaki and Logan sees a picture of Mariko with Harada and asks her about him as well as her fiance Noburo. The next day, after Logan helps the village remove a fallen tree from the road, Logan finds himself at the spot where he and Yashida first met and he recalls their leaving the cell and Yashida offering his sword as thanks to Logan, who asked him to keep it for him until he returned for it. Mariko and Logan end up getting closer and the end up kissing and sharing a bed together. The next morning, Logan wakes up to find Mariko missing and he heads outside to find her being kidnapped by some men. Logan tries to stop them, getting shot in the leg in the process, but he is unable to stop them from driving off. Approaching one of the men that he wounded, he begins to question him, using his claws to stab the man to force him to answer. Yukio, who had a dream of Logan’s death the night before arrives and when Logan approaches he tells her to take her to see Noburo. When they arrive at his penthouse, Yukio tells Logan about her dream and tells her she is going with him as his bodyguard. When they enter the room, they find Noburo with two prostitutes and quickly tell the girls to leave, then Logan proceeds to question Noburo on Mariko’s disappearance. Noburo tells them that Yashida’s company was almost ruined in Yashida’s quest to prolong his life, as well as his obsession with Logan. Shingen tried to cover up the debt from the stock holders but Yashida left the company to Mariko instead of her, so the only way to get control of the company was to have Mariko killed. At the Yashida house, Mariko and Shingen are arguing when Shingen’s men are all killed by ninjas from the Black Clan. They ninjas grab Mariko, who fights with them at first until Harada appears and says everything is ok. Viper then approaches Shingen, who is shocked to learn she is behind this, and she uses her power to poison a pen and stab Shingen with it. When Logan and Yukio arrive, they find a note saying to “come get her” and Yukio tells Logan where the building is they are holding her. While in Yashida’s room, Logan uses his x-ray machine to examine his body and discovers a robotic parasite attached to his heart and realizes that that is what is supressing his healing factor. Yukio tries to stop him, saying she saw him die holding his own heart but Logan tells her they don’t stand a chance in rescuing Mariko unless he can get his powers back, then slices open his chest and starts reaching inside. Shingen, who had survived the poison, enters the room and moves to attack Logan but Yukio stops him and begins fighting him just as Logan succeeds in removing the parasite, but flatlines shortly afterwards. As Yuriko continues fighting, Logan’s wounds begin to heal and he regains consciousness in time to stop Shingen from killing Yukio. Logan and Shingen begin fighting and Logan initially spares him, thinking that his trying to kill his own daughter was punishment enough but when Shingen tries to attack Logan from behind, Logan is forced to kill him. Logan heads out to Yashida’s mountain facility and is confronted by Harada and the Black Clan. Harada tries talking to Logan at first but when Logan refuses to back down, he attacks him and with the ninjas continuously tying him down with arrows, manages to knock him out with some poisoned arrows. When Logan comes too, he is restrained in a chair and Viper taunts him into revealing his claws, allowing her to quickly restrain his wrist so they can’t retract. Viper looks towards a giant Silver Samurai, which suddenly starts moving and pulls out an adamantium sword, which begins to glow red hot. As Mariko watches from above, she begs Harada to let her go to Logan but Harada says to trust him and kisses her but she stabs him in the leg, then heads to Logan. The Silver Samurai moves to slice off Logan’s claws but Mariko gets in the way so the samurai ends up destroying his restraints instead. Logan tries to escape with Mariko but the Silver Samurai attacks them so he tells her to run while he fends off the samurai, but gets the claws on one hand cut off. Viper tries to stop Mariko but Harada shoots her with an arrow, then goes to stop the samurai, but ends up being stabbed through the chest. Logan grabs one of the samurai’s swords and uses it to cut off it’s head, then continue attacking it. Yukio shows up and encounters Viper and the two begin fighting and Yukio manages to kill her by tying a cable around her neck and hanging her. Logan and the samurai tumble down the complex and almost fall off the mountain but Logan manages to stop himself. As Logan starts to pull himself up, the samurai cuts off the claws on his other hand, then grabs both of Logan’s hands, securing them in it’s gauntlets. Drills in the samurai’s gauntlets begin drilling into the openings where the claws were and start draining Wolverine’s life out of him and Logan sees that Yashida is still alive and the one in the samurai armor. Yashida’s youth and health are restored and he prepares to kill Logan but he is stabbed in the head with one of Logan’s severed claws by Mariko. Logan recovers and, regenerating his bone claws, stabs Yashida and throws him down the mountain, killing him. The next day, Logan prepares to leave Japan and Mariko kisses him and asks him to stay but he tells her he has been hiding too long and has to go back. Yukio goes with him, planning continuing as Logan’s bodyguard as they depart to places unknown. Two years later, Logan is returning to the US when he encounters Magneto in the airport. Magneto tells Logan that dark times are ahead and he needs Logan’s help. When Logan asks why he should trust Magneto, he notices that everyone around them has stopped and he turns to find Xavier approaching, shocking Logan as he believed Xavier was dead, and Xavier motions to Magneto and tells Logan they have to talk.

The Wolverine met with mixed to positive reviews from the critics, holding a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is “Although its final act succumbs to the usual cartoonish antics, The Wolverine is one superhero movie that manages to stay true to the comics while keeping casual viewers entertained.” The samurai sword that Yashida attempts to give Wolverine after he saved his life has 6 kanji characters engraved on it. The characters, which read “Never Died, Never Aged, Never Destroyed” is a fitting description for Wolverine. The movie was a success at the box office, earning $414.8 million off of a $120 million budget and was followed up by the final movie in what would become known as the Wolverine trilogy.

This is the Wolverine movie that most people were looking for and I rather enjoyed it. The acting was pretty good, with Hugh Jackman doing a great job as Logan and showing the guilt he has been struggling with since killing Jean. I also liked Tao Okamoto (Mariko), Hiroyuki Sanada (Shingen), and Rila Fukushima (Yukio) but thought that Svetlana Khodchenkova was terrible as Viper. I think part of my dislike for her is that the couldn’t use the real Viper character, as she has too many Hydra ties (which would cause problems with Disney and the MCU), so they decided to completely rewrite her to be a mutant with snakelike and poison abilities. The story was good on a lot of levels. I loved how they brought up Logan’s guilt and his isolating himself as punishment for killing the woman he loved but then gave him some form of redemption by introducing Mariko and allowing him to get close to her. I also liked the plot about Wolverine losing his healing factor for a while, and his trying to come to grips with the fact that he might actually die now. I will say that I was a little skeptical on the whole “heated adamantium blade being able to cut Wolverine’s claws” bit but it made for a neat fight scene so I will allow it. As for Viper, I can deal with her surviving Harada’s poison arrow, as she has an immunity to toxins, but that part when she sheds her skin like a snake was just too stupid. The special effects were pretty good and I really liked the fight scene on the roof of the train, and the scene with Logan racing through the village and being shot continuously with the roped arrows. It’s a good movie and a great segue from the main X-Men movies.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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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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June 9th, 2018 Movie – X-Men: The Last Stand

x-men 3

Ok, so at the end of the second movie, they pretty much had set up for the next film to showcase one of the more pivotal story lines in the X-Men franchise; The Phoenix/Dark Phoenix saga. Now this story line had ramifications that were felt for years, decades even, after it was originally resolved in 1980. So with the Phoenix Saga being the central plot of the latest movie, I knew it wasn’t going to have any of the interstellar elements from the comics, as they hadn’t been introduced previously and would take too much time to try and fit them in and explain them, but I was hopeful that they would at least make a good movie with what has been introduced so far. After watching today’s movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, I really should stop wishing for things that just won’t happen.

