Top 5 Most Likely Identities Of Supreme Leader Snoke

15 08 2017

Since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there has been a lot of discussion as to who the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke is. Some of these have taken the form of discussion threads online, articles, or even just ‘friendly’ chit chats between friends and fans of Star Wars.

Now I have my problems with The Force Awakens as I see it nothing more than a blatant remake of A New Hope and is putting me off from seeing any future films (I did like Rogue One though, that is what Force Awakens should have been in my opinion). The debate over the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke though is one I would like to weigh in on though and so here I would like to provide my ideas as to who he could be. Now, I am keeping my ideas to the Star Wars universe, which means sadly I cannot nominate Zordrak from The Dreamstone whom we can all probably agree looks a lot like Snoke.

But enough of Awesome Cartoons, here is my selection of characters who I genuinely think have a good chance of becoming Supreme Leader Snoke:

5. Darth Vader – Come on, has nobody seriously thought that it might just be Darth Vader, or the spirit of Darth Vader in some capacity. It may be a big surprise or a big flop, but you know, why not? I mean this is a series still holding on to its past and not actively progressing, so on a mainstream point of view, it probably is Darth Vader.

4. Prune Face – A character not all that well known in the Star Wars universe, but definitely one to watch out for. In my opinion I think the idea is, is that after his action star credentials were passed up in both Return of the Jedi and the prequels, Orrimaarko (better known as Prune Face) changed his acting style to become like that of a wiser character and so landed the role of Snoke with ease. If you are unaware of his action based credentials, please watch the following video:

See!

3. Poggle The Lesser – After his attempts to build the Death Star himself, and after the need for Battle Droids completely faded, Poggle The Lesser went mad and learned how to use the force and one day desired revenge against all those who ended his Titan of Industry career plans…..Probably.

2. Jar Jar Binks – Now, he is taken as something of a joke in the series and is so far the only reason I have heard as to why the Prequels are soooo bad (but given his time in Phantom Menace was the most he gets, and gets less than 1% worth of an appearance in Revenge of the Sith, this argument does not hold much water). However, could it be the case that he is the real architect of the dark side’s manipulation? He did provide Palpatine with those powers to create the army by bringing the senate together. I think it’s more likely the case that Jar Jar Binks is only playing the fool, and is really the Dark Side Puppet Master we all fear.

1. Lama Su – I think it’s Lama Su out of all possible characters to most likely be the Supreme Leader; he does of course have experience. He was the Prime Minister of Kamino, and he knows how to build an efficient killing force. But most of all, he does have the height (and something in the nose); all he needed to do was stretch his neck that little bit further and instantly becomes Supreme Leader Snoke.

GENEPOOL (Who do you think Supreme Leader Snoke really is?)

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Top 5 WWE Wrestlers Who Should Have Appearances In Future Star Wars Films

15 08 2017

I would just like to start off by saying that I have no knowledge right now of anyone from WWE receiving an appearance in any future Star Wars films.

Star Wars is in the middle of both a resurgence and renaissance (in that it is just copying its own previous films with at least one of its two entries to date) at the moment with 2 films already having been released and future installments planned. While this is an exciting time for those who enjoy these films and others who see the entertaining value of them, one of the big questions going round is what will the future hold for the series. Now, I am not an Oracle so I absolutely have no idea; but as it is fun to guess and talk about, why not have some ideas about future castings. Star Power is all the range today, and I thought, given how previous WWE World Heavyweight Champion Batista is now in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, maybe it would be fun to add another 1 or 2 WWE Wrestlers into the Sci-Fi world with appearances in Star Wars. So here are my picks for WWE Wrestlers I believe should have appearances in future Star Wars films:

(I should just make the point that choosing the right wrestlers for this list was hard and that in order to keep it down to just 5; some people unfortunately do not feature in this list, but definite standouts which came to mind include Becky Lynch, Bobby Roode, Drew McIntyre, Charlotte Flair, Kane, Bray Wyatt, Jinder Mahal, AJ Styles, John Bradshaw Layfield, Goldust and Braun Strowman).

