It’s The End – Logan

15 03 2017

logan (20th Century Fox - 2017)

Whenever I finish something, or feel like something is coming to a close; something big and has taken me a long time to do, my mind always jumps to the scene of the fourth Doctor Who regenerating into the fifth. I don’t know why, but it’s a nice poignant scene which carries the incredible line; it’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for”. It’s that line that comes to mind when I can feel like something is the end, or that I have reached the end. But knowing what I am like, I will have prepared for it, so like when I finished reading the GONE book series, I found something to read to replace it with for instance. Well, in the case of this film, the moment has been prepared for, but the hardest hit is that it truly is The End!

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Released in 2017 by 20th Century Fox, Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg, and Directed by James Mangold; Logan is a superhero film starring Hugh Jackman returning for what is intended to be his last portrayal of Wolverine, a role he has held for 17 years. When the film was first announced on the heels of The Wolverine, I was really excited as I really loved The Wolverine. Come 2015 however with Jackman announcing his retirement from playing Wolverine, I was very sad, and had begun chasing my mind around for replacement actors (if there were any), forgetting of course that before that bridge is crossed, Jackman would still provide us with one last glorious hurrah.

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The year is 2029; all mutants are supposedly dead except for a small group, and a now aging Logan (Hugh Jackman) works as a chauffeur on the border with Mexico and lives with friend Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and former mentor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) at an old smelting plant. Xavier is now growing old and senile with his psychic powers now grown beyond control with devastating effect and has to take medication to control it. One day Logan is approached by a lady called Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez) who asks him to give her and a young girl called Laura (Dafne Keen), escort to a location in North Dakota. Logan reluctantly accepts the job as the money provided will allow him to buy a luxury yacht he wants to purchase. As he comes to collect them though he finds Gabriella has been murdered. Laura stows away in his car though and goes to the Smelting Plant where she becomes friends with Charles. Just as they arrive though, a platoon of soldiers led by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) arrive having captured Caliban, and are demanding that Logan hand over the girl. As men try to capture her though, she quickly attacks them in a very savage and brutal way, with steel claws coming out of her hands, decapitating and amputating several limbs.

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Logan, Laura and Charles escape, and using Gabriella’s phone, discover that Laura or X-23 as she was designated; was one of several young children born and bred by the Transigen Program headed up but surgeon Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant). The kids are injected with Mutant DNA and are bred to become mindless and dangerous soldiers, however unable to control the children’s souls, they all don’t want to do what they’re told anymore and most of them escape including Laura. Because she was made from Logan’s DNA, it is deduced that he is her father. Pierce with the help from the Reavers, use Caliban’s ability to locate other mutants to find Logan, and while staying at a casino in Oklahoma City the trio are nearly captured, but Xavier has one of his moments and near paralyzes everyone in the city except Laura and Logan. Logan is able to get them out of the city, but does not believe in the mythical Eden of North Dakota where they are going, especially when he finds the co-ordinates referenced exactly in an X-Men comic. The trio are eventually given shelter by a family they help out on the road and the group bond together, as Laura discovers more of the outside world, one she never experienced having been locked up all those years. During the night however, Xavier is murdered by X-24, the final project of Transigen to replace the children, who also happens to be a copy of Logan, claws and all. X-24 captures Laura placing her in very restrictive shackles and takes her to Rice, but Logan arrives just in time to face himself having found the murdered family and the dead Charles. With some help, X-24 is pinned down, and Caliban uses a grenade to blow up rice’s van. Logan saves Laura and the two head out in the night, burying Charles in the morning.

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Beside himself, and with his healing still failing, Logan agrees to take Laura to Eden, still not believing it. Eventually they arrive at a mountain range with a community filled with the other surviving experimented children all run by Rictor (Jason Genao). There Logan learns that the children will be making an 8 mile hike across the Canadian border. Logan is ready to send Laura on her way, but Laura wants to know him as a father, although he is still down and out about losing his own friends, and sees himself less as a father, and more of a threat, and just wants to die. The kids attempt to make the hike, but are soon surrounded and chased by the Reavers. Using a healing serum from Transigen, Logan takes in the full dose knowing it will kill him but should give him strength to save the kids. The kids are soon rounded up and shackled except for Laura who gets surrounded, but rescued by Logan. The serum though begins to ware off just as he meets Rice, who happens to be the son of the man behind the Weapon X Program. X-24 is set loose on Logan, but Laura is able to free the other kids who kill Pierce. Logan is impaled on a tree during the fight, but using an Adamantium bullet, Laura kills X-24, which Logan had kept for years. Eventually succumbing to his wounds, Logan dies, unable to heal and the kids bury him before crossing the border.

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In 2007; the German heavy metal band known as Scorpions released a single called Humanity. It is a song which poignantly depicts the destruction and downfall of the human race through its own acts and nothing more. It is a very heavy track and whose lyrics basically suggest, as delivered in the music video with a young boy simply saying “It’s The End!” Now this track does not appear in Logan I should point out, but that is what comes to mind as I think on this film. It’s the end of Hugh Jackman playing this part. This is an actor who has played a movie role for 17 years now. During that time there have been 3 American Presidents, 4 UK Prime Ministers, 4 (technically 5) Doctor Who’s. It is an incredible amount of time to play a film role, most WWE Wrestlers don’t even last that long, but here is Hugh Jackman still playing this role, now deciding he wants to leave. He deserves it rightly so, he is allowed to walk away given the energy, passion and devotion he has put into just one character. He has played other parts which help prevent typecasting, but possibly for the rest of his life, will be best remembered for being The Wolverine, you do not forget 17 years of the same thing in a flash. So, yes, it’s the end of Jackman as Wolverine; but not just that. It’s also the end of 2 major characters in a film series that has become one of the most critically and financially successful franchises in movie history. The X-Men film series is not ending, No! There are still more films to come including Deadpool Sequels (YES!). No, what we have here is something of what could be best described as a tragic ending, which is sad for Xavier, but more so for Wolverine as he has led a pretty tragic life.