The plot: Twenty years ago, Professor Charles Xavier and his friend Eric Lehnsherr head to the home of a young Jean Grey. After speaking with her parents, Jean’s mom calls Jean down and then leaves with Jean’s father, leaving Jean to speak with the two men. Xavier telepathically speaks with Jean, telling her that they are mutants just like her but when Jean shows that she is able to lift several cars and objects outside all at once, Eric is thrilled at the amount of power she displays. Ten years later, Warren Worthington II knocks on the bathroom door, concerned for his son Warren Worthington III, who had been in there for a hour. Hearing a clattering sound as Warren hastily moves something, Warren’s father quickly breaks down the door to see Warren crying as he is surrounded by bloody feathers, revealing that he had cut off the wings that had grown from his back. In the present day, Storm is leading a training exercise for Rogue, Bobby (Iceman), Peter (Colossus), and Kitty in the Danger Room but she gets upset when Wolverine, who is filling in for Cyclops, takes matters into his own hands to deal with the obstacle. When the session ends, Storm and Wolverine argue over their tactics before heading their separate ways. Elsewhere in the mansion, Cyclops is becoming more withdrawn as he tries to cope with Jean’s death. When Wolverine tries to tell him that it is time to move on, he shakes off Wolverine’s help and leaves the mansion. In Washington D.C., Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy (Beast), a former student of Xavier’s, has been appointed to the President’s cabinet as Secretary of Mutant Affairs. During a meeting where it was revealed that Mystique was captured while breaking into the FDA, the President reveals that the files she stole were about a mutant boy named Jimmy, code-named Leech, whose power is the ability to remove other mutants’ powers. Worthington Industries is working on using his power to a fashion a “cure” for mutants and the President wants Hank’s help in keeping things calm, knowing this would become a massive powder keg when word got out. Hank goes to the mansion and speaks with Xavier, Storm, and Wolverine about the cure, just as the announcement is being made on television. At Alcatraz Island, Warren Worthington II has remade the prison into a treatment center saying they can cure mutants of their differences. Rogue enters the room, excitedly asking if they really did make a cure but Storm gets upset, saying there is nothing wrong with them that needs curing. Meanwhile, and underground meeting of mutants is being held to discuss the cure when Magneto and Pyro crash the meeting. Magneto tells the groups that while the government says the cure is voluntary, they will soon force every mutant to take it in order to completely wipe mutants off the face of the Earth. Magneto asks if any of them want to join his Brotherhood and a group called the Omegas (Callisto, Arclight, and Kid Omega) agree to join him. When he learns that Callisto’s powers include the ability to sense and locate other mutants, he asks her to locate Mystique. Hank goes to Alcatraz and meets with Dr. Kavita Rao, who introduces him to Jimmy and Hank is momentarily taken aback when he gets close to Jimmy and his fur disappears, revealing a normal human hand. Elsewhere, Scott travels back to Alkali Lake and as he repeatedly hears Jean calling out to him in his mind, he cries out and fires an optic blast into the water. As he recovers, he sees a whirlpool in the middle of the lake, just as a pressure wave knocks him off his feet. When he gets up, he sees Jean standing before him and the two embrace, then Jean tells Scott to take off his glasses, saying she can control her powers. Scott allows her to do so and she manages to block his optic blasts and the two kiss, but as they kiss, something starts happening to Scott. Back at the mansion, Xavier senses what is happening, which ends up being projected to everyone in the mansion, and when Storm and Wolverine go to check on him, he tells them to go to Alkali Lake. When they get there, the area is surrounded by a dense fog and Storm uses her abilities to disperse the fog, revealing dozens of stones floating in the air. As they split up, Wolverine sees Scott’s glasses floating among the rocks but no sign of Scott anywhere but before he can look further, he hears Storm cry out for him and when he rejoins her, he sees she located Jean, who has fallen into a coma. They take Jean back to the mansion and  Xavier theorizes that when she was hit by the water, her powers wrapped her in a telekinetic cocoon to protect her. He explains that Jean’s powers are limitless and when she was a child, he placed mental blocks on her powers so that she couldn’t utilize her full powers as her full powers led to a different persona dubbed the Phoenix. Wolverine is upset with Xavier over his messing with Jean’s mind and the two argue before Wolverine leaves as Xavier works on restoring the blocks on her powers. Meanwhile, Warren shows up at Worthington Institute and his father is eager for him to be the first person given the cure but Warren decides he doesn’t want to and breaks free from the men holding him, then jumps out the window and flies away. Elsewhere, Mystique is being held in a mobile prison contained within a tractor trailer when Magneto shows up and destroys the escort then stops the truck. As he makes his way inside with Pyro, Mystique had managed to kill one of the guards inside and free herself. They then free the other prisoners, Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man) and Cain Marko (Juggernaut), but as Magneto recruits them to the Brotherhood, the surviving guard loads his gun with darts filled with the cure and takes aim at Magneto. Mystique sees this and moves to take the dart but as Pyro kills the guard, they are shocked to see Mystique changing back to her normal human form and Magneto leaves her there, saying she isn’t one of them any more. At the White House, Hank argues with the President about the existence of the weapons, then quits his position as he feels the President is on a slippery slope. Back at the mansion, Wolverine stands watch over Jean’s body and as he moves to touch her, she stops him, having awakened from her coma. The two talk for a bit before Jean tries to seduce Wolverine and he gives in to his urges at first but then backs off and asks her about Scott. As Jean remembers what she did to Scott, her powers start to go out of control and she begs Wolverine to kill her before she kills someone else but when he refuses and says that they should get Xavier to help her, Phoenix takes control and tosses him aside, then breaks open the door and leaves. In his hideout, Magneto contemplates the gun and decides to use it to bring more mutants to their cause when Callisto enters the room and tells him she picked up a Class 5 mutant, more powerful than him, and Magneto, knowing who it is, asks Callisto where she is. Back at the mansion, Storm and Xavier head to the infirmary and find Wolverine unconscious and after he tells them he thinks Jean killed Scott, Xavier admonishes him for not listening to him, then tells them Jean headed back to her childhood home. The three X-men fly there and find Magneto and the Brotherhood there as well and Xavier and Magneto head inside, telling everyone else to stay outside. Inside, they find Jean sitting in a chair and Xavier tries to talk to her and allow her to let him help her but Magneto interjects, saying that Xavier wants to diminish her. As Jean/Phoenix cries out, her powers start to go out of control and Wolverine moves to head inside but is intercepted by Juggernaut. Storm uses her powers to make it past Quill and Arclight but is then attacked