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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Top 5 Films of 2016 (It’s Been A Funny Year)

11 01 2017

godzilla-resurgence (Toho Co., Ltd. - 2016)

Since a very young age, I have been a fan of the Two Ronnies. It’s a comedy love that I still carry to this day and continue to enjoy looking back on every now and then. But despite this love for two comedy greats, I have always struggled with Ronnie Barker’s sitcoms. I have seen numerous episodes of Porridge and Open All Hours, but in all honesty have never found them to be all that funny. I have watched plenty of episodes; maybe an odd wisp of laughter here and there, but on the whole, just did not get them. If anything, the only thing that would get a faint pant of air from my lungs would be the spring-loaded till in Open All Hours. Despite this lack of understanding on my part, one thing though that has shined on to me in a way is how sometimes on occasion, I cannot help but at the end of the day say; “It’s been a funny day”. Well, looking back on the movies of 2016, I now cannot help but say “It’s been a funny year”.

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A Funny year is indeed how I feel this year has gone by in terms of movie releases. There have been several high-profile and low profile releases that have caught the eyes of myself and many other movie goers. We have seen live action remakes of animated classics, rebirths of classic comedy, and revolutionary new ideas in already popular genres as well as the usual treasure trove of sequels and heart-warmers. For me personally it’s been a weird one, with a lot of films that I wanted to see being released in the first half of the year, with the second half being a collection of films that I was wavering watching or not. Quite a few of these films were pretty fun and are included in this list, but there have been one or two disappointments. Firstly I did not get to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows or Kung Fu Panda 3 (not forgetting the new Japanese Godzilla film which nobody considers releasing for people living in the UK!), but the big disappointment for me had to be Dad’s Army. It was funny in places; but everything else was just boring by comparison with an acting pool not living up to their own acclaim and a story that was not worth bothering with!

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There have been some high’s thankfully, some of which are unable to be featured in this list and just want to give a quick shout out to (in no particular order): Allegiant, X-Men: Apocalypse, Eddie The Eagle, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But now the main event; as per usual: films will be rated in ascending order with Number 1 being my favourite and 5 being not as much my favourite but still a good film, and as always, the list applies to films that were released and shown on the big screen between the traditional 12 month period of January to December. So without dragging this on any further, here are my Top Five Favourite Films of the year (yes, this year it is actually 5).

ethel-and-ernest (Cloth Cat Animation - 2016)

5. Ethel & Ernest – Based on the Raymond Briggs graphic novel of the same name, Ethel and Ernest is about the life of Briggs’s own parents as they meet, date, marry and live their lives through the changing face of Great Britain. Originally meant to be shown on TV during Christmas 2016, special big screen showings were done in places around the country including at The Dukes in Lancaster. Before seeing this film I had no idea what it was about, thinking it was When The Wind Blows by mistake (having forgotten what that was called), then my Mam told me differently; a little unsure but still interested I decided to go see it, and really enjoyed it. I liked how it was less a film, more an animated slide show of the lives of an incredible couple living through the hardships of London life during WWII, to raising a son, to a new way of life compared to their own upbringing. I especially enjoyed the shots of WWII city life as most documentaries I have seen have mostly focused on evacuations and the front line, but this instead showed what life was like in a major city. Overall I enjoyed this film a great deal, from its unique form of storytelling to its charming and colourful animation style.

10-cloverfield-lane (Bad Robot Productions - 2016)

4. 10 Cloverfield Lane – If you are like me, then over the last few years you will have been calling out for a Cloverfield sequel since Cloverfield’s original released in 2008. For years I have kept tabs on it to see if such a film was going to happen or not, and so far no official sequel has appeared; a spiritual successor has though. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a very different film to the original Cloverfield. Whilst the first film was a found footage drama about a group of people trying to survive a monster attack on New York City; 10 Cloverfield Lane is about a young lady (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who finds herself in a bomb shelter with two other people, and begins to get cold feet surrounding the older of the two (John Goodman). The film in essence is both a psychological and science fiction horror as for the first good half you get the feeling that something is going on above ground as the characters get used to a new life underground, until the main character finds evidence that suggests that everything underground isn’t groovy either, eventually leading to a tense situation that culminates in a giant twist that makes you rethink everything you have just seen. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a one-of-a-kind film that makes you want to feel out for your Teddy Bear and grip it tight.

Independence Day: Resurgence (20th Century Fox - 2016)

3. Independence Day: Resurgence – Much like number four on this list, if you are like me and absolutely love the Roland Emmerich science fiction film Independence Day, you will have also been hoping that maybe one day there might be a sequel to it; well (two decades later), one has indeed been released. Twenty years after the events of the first film, humanity has used the technology scrounged from the remains of the alien fleet to upgrade their own technology and bolster up defences of planet Earth. This however has not turned out to be all that fruitful however, as the once defeated alien empire has decided to enact a counter attack by sending in a much bigger force than the last one. The first film’s core cast (minus an obvious one) have returned to fight alongside a new cast of characters including (but not limited to); Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher and Maika Monroe. The film itself was once again packed with a jaw dropping cavalcade of special effects that once again bring the awe and fascination that the first film did so well, but does not content itself by making a simple remake, but a strong sequel that does things a little bit differently and contains several other genres, not just the basic few. Overall I was mightily pleased with the end result.

your-name (Toho Co., Ltd. - 2016)

2. Your Name. – If you look through the prolific catalogue of films produced by Studio Ghibli, there are many highlighted classics. Having recently become a major fan of the studio’s works, I am always on the lookout for new films to watch to add to my growing collection. Some of the films on show though that do not necessarily grab my attention however are the convoy of teen based romantic dramas. In most cases I actually try to avoid them as they don’t really appeal to me. Well this year, I saw a film which was along those lines (not released by Studio Ghibli) while also entwined with a Science Fiction enhanced story that within an instant became one of my favourite films this year. Your Name. is a Japanese Anime film directed by (Makoto Shinkai), which tells the tales of a boy and girl who have never met and live in completely opposite locations miles apart from each other, but for some reason get connected, as when they sleep, they dream the lives of the other, not realizing at first, that in reality they have in fact changed bodies. It is a strange film to begin with that leads to some really funny situations, but things take a sudden turn which causes one character to search out the other and come across a grim reality that makes them attempt to change the course of history. I must say I actually really enjoyed it. I was put off at first by its romantic idea, but upon finishing wanted to give it a standing ovation. It was so different, yet so unique that I was left gobsmacked for one that I enjoyed such a film that I would have normally tried so hard to put off. By failing to look round that I did not properly foresee the science fiction elements that I just so love and the two together created a potent mix that made me leave the cinema with a smile across my face. I absolutely enjoyed this film to its absolute core and it has made me rethink my earlier stance on romantic teen anime films.