5. The Undertaker – Now, this one is questionable given his current state with the company (as in; has he retired or not?), but I think the Undertaker would still be an excellent casting for a future Star Wars film. About 10 years ago I had this vision, an idea of the Dark Side of the Force binding itself together and come into a physical being who would then wreak havoc in the universe. My vision of this character took the form of The Undertaker, with his hat and leather coat (and for some reasons an orange lightsaber). The Undertaker whatever role he fills within the universe probably wouldn’t even need a lightsaber, as his presence, notoriety and just the genuine fear he presents whenever he walks into the room will cause people to run in terror; especially if he brings his Entrance theme with him, maybe a combination of his Death Bell Entrance:

And his American Badass theme:

4. The New Day – Ok, this is more three wrestlers than 1 whole wrestler, but I think with this group’s hi-jinks and positive attitude to everything; these guys will be a great asset to the Star Wars saga. I do not see a future of Jedi Knights here, but maybe a group of arms dealers, or maybe with their soul sounding entrance music, maybe a group of intergalactic religious ministers. Whatever it may be, be it goodies or baddies; they will remain entertaining and become great screen presences.

3. Paige – While the future for Paige in WWE right now is uncertain, she does remain my favourite WWE Women’s Wrestler. My idea though for Paige in Star Wars comes in the form of being like Emma Frost in X-Men. I think with Paige’s all black clothing, she would make an excellent female Dark Side warrior. How many female antagonists have there been in Star Wars (not a lot I can think of). I thought Paige could be like the female Darth Vader, the ultimate villain. Dark yet cool, and come with a name like Countess to address her by. I think Paige would be an awesome person to add into Star Wars (maybe make her into a future villain for Rey (and by that I don’t mean necessarily Rey Mysterio) to take on?).

2. Finn Balor – Imagine this for a scene in The Last Jedi (due for release in 2017): Snoke/Smoke/Whatever is in his chambers and is looming over the one with the mask, what’s he called……….Kylo Ren. So, these two people are in one’s chambers, they maybe chatting about one needing to go to a planet made of ice with some walking tanks, or travel to a city in the clouds, or building a fourth Death Star/Second Star Killer Base thing, when all of a sudden, the room goes entirely dark, and then red lights start flashing to a heartbeat sound. Some strange but unwelcoming sounds enter the room, and by the door, a strange figure is crawling into the doorway. Then it rises up and sticks its arms into the air as its blood curdling theme music takes hold, and before their eyes; Smokey and Kyle (which is a great name for a children’s cartoon series) see a Man, a man covered in body paint, which looks like a giant mouth. They have just met The Demon King (I don’t entirely agree with that name); Finn Balor. Now who wouldn’t want to see that (What happens after that is entirely one’s guess, but I imagine Stoke and Carly run in fear from the might of Finn Balor!)?

1. Shinsuke Nakamura – He is the King of Strong Style, but give him a light saber and I am pretty sure he will become the King of the Lightsaber. Shinsuke Nakamura’s style of wrestling, combined with his incredible performance abilities are why I think this wrestler, more than any should have a future role in the Star Wars saga. Combine his amazing talent, with his incredible fighting style, his hypnotizing microphone work and of course his mesmerizing yet beautiful entrance walk as well as music, and here we have someone who probably doesn’t need the force, but who the force needs!

GENEPOOL (Which WWE Wrestlers do you think should have a part in future Star Wars films?).





The 10 Steam Games I Have Played The Most

19 04 2017

When I am bored or haven’t got anything better to do while my Laptop is turned on, one thing I like to do is open up my Steam Account and choose a game to play on. Sometimes this is harder to do than others, as sometimes I may not have a game installed that I would like to play, and sometimes I will put off playing a game as I will be afraid as to whether or not it will actually work well enough on my laptop. Fortunately there are still some games I know will play quite well on my laptop, well enough for me to install and play them without a second’s notice. Of course there are some games I have played more than most on Steam, and while they may not be among my top favourites, are still games I enjoy enough to play them in the first place. To this end I thought I would share with you which games I have played the most according to the play time records within my steam profile.