by Callisto, who uses her rapid reflexes to get the upper hand on her. Inside, Magneto is thrown back as Phoenix confronts Xavier, suspending him up in the air and then disintegrating him. Magneto quickly goes to Jean and helps her out of the house as Wolverine and Storm, having been thrown from the house by the force of Jean’s powers, race back inside only to cry in grief over Xavier’s death. A funeral is held for Xavier and as the students all deal with their grief, Bobby goes to check on Kitty and the two grow closer, which makes Rogue jealous. Rogue decides to go get the cure but as she leaves, Wolverine stops to talk with her and tells her to make sure she is doing this for herself and not for someone else. In the California Redwood forests, Magneto is gaining more mutants to his cause and tries to convince Jean to help him but is nervous about her powers. Back at the mansion, Hank, Storm, and Wolverine are discussing what they should do with the school and Hank suggests closing it down but when Warren shows up, asking if it was still a safe haven for mutants, Storm says it is and tells Hank the school will stay open. Wolverine heads down to Xavier’s memorial when he is suddenly buffeted by psychic images from Jean, showing him where she and Magneto are located. Wolverine packs some things and prepares to head out when Storm confronts him, saying that Jean made her choice and he has to choose whether he is with them or not. Meanwhile, Bobby discovers that Rogue has left and figuring she might be going to get the cure, heads down to a treatment site, where mutant protesters are lined up across the street saying they don’t need a cure. He encounters Pyro, who taunts him about Rogue needing the cure and as Bobby walks away, Pyro proceeds to torch the facility. Magneto issues an ultimatum against using the cure, prompting the President to issue an order for more weapons loaded with “cure darts” to be issued for some military units. Wolverine makes his way to the Redwoods and after killing several sentries, he makes his way to the camp, where Magneto is giving a speech to the Brotherhood, telling them that they will head to Alcatraz and destroy the cure so it can’t be used against them. As Wolverine tries to catch up to Jean while she is alone, he is suddenly captured by Magneto and thrown through the forest, rendered unconscious. Back at the White House, the President is overseeing an operation to take out Magneto and the Brotherhood, having been given the location of their camp by Mystique. As the commando team moves in, the President is watching satellite feed and sees that all of the mutants are suddenly disappearing, as it is revealed it was simply Madrox using his powers to fool the military, allowing Magneto and the Brotherhood to make their way to Alcatraz unimpeded. Wolverine returns to the mansion and tells Hank and Storm that Magneto is heading to Alcatraz and they suit up, joined by Bobby, Peter, and Kitty, unaware that Warren had overheard them and heads out himself. As Wolverine gives a speech to help get the three younger X-Men ready, Storm asks him if he will be ready to do what needs to be done when the time comes. In San Francisco, Magneto and the Brotherhood begin marching across the Golden Gate Bridge, then Magneto uses his powers to rip one end of the bridge from it’s moorings and move it towards Alcatraz, crashing it on a guard tower. Magneto sends the Brotherhood out to deal with the guards and several of them fall victim to the cure darts. When the first wave falls, Magneto shields the rest of the Brotherhood from the soldiers attacks, then has Arclight use her shockwaves to destroy the guns. As the second wave of Brotherhood troops makes their way towards the facility, the X-Men arrive and Wolverine tells the soldiers to guard the doors as the X-Men move to hold the line. As the Brotherhood attack the X-Men, Callisto goes after Storm but she is able to knock her out. Magneto sends Juggernaut to kill Jimmy, while Arclight and Kid Omega go to deal with Worthington and Dr. Rao. Seeing Juggernaut bulldozing through the guards, Kitty goes inside to try and stop him, temporarily phasing him through the floor but Juggernaut is easily able to rip himself free and chase after her. Meanwhile, Arclight, Kid Omega, and another mutant corner Worthington and Rao and Kid Omega kills Rao as the other two grab Worthington and lead him towards the roof. Kitty reaches Jimmy’s room and tries to get him out of there, only to find her powers don’t work. Thinking quickly, she tells Jimmy to stay close to her and as Juggernaut bursts through the room and heads towards them, she quickly pushes Jimmy out of the way, causing Juggernaut to knock himself out on the wall. Meanwhile, Arclight, Kid Omega, and the other mutant have Worthington on the roof and push him off but he is rescued by Warren, who swoops down to grab his father and fly him to safety. Outside, Magneto joins the fight, using his powers to throw cars from the bridge at the X-Men, as Pyro lights them on fire. As the X-Men take shelter, they notice some of the cure darts nearby and Wolverine, Hank, and Storm silently come to a decision. Wolverine tells Bobby to deal with Pyro while Storm uses her powers to summon a fog to cover the other’s movements. Bobby and Pyro face off and Pyro appears to have the upper hand, beginning to burn Bobby alive but Bobby is able to transform his body to solid ice and knocks out Pyro. Meanwhile, Wolverine has Colossus throw him at Magneto but Magneto easily stops Wolverine and causes him to slide towards his feet. As Magneto mocks Wolverine for never learning, Wolverine tells him he did, just as Hank jumps down behind Magneto and stabs him with several doses of the cure. As Magneto reals from the fact that he is now human, he turns to Jean and warns her that this is the same fate they intend for her. Wolverine tries talking to Jean, telling her it is over, when the military’s reinforcements show up and suddenly start shooting at Jean. Phoenix regains control of Jean and uses her powers to stop the darts, then disintegrates the darts, as well as the soldiers who fired them. As Jean begins to destroy the entire island, Wolverine realizes his healing factor gives him the only chance at stopping Jean and tells Storm to get everyone off the island. As everyone evacuates, with Phoenix killing off Arclight, Kid Omega, and some of the others that were too late in getting away, Wolverine approaches her and tries to call out to Jean. Phoenix blasts Wolverine with her power, stripping away his flesh all the way down to the bone in some places, but he finally reaches her side. Jean manages to get control briefly and asks Wolverine to save her and he tells her that he loves her, then stabs her in the chest. Jean reacts to the wound, then gets a sad smile on her face as she dies and Wolverine cradles her body and cries out in grief. Some time later, things are starting to go back to normal at the mansion, with Storm taking over as headmaster of the school. Bobby finds that Rogue has returned and she apologizes but says she had to take the cure and he says he didn’t want that but she says she did as she is able to take his hand with no ill effects. As Storm is greeting a new class of students, Wolverine is watching a news report, where the President announces Hank as the new ambassador to the United Nations. In San Francisco, Warren is seen flying around the city and passes over a park, where Magneto sits at a chess table and as he gestures towards one of the pieces, it starts to wobble, indicating the cure might not be permanent after all. Elsewhere, Moira MacTaggert checks on a patient that has been comatose for years when the patient suddenly greets her in Xavier’s voice.

