“I Don’t Think Tony Would’ve Done What He Did, If He Didn’t Know That You Were Going To Be Here After He Was Gone…”
With Avengers: Endgame managing to tie up a decade’s worth of multi-layered storytelling with enormous success, with the recent re-release clearly a marketing tool to make sure Marvel’s gargantuan epic finally knocks Avatar off the top spot for highest grossing film of all time, the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home this week is arguably one of the first MCU films to carry with it a heavy sense of superhero fatigue, particularly with Endgame still taking up cinema screens across the globe, and one which follows on from the high watermark of what audiences now come to expect from releases within its’ respective cinematic universe. Acting as a sequel to both 2017’s Homecoming and Endgame, Far From Home sees Jon Watts return to direct Tom Holland’s portrayal of the friendly neighbourhood wall crawler for a film which although feels very familiar, is a sweet, thoroughly entertaining and highly comedic chapter in the Marvel universe, a move which sees young Peter Parker attempt to come to terms with the loss of Tony Stark/Iron Man by venturing upon a school trip in which his only goal is to build up the nerve to finally unleash his feelings on the zany MJ. Whilst a road trip without the sight of digitally designed mayhem would have been a bold choice indeed to follow on from Endgame, Far From Home of course features enough web-slinging and superhero goodness to make every MCU fan more than happy, and with such a likeable cast and sharp, clever dialogue, Watts’ movie shows there is still an abundance of life in the old Marvel movie making machine yet.
With an opening act which attempts in a hilarious cliff notes format to present the aftershocks of the events of Endgame, where those not affected by the so called “blip” have of course moved up in years whilst the returned have stayed the same, Far From Home successfully manages to blend the “Spidey” sensibility of Peter Parker attempting to balance the responsibility of a superhero with the wishes of a teenager as seen before in the likes of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, a movie which still remains top of most people’s favourite wall crawling live-action feature, and thanks to a deliciously engaging script, Holland’s performance is a tornado of teenage angst as he is constantly interrupted by Samuel L. Jackson’s returning Nick Fury and co. in order to aid Jake Gyllenhaal’s (Nocturnal Animals) Quentin Beck against the forces of “The Eternals”, even when asking out Zendaya’s (The Greatest Showman) MJ is the most important task in his life. As for Gyllenhaal, the multi-talented cinematic legend does begin somewhat awkward in a role of which an actor of his pedigree tends to avoid, particularly after the non-existent success of Prince of Persia, but as the movie’s central, and somewhat expected for those familiar with the Quentin Beck/Mysterio character, twist finally arrives, the American is allowed to breathe, turning a somewhat ordinary antagonist into one of the more memorable MCU villains, one which taps into previous Gyllenhaal roles, particularly his full-on level of unhinged madness within the superb Nightcrawler. With a runtime slightly too long and a concluding act which is hard to distinguish between other MCU chapter conclusions, Far From Home is an excellent Spider-Man film and a very good MCU story which takes on the heavy task of following on from Endgame and passes with just enough success.
Overall Score: 7/10
“Even If There’s A Small Chance. We Owe This, To Everyone Who’s Not In This Room, To Try…”
With the final season of Game of Thrones gracing eager audiences earlier in the month, April 2019 will always be remembered as the time in which pop culture exploded into realms of unprecedented greatness as society witnesses the end point of both TV’s most talked about show and of course, the enormously anticipated, Avengers: Endgame, the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the sequel to last year’s excellent and groundbreaking, Infinity War. Presented as the final installment in the Kevin Feige coined, “Infinity Saga”, which began all the way back in 2008 with Iron Man, Endgame sees our grieving band of OG superheroes come to terms with, and more importantly, attempt to revert the catastrophic damage caused by Josh Brolin’s (Deadpool 2) megalomaniacal titan, Thanos, in the previous chapter, and with the giant purple one’s tricky finger snap having gone down in pop culture loire for evermore, the bar is set impressively high for a sequel which Marvel themselves see as the one film the entire MCU has pretty much been leading up to. Bamboozling critics and audiences alike with a staggeringly long three hour run time, it’s fair to say that in terms of excess, Endgame laps it up completely, and whilst anything stamped with the Marvel branding tends to be absolutely critic-proof, what an absolute pleasure it is in being able to confirm that Endgame is everything that it should be and more, an emotional, bizarre and thoroughly engaging and entertaining cinematic blockbuster which manages to effectively balance spectacle with narrative payoffs, resulting in a closing chapter which beautifully reinforces the idea that what Marvel have done will never ever be executed quite as brilliantly ever again in the history of cinema.
