Rodent's Reviews

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Lethal Weapon 4

Years after the third outing, Riggs and Murtaugh have now both become grizzled and old. Murtaugh is set to be a grandfather and Riggs and Lorna are also expecting their first child.
During a fishing trip, the duo, along with Leo are shot at from a passing ship. Upon the ship's crashing into the shore, they find the boat is full of illegal immigrants and they unwittingly expose a Chinese slave labour organisation.

The fourth movie is a slightly more welcome return to the serious side of the first two films.
The plot of the characters may feel well used but the overall writing of the screenplay really brings the movie to life.
There's some lovely little similarities between Riggs and Murtaugh's family lives too that give the whole film a nice depth.

The action is definitely the most exciting of the four films. Though it's not as explosive, it utilises overall action brilliantly. This time round it's Chinese Triads that the main cast are up against. Cue lots of brilliantly staged martial arts showdowns.

The humour is again very well used, the characters this time round are so well ingrained that the comedy just comes from the actors knowing where they are from the get go.

The acting is the same as the other films again, bang on the money.
This time we're treated to Jet Li as the main antagonist Wa Sing Ku. He's brilliantly evil and unbending in his quest to make money. When taunted though, he athletically becomes a force that both Riggs and Murtaugh combined, struggle to contain.
Chris Rock, an actor I can't stand, is actually quite entertaining as the father of Murtaugh's grandchild. He's funny, annoying for the main duo and plays off both Danny Glover and Joe Pesci fantastically.

The ending is also a plus point. It wraps up the franchise perfectly.

All in all, it's an improvment over the third outing and definitely worthy of the franchise name.
My rating 93%

The Fellowship Of The Ring

Under the watchful eye of Gandalf The Grey (an incredibly old wizard), Frodo Baggins (a Hobbit from 'The Shire'), comes into possession of a gold coloured magical ring that has been passed down to him as an Heirloom from his Uncle Bilbo.
Gandalf reveals to Frodo that this magical ring is actually The One Ring that was forged by an incredibly powerful Dark Lord called Sauron thousands of years ago. After studying the legends of Sauron, Gandalf learns that the spirit of Sauron lives on in an almost ghostly form, and if he is reunited with this Master Ring, he will cover all of Middle Earth in darkness and evil for eternity.
Frodo immediately steps up to the challenge of taking the Ring to the powerful and wise Elves in a far away land called Rivendell.
But more unexpected adventure awaits, and many revelations will come to light that will take everyone involved in this journey to places that they really wish they weren't going.

Taken from J.R.R Tolkien's magnificent and history making novel, Peter Jackson has encapsulated everything fans would want to see and feel on the journey of Frodo and his friends.
For a start, a lot of the novels contain a great deal of random non-story and read almost like a historical document. Tolkien's books have been whittled down by Jackson and his writers to the bare story and have built an incredible screenplay in the process.
The other thing is the timelines of Tolkien's books. The book of The Fellowship takes place over 20 years or so, but this first film takes place over a few months. Though for on-screen purposes, they had to edit the timelines I guess.

The other thing that the filmmakers have done is built Tolkien's world of magic and history so successfully, it really feels as if the viewer has been transported into Middle Earth.
A lot of it is CG dependent, but it's very well put together, and when combined with the magnificent sets that were built, it really comes to realism.

The main part of the the movie that stands out though, is when the cast are placed in front of the fantastic backdrop of Middle Earth.

Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins is mark of absolute genius. He's incredibly believable and captures the sheer essence of the character with such skill, it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role.
Backing him up is the wonderful Sean Astin as Frodo's friend/bodyguard/companion/gardener called Samwise Gamgee, and is another mark of genius. The on-screen chemistry between the two is brilliantly real and Astin is fantastically out of his depth, eventually becoming a stalwart warrior in the series of events.
Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf... in fear of repeating myself... is yet another mark of genius from the filmmakers. McKellen was absolutely born for this role, even though at the time of filming, he hadn't ever read the novels.
Viggo Mortensen as Strider/Aragorn though, isn't quite what I was hoping for. His character has changed substantially in the transition from book to film, but Mortensen carries the rewritten role brilliantly.

Backing them up are Sean Bean as Boromir, Orlando Bloom as the kick-ass Elf Legolas, John Rhys-Davies as the Dwarf Gimli and...
Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan provide a touch of lighthearted comic relief as the Hobbits known as Peregrin 'Pippin' Took and Merriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck respectively.
Plus a gazillion extras and stuntmen as the Orks and Uruk Hai enemies for the main group to battle against.

The overall on-screen chemistry between the main cast is great throughout.

The other thing that gets the audience is the incredible actions scenes that show from time to time. They're exciting and very well choreographed.

All in all, though there are quite a few changes in the book-film transition, including a few changes to characters and even the odd plotline, it's still a fantastic movie and captures pretty much everything a fan would want from the source material. And it works for anyone who hasn't read the books too, it's that good.
My rating 95%

The Two Towers

Following on from directly The Fellowship of The Ring, Frodo and Sam are seperated from the rest of the group and find themselves stalked by a strange and upsetting character called Golum. They must protect the Ring from this creature and find a way to destroy the ring at the same time.
Meanwhile, Merry and Pippin have also been seperated from the group and captured by the Uruk Hai. In hot pursuit are Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, determined to save their Hobbit friends from the awful fate that awaits them at the hands of the Uruk Hai.
Again though... more unexpected adventure awaits on the differing paths that our heroes have taken and in the process, it will bring our heroes to the brink of destruction.

Another masterclass in filmmaking... again with more cutting and the editing out of Tolkien's random ramblings and changes to the plot and the characters during the transition, however once again, the filmmakers have still managed to piece together a magnificent story that captures Tolkien's world.

The overall look of the film is more action oriented this time round but the character development involved gives the action a heartfelt excitement.
There's also massive expansion throughout the world of Middle Earth, especially with the extra characters that are seen throughout.
The CG work has also been improved, especially with the creature Golum, he's exceptionally realistic and Andy Serkis made his career in the role (I'll get to him later).

What really makes the movie stand apart from the first, is the action. It's absolutely immense. The audience are treated to a 10,000 strong Uruk Hai army, fighting against Humans and Elves. There's also an army of walking trees for the audience to get excitied over too.
The overall choreography in the action has been ramped up as well.

The acting throughout is as the first, Aragorn's role in the story is expanded and Frodo and Sam's side story makes for quite a dark turn of events and they all hit their roles with perfection.
Bernard Hill makes a welcome show as King Theoden, he's by far one of the best on show.
Karl Urban also makes an impression and the tough and able warrior called Eomer, and Nephew of King Theoden.

Andy Serkis is who steals the show though as Golum. The actor is never actually seen on-screen but the use of motion-capture and Serkis' voiceover in the role, Golum is exceptionally realistic and the CG used is top notch.

All in all, it outweighs the first film by miles with the slightly darker feel and expanded storylines.
But with more plot and character changes during the transition, I feel I must mark it down again like I did the first movie, though it doesn't take too much away.
My rating 96%

The Return Of The King

With Frodo and Sam getting closer to the goal of destroying The One Ring, Golum has other plans for the duo, and Sam must figure out what it is that he's up to before it's too late.
Meanwhile Gandalf and Pippin have headed to Minas Tirith, the main human city in a land called Gondor, as Pippin has accidentally discovered Sauron's plans to attack the place in the hope that it will send humans into a state of disrepair. It's up to Gandalf and Pippin to warn and prepare the city for the oncoming onslaught.
King Theoden, along with Eomer is building an army of King Theoden's men and a few allies and are also heading to Minas Tirith to support the war against Sauron.
Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn have taken a seperate path, where Aragorn must either face his destiny, or leave Middle Earth to fall apart around him under the brutality of Sauron.

