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





A Dying Man’s Demand – The Wolverine

24 10 2015

The Wolverine (20th Century Fox - 2013)

What is it like to be alone? I am not talking about being alone for a couple of hours, or away from home, no, being alone for great lengths of time, days, weeks, months or even years. No human interaction, just living with the thoughts going through your head. The things that you must dwell on, the beliefs you have, the reasons as to why you are like this. Then imagine, that out of nowhere someone comes looking for you, and offers you a way out, will you take it?

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Released in 2013 by 20th Century Fox, Directed by James Mangold and Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner; The Wolverine is the 6th film in the X-Men film series, and the second film to feature Wolverine as the central character, instead of the entire X-Men team. While it could be considered to be a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine (thankfully) makes no mention to that film, and instead works more as an entirely standalone film. The film’s story is based on the Japanese story saga featured in Wolverine’s own comic series, but also includes references to previous films in the series, namely X-Men: The Last Stand where Logan is struggling to cope with the loss of Jean Grey.

In 1945, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is being kept as a POW in Nagasaki Japan when the Nuclear Bomb is dropped. As the bomb gets closer to him, Logan rescues Army Officer Ichiro Yashida (Ken Yamamura), sheltering him from the blast and nuclear fallout, healing almost instantly. In the present day, Logan is living alone in the Yukon Mountains, tormented by dreams of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) who he was forced to kill. One night, while getting retribution for the death of a Bear, Logan is found by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant who can see people’s deaths. She asks him to come to Japan to see Yashida who is about to die of old age. Although reluctant, Logan goes to Japan and meets Yashida’s son Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada) and granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto). After being given a wash and haircut, Logan goes on to meet Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) who is now a very rich man and head of Yashida Industries, one of the biggest companies in Japan. He tells Logan that he wants his ability to heal handed over to him so that he can live on forever, and Logan can be finally rid of his immortality. Logan refuses claiming it’s a curse and that Yashida doesn’t really want it. During the night, Yashida’s physician Dr. Green (Svetlana Khodchenkova), also a mutant better known as Viper, attacks Logan; he dismisses it as a dream, but wakes up to hear that Yashida has died.

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Logan attends the funeral for Yashida which is watched over by archer Kenuichio Harada (Will Yun Lee), and Mariko’s Fiancé; Noburo Mori (Brian Tee). Suddenly the funeral is attacked by Yakuza men who try to kidnap Mariko. They shoot Logan, who suddenly can’t heal from his injuries. He manages to get his strength together and runs after the Yakuza soldiers, and rescue Mariko. Once they have some distance from them, Mariko tries to make her own way home, but Logan follows her onto a bullet train, attacks some men sent to look for Mariko, and then checks both him and Mariko into a Love Hotel. During the night, after seeing a vision of Jean, he collapses, and is operated on by a vet who manages to heal him of his injuries. Curious as to what is going on, he follows Mariko to her home in Nagasaki where she reveals that in a few days’ time, she will become head of Yashida Industries. Back at the Yashida residence, Shingen is desperately trying to look for Mariko, while Yukio keeps an eye on him. In Tokyo, Harada is revealed to be working for Dr. Green, who desperately wants him to find Logan. Back in Nagasaki, Logan settles into the life of the village, and finds where he was kept when the bomb struck, remembering his time with Yashida. Slowly both he and Mariko fall for each other. The following morning, Mariko is captured by Yakuza. Logan goes in pursuit, but is still hindered by his sudden inability to heal. The men get away with Mariko, but Logan interrogates one of them.

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Yukio arrives to inform Logan, that she has seen how he dies. They go to Tokyo where Logan confronts Noburo who reveals that he has conspired with Shingen to kill Mariko, because Yashida has given control of the company to Mariko, and not him. Mariko is taken to Shingen who ordered the hit on her, but before he can kill her, his residence is attacked by Harada and his ninja’s who take Mariko away with them. Logan and Yukio arrive at the residency, where Logan uses Yashida’s old bed to discover that Dr. Green has implanted something near his heart, preventing him from healing. He performs open heart surgery on himself, when Shingen appears. Yukio attacks Shingen to defend Logan, who succeeds in removing the thing near his heart. Now able to heal again, Logan attacks and kills Shingen.

