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Film Review: The Front Runner

“This Campaign Is About The Future. Not Rumors, Not Sleaze, And I Care About The Sanctity Of This Process, Whether You Do Or Not…”

In an era when scandal, rumour and sleaze is the hot topic bound to sell newspapers or boost twitter headlines to pretty much everyone in today’s knowledge obsessed society, even to those too embarrassed or tight lipped to admit to enjoying such nonsense, one could argue that The Front Runner follows on nicely from the likes of Colette and the hotly anticipated, Vice, by being a particularly timely piece of cinema which above everything, proves that the world we live in today will undoubtedly be trivialised and dramatised onto unaware younger audiences in the future who will look up to their parents and ask with readying intrigue; “did that really happen?” In the case of The Front Runner, a dramatic big screen portrayal of the infamous Gary Hart 1987 presidential campaign, the central events at the heart of the drama most definitely did occur, occupying a time in which a shift of political focus in regards to the purpose of the media created one of the most infamous and talked about character assassinations in recent history. Directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Tully) and based on the 2014 novel, “All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid” by American journalist, Matt Bai, The Front Runner is an interesting yet flawed political drama which somewhat buckles under the pressure of too many talking points, but ultimately is saved by some swift, sharp dialogue and a Hugh Jackman on top dramatic form.

Working around a screenplay from the combined talents of Bai, Reitman and House of Cards supervisor, Jay Carson, The Front Runner on the face of it and from the point of view of the trailers pushes forward a movie with a central focus on the rise and fall of Jackman’s Hart, a charismatic, well spoken and most crucially, refreshing change of leadership for an American public all ready well versed in the ways and means of enormous political scandal. Set primary in 1987, Reitman’s movie follows very familiar genre conventions from the start, showcasing the inside of election campaign headquarters, creaky, sweaty coach rides and of course, the smokey haze of twentieth century media rooms which immediately evoked All The President’s Men and last year’s, The Post, in more ways than none, with the film feeling the need to add the likes of Ben Bradlee and Bob Woodward into the mix with no real purpose other than to solidify the obvious connection between all three movies. Whilst there is indeed scandal, late night photo opportunities and the usual immediate panic when the story first breaks out, The Front Runner is arguably more interesting when it focuses on the underlying notion of shifting allegiances from the point of view of the media, a particular idea in which the source material was wrapped around, with Bai himself stating his words acted as a scathing critique of his own industry, one which had shifted from a high level of professionalism to essentially being gossip-laden papers rags in order to appease those ultimately paying the money to keep the news rolling. Whilst the film also suffers from a wandering and conflicted portrayal of the central figure, with it never really having the balls to delve deep enough into the central scandal to paint Hart anything more than a symbol of ambiguity, Reitman’s latest has just about enough as a whole to hold its’ enormous weight together but still feels rather like a big opportunity slightly missed.

Overall Score: 6/10

Film Review: Logan

“Nature Made Me A Freak. Man Made Me A Weapon, And God Made It Last Too Long…”

With the monumental success of Marvel’s Deadpool last year, the inevitably of a sudden spike in similarly R-Rated comic-based movies was somewhat unavoidable, with Suicide Squad being the first to match the all-swearing, all-shooting red guy in terms of regressing to a somewhat more “adult” nature with naughty swear words and a level of sexual awareness which was unbeknown to the vast majority of audiences who simply couldn’t believe a film could actually be made, let alone be a success. Whilst Deadpool was a middling critical success, Suicide Squad on the other hand was a film which at the time seemed no more than a utter disappointment, yet in almost six months retrospective can only be regarded as an utter, utter clanger. Attempting to establish themselves as the leading figure of recent R-Rated superhero adaptations this week is Logan, a continuation of the X-Men/Wolverine movie franchise directed by James Mangold, famous for movies such as Walk The Line, 3:10 to Yuma and The Wolverine, and of course starring Hugh Jackman in a leading role which since 2000 has arguably been his most iconic and eye-catching amongst the many X-Men movies which have graced our screens over the last 17 years. Most impressively, Logan is indeed the movie everyone wanted since the film first began to play its’ cards in pre-production, but more importantly, it is the film the superhero genre needed. Forget Deadpool, Logan is the ultra-adult, ultra-violent and swear-tastic Marvel film we’ve all been waiting for.