Once again, the filmmakers have ramped absolutely everthing up for the third installment of LOTR.
Though there's not as many new added lead characters involved, the existing characters are given much more personal expansion in this one, especially with King Theoden and Aragorn... but it's with Frodo and Sam that the real character writing makes an impression as Frodo falls deep into the evilness of The Ring.

What the viewer is given though is a look at a few other various Peoples of Middle Earth, even though many of them are bad guys.

There's also a massive expansion in the action side of things too. The audience are given more huge battles that take up most of the second and third acts of the film... one battle in particular is supposedly close to a half million strong enemy force.

The CG work and choreography is also ramped up again.

The acting throughout is, again, spot on. There's more chemistry this time round (if that was even possible), especially between Mortensen, Bloom and Rhys-Davies.
Elijah Wood and Sean Astin though really steal the show in this third film. Frodo's descent into madness and darkness is exceptionally well played by Wood, and Astin's "Samwise The Brave" is really a show of genuine acting.

All in all, a fitting and satisfactory end to Jackson's trilogy (I say Jackson's trilogy, as it is Jackson's, not Tolkien's). Again though, various changes in character and plot mark it down for me... but it's still an absolutely spell binding movie, a touch more improved than the second movie too and still well deserving of LOTR's title.
My rating 97%

Mission: Impossible

Jim Phelps and his team are set the task of recovering a stolen disc containing the identities of IMF's Secret Agents ('IMF' is Impossible Mission Force).
After a botched attempt at recovery, Phelps and his team are ambushed by another team and only two survivors remain, Frontman Ethan Hunt and Phelps' Wife, Claire.
There was evidence that a mole was part of the team and IMF immediately declare Mission Frontman Ethan as the mole and make him #1 on their hitlist.
Ethan and Claire must do everthing they can...

... to discover the true identity of the traitor, clear their names and recover the disc that could finish off IMF forever.

Keeping relatively true to the original series, MI gives the audience an almost perfect reboot of the franchise.
Brian De Palma's direction is absolutely fantastic and the overall writing, though with the odd controversial rewritten character, is absolutely bang on the money.
The plot is relatively complex, when I first watched, I was about 14 years old and was completely lost, but it's still a rip roaring spy movie in terms of actual storytelling. Which is something that most action spy movies are lacking to be honest.

The action is also brilliant. It starts out relatively small and gets progressively larger as the movie goes on... until the climax in which one the most exciting scenes in movie history takes place.
It's also wonderfully choreographed.

The acting is also great.
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt is the perfect Secret Agent. He's handsome, smart and knows how to give a bad guy a run for his money.
Jon Voight as Jim Phelps was, and still is, controversial. His character was rewritten by the filmmakers, but it actually adds to the tension and emotion of the movie and Voight is fantastic.
Emmanuelle Beart as Claire Phelps is a mark of genius. She's beautiful, naive and still has an air of intelligence about her. Her acting is spot on too.

Backed up by an ensemble cast of Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Emilio Estevez and Henry Czerny.

All in all, not the best of the MI movies, but certainly a benchmark for the series. Very well written in terms of story and plot... and the action, though not as explosive as many fans would like, is still exciting especially when that MI music gets going.
My rating 89%

Mission: Impossible - 2

Rogue IMF Agent Sean Ambrose has got his hands on a powerful viral weapon called Chimera, and also has the cure. His plans are to release the virus and hold the world at ransom for the cure and make billions for himself in the process.
Ethan Hunt and his team are called into action to stop him...

... and whether he wants to or not, must threaten the lives of the people closest to him, to get the job done.

Much more explosive sequel to the already exciting first film.
MI2 was given to director John Woo and his team of wizards, and the results are spectacular visually.
The overall storyline and plot aren't as well pieced together as the first movie, but there is a love story going on for our main man Ethan.
The basic premise of the film has been done time and time again, bad guy with a viral weapon and needs to be stopped, but Woo's direction is brilliant, especially when the story is mixed into his typical fists and guns out action.

The action is fantastic. It's like a martial arts meets James Bond meets John Woo slow-motion and high octane motorbike chases.
It's also brilliantly choreographed and gets the viewer on the edge of their seats.

The acting is about the same in this one.
We're treated to Thandie Newton this time round as the Hero's squeeze and she's almost perfect in the role. Her initial role of catburglar isn't really fitting for the actress though.

Dougray Scott makes a nice appearance as the main antagonist though. He's believable and has fun with the script.
Ving Rhames is also utilised more in this one and he hits the role perfectly.

All in all, visually brilliant, but the story needed a bit more complexity rather than the gimmick of a love interest.
Even though, I'd rate MI2 as an improvement over the first, simply because of the highly exciting scenes that make the slightly lacking storyline work so well.
My rating 91%

Mission: Impossible - 3

Black Market Dealer Owen Davian is being watched by IMF as he has a mysterious object known as "The Rabbit's Foot", a possible deadly virus.
Whatever this object actually is, it is obviously highly dangerous if Davian has it up for sale, and Ethan Hunt and his team are called into action to recover the item, and bring Davian in for interrogation...

... but Ethan's new Wife is brought into play when Davian shows himself to be more skilled in escape than they realised.

This time JJ Abrams makes his feature film debut as director and he really nails it... right down to the smallest details.

The movie is even more explosive this time round and the story hasn't taken second place either.
It's not as complex as the first, but it's still full of little twists and turns and the overall writing is absolutely top notch, especially the character writing and the audience connection to the characters.

What makes MI3 stand out though, is that it doesn't lose the viewer like the first one did. It's that well pieced together.

The action is also highly exciting. There's more real world based action going on with the odd hit of fantasy based choreography too, which gives it an edge over the second movie in terms of excitement. With the character connection the audience has, it makes it even better.

This time round the audience has Ethan's new wife in the form of Michelle Monaghan and she's absolutely perfect as the lost girl who finds an inner strength when the going gets tough.

It's Philip Seymour Hoffman as antagonist Owen Davian who steals the show though. He's highly threatening and very believable as a baddie.
Hoffman at one point has to eminate Cruise's performance due to the 'rubber mask thing' that MI is famous for and he's absolutely spot on.

All in all, another improvement in the franchise. More action, more story, more enigmatic direction and one of my favourite action films going.
My rating 96%

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

During a routine mission, one of IMF's Agents is killed in the field and a file containing Russian Nuclear Launch Codes ends up going missing.
The team behind the botched mission call in Ethan Hunt to take control of their mistake in the hope they can fix this rather big problem.
However, after their mission takes another turn for the worse, Ethan and the team are labelled as Terrorists and IMF is shut down by the President Of The United States.
Ethan and the team must get their acts together and go Rogue, in order to recover the Codes, find the real Terrorists...

... and stop the entire world from entering into a Nuclear War.

Brad Bird takes the helm for this installment and it's not as explosive as its predecessors.
It is however, very exciting in terms of story rather than just exciting in terms of action. The Nuclear War threat is the main thing in this one and the stakes have never been higher for our Hero... and the writers really nail the importance of this story.
There'a also nice little twists and turns in terms of character development too which was slightly lacking in the previous three movies.

The action, as I said, isn't as big and brash in this one, but is utilised as needed and some of the scenes involving Ethan having to sneak around various Government buildings are toe-curling in terms of tension.

There's also a little more humour in this one with the presence of Simon Pegg. It adds a more universal feel to the film and makes for a few, almost slapstick laughs.

The acting this time round has been finely tuned with Cruise. He's very good as the Agent gone Rogue.
Jeremy Renner makes a fantastic appearance as William Brandt... an IMF Analyst who is more than he seems.

Simon Pegg, as I said, makes a great show as Benji. A newly qualified Field Agent and stalwart pal of Ethan.

