The Predator (Final Trailer)


The Predator

The teaser trailer for this Shane Black production didn’t wow me, at all. Then the first trailer came out and a red band one at that. That one was an upgrade but I was still on the fence. They’ve released more teasers, international trailers and tv spot and, once again, I was still not fully sold on the film.

Today 20th Century Fox drops the final trailer for The Predator just two weeks from it’s release date of September 14. This just days after the studio confirmed that the film will be a very hard R-rating raised my interest level.

It is this final trailer (again another red band trailer) is what finally sold me on this film as a must-see. We still know only bits and pieces of what the film will be about but the trademark Shane Black quips and smartass attitude shows up much more clearly with this last trailer.

I actually enjoyed the last Predator film and I hope this one continues the trend and just entertains it’s audience.

Quick Review: Logan (dir. by James Mangold)


logan_2017_posterHey, bub! Before you read this,  Lisa already has an awesome review for Logan. Start there first, and if you feel like it, double back here.

The short of it:

+ Might be Jackman and Stewart’s best turn in their roles since X-2:X-Men United.

+ Logan’s well written, with some good characterization, particularly among the leads. There’s a vulnerability here.

+ It’s brutal. Logan is the bloody version of Wolverine we all hoped for.

+ Moves like the best of Westerns. Just about as cool as 3:10 to Yuma.

+ Though changed from her comic book origins Laura (X-23) is awesome on screen.

– The film feels long. For a film that’s just a hair over 2 hours, it feel almost like 3.

– Some of the action scenes may be a little quick for the camera.

– There isn’t an answer/explanation for everything (nor should there be).

The long of it:

I was 25 when I saw the original X-Men in the cinema. While everyone was excited to see their favorite mutants show up on screen (no Nightcrawler for me – that would take the sequel), it was Wolverine that caused the most buzz. When Hugh Jackman first stepped into the role, there was a great deal of skepticism. He wasn’t short and stocky nor big and bulky, and there was only so much one could do to give him that Wolverine look. Yet, he made the role his own and despite a few stutter-steps (such as X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), it’s hard to fathom any X-Men film without him.

The same can also be said of Patrick Stewart. Just about the easiest first pick for Charles Xavier anyone could have, his time with the X-Men is only slightly shorter as he wasn’t really needed for X-Men: First Class.

It’s been roughly 17 years for them both. That’s longer than any single actor’s run of James Bond. Longer than any superhero portrayal – Christopher Reeve only had a decade as Superman. Robert Downey Jr. Has about 9 years under his belt as Iron Man. It’s about time that their stories come to a close.

There was a bit of yawning and exaggerated sighing in my screening of Logan, which leads me to believe the audience was really expecting a faster paced film. I didn’t get the outright snoring that occurred during a Manhattan showing of the Robocop remake, if that’s any consolation. Usually the Midnight crowd are the liveliest bunch of patrons, particularly when it comes to superhero or action films. At its heart, Logan is a drama piece peppered with action sequences. It honestly felt like a really good Western, with an old cowboy that wants nothing more than to hang up his guns, yet finds their peace constantly challenged. The film has a lot of exposition through dialogue, and for some, this could make the story feel really slow at times. It’s not a superhero action film, even though it has its moments.

The Western angle is of no real surprise here, given that Logan reunites 3:10 to Yuma and The Wolverine director James Mangold with both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. It flows in the same fashion as Yuma, but with mutants.

Logan takes place in a future timeline where no new mutants have appeared in nearly 20 years (which is very similar to Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men). James Howlett is a broken individual working as a limo driver. Time has taken its toll on The Wolverine. He doesn’t heal as well as he used to and he struggles with the Adamantium in his bones. Adding to Logan’s troubles is an ailing Charles Xavier. Forced to take care of him both out of friendship and the possible danger he poses, I felt it added a great level of vulnerability to both individuals. They’re both nearing their end and they can’t count on their abilities to rescue them as well as it once could. The conversations between them speak of regrets and/or just keeping afloat, though Xavier is still hopeful that there’s some good on the horizon. Their long term friendship also adds to the banter between the two, with a few comical quips throughout the film.