deadpool (20th Century Fox - 2016)

1. Deadpool – Just bear with me for a moment as I get my head in the right frame of mind for this one…

With all the super hero related movies that are getting released these days, I think it’s good that we have at least one film that we as an audience can actually connect with. Saving the world is good and all, but what about when you return home and find out that some maniac has kidnapped your girlfriend, I think we can all agree that that is probably far more important! Deadpool is the next major spin-off in the X-Men Film Series and stars everyone’s loud mouthed mercenary as he sets out not to save the world, but rescue his girlfriend and hope he can receive some good plastic surgery in the process. Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds in the lead role, backed up with the talents of Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller and Morena Baccarin in what has to be one of the strangest films of all time. Deadpool is not your run of the mill superhero movie, as Deadpool isn’t really a superhero, more just someone rather deadly you don’t want to offend. Deadpool comes wrapped in a neat pile of action, guns, violence, comedy, sexual antics and fourth wall breaking moments to create a truly incredible experience that will have other superhero movies (and super heroes) taking notice. Altogether this film creates a matchless form of cinematic awesomeness becoming not just the most standout film of this year, but also my absolute favourite film of 2016.

GENEPOOL (what was your favourite film of 2016?).





Top 10 Most Exciting Films of 2017 (First Among Lists)

4 01 2017

star-wars-episode-eight (Lucasfilm - 2017)

Jasper Fforde is a British bestselling Author whose selected works include the The Eyre Affair, The Last Dragonslayer and Shades of Grey.  He is something of an inspiration to me and someone I have not just met and had books of his signed, but have had the fantastic opportunity to have my work looked at and even edited by him; it was a wonderful opportunity and moment for me and still ranks as one of the best moments in my writing career to date. Anyway, I have been thinking a little bit about Jasper Fforde recently, mainly because of The Last Dragonslayer being shown on Sky 1 on Christmas Day, a book which was one of my favourite reads a couple of years ago.

The Last Dragonslayer (Hodder and Stoughton - 2011)

Anyway, to get back on topic, one of the books in his Thursday Next series is called; First Among Sequels. Well before I began writing this; (having awoken from a small nap on Boxing Day) I thought that it could be fun to give a personal touch to one of my early blog posts, in particular one of the early Top 5-ish posts where I talk about last year and this year in films. I was thinking that I should call it First Among Lists. Then I thought that this could be rather confusing for anyone who came along looking for a post on films, as the tile does not suggest anything along those lines. Then I thought; ‘why not’, and added it in brackets after writing this sentence. See. Just thought I would do something a bit more fun and a lot less like written uniform.

split (Universal Pictures - 2016)

2016 has passed, and 2017 has begun. Yes, it’s that time of year when we can break those freshly made resolutions and convert the newly acquired weight’s beach into a clothes horse. I prefer not to make such resolutions as I don’t see any real point in them. Why not, instead of making pathetic New Year’s Resolutions which you’re not going to complete, find something to look forward to instead, like; I don’t know – movies to be released this year? There are quite a lot of good-looking films to be released this year, including the possibility of a remake of The Empire Strikes Back, something to look forward to for many I’ll bet. As is something of an annual tradition for me and my blog now, I have had a good look through the (Wikipedia) movie release schedules and found a whole load of good-looking films to look forward to this year, and am keen to share this information with you all, including which are the Top 10 films I personally am looking forward to. Now there is quite a lot this coming year I have found, and not all could end up on my Top 10, so I just want to give a shout out to the following films: Wonder (the book is really good), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Alien Covenant, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Geostorm, Despicable Me 3, Split and The Great Wall. If there is anything you in particular are looking forward to this year but is not mentioned on here, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know; but for now, here is what I am looking forward to this year.

dunkirk (Warner Bros - 2017)

10. Dunkirk – Films set during World War II don’t really get my interest. World War 2 is an important event during the entire history of this planet of course, but the use of the subject matter in the media I feel has been rather overdone; you only need to look at Video Games set during WW2 to see what I mean. Why am I interested in this then, well because Christopher Nolan is directing it, and I feel that that is a good a reason as any to not write it off as of yet. A trailer has been released which I have yet to give a proper look at, and will probably do so when I edit this post in WordPress, the one thing we have to hope for of course is that the film is done right, and does not replace the British, Belgian and French Soldiers with American Ones for the sake of the film (America was actually still one whole year away from joining WW2 during the events of the Dunkirk Evacuation).

return-of-xander-cage (Columbia Pictures - 2017)

9. XXX: Return of Xander Cage – I am surprised how long it has taken to get this film made, as this should have been done nearly 10 years ago. The first Triple X film starring Vin Diesel, Marton Csokas, Samuel L. Jackson and Asia Argento was a film I really liked and was hoping for a sequel. A sequel was what we got, but without 3 of the previous mentioned cast members, try to guess which ones. The first one was a unique blend of modern and traditional spy films with the added bonus of extreme sports and stunts, creating what I think is still quite a cool little film. While this new one may be missing Asia Argento (and Csokas of course for those who have seen the original), I still feel quietly excited by this, and hope that the juices that flowed in the original will blossom once more and possibly create an interesting franchise; 14 years late.

thor-the-dark-world (Marvel Studios - 2013)

8. Thor: Ragnarok – The first Thor film was something of a surprise to me, as I had no idea what to expect, but absolutely loved. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has the feeling about it that it might have begun to start to come to a close as the series for one feels like it’s beginning to drag and feature less of its more prominent characters. I do feel sort of glad though that Thor gets one more solo outing before that happens, but it does come with a bit of un-nerve. I have not really been tracking its production, but it feels wrong that Natalie Portman is not going to be in it. I don’t know as to the why she is not in it, but when you have been using two previous films to create a romance between two characters, only for one to leave with no real reason and probably to be replaced, I feel that is something of a bad idea, because, that previous romance has been developed, this new one won’t be to an audience point of view and will come across as more confusing, than heart-warming. It has been done before, just look at Transformers: Dark of the Moon as an example. Anyway, I still have hope for Thor, as I want it to be just like the previous two films; proper fun, enjoyable films. While the love life maybe completely in the air, what isn’t is the male cast which still includes Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins, as well as newcomers to the Thor films in Avengers regular Mark Ruffalo, and more interestingly; Jeff Goldblum.