Set in 2029, an elderly Wolverine strives for survival in the heat of the Mexican border alongside a severely ill Professor X within a world in which the mutant race has all but been wiped out with no sign of a mutant birth in over 20 years in a Children of Men style world crisis. After colliding into the life of young Laura however, Logan is forced to battle his demons and seek closure not only from his own life and the past he most desperately is seeking to leave behind, but for the future of mutants entirely. With Logan being released half way through the week, my view count of the movie has already hit the lofty heights of two, resulting in a much more aligned opinion of a movie in which hype and excitement has once again preceded its’ release. With the parallels between Logan and Deadpool almost inevitable, the difference between the two is astronomical in terms of tone and overall satisfaction levels with the former being a hard-hitting tale of age and loss and the latter just an open canvas for a silly, albeit moderately enjoyable, teenage fantasy of sex, violence and breaking of the fourth wall. Logan is the type of movie in which pain is transposed from screen to audience, with the sharp swoosh of Wolverine’s claws being as piercing as they are deadly, resulting in a wide array of foes and enemies which are violently massacred in jaw-dropping moments of action which bring to mind everything from Kill Bill to The Raid.

One of the main questions arising from the release of Logan however is why has it taken this long to finally see a Wolverine this exciting and deadly? With Hugh Jackman on top-form almost every time he kicks into the character of Wolverine, the foresight of witnessing a rip-roaring Logan in his prime is mouthwatering to say the least and although Mangold’s movie does indeed mark the end for both Jackman’s portrayal of the iconic character and Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Logan is the melancholic, character-based superhero movie no one was really expecting, yet a movie which makes crystal clear sense in regards to a conclusion for characters which have graced our screens for nearly two decades. Whilst not exactly The Dark Knight in terms of overall superhero greatness, Logan is a surprisingly powerful Westernised drama which just happens to feature mutants. Obviously Jackman deserves to take the plaudits for his conflicted and degrading portrayal of the titular hero, but kudos too belongs to Stewart and newcomer Dafne Keen whose ambiguity and bad-assery threatens to steal the limelight away from her elder counterparts. Logan is excellent, there are no two ways about it, with the second viewing only increasing the levels of enjoyment of which the film secretes throughout a running time which simply flies by. A fitting end for one of the most iconic big-screen characters of this millennium so far, Logan is brill. That cross turn bro, that cross turn.

Overall Score: 8/10

X-men: Days of Future Past – Review – SPOILERS

XMen 2If you’re a normal human, X-men Days of Future Past has managed to grab your attention. The relentless advertising campaign undoubtedly will make this instalment of X-men one of the biggest movies this year. If you’re wondering if its worth going to see it, you are a sad human-being. Of course you need to see this. Days of Future Past stands as one of the best movies I have seen this year so far. With already established characters that need little introduction, jumping into the fold is easy, as long as you’ve seen First Class.

As you should have guessed, the story is about the extinction of mutants and the majority of the world. The extinction of the race comes down to these giant robots called “Sentinels”. Programmed to trace the mutated X gene in people who will give birth to mutants and mutants themselves. So the decision is made to send Wolverine back to when Xavier and Magneto were young to unite them against the catalyst that would signal the next 50 years of war between mutants and humans. Let’s be honest, we know how its going to end without seeing the movie. Yet the movie manages to disguise it and keep you guessing until the very last moment.

Over the past few days I have been sat thinking about X-men and how I’m going to review it. Everything was epic. Just looking straight at the acting, we have same of the best actors to grace our screens altogether in one group. Although some do not come into contact with each other, the Magnetos (Michael Fassbender & Ian McKellen) and Xaviers (James McAvoy & Patrick Stewart) are some of the best casting out there. McAvoy’s tormented Xavier gives a whole new level to a character that was always fairly confined. His execution of lines and accent allows for real power to be portrayed in many scenes. “I don’t want your future!” is one that features in the trailer but really sticks well in my mind.The there is Fassbender who I have critiqued quite a lot for many of his movies. Most recently would be the movie “Frank”. I chose not to review it as it aggravated me to the point that I debated walking out of the cinema. Compared to The Counsellor, Fassbender needs good directing to push him for a good performance and its evident that the stone cold Magneto is the role for him and the directing is perfect to make it work and challenge McKellen’s portrayal.