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The story of Wolverine is a tragic one as it’s the life of a genuinely good person who has led a rough life. He is very old given that his healing prevents aging on a grand scale. Over the years he is going to meet people and see people die, a lot of people die if you live that long and that is not good for the mental soul. As life has passed by, something horrid happens to him, something so dark and miserable, but something that he has only partial memories of. So as life ticks by he has to remember these things not knowing entirely what it was, and spends life running instead of facing. Eventually though good things happen for him, he gets friends, and a family, and can care for people again, and have a proper life, but given as to who he is and what he is, none of this could possibly last, and as the years have gone by, and seen more people die, some by his own hands for the good of others, he resigns to a wishful death, and waits for it. It is a very sad story for someone who is not a bad man, someone who is actually a very good man, a caring man, a protective man. Yes, he is prone to a little bit of violence, but only when it is called for; doing what must be done, because without him to protect his friends, no-one can. Into this, we find ourselves confronted with the final act of The Wolverine. But it’s not really a super hero movie, more of a personal journey as one man reaches his eventual end, but has one last thing to do.

Logan is actually a rather small film. It’s not a mega big one like other super hero films of note, as this is not a character trying to save the world, but those around him, and as such we go less on a journey to save the world, but a more personal one. As such he is not referred to as The Wolverine, but because it’s a personal story is known better as just Logan. Logan starts off in a similar vein as does The Wolverine, with Logan having to live and come to terms with his life and the death by his own hand of someone he loved. Now coming into this film we are told something similar has happened, but we don’t know exactly what. But just like before, Logan is beat up and ruined and has resigned to live as much a recluse as possible while caring for Xavier who has become rather senile. Eventually though he is given a duty he does not want, that of looking after a little girl very much like him. He is meant to be the father, but has no care for her, caring for his friends than her; something which falters in the mind of Laura who wants to know who she is and know her father too. As the story continues and things happen as usual, the similarities between the two emerge as Laura is very much like he was in the first first X-Men, with Logan now having grown up. Logan is still resigned to wishing death upon himself, but knows that once more, he needs to do the right thing to help those that need his help resulting in one last blood bath for those who deny him and others peace. His Death though is not nice, nor peaceful, but more brutal for someone who has earned better. It is a film that makes you think deeply upon issues such as the harsh and sometimes quick deaths of others while others get a more natural one. It looks into how people desire Death, and how Death actually comes. It features a brutal end which dies just like death is a final stop. It really makes you think on if you believe that the world is a better place without you, how can you be certain of this? How do you not know that life right now is in fact better, because ‘you’ are around!

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Logan is a small film and bolsters a small but pretty strong cast. Stephen merchant I find was actually pretty good as Caliban. Caliban has featured sort of twice in the past with his most recent piece being in Apocalypse as some garish and camp clown; here instead we see what he is truly like and capable of but also what kind of person he is given his history as one of the Morlocks. Gabriella’s part is small but sweet and shares some backstory light on some of the films major issues and themes including who Laura is and why we should care. One thing though I find the film lacks is a strong villain. There are some good villainy characters and others who help fill in those parts like a few extras. Pierce himself has the nice sinister mechanical arm and some god talking points but feels more like a hindrance than a villain. Same can be said for Rice, who while is a deceptive schemer with a good voice, again just feels plain. I am not saying he’s bad, it just feels like the villains are strong because they are many, but not because of whom they are. I mean X-24 feels like a wasted opportunity and a mistake being rewritten. His appearance as Logan is a bit like the Undertaker vs Undertaker match at SummerSlam 1994; kind of surprising, but still rather silly. It feels like a wasted opportunity to bring in a new monster. I thought maybe an enhanced Sabretooth, or Maverick, or someone big and scary to introduce. With a double Wolverine, it felt more like Weapon XI in Origins all over again, and we know what happened there don’t we!

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What villain’s lack, heroes make up. The Transigen kids are a nice addition although faint on the film’s radar, mostly as people to get into trouble and allow a moment of heroism, but for this film, it really comes down to Logan, Laura and Xavier. Xavier’s part in this film is still pretty similar to past films but does do a lot more and shows what Stewart can do when allowed to do something very different. He is in some sense the comedy side kick and delivers some incredibly funny moments, but it’s through his disorientated new life that shows how bad things have become. He remains something of a hindrance to Logan after all these years, but one Logan has come to care for, as rightly he should, as Xavier is practically his last and now only friend. His death in the film is a big shock, but not a sincere one, as don’t forget we have seen him die before in more dramatic circumstances with this one more lost in the moment, but you do see his life pass in his eyes.

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Laura spends most of the film rather quiet, does not say a single word until just before the final Act. Yes there are shouts, yells and screams, but no words. This form of silence allows retention of mystery as to who she is, but also allows expressing more deeply the life she had and the new world she is experiencing. Silence can be golden at times and really works in her favour, as we see this young girl come face to face with new things, not knowing what they involve or how to interact, but when finally realising who she is and where she is, she finally speaks, knowing that she needs to for the sake of Logan, but also so she can be heard. Her desperation to get to Eden comes more as a cross between hope and instruction from others, not necessarily her own entire belief, but somehow knows it’s there even if Logan doesn’t. Her skills as a fighter are incredible and are very similar to Wolverine, but she has some heart too, not a lot as this is crowded with the same anger Logan once had too, but as things come to a close, she knows that she must carry on, even though her father; something she wants and desires cannot help her, but in some way knows that still lives on inside her, respecting his death, and making his legacy live on in more ways than one.