There's not much of a show from the bad guys this time round... they're more mysterious than anything else, but it adds to the flavour of the secrecy of their mission.

All in all, a step back in terms of action, but the story makes up for that and gives the action scenes more of an impact when they happen. It's also by far the most universal in terms of audience connection due to the humour involved.
My rating, the same as MI3 at 96%

The Expendables 2

Barney Ross and his band of Brothers have hit a snag... the after math of the first film has seen them in debt with CIA man Mr Church and he has given Barney an ultimatum... retrieve a secret object from a downed CIA airplane, with the help of an associate of Mr Church... or go to prison for a very long time.

But the routine and easy mission takes a turn for the worst and Barney and his boys go off mission again, but this time for revenge against a man called Jean Vilain... a villain who has seriously crossed the line.

Another decent movie from Stallone and the Boys. This time round, a new director is in the chair instead of Stallone and it gives the whole aura a different yet recognisable feel.

For a start, Ex2 is louder and much more fun than it's predecessor.

The action is really the main thing but there's more of a coherant plot to this one. The reason for Barney and his men going into the battle ground is much more plausable than the original film and has much more of a personal air about it too.
The story doesn't disappoint either. It leads to a number of exciting scenes and some more sombre scenes too throughout the running time and carries the weight of the OTT action brilliantly.

It is a bit more light hearted than the first film in terms of overall atmosphere, but in a good way. It's not all serious serious serious with only hints of humour.

This time round we're also treated to some fantastic one liners that beat the original film by miles. It's very very knowing in the humour of the dialogue as well which gives a brilliant air of comedy to the mix of sombre story and explosive blood soaked action.

One thing that lets the film down is some of the CGI blood and gore. It removes some of the shock factor of the action scenes.

The acting is about the same in this one as the original.
Stallone though has been given more time to act being that he's not the director this time round. His character is able to progress more than in the first film.
Newcomer Yu Nan as Maggie, Mr Church's associate is a standout role though. She doesn't do a massive amount but she's a breath of fresh air in a film that's jam-packed with testosterone.

Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are wonderful in the film though. They play more of a duo in the third act and seeing the pair, with Sylvester Stallone by their side, shooting guns and driving cars, spouting one liners as they go and playing off of one another for the kicks is immense to see on screen.

We're also treated to Jean-Claude Van Damme as Jean Vilain... yes, in keeping with some of the comical names we have a villain with the name Vilain... The Plank however is on top form. His natural on-screen presence lifts the character to great heights and he has a really strange and dangerous psychopathic undertone to his character. I loved JCVD in this film.
I was dubious about Chuck Norris though after some of the bad press the movie recieved... but Chuck is kept to a minimum, background character. When seen though, he's tons of fun and lifts the action too when he's seen in the thick of battle.

Sadly, there's little show from Jet Li in this one. His character had to be written out due to scheduling conflicts but he's on form while on screen.

The action and effects though are, as I said, what the film is about.

We have Sly, Willis and Big Arn side by side... we have Statham doing more acrobatics, heavy hitters with Crews and Couture, Dolph Lundgren calling everyone "insects" and some huge explosive choreography mixed with some nice stunts enhanced by some CGI work too.

Then there's a showdown at the end too between... ah, you'll have to watch, no spoilers but it's great to see the two come to loggerheads.


All in all, it's still not perfect like the original film... but it's even more shameless in the dialogue and cheese factor and has ramped up the action and ramped up the stakes of the story too.
More fun than the first and much more exciting too.

My rating: 92%


Year Of Release

Jan De Bont

Mark Gordon

Graham Yost

Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Joe Morton, Alan Ruck and Dennis Hopper

Speed is the culmination of several influences. Writer Graham Yost was told by his Father about the film Runaway Train starring Jon Voight, which itself was an idea based on an Akira Korusawa script which involved a bomb on a train... Yost then watched the film and thought that crossing the two ideas and making it about a bomb on a bus would work even better.
The ending of Speed was also influenced by the Wilder/Pryor film Silver Streak.


LAPD SWAT Jack Travern and Harry Temple are thrown into a desperate situation when an old foe appears on the scene and wires a bus with explosives...

If the bus goes 50mph, the bomb is armed... if the bus then drops below 50mph, the bomb will explode.

Jack and Harry must find a way to get on the speeding bus, disarm the bomb, catch the maniac and save the poor members of the public who are trapped on board the vehical.

One of the most realised action films of the 1990s brings newly Christened action star Keanu Reeves into a world of excitement and thrills...

Speed is by far one of the most inspired and modern classic action films to date. With the many influences it draws on, the writers have pieced together a relatively linear script in the first two acts, then twisted the whole thing around for the third... never letting up with the tension and humour at all throughout the running time.

What makes the film work, is that it never takes itself seriously all the time... it combines hints of comic style action and stunts with some relatively serious thrills and spills and a story that holds up well against standard no-brainer actioners.

Basically it's a clever balancing act of brainless popcorn action fun filled with humour and funny dialogue and more serious storytelling with the occasional sombre scenes and mildly disturbing cinema too.

The acting is also bang on.
Keanu Reeves absolutely shines. He was born for the role. He plays the more serious tones really well too and never lets the audience get bored while the more quieter scenes are playing out. His charisma and chemistry with all on screen with him is top notch too.

Sandra Bullock also shines as Annie. Bullock seems to be having an absolute whale of a time, especially after an accident sees her become the driver of the bus. She also holds the more serious and scarier scenes exceptionally well.
Out of all of Bullock's other films, this one is my favourite... she's lots of fun.

Dennis Hopper though as maniac Howard Payne is a standout role. As usual with Hopper, he's taken a well written and fleshed out character and lifted it brilliantly from the page. He's also not seen a great deal but the viewer never forgets that he's there, always in the background. He's that good.

Backup comes from Jeff Daniels, Joe Morton and Alan Ruck makes a nice show as a guy who's out of his depth.

The action and effects are also incredibly exciting... and most of it, gladly, is practical.
Keanu Reeves also performed most of his own stunts too, which adds a real authenticity to the explosions and the leaping from moving car to moving car.
The choreography is also completely shameless... the filmmakers have combined elements of realistic stuff with more fantastical action, all of which are again practical, and it gives the film a completely different feel to other actioners.


All in all, tons of fun and full of cheesie one liners, great choreography and some serious tones for good measure too.
The acting is also full of charisma and realistic tones mixed with well placed humour and some wonderful chemistry throughout.
Some of the stunt work is also dazzling.

A modern action classic. A must see.

My rating: 93%

Speed 2: Cruise Control

Year Of Release

Jan De Bont

Jan De Bont, Steve Perry, Michael Peyser

Jan De Bont, Randall McCormick, Jeff Nathanson

Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Temuera Morrison, Colleen Camp and Willem Dafoe

Similarly to Speed, Speed 2 has connections to other action movies... initially the script for Speed 2 was written to be the sequel to Die Hard, basically Die Hard on a boat... but was rewritten into Speed 2. On a similar note, the original Die Hard film was actually written to be a sequel to Schwarzenegger's Commando


Annie Porter and her new boyfriend Alex Shaw are having problems... she's just found out he has lied to her about his job, he is in the LAPD SWAT but had lied to her because of the stories she told him about the problems she had with Jack Travern.

He offers to make amends by taking her on a romantic Cruise around the Caribbean...

... unbenkown to them, John Geiger is aboard the ship and he plans on robbing the ship of its cargo of Jewellery... and to add more peril, he's laced the decks of the ship with explosives...

It's up to Alex and Annie to stop the maniac and get on with their romantic break.

What an awful movie.
Speed 2 is not just cashed in, it's cheap, cheesie, full of terrible action sequences and is filled to the brim with wooden acting and badly written dialogue.