Logan heads for the village of Yashida’s birth, where Mariko has been taken too. Logan is captured by Harada’s ninja’s, and is strapped to a machine he can’t get out of. Dr. Green reveals that she wants to remove Logan’s healing factor from him and plans to remove his claws using an electromechanical suit of Japanese armour made out of Adamantium called the Silver Samurai. Believing he is working in the best interest of Mariko, Harada tries to prevent her from helping Logan, but she manages to help Logan get out of the machine before the Silver Samurai succeeds in taking off Logan’s claws. Harada and Logan fight the machine, which succeeds in cutting some of Logan’s claws off before killing Harada. Yukio arrives before fighting and eventually killing Dr. Green. The Silver Samurai, although damaged, still manages to remove all of Logan’s claws and begins extracting Logan’s healing factor. At this moment Logan discovers that the Silver Samurai is Yashida, not dead, but alive and begins to feel new life as Logan’s healing is transferred to him. Mariko however, uses Logan’s claws like daggers to disable her grandfather, allowing Wolverine to use his natural bone claws to defeat the Samurai. Succumbing to his encounter, Logan has another encounter with Jean. She asks him to stay, but now believing he has a reason to stay alive tells her No. A few days later, Mariko is made CEO of Yashida industries and bids a sad farewell to Yukio, and then Logan who she wants to stay, still having feelings for him. Yukio decides to stay with Logan as his bodyguard and they both depart.

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The Wolverine has an interesting story and setting. It’s not like other Super Hero movies in that there is some great villain with a devastating plan to conquer the universe. Even more strangely it’s a very different setting as compared to other films in the X-Men film series. What has been founded about the other films in the series is that the main plot characteristic that flows from one film to the next, even if it’s not the main plot, is the story of Mutant’s fighting for freedom from a world that hates them. The Wolverine does make mention of this, but not all the time. Neither does it contain an arch super villain. It’s rather grounded and surrounds a group of characters which are all anchored down by one other. The setting and story of the film is that of Logan having to live with something he has done. The Death of Jean Grey, something that he was directly responsible for, but because of his feelings towards her and that he did it for a reason, not in cold blood, he is finding it hard to live on by himself, and being immortal he has no choice but to do that. So what happens? He gets dragged into a very different world, one that wants him, for something he knows nothing about. It’s not that he has walked into it, but rather, it wants him. What keeps him there though is an interesting idea. He doesn’t necessarily need to remain there, he doesn’t even want to, but something happens to him, that causes him to stay. This then explodes in your face and a story gets told, and a plot unravels as something is definitely going on, but then behind that, there is something even more sinister. It eventually wraps up but with a change to our protagonist. This plot then, like mentioned before is not a stereotypical, or common story as in it does not follow its predecessors, but is more a personal story line surrounding one character and how what he does affects those around him. It’s a really interesting story.