war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes (20th Century Fox - 2017)

7. War for the Planet of the Apes – The new Planet of the Apes film series has become one of the standout heavyweights of cinema, and has achieved this with only 2 films released so far. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a wonderfully thought out and brought together film which created truly marvellous moments (including the death of Draco Malfoy), this continued on with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which set man and ape against one another in a brutal fashion while also weaving in a thought-provoking plot. Now, things are set to get even deeper, as audiences have a heavy minded choice to make, as they decide whether to fight with humanity, or with the apes in a battle to decide who will be the new dominant species. Regular ape cast members are set to return, while humanity is represented by former District 12 Winner Woody Harrelson…..should be pretty interesting.

the-shape-of-water (Bull Productions - 2017)

6. The Shape of Water – In all honesty I don’t know much about this film. Wikipedia says its: “An other-worldly story, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1963”. Why do I take an interest in this film you ask? Because Guillermo Del Toro is directing it! While it’s plot is currently vague with not much known about it other than production details including cast members such as Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones, it is hard to expect what it could be, but considering what this film sort of suggests, part of me wonders if this could be Del Toro’s next Pan’s Labyrinth?

the lego-batman movie (Warner Bros - 2017)

5. The Lego Batman Movie – When I went to see The Lego Movie, it was clear to me who the real star of the show was: Batman (voiced by Will Arnett). I loved the portrayal of Batman in the Lego movie, just could not get enough, so was super excited when I found out that he was getting his own movie, and this year it gets released. I can still hear his awesome self-crafted theme tune going through my head right now. Have seen a couple of trailers so far, and it’s hard to work out where it is going or what it is going to do, but as long as Batman is the Lego Movie Batman (which is by far the best Batman to date), then it should be awesome (pun intended).

Power Rangers (Lionsgate - 2017)

4. Power Rangers – Is it excitement or hope why I have put this film so high in this list? I am not going to get too detailed here about this; I made my views very clearly detailed back in September. What I do want to say is that I am excited but still very nervous about the Power Rangers movie due for release in the coming months. The film is not too far from release and the trailer does look pretty promising, but given what we have seen in the past when Power Rangers have taken to the big screen, I think my nerves are a reasonable reaction. I do want this film to work, and do feel that in the right hands and with the right execution, this film could become a worthy rival to the Transformers film series. The trailer and shots from production do look pretty good, but I don’t think any of us who intend to see this film can really hope to relax until this film actually gets released, then we can find out if a third time can be some kind of charm for the Power Rangers.

transformers-the-last-knight (Paramount - 2017)

3. Transformers: The Last Knight – I have been a fan of the Transformers films from day one. It is a series I have enjoyed throughout and have continued to do so to the present day. When Age of Extinction came out in 2014, I was unsure of where the series was heading for, but was blown away by a powerhouse of a film, my favourite entry to date and have been super excited to hear there is not just going to be a sequel, but also returning with the fantastic new cast of Extinction. While Nicola Peltz is a no-show at current, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci and Josh Duhamel (from the first 3 films) are all confirmed for what is so far looking to what could be the most ‘confusing’ entry in the series to date (and I can’t help but wonder if the title is a reference to something that happens in the film, or is a reference to the status of the series director).

kong-skull-island (Legendary Pictures - 2017)

2. Kong: Skull Island – Soon after the release of Godzilla in 2014; Legendary Pictures announced that they were going to make some more Godzilla films, as well as possibly creating a shared universe which would also include King Kong. Well; King Kong is set to return this year with his very own reboot, as a stellar cast of actors including (but not limited to) Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman decide to explore an uncharted island occupied by a variety of horrific monsters, all of it overseen under the might of the Great Ape known mainly as KONG. So far the film is looking really good; Kong’s design especially looks terrific and while details of the story are still relatively unknown, the current premise looks pretty cool. How it will turn out is another thing, but so far, I am really excited for this one (let’s just hope Peter Jackson didn’t accidentally walk onto the set during production).

logan (20th Century Fox - 2017)

1. Logan – A lot of things have happened in cinema over the last 17 years, but one of the very few constants is the portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men Film Series. Since the series began, Wolverine has been portrayed by Hugh Jackman, and has helped not just kick-start his movie career, but made him a household name. “But all good things must come to an end” many pessimistic people have said, and this appears to be true for the relationship between High Jackman and Wolverine, but the animal is not going to bow out without one last bloodbath. Set for release this year: Logan looks to tie up the loose ends of the series so far, as the X-Men head to bold new directions (especially with Deadpool looking set to become the series main star). Expect possible tears, as well as a lot of blood as Wolverine bows out in more ways than one, delivering potentially his final chapter, with support from his long-time friend and series heavyweight Patrick Stewart returning once more to play Charles Xavier, as they face one last enemy together, possibly in the rumoured form of Mr. Sinister.

GENEPOOL (Well that is my list, what movies are you looking forward to this year?).





A Big Red Right Hand – Hellboy

7 09 2016

Hellboy (Revolution Studios - 2004)

A few weeks ago while dining at a church fellowship meal, someone on the table remarked at how everything on TV and at the Cinema all involved Super Heroes. Now while this is something more of a cliché possibly or more likely an over exaggerated statement, there is a lot to be said about the number of Super Hero based things on TV and at the Cinema at the moment. Things like Supergirl, The Flash and Arrow on TV, whereas cinema this year has had several comic book related films like Captain America: Civil War, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, X-Men Apocalypse and of course Deadpool. The reason for all of these of course is that right now they are very popular franchises, plus more importantly..…they make money. Super hero/comic book/graphic novel based movies are nothing new, they have been around for a while, its only in the last 8 years or so that they have really gained much in the way of traction; however, it should be noted that not all comic book/graphic novel interpretations are about super heroes, I mean, would you call V for Vendetta a Super Hero Movie?