Sadly, it's just trying to live up to the superior original.
It's also easy to see why Keanu Reeves turned down an offer to return.
Which may be why it doesn't work on many other levels, there's little for the audience to care for with the rewritten characters.

The filmmakers have tried very hard to give the film an air that's recognisable, but it falls flat with the cashed in script and screenplay.
The overall exposition is pretty dull and uninteresting too. You just don't care about what's going on.
The story is also boring and much of a muchness. A guy who is threatening to detonate bombs while stealing jewellery. Yawn.

The acting is awful too.
Sandra Bullock returns as Annie... and even Bullock herself has been quoted as hating the film, wishing she'd never made it.
Willem Dafoe is also off form. He's hardly threatening, has little charisma and seem to be wondering why he's in the film.

Jason Patric is also miscast. I love Patric, he's one of my favourite actors, but here in a rewritten Keanu role, he just completely dies. He's wooden, out of his depth in the action and has very little likeability.

Temuera Morrison makes a show too... put it this way, any film with Morrison on the cast list is bound to be a Razzie winner.

Which brings me to the overall action and effects.
They're cheap, badly choreographed and the handful of computer effects are badly rendered and hold little excitement when they're used to 'enhance' the more exciting cinema.

There's not really much else I can say about Speed 2 without resaying more and more about how crap it is.


All in all, dubbed by critics as one of the worst sequels ever made, and one of the worst films ever made too.
I'd have to agree to an extent, though I have seen worse... a couple of those worse are in my thread somewhere too.
Still though, anyone who hasn't seen the original may enjoy it a touch, just do youself a favour and miss this one anyway.

Awful movie.

My rating: 4%


Year Of Release



Matthew Vaughan


Adam Bohling, Tarquin Pack, Brad Pitt, David Reid


Mark Millar, John Romita Jr, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughan


Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Morris Chestnut


New York teenager Dave is a regular kid. He hangs out with friends, loves his comic books and wonders why nobody has ever actually donned a suit and done it for real.
Until the day he buys himself what resembles a wetsuit and some batons off the internet and heads out into the city.

After some teething problems and an incident that leaves him with damaged nerve-endings meaning his pain threshold is higher than most other people… Dave finds himself drawn back onto the streets and ends up defending a man who is being beaten by a gang of thugs.

Dave then labels himself as “Kick-Ass” to a by passer with a cell-phone who recorded the whole thing…

… and Kick-Ass becomes an immediate internet sensation.

But his new found fame draws the attention of a pretty disturbing Father-Daughter team who have been planning their own little superhero adventure with their own motives… and together, the three head out into the city and make enemies with a rather dangerous Crime-Lord.


Absolutely brilliant.
Based on the comic of the same name, Kick-Ass gives all the thrills and spills of a genuine comic book movie and manages to throw in some real world blood and guts, bad language and some border-ultraviolent action crossed with some more fantastical action too.

For a start, there are some genuine laughs to be had throughout the running time. It’s all reality based too and keeps within a situational humour most of the time.

The second thing that makes an impact is the huge connection the audience gets to the characters. They’re all extremely well fleshed out and well written.
The other thing is the likeability, or un-likeability, of the characters… the overall writing is spot on and makes for some memorable roles and even the bad guys have you laughing from time to time.

What really makes the biggest mark though, for me, is the screenplay and scripting. The sequence of events is pretty polished and believable and draws the audience into the story.
Some of the dialogue is also really funny, especially when Hit Girl appears.

One thing missing though, is that the film never really has any defining moment. No moment of realisation as such. It tends to rely more on plot devices that push the screenplay along… but one thing, the exposition is spot on which makes all the smaller moments work well.

The acting is also bang on.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the perfect choice for Kick-Ass. His naïve and out-of-his-depth persona works wonderfully for the weedy geek in a suit. As the story progresses though and Kick-Ass comes out of his shell, ATJ really nails the role and actually seems to grow with the plot.

Mark Strong also makes an impression as head baddie Frank D’Amico. He’s pretty close to the role he played in Robin Hood just with a bit extra comedy thrown in, but the dry bad guy role works brilliantly.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the nerdy and slightly unhinged Chris D’Amico (aka; Red Mist), Frank’s son, also makes a decent show. He’s more of a backup role to start that ends up play a huge part in getting Kick-Ass into trouble and simply wants to be like his crime lord Father.

Standout roles though… Nicolas Cage and Chloë Grace Moretz as Father-Daughter team Big Daddy and Hit Girl.
Cage’s take on the slightly nerdy yet incredibly tough ex-Cop with a motive is most definitely my favourite role of Cage’s. He also portrays a sense of disturbing psychopathy too.
Moretz though, of the two, makes the biggest impression. What we’re talking here is a 5ft tall, 7 stone powerhouse who swears like a builder, smashes heads together like a seasoned wrestler and spins around the bad guys like Yoda in the Prequel Trilogy. Her more sombre and quieter scenes, and especially the occasional emotional scenes, are held brilliantly by Moretz.

Backup comes from Morris Chestnut, Clark Duke, Evan Peters, Michael Rispoli, Lyndsy Fonesca and Yancy Butler.

Now, the action and effects.
Fast, brutal, bloody, occasionally funny and definitely what the film revels in when they get going.
The choreography is top drawer too. Along with the fantastical side of the action toward the end of the film, there’s a pretty realistic build up during the running time. It basically starts out in reality before going more into the comic book style.

The soundtrack throughout backs up every scene, whether action or more quieter settings, perfectly too.


All in all, Kick-Ass almost redefines the Comic Book Movie Genre with its sheer content and style. In a similar way to maybe Dredd that was released two years later. Kick-Ass is much more colourful in looks though and will appeal to a wider audience.

Tons of fun with a decent build-up style script and lashings of highly stylised and exciting ultraviolence.

A damned good Superhero movie.

My rating: 92%

Kick-Ass 2

Year Of Release



Jeff Wadlow


Adam Bohling, Tarquin Pack, Matthew Vaughan, Brad Pitt, David Reid


Mark Millar, John Romita Jr, Matthew Vaughan


Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, Donald Faison, Morris Chestnut and John Leguizamo


Years after the first film, Dave has given up crime fighting and has grown bored with his humdrum life. His love life has suffered as well.
Mindy (Hit Girl) however, is still sneaking out at night and skiving school so she can bash heads together in the name of Justice.

Dave decides to make a change and talks to Mindy about training and getting back into the business… and Mindy takes him up on the offer and trains him extensively.
But when Mindy’s adopted Father figure Detective Marcus Williams tells Mindy that she must give up the Cape, Mindy reluctantly agrees, leaving Dave alone on the streets.

But more adventure is around the corner when Chris D’Amico (Red Mist in the first film) has now reinvented himself as the ultimate bad guy, known as The Motherf*cker… and incredibly wealthy villain who simply pays the worst of the worst to do his dirty work for him, and D’Amico has but one mission; to kill Kick-Ass, or, destroy everything Kick-Ass loves.

But Kick-Ass has backup coming in the form of a vigilante group headed by Colonel Stars And Stripes

“When the cops can no longer Protect And Serve,
Be warned, Mugger, heads up, Perv,
We got the strength, we got the nerve,
To give those in need, what they deserve!
Justice Forever!”


Just like real time, the films have 3 years between them and the story has progressed with it too.
The audience is treated to a slightly expanded story when it comes to the lives of the characters and manages to add some more realistic touches to the proceedings that were seen in the first film.
Especially when it comes to Chris D’Amico.
This film shows his progression from frustrated and angry kid to a genuinely twisted and almost perverted spoiled brat with an agenda. Definitely a good move for this film, it makes for a more personal battle between him and Kick-Ass as we see D’Amico’s well written development.