Heading in, it’s quite important to note that Endgame is not in anyway Infinity War part two, and whilst expectations and fan theories always affect judgement on the final piece, the fact that I’ve now watched Endgame twice goes to show that the fourth Avengers piece is not just another movie, in fact it’s almost too much of a movie, a three hour long comic book dream which expects its’ audience to be synchronised with every in-joke, every knowing aside and be able to recount what happened where and at what time in each of the preceding twenty one MCU chapters. If part of this selective band of followers, then Endgame seeks to provide as much fan service to you as humanly possible whilst crucially still understanding the fundamentals of filmmaking by biding its time with an opening act which seeks to show the effects of Thanos’ snap, one which impressively highlights melancholic tales of loss, depression and guilt, resulting in some of the most impressive writing I can remember seeing in a superhero film since The Dark Knight. With the PR team for Endgame deserving their own round of applause for brilliantly being able to manage not spoiling anything at all, pretty much everything seen in the film’s trailers either occurs during the opening thirty minutes or not at all, and whilst particular narrative choices are expected from fans with more observant qualities to their Marvel addiction, the fact remains that in order to enjoy Endgame‘s many shocks and surprises you must simply head in not being aware of anything, with one of the film’s many joys is being able to gasp, cry and fist-pump your way through the action with an audience who are as dedicated to both the characters and the franchise as you undoubtedly are, if not more so.
At three hours long, the fact that Endgame did not feel as if it was testing any sort of patience at any point is a remarkable feat in itself, with both the pacing and the editing serving the action rather splendidly in a way that only the best filmmakers can successfully manage to balance, and whilst at times particular characters seem to be slightly wasted or criminally underused, such a complaint is particularly minor and in a way obsolete, with the primary mission of the piece clearly offering the chance to serve conclusions to characters who have been with us since the start and being well aware that for the new breed, the future is both bright and holds their own tales ready to be told and explored as we head into the franchise’s new phase come the end of the year. With enough hilarious dialogue and slapstick performances to put most so-called comedies to shame, Endgame deliciously plays into the Marvel mould we have both come to know and love, and whilst the balance between light and dark never fails to hit the solemn, gritty realism of Logan, the emotional payoffs of particular character arcs will leave even the most cold-hearted of sociopaths in floods of tears as they come to realise that characters in which their time has been spent with for just over a decade may not be ever seen again, in this universe anyway. When it comes to reviewing Endgame, what Marvel have ultimately achieved is unprecedented in the realm of cinema, twenty two movies across eleven years and all leading to a conclusion which is worthy of both the hype and anticipation laid upon it, and in some way, just being part of such a magnificent journey is reason enough to fall in love with a movie which will not only make it difficult to look at any future superhero movie in the same way, but is in some ways a love letter to fans whose dedication and desire have ultimately made such a dream come true.
Overall Score: 9/10
“You Can Do It. You Can Do Anything. You’re The World’s Greatest Grandma…”
Tasked with being the first Marvel release to follow on from the universally accepted awesomeness of Avengers: Infinity War, Peyton Reed’s second instalment of Scott Lang/Ant-Man’s own MCU journey hits cinemas this week, reuniting audiences with a large proportion of characters from 2015’s excellent origin story as it delves deeper into the notion of the quantum realm and the hopeful return of Michelle Pfeiffer’s (mother!) Janet van Dyne, the original embodiment of The Wasp who was lost many years ago in order to save the world from nuclear disaster. With a zippy pace and a childish playfulness which parallels completely with the two preceding Marvel releases within 2018, Ant-Man and the Wasp undoubtedly falls into the MCU category of “great fun but not particularly necessary” alongside previous examples such as Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Homecoming, and whilst come the closing credits Reed’s movie falls down under the weight of much better entries within the ever-expanding Marvel Universe, the razor-sharp comedy and fundamentally likeable characters at the heart of the drama all succeed in making Ant-Man and the Wasp a thoroughly enjoyable throwaway superhero ride.