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I like how the film has kept its characters down to just a few. The Wolverine features a stellar cast of predominantly Japanese actors while also including others of different backgrounds and includes well known characters and the actors who have played them previously. It’s not without its casualties however. Harada and Noburo stand out in particular. Noburo seems like a comedic character on purpose; a light relief for the audience in what is rather an intense film. He just does not seem to serve any major purpose rather than A: to be made fun of and B: to offer some direction for the characters to follow as things begin to unravel. Brian Tee has done an excellent job though from what he has been given to do. Harada on the other hand is a complete mystery. I just don’t know what to say about him. He is played well again, and is an interesting character to look out for; I just think more explanation could have helped, including why he changes his mind in the end. What is his purpose for doing what he is doing? On the plus side he is interesting and adds a mystery depth into a film that goes from a theme of political and corporate corruption, into a story about genetics and desire for immortality. One plus The Wolverine has over X-Men Origins: Wolverine is that it hasn’t tried to desperately include well known, maybe even legendary or iconic characters from the Comic series. In Origins it tried really hard to include well known faces and enemies such as Gambit and Emma Frost, but it just didn’t need some of them. The Wolverine on the other hand really only introduces roughly one new character, and all the others are pivotal to the story and are featured in the story. OK, I have not read the Wolverine comics the story is based on, but it has strived to not bog the audience down in introducing seemingly pointless characters. I am of course talking about Dr. Green. I have no real knowledge of this character or her place in the comics, I do however really like her. She is an interesting blend of a comic style super hero like villain, but also possesses the brains to concoct a plan, like a true villain. She like many characters is a mystery, but one that grows to become the films secondary antagonist. She is Sinister, and like many a good villain possesses powers that are both deadly, and prevent her from being killed. She is very much a villain that you love to hate, one that you can’t wait to see defeated, but are not disappointed when it feels like the moment is never going to happen. Alongside her is of course series regular Jean Grey. While she does not appear in a physical sense, more rather being a hallucination, she does give the story and Logan in particular a sort of grounding. Something for him to deal and come to terms with. Her appearances arrive at the right time too, a sort of stand in to think about what is going on.

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It’s probably fair to say that the film has more than one villain. In fact it has lots, but while some work together, there are those who work on the other side. What am I talking about? Well, Shingen. Shingen is a very selfish character. A rough man who shows no real affection for those around him and only thinks about himself, something that is stirred on by the desire for the control of Yashida Industries. He is the films first virtual hurdle as he is the reason for the Yakuza’s involvement and becomes a video game like first boss. He is nowhere near pleasant and much like the film’s other villains is not a man you show the least bit sympathetic towards. While this could be initially seen as more his upbringing and view towards Logan, it begins to be seen that little bit more as time goes on. Once he has been dealt with though, it’s time to face the stories real villain. Yashida is the reason for Logan being there, he is the reason for everything bad that has happened so far. It all leads to one climactic battle with Logan. Taking on the persona of the Silver Samurai, Yashida uses it to finally attain what he has wanted. While he starts out as an old man and seems rather thankful and pleasant, his real motives come quickly, but he is able to mask them behind a sort of reasonable idea. He then disappears as he is believed to be dead, but the moment he is revealed to still be alive is a great shock, a big surprise. It’s the film’s ultimate Plot Twist. His transformation into his younger self is near seamless and the way he talks is just magnificent. He has such a sinister voice that provides for me, one of the most memorable quotes in the entire film (“Hold on… We are almost there!“).

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The Wolverine does something that I don’t feel like I have been able to do with the other film’s in the series so far, that being I feel like I can actually for once connect with the character of Logan. In the past he has been a narrator, a supporter, practically everything to even a cameo, but for the first time, I feel like I am able to just connect with him. I once read a quote (trying so hard to find it while writing this, I think it’s from Blake Snyder’s book) which said that film was about a person changing from who he starts off as. From the moment it begins, it’s about Logan living an existence he just wishes would end. A never-ending cycle of death around him done to those he loves. He just can’t live like that anymore and just gives up. As the film goes on; this stays pretty much the same until his relationship with Mariko really takes off. He begins to see more about himself and those around him. He begins to discover new things and realise that life is not what he sees it as and as the film reaches its dramatic conclusion; he has gone from a man who wishes not to live anymore to someone who has found reason to continue living. You feel for him, you journey with him, you experience with him. Such a brilliant character that until now has only just scratched the surface, revealing a character that is more than meets the eye. Something that has always been there, but now has come to light.