X-Men: The Last Stand met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “X-Men: The Last Stand provides plenty of mutant action for fans of the franchise, even if it does so at the expense of its predecessors’ deeper character moments.” Bryan Singer, who had directed the first two movies, has admitted to regretting his decision to decline from directing this movie in order to direct Superman Returns. Despite the mixed reviews from the critics, the movie was a success at the box office, earning $459.4 million off of a $210 million budget.

AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH. There are no words to describe my disappointment with this movie but I will try. The acting was decent, with the returning characters doing good jobs in their roles. I will say that I loved Kelsey Grammer as Beast, thinking he fit the role pretty well, but as much as I like Vinnie Jones, he was completely miscast as Juggernaut and gave us one of the worst lines to ever be put into memes. The story honestly felt a little disjointed, as it tried to have two major plots going, Jean’s Phoenix powers emerging and the whole fight over the cure, and in the attempt to try and give them equal merit, actually weakened both stories of some serious impact as these two stories could have made incredibly compelling movies on their own. I thought the story about the cure, especially how it played into Rogue and Bobby’s relationship, was really good. As for the Phoenix story, that was incredibly disappointing and honestly felt like a slap in the face to fanboy me. The special effects were pretty good and did have some good scenes, such as the Golden Gate bridge scene but special effects can accent a movie, but doesn’t necessarily make it a good movie. A disappointing end to a trilogy and a disappointing movie all around.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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

June 8th, 2018 Movie – X2: X-Men United

x2-xmen united

When you have a smash hit on your hands, it is usually a good idea to go ahead and strike while the iron is hot with regards to movie sequels. That was definitely the case for today’s movie. When I first heard that the plot was being based in part on the graphic novel “God Loves, Man Kills”, I was immediately on board because that was one of the more powerful one-shot stories that I read as a kid. Then I started to worry and wondered if they would be able to do the story justice, or if it would be completely butchered. In the end, there was only one way to figure it out and that was to go see it. Now to find out whether my fears were justified with today’s movie, X2: X-Men United.