With the Bond-esque sensibility of Black Panther and the gargantuan epic space opera of Infinity War proving to be two of the strongest entries within the MCU so far, it’s fair to say that Reed’s latest follows closest to that of a down-and-out comedy, one which stays well away from the R-rated expletives of Deadpool to keep within the remit of 12A rated family friendliness, but also one which feels comfortable poking fun at not only its’ titular character’s fundamental absurdity but the genre itself, with a bundle of well constructed gags eager to please casual and die-hard MCU fans alike. With each of the primary cast all thoroughly enjoying themselves, the dryness of Michael Douglas’ aged Hank Pym mixed in with the brilliance of a Paul Rudd who seems to have been born for the leading role offers the chance for constant giggles, a feat not undone when the movie switches to a more dramatic tone in order to introduce not one, but two leading villains in the form of Hannah John-Karmen’s (Ready Player One) Ghost and Walton Goggins’ (The Hateful Eight) excellent arms-dealing criminal, Sonny Burch. With the action and spectacle offering a much more expansive usage of the shrinking technology utilised by the movies’ heroes, a concluding car chase wraps the film up nicely, leaving the tone of the film within the up-beast positivity in which it began, and even with a post-credits sequence which ties into the mould of the universe set up within Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp is an MCU movie which is undoubtedly great fun, but one which too feels oddly irrelevant considering the dramatic turn the franchise has taken in wait for next year’s concluding arc to the MCU as we know it.
Overall Score: 7/10
“Doing The Right Thing Is Messy. You Want To Fight For What’s Right, Sometimes You Have To Fight Dirty…”
With Avengers: Infinity War concurring global box office domination for the past four weeks or so, it seems only fair that another highly anticipated superhero sequel should try and chip at the financial willingness of a 21st century, comic-hungry audience, and whilst that sequel this week is of course Deadpool 2, it comes at no surprise that Marvel, and more unsurprisingly, Disney, feel the need to make even more eye-watering sums of cash with yet another hot release. I mean come on, it almost feels like yet another Star Wars should be coming out soon, right? Right? Swapping mass universal destruction and gut wrenching superhero genocide for the 15 rated oeuvre in which 2016’s Deadpool graced its’ successful presence, Deadpool 2 swaps original director, Tim Miller, for Atomic Blonde and unaccredited John Wick director, David Leitch, as it attempts to build on the meta-referencing, fourth-wall breaking shenanigans of its’ predecessor and proving the joke of R-rated comic book carnage isn’t as one note as one might expect. With the original Deadpool described in my own review as “not amazing, but enjoyable nonetheless” and a movie which “goes in one ear and carves its’ way out the other in the most violent and adolescent way possible”, it’s ironic how such sentiments echo the feeling of its’ sequel, a movie which takes the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 approach of playing to its’ predecessors strengths and attempting to expand upon them to successful degrees, and whilst Vol.2 never was going to match the success of its’ respective predecessor, Deadpool 2 does manage to complete such a task and whilst Leitch’s movie still isn’t on the same level of excellence as other Marvel alternatives, it’s still a expletive laden ride.