TW9

Which brings us neatly round to Mariko and Yukio. Let’s start with Mariko. Mariko is the granddaughter of Yashida, and the un-wanting heiress to his company. She very much does not want to get involved, until Logan shows up. It’s around her that the films really begins to kick off as the struggle for control of such a powerful company revolves around the one who is about to get it. Her relationship with Logan starts off rather awkward but leads to a relationship between each other. She is a character that begins to bring out the good side of Logan, one that has been hidden for quite a while. He begins to leave his shell; much like Mariko begins to leave hers to become the film’s brightest star. On the side though is Yukio. Someone who doesn’t have a shell, someone who presents herself as whom they are from the moment they first appear. She is quick to build a relationship with Wolverine as a guide and friend, someone he knows he can trust. She cares greatly for him, but thinks of Logan as nothing more than a friend. She is very protective and caring for Mariko too as they both sees each other as sisters. The screen time these two shares is unlike anything the series has presented so far. Here we have two extraordinary characters played by two fantastic actresses. They are very different in persona with Mariko being more like an adult, and Yukio possessing traits that are more teenage like. Mariko is rather vulnerable, while Yukio is not afraid to fight. But while they are different, they are both nice and pleasant. They have no real flaws to make them seem mean or horrible and from the get go you care greatly for them. They possess a real on-screen presence that can’t be forgotten, and you don’t want to neither. While I have said over and over again in previous that some characters/actors are really enjoyable; these two stand out more than most. Two fantastic characters I can’t get enough of. There has been no announcement about whether or not they will be appearing again in the future, and I think it will be really sad for the characters not to be revisited or invited. I can’t state enough how enjoyable these two characters are. They are two such special characters, played by two terrific actors, ones whose portrayal I don’t want to forget. Two of the best and enjoyable film performances I have seen of any film.

Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima

There is one other character though I just have to mention. While this is more setting than character, much like how London can be a character, so can Japan. I love Japan, I have never been, but out of a list of things I want to do, go to Japan is right up there. The Wolverine makes great use of shooting such an amazing country. While there are some terrific set pieces like the Yashida residence and facility, Japan as a setting is the best bit. From the night lights and inner city shots of Tokyo, to the panoramic views of Tokyo (even shots of the city at night in the rain). Like across the river at the Yashida Residence, or the view from the hills showing that while it is a colossal city, it still has boundaries and when looked at from afar, can be such a beautiful sight. But it’s not just Tokyo, Nagasaki is beautiful too. Add to this the cultural life of those who live there, the food (which I really want to eat when I see it), the beliefs, the mixture of modern and the past, just everything is so spectacular that I can’t get enough of what I am seeing. Much like how a character is not just what you see, Japan is not just a setting, but a character too.

Tokyo

Much like past films in the series, The Wolverine uses a spectacular amount of Special Effects, possibly more than those before it. While films like First Class and Last Stand in particular use shots and moments of large things being moved like a Submarine and a Bridge, the effects used in The Wolverine are more up close and personal, such is the tone of the film. It has its big moments like the effects of the Silver Samurai, to moments more close up like Wolverine with a Sword in his stomach. These effects all look incredibly realistic. It’s closer up and personal effect means more can be seen in terms of detail. Because of this extra level of detail, a lot of the films effects look more overly polished and finished, making them stand out more in comparison to the other films in the series. Particular effects I think are definitely worth looking out for include The Dropping of the Atomic Bomb in Nagasaki; to the Bear that Logan knows. Not to forget the films set pieces too. While these are small in number, that is not to say that they are bad or terrible. The film’s final battleground, that of the Yashida Laboratory is particularly superb. There is another kind of effect too, that is the films numerous actions paced and intense fight scenes. All beautifully choreographed and presenting a contrast between fist and sword fights, to elements of parkour to a fight on top of a moving bullet train/Shinkansen. While the fights are slowed down and more visible in the final fight, they are no means bad in comparison. All the fights in this film are amazing and remind me of such fight scenes as in Ong-Bak and The Raid 2.