We’re also treated to Hit Girl and her character expansion from what is essentially a lost, confused and damaged young girl into a strong woman who has to find her place in the world.

Gradually though, like with the original, the filmmakers make things get bigger as the movie goes on and eventually we get a well pieced together progressive story around the characters we all met and learned about in the first film.

There’s also the same recognisable humour that was seen in the first film laced throughout this one too.

The acting again is bang on.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is improved as Dave/Kick-Ass. His slightly expanded character is a nice touch but ATJ hasn’t changed our Hero so much that he becomes something too different. There is an incident toward the end that makes for a new twist on the character development and it adds a new depth to our green/yellow Hero.
ATJ has also beefed up substantially for the role, and his fight scenes are a hell of a lot better. Aaron really put the work in.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse is much better this time round. You get the impression he’s been given more free reign with the script too and the longer screen time is good to see.

Moretz returns as Mindy/Hit Girl and she’s definitely the most improved of the 3 main returning cast members in both writing and acting. Her role has been given more of an arc too and it makes her character even more likeable. Moretz alos nails the role.

Additions are our Superteam Justice Forever… Donald Faison as Doctor Gravity (funny role), Lindy Booth as Night-Bitch, Robert Emms as Insect Man and…

… Jim Carrey is completely unrecognisable as Colonel Stars And Stripes.
Carrey absolutely makes this film when he’s on screen. It’s just a shame that he’s not on screen for the entire running time. He’s absolutely brilliant and definitely the best of the background actors.

Backup comes from Morris Chestnut again, with John Leguizamo, Olga Kurkulina (brilliant role) and a cameo from Iain Glen.
Glen in particular I can see making a showing if they ever make Kick-Ass 3. His cameo is memorable.

The action this time round is about the same as the first… starting relatively small and then getting larger…

We’re treated to some great choreography again though and a lot of the action and fighting has the story to back it up this time too.
It’s definitely more personal in this film.

Again though, the soundtrack backs it all up brilliantly.


All in all, improved in the storytelling and character development and actually has a few of those realisation moments that were lacking from the original. Better writing throughout and keeping with the tone and style of the first film which makes it feel, well, connected.

It is lacking any sort of larger scale action which should be seen in a sequel though.

Still a great Superhero movie though.

My rating: Same as the first, 92%


Year Of Release

Bryan Singer

Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter

David Hayter, Tom DeSanto, Bryan Singer

X-Men had its fair share of ups and downs before and during filming.

It had been in development since 1989, with none other than James Cameron and the now defunct Carolco Pictures.

After a number of rewrites and getting shelved several times, the film rights were given to 20th Century Fox in 1994, eventually gaining Bryan Singer in 1996 as director. After more rewrites pushed the start date back and back and back, filming eventually started in September 1999, 10 years after initial film conception.

Also, Russell Crowe was first choice to play Wolverine, but greedy demands from Crowe meant they couldn’t afford his salary.
Dougray Scott was then cast as Wolverine, but he then backed out nearly a month after filming had started in favour of Mission: Impossible 2.

Eventually, then-unknown actor Hugh Jackman stepped into the role 3 weeks after filming had actually started.

The initial acting line up overall was also very different. Janet Jackson as Storm, Terrence Stamp as Magneto and James Caviezel was first choice to play Cyclops.
Even after all these stops and starts and casting problems, Fox then dropped the filmmakers in trouble again by pulling the release date forward nearly 6 months from Christmas 2000 to July 2000, in competition with other films on the market… meaning Singer only had 6 months to actually make the film.

Logan is a drifter. He has little memory of his life before and uses his “special skills” to earn money by fighting in various underground boxing matches… He also has little to care about and his more animalistic side tends to take over his mentality toward those around him, causing him to have become a bit of a loner too.
But during a chance meeting with a young innocent runaway called Marie, he ends up in the presence of Professor Xavier at a boarding school for “gifted” children.

When it appears that Xavier is more than he seems too, Logan reluctantly (and with a bit of attitude too) stays at the school, and learns that the “gifted” children including runaway Marie, are actually mutants… just like Logan.

But when a new threat appears on the horizon in the form of a man calling himself Magneto who has delusions of an “equal world”, Logan and his new found friends in Xavier, Storm, Scott and Jean must band together, and Logan himself must, for the first time he can remember, rely on those around him as it appears the he is the target of this new enemy.

But worse things are around the corner for Xavier’s X-Men, when it appears that he was wrong about whom Magneto’s target actually is.

Ok, it was always going to be hard to start a film series based on X-Men.
But the filmmakers, even with all the problems have managed to piece together a pretty good story for the beginning of the series.

The screenplay and general scripting is pretty simplistic and the overall exposition is pretty linear… but the small twist in the third act makes for a nice surprise.
But what really does work is the audience-character connections.

Using the comics as inspiration, they’ve made a genuine cast of characters that you really care about.
Even the bad guys (Magneto’s group) have a real likeable air to them, especially the fact that you can see why they have broken away from conventional thinking and are doing what they’re doing, even if at times you don’t agree with it, you can at least see their reasoning.
They’re all very “human” when it comes to the writing aspect of the characteristics of everyone’s favourite mutants.

Another thing that stands out is that the filmmakers have incorporated a pretty realistic air of persecution and friendship between the human and mutant factions, as I mentioned with the reasoning behind Magneto’s actions.

It makes for, at times, almost a political fantasy that even Lucas would have been proud to have in Star Wars Episode I. But he didn’t

One thing that could be pointed out as a fault though, is that being the first of its kind, the film feels almost experimental in some of the tonal balances and some of the peril that the characters are going through, almost along the same lines as Superman: The Movie.
Some of X-Men however, feels kind of half-hearted toward the end and put in for the sake of getting a few action shots.
Especially when we are seeing the characters powers, but for the sake of anyone not up on the comics, it does work well and gives an idea of what these characters are capable of.

Another thing is the dialogue writing.
Throughout it’s really very good… but there are one or two slips that are immensely cheesy and almost cringe worthy in terms of wooden writing… one line in particular is between Storm and Toad… watch and you’ll see.

The acting however is bang on the money.
Hugh Jackman is absolutely the right choice for the job. His gruff, roguh and tough persona shines through brilliantly and Jackman’s natural talent is perfect for the changing characteristic of Wolverine as he becomes just a little softer as the movie progresses.
Patrick Stewart is also on form. I always like seeing Stewart but Xavier is by far one of his best roles. Stewarts natural ability to play a father figure is perfect for the role.

Halle Berry is a surprise as Storm though. It’s definitely her best role to date and she’s almost unrecognisable as the lightning charged babe.

A stand out role is Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, a love interest for Jackman and James Marsden who plays Cyclops.
Janssen is seriously likeable and plays off both her on screen love interests brilliantly.

Which brings me to James Marsden as Cyclops. One of my least favourite characters yet Marsden makes the role. Sadly though, he’s not given much of an arc or story really, he’s more of a supporting role.

Ian McKellen is by far the most impressive though. He has a genuinely realistic edge to him when it comes to threat and his chemistry on screen with anyone he’s seen with is awe inspiring. He’s also incredibly confident within the character. Outside of Gandalf, it’s another best role for X-Men.

Anna Paquin as Marie/Rogue is a bit of a hit and miss though. She’s seen throughout and is key to the story, but in act two she’s barely utilised.

Back up comes from Ray Park, Shawn Ashmore and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos makes for a beautiful femme-fatale.
Tyler Mane makes a notable showing as Sabretooth too but sadly he isn’t utilised as much as most fans, including myself, would have liked.

The action and effects are, like I said a touch experimental to allow the audience an idea of certain powers and so on…

… but they’re still very well rendered in the computers and the practical effects are great too.
The choreography is also top notch, especially in the third act. The fisticuffs between the various characters is really engaging.