With Ryan Reynolds (Life) returning as the invincible and titular figure of Wade Wilson, the added inclusion of 2018’s man of the year, Josh Brolin, as the time travelling, futuristic cyborg killer, Nathan Summers/Cable, is undeniably one of the more pressing reasons for the sequel’s existence, but with Brolin’s superbly crafted digital performance of Thanos in Infinity War setting a new bar for superhero villains, it’s surprising how little character development Brolin’s Cable is afforded in the movie’s extended two hour runtime, resulting in his character somewhat lacking in memorability even when Brolin is as cool and imposing as ever. With an added level of sentiment within a Looper inspired narrative, particularly aided by the inclusion of Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s, Julian Dennison, the tonal shifts between shock value comedy and gut punching loss does not work well at all, with the early death of an important character not entirely suiting the film’s overly silly sensibility, but with at least eighty percent of the quickfire puns and sharp, slick in-house references resulting in effective laughs, Deadpool 2 feeds the paying audience exactly what they want without ever stopping slow enough to fall out of the carnival-esque state the movie straps you into, and with solid enough action and comedy set pieces, a quickfire editing pace and a combination of brilliantly designed pre and post credit sequences, Deadpool 2 is flashier, more experimental and much more rewarding that its’ first incarnation, but too a movie which begs the question how much longer the joke can be stretched out before it begins to feel slightly tiresome. I’m sure the box office will have the final answer on that one.
Overall Score: 7/10
“You Are A Good Man, With A Good Heart. And It’s Hard For A Good Man To Be A King…”
Whilst it is now common practice for Disney to hire critically acclaimed and subversive filmmakers in the ilk of Taika Waititi, Shane Black and the Russo Brothers to helm tangent releases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe post The Avengers, the decision to choose Ryan Coogler as the leading light behind Black Panther, the eighteenth release within the ever-expanding superhero franchise, is a real stroke of genius, a talented filmmaker with the likes of Fruitvale Station and Creed in his back pocket and most importantly, a director who knows full well the balance between script and spectacle when given the chance to helm pedigree franchises and big budget releases. Utilising an astounding array of raw talent to convey the first standalone depiction of the superhero widely recognised as the first character of African descent in American mainstream comics, Coogler’s latest stars Chadwick Boseman (Marshall) as T’Challa, the titular king of the fictional East African nation of Wakanda, who reprises his scene-stealing appearance in Captain America: Civil War as he returns to his homeland in order to address the ceremonial tradition of becoming his country’s ruler after the untimely passing of his father, King T’Chaka, but with the emergence of a long lost royalty successor, T’Challa’s reign is immediately threatened and challenged, resulting in the possibility of detrimental effects to the outside world that the Wakandan way of life has always refused to become an integral part of.
With eye-widening spectacle in abundance, a successful blend of drama and humour, and a cultural exploration unlike any world before it, Coogler’s latest is one of the most fist-pumping releases in the MCU, a joyous ride of popcorn entertainment with an array of substance and depth, with Coogler’s movie undeniably the most thematic based superhero release since Nolan’s 2008 masterpiece, The Dark Knight. Working on a script by both Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther explores a wide range of captivating ideas, beginning with T’Challa’s sudden rise to power and moving through notions of power sharing, the isolation from the perils of the outside world and with the introduction of Michael B. Jordan’s (Creed) physically imposing, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, societal comments regarding the empowerment of the powerless in a world overran with tyrannical rulings and unjust treatment of the voiceless. Celebrating the world of Wakanda in gorgeously designed detail after only being passingly mentioned throughout previous Marvel releases, the visual splendour of the country and the exploration of otherworldly technology is thoroughly entertaining and indulgent, with Letitia Wright’s (Black Mirror) Princess Shuri essentially a hipper, suavely comical Q to Boseman’s Bond-esque hero figure, with a superbly measured action set piece in South Korea demonstrating the blockbuster scale of tools the people of Wakanda are used to and reluctant to let go.
With Andy Serkis (War For The Planet Of The Apes) fleshing out his role as the ruthless arms dealer and all round nasty piece of work, Ulysses Klaue, after his minor stint in Age of Ultron, the character’s hatred of Wakandan privilege and greedy need for the power of vibranium, the strongest metal on Earth and the core of Captain America’s indestructible shield, allows for the introduction of Jordan’s Killmonger, the primary antagonist of the piece whose hidden familial ties and lust for revenge sets him on a path of destruction and idealistic plans of world changing possibilities, a narrative point which aside from failing to adhere to the bog standard cliche of world domination is too a scheme which remarkably does seem inherently understandable, offering a conflicting battle between who and what is truly on the side of what can be deemed sufficiently right or wrong. With the CGI at times a tad iffy and an opening twenty minutes which somewhat disjoints the pacing of the action which follows, Black Panther is no means a superhero masterpiece, but with an organic cultural sensibility which opens the door to engaging and overly exciting new characters and a empowered outlook on the Wakandan way of life in which the most brave and bad-ass just happens to be led by The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira as Okoye, an actress so brilliant in last year’s All Eyez on Me, Coogler’s addition to the Marvel franchise is a riveting and overly cool action adventure, and with Infinity War to come, 2018’s superhero calendar has started with a superhero sized bang.