TW7

Something though I feel a bit lacking is the Soundtrack (composed by Marco Beltrami). In the past I have mentioned how the soundtrack in the series is known for standing out and being memorable. But even now as I write I am finding it tricky to think about it. I can remember some bits and bobs like the fights in Tokyo and Nagasaki, the drive back to Tokyo, the outer exterior of the facility and the final fight with Yashida. But it’s only really the film’s end credits theme that stands out. Something that sounds heroic with a cultural style woven in. It makes me think a little bit of the ending of Jurassic World. The way that the film is just a constant inventiveness that ends on a theme that is absolute calm. One that in a way is telling you to breathe. The Wolverine’s end credit does this by having something that is just calm and feels like an end, a good one.

Altogether, The Wolverine is a magnificent film; one of the series most standout moments. Containing characters that you will both love and hate from start to finish and tells a story with nearly an unending number of plot twists that don’t leave any loose ends. It’s a standalone film, that’s one thing that is so good about it. It’s a film that doesn’t necessarily require any previous knowledge or understanding in order to enjoy it as it is all provided for you here and now. It’s a film that you can just pick up and play. I really do recommend this film; it has something for everyone and is so well constructed and written that there is plenty to get your steel claws into. It’s a story filled with Political and Corporate Corruption, Desire, Greed, Lust; but also a film about forgiving ones self, finding a purpose as well as more importantly, friendship, love and compassion. I really want to watch it again, right now.

GENEPOOL





Top 10 Films of 2014 – Part 1

18 03 2015

Film Reel 2014

When I stopped doing the Sam’s Rant Film Awards a few years ago; I did so under the point that coming up with a list of films for several different categories was just a bit tiresome. In the end I just wanted to get round to saying what my Top 5 Favourite Films of the year were. So from 2013 onwards I decided to just do a simple Top 5 post to do just that. 2014 though has brought up a rather big issue. During the year I keep a count in my head of what my Top 5/10 films of the year were; in 2014 though, there was the colossal issue that the year had a fantastic selection of films to choose from, with me in the end watching more than 5 films and loving more than 5 films. It felt like choosing a Top 5 list only was wrong as there was soooo many good films and a lot of them deserve mentioning. So this year I am doing a Top 10. Ordering them was hard as on one occasion two very different films I considered being as good as each other, it was after watching one again I was able to split them. Some films were a massive surprise and ones I put up high on the list, while others that I had not seen in a few months had to be put in a position depending on how I enjoyed the films when I first saw them. In the end though I was able to work it out.

Dinosaur 13 (CNN Films - 2014)

There are some casualties though and I would like to make special mention to 3 other films which I really enjoyed but not as much as the ones in this list; those films being Interstellar, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Dinosaur 13. Also, like last year and 2012, only films that were released in the UK during 2014 apply for a spot in this list, so sadly I can’t include AKIRA which I saw a few months ago, and loved, and cannot get the soundtrack out of my head. As like previous years I will put the following films in descending order, so starting with number 10 and whatever is at number 1 will be my favourite film. OK, that’s all the formal stuff, so now onto the fun stuff. Don’t forget; feel free to comment, Like, and Rate the post too. So without further ado; here are my Top 10 Favourite Films of 2014.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon Movies - 2014)

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The heroes in a half shell returned to the big screen this year in a big way in what was a combination of CGI MOCAP and live action. The heroes basically end up getting discovered by plucky reporter April O’Neal and then end up having to fight for their own existence. Personally I was expecting more from this film, I thought that this would be in my top 5 looking at clips and the trailer beforehand, and while I did really enjoy it, I thought it was a bit quick with several scenes going from point A to point G and generally thought that there could have been more. Either another foot clan attack, or having the skyscraper battle prolonged by having them fight their way upstairs, (sort of like The Raid), but this is a kids film so there can’t be too much violence of course. On the upside though, the main cast were all terrific especially the characters of April (Megan Fox), Splinter (Danny Woodburn and Tony Shalhoub), Raphael (Alan Richtson), and The Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) looked terrifying. We also got the brilliant elevator/lift scene too.