I can’t help but feel it could have been just a little bit bigger. Still though, it’s apt for a starting point for the franchise.


All in all, not perfect, but a pretty good starting point for what became a series of films…

… slightly touch and go in some departments expecially some of the dialogue but the choreography and the general aura of the story, including the character arcs and “political” reasoning for the story development seen throughout make the movie a must see.

My rating: 84%

X-Men 2
X2: X-Men United

Year Of Release

Bryan Singer

Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter

Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, David Hayter, Bryan Singer, Zak Penn

As with X-Men, problems hit X2 hard and fast. The success of X-Men pushed Fox into hammering money into X2, and again, they gave very little time for the filmmakers to get the film done.

Writers David Hayter and Zak Penn wrote two separate scripts for X2… eventually two new writers were brought in in the forms of Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, and all four along with Singer then combined the best parts of each script into one screenplay.

Once again though, the filmmakers were given around 6 months to make the film, during which time nearly 70 sets needed to be built and locations scouted… which also gave problems as some of the locations used, especially with the dodgy weather conditions, weren’t ideal for what the director and producers wanted.

Not just the production had problems either; even the rewrites had problems approaching the filming start date. Many of the characters were rewritten to give extra screen time, including Storm, and new characters added/rewritten, including Lady Deathstrike… and with barely enough time left to actually make the film, a number of characters had to then be deleted and the scripts rewritten once again, which sadly meant Sabretooth was written out.


A short time after X-Men, Logan has returned from a soul finding trip and it has transpired that Magneto has involuntarily given information about Xavier’s school and about the people who live and work there… to a man called Stryker.

Using a new weapon, Stryker has the ability to control mutants and his plan is to use certain devices of Xavier’s as an even more powerful weapon, to kill mutants outright.
It also transpires that Logan has a history with Stryker, but Logan still can’t remember anything about his life from years ago.

Xavier’s X-Men unite with Magneto and his “Brothers” to do what they can to discover what Stryker is up to and the history between him and Logan… but it will cost them dearly in doing so.

Where to begin?
Ok, X2 ramps up the stakes, and rightly so especially after the excitement of the first film.

This time round having new writers has given more substance to the political side of things and has ramped up the action stakes too.

One thing that stands out more than before is also Magneto and Xavier’s relationship. It gives a real personal and emotional depth to proceedings and makes for much more enjoyable twists and turns throughout the running time.

The things that made the story special in the first film are still there too, Magneto’s reasoning for his actions, Xavier’s reasoning for stopping him etc.
But with more character arcs added to the mix, an expansion in Wolverine’s background, and more screen time and storylines for those that were just supporting roles in the first film, it makes for a more interesting storyline overall that is more character driven.

The added bonus is that you never know what Magneto and his group are up to… even when he and the X-Men join forces against a mutual enemy.

The overall dialogue writing has also been improved. There much less in terms of cheesiness and the more serious notes have been thought through and tweaked into something that is much more believable.

Another thing is that more humour throughout has also been incorporated too.

The acting is also improved throughout and the cast seem to be having much more fun and a freer rein with the roles.

This time round, Anna Paquin and Shawn Ashmore (Rogue and Iceman respectively) as a kind of troubled love story is a wonderfully realised piece of writing. Seeing them on screen more is also a nice touch, they’re very likeable.

We’re also treated to Pyro played by Aaron Stanford. His feud with Iceman is another nice touch and gives Paquin and Ashmore something to watch out for. He also has massive chemistry with McKellen and Romijn-Stamos which is key to his role throughout the films.

Brian Cox makes a great showing as his usual bad guy persona. He plays Stryker and is definitely a bad guy to really loathe. As usual with Cox, he’s memorable beyond belief.

The real standout role this time round though is chameleon actor Alan Cumming as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler.
He is incredible in the role of the God-fearing Teleporter and steals the show whenever he’s on screen. His makeup is also fantastic.

Back up comes from Kelly Hu, Katie Stuart and Daniel Cudmore makes a kind of cameo as Colossus.

The action, choreography and effects are also improved throughout, especially with the third act showdown.
We get to see Wolverine come head to head with an almost equal and throughout the running time there’s more explosive action when it comes to the feud between humans and mutants… then there’s a wonderfully realised and sombre ending to the film as well.

The effects rendering, both practical and CG is also top notch.


All in all, improved but still not perfect, though more exciting and better written in terms of backstory and general exposition too.
The overall characters’ storylines being opened and more screen time for what were supporting roles is also a welcome improvement.
The twists and turns throughout are also well written.

My rating: 87%

X-Men: The Last Stand

Year Of Release

Brett Ratner

Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter, Avi Arad

Simon Kinberg, Zak Penn

Another problem hit production, Last Stand lost director Singer who left in favour of Superman Returns (idiot), but not before he and his team of X2 writers partially completed a script… what made things more complicated, was that Hugh Jackman was then given the task of approving a director, yes really!

Jackman offered the director’s chair to Darren Aronofski, who turned it down.
Rob Bowman, Alex Proyas and Zack Snyder were also approached by Jackman… eventually Matthew Vaughn was signed up… but he too then dropped out during production.
Brett Ratner, who was originally considered to direct the first X-Men film, then stepped in, but only with Jackman’s approval of course.

After Ratner came aboard though, he had what little script there was rewritten over a dozen times… all the time the production team were trying to get everything else organised.

To add insult to injury, James Marsden (Cyclops) also left the project to join previous director Bryan Singer on Superman Returns (that makes two idiots)… Fox then ordered more rewrites for the filmmakers to explain Cyclops’ absence.
Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler) also dropped out due to lack of screen time and overly long makeup scheduling for his character.

Again though, all the deliberating left very little time to make the film, many more new characters that were going to be part of the film were either rewritten into existing characters or deleted from the film and put into the screenplay for X-Men Origins: Wolverine instead.
Eventually, the filmmakers were again left with barely 6 months to make the film… and after all the trouble and upheaval, X-Men: The Last Stand became the most expensive film made of all time up until that point. This was then overtaken by the budget for Singer’s critical flop Superman Returns.

A while after X2, Logan has found himself feeling at home in Xavier’s school. He’s now affectionately known a Professor Logan by the children and is looked up to by most people around him. His attitude still makes problems from time to time though.
His relationship with Scott Summers is still strained though, especially in the aftermath of what happen in X2.

When it appears that the incidents in X2 were more than they seemed, Scott goes missing… and Storm and Logan go in search… only to find a rather sizeable surprise waiting for them.
But this surprise turns out to be much more dangerous that they expected when Magneto shows up and sees an opportunity to wield the ultimate weapon…

… a weapon that will allow him to wipe out human kind forever before humans wipe out mutants by using a cure against them.

The X-Men must preserve democracy and forge peace between humans and mutants…
… by fighting Magneto, side by side with the very humans that were going to wipe them out.

Yet again, with the new writers on board, the franchise has been tweaked and ramped up.
This time round a new director has had a massive effect on the finished product… and in a good way too.

The film feels more complete this time round, even with the rewrites and problems.

The character arcs are also much more fleshed out and feel much more personal this time round and give a massively entertaining air to the film.

The humour of the second film has been toned back slightly for this one in favour of a more serious tone but the filmmakers have also managed to add a huge comic book essence to the look of the film.
I have a feeling this is down to having Avi Arad (The Amazing Spider-Man) on board as a producer, this guy seems to know his way around the comic to film genre.

It makes what became a trilogy, tie together perfectly too.

One thing with this film is that there are at least some scenes that allow the audience see why certain characters aren’t involved anymore, particularly Cyclops.
In X2, there were missing characters that were just, well, not there, and that’s it. Gone.
This time round, some of the absentees are accounted for and explained.