The plot: During a tour of the White House, the mutant Nightcrawler teleports away from the group and makes his way towards the Oval Office, taking out secret service guards along the way. He eventually manages to reach the President and prepares to stab him when one of the agents manages to fire a shot and wound his arm, causing him to drop the knife and teleport away. Meanwhile, Wolverine makes his way to an abandoned military base at Alkali Lake in Alberta, Canada, hoping to find something there that will help him remember the missing pieces of his past but he has no luck. Elsewhere, Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm are taking some of the students from the school to a field trip at the New York Science Museum. During the trip, Jean starts having trouble with her telepathy, hearing thoughts from everyone in the building, as well as thoughts from the Secret Service in the White House. Cyclops questions her about and she admits that she has been losing control of both her telepathy and telekinesis and doesn’t know what’s going on. Meanwhile, Rogue, Bobby Drake, and John Allerdyce (Pyro) are hanging out in the food court when two guys ask Pyro for a light, as he is messing around with his lighter. Pyro refuses but the guy grabs the lighter and lights a cigarette and when he asks Pyro what he is going to do about it, Pyro causes the cigarette to flare up, catching the guy’s arm on fire. As the guy flails around, Pyro simply laughs and Bobby is forced to use his power to put out the fire. Suddenly, everyone in the museum freezes as Professor Xavier uses his powers to stop them so he can chastise Pyro but when they notice the report about the attack on the White House, they all quickly leave. At the White House, Colonel William Stryker meets with the President and they are joined by Senator Robert Kelly, who is actually Mystique in disguise. Stryker wants the President to authorize a special op to take out Xavier’s school, claiming that it is a mutant training center due to information he obtained from interrogating Magneto. Kelly argues that it is a school but when Stryker shows a picture of a plane seen leaving the school, the President agrees, but warns Stryker only to detain and question but do not kill any kids, as he doesn’t want a picture of that to appear on the news. As Stryker leaves the Oval Office, Kelly chases after him and asks to arrange a visit to question Magneto but Stryker refuses, causing Kelly to question Stryker’s zeal for waging a war against mutants. Some time later, Stryker pays another visit to Magneto, using a special serum applied to a wound on his neck to render him passive and unable to refuse to answer any questions he is asked. At the mansion, Cyclops, Jean, Storm, and Xavier are discussing the ramifications of the attack on the President and Xavier asks Jean and Storm to capture the mutant and bring him back to the mansion. At the same time, Logan returns to the mansion, where Rogue greets him and introduces him to Bobby, her boyfriend. Storm and Jean then talk with Logan, asking him to keep a watch on the mansion while they go to find the mutant. Logan heads down to see Xavier, who is using Cerebro to try and locate the mutant that attacked the President. When he is finished, Logan asks Xavier to read his mind again but Xavier says it won’t help and that sometimes, the mind simply must remember things on it’s own, but promises to talk with him more about the matter when he and Cyclops return. Back in D.C., Mystique changes into Stryker’s aide, Yuriko, and makes his way into Stryker’s office, where she locates the information on Magneto’s prison and guard detail. While she prints up the information, she notices a folder marked Cerebro and when she opens it, she finds Stryker has details on the device, as well as plans for alterations. Before she can do anything further, the real Yuriko enters the room and Mystique quickly changes into a janitor and leaves. Jean and Storm locate Nightcrawler in a church in Boston, where they learn that he is teleporter, explaining Xavier’s difficulty tracking him. After subduing talking with him, they learn that he has no recollection of attacking the President and when Jean wants to take him back to the mansion to further treat his injury, they notice the circular mark on his neck. Meanwhile, Xavier and Cyclops head to Magneto’s prison and while Cyclops stays back with the guards, Xavier goes on alone into the cell, where he notices the bruising on Magneto’s face. When he questions him about it, Magneto tells him that he has had frequent visits by Stryker. Xavier remembers him, as his son Jason was a former student at the school, but he couldn’t help Jason the way that Stryker wanted him too. When Magneto questions Xavier about Logan, mocking Xavier’s reluctance to pry into his mind for fear of losing another of his precious X-Men, Xavier asks Magneto what he told Stryker and Magneto says everything. As gas begins to fill the chamber, Magneto tells Xavier that he should have killed him when he had the chance and Xavier turns and yells out for Cyclops. In the guard’s area, Yuriko appears and attempts to tranquilize Cyclops but he blasts her with his eye beam, then fights off the guards. He heads to the door to free Xavier but Yuriko recovers and quickly knocks him out as Xavier slumps to the ground. Back at the mansion, Wolverine wakes up from a nightmare regarding his past and finds Bobby in the kitchen eating some ice cream. As the two talk, Stryker’s team begins infiltrating the mansion and starts tranquilizing the students. Wolverine hears something and goes to check it out, returning in time to save Bobby from being attacked by one of Stryker’s men. One of the students, Shadowcat, sees the men and is able to phase through her bed and escape from them. Another student, Siryn, wakes up and begins screaming when she sees the men, alerting the rest of the students to the danger before she is knocked out. Colossus heads to her room, changing to his steel form, and knocks out the men attempting to capture Siryn, then leads some of the other students to safety. Wolverine kills the man he is fighting with, then starts killing some of the other soldiers, rescuing another student and giving him to Colossus to take out of there with the other students. Bobby goes looking for Rogue, getting Pyro to help him and when they find her, they attempt to escape from the soldiers, eventually being rescued by Wolverine. Wolverine leads them to another escape passage and closes it behind them, then goes to face the soldiers only to be confronted by Stryker, who remarks that it has been 15 years since he last saw Wolverine. As Stryker continues to talk to Wolverine, an ice wall suddenly separates them and Wolverine turns to see Rogue and Bobby had returned. Rogue pleads with him to come with them and Wolverine reluctantly does so, taking Cyclops’s car to make their escape. As they drive off, Rogue asks where they are going and when Wolverine says they are heading to Boston, as that is where Jean and Storm are, Bobby says his parents live there and Wolverine decides to head there to hide. Back in the mansion, Stryker is told that most of the mutants escaped but they managed to capture 6 of them, as his men work on breaking into Cerebro’s chamber. Elsewhere, Mystique, disguised as a hooker, picks up one of the guards in Magneto’s prison and after giving him a laced drink, injects some iron directly into his bloodstream. At Stryker’s facility, Xavier regains consciousness to find Styker watching him. When Stryker tries talking to him about his son, Stryker tells Xavier that after he returned from Xavier’s school, he started placing images into the heads of him and his wife and his wife eventually took a power drill and committed suicide by trying to drill the images out. Xavier realizes that Styker arranged the attack on the President and Stryker says that he has plans for Xavier to help him in dealing with the mutant problem, leaving Xavier there with his son, Jason, who begins using his powers to weaken Xavier’s willpower. In Boston, Bobby lets everyone into his parent’s house and he heads to his parent’s room to get some clothes for Rogue. After she changes, they kiss briefly and when it doesn’t have a bad effect on Bobby, they kiss even more but Rogue starts absorbing too much of Bobby’s energy and she quickly apologizes. Meanwhile, Wolverine tries using the communicator he found in Cyclops’s car to get in touch with Jean when Bobby’s family returns home and Bobby quickly comes downstairs to talk with them. In Magneto’s prison, the guard Mystique drugged goes to bring Magneto his food but Magneto, sensing the additional iron in the guard, rips it from his body, killing the guard. Fashioning the iron into ball bearings, Magneto uses them to destroy his cell and kill the other guards while making his escape. In Boston, Bobby’s parents are having a hard time coming to grips with Bobby telling them he is a mutant and his brother Ronny runs off and secretly calls the police. In the Blackbird, Storm and Jean can’t make contact with anyone at the mansion and eventually manage to contact Wolverine, who tells them where they are and tells them to hurry as the police show up. Wolverine heads outside to speak with the cops and ends up getting shot in the head. As the police tell Rogue, Bobby, and Pyro to get on  the ground, Rogue and Bobby comply but Pyro decides to attack the cops. When he sets one of the police cars on fire and refuses to stop, Rogue uses her powers to absorb his and put the fires out, just as Jean and Storm arrive. Wolverine recovers from the bullet and leads the kids onto the jet, with Bobby taking one last look at his family before boarding, and they quickly leave. Back in Stryker’s base, Jason continues using his powers and eventually manages to overcome Xavier’s will, tricking him into thinking he is a little girl and Xavier leads her away towards Cerebro. Back on the jet, Storm alerts everyone that two fighter jets are approaching them, just as the jets order them to follow them to a nearby air force base. When they don’t respond, the two jets fall back and move to fire on them so Storm uses her powers to summon some funnel clouds. The twisters manage to destroy the planes but not before one of the pilots is able to fire two missiles at them. Jean is able to stop one of them but the second one hits them, opening a hole in the tail section and causing them to plummet to the ground. Rogue, whose harness wasn’t fastened properly, gets sucked out of the hole but she is rescued by Nightcrawler. As the plane