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Logan’s design and perception of being much older and on the verge of death is an interesting one. We have seen him go through emotions before, but then he was not on the ultimate verge of giving up, more just conflicted. Now though he desires it, more than anything else. It’s kind of hard to speak on his performance after 3 or so paragraphs of detailing his character, but one thing stands out more than most; his Death; His final hurrah. Coming into this film, I was thinking his last stand was going to be like in The Wolverine, one last heroic but still cynical fight to the death where he would come out on top but now no more energy left to continue. No, this time his death is more personal. It wasn’t a long lasted blood bath, more one which required others to save him and take on his role, and one that required others to do the work, while he acted as a decoy, once again being more of a team member than a loner. But his death does have something else in it though. Going into this I thought it would be like The Wolverine, but in that, he was The Wolverine, now he is just Logan. Calling him The Wolverine, it’s like a promise (like The Doctor), you know what he is, who he is and what he can do, but by putting ‘the’ before it he becomes a thing, not a person; this film is a much more personal one, so in this case it’s not the death of The Wolverine, it’s the death of Logan. That carries a more significant weight to it; it’s not the death of a thing, but the death of somebody. Laura in a future film could become the New Wolverine, or someone else could take on that name; but you can’t replace or take on the identity of Logan.

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The film does come packed like many other X-Men films with a cavalcade of special effects. These of course include ‘very’ detailed claws including spots of graphic detail and blood splatter; especially when piercing through the heads of some people. The mechanical hands are a nice treat showing off some more blood and limb coverage than usual. The film uses its special effects department in other ways too to create visions of the future including a scene involving driverless, but dangerous trucks. The film also comes with a soundtrack once again produced by Marco Beltrami featuring quite a few slow pieces which are used to heighten the level of reality but more a sense of realisation than anything else possibly to state that this is the end! Pieces like Old Man Logan, Don’t Be What They Made You and Goodnight Moon cover this pretty well, but the soundtrack does of course know when to get busy though and of course creates action packed pieces for when a fight is on especially in a scene like the Forest Fight at the end and also when Logan is facing X-24. The one thing though that really stands out about this soundtrack though is the inclusion of several classic pieces by Johnny Cash. Logan’s first trailer of course famously features the song Hurt, which really shows the direction the film intends to take so that the audience can really see how the film is likely to turn out but also more likely what it is all about. This piece though does not actually feature in the film, what does feature though is not a slow grim song, but a rather pleasant, peaceful and also happy song that really turns around the film’s great tragedy and helps you gain some perspective.

A few months ago I went to see the film Ethel and Ernest based on the book of the same name written by Raymond Briggs. The film has a very sad ending, but turns this around in a sense by featuring a piece of music and images within the credit roll that suggest that while the ending was sad, it does not mean that everything was as there was some really happy moments. Here we have the sad ending and conclusion to the story of Wolverine (in film), but, while he has had great tragedy in his life, and it ended as such, there is some peace we can look back on. For one Logan has attained a peace from the devastation of his dark history, but also in that history there was also, happiness, joy, peace and of course love. This is held by the film playing The Man Comes Around in the credits, a light fluffy as well as casual piece, signifying not an entirely sad ending, but shows that there has always been another side to the coin, that in the misery, there was joy, and in the darkness there was also light; and so while Wolverine does bow out, we can take a moment of knowledge and recognition about the life he had, and the legacy that he leaves behind, not just in story, but also in the entertainment and joy he has given us as cinema goers.

Logan is a pretty sad point. I know the series will continue and new stars are appearing to take the helm and the future such as Ryan Reynolds, Sophie Turner and hopefully Dafne Keen too, but it is a sad point, more so when I think that there could have been more. When X-Men Origins came about and really failed like it did, that is the series lowest point, so when The Wolverine came along and excelled so much, it felt like a new beginning, like that is what Origins should have been, forgetting that film and becoming the first a Wolverine Trilogy. But now it has come to an end, it feels like only the surface was being scratched, and that more was on the way. It’s like when Castle was cancelled last year; it was in it’s prime, there was more to be told, and it just ended. That’s what we have here, like something more could have come, but now we may never see that. You can only play a character for so long though, and an end would have come eventually. The end of something is exciting because you don’t know how it’s going to end, but eventually realization sets in, and you realize that it truly is the end. So even if it did continue, it would eventually end: but what an ending it was! Logan does not disappoint in providing one last fight, one last match, one last scene of steel claws, blood curdling action, eye grossing violence, but also one last moving scene as the great hero finally comes to rest in peace. Logan is a sad and tragic little film, but shows off plenty of emotion and heart in a film series that has defined just that in the super hero genre; and now Hugh Jackman can now go do something else, leaving a legacy that will live on in cinema forever, and one that no-one can match. There is only one true Logan, and only one true, Wolverine.

GENEPOOL





My New Video Games Console

1 03 2017

My PS3 (and GameCube)

From a very young age, I have enjoyed playing Video Games; it’s something I consider a strong hobby of mine and is something I like to do to enjoy and in more recent memory, to allow myself to mellow out after a hard time. I enjoy playing games by myself and with friends and family and over my lifetime I have played on a number of games consoles from the Sega Mega Drive, to the PlayStation 3; and have fond memories of playing games like RollerCoaster Tycoon and more recently Dishonored. I like video games but recently however, playing video games has been something of a struggle for me. The reason for this is that though while I still continue to enjoy them; currently I cannot really play anything that comes out as new as I am not really able to play them:

  • My Laptop is relatively under powered and can only play games with simple graphics.
  • I do have a more powerful PC, but it’s out of wireless signal range and I am unable to install anything onto it.
  • The GameCube is still working well, but nothing gets made for it anymore.
  • The Wii is ok, but right now is only worthwhile for playing with other people; not by myself.
  • The 3DS is fun, but there’s not really much out that I genuinely want to play on it.
  • The PS3 is able to play a lot of games, but as the console is now out of date, I cannot play anything new on it.