Overall Score: 8/10
“We Have To Stop Her Here And Now, And Prevent Ragnarok, The End Of Everything…”
With arguably two of the weakest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, the return of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor marks the seventeenth entry in the gargantuan comic franchise, and whilst the character is awash with charisma and undeniable charm, it seems Hemsworth’s God of thunder has been the recipient of being better served when mixed in with the collective Marvel characters rather than being free to fight battles on his lonesome. Inevitably therefore, Ragnarok, directed by New Zealand’s Taika Waititi, manages to follow in the footsteps of Captain America: Civil War by for all intents and purposes being an Avengers movie, just without the titular phrasing slapped across it, with Hemsworth’s character this time being surrounded by the likes of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and the return of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in his battle against Cate Blanchett’s evil goddess of death, Hela. With Waititi’s previous works including the likes of What We Do In The Shadows and last year’s critically acclaimed independent groundbreaker, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the Kiwi’s ascent into Hollywood stardom continues the MCU’s usage of interesting, promising directors after Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and Jon Watt’s take on Spiderman: Homecoming earlier this year, and what Waititi has managed to achieve with Ragnarok is undeniably create the best of the Thor standalone releases so far, but with a aching sense of inconsequentiality running through it, the latest MCU release is supercharged in style but lacking wholly in any sense of prolonging substance.
Faced with the passing of father Odin, Thor heeds the warning of the coming of Cate Blanchett’s Hela, the Goddess of Death, whose desire to overthrow the Asgardian kingdom could potentially lead to the coming of Ragnarok, a prophetic armageddon which eradicates the existence of Asgard from the face of the universe, but with the God of Thunder’s preoccupied exile onto the planet of Sakaar, Thor must first overcome the greatest gladiator battle of all time before returning to save his home planet from certain destruction. With the chugging riffs of Led Zeppelin and a colourful, sparkly tone which made Guardians of the Galaxy so joyous throughout, Ragnarok is a movie which soaks up the fundamental ridiculousness of Thor’s character and simply hands the audience an undeniably entertaining comic adventure on a multi-coloured plate, and whilst the rib tickling comedy and likeable characters, both old and new, keep the audience chuckling and the lengthy running time manageable, the latest Marvel adventure does suffer at times from having almost too much to say without any of it having any real consequence. With a emo-inflicted villain who is too camp to take seriously, strangely jarring cameos from particular Hollywood stars and a limited screen presence from the likes of Jeff Goldblum and Idris Elba, Ragnarok suffers where the likes of Civil War prevailed, with the latter working with each pieces of the chess board onto something of consequence, and considering the future which lies ahead for the fate of the MCU, Ragnarok is indeed a highly enjoyable addition to the Marvel universe but ultimately doesn’t seem exactly necessary.
Overall Score: 7/10
“Can’t You Just Be A Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man..?”
As we all are well aware, with great power comes great responsibility, and although it only seems like yesterday when the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire led Spider-Man films graced the big screen, here we are this week with the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the sixteenth film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring Tom Holland in a leading role which swiftly follows on from the likes of Maguire and Andrew Garfield after his cameo appearance within the superbly entertaining Captain America: Civil War. Perhaps not holding as much expectation as other MCU entries, Homecoming’s main reason for existence arguably rests on the shoulders of young Holland, with his own feature film giving him utmost freedom to exact his own take on the character of Peter Parker to a larger extent than was offered back in Civil War, and with the rather unknown figure of director Jon Watts at the helm, Homecoming could be regarded as a much more experimental MCU than one might first expect. With a charming lead performance from Tom Holland, an excellent villainous turn from Michael Keaton and enough jokes to poke fun at so many so-called contemporary comedies, I’m happy to report that Homecoming is a crowd-pleasing success, if suffering from a slight linger of cliche and a strain of superhero fatigue.