Now this list does not determine which my favourite game on Steam is, rather is a list of relatively enjoyable games on Steam which have a long play time attached to them. I could just do a list of my favourite games on Steam, but that could take a while to compile, and my collection is forever expanding, so I may wait until I have a good moment to sit down and think about it.

Anyway, here is the list of the games I have played on Steam the most plus the number of hours I have played on each game:

10. Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal (39 Hours) – The original Creeper World game was a largish flash game which I first came across on Kongregate. It was a nice strategic game where you have a map being infested by a blue liquid element called The Creeper which destroys buildings. Your task was simple, build a defensive grid to defend yourself against the Creeper long enough to escape the map. Much like the original Creeper, the game map takes on a plan view, and involves you creating a defensive grid with the intention of killing the Creeper. Creeper World 3 is a fun game and adds new elements and structures as well as new forms of strategy to assist you in completing your task; if you are like me though when it comes to strategy based games, you will take your time and find that levels can take over an hour to complete. It’s a real stretch at that time but really does grab your attention too as you work hard to complete the goal.

9. Borderlands 2 (45 hours) – I really like the Borderlands games; they contain an interesting combination of role play elements with the solid gameplay of a first person shooter as well as a well-crafted and intriguing story. Borderlands 2 is actually a game I have so far only played once, but with such a big and heavy game in its DNA, it does take a while to complete, but during that time am not bored out of my mind once. Much like its predecessor, it’s a game that has plenty in it, plus is also a lot of fun at the same time, and causes you to think more, than just run into a base all guns blazing, although it does not prevent you doing that either if you are bold/foolish enough.

8. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (51 Hours) –The Pre-Sequel at best is a pretty nice game, which strives to provide another fresh gaming experience to the venerable series. Set on the moon surrounding the planet of Pandora, the Pre-Sequel strives to connect the dots between the events of the first and second game. I have played this one twice so far, but have not completed it once. The first time I played it, I did it in the same fashion I had in the first two games, with the use of the gun drone skill character, but I got to a point where I had to fight a big spaceship like thing (Raum-Kampfjet Mark V) and could not get past it. Then, after playing Tales from the Borderlands, I decided to give it another go and played with Athena, just to try something different, and it was all going well, until once again I could not get past the big spaceship. So I just left it there.

7. Mini Metro (56 Hours) – What is a sort of random puzzle game with elements of strategy, Mini Metro is a game where you get to design the track layouts and routes of urban transportation in some of the world’s biggest cities, but not in the usual way. Basically; take the map of the London Underground but imagine that you are in charge of where the rails go by drawing the lines on the map, and then have to put the trains directly on the map lines you have just drawn. Basically, you have to create and manage the routes through this map form alone, and make sure that the railway is running in the most efficient way possible. It’s a nice easy game that can still cause plenty of tension and cringe worthy moments, plus could also be used as a possible screen saver, just maybe not at work.

6. ShellShock Live (58 Hours) – Much like Creeper World, this is a game I originally discovered on Kongregate. At its core, ShellShock Live is an online multiplayer flash-based game where you control a little tank which you drive across a graphically flat (and usually blue) landscape, and aim the trajectory of several ballistic based weapons at other coloured tanks on the map. It is a nice and simple little game and is one of the most enjoyable online multiplayer experiences I have ever played.

5. Borderlands (60 Hours) –The original Borderlands was a game I at first did not spot or think about, and was not until my brother bought it for me one Christmas that I did so, although at first I was not overjoyed, as looking at it made me think of Fallout 3; a game I had not had the best experience with. Well, I played it and although it was a game that took me some time to get into, I eventually did. Since then I have played it a couple of times and have wanted to do so again and again, but have been unable to, as for some reason, every time I have downloaded it from Steam, it refuses to actually work, so I don’t know if I will ever be able to play it again.

4. PAYDAY: The Heist (62 Hours) – Another good first person shooter game that can be enjoyed either solo or with friends. Payday: The Heist is a game where you are one of a group of armed robbers trying to make a living doing certain illegal tasks. It can actually be a tricky game at times and the difficulty level can get easier or harder from level to level as you take on the various ranks and specialty skills of the local rozzers. It is a really cool idea for a game and is also a thoroughly enjoyable one too.