My gaming experience at the moment is still somewhat fun, but as new stuff comes out; without a valid platform to play on, I am getting ever more behind with releases and it is just getting me down.

dishonored-2

Fortunately though, I have been thinking a lot about this issue however. I have looked into a new PC, but realize that in terms of getting one it may be best to leave it. It will be a hard struggle, but it does allow me the opportunity to consider when one day I have the money to spend on a new machine, plus my own place to sort out how/where I would like one placing, I can then have a good go at building/buying a dream machine. In the meantime however, I have decided to buy a new home video games console. Something that I could own in which when new games are released that I want to play, I can just simply buy them and play them. Buying a new console is actually a rather fun experience, as the prospect of doing so simply gets me excited even when there are still a few days away before I actually get my hands on it. It’s like when someone on Gold Rush gets a new wash plant; these great big machines that get the gold out of the dirt, it’s a big moment, and right now, getting my new console, setting it up and playing on it; it’s like I am buying my own wash plant. But which Wash Plant should I buy though, that’s the real question?

There are several major home consoles on the market currently such as the Xbox One and the PS4. Choosing which one to buy is a hard process, as machines do cost quite a bit of money and as I don’t earn all that much at the moment, I need to be sure and positive that what I buy is definitely what I want right now. There is no reason why I could not have more than one, but like I said it costs money, and so right here and right now is what is more important, as if it comes to a time where I would like another to play on one, that bridge can be crossed when we come to it.

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Choosing which one was always going to be tricky, but I instantly knew that I did not want an Xbox. I have never really been a fan of it, I once thought about getting a Xbox 360, but as the PS3 had games on it that I wanted to play more than there were on the 360; I went with the PS3. The Xbox machine to me as always looked more like a glorified set-top box than a games console. I am buying the machine to play games on it, not to have access to other features which should not be the main feature of a video games console. This way of thinking though should not necessarily be the only reason to base your decision on. As a video games console is designed to play video games primarily (much like a wash plant is designed to retrieve gold, not necessarily to watch TV on it), you should make sure that the console is capable of playing the video games that you want to play. So choosing the PS4 over the Xbox One was a done deal as the PS4 has a list of games on it that include Horizon Zero Dawn and (eventually) Detroit: Become Human as well as other games I really want to play too like Dishonored 2. The Xbox One does not really carry anything that really jumps to my mind. So from reading that you must think I will soon be purchasing a brand new PS4 right? Wrong!

You see, those two are not the only major home consoles available for purchase right now. Back in October, another video game console was revealed to the public after over a year of speculation as to what it would be: the console formerly known as the NX was revealed by its creators Nintendo to be called the Switch. From the moment I first watched the trailer, I was really interested in the new console. I have been a fan of Nintendo for years, and have owned a few of their consoles, so a first reveal of a new console was always going to be exciting, but looking at some of the features of the Switch made it more of a contender than simply who was making it. One thing that I have grown tired of with other video games consoles is that of online multiplayer. My experience of online multiplayer has been harsh with very few fun memories. Some happy gaming memories do include Mario Kart Wii, Bomberman Blast, ModNation Racers and of course MAG, but overall my enjoyment of online console gaming has been mostly negative, even when playing games like Modern Warfare 2. What I do enjoy though is playing with family and friends, something which I have been able to do online on Steam with my brother, but also round a TV screen too having played games on the Wii. With a new home console; I would much rather prefer to play with family and friends round a TV screen, rather than play with anyone (not including family and friends), which has the potential to lead to a bad experience; although on the other hand could also lead to a positive experience. Given though that I knew what I wanted first and foremost, I went with that. The Switch spoke to me with its use of having one controller being split between two people, meaning that as soon as I get it, I don’t need to buy another controller, as I will already have one. Playing round a TV and not necessarily online can also lead to fond memories and experiences. I remember fondly playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl with a group of friends in Middlesbrough one December and really enjoying the player interaction as well as the fun of them being in the room, providing a core social interaction. Playing games online with just me in the room does not provide the same experience.

MAG Title

When it came to making the actual decision though, it really came down to games. I have pretty much been hanging around with this decision for a while with not being able to make a sound decision, until I realized that the Switch has more games on it that I want to play either soon or right now than on the PS3. While Horizon Zero Dawn was just about to be released, there was very much of anything else on the PS4 that I was actually desperate to play; the only one in question being Dishonored 2; while the Switch looks set to have a good range of games available soon, including some good-looking multiplayer in the form of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe at the end of April. Upon this realization, I made my choice, and within a couple of days I pre-ordered myself a Switch.

It’s a bit nerve-wracking ordering a new console when it has not been released yet, but also exciting too. I am really looking forward to getting my new Switch and trying it out. I don’t know what it’s going to be like or is going to do, but I am genuinely excited about getting a new games console. This does not necessarily prohibit me from getting a new PC or PS4 in the future; but it does mean that for now when something does gets released for the Switch I can at least play it and won’t have to worry about whether or not I will be able to play it or not. So like how a new Wash Plant works better at retrieving Gold, my new Switch I am sure will work well at providing me with lots of new and lasting enjoyment.

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GENEPOOL (I may have gone overboard with the wash plant references).





Other Films Of Note Due For Release In 2017

22 02 2017

the-last-jedi (Lucasfilm - 2017)

As you may know (or not know if this is the first time you have visited, in which case “Hello”), whenever a new year rolls around I like to celebrate my favourite movies of the previous year, and also look ahead into the coming year to see which films are taking my eye. I do this by doing some Top 5/Top 10 posts and choose a selection of which films I am most looking forward to. Sometimes though it can be the case that some films which I also like the look of don’t get much of a mention. This can be particularly sad if those said films turn out to be better than the ones I was looking forward too, and even more if I find out about them later on. Anyway, with a lack of decision-making in terms of posts to write about at the moment, I thought I would do a separate post, highlighting films due out this year that I am also currently looking into.

the-great-wall (Universal Pictures - 2017)

One thing I am going to do though is not rank them. These films look interesting, but at current details are still small in my mind and I don’t want to rank them based on very few details. Instead, I have ordered them by which ones I wrote down first to last when looking them up on Wikipedia (and moved one around for the benefit of the post). So this is more of a general post than a ranked post allowing each one to state their case more equally than based on favoritism. The other rule I have done is; that I think it would be a little unfair to name films that have already been released (at least according to my knowledge), as they may no longer be out and it’s a bit late to mention them (for which I apologize). Anyway, I hope you enjoy this post (I’ll try to be as brief as I can be) and maybe also gain some more insight into this year’s set of movie releases.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Warner Bros. - 2017)