drops to the ground, it suddenly repairs itself before coming to a stop, and the surprised X-Men see Magneto and Mystique below them. That night, Jean, Storm, and Wolverine speak with Magneto and Mystique, who tells them about Styker and his plans. Informing them that with Cerebro and Xavier, Stryker could manage to get Xavier to kill every mutant on Earth, then comments about how Stryker was the one that bonded the adamantium to Wolverine. When they ask why he helped them, Magneto tells them that Mystique downloaded the plans for the base but not it’s location and he believes one of them does, looking up to indicate Nightcrawler, who had been snooping on their conversation. Jean uses her telepathy to learn that Stryker’s base is at Alkali Lake and when Logan says he didn’t see anything there, she says it is underneath the lake. With final repairs still taking several hours to complete, the group prepare to make camp for the night and Wolverine talks with Jean for a bit, bringing up the tension between them. Jean tells him that girls want someone that is willing to stick around, not just leave whenever they feel like it and Wolverine says he could find a reason to stay before kissing her but Jean asks him to stop and not to make her choose between Cyclops and him. Later that night, Jean goes to Wolverine’s tent and starts kissing him but as he moves his hands up her shirt, he feels three scars on her chest and realizes it is Mystique, who taunts him by changing into Storm, Rogue, and back into Jean before turning into Stryker and asking him what he really wants. The next day, they fly to Alkali Lake and Magneto and Mystique tease Rogue about her hair, prompting Bobby to lead Rogue away from them before she tries anything. Magneto then speaks with Pyro some and begins to bond with him, as Pyro has been feeling stifled with having to keep his powers hidden all the time. Back in their base, Stryker is told that the machine is finished and one of his soldiers asks why he is keeping the children there and Stryker tells him it is to see if his machine works. Outside the base, Storm and the others are discussing the best way to enter the base and stop Styker. Wolverine says he should go, as he feels Stryker would want to keep him alive, but Magneto says Wolverine won’t be able to manage the controls for the spillway. Mystique, disguised as Wolverine, goes instead and is let inside but when Stryker gets a closer look at him, he realizes this Wolverine is a fake and orders his men to shoot him. Mystique manages to get away and lock herself into the control room, opening the spillway so that Magneto and the others can enter. Realizing that time is running out, Stryker and Yuriko head to the Cerebro room, where he orders Jason to tell the mesmerized Xavier to start searching for all of the mutants all over the world, knowing that if Xavier focuses hard enough on them, he will inadvertently kill them all. When Magneto and the X-Men join Mystique in the control room, they start discussing plans and Wolveirne notices a monitor showing Styker and Yuriko trying to escape and he secretly goes off after him. Meanwhile, Storm notices the monitor showing the children and asks Nightcrawler to help her rescue them but is worried about leaving Jean and Wolverine with Magneto. When she asks where Wolverine is, Jean looks and sees his communicator lying on the table and says disappointedly that he is gone. Storm and Nightcrawler reach the children and Nightcrawler begins teleporting down to their cell to rescue them. Meanwhile, Jean, Magneto, and Mystique head towards the Cerebro chamber but when Jean senses the mesmerized Cyclops about to attack them, she telekineticaly shoves Magneto and Mystique to safety, then yells at them to keep going while she deals with Cyclops. After knocking him down to a lower level, Jean goes looking for him only for Cyclops to try and blast her again. Jean uses her powers to block his blast and, with a sudden surge of power (and a flash of fire in her eyes) she causes a massive feedback wave, knocking both of them back but also damaging the dam. As Jean lays dazed on the floor, Cyclops approaches her but as she readies to defend herself again, he says he is ok and apologizes for attacking her. The two embrace and Cyclops helps her to his feet but Jean suddenly says that something is wrong. Meanwhile, Stryker and Yuriko are making their way out of the base when Stryker feels water dripping from the ceiling and looking up, he notices cracks in the foundation. Heading to a bank of panels, he checks the readings and yells out as he realizes his plans might come to naught. Wolverine reaches the chamber where the adamantium was bonded to him and he starts having flashback of the experience. As shakes off the memories, Stryker appears and starts talking to him before exiting the room, leaving Yuriko there to handle Wolverine. Wolverine tries to go past her but she attacks him, revealing that she also had adamantium bonded to her and a healing factor. As the two keep fighting, Yuriko appears to get the upper hand and is about to kill him but Wolverine grabs an injection gun for the liquid adamantium and stabs her with it, injecting her body full of the liquid metal and sending her sinking to the bottom of the tank. Back on the jet, Pyro gets tired of waiting around and decides to head into the base to see what is happening, taunting Rogue and Bobby for always doing what they are told. Outside the Cerebro chamber, Magneto pulls the pins for the grenades that all of the soldiers are carrying, killing all of them, then approaches the door. Inside, Jason has Xavier concentrate on finding all of the mutants causing all of the mutants on Earth to start writhing in pain. Magneto, protected from the psychic attack by his helmet, uses his powers to open the door, disrupting power to Cerebro. He then heads inside and decides to change the pattern of the Cerebro plating, so that it will kill all of the humans, instead of the mutants. Mystique, who has recovered from the attack, changes into Stryker and tells Jason to kill all of the human instead. Outside, Stryker attempts to get away on his helicopter but he is stopped by Logan, who stabs him and asks about his past. Stryker tells him he volunteered for the project and if he remembered all of the things they had done, he would consider not knowing them a blessing. Suddenly, they hear a siren going off and Stryker tells him the dam is about to burst and the whole base will be flooded. He offers to tell Wolverine everything if he helps him get out of here but Wolverine chains Stryker to the landing gear then heads back to save his friends. As Stryker works on getting free of his bonds, he is suddenly struck by Xavier’s psychic attack and he starts writhing in pain. Outside the Cerebro chamber, Storm, Nightcrawler, and the students are joined by Jean and Cyclops, and Jean explains what is going on. Realizing they can’t open the door without killing Xavier, Storm asks Nightcrawler to teleport her inside the chamber. Nightcrawler does so and they are confronted by Jason, sending them the same illusion of the little girl he is using on Xavier, but Storm doesn’t fall for his deceptions and when she can’t make contact with Xavier, she uses her powers to lower the temperature in the room. Outside, Magneto and Mystique reach Stryker’s helicopter, with Magneto forcefully removing Stryker from the landing gear, and as they go to leave, they see Pyro outside watching them and they take him with them. Back in the Cerebro chamber, Storm’s efforts are rewarded as Jason looses his hold on Xavier, who is able to stop Cerebro, just as the dam starts to break and the base floods. Nightcrawler teleports Storm and Xavier to safety before the debris crushes them and they all head towards the exit to leave the spillway but they are stopped when Logan seals the doors just as the spillway floods and he leads them outside. Logan leads them outside to where the helicopter was only to find it missing but suddenly, the Blackbird appears, as Bobby and Rogue attempted to fly it to them. Everyone heads for the Blackbird but before he goes there, Wolverine discovers Striker trapped against some rocks where Magneto left him. Stryker asks Wolverine if he will find the answers he seeks with them and Wolverine says he will take his chances with them and walks away, as Stryker yells out that one day, someone will finish what he started. On board the plane, Xavier tells Cyclops that they have to head to Washington, as he fears this isn’t over yet. As they attempt to leave, Storm asks where Pyro is and Jean is able to tell that he is with Magneto. As the plane isn’t able to start, Jean senses that the dam has broke and she quietly walks off the plane. Wishing to keep her loved ones safe, she closes the loading ramp and and prevents Nightcrawler from teleporting to save her. She then telekineticaly lifts the plane into air while holding back the wave of water from crushing them. Speaking telepathically through Xavier, she tells them that this is the only way and wishes them goodbye. With her body surrounded by a glowing flame, she easily lifts the plane to safety and sends them flying, then allows the wave to crash down around her, as Cyclops cries out in grief over her death. In D.C., the President is preparing to give a live broadcast to discuss the phenomenon that affected the world when the power fluctuates and he notices everyone but him is frozen. As a storm suddenly occurs outside, darkening the room, a bolt of lightning reveals Xavier and the X-Men in the room. Xavier addresses the President and has Rogue hand him files that Shadowcat retrieved from Stryker’s office, revealing he was behind the attack on the President. Xavier explains that there are people, both human and mutant, that want feel that a war is coming between the two species but the President has been presented an opportunity to try and work towards peace instead, which is what they want as well. Another bolt of lightning occurs and Xavier and everyone is gone, and the President is left with the folder to prove that he didn’t imagine what happened. Back at the mansion, Xavier, Cyclops, and Wolverine are discussing Jean and as Cyclops and Wolverine leave so Xavier can teach his class, Wolverine tells Cyclops that Jean made a choice and choose him (Cyclops). In the class room, Xavier is about to address the children when he suddenly looks away for a minute before getting a smile on his face and turning back to the children, while in Alkali Lake, the flaming outline of a phoenix can be seen moving underneath the water.