Forgetting any means of backstory and heading straight into a mildly trained Peter Parker, Homecoming mixes the 80’s sensibility of movies such as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, with the latter making a brief appearance halfway through the action, with the flashy, sharp-witted action that has come to encompass many Marvel releases, and with Tom Holland, his youth and puppy-esque, wide-eyed curiosity is arguably the most definitive version of Peter Parker to date. Although sometimes the performance does become slightly grating, with the Aaron Sorkin-esque way in which his lines are spoken come across too fast at times to keep up, the innocence of youth is effectively balanced by the faux leather wearing Vulture, a villain who not only is one of the more memorable of the entire MCU, actually has a deep sense of characterisation and is welded effectively into the narrative enough to feel for for both his actions and the actions of the titular hero. Whilst the overall narrative is somewhat disposable and highly obvious at times, the array of side-splitting jokes and flashy secondary characters keep the film entertaining enough to just deserve its’ two hour plus runtime and with a sequel destined to arrive in the near future, Homecoming is indeed an effective reboot of the Spider-Man franchise.
Overall Score: 7/10
“Sometimes, The Thing You’ve Been Looking For Your Whole Life, Is Right There Beside You All Along…”
Whilst the first Guardians of the Galaxy was perhaps the first entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which expectations were not exactly of the highest order, the finished product was ironically one of the best the franchise has had to offer so far, introducing expertly characterised leading heroes amongst a crowd-pleasing narrative which managed to balance the irregularity and oddness of the source material whilst serving up arguably the best jukebox soundtrack this side of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. With power comes increasing levels of responsibility however and a sequel to the biggest surprise of 2014 was downright inevitable, yet with James Gunn returning as director and the added involvement of iconic screen presences such as Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell, Vol. 2 is indeed up there with the most excitable releases of the year and a movie which is lynch-pinned within a period of twelve months in which there are so many superb upcoming movies to look forward to and a year in which Vol. 2 begins the triage of MCU movies which are set to be released over the course of 2017. What we have with Vol. 2 however is a sequel which is indeed as inventive and magical as it’s predecessor, playing all the cards in all the right areas to keep its’ intended audience more than happy, but too a movie which suffers from the issue in which many sequels tend to have, with it not entirely being up to the critical level of the original but still being an excellent new addition into the MCU.
With the added input of Kurt Russell as Ego, the long lost father of Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Vol. 2 thrives on the same sense of retro-loving freedom which encompassed the original, nodding its’ head at a wide range of nostalgic avenues alongside yet another successful jukebox soundtrack which ticks off everything from E.L.O to George Harrison across a two-hour plus runtime which does seem a tad too drawn out come the final act. Furthermore, in a similar vein to that of Age of Ultron, Vol. 2 attempts to differ slightly from its’ predecessor by sticking to a driving narrative which comes across as a much darker and melancholic tale, focusing upon a wide range of notions such as the meaning of family alongside a deeper sense of characterisation for each of the leading guardians who individually have enough substantial screen time between them to sway off arguments of favouritism from fans, even when the superbly managed inclusion of Baby Groot manages to steal every scene in which he is involved in. Whilst not setting up anything major in terms of the future of the MCU, Vol. 2 is a substantially entertaining blockbuster which although features arguably a higher dose of comedy than the first, is inevitably not as surprisingly awesome than one indeed hoped for, yet with a core character base in which you could happily spend an entire lifetime with, James Gunn’s second helping of galaxy saving guardians is entertainment galore.