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – Directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law and Eric Bana; Legend of the Sword follows a young Arthur on his journey to becoming the great King of Legend. Do you remember when back in the summer of 2009 a trailer was released for a Sherlock Holmes film starring Robert Downey Jr? I do quite fondly. It was an interesting idea seeing the American actor of Iron Man playing a role that was quintessentially British; either way it worked out really well. Sherlock Holmes was a terrific film and still stands today as a terrific film. While we wait in the wings to see if a third film gets made, it’s good to see that Guy Ritchie has been at work taking another quintessentially British character on a road leading to another big budget movie. This is of course not the first time that King Arthur has had his time on the big screen, but it has been a while. It’s interesting to see the perspective Ritchie has chosen for this film. Upon looking at the trailer, it goes more down the route of fantasy than historical, but also it appears to carry the traits of Ritchie’s earlier works in British gangster and heist movies, with Arthur being something of a rogue before ascertaining his royal lineage. It’s an interesting looking film so far with some great differences in perspectives and is shaping up nicely to become one of 2017’s biggest epics.

Alien: Covenant (20th Century Fox)

Alien: Covenant – Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender; Covenant tells the tale of a colony ship which lands on a remote planet, where they discover a lone android and a race of monstrous creatures. Do you remember (again) when Ridley Scott announced plans to make a prequel film to his science fiction classic Alien? It was pretty exciting news, but the more details that were released before and upon release suggested that it was not exactly the prequel we thought it was, rather a film set some time before Alien and featuring a different mythology (I quite enjoyed it). Yes, while technically meant to be a sequel to Prometheus, Scott has decided that instead of taking a proposed long route round, it might be better just drop some Aliens on a planet and let the feast begin. From first looks, it does look pretty much like most Alien films released to date, but the setting looks a lot nicer being on an earth planet like surface with some foliage instead of an inhospitable wasteland made up entirely of rocks and craters. Popular elements of previous Alien films look set to return, but hopefully it won’t entirely involve the same old plot of someone wanting to keep the creatures alive for the sake of financial gain. From the looks of the trailer it’s looking like a nice combination of action meets real horror and it’s going to be fun to see where this one leads us next (maybe even allowing Neill Blomkamp to have a go).

Despicable Me 3 (Universal Pictures - 2017)

Despicable Me 3 – Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, and starring Steve Carrell and Kristen Wiig; Despicable Me 3 continues the tale of former evil genius Gru now set on his new path as a secret spy trying to bring down a former child star who is obsessed with the 80’s. When the first Despicable Me was released, I was not all that interested, but upon seeing it, I really enjoyed it and was excited to see more. Since then the Minion characters have become stars in their own sense (even though their standalone movie was pretty pants), but have stayed loyal to the series that made them stars. Given the way the story was told for the part of the small girls, with Margo having main light in the first film, and Agnes in 2, it would be nice to see Edith get her turn in this film maybe. Either way, given what the series has delivered so far, hopes are high as Despicable Me returns for a third outing later this year.

lego-ninjago-movie (Warner Bros. - 2017)

The Lego Ninjago Movie – Directed by Charlie Bean and starring Dave Franco and Jackie Chan; The Lego Ninjago Movie sees a group of teenagers hired by an old master to become Ninja Heroes and use spectacular vehicles to protect their home from an old warlord who desires revenge. In honesty I don’t know all that much about this Lego product, I have heard about it and have seen board games of it, but due to my lack of knowledge have not really looked into it. Then when I went to see The Lego Batman Movie last week and saw a trailer for Ninjago, I was mightily impressed. It looked like a good fun animated action film with some level of plot based comedy such as the hero son and villainous father (but not in a way that made me think of Star Wars Episode V, VI; and probably VIII); one thing though that I could not help but think was how similar this looked to Power Rangers.

ID1

Geostorm – Directed by Dean Devlin and starring Gerard Butler; Geostorm is about a man who goes into space to try and prevent climate controlling satellites from creating a mega storm, while back on earth; everything is not so rosy. Currently details are rather sketchy with this one, but I do have a major reason to be excited about this one. You see, this is the feature directing debut of Dean Devlin. While that name may not stand out for many people, Devlin does have over 20 years’ experience producing several major titles as a producer; with films to his name including Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla (1998), The Patriot and Independence Day: Resurgence. OK, yes he has worked a lot with Roland Emmerich, but given what this film currently looks like, and the projects he has worked on over the last 20 years, I think it’s going to be interesting to see how this film translates, and what kind of Director he becomes in the process.

wonder (R.J. Palacio - 2012)

Wonder – Directed by Stephen Chbosky and starring Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts; Wonder follows the story of a young boy born with a facial deformity who tries to fit in at a new school, and in the process teaches others around him that beauty is not constrained to the outside. When I was studying Creative Writing at the University of Central Lancashire, I did a module on Writing for Children, a module I still consider the best and most fun module I studied. During this module, one thing we did as a class was read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio of which this film is based on. It was a very interesting book (which I managed to complete in one sitting) which really did show what it was like for someone to live with a facial deformity and how it impacted the lives of others around them. Upon hearing about this film earlier this year, my interest was immediately grabbed. It’s a very thought-provoking book and if the film does the same thing it could be an interesting film. One thing that grabbed my attention was the choice of Owen Wilson. Now given that I have not seen him much in a non-comedic role, my thoughts began to wander as to what this film turns out to be like. As I have not seen him in a non-comedic role it would be interesting to see how it turns out, but my one hope is that this film does not accidentally become a comedy for some audiences. One of the real beautiful things about the book is that even though you know the character of Auggie has this deformity, the book is respectful not to describe it, nor have other characters do the same; more just suggest it, keeping a level of respect for those who do. Having seen images of the film, it’s hard to really see how they are going to do it, but given that it appears to be in the third person, it does bring a level of worry and caution that needs to be respected throughout, as in my belief, this film should really be seen from the eyes of Auggie when he is in the scene, keeping that respect and magic from the book into the film, because in the third person I don’t know how respectful some audiences are going to be towards that character.