3. Age of Empires II: HD Edition (74 Hours) – Age of Empires II: HD Edition is one of those old classics which has been provided with a new lease on life thanks to some clever person who has thought to update the game’s performance; much like other classic PC games have on GOG.com. I remember when this game was originally released the late 90’s, and the fun me and my brother had on it. It was a fun game then, but now is an even more enjoyable game now. The only thing that has changed is that I am now a lot older, and can experience the game in a different way than I used to. I don’t really play any of the game’s campaigns though; I just like to play the basic skirmish modes with different armies. It’s not necessarily the game which has been given a new lease of life, but my enjoyment for it.

2. Left 4 Dead 2 (78 Hours) –Left 4 Dead 2 is a game I have played in both solo mode as well as with others and is very easy to play as it’s a very basic first person shooter, where you and 3 other characters have to fight their way across a series of maps infested with hordes of Zombies. To make your way across this land though, the game has very kindly provided you with an assortment of weapons, from guns to melee weapons, and from grenades to health packs (although they are really for you). It is a pretty simple game to understand; they are Zombies, either run from them or kill them; nice and simple. The game takes you to many different locations too and uses them to create some unique forms of gameplay. It’s just a nice simple and very enjoyable game that I continue to enjoy no matter how many times I play the same level over and over again (also The Midnight Riders are a pretty cool band).

1. Prison Architect (266 Hours) – Originally Prison Architect was a game I was just wanting to try out; so I played it, and really enjoyed it. So I played it some more and continued to enjoy it; and before I knew it, a large amount of time had passed by. Prison Architect is a game where you the player are put in charge of turning a patch of land into a thriving correctional facility. I have played games like these a lot in the past, but those all involve giant construction projects such as building a Zoo, a Theme Park, a City, a Railway, etc. This game is very different as you are building something that on paper does not sound like a fun place, but in turn comes with its own challenges. Games like the ones briefly mentioned above all though have another aspect which is that no matter what you are building, those things happen automatically. In this game though, it’s the case that you are more designing the layout of an area of land, and then need to hire a group of builders to actually build and put things in place for you. It comes with a touch more reality than the others, but also creates realistic situations that you need to overcome. It’s at its best though when you have a project in mind, a goal or something you especially want to achieve and work to that in order to pull it off. It’s very similar to Minecraft in that respect, as it provides some sense of achievement, but in turn provides with you a virtual work bench where the limits of gameplay come down to not just your imagination, but also your problem solving skills too.

GENEPOOL (all above hours of play time were accurate at time of posting over a week ago, what they are like now; only me, and maybe my friends on Steam know).





It’s Showtime – The Running Man

29 03 2017

Have you ever considered appearing in a Game Show? Like many kids of the 1990’s, I used to dream of appearing in shows like Gladiators, The Crystal Maze, Virtually Impossible, and the biggest one of them all; Fun House. As time went on it became obvious that me appearing in any kind of Gameshow was probably not going to happen, but I kept some tiny day dreams for shows like Cross-Fire, Raven, Bamzooki, Jungle Run and of course Robot Wars (which given its return to TV has got me thinking about it once more). While I may not have been a contestant, many people have as is the point of game shows, many of them striving to achieve the grand prize of money, a holiday or maybe a boat. Win or lose though, many of them should be thankful that they were not competing for the right to stay alive.

Released in 1987 by TriStar Pictures and directed by Paul Michael Glaser; The Running Man is a Dystopian Action Thriller based on the book of the same name written by Stephen King (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman) where a wrongly convicted man is forced to compete in a gladiatorial style TV game show known as The Running Man. The film is set in America between 2017 and 2019, where after a worldwide economic collapse; the country has become a police state and the government soothes the population with the airing of game shows where convicted criminals have to fight for the right to stay alive with a chance of being pardoned by the state.