X2: X-Men United met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor — and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.” The Sentinels, the mutant hunter/killer robots from the comics, were initially supposed to be used in this movie but due to budgeting and rewrites, they ended up being scrapped. They would make a somewhat brief appearance in X-Men: The Last Stand, though they weren’t referenced by name, and would be a central plot line for X-Men: Days Of Future Past. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $407.7 million off of a $125 million budget and set up way for a sequel.

This was a really good movie and definitely showed some improvement from the first one. The acting was pretty good, with all of the returning character doing good jobs in their roles. I thought that Brian Cox was great as Stryker and Kelly Hu was decent as Yuriko (Lady Deathstrike) but I really wish they could have given her at least a little bit of character instead of making her nothing more than a robotic slave. The story was great, sticking fairly close to the graphic novel, but with some changes necessitated by the previous movie, as well as a little creative licensing. The minor change of making Stryker a black ops colonel, as opposed to a religious figurehead like he was in the comic, actually played out better in the movie and I liked how they made Magneto even more ruthless in this, as instead of simply leaving with Xavier and the X-Men like in the comic, he chose to alter Stryker’s plans in an attempt to kill all of the humans on Earth, which is a rather twisted sense of irony in that Magneto, a survivor of the Holocaust, would actively attempt to cause widespread genocide. I also liked how they dealt with Jean and her powers, slowly giving hints to the phoenix persona beginning to emerge by showing glimpses of fire in her eyes as she uses her powers. The special effects were really good throughout the whole move, especially during the jet chase scene amidst all of the funnel clouds as that was an incredible bit of artistic work. All in all, this is a great comic book movie and definitely something worth watching whenever it comes on.

Rating 4 1/2 out of 5

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

June 7th, 2018 Movie – X-Men

x-men

A new century is upon us and with it came the rise of something we never thought we would see; Marvel Comics exploding onto the big screen. Yes, technically the Marvel Movie phenomenon really started with Blade back in 1998 (or you could even say with Men In Black in ’97)  but it was today’s movie that really made everyone take notice. Now I have been a fan of the X-Men ever since I first saw them guest star in some episodes of Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends as a kid. They would soon become a staple of my comic buying days and when I first heard that a live action movie was being made, I hoped that it would not be a complete debacle. Well, I know it has been a while since it first came out but let’s see just how good today’s movie is as I watch X-Men.