10-cloverfield-lane (Paramount Pictures - 2016)

God Particle – Directed by Julius Onah and starring Daniel Brühl; God Particle is about a group of Astronauts aboard a space station  who must fight for their survival after the Earth disappears, and a space shuttle appears. Yes, it does sound like Alien, and normally films like these don’t grab my attention, but this one does as it’s a part of the now finally running Cloverfield Franchise. While not a sequel to the wonderful 10 Cloverfield Lane or the first Cloverfield, a spin-off still gets me excited. Details are a bit low right now but one positive is that series creator J.J. Abrams is actively producing it. While it does sound a lot like the original Alien, given what the this franchise has delivered so far, I think it deserves the benefit of the doubt on this one and the allowance to speak for itself.

colossal (Voltage Pictures - 2017)

Colossal – Directed by Nacho Vigalondo and starring Anne Hathaway; Colossal focuses on a young woman who upon losing her job moves back to her hometown. Weirdly however she appears to be very connected with a Giant Monster (or Kaiju) currently in the process of attacking Seoul. This is a pretty recent discovery for me, which is strange given my love for Monster Movies. The trailer looks pretty good and the film is already set to be quite an interesting science fiction as well as a potentially laugh out loud comedy. It has some traits of Godzilla 2014 in its visual effects while also carrying elements of an inspired mix of both The Host and Cloverfield in its look and ideas. I don’t really have an idea of what this going to be like on the whole, but from what I sort of know and have seen so far, I am pretty, if only minorly, excited by this.

GENEPOOL (If there is anything else not mentioned here that you are looking forward to, please let me know).





Top 8 WWE Tag Teams From The Mid-2000’s That Did Not Get A Proper Opportunity

8 02 2017

WWE Logo

When I started watching WWE in 2004, the Tag Team division (at least on Smackdown) were alight with some cool tag team matches. Around at the time were teams like The Dudley Boyz, as well as a string of other tag teams made up of singles wrestlers including the teams of: Paul London and Billy Kidman, Rob Van Dam and Rey Mysterio as well as Rene Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki. While it may not have been a golden period for tag team wrestling, it was still pretty good. Come a few changes in the line-ups (less than a year later) however, and the tag teams were pretty low in terms of quality. You had MNM on Smackdown engaging in competition every week with the supposedly ‘only’ tag team around at the time made up of Charlie Haas and Hardcore Holly, where as Raw was pretty much doing what Smackdown had done one year previously, creating tag teams made up of singles wrestlers such as Eugene and William Regal and William Regal and Tajiri.

Dudley Boyz

As 2005 started to round down however, things began to change, with a string of tag teams entering the company, not exactly made up of well-known single wrestlers, but teams specifically put together for the purposes of tag team wrestling before they debuted. This was a major move for the company as it was an opportunity to create new and potential future stars, as well as lighten up a division which had been pretty static all this time. Some of these did go on to achieve some success, even winning a few tag team titles; teams like the aforementioned MNM, as well as Deuce ‘n Domino, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, Spirit Squad, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, as well as the rebooted L.O.D. made up of long time Road Warrior; Animal, and the fledgling Heidenreich (although this could have been done more to promote a recently released DVD). Some of the Tag Teams though that appeared during this time (and there were a decent few) did not really get an opportunity to shine, which was a shame as some of them were pretty good. OK, yes some were pretty bad too, the main ones coming to mind (at least in my opinion) being; The Dicks (the Heart Throbs were not too bad although they were pretty much near the same as The Dicks).

Those though that were at least pretty good to a point though did not get much of an opportunity to shine, many of them sometimes receiving tag team title shots, but in the end did not actually get them, and although some lasted a while, in the end most were either released, or broken up (which created numerous other problems which did not work out either). The thing is though, for me personally, I had high hopes for these teams, and still fondly remember them to this day, and so I wanted to do a post on these teams. Originally I was going to do a post with just the top 5, but I wanted to be as inclusive as I could be, so I thought about doing 7, then 8 because I remembered one other team. So here and now then are the Top 8 Tag Teams from the mid 2000’s in WWE that I fondly remember, as well as I feel did not get their justly right opportunities.

la-resistance

8. La Resistance (rebooted) – When WWE brought back the ECW promotion in 2006, I was pretty excited given what I had heard about the ECW brand. How wrong I was to be excited; it was basically more like an episode of Heat with a Hardcore match each week for about 3 weeks, and then it just became Heat. Anyway, there were some good things for a time on it, things like TEST, Marcus Cor Von and a rebooted La Resistance. La Resistance were a tag team on Monday Night Raw for a few years made up of members Rene Dupree, Rob Conway and Sylvan Grenier. They had some pretty good success and for a time was the main tag team on Raw winning the championship 4 times overall. The group though eventually split, and Conway and Grenier had some interesting time as singles performers. Just over a year after ECW returned, Grenier and Dupree were brought back together to fight on ECW. Given how much Grenier improved in singles competitions, plus both he and Dupree’s Tag Team pedigree; I was pretty interested (was a fan of Dupree on Smackdown too) to see the result. The problem though was that they were on ECW, a promotion that had no real Tag Team division, nor tag team titles. So they eventually just disappeared after no more than 1 match. It was a shame really; I can still fondly remember their entrance music.