The audience never truly learns how this timeline occurred, but it doesn’t truly matter. This is a character driven film, not so much a plot driven one. The story amps up a little once Laura (Dafne Keen, in her first role) enters the mix. Those familiar with her comic origins will spot the connection, though it’s been changed in a number of ways to fit Mangold’s screenplay. Both Keen and Laura match up so well here that you could disregard the comic altogether in favor of this cinematic origin. Laura is being chased by a group of mercenaries led by Pierce (Brad Holbrook – Netflix’s Narcos), and her protector asks Logan to take her to a designated place.

Taking a cue from Deadpool’s success, Logan went with a R rating and makes the most of it. There’s profanity abound, and when the claws come out, there’s major bloodshed. Heads are skewered, limbs are lost and it’s a beautiful sight to behold. Did the movie have to have the blood? Perhaps not, but it doesn’t really detract from the story. If anything, it might come as a surprise when you first witness it all on screen. The only drawback to this is that some of the fight sequences are so quick that you could miss some of the movements. It’s not a terrible thing at all, but it may warrant a second viewing to catch everything.

In the end, Logan a perfect final chapter for one of the most popular X-Men out there.  We’ve all grown with both the character and the actors involved.

Film Review: Logan (dir by James Mangold)


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Logan is the first great film of 2017.

It’s also one of the darkest.  The specter of death hangs over almost every scene and, when death does come, it doesn’t discriminate.  Good and likable people are just as likely to die as the film’s villains and, when they do die, it’s never a merciful passing.  There is some humor but it’s the type of humor that’s generated by being trapped in a hopeless situation.  This is one of those movies where, when you do laugh, it’s because the only other alternative is just to give up.

What’s the common complaint about comic book films?  That they only exist to sell more comic books and that they are often fatally compromised by the need to appeal to as many viewers as possible?  Well, that’s not a problem with Logan.  Logan is a film for grown ups.  During the film, when Logan (played, of course, by Hugh Jackman) comes across an X-Men comic book, he dismisses it as a fairy tale.  “In the real world,” he snaps, “people die!”

That’s not to say that Logan’s a hopeless film.  There is an optimistic streak to the film but it’s a cautious optimism.  Much like Mad Max: Fury Road, Logan suggests that the best thing that the world has left to offer is a chance for redemption.

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Now, I should point out that, while I enjoyed some of the previous films (particularly X-Men: First Class), I’m hardly an expert on the X-men franchise.  But, with Logan, that doesn’t matter.  Certainly, it helps to have seen some of the previous films.  There are a few references to X-Men: Apocalypse.  But, in the end, Logan works as a stand alone film.  Even if you’ve seen none of the previous X-men films, you’ll find yourselves getting swept up in the story of Logan, Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Caliban (Stephen Merchant), and Laura (Dafne Keen).

The film opens in 2029.  There are only a few hints that we’re in the future: driverless truck rule the roads and, more disturbingly, it seems as if there’s fewer people around than before.  Watching the film, which is full of wide open spaces and desolate towns, one gets the feeling that something has happened that has wiped out a good deal of the population.  Almost all of the mutants are dead.  Logan (Hugh Jackman) lives across the border, in Mexico.  His only companion is the albino Caliban and Xavier.

However, this Xavier is far different from the one that we’ve seen in previous films.  Suffering from Alzheimer’s, Xavier is often confused as to where he is and, if he’s not properly medicated, he can’t control his psychic powers.  What’s left of Logan’s life is now dedicated to trying to keep the greatest mind in the world from destroying itself.