V for Vendetta (Warner Bros. - 2006)

Released in 2004 by Revolution Studios, Produced by Lawrence Gordon and Directed by Guillermo Del Toro; Hellboy is a comic book adapted movie based on the Dark Horse Comics character of the same name by Mike Mignola and released by Dark Horse Comics. This is by no mean Del Toro’s first foray into making movies based on comics, as 2 years previously he directed Blade II.

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In 1944, The Nazi’s with the help of Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden), build a machine off the coast of Scotland to create a portal in the hope of releasing a group of monstrosities called the Ogdru Jahad to aid them in winning the war. Rasputin opens the portal with help from Ilsa Von Haupstein (Biddy Hodson) and Thule Society member Obersturmbannführer Karl Ruprecht Kroenen (Ladislav Beran), who is also Hitler’s top assassin. A group of allied soldiers arrive just in time guided by Trevor Bruttenholm. The German team is defeated and the portal is closed, sucking Rasputin in, in the process. As the allied soldiers search the grounds however, they discover that an infant demon with a big right hand-made of stone did travel through the portal. Bruttenholm decides to adopt him, and the soldiers call him Hellboy. Sixty years later, in the mountains of Moldova, Kroenen and Ilsa resurrect Rasputin, while in America, young FBI agent John Myers (Rupert Evans) is transferred to the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) at the request of Bruttenholm (John Hurt), where he meets the amphibious humanoid Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and the now grown up adult Hellboy (Ron Perlman), who has grounded off his horns. As soon as he meets Hellboy though, they get a shout that something is going on at a local Museum. Inside the Museum, Rasputin has unleashed the monstrous Sammael (Brian Steele) and bestowed upon him the power of reincarnation. Hellboy fights with Sammael, defeating him after a long lengthy fight, before then disappearing to see Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), a former BPRD member who is now residing in a mental hospital hoping to gain more control of her pyrokinetic abilities. After Hellboy is gone however, Rasputin visits, and mentally activates her powers which in turn burns down the hospital.

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Back at the BPRD HQ, the team discovers that a creature from Sammael laid eggs into Hellboy while it was attached to his arm. Whilst John goes off to visit Liz and encourage her to return to the BPRD, Hellboy, Abe and a team of guards including Agent Clay (Corey Johnson), head to the subways to find and destroy a nest of eggs belonging to Sammael, into which Hellboy discovers has come back to life, while Abe fights with another. Abe is severally injured in the fight while Hellboy dispatches with the other. Several BPRD Agents are killed however by Kroenen, who then shuts down his clockwork body so he can be taken into BPRD HQ. FBI Director Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) is not too pleased with Hellboy’s actions. John takes Liz out for Coffee, while Hellboy who has romantic feelings for her, stalks them. In the Bureau HQ, Kroenen re-animate himself, and both he and Rasputin make themselves known to Bruttenholm. Rasputin reveals to him, that Hellboy is the agent that will reopen the portals and destroy the world. Bruttenholm who is dying of Cancer, and who has raised Hellboy like a son, believes that Hellboy in the end will make the right choice, and Kroenen stabs him in the neck.

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Manning takes over the BPRD after Bruttenholm’s funeral, and leads a team consisting of agents, John, Liz and Hellboy to Russia in hope of finding Rasputin’s Mausoleum. With help from a local cemetery corpse resident Ivan (Guillermo Del Toro), they find the mausoleum, but get separated once inside. Hellboy and Manning find the lair of Kroenen and quickly defeat him, while Liz and John find Sammael’s eggs, where there are no quite a few of them. Hellboy arrives and does battle, but its Liz who saves them as she sets fire to the lair, killing all of the Sammael’s and his eggs, meaning he can no longer be resurrected. The group though is captured by Ilsa and Rasputin. Using Liz’s soul as a bargaining chip, Hellboy reveals his true power as Anung un Rama, with his horns growing back and begins the ceremony to release the Ogdru Jahad. Myers quickly breaks from his restraints and reminds Hellboy of what Bruttenholm brought him up to be. As such Hellboy breaks his horns, and kills Rasputin before the creatures could be finally released. Rasputin, revealing to have had one of the Ogdru Jahad possessing him, releases the tentacled monster. Hellboy defeats the creature by blowing it up from the inside. He then returns to Liz, whispering into her ear, threatens to go to the other side unless her soul is returned to her, as such Liz is revived instantly and the two share a kiss.

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Hellboy isn’t what you would exactly call a Super Hero Movie. It definitely shares traits and themes to films of this Calibre, but in all perfect honesty, Hellboy is not really a Super Hero, he is more an Anti-hero. He saves the day and the world on a regular basis from threats and monsters from the other side, but when he goes back home, he doesn’t live a life of obscurity or simply puts some glasses on, he returns home and does what he wants when he wants. In a way, he is more a mirror image of the human condition and what most of us are likely to do if we were super heroes, and want we would want out of it, not what is right, but what is desire. He wants fame, he wants fortune, he wants food, he wants love, don’t we all deep down? Yes, he is a super natural force from a world that is not this one and is employed to defeat the forces from beyond, to protect this world from the greatest threats not of this world or even this reality, but he is given a pampered life to make up for the life he simply cannot have as to who he is. If you look at other super heroes (except for maybe Deadpool), and what they do, and how it drives them, Hellboy is not in it for that, and when he does go in for a fight, he makes it as big, as loud and as exciting as possible, just because it allows him to go outside once in a while. He is less a Super Hero, more just like you or me, in it for a kick, but secretly desiring more.

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As a film, the tone and ideas are a little bit off-putting, there is no middle ground in explaining, this film is based on subjects about the dark arts, and the grim dark and horrid after life that is in the lead’s name. But through all that though, comes this incredibly well thought out and well created mythology and ethos surrounding the characters, what they do and who they fight. It’s very similar I think to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as it’s setting and mythologies are all based on well documented ideas and beliefs, but brings them into the here and now rather than through some old age orientated may centuries ago fantasy world. This is the kind of Fantasy that should be explored more often, because it makes it more apparent, believable and interesting to a more modern culture and audience. I can see why Del Toro did this film in the end, it works perfectly to the style of films he started out doing and continues to create (Fantasy Horror). The setting is of course our world, but it goes on to suggest a dark uncertain future, including the possible apocalypse, and through its ideas creates some visually stunning moments. We are not talking Independence Day like scenes here; we are only talking a small fraction of visuals, but still aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but also amazing and horrifying to believe. It all works well into this well created and wonderfully designed setting while also providing everything else a film needs to grab the attention of the audience. It’s visually stunning, with grips of an enchanting and horrifying storyline while also adding a well-researched and believable mythos.