Overall Score: 8/10
“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
I love comic book movies. I admit it wholeheartedly. The Dark Knight is the undisputed king whilst the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a fun and wholly impressive canon of success, with the much anticipated Captain America: Civil War embracing our screens in the near future. One thing that I am not a fan of however is the comic books themselves with none having the pulling power of gaining my attention away from the live-action adaptations that are constantly engrained on us from the small screen to the big and onto the page of their most original and truest form. Strange I know, but keeping up with Arrow, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and many, many more is exhausting enough. With that in mind, the arrival of Deadpool is somewhat something of a enigma. Sure, I know that this particular superhero is not exactly adhering to the notion of being very super, more anti-hero, more foe than friend with a knack of swearing at you and laughing rather then actually lending a hand, but in all honesty. sounds a bit Kick-Ass meets The Punisher with a hint of V For Vendetta doesn’t it? Without the political intrigue of course. In that regard, not being part of the hardcore comic book fan-club left me in a state of open-mindedness heading into Deadpool, with the film in the end being another case of superhero origin with added violence, swearing and fourth-wall breaking in an attempt to distinguish itself from other and ultimately, better examples of the genre. Please don’t hate me, I’m vulnerable.
Deciding to flesh out the story of Wade Wilson in a non-linear fashion in which we essentially witness the beginnings of the final showdown within the first few minutes, Deadpool can be seen as adhering more towards the B-Movie end of the cinematic spectrum, with ramped up violence taking precedent over true substance whilst adolescent jokes and endless resorts to swearing paint over the rather shallow origin story, something of which has become ever-increasingly tiresome in an age where comic book movies are indeed the top of Hollywood’s wish list. A guy meets a girl. A guy gets screwed over. A guy loses girl. Guy takes revenge. With violence, lot’s of violence. Not exactly the hallmark of a masterpiece but indeed something of a 90 minute Roger Corman-esque, culty B-Movie, except with a 58 million dollar budget at its disposal, all of which will no doubt please the comic-book loving masses, but for the lay viewer, leaves nothing but a gaping whole of mediocrity. Ryan Reynolds is good as the titular anti-hero whilst Morena Baccarin tries her best to break type of the two-dimensional superhero girlfriend, but the real winner here once again is Marvel, with them giving exactly what the fans wanted in creating a movie that specifically will be meant for them. As for me, it’s just not that special but I can see why many will love it and see it as the best thing since sliced bread. Not amazing, but enjoyable nonetheless, Deadpool goes in one ear and carves its’ way out the other in the most violent and adolescent way possible, laughing all the way.
Dan’s Score: 6/10
Unlike Dan, I love my comic books. My only issue is the moths fluttering out of my wallet when ever I open it up. As far as Marvel goes, I’m very much into The Amazing Spider-Man but Deadpool has been a character that I’ve known and loved for years, whose comics have been out of my reach for quite sometime. Excerpts and clippings surface everywhere and I enjoy every one of them. This passion only increased when the test footage leaked. It depicted the character I had envisioned and Ryan Reynolds sold it. To be brief, for me, the movie is a resounding success. An action “hero” movie with a lot of flair. On the other hand, I vehemently dislike the TV shows. If you’re looking for corny action scenes, sup-par acting, low-budget visual and god awful cinematography, comic book TV shows really are right up your street. I cannot watch these without cringing. Arrow’s voice changer is enough to make me spit out my drink in laughter.
But I digress. That isn’t why we’re here. Sure, its an origin movie, but its an origin movie with a difference. It appealed to the comic book lovers. It depicts the world correctly and is incredibly meta. The story and process of what made him into Deadpool is a very dark tale and sure, some of the usual action movie tropes are thrown in but throwing such a diverse character into a lead role and not giving this vital information would mean that the movie wouldn’t have traction with the audience and would be a confusing mess. Throwing him into some world ending, overly convoluted story would guarantee its’ death, but also shit over the character. As for its opening scene, I felt it was necessary to use this footage sooner rather than later. Being that it was in the test footage that millions viewed, its only reasonable to show that footage first so you aren’t left waiting for it throughout.
As for the violence, I cannot see an issue with it. It was creative, exciting, vivid and extremely funny. Giggling like a schoolgirl throughout, I couldn’t recommend it more to fans of action flicks and even more so to comic book fans. I have to disagree with Dan. (If you’d like to know more, jump over to our Youtube channel where we shall be talking about this soon!). The only real glaring issues I had with the film was the CGI backgrounds. They lacked the fidelity and sharpness I would have liked and the soundtrack is a little lacking. Apart from that, its everything I could have hoped for and more.