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Logan has also changed.  In the previous films, Logan was indestructible.  However, his powers are weakening.  He no longer heals as quickly as before.  He’s losing his eyesight.  Even his famous claws are no longer as reliable as they once were.  Logan now works as a limo driver in El Paso.  One night, a group of frat boys have him drive by the border crossing so that they can chant “USA!  USA!”  Another night, he drives around a drunken bachelorette party, trying to ignore one of the bridesmaids exposing her breasts to him.  And then, he picks up Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and Laura.

Gabriella is a nurse.  Laura is an apparently mute 11 year-old girl who has the same powers as Logan.  Gabriella asks Logan to help them get to North Dakota (or “Eden,” as Gabriella calls it).  Logan says no but he quickly discovers that he doesn’t have a choice.  A sadistic cyborg named Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook, giving a disturbingly charismatic performance) is searching for Gabriella, Laura, and Logan.  The only way for Logan to protect Xavier is to make that trip to North Dakota.

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Pierce, I should mention, isn’t alone.  Pierce has a black-clad army of mercenaries at his disposal but he, and his employer (Richard E. Grant, in the role of the bad guy with the British accent), have a secret weapon.  This weapon looks and acts like a young Logan and there’s a reason for that.  By the end of the film, Logan truly is at war with the savage beast that he once was.

Logan is a violent film, one that doesn’t flinch when it comes to earning its R-rated.  I don’t want to give too much away so excuse my vagueness when I say that, a little over an hour into Logan, there’s a fight scene of such brutality and uncompromising violence that it left me shaken in a way that no other “comic book” film ever has.  Logan earns that R-rating but it never feels exploitive or gratuitous.  When Logan curses (which he does quite a bit), it’s because that’s what people do when they’re in a hopeless situation.  And, for all the fighting and all the blood and all the death, Logan never celebrates violence.

Instead, it celebrates redemption.

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Early on, there’s a rather sweet scene where Xavier and Laura watch Shane on television.  It’s an important scene because, in many ways, Logan is a western.  Logan is the mysterious gunslinger who, after a lifetime of violence, finally has a chance to do something to preserve life rather than spread death.  Just in case we missed, director James Mangold includes a scene in which Logan and Xavier help a family of ranchers round up some horses.  Later, there’s a tense stand-off between Logan and a group of cowboy hat-wearing rednecks that feels as if it could have come straight from a spaghetti western.

Hugh Jackman is an acclaimed and accomplished actor but, to many people, he will always be the Wolverine.  This is his 9th time to play the character and Jackman gives not only his best performance in the role but perhaps the best performance of his career.  (It’s certainly the equal of his Oscar-nominated work in Les Miserables.)  One look at Jackman’s weathered face and his haunted eyes and you immediately know that there’s going to be more to Logan than just comic book action.  And then there’s Patrick Stewart, who has never been more heartbreaking and vulnerable than he is here.  Finally, Dafne Keen gives a fierce performance, one that will probably remind many people of Chloe Grace Moretz’s breakthrough role in Kick-Ass.

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Earlier, I mentioned Mad Max: Fury Road.  It’s an appropriate comparison, as the two films have much in common.  (That said, Logan definitely establishes its own identity.)  There’s been some talk that Logan could be the first comic book film to ever receive a nomination for best picture.  I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not.  (I fear that a lot of Academy members will mentally check out during a jokey pre-credits sequence, one that serves as a teaser for the sequel to Deadpool.  I understand why it was included it at the beginning of the film.  Logan ends on such a poignant note that a post-credits scene would have felt inappropriate.  But still, as much as I love Ryan Reynolds, it feels out-of-place.)  I will say this — Logan deserves consideration.  Logan occasionally had me fighting to catch my breath and it left me with tears in my eyes.  For Logan to get a nomination, it’s going to need the same support from the critics groups that Mad Max: Fury Road received.  The Academy is going to need the critics to reassure them that it’s okay to nominate a film about mutants being chased by a cyborg.  It’s still early in the year.  Anything could happen.

It could be nominated for every Oscar or it could be nominated for none.  But, in the end, Logan is a great film.