What it really comes down to is the action and excitement. As with every Marvel movie, humour is always present and a scene with Quicksilver just demonstrates the pure technical abilities and comedy style that has served them well for years. Many of the scenes with CGI are gorgeous to look at. Everything looks real and its amazing to see and it never looks fake. As if you could almost reach out and touch it. Now we have the violence and action. Fighting sentinels which are meerly computer generated must be a hard thing to do when you are on a green screen but it is executed perfectly. The scenes with Blink are incredible to see as the blend 4 or 5 different angles due to her portal abilities. We must not forget the core man of the X-men franchise; Wolverine. Now I thought he was big in his recent solo outing, yet somehow, Jackman looks like he’s spent time in prison and looks like a road map for Britain. The flow of the action is great and it really is exciting. Yeah, sure there are parts I could be critical of but we don’t know the true potential for the sentinels so simply cutting them in half may be harder than it seems and leaves a lot to the imagination.

Considering that I have left this to the last minute and Watch_Dogs has just plopped into my hands, I feel I should clear a few things up. This movie is amazing. But I do wonder, The Wolverine shows Logan without the metal claws at the end and in the last X-men outing, Xavier dies?…I understand the reboot of the universe and characters return can happen but in a movie it seems to much of a cheap shot. Although I would have liked to have seen more of the future it doesn’t really bother me as the movie was great fun to watch and stands as the best X-men movie ever and deserves a 9/10

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The Wolverine – Review – SPOILERS

The Wolverine 4Thrown back into the Marvel world with one of the most notorious and best loved super heroes, we jump in at the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Japan and Logan’s dramatic rescue of one of his captures. This is the set-up for the overall plot of the movie.  As it stands, the movie is in both 3D and 2D, but personally I would only stick with the 2D version.

Jumping into the plot, it focuses directly on trying to remove Logan’s mutation and passing it on to the soon dying capturer who Logan saved decades ago. Shit hits the fan and a collection of corrupt officials, family combatants and the Yakuza jump in to try and catch Wolverine and Mariko (who is the new love interest). This collection doesn’t include a lizard mutant lady with claws as sharp as her mentality and a fashion sense which only includes tight, poorly fitting clothes. Later on in the story, we have a nice big plot twist that is quite unexpected but kind of predictable when you look back on it. So the story is very muddled and is actually a little chaotic, things just happen and there is no detective work that fills the gap. It’s a very fast paced and no-nonsense story.

Being that the movie is also in 3D, a lot of shots are very long. For those of you that don’t know, to stop motion sickness and headaches, fast paced action sequences have to have longer shots to allow the The Wolverineeyes to focus on the image rather than a constant blurring of colour and sound. Some of these shots slow the pace of action considerably but can bounce back into life in seconds with acrobatics and pure adrenaline filled violence that is well choreographed. As always though, we do have a few instances in which the action is a little silly, for instance, you would have seen a train sequence in the trailer and this is quite over the top for my liking with a lot of things happening that defy belief.

Within the action scenes, a lot of CGI is used to show the surrounding area or to add to opponents as they flew away or to create the armour that they were wearing. Some of this stood out vividly, the train scenes were filled with it as the colours they were using were to light and raising the light levels didn’t help the actors complexion alongside realism. The final robot samurai was very well done. It was big and shiny that it would reflect the surrounding area and when it fought, it was a hulking, yet agile beast. This suit was the best piece of VFX throughout the whole piece as it looked real!

The Wolverine 5Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine for many years now and it would be bad to say that he doesn’t know the characters story, but at points, he can be a little overzealous with facial expressions which detract from Logan’s persona but at least that god awful hairstyle is gone!. His position on the screen can also be very dominating but doesn’t create any visual idea that he’s a hero. You do have to understand that he has lost some of his power and he is weak, and shock looks genuine but he still has a lot of his power there. As for the rest of the actors, they were all very good and there was a few Asian actors which you would have seen in other movies, many of which they performed well in as well. The only downside for the actors was the script, trying to fill it with proverbs and stories to make it oriental was quite continuous and doesn’t work very well when the movie franchise is an American classic.

All that beside, I enjoyed the movie. It took itself a little to seriously, but I like the connection to the Yakuza and the continuous action was fun and required little brain power to enjoy after a busy day. The music was good and the general framing of the images were gorgeous with a blend of city and nature throughout, merging neon with natural rustic colours is always a plus when done right. As a rating, the movie probably deserves a 7/10 and is a good watch for all ages. If you’re still concerned, try using EE/Orange Wednesday codes for you and a friend or vice versa!

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The Wolverine trailer

Saw this little puppy today, and I have to say I had mixed feelings for this. Set in Japan after the X-men movies, it looks like Logan loses his healing ability. The trailer itself looks awesome and I am slightly looking forward to it, however due to the past x-men films it doesn’t make me want to rush out of my seat to the nearest cinema but hopefully it will break the chains of its predecessors and be an amazing watch.