BPRD logo

It’s interesting to note the strong calibre of movie industry veterans cast in major roles in what is really such a small comic book movie, but I bet that comes more from the established director. Jeffrey Tambor is someone I have had little exposure to in the past and before seeing this, the only role I have seen in him was Muppets from Space. In that he had a high seniority role which came with a lot of pressure and a lot of stress, but overall was an incredibly funny role. Here we have something somewhat similar minus the comedy. He comes in as something of a corporate/political nemesis whose only concern is really himself and his position and finds that while the BPRD has its uses, he considers them overall a joke and a waste of resources. From his first appearance onwards he presents himself as someone who does not at all care for Hellboy, and his immediate introduction is shown of someone with a lot of power and whom carries a large level of intimidation. This carries on, showing his more demanding, not necessarily selfish side, but one who wants and demands respect; although how he reached his position could be questionable. He however, like a good scripted character, does show his uses and redeems himself in a flat second by showing his thanks to Hellboy for saving his life, and shows him how to light a cigar. Similarly there is of course John Hurt playing the adoptive father of Hellboy and head of the BPRD. He presents himself on a more caring but still serious note and overall rather than being a head of section comes more across as that chemistry/history teacher that we all come to be fond of and respect. His father figure like stance has its moments and the story of him dying ensures to enrich the plot and reason for Myers existence in the film, all which leads to a revelation point as to the true meaning for Hellboy, but still his ensured faith as to that Hellboy will make the right choice.

Jeffrey Tambor and Ron Perlman

While this film is primarily about creatures/monsters, there is of course a lot of human interaction. Some of these have been allowed very little screen time but are presented enough and are performed brilliantly enough for them to remain a key part. Characters like Ilsa are a good show for this. Someone who is a high officer in the Nazi Party and the key love interest for Rasputin, who, slowly but surely begins to reveal a sort of near psychopathic and heretic side, someone who believes in the cause no matter how it comes. She is very old-fashioned and also en-richly disciplined given her growing up and position, and keeps to this even after 60 years have passed by. Kroenen meanwhile is more a Monster than a human, and becomes a key villain from start to finish, even if he is just a puppet in the end. He too shows an incredible dark side, killing without mercy and has even showed some remains of being human showing traits such as laughing; however his body is less the case. Rasputin is something of a cross between Dracula and Darth Vader I find. He is presented more as a prophet and is unwieldy fiendish, but for him it’s all been planned out, and if it’s not part of the plan, he has no motive for it and will either order it dead, or just not think about it. He uses as much as he can to get what he desires and will maintain a level of control to keep the plan ripe and eventually fruitful at all costs. He is an interesting villain, but you get this feeling though that he is not the puppet master either, like there is someone else pulling the strings, but it’s never really shown (also, he has this weird change of voice before he turns into the monster).

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Myers comes across though as a young man in his prime excelling and desiring to do what is right in what is already a stressful job. He does not get on too well with Hellboy, and it feels like he is side-lining himself just so he can work on/with Liz, either because working with her feels more normal, or because of another reason. He continues to try and work with Hellboy, but while he is supposedly the lead human in this film, it feels like his point or part just gets more and more obscure and less needed other than to help Hellboy make the right decision. Other than that, he has almost served his purpose already. Maybe he is just an Introduction to the world of the BPRD, for the sake of the audience, as while he is a key feature for the first act, and a bit of the second, by the third, it feels like he is not even there. Agent Clay I find is a lot more of an interesting character than Myers, as he comes off a lot more strongly to begin with, and his compatibility with Hellboy comes off immediately as the two respect and care for each other even if their position does not require it. He shares very few scenes, but when he is in them, it feels like he is a much stronger lead in comparison to Myers, and that deep down, Clay should be the lead, but I don’t see how that could work either, as it’s clear he has been around a while.

Corey Johnson

The one theme this film tries to tell and thoroughly resonates, is what it takes for someone to become a Man. It gets mentioned start to finish and in the end becomes the story. This theme though really does work well for Hellboy. You need to remember that Ron Perlman is playing a very demanding and physical role, but in reality is the only real actor who could play the part, as the character needed someone physically big but also who could act, not like hiring an actor who is big but is only hired for physical capability. But despite the experience and wisdom of Perlman, it should be noted that Hellboy is actually a much younger character than Perlman is. In reality, Hellboy is actually very childish; a spoiled brat who gets more than he deserves but still demands more. He is like an over pampered cat, receiving so much food and attention, but still desires and believes he needs more. He is also something of a smitten lover, desiring Liz, even though she would rather lead a more normal life. He shows this by endlessly talking about her and trying to visit her/bring her back to the BPRD then eventually stalk her when she goes out with Myers. Like the average action hero, he does in the end ‘get the girl’, but it’s not through his childish ways, it’s when he grows up, becomes more respectful, and then threatens to fight tooth and nail for how much he loves her, therefore going from a childish brat, to a man, even if he is not human.

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Abe Sapien I find is something like a rabbit in a field of cats. This film’s ideas and premise surrounds a demonic identity, then in the meantime there is this character who is not that in anyway shape or form. He is less an alien, nor a demon, he is more in fact a natural mutation with a human life. He is more a book work than a man of action, less likely to get into a fight and more read his way out of a battle than throw a fist. He however though carries the trait of a group counsellor. He carries a lot of wisdom even if he could be considered a little young; he comes packed with knowledge, but still packs a little attitude. But in the end knows his place and where he belongs and knows the importance and vitality of the groups function and works to act as a mediator in-between the heat. He may feel less than respected or a part of the group, but he believes in it. Liz Sherman for me though is the one who stands out the most. She comes across as this shy, and vulnerable character, who is scared as to who she is and what she can do. She carries a real fear for it, and though while not a monster in appearance, feels on equal footing to the others in what she is. She desires a more normal human life, feeling more like an outcast in all walks of life. She has power but looks human. She wants to be human, but knows that humanity won’t give her credit as to what she looks like given as to what she can do. I do feel this really affection for the character, and really come to know who she is and how that affects what she desires. She then starts to build confidence thanks to Myers and receives the opportunity to lead a more normal life thanks to him, but then, upon the death of Bruttenholm comes to the knowledge that the ‘freaks’ need to stick together, and that Hellboy needs her support in what is a hard time for him. She grows and grows, becoming a tough fighter in the final battle escapades and even something of a leader, showing great deals of professionalism while also still coming to terms with whom she is and what she can do, which she then discovers, and comes to less fear it, more embrace it. Selma Blair plays what is for me, a very identifiable role and one whom I somewhat can’t get enough of, and come to anticipate with joy her next appearance.