Divergent (Lionsgate - 2014)

9. Divergent – To be honest, I did not see Divergent coming. The first time I heard about it was when I went to see Catching Fire and was given a little supplement which had the word Divergent on it. When it was coming closer to it being released, I had a little look at it and then decided to go and give it a try (it was either that or Muppets Most Wanted). I saw it, and really enjoyed it. I liked the setting of the world, the ideas of it and it had some really good points of action, even before everything gets screwed up for the main characters. Shailene Woodley was brilliant and I thought Zoe Kravitz was terrific too. While it wasn’t as good as other films to be released during the year, I really do rate this film. If you haven’t seen it, give it a try; you might be surprised.

The Lego Movie (Warner Bros - 2014)

8. The Lego Movie – When I heard that a Lego film was coming out, my first instinct was “Oh Dear”. I just thought it was going to be ridiculous, stupid and just wasn’t going to work. Then the reviews started pouring in, and the more and more I heard them I wondered if I should give it a try. So I went to see it with my Mam, and really did enjoy it. I thought it was absolutely hilarious. It took things from other films and genres and made them silly. From terrific moments to brilliant characters, especially Batman (Will Arnett). Batman was the best thing about this film; he even had his own theme music. Pretty much, every scene he was in, was hilarious and everything he said was comedy gold. The film’s main theme; Everything Is Awesome was fun too. Basically put it was just a very fun film (for a while I did have this at joint position with Divergent; and then I watched it again). Let’s just hope that Bionicle gets featured in the sequel.

The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli - 2013)

7. The Wind Rises – I had waited a long time to see this film. I have not seen Spirited Away, or any other film by Studio Ghibli or Hayao Miyazaki, but I want to, even more after seeing The Wind Rises. The story of a young man who just wants to make good airplanes. Just one catch, the only people interested in airplane production at the moment is the military. What in a sense is mostly a love story between a young man and woman, and a young man and his aircraft designs; the film tells a story of the characters and the love for humanity. But that’s not all, the film also tells a story of pre-World War 2 Japan with the main character going on to design the Mitsubishi A6M Zero (while it has been fictionalised a bit it is based on the life and work of Jiro Horikoshi). What was generally a nice film overall, and a really pleasant experience, I loved the film’s story, characters and setting from the first minute to the last. The films ending credits theme was also rather sweet. An absolute lovely, brilliant film.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (20th Century Fox - 2014)

6. X-Men: Days of Future Past – I had been waiting a long time for another X-Men film. The last one (not including Wolverine spin-offs, although The Wolverine was terrific) being in 2011 and then 2006 before that. When Days of Future Past was finally on its way, I was really excited, almost more than most films due out in 2014. I was particularly excited about the addition of the original trilogy’s cast; as well as the tandem with the cast from First Class alongside some new characters from the comics including the mighty Sentinels. What is more of a double sequel to both Last Stand, First Class and The Wolverine in some respects, and based on the X-Men timeline of the same name; Days of Future past was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I enjoyed it from start to finish and was really happy to see the old cast return alongside the new. Also back was the theme tune (remixed a little) from X-Men 2 in the opening titles, which I thank Bryan Singer a lot for bringing back. Altogether it’s good to know that while other comic book and graphic novel adaptations may waver, X-Men is around to provide us all with Good Films.

GENEPOOL (The normal Top 5 List should return to normal next year, as there are only 7 films I am really looking forward to this year).





Top 5 Films Of 2013

15 01 2014

Film Reel 2013

2013 has passed, and what a year it was for great films. We have seen visions of the Future, Conspiracies, Super Heroes, Monsters and Amazing Adventures and with the passing of the year, it is time to take a look back at the films that impressed us, the audience the most. So here are my Top 5 films of 2013.

The Wolverine (20th Century Fox - 2013)

5. The Wolverine – Upon first hearing about The Wolverine I was a bit worried that it was going to be nothing more than a bad sequel to a bad film. It wasn’t. Based on the comics of Wolverine (not just the comics), The Steel Clawed hero ventures to Japan to visit a man who owes him a debt. However, the feral hero soon finds himself in the middle of something more than just a mafia turf war. Hugh Jackman returned as the title hero that helped make him the actor