7. The Pitbulls – The Pitbulls is a name that has been used for many Tag Teams in the past, but I am talking about the team of Kid Kash and Jamie Noble. Both of these wrestlers were in the cruiserweight division and had some success in singles competition; but when they formed together making the Pitbulls it was a pretty exciting moment. At the time they were very hot single cruiserweight wrestlers, and teams made of cruiserweight wrestlers (like London and Kidman) usually were good value. These two though were not plumped on ECW, No, they were put on Velocity. Heat and Velocity were the shows WWE put on before the big events like Pay-Per-Views, Raw and Smackdown, just small things to get the audience going.  But if you were on one of the main shows and then went to Velocity or Heat, it was nearly a career death sentence. Some people did alright from it like Val Venis, but most of the time, it was where guys went before they were released from their contract. The Pitbulls had a few matches on Velocity and were pretty good, but it all ended rather abruptly after Kid Kash was released. Jamie Noble still stuck around for a time though.

jesse-and-festus

6. Jesse and Festus – In many cases with Tag Team wrestling, it’s not uncommon for teams to be made up of one little person, and one big person. During this time in wrestling Val Venis (not saying Val Venis is a small person, but…) was paired up with Viscera. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just the case that it can sometimes look like one certain person is doing all the work. That was not necessarily the case with these two, but the way they worked it out it could certainly look like that. Jesse and Festus played the parts of two wrestlers supposedly from the Deep South. Jesse was like a cruiserweight, Festus was definitely a heavyweight. Jesse was the talker/spokesperson of the team, whereas Festus was the muscle (it doesn’t help does it). It was a strange tag team in all honesty, as Festus looked like someone who should have been more in singles competition. Basically, Festus did not do any talking at all. He stared blankly into the camera, but supposedly had some kind of condition, which made him change personality from this dopey looking figure, to an enraged monster: when he heard the bell ring. Despite the strangeness of the team and its issues here and there, they were pretty entertaining, at one point acting like a removal firm. They had some good back stage moments, and some good in ring matches, including a good one between The Undertaker and Festus. But like many good, and entertaining Tag Teams in WWE, the two were split up. Jesse tried to become a member of Cryme Tyme, while Festus went on to be a sort of hard man enforcer type for many wrestlers like CM Punk in his Straight Edged Society. Jesse was eventually released from the company, later followed by Festus. It’s not all sad though, as Festus has returned to WWE once again in Tag Team competition as a member of The Club with AJ Styles and Karl Anderson; albeit now being called Luke Gallows.

tyson-tomko-and-gene-snitsky

5. Gene Snitsky and Tyson Tomko – This was another one of those cases where two mainly singles guys were brought together. Gene Snitsky had played the part of a large monster on Raw for a good long time and had scored a victory over Kane, and had been featured in a few main events including the main even at Survivor Series in 2004. But he began to dwindle after a time. Tyson Tomko was a big guy who could physically go, but spent most of his time acting like a bodyguard to Christian (much like Luther Reigns did for Kurt Angle), and we very rarely saw what he could do. So teaming these two together seemed like a good scenario, as two of the biggest and most imposing guys in WWE at the time would finally get an opportunity to show off. Well, to begin with you did not really get to see them, their main claim to fame was some kind of neck kink incident that John Cena walked in on. They did get one or two tag team title shots, but never really got it and then it just ended. It was a real shame; Tyson Tomko was one of these guys, much like Luther Reigns, who did have a good physical stance, but very little allowance to wrestle, and are instead hired to be bodyguards; Gene Snitsky meanwhile had proved what he was capable of, but this was never allowed either, and while this teaming up should have been a major move by WWE, it never went anywhere, and then they just disappeared.

the highlanders

4. The Highlanders – The Highlanders were a team of wrestlers apparently originating from Scotland who made a name for themselves mainly in Canada and in OVW. They came into WWE as two large, brutish wrestlers who had their own comedy and entertainment value and who in their first couple of weeks had shown what they could do, this swiftly ended with a loss to the Spirit Squad, and they just wandered for a long time. They became less a wrestling team, more a couple of guys backstage brought out for entertainment value, not wrestling value. This did change about a year later with a pretty good heel turn, which sadly did not last. When they first showed up they were very impressive and looked like ‘the team’; the ones everyone should look out for, the ones who got so hyped that they were going to be the tag team divisions next big thing, but sadly it never happened.

cryme-tyme

3. Cryme Tyme – For both Wrestling skill and backstage entertainment; no-one was better than Cryme Tyme. Cryme Tyme first appeared with a series of vignettes/promos where they appeared to be portraying a very stereotypical view on American street gangs. This view was shown by having two guys rob shops and beat people up, but in a way that was made to look entertaining. When Cryme Tyme finally appeared on Raw, they set the whole division ablaze with two wins against the Spirit Squad in a row. Their tag team skills in the ring were very good and they had some good finishers and good tactics (such as Shad Gaspard getting the pin, while JTG would distract the other team-mate). It was a good in ring team, but when they went backstage, they lit up the scene with a load of inappropriate sketches where they would greatly disrespect authority figures and rip people off. Their time as a team was sadly short, but they did get another go which went pretty ok too, but for a team that more than most showed they deserved a run with the titles; they never got them, and much like Jesse and Festus, they were split up in a move that was genuinely a bad move. Cryme Tyme were a fantastic team, and their combination of in ring skill and back stage antics made them one of the most memorable tag teams of that time if not more.

the mexicools

2. The Mexicools – The Mexicools were one of the first in the wave of teams that came about during this period of new tag teams. They were originally a stable made up of three very successful cruiserweight wrestlers; namely Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis and Super Crazy. The team was made to look like another group of stereotypes mainly that of Mexican immigrants employed to do house work. To this end the team would always come to the ring on a trio of Lawnmowers. The team originally started as just a group who would invade and disrupt matches, but soon would actually get involved with matches. This took the form of Juventud working as a singles wrestler and the group’s leader, and both Psicosis and Super Crazy in Tag Team competition. Within a short space of time, the group showed off with ease how good a team they were; displaying incredible tag team manoeuvres as well as spectacular single in ring performances including amazing high-flying skills. At the time, this team were more than obvious the ones who should have been getting title opportunities, and they did, nearly. Basically, the Mexicools got a shot at MNM’s tag team titles for the 2005 Armageddon Pay-Per-View.  The Smackdown before that said Pay-Per-View, Batista and Rey Mysterio won the Tag Team titles; so you would instantly think that come Armageddon, the Mexicools would face Batista and Rey Mysterio instead right? Wrong! Yes despite winning a shot at the titles; when the titles were won by somebody else, the team of Psicosis and Super Crazy did not fight that said team, but would fight MNM as usual, despite MNM not being the champions at that time. It was just stupid and ridiculous, and with the Mexicools finally on course to get something, they lose it for stupid reasons. The Mexicools hung round for a while after that, but Juventud had left, then Psicosis, and Super Crazy had a short singles run; until what became one of the most promising, and most deserving tag teams out there, became nothing!