Selma Blair (I know it's from Hellboy 2)

The film being one that is filled with many marvellous and very imaginative creatures will of course come packed with the not so original assortment of special effects to make these things come to life. It should be noted however that a great deal of special effects in this film are not necessarily the work of CGI or Computer Generated Imagery, in fact for the most degree, many of the needed special effects more take the form of make-up, masks and costumes. It should be noted that in his early life, Del Toro actually studied and worked for 10 years in special effects and even started his own company. It is obvious to note then that when it came to Special Effects needed for this film, that he already had it planned out early one. For the actual shoot and filming of scenes, Hellboy, Abe, Sammael and Kroenen are actually costumes and or models when needed. CGI is only brought in when they needed to use them for a scene that would require CGI and when a Suit/Mask/Makeup would not work. Scenes such as creatures in Water, Sammael’s resurrecting, and the giant portals and monsters. This allowance but also reduced requirement for Computer Graphics means that there is a lot more involvement between characters in certain scenes, and makes the fighting look more fluid and dynamic, because the fighting is real. The other thing is though, that you can actually see the difference, as when the costumes are in shot, because the physical entity is living you can see it interact, but also, it looks fresher. When the computer animated imagery is in place, there is a feel that some of it is rather unfinished. Don’t know if you saw my review on the film Mimic (also by Del Toro), but in that the CGI was easy to be seen as not good or possibly unfinished, there was a direct correlation between real life and fake quality. In this you get a similar feeling, and it only really works for the CGI when things are happening quickly, like a fight scene or a chase as it blurs in and you don’t spot it, but then when you get it standing still, it’s very noticeable, that more could have been done in that department.

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Special effects are not everything in a film like this, because in order to convey the right feel to such an imaginative thing, you need a good quality soundtrack (composed by Marco Beltrami) to back it up. Hellboy does have a sort of strange mix of pieces of music, ranging from the dark and mystical, to the old-fashioned with a bit of attitude. Pieces of music in those areas include when the portal is opening near the end, when Liz’s power is awakened in the hospital, to pieces like the BPRD theme when Myers turns up, Bruttenholm’s funeral, to the more modern sounding music as Myers and Liz go for a ride, then intermixed you also have the one of piece that sounds just sort of added and silly, but not in a bad way. But for me I want to highlight 3 distinct pieces of music. Now the third one I should note is only available really with the Director’s Cut of this film, but I would like to point out here and now (if I have not already) that this film’s Director’s Cut is where this film is at. It really enhances and includes and builds on from the original cut and though while its original cut is pretty good; to get the full experience, watch the DC. Anyway; the first piece is really this film’s main theme and you hear it the minute the credits are about to roll. It’s sort of twisted and sinister, that’s how it comes across anyway; and intermixed has a romantic track line, but for the most part is this dark and twisted tone that really sets up what you have been watching for the last 2+ hours and sort of puts it into a level of context, while also providing a mystical identity.

The next two pieces are more sort of added as to enrich the soundtrack but by adding pieces that were already made but not necessarily for this film. The first is Red Right Hand (I wonder why) by Nick Cave and the Dark Seeds. It only gets played after Hellboy’s introduction to Myers as the gang go to the museum in a bin lorry. However, well in the film plays as a really groovy soundtrack that just dominates most of the sound and works well to present the scene as best it can, especially when you see the agents marching in front of the bin lorry as the doors open. It’s a dark, twisted tune, but comes with a sort of light listening punch that you can’t help but sing a long too (much like the third song). The piece is actually very different in presentation to how the film puts it in, but either way, it’s still good.

Then you have this song by a band called Forseps. It’s just called Hellboy, but that is something of a lyric. It’s very different to everything else as it’s more heavy rock with a twist of a groove packing mystery and excitement as the song builds, explaining who Hellboy is, but then it hits this Lyric ‘HELLBOY’ and into that we get a lashing of attitude, the attitude this film has included, but only really feels now is the time to unleash. It’s mainly just a nice, interesting, but also levelly piece of fun on which to end the film on.

I really like Hellboy, both as a film and as an idea, especially the character. I consider him definitely worthy of equal footing in comparison to the other big super hero movie boys out there, if not a greater footing than them, it’s definitely more interesting and fun than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here you have very human like characters, even if some of them aren’t. You have these well thought out and researched ideas, enriching a really cool but also big plot and it comes packed with everything in between to male what is a very enjoyable film. While its mythos and ideas will put some people off, for everyone who does (‘dare’) to see it, there is a lot to like and a lot to enjoy, and in the end while such ideas are present, they are not the be all and end all of the tale, in fact it sort of goes beyond that and goes into other ideas and mythology, springing out-of-bounds to other locations and interests. Packed up with an incredible cast, touch-able-worthy special effects, and a mystically dark soundtrack that packs a punch, altogether Hellboy is a very magical film, and while I would not necessarily consider it a Super Hero Movie like the other adaptations of this sort, when you do think about it in league with those films and series: While it may currently only have 2 films in a potential trilogy, it still packs more and is generally more entertaining than many others. Yes, there are a lot of Super Hero Movies and TV Shows right now, but spare a quick thought for those that dare to do something different.

GENEPOOL (Also, quick shout out to Ivan).





With Great Power, Comes Great Irresponsibility – Deadpool

16 03 2016

Deadpool (20th Century Fox - 2016)

Bloke: If only there was a super hero movie that combines the fantastic action and martial arts attributes of The Raid and The Raid 2 with the hilarity and outrageous comedy of Tropic Thunder and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa?

Me: There is.

Bloke: No!

Me: Yes, it’s called Deadpool.