Former cop Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is wrongly convicted for the mass shooting of civilians at a food riot after he refuses to follow an order to kill the civilians in the first place, and is now dubbed the Butcher of Bakersfield. He along with a few other inmates including William Laughlin (Yaphet Kotto) and Harold Weiss (Marvin J. McIntyre) escape from a labour camp, with Ben going to his brother’s apartment to hide out only to discover that it is now occupied by Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso); a composer for ICS who are the broadcaster of The Running Man. Taking Amber as a hostage, Ben intends to leave the country for Hawaii, but while at the Airport, Amber informs the authorities and Richards is captured. Taken to ICS, Richards meets the host and producer of The Running Man; Damon Killian (Richard Dawson) who tries to persuade Ben into competing in the show. When he refuses, Killian threatens to enter Laughlin and Weiss instead; upon learning this Richards agrees to take part.

The next day the show begins with people all over America and from different backgrounds tuning in to watch. Backstage, Amber; who is working on the show that night discovers some evidence that some of the news made about Richards maybe untrue and goes in search to find out more. As the show begins and Richards is introduced, Killian reveals that he has entered Weiss and Laughlin into the show anyway. Richards threatens to return for Killian, before he and his other inmate pals are sent on their way through large tunnels on strange rocket powered sledges. The Idea of the Running Man is that the contestants are forced to run through a large area of urban wasteland while being chased by an elite team of Killer Stalkers; if they survive, they are pardoned for their crimes. The Audience though love all this brutality and cannot wait for the first stalker to be introduced; that stalker being a very large hockey player dressed character called Sub Zero (Professor Toru Tanaka). The three runners are penned into Sub Zero’s own specially designed area and are toyed with endlessly until Richards uses a barbed wire fence to strangle him, killing him in the process, the first time that has happened in the history of the show. With the audience in shock, the three runners use this advantage to get away. While in the game zone, Laughlin and Weiss use this opportunity to find the network’s uplink for the benefit of the resistance. Amber meanwhile has been caught, and is forced to enter the Running Man also; she arrives just before two more stalkers enter the game zone in the form of chainsaw wielding Buzzsaw (Gus Rethwisch) and arc electricity user Dynamo (Erland Van Lidth). Buzzsaw fatally wounds Laughlin, while Weiss is shocked to death by Dynamo. Richards kills Buzzsaw with his own chainsaw, but spares the life of Dynamo after his electric suit stops working. Richards agrees to carry out Laughlin’s last request of getting the uplink node information to the resistance within the game zone. Off camera; Killian sends a message to Ben offering him a job as a stalker, but he refuses, and Killian sends out the next stalker; the flamethrower wielding Fireball (Jim Brown). In the studio and outside however, the audience starts cheering for Richards given his unstoppable killing streak. While being chased around by Fireball; Amber discovers the decaying bodies of the supposed winners of the last series of the show, discovering that their victory was faked. Richards then kills Fireball by blowing him up.

Running out of options (and stalkers), Killian asks the help of retired and champion stalker Captain Freedom (Jesse Ventura). Freedom however refuses as he does not like the way the show has become compared to what it was like when he used to do it. Using body doubles, Killian fakes the death of both Richards and Amber by the hands of Captain Freedom. Ben and Amber meanwhile are still in the game zone and have been found by the resistance and their leader Mic (Mick Fleetwood) and learn of their faked deaths. Using the transmitter info acquired by Weiss earlier, the resistance launches a two-pronged attack on ICS. First they show footage of what really happened at the Bakersfield riot and present details that Killian has been lying to the audience for a very long time. Then resistance fighters led by Ben and Amber break into the studio fighting the guards. Amber succeeds in killing Dynamo while Ben confronts Killian. Killian’s bodyguard Sven (Sven-Ole Thorsen) shows up, but decides not to fight Richards as he has had enough of his boss and walks off. Killian tries to convince Richards that he was only doing what the audience were asking for; saying that they love reality TV and televised violence. Richards decides to give the audience what he thinks they really want and sends Killian off in one of the rocket powered sledges down the same tunnel that Richards went down. Killian crashes into a sign on the way out bearing his image and dies, while Richards and Amber leave the studio sharing a kiss on their way out.