Another plus point though, is the emotions that the whole cast seem to go through that harkens back to X2, plus a few shocks along the way that give the actors something to get their teeth into.
Some of the writing in particular with Magneto is tweaked as well. You really get to see how ruthless this guy can be. Thumbs up!

Mix all that with better photography overall, makes it a much more visually stunning film.

As for the acting, well this time round we have a number of new characters who are treated as either cannon fodder or supporting members… but one thing is that they’re all utilised extremely well to give a history to the characters around them.
Also, the many, many new mutants on show get to show off their powers too in a third act showdown.
New member Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut is a welcome addition. He carries a number of humorous scenes and his overall character isn’t too complicated either.

Ellen Page also makes a nice show as Kitty Pride, a girl who can walk through walls. She also carries some humour and makes for a nice love triangle between her, Rogue and Iceman.

The biggest welcome is Kelsey Grammer though as Hank “Beast” McCoy. Definitely a standout role. His cool calm exterior plays second only to his more aggressive side when he gets fed up with Magneto’s shenanigans and decides to get an X-Men suit on… and Kelsey plays against type fantastically.

Back up comes from a new faction of mutants with Dania Ramirez, Meiling Melancon and Ken Leung.

The effects are about the same as X2 though in terms of rendering and style, but with the occasional addition of extra computer effects where the other films would have gone practical, it makes for a more visually exciting film.
The action and fighting choreography is also ramped up. The third act rumble is by far the most exciting sequence of the original trilogy, especially when there’s such a good story backing it up.


All in all, better writing, better character driven stories and sub-plots, some great character arcs and the slightly toned down humour with the more serious tones make for an exciting end to the original trilogy.

Though still not perfect, it’s the best of the trilogy, and well worthy of the X-Men title.

My rating: 89%

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Year Of Release

Gavin Hood

Lauren Shuler Donner, Hugh Jackman, Ralph Winter, John Palermo

David Benioff, Skip Woods

Zack Snyder was again approached to direct but dropped out of negotiations to direct Watchmen, Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner were snubbed, even though both showed interest in returning to the franchise. Len Wiseman and Alexandre Aja also showed interest but weren’t considered. Eventually a new director was brought in, Gavin Hood.

Yet again though, Fox caused trouble for the franchise after new director Hood came aboard and they immediately came to loggerheads over the tone of the film with Wolverine suffering apparent stress disorders after being in so many wars… Richard Donner himself, husband of producer Lauren Shuler Donner, actually flew out to Australia to settle the dispute.

Hugh Jackman then had the production halted/slowed when he had to promote his film Australia… Ryan Reynolds also slowed production as he was working on two other films at the time as well.

After a comic book fan, David Benioff, was hired to write the script, another writer, Skip Woods, was then hired to rewrite.
Eventually, most of the characters that were omitted from X-Men, X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand were written into Wolverine permanently… but not without more controversy when Sabretooth was set to return but with Liev Schreiber in the role instead of X-Men original cast member Tyler Mane.
James Vanderbilt and Scott Silver were also attached to rewrite, but the Writers Guild Strike put another spanner in the works for the film.

What was different though about Wolverine is that the filmmakers started filming over a year before the release date. This gave plenty of time to get shots needed, action sequences filmed, sets built and script rewrites completed.

In 1845, a young boy around the age of 10 called James Howlett discovers the disturbing truth that his father isn’t his real father and that a good school friend of his called Victor, is actually his brother.
During this emotional discovery, he and his newly discovered brother end up wanted for murder and they go on the run… vowing to protect each other and keep each other’s bizarre powers secret.

As time goes on, the two find themselves fighting many wars, always watching each other’s backs.

But when a particular incident that shows their strange powers for what they are, it brings the attention of a young Government Agent called Stryker…

… Stryker then invites the duo to fight for a shadowy, almost Black Ops organisation.

But James, who now uses the name Logan, begins to doubt that their activities are purely for good and it drives a wedge between him and Victor…

In leaving the organisation though, Logan has made himself a genuine enemy of his brother… and using Stryker’s help, Logan is given a power beyond his imagination to be able to stop Victor… who is seemingly out for the blood of everyone who was in the “organisation”.

A bit of an odd one this.
Wolverine has a pretty good story behind it and some great action sequences.

There’s more humour to this one at the beginning, especially between Logan, Victor and the new team of mutants they’re joined with.
After the initial humorous start though and the odd funny scene thrown in throughout the running time, it has quite a depressing air about it. It’s a very sombre and serious turn of events that lead to the “birth” of the Wolverine we all know from the original trilogy.

The kinds of twists and turns that made the original trilogy’s screenplay so good are laid on thick in this one too and they’re gladly easy to follow. It makes for a pretty unpredictable movie and makes it more enjoyable too.

Another thing that’s laid on thick is a sub-plot that was used throughout the original trilogy… experiments on mutants.
This film is a culmination of all the various already seen experimentation, which made the other films so disturbing at times. It’s also handled pretty well too.

The dialogue in this one is about the same as before too but what’s special about this film, is that Logan is a completely different character overall.

What is missing from this one though, I think, is the more character driven sub-plots and side stories. Though with this being the origins of Wolverine, the movie does succeed in what it set out to do

What is good though, is seeing the things that Logan had forgotten in the original trilogy. The backstory that was missing from Logan’s memories… and it’s nice to see some of the olde connections that Logan has with Stryker and Sabretooth.

Another nice touch is a bunch of cameos from young actors playing mutants that we will all recognise from the original trilogy… and a small role for the mutant called Emma Frost who will be seen in more detail in X-Men: First Class.

What lets it down though, is that the film has an air about it that makes it feel like a film that was made for the sake of it.
Even though all of the above work well, the film feels a little hollow. Almost as if there could have been something better about it during the preproduction stages that weren’t included in the final product.
There are also some continuity errors in regard to the original trilogy during the running time too.

The acting and character writing is what really brings the film to life.
Hugh Jackman returns as Logan/Wolverine. This time round the more serious tone of the character is brought into the foreground and Jackman nails it.

Victor/Sabretooth this time round is played by Liev Schreiber… Schreiber was a bit of a controversial pick to start with over Tyler Mane, but the new actor is by far a better choice.
Given the extra screen time, Victor needed a strong actor to make the character come to life and Schreiber is absolutely on form. He’s also one of the best villains going in the X-Men films.

Danny Huston makes a mark too as a young version of Brian Cox’s Stryker. Huston is fantastic as the slimy government type with an agenda.

Taylor Kitsch also makes a nice showing as Gambit too. He has a kind of dual role throughout as an enemy and then friend to Logan.

Back up comes from, Dominic Monaghan, Kevin Durand and Ryan Reynolds makes a seriously memorable appearance too.
Reynolds in particular is funny at the start.

The effects, fights and choreography though are what this film is really all about.
The rendering of the effects, CGI and practical are absolutely wonderful and some of the action sequences are seriously some of the best of the series so far.
Jackman in particular carries the action fantastically too.


All in all, the weakest of the films so far in terms of overall storytelling.
Wolverine has a number of fantastic set pieces and great effects… sadly it feels rushed and has a lot of continuity problems.

Still though, it’s worthy of a place in the franchise and is still an entertaining action film that delivers the general story that it wanted to.

My rating: 81%

X-Men: First Class

Year Of Release

Matthew Vaughn

Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Gregory Goodman

Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Sheldon Turner, Bryan Singer

After a number of rewrites based on the original comic history, First Class went into production later than planned due to the same Writers Guild Strike that put a Hex on Wolverine.

Initially, Ian McKellen was going to play Magneto using the CG facelift seen in X-Men: The Last Stand… but after more rewrites, the filmmakers decided on a full on recasting of the movie.