Bloke: Oh, is it any good?

Me: Yes.

Bloke: Cool.

Deadpool

Me: Released in 2016 by 20th Century Fox, Directed by Tim Miller and Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner; Deadpool is a super hero comic book movie (of sorts) starring everyone’s favourite comic anti-hero (at least by the time they have watched it) Deadpool. For those of you who are not fully aware as to whom this Deadpool is; here is some brief info:

“Deadpool is a fictional antihero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.” – Wikipedia

Me: Understand?

Bloke: NO!

Me: Too Bad. Anyway, Deadpool is a comic book character belonging to Marvel Comics, and is mostly associated with the X-Men comics in particular. Deadpool is the latest spin-off in the X-Men film series and sets out as well as hopes to do something no other comic superhero film has done to date, which mostly involves being as outrageous and as funny as possible while also being incredibly profane and violent at the same time.

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a mercenary who stands up for the little guy. One evening at the mercenary bar attended by bar man Weasel (T.J. Miller), Wade meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), and the two very quickly get into a relationship, one which gets off the ground quite quickly. But as soon as things start going well, Wade gets a very late stage form of Cancer. One night at the bar, he is approached by a recruiter (Jed Rees) for a secret organization who says that they can cure his cancer. Initially turning down the offer, Wade eventually agrees, fearing more for losing Vanessa. Wade however soon discovers that the organization he has joined is seeking mutants to experiment on. The project is led by mutant AJAX (Ed Skrein) and his assistant Angel (Gina Carano) who torture Wade and those around him. Eventually Wade’s mutant genes explode and cause his skin to deform, instantly curing him of his cancer, but Wade discovers that what is really going to happen is that he is to become a slave of Ajax. Wade causes an explosion in the labs and brings down the building, escaping the wreckage.

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Upon escaping, he means to return home to Vanessa, but upon seeing how people see his disfigured face, Wade believes Vanessa will feel the same about him, so he decides not to return. Wade moves into the house of elderly blind lady Al (Leslie Uggams), and with help from his best friend, goes in search of Ajax, real name Francis, in the hope of curing his disfigurement. He creates a costume and calls himself Deadpool, before going round the area, killing anyone who does not give him the information he needs on the location of Francis. After a year or so of searching, and making a new friend in cab driver Dopinder (Karan Soni), Deadpool intercepts a convoy of bad guys, kills most of them in some really horrific ways before finally getting his hands on Francis. Unfortunately, his antics grab the attention of X-Men team members Colossus (Greg LaSelle and Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) who are desperate for him to join them. After their arrival however, the distraction allows Francis to vanish, and Deadpool escapes the clutches of the X-Men by cutting off one of his own limbs.

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With a threat on Vanessa being made, Weasel and Wade go to the strip club she works at, but before they can get to her, Francis and Angel take her away. With the help of Al, Weasel, Dopinder, and extra help from the X-Men team, Deadpool goes to the scrapyard (where a near-familiar looking aircraft carrier is being wrecked) where Francis and Angel are keeping Vanessa. Immediately Deadpool and the team of Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus get into a fight with soldiers and Angel. While Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus deal with Angel, Deadpool climbs the aircraft carrier to where Ajax is preparing to torture Vanessa in a similar way to how he tortured Wade. Deadpool and Ajax fight in hand to hand combat, until Negasonic Teenage Warhead destroys the carrier from the inside. Once rescuing Vanessa from the collapsing ship, Deadpool has one more fight with Ajax, quickly gaining the upper hand. Ajax then informs Wade that he cannot be cured. Despite urging from Colossus not to, Deadpool kills Ajax. Wade then reveals himself to Vanessa, who says she is ok with how and who he is now, and they rekindle their relationship.

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Bloke: Does this mean I don’t need to see it now.

Me: Are you still here?

Bloke: Apparently?

Me: Well in that case; yes, you should.

Bloke: I thought this was a review?

Me: Yes it is, but more in the form of an analysis.

Anyway; Deadpool is a very interesting film. It’s one that is hard to spring up what exactly it’s about. Ok, plot wise it’s about a guy who becomes a super hero to save himself from his illness but who then has to save his girlfriend (which is far easier to connect to on a personal level than the standard ‘Save the World’ plot of most other superhero movies). That’s the simple plot, but as to what this film does and involves is another thing entirely. In basic terms, what we have here is something of an adaptation, to Understand Deadpool; we need to understand who he is. Once we know that then we can really look into him.

Bloke: Then why don’t you?

Me: Because it will take too long.

What we have here in essence is more of an adaptation in terms of the characters creation and portrayal, but is then put into a situation that goes on to explain how such a character can come into being, while not bringing down the audience nor boring them. It sort of reminds me of Batman Begins, it talks about the early life of the character but brings it to a point where then said character becomes a figure-head and something other than who he is, and incorporates and embraces that entity to do the right thing, although in Deadpool’s case that is somewhat questionable. In this case we are provided with a character that is somewhat questionable from the start, but the things he does he does for the right people, and as an audience we come to connect and feel for him, and as he grows in a relationship, we come to support and care for him. But then things go wrong, and while what he does is (as previously mentioned) questionable, we believe in the cause to support him well enough. It’s something that feeds into a primal instinct, that of revenge, and while it may be the wrong path, the way he does it stands out enough, and in a form as human beings we may believe and feel is the rightful way of doing it, we support it. That aside though, Deadpool is not your average super hero either. He is something of a character. He is a wise cracking comedian who pulls a comedic line whenever he can, continuously breaking the fourth wall in the process. This makes him not just a super hero, but also someone who makes you as an audience member laugh. Add to that though the level of profanity in his voice, however despite what an older more mature audience member would think of such language, the language used by Deadpool when used with his comic nature just makes you laugh as he is using said language in such a funny way. Added to this level of comedy and profanity, you cannot ignore the amount of violence in this film. It’s violence that grabs your attention, as for one part it’s very gory and sickening, but on the other hand is just so outrageous and crazy, that it creates its own essence of humor to be enjoyed alongside what is already so funny. Ok, I admit it’s kind of broad and a hard one to explain. To quote the late great Lemmy Kilmister:

“Trying to understand. Why? You can just enjoy it at face value that’s what I do.” – Heavy Metal Britannia

In essence, it’s not something that should be analyzed or explained, because what we have here is something very special, very different, and something trying to stand out in the biggest way possible. And it achieves this. So less analyzing and more enjoying is what should be done here; because well, it works and is Awesome.