One thing that stands out about The Running Man is that while it may not be the first among discussed films of the same genre, or even not as frequently mentioned as other Arnold Schwarzenegger films of note; it is still a very entertaining and enjoyable film. While maybe not Schwarzenegger’s best film or performance, this does not distract from how enjoyable the experience this film delivers. The Running Man is one of those films that is guaranteed to entertain an audience whether it be a seasoned viewer, or even those who are watching it for the first time. Saying that though is pretty simple, as explaining why is even harder. While I could immediately jump on saying that the film has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about it, I think that could be considered cheating. From an action point of view, The Running Man delivers plenty of it. It does what any quality action film does, which is always having something going on, and never too slow. It has lots of running around, plenty of fights, death, explosions while also allowing the use of drama to give those scenes purpose. It’s swift and uneasy, but does not lose sight from its main plot or setting. It’s very basic levels of action uses its scene and scenario to ramp it up and create more meaning, providing the audience with a continued reason to watch. The film’s setting, while not being fully represented, still presents an idea of what it is like to live in a dystopian America, really representing the lives of rich and poor, but also presenting an idea of how a police state could soothe tensions within the populace to keep it under a better form of control than with strong levels of violence. One thing though that probably helps a lot in its film making is how that while you are watching a film; you are also an audience member of this TV Gameshow. The Running Man is presented like many classic American game shows with the charismatic host and big budget effects, to produce the best show they can. In the case of The Running Man the show has its charismatic and popular host; it has music, dancers, merchandise as well as a reality TV effect to it which always grabs an audience. Another thing in the shows profile is how it incorporates what Pro Wrestling was like around the time of the film’s release with a cavalcade of wrestling gimmicks. While said gimmicks are pretty much non-existent to a point these days, back then it was all the range, and with the show’s Stalkers; while they are blood thirsty killers, they are taking on personas with a detailed and strong gimmick. This combination of reality TV and Pro Wrestling along with everything else makes The Running Man Gameshow the kind of show people could actually get into to, even nowadays as it’s a perfect formula conjured up from some of television’s most popular programming. While you are indeed watching a film, you are still watching a Gameshow as presented in the fictional scenario. With the films level of action, small but basic plot, and unique presentation style; creates a very entertaining and enjoyable film. That does not mean though that everything is plain sailing, or perfect.

The Running Man is actually a very small film; not necessarily in length, more in the form of detail. There is a lot going on in the background and a very strong setting is implied, but not delved into. The film says that America is a dystopian police state, but the only evidence of that is a strong police force that could be considered more as security rather than peace keepers. There are a lot of city scenes, some showing a more privileged sector, and that of a down trodden and poor area too, but there are only two scene shots of this, one on a small street area, and the other on the outskirts with the city in the background, but it does not suggest police state, just city and slums; like many a large city. We are told there is a resistance movement but because we have no grounding as to how bad this police state is, there is no real building of reasoning as to why a basic resistance movement is required or needed. That’s the major problem with this film’s setting; that while we are told this stuff, there is no visual evidence to back it up with, other than some scenes with police forces casually walking around. The only thing we have is this TV Show, and that too causes a major plot problem in that supposedly bringing down the TV Station is all that matters. The resistance works hard to bring down a game show and TV channel; but if you are living in a police state where the political elites have control, why would bringing down a TV channel solve the problem? It’s a big foot hole in the plot, because the more you watch it, the more you want to tell everyone that it really doesn’t matter, it does not really solve much, if anything; it’s just going to get worse from here on out. So the ending is a bit unhooked. It’s a real shame really, because the city from a visual perspective looks really good.