The plot: In 1944 Poland, young Erik Lehnsherr is separated from his parents when the enter a concentration camp. As he tries to get to his parents, the guards try to stop him and Erik’s mutant powers begin to manifest, allowing him to bend the metal gate until a guard knocks him unconscious. In present day Meridian, MS, a young girl named Marie is at her boyfriend’s house, discussing her plans to run away and travel the country. When the two kiss, Marie suddenly starts to absorb his life force and her boyfriend starts seizing. She screams out, alerting his parents, and as they rush to tend to him and calm Marie, she yells at them not to touch her. Some time later, in Washington D.C., Jean Grey is speaking in front of the senate and trying to discourage them from passing Senator Kelly’s Mutant Registration Bill but Kelly, posing extreme hypotheticals and using fear tactics, gets the audience on his side. Charles Xavier is in attendance and as he sadly watches the audience applaud Kelly’s speech, he notices Erik is also in attendance. When Erik leaves the assembly, Xavier heads out to talk with him and Erik tells him that he heard all of this before and asks Xavier not to get in his way, saying that mutants are the future. Meanwhile, Marie has hitchhiked up to a small town in Alberta, Canada and as she enters the bar, she watches a man called the Wolverine gets beat down in a cage fight before coming back and winning the fight. As the bar closes down for the night, Rogue is drinking some water at the bar when Wolverine sits down and orders a beer. When the loser of the fight goes up to Wolverine and complains about him cheating, then tries to stab him in the back, Rogue shouts out a warning to Wolverine, who dodges the attack, then pins the man against a post with his claws. When the bartender points a shotgun at Wolverine, he uses the claws on his other hand to cut the gun in half and after staring down the two men, leaves the bar. After driving down the road a little ways, Wolverine discovers Rogue hiding in his trailer and he leaves her on the side of the road at first but has a change of heart and lets her into his camper. As the two talk for a bit, where Wolverine introduces himself as Logan, a tree suddenly falls in front of them, causing the truck to crash and Logan to go flying out of the truck. Rogue finds herself stuck as the camper catches on fire and Logan recovers and moves to help her when he is attacked by Sabertooth, who knocks him unconscious. As Sabertooth approaches the camper, he is suddenly attacked by Storm and Cyclops, who quickly rescue Rogue and drag Wolverine to safety before the camper explodes. When Wolverine regains consciousness, he finds himself being attended to by Jean and quickly grabs her but then releases her as he leaves the room. Finding himself in a strange corridor, he finds a hoodie he can wear and tries to find his way out of there when he hears a voice in his head. He eventually ends up in a room with Xavier, who is teaching a couple of children physics, and after the students leave, he introduces himself. Xavier explains to Logan that this is a school for mutants to train them in how to use their powers so they can reenter society without being a threat. He then tells him about Magneto and asks Logan to give him 48 hours to figure out what Magneto wants with him and then he is free to go wherever he wants. Meanwhile, Sabertooth returns to Magneto’s lair and informs him about the X-Men stopping him and Magento says that they have to prepare for the UN summit on Ellis Island. When Senator Kelly boards a helicopter and flies off, his aide Henry Gyrich reveals himself to actually be the shape-shifting mutant Mystique, who knocks him out then joins the pilot, Toad. When Kelly regains consciousness, he finds himself in Magneto’s lair and Magneto talks with him briefly before stepping into a machine and activating it, bathing Kelly in a radiation which Magneto feels will induce mutation in him, but weakening Magneto at the same time. Back in New York, Jean runs tests on Logan and discovers his skeleton and claws are infused with adamantium and the only reason he survived is due to his mutant healing factor. As Jean shows him to a room he can stay in for the night, Logan starts flirting with her but she tells him she is with Cyclops. That night, Logan has a nightmare about his forgotten past, brought on when Jean attempted to read his mind and saw the process where he got his adamantium. Hearing his cries, Rogue goes to check on him but when she moves to wake him, Logan lashes out and accidentally impales Rogue with his claws. Logan calls out for help but before anyone can get there, Rogue teaches him and steals his powers, allowing herself to heal, then apologizes to Storm, Jean, and Cyclops before leaving the room, with the other students quickly stepping out of her way. Back at Magneto’s lair, Kelly has been imprisoned so that Magneto can see if his machine works but Kelly has gained the ability to make his body elastic and is able to escape. Back at the mansion, Rogue is approached by one of the students, Bobby Drake, who tells her that Xavier is upset with her and she should probably go ahead and leave the school but when Rogue leaves, Bobby is revealed to be Mystique in disguise. Logan comes too and asks about Rogue, whom Xavier says is fine, but when he goes looking for her, he discovers that she is gone. Xavier uses Cerebro to locate her at a train station and Logan wants to go get her but Xavier says it is too dangerous. He sends Cyclops and Storm out there but Logan steals Cyclops’s motorcycle and rides off ahead of them. Back at the mansion, Mystique makes her way to Cerebro and sabotages it, then leaves the mansion. At the train station, Logan finds Rogue on one of the trains and after talking with her for a bit, tells her that he thinks Xavier really wants to help her and it would be best if she goes back there. Meanwhile, Storm is asking the ticket agent if she has seen Rogue when she is attacked by Sabertooth. Cyclops goes to help her but Toad manages to grab his visor, causing Cyclops beams to go out of control until he is able to close his eyes. Meanwhile, Magneto stops the train that Rogue and Logan are on and as Logan faces off against him, Magneto easily is able to overpower him. When Logan asks what Magneto wants with him, Magneto tells him that he never wanted him and Logan realizes they were after Rogue, just before Magneto knocks him out, then captures Rogue. Sabertooth and Toad join Magneto and they start to leave with Rogue when the police show up and try to stop them. Magneto disarms the police and points there guns back at him when Sabertooth suddenly grabs him by the throat and Toad starts to leave with Rogue. Realizing that Xavier is there, Magneto speaks out to him, then threatens to kill the police and the only way to stop him is to kill him and Xavier reluctantly releases his hold on Sabertooth and Toad, allowing Magneto to leave. Back at the mansion, Logan is upset about Rogue being kidnapped and wants to go find her but as he opens the door to leave, he finds Senator Kelly there. Kelly is brought to the infirmary and as they try to help him, Xavier reads his mind to discover what happened. As Xavier explains what happened to Logan, Cyclops, and Jean, they realize that Magneto plans to transfer his powers to Rogue to power the machine, sacrificing her life instead of his own. In the infirmary, Kelly asks if someone is there and when Storm says she is, he talks briefly with her before his body dissolves. When Storm tells the others that Kelly is dead, Xavier goes to use Cerebro to find Magneto and Rogue but is incapacitated by Mystique’s sabotage. As Cyclops sits with Xavier in the infirmary, Jean repairs Cerebro and then uses it to locate where Rogue is and they figure out that Magneto plans to use the device to mutate the members of the summit. Cyclops, Jean, Storm, and Logan head out to Liberty Island to try and stop Magneto and when they enter the base of the statue, Logan says someone is there. He goes looking for the other person, motioning Cyclops and the others to stay there. When he returns, he moves to stab Cyclops but another Logan stops him, as the Logan that was about to attack Cyclops is revealed to be Mystique, then quickly locks them in another part of the building to prevent Cyclops from accidentally blasting the wrong one. Before the can react, Toad appears and attacks Cyclops, Jean, and Storm, locking Cyclops into a display, knocking Storm down an elevator shaft, and spitting some gunk onto Jean’s face, suffocating her. Cyclops is able to free himself and then save Jean while Storm emerges from the elevator shaft and uses her hurricane winds to knock Toad away. He manages to save himself by using his tongue to grab onto the railing but Storm summons a lightning bolt to electrocute him, sending him flying out into the water. Meanwhile, Logan and Mystique continue fighting and when he starts to get the upper hand, she manages to get away. As Logan goes looking for her, Storm joins him and says that they should regroup with the team but Wolverine stabs her, revealing that Storm was actually Mystique. After they all regroup, they head up to the torch when Wolverine suddenly warns them to run, as he is unable to move. The X-Men are suddenly trapped by Magneto’s power and after making sure they can’t move, he heads up to the torch to use Rogue to activate the machine, leaving Sabertooth to guard the X-Men. Logan stabs himself in order to get free and begins fighting with Sabertooth on the top of the Statue of Liberty. Sabertooth gets the upper hand and throws him off the statue, then goes inside to kill the rest of the X-Men but Logan returns and, with Jean’s help, gets Cyclops to blast Sabertooth out of the statue and send him crashing onto a harbor patrol boat below. Seeing that Magneto has activated the device, Logan has Storm and Jean send him up to the machine, where he works to free Rogue. Magneto tries to stop him but Cyclops is able to blast Magneto, allowing Logan to destroy the machine before the radiation reaches Ellis island. After freeing Rogue and finding her unresponsive, he places her bare skin against his, using her power to siphon off his healing factor to save her life. Magneto is captured by the authorities but Mystique, who survived being stabbed, changes to a security guard and is taken to a hospital for treatment. Some time later, both Xavier and Logan recover from their injuries and Logan asks how Rogue is doing and Jean tells him she is fine. Xavier tells Logan about an abandoned military base at Alkali Lake in Canada and says that it might be the best chance for finding out more about his past and Logan thanks him. Later, Xavier, Storm, Cyclops, and Jean are watching TV when they notice that Senator Kelly is on TV, reversing his position on the Mutant Registration Act, and they realize that Kelly is actually Mystique. As Logan goes to leave, Marie stops him at the door and says she doesn’t want him to leave and Logan hands her his dog tags, telling her that he will be back to get them from her. As Logan rides off, having stolen Cyclop’s motorcycle again, Xavier pays a visit to Magneto in his special plastic cell and Magneto says that he will escape one day to continue the fight and Xavier says he will be waiting for his old friend when he does.

X-Men met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Faithful to the comics and filled with action, X-Men brings a crowded slate of classic Marvel characters to the screen with a talented ensemble cast and surprisingly sharp narrative focus.” Shortly after accepting the role of Magneto, Ian McKellen was offered the role of Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. He originally was forced to turn down the role but after talking with director Bryan Singer about his desire to be in The Lord Of The Rings, Singer agreed to alter the shooting schedule so that McKellen filmed all of his scenes by the end of 1999 so he could head to New Zealand to start working on The Lord Of The Rings. The movie was a box office success, earning $296.3 million off of a $75 million budget and would go on to spawn 2 sequels, 3 prequels, and 5 spin-offs, with 2 more films in the series set to be released.

Luckily for everyone that this movie turned out pretty good cause otherwise, who knows what superhero movies would have looked like in the future. The acting was good, with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen doing great jobs as Xavier and Magneto respectively. I also thought that Hugh Jackman, James Marsden, and Famke Janssen did good jobs with Logan, Cyclops, and Jean respectively and did a great job bringing the tension among the three in the comics onto the big screen. The story was interesting, mainly because the idea of forcing mutations like that felt a little out of character from the way Magneto usually is in the comics. This actually felt more like something that Mr. Sinister or Apocalypse would do, not Magneto. The special effects were pretty good and definitely some of the best around at the time. I do think that they went overboard with some of the slow motion action scenes during Wolverine’s fights but other wise, it was highly enjoyable. Super hero movies have come a long way since this movie but this is still a great movie to watch on it’s own merits and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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