the gymini

1. The Gymini – The Gymini were an interesting team. First introduced by Simon Dean on an episode of Smackdown, (with a cool entrance theme) one of them appeared followed by another. It was two rather large, muscled men who looked like a spitting image of one another. They showed no signs of being singles wrestlers pushed into one; they were in fact two real life twins also known as the Shane Twins who had some success in other companies. They came to WWE and quickly dispatched the hot tag team of the time; Paul London and Brian Kendrick, and they did this over a good few weeks. They stood out as a team; they both came with good individual in ring skills, as well as a series of team based moves which mostly involved throwing people in the air. They were as big as many singles performers and were dominant in every match. But again, were not given their just opportunity. They sort of stagnated and had one or two matches here and there, but instead of getting anywhere near the titles, they just dwindled, with the titles surprisingly being given to: Paul London and Brian Kendrick, the same guys the Gymini had destroyed on weekly occasions. It just did not make sense. The Gymini did not get a major full run compared to some other teams on this list, but for that very brief period in which they showed up and dominated the scene, they were in my opinion the best Tag Team of that period, and the one I wanted to see more of, and success brought too.

GENEPOOL





What I Would Like To Read This Year

1 02 2017

Even more of my books

Since joining Goodreads in 2013, I have enjoyed posting to the site what I have read, am currently reading, and want to read in the future. I don’t know exactly why, but it’s fun nonetheless. Every year since 2014 I have enjoyed the annual reading challenge the website puts up. How it works is that, you say how many books you would like to read in the year and you set that as your goal. Then when you finish reading a book, you make a note of when you finished reading it and then, as long as it’s in the current year, then it counts towards your reading challenge. The website keeps a track of the books you have read and how many, and then come the end of the year, if you are successful it will say that you succeeded. If you read more than the total number set, then even better. Since 2014, I have been successful year after year in the reading challenge, often setting myself the similar goal of about 10-15 books a year; well I am a slow reader, and so that I thought would still be a good amount. This year however I have reduced the number of books I want to read to eight.

Some of my books

During 2016, after a slow start reading one really good book, followed by a couple that were pretty low in enjoyment, I finally found my stride when I read the Anthony Horowitz Power of Five series (as well as a few Mr. Men books too). With the reading of the series going well, I had a thought. I thought that if I could finish the final book of the series; Oblivion before the end of the year, I might treat myself into reading another big book. Well, in the end I did not finish Oblivion until January. Anyway, that did not matter too much in the end, because I had another idea.

Some more of my books

In my big collection of books, there is quite a few I have collected which I have not actually read. Most of them are books that I have received as presents, or ones I have bought but not got round to yet. Anyway, some of these are kind of big; these include but are not limited to Next by Michael Crichton, Battle Royale by Koushun Takami and Stone Heart by Charlie Fletcher. Getting round to these books can be quite hard as they are not part of a series so can sometimes find themselves being muscled out of a reading schedule and then eventually forgotten. The other is due to their size, and when I have a high number of books I want to read in a year, it can feel impractical to read them as part of the challenge. So here is where my new idea came in. Not to slot them in as such, but to give them a level of commitment, and also give myself a shorter goal to work with, thinking that given how some of them are more than twice the size as other books I have read, I can then sort of fill the amount of time in with a much bigger book and give myself some slack by not committing to a high number. Therefore, what I did was slice the amount of books I read into near as half while also still challenging myself.

Hall Of Fame Book Shelf

As a result I have decided to read 8 books this year, but not only that, I have also chosen specific books I would like to read this year too. Instead of considering books like I have done in the past (so when I was reading one, I would think about the next one to read without any guarantee that I would); I have set aside a space on my book shelves and selected a group of books I want to specifically read, the plan being that when I finish a book, I can put it either in the hall of fame section (a section on my shelves where I put my absolute favourite reads: see above image), or somewhere else entirely on the book shelves, and then pick another from the specifically selected section, and carry on that way. The books I have chosen are as follows:

Books I want to read in 2017

Upon looking at that list, and the above picture, you may see that there are actually 9 books in that space. That is because I decided to include Horowitz Horror 1 by Anthony Horowitz; because (it nicely lines up the collection on display, but also) it allows me the option of reading a short story here and there instead of having to power through novels the whole time. The good thing about the books I have chosen too is that all of them but two are singular entries. Only 2 of the books (Steelheart and Stone Heart) lead into a series. Now while that is a bit of a dodgy game I have played with those two selections, by only having a couple, it allows me the chance to see if I like them before I continue the series, but also it means I am not necessarily muscling out the others either.

Steelheart and Stone Heart

That is my plan for reading this year. My plan for other books sort of comes in either next year, or when I finish the 8 main books here anyway (or if I dive into a series). Any books I buy/get/receive from here on in shall be put to one side for the time being for reading consideration another time, as right now I am both excited and optimistic of my chances of completing the reading I have selected for this year and since finishing Oblivion, I have already begun reading Burning Midnight, (because upon finishing Oblivion, I wanted to read something small). At time of writing I am nearly two-thirds through it. So with that going well, I am hopeful that I will accomplish my reading challenge for this year, plus get through the really big books too.

Burning Midnight

GENEPOOL








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