On the perspective that the producers of the film could not see into the future, the film’s game show does not lend itself to the current modern-day culture that we live in. One thing that stands out with the film’s selection of stalkers is how they are designed not necessarily around practicality, but more around gimmicks and personas of pro wrestling at the time of the film’s release. In that respect when looked at now it could suggest that the film may not have aged well, but this is only in one short way. Yes the Stalkers do look a bit ridiculous now, but back then would have looked pretty impressive, and in honesty, they are not all that bad. This however brings me quite neatly into another of the films major issues, which is that the cast on the whole is a bit shoddy. The stalker gimmicks are nicely made and it’s easy to see where the ideas came from and what the film’s producers were hoping to achieve, but there aren’t many standouts. Dynamo for instance comes packed with a costume which even back then would have probably looked ridiculous with the glowing hair and light up costume, it looks dire. Buzzsaw does not really do much other than show off his teeth, and Sub Zero is rather wasted given that Professor Toru Tanaka is actually a pretty cool big guy actor when given an actual chance to show off. In reality it makes Tanaka’s performance in an episode of the A-Team far more career prestigious than in a big action film starring Schwarzenegger. In the end it does come down to Captain Freedom and Fireball, which in itself is rather sad. For the most part, both characters; while given major credited parts find themselves on the side-lines until necessary. Fireball’s introduction is rather late on, but has a much stronger stalker part than the others. His entrance and intro is one of the film’s best looking and most enjoyable scenes, plus he helps shed some light on the malpractices of the show. Jesse Ventura as Captain Freedom has a similar part as he is played as mainly the retired veteran of the sport who has great memories and respect for what he used to do and how he did it. His passion for the sport shows off well as he does not like the new wave gimmicks and probably would want to take on Richards if it was left to him and not Killian. Much like Fireball, he is a late intro and is only really referenced up to this point, but his veterancy and style portrays a really interesting character that creates an on-screen identity before he even becomes relevant. Both Brown and Ventura give good performances but it’s only worth between 10 and 15 minutes of the entire film; they both deserved well more.

The rest of the cast is pretty much near hit and misses with very few of the headliners actually standing out. I don’t really get much of a feeling for Mick Fleetwood’s character, nor Weiss, and while Amber’s character does improve towards the end of the film, it just feels rather late. There is some interesting cast minors such as Killian’s assistant Brenda (Karen Leigh Hopkins), The Running Man’s director Tony (Kurt Fuller) and of course Sven who sadly could have had more of a part. From there though we do get some cool characters; Laughlin for instance has great on set chemistry between himself and Richards. If it was not the case of these two needing to work together, he could be a really good nemesis for Schwarzenegger, but in this case what we have is a strong ally for Richards. While he does meet a gruesome end at the end thanks to Buzzsaw, he does produce one of the film’s most powerful and poignant moments backed up with that killer soundtrack. It is an interesting but good casting as it’s one that could have worked either way, be it friend or foe. Richard Dawson is an inspired casting for the part of the cold and ruthless game show host. Given his background and history of Gameshow hosting, it comes more naturally to him, as he looks and feels like a game show host, no matter what the context. He is able to draw popularity to himself through a natural form of charisma, but on top of that he is also able to play a character, one who enjoys a level of ruthlessness that comes with the power and joy of presentation and production control, one that also makes himself believe that whatever he is doing is not necessarily selfish, but right. It is an incredible part and one played by a naturally talented persona that produces a real sense of reality to a very fictional product. Arnold Schwarzenegger for me is someone whose career I have known about but have seen him in very few roles. I have seen most of the Terminator’s, Batman and Robin and Kindergarten Cop, and it’s hard not to think of the large brutish character we have come to expect from said roles. He is a big muscle guy, but it’s hard to see him in other light especially with him playing very archetypal roles. This however does allow me to see another side to him. Yes, he is the muscle-bound hero, but there is more to him here. There is compassion to his friends, love (in the end) for him and Amber but also a sense of belief between right and wrong given his introduction and background. While the film makes use of his well-known line from The Terminator (just 3 years earlier), there are more lines to come, including a very daft form of spoken humour when it comes to the stalker deaths. While he does have a very physical role to play, he shows and does more than that, and in the process allows audiences who have only seen one real side of him to see more of what is quite a cool and diverse actor when provided with a chance.