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Logan: The 2nd Trailer


Fox recently released the 2nd trailer for James Mangold’s Logan, and we finally get more an idea of what one of my favorite Marvel characters has to offer, with a little bloodshed. I’ve been waiting for some confirmation that the girl is actually Laura Kinney (a.k.a. X-23), and this trailer pretty much removes all doubt with her dual blades. So far, it’s looking interesting, though I’m not sure how it all fits into what’s become of the X-Men Timeline. Hopefully, those answers will come when the film premieres in early March (in the U.S.). Enjoy.

 

 

While you’re at it, if you’re looking to learn more about the character, Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men-The New Age: The Cruelest Cut covers Issues 450-454, with the first two showcasing X-23 as a feral assassin up against the X-Men. You can also find Kinney in Marvel vs Capcom.

Film Review: Jane Got A Gun (dir by Gavin O’Connor)


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Jane Got A Gun, which was released with little fanfare in January and is now available on Netflix, could just as easily have been called This Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck?

In fact, I like that title better than Jane Got A Gun.  As far as I’m concerned, I am no longer reviewing Jane Got A Gun.  Instead, I am going to tell you about a film called The Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck?

The film is a western, taking place shortly after the end of the Civil War.  (Isn’t it interesting how every western recently produced has taken place shortly after the Civil War?  Way to avoid awkward historical truths, Hollywood.)  Jane (Natalie Portman) lives on an isolated farm, with her daughter and her husband, Bill Hammond (Noah Emmerich, who is wasted both figuratively and literally).  Hammond used to be an outlaw but now, he’s a pretty good guy.  But the Bishop Boys are still after him!

Who are the Bishop Boys?

Well, John Bishop is Ewan McGregor.  He’s an evil businessman and a bounty hunter and he used to be in love with Jane but now it seems that he mostly just wants to collect the bounty that’s on Hammond’s head.  I love Ewan McGregor but, as we all should have learned from his performance in Haywire, he doesn’t make the most convincing villain.  McGregor is one of those actors who radiates an inner humanity.  No actor falls in love as convincingly as Ewan McGregor.  That’s what makes him a compelling actor but it also means that he’s totally miscast as a bounty hunting sociopath.

Anyway, the Bishop Boys end up putting five bullets in Hammond so he goes home to die.  “The Bishop Boys are coming,” he says and Jane has to prepare for the upcoming siege.  Fortunately, her surly neighbor, Dan (Joel Edgerton, who seems to be bored with the whole thing), just happens to be her former fiancée and he’s still in love with her, though he tries to hide his love behind bitterness and pithy one-liners.  It also turns out that Dan was a hero in the Civil War but he’s weary of violence.

Don’t worry, though!  Dan is still willing to kill.  After all, not much would happen in the movie if Dan wasn’t willing to shoot people…

Anyway, The Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck only lasts for 98 minutes but there’s a lot of hints that there was originally supposed to be a lot more to the movie than actually showed up on screen.  We get a few lengthy flashbacks, all of which hint at a story that actually explores what it means to be a woman in a patriarchal society and which, if properly handled, would have made The Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck the feminist western that it’s attempting to be.  Watching this movie, you get the feeling that a lot of the original storyline was either not filmed or left on the cutting room floor.

To be honest, I really wanted this to be a great movie or, at the very least, a decent showcase for Natalie Portman, who was one of my favorite actresses even before Black Swan.  However, I officially gave up on this film after 50 minutes.  That was around the time that Dan started to ramble about life, death, and doin’ the ratt thang.   It was all just so clichéd and the rest of the film wasn’t any better.

The Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck? did receive some attention because its screenplay was included in the Black List, which claims to be an annual survey of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood.  The Black List is one of the greatest con jobs ever perpetrated by the film industry.  While it’s true that American Hustle and The King’s Speech appeared on the Black List, a typical Black List screenplay usually turns out to be something like The Beaver, Broken City, or Cedar Rapids.  You can add The Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck? to the long line of Black List scripts that became utterly forgettable movies.