Another thing was that writer Simon Kinberg’s idea to change the overall backstory of the characters. The film bears little resemblance to the comic book backgrounds.
Simon Kinberg was the man behind the idea to use First Class initially too. But with the original storylines being close to other movie franchises, Kinberg wanted to steer clear of already well used ideas and decided to rewrite the history of the story and make a kind of ensemble of mutants with highly visual powers.

One thing with the writing and rewriting is that it stepped all over what would have been another film called X-Men Origins: Magneto.
With First Class being what it is, basically an Origins Story for Magneto, Xavier, Mystique and so on, Origins: Magneto will never get made… much to the chagrin of Magneto writer Sheldon Turner.

But, with the new script and character history and replacing Singer as director with Matthew Vaughn (who initially wasn’t even considered by the studios after he dropped X-Men: The Last Stand into trouble), the filming went ahead 9 months before release, but with the masses of effects shots and long scheduling for filming itself, filming eventually finished barely a couple of weeks before the release date.

Charles Xavier is a young boy born into a highly wealthy family with an incredible gift. He has the power to read minds and can even control people’s thoughts. When he takes in a runaway called Raven Darkholme who can shape-shift, they form a close bond that resembles a sibling ship.

Xavier eventually ends up in University studying and mastering mutations in living things, and he Raven are approached by CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert who needs Xavier’s particular expertise on the subject after she witnessed what appeared to be a group of mutants lead by a man called Sebastian Shaw, blackmailing top Military brass.

During their work together in discovering who these so called Mutants are, Xavier, Raven and MacTaggert encounter Eric Lensherr, a mutant with the power to control metal.
Lensherr has been hunting Shaw, as he is responsible for the death of Lensherr’s family…

… and together with a few new recruits to Xavier and Lensherr’s First Class, they must train together and refine their powers… and find out what these mutants want with the Military bosses… and why they’re so interested in Nuclear weapons.

But with metal controlling Lensherr, now dubbed as “Magneto”becoming so powerful, he ends up bent solely on revenge rather than the good of mankind and Xavier and his team of newly dubbed X-Men, which includes Raven “Mystique” Darkholme, Hank “Beast” McCoy, Alex “Havoc” Summers, Angel Salvadore and Sean “Banshee” Cassidy, must work around each other’s differing ideals and work together to stop Shaw in whatever way they can.


Ok, let’s start with the bad.
More continuity errors plague First Class more than they ever did with the other films.

The overall relationship between Xavier and Lensherr and Xavier’s relationships with certain other mutants and a continuity error in the circumstances of Xavier ending up in a wheelchair are all part of a pretty large iceberg of faults than run through the film.

Also, Xavier’s physical appearance is a continuity problem too… he’s seen at the end of Origins: Wolverine before his accident… yet bears no resemblance to James McAvoy in this film.

Now, on with the good parts.
The story itself is fantastic. It’s a highly engaging and stunning look at the history of X-Men.
Also, the best way to think of First Class is as an Origins story.

The overall character development given to everyone’s favourite mutant leaders really brings home the struggles they faced as younger men.
It makes for yet another highly personal turn of events that fleshes out the mentality of the characters and gives a real substance to what is seen in the original X-Men trilogy. In retrospect, it freshens the original trilogy.

The other thing is the overall exposition of the story and plot. Some of it is predictable because of seeing the original films, yet with the odd tweak and twist with some of the plot devices, it gives the occasional unexpected surprise to the proceedings.

There’s also some fantastic dialogue and audience-character connections going on throughout too that make the viewer laugh along with some of the scenes… kind of in a nostalgic way.

This film also balances humour and seriousness better than the other films. Anywhere from slapstick to subtle dialogue to nuclear threats and fistfights… the whole thing has pretty much the best parts of all the films before it with none of the unintentional cheesiness.

The acting, I wasn’t too keen on to start with, but after another viewing I came to like the new actors in the roles.
James McAvoy as Xavier is pretty much bang on. The overall character of Xavier has been tweaked and McAvoy makes the role his own without having to copy what Patrick Stewart did.

Michael Fassbender also makes an impression as a young Eric Lensherr/Magneto. In particular Magneto has been given a massive amount of backstory and like with the original trilogy, whether you agree with his actions or not, you understand why he does what he does.
Fassbender does occasionally slip between different accents though.

Jennifer Lawrence plays young Raven Darkholme/Mystique… the shape shifter whose alliances are torn. She’s also expanded as a character rather than just being a baddie for the sake of it. Lawrence is also just as beautiful as original actress Rebecca Romijn too.

CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert is also a nice addition from actress Rose Byrne. She’s not used a massive amount but her key role works as a plot developer and a love interest for McAvoy.

Kevin Bacon almost steals the show though as Sebastian Shaw. Though the character wasn’t brilliantly utilised, Bacon as usual steals the screen when he’s on. His overall slimy persona is also brilliant for the character.

Back up comes from:
January Jones as Emma Frost… Frost too has more of an important role than she had in Wolverine.
Nicholas Hoult as Hank “Beast” McCoy… who makes a good turn as a young Kelsey Grammer.
And Zoe Kravitz, Caleb Landry Jones, Lucas Till and Edi Gathegi make memorable shows as Professor Xavier’s First Class.

A standout background performance though is Jason Flemyng as Azazel. Though he isn’t utilised a massive amount.

The effects of this one are also ramped up. They’re used sparingly rather than just becoming an all-out actioner like Wolverine was and when used, the excitement doesn’t disappoint.

The rendering of the CGI is also top notch and mixed with the brilliant set pieces, the movie really comes together.

A lot of the mutants on show in this one, as I said in the Notes section above, are highly visual but with the audience connection being so well put together it makes the whole thing much more enjoyable than just flash for the sake of it effects.


All in all, if it wasn’t for the continuity errors, First Class could have been the best of the lot… the story overall is entertaining, the action utilised brilliantly and the character development is fantastic.

Sadly though, the continuity lets it down. Better than Wolverine, but not as good as the original trilogy.
Still a rip roaring almost nostalgic adventure though, and well worth a watch.

My rating: 82%

Ok... that's it then.

I reviewed Days Of Future Past last week and have broken up all the X-Films I did a while back ^^ so over the next couple days I'll ping up a review for The Wolverine to complete the set.

Young Guns
Ok, an older film but I thought, seeing as it's my favourite movie.

Based loosely on the Lincoln County War of 1878 and the beginnings of the Billy The Kid Legend. Film makers decided the use of 'Brat Pack' actors would be good for a serious movie and they hit on a very special cast.

For a start, the acting from all parties is spot on. Terrence Stamp as John Tunstall is (as always with Stamp) a very inviting character, mature, wise and mildly amusing.
Emilio Estevez as Kid is an inspired piece of casting, Estevez carries the Kids persona extremely well. Young, cheeky, trigger happy, streetwise and also naive.
Supporting/almost main actors include Jack Palance, Charlie Sheen (before he was apparently 'winning'), Kiefer Sutherland, Casey Siemaszko, Lou Diamond Phillips and Dermot Mulroney.
All in all, the handsome cast of 'good guys' teamed against Palance's group of grizzly, hairy bad guys makes you route for the Regulators even more.

The entire movie has a feel of being shot with a sepia filter on the camera lense, not a bad thing though, it adds to the authenticity of the Wild West setting.
The climactic gunfight scenes are wonderfully staged if a little slow to get going.

The bad points: It's loosely based on fact. Said to be the most accurate movie based on the Lincoln War, and I'd agree it is the most accurate film outside of a documentary, but it's still far from actual fact.
The Lincoln War it's self has more to it, which could have made for a longer, maybe more interesting movie.
Though throw those thoughts aside, crack open a bottle and enjoy a well made western.

One thing that will throw the audience is that, what appears to be an OTT gunfight ending, actually happened in real life.

My rating 90%