The Running man does have some interesting and nice effects to it, all be it though come mostly down to some nicely designed and created set pieces such as the tunnels and the main stage of the game show itself. The jumpsuits (I had to at some point didn’t I) are not too putting off; yes they look weird, sort of like how Arnie would look if he was asked to play Wolverine in the iconic spandex (I really don’t think bright banana yellow is his colour), but altogether look ok in different colours. It’s not the best effects of the film but more than most is definitely not the worst. But it’s not really the films effects where I want to look at; more the film’s incredible soundtrack. The Running Man’s soundtrack (composed by Harold Faltermeyer) on the whole sounds very futuristic, but also very low; not sad but grimmer, helping to construct the idea of a dystopian future. It has a lot in common I think to Escape From New York with powerful and hard-hitting keyboards with a sense of fast and light rock. There are four pieces though I would like to make particular mention of; the start of the show, Laughlin’s death, the broadcast attack and the end credits. Mick’s Broadcast attack features this very light siren like sound to begin with which appears rather irrelevant, but quickly builds to include other sounds. It is a pretty light track until the fast repeating drums come in. Before this, they feature the Running Man’s general theme, something which can be heard throughout the film; but once those drums come in, a different piece comes to the stage. It actually breaks the tension and grim sounds of the previous pieces of music and allows a lighter sense of hope as an attack comes its way. It’s in no way optimistic or celebrating, but it gives a lighter more hopeful energy which suggests change in the film’s plot. It’s still dark, low and tense and continues to produce, but it’s a different vision of what once was and is now to come.

A good film plot, as many people will tell you is about change; change from one thing into something else. The Running Man is a film which features a small but dramatic change, the change of a country from one that is cut in half by class, to one united by a common goal, the same could be said for the change in Richards, as he goes from a criminal, to that of a free man. While the broadcast theme suggests change and hope, the end credits (Restless Heart by John Parr), actually present one, as it’s a theme that is much lighter. Gone are the low-toned sounds of a despotic regime raining down on its citizens, in comes the sound of willful change and hope as we see a nation now with hope for a change in attitude, even if it is very much only suggested. It’s a nice light theme for the film to end on in general and has a nice beginning to it, which really helps provide that breath of fresh as it all comes to an end, all the excitement and adrenaline is now over, so remember to breathe.

The ICS Theme for the game show itself is actually pretty light and does not feel as hard-hitting as a game show’s introduction should be. It does not feel catchy or memorable, just light; but mix it in with the dancers, and a different perspective is revealed, that of less a game show, more of an event, and one that requires and deserves a level of build up to get the audience going before the main event begins. It’s a similar idea I think to when in The Hunger Games there is that 1 minute countdown to the bloodbath, the calm before the Storm, but held in a slightly more glorious way as this time the whole nation is backing it, and because it’s the kind of show which gives audience participation, there has to be that level of joy for them too as the show begins. One track in The Running Man that is not joyous is that of when Laughlin dies. The Running Man’s general musical theme is this sort of keyboard based riff which can be heard in several parts of the film, more of an atmospheric track than anything else, but when Laughlin dies it is played a lot heavier. It’s the loss of a good strong friend and his message for Richards, one which Richards agrees too, but also from belief that Richards should have died not Laughlin. It is a pretty funky track and sound, but especially more so at this point when the notes are pretty much being slammed by the soloist. It is a game of life and death, but becomes more real at this point, and the soundtrack goes out of its way to use this point as the most poignant reminder of this, creating the film’s and film’s soundtrack’s best and most memorable moment.

The Running Man critically is a very hard one to judge. Yes it has its issues ranging from a mainly makeshift cast, to a setting and theme which is not really delved into enough to really provide scope. On the other hand though it delivers an incredible soundtrack, some wonderfully designed set pieces, some interesting moments, but on the whole a lot of very enjoyable moments of action. As a dystopian thriller, it definitely does not hold a lot of ground and there are far better ones out there than this. But as a dystopian action film; this is one of the best. While I still prefer the Hunger Games and Battle Royale; I would happily put this up a good level. It has something that every action film fan would enjoy while also using a unique perspective to create something that is truly unique in cinema. Trust me on this when I say that this is a truly enjoyable film; I mean it, give it a go.

GENEPOOL (The poster is a bit off-putting).





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








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