Bloke: So why did you bother trying then?

Me: Because, I didn’t think it through…?

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Understanding the character of Deadpool to one side, the film incorporates a relatively yet still outspoken cast of characters. Ryan Reynolds of course the returning star of Deadpool; by saying that I realize I have brought up bad memories about a certain other X-Men spinoff, but this time it’s a good form of acting from Reynolds. Not forgetting that he is no stranger to comic book super hero movies, mostly bad ones; here Reynolds excels as the verbal assassin. Without wanting to get bogged down in more but possibly pointless analysis, portraying Deadpool for me makes this his best role to date. Not really much of a fan of Reynolds in his other films, here he provides a really good portrayal of a character who was always going to be a hard one to do, but I think he has done quite well.

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The other film’s characters are not like one offs, or people with brief mentions, no. The small cast has enabled everyone to have a part and really stand out in their part. Negasonic Teenage Warhead for instance is a character I have no real knowledge of, but the portrayal of a 21st century teenager being an incredibly powerful mutant provides a very believable and connectable character while also providing the theme of not judging a book by its cover, even if me mentioning that sounds rather cliché. The addition of lesser characters in a supporting role continues throughout with people like the recruiter, Blind Al, Weasel, Angel and Dopinder. Most of these provide something more of a comic relief, but really work, not just as their roles suggest, but as well as being supportive characters also. Blind Al for instance provides an interesting viewpoint connecting once again to the aforementioned cliché, while also being as outrageous and profane as Deadpool, acting like a human counterpart to him suggesting that he is more human than he seems, and Blind Al is something of his human opposite. Dopinder meanwhile has a small role, but one which separately acts like a feeder to Deadpool’s jokes, but in the process becomes a character in his own right. Angel is more of a muscle like character to Ajax and proves that she is less a comedy character, nor one with a speaking part, but becomes Ajax’s assistant and body-guard of sorts near reminding me of Chyna. She is a pretty cool bodyguard though and one who brings an incredible fight with her. The recruiter doesn’t have much of a part but is relatively enjoyable, but is nothing in comparison to Weasel who acts like a friend to Deadpool, and becomes his assistant of sorts in helping him take down those responsible for his suffering, and much like Dopinder is a joke feeder, but also provides his own witty spin also.

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Along with them we have the more stand out members of cast alongside Reynolds. Colossus is one character you can’t but help keep an eye on. As a character, Colossus is a man who can turn his skin into an organic metal. No stranger to the film series, Colossus has previously been played by Daniel Cudmore, who I find sad did not return to the role in this film. I quite like Cudmore as Colossus, but am happy to say that Colossus here is presented well. While I find the special effects used to make him look not exactly crisp, his dialogue usage; something of a near first in the film series, is delivered well and crisp and tries to provide the role that would normally be delivered by Professor X. Ajax meanwhile is a character I find hard to see or realize. As he is not necessarily as stand out as other X-Men characters that come to mind, in this film he seems more like muscle than mind. His sinister side does not really come out all that well I feel, but the disgust towards him as a villain still works and it is in what he does, not how he acts that help him come into the fray, plus he comes packed with a mutant ability that helps to be a good first rival for Deadpool. This brings us nicely to Vanessa. Vanessa is not necessarily a supporter, nor is she a lead. She is not a hero, nor a comedy inclusion, but throughout this film provides to be a story element and a character who much like Wade, as an audience member; you become to care very much about. She becomes more of a plot element as the story goes on and an end goal to be reached. And even when that is not happening, she becomes a very enjoyable character, and towards the end not necessarily a damsel in distress but a hero in her own light, as well as providing an emotional and common sense anchor for which the character of Deadpool both needs personally, and in his career.

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Special effects are always a feature in super hero movies, as the need to show super powers usually does require some element of special effects in order to pull them off. In Deadpool though the use of CGI is pretty lack luster and only really used for colossus and the odd effect here and there. For the most part Special effects come down to clever camera tricks, stunts and fight choreography, all of which work quite well to pull off some really awe-inspiring scenes. It makes the film less of a blockbuster and more of an independent action film in a similar vein to the above mentioned Raid films. It just makes it all a nice change from films that require and are defined by how much CGI they use and the people who think CGI is better than real skin.

Bloke: Are you referring to me?

Me: “Hey, Yeah – I wanna shoop baby”

Bloke: Sorry, are you singing?

Me: Yeah, I can sing in my own post can’t I?

Bloke: Well sure…

Me: Well thank you, now please leave!

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Back in October, I did a series of film of reviews, all of which were the X-Men films to date released before this one. In that one thing I highlighted quite a bit was the rather grand, high-powered and exciting soundtracks used in the main series of films. Most of these were of course produced for the films especially with use of a composer. For the case of Deadpool however it seems like that idea was thrown out of the window to be replaced with a soundtrack composed of pieces from the popular domain, or better known as popular or pop music. This not necessarily a bad thing I find however as the pieces of music work really well to the scenes they are attached to. Most of these though I have accidently forgotten. One piece though I cannot forget so easily though is of course the sort of movie theme in Shoop by SALT ‘N’ PEPA. Quite a fun little song that works nicely with the ideas of the film, especially as it sounds like shoot, but for the most part is a fun one to sing to…..once you know the lyrics of course.

Deadpool is an incredible film, and interesting one at the same time. It tries to introduce a new, lesser known character to a more mainstream audience while also making it both as funny, profane and as violent as possible, and make it stand out more than any other super hero film out there, which it succeeds at. It more than makes up for the faults of the past, and in return creates a film that instead of being shunned by everyone in years to come will be talked positively by an even larger audiences for years to come. Add to this the strong and excelling cast, the well written story, cool soundtrack as well as all the other stand out points of this film that are hard not to notice; and you have an incredibly fun and enjoyable experience that has been delivered so early in the year, it’s going to be interesting to see if any other film this year can match or even excel beyond it. Also; it has quite possibly the best opening and post credits scenes in the history of cinema.

Bloke: What? Even better than the post credits scene from Age of Ultron?

Me: That was hardly anything; and I thought I asked you to leave – and what’s with the fake moustache?

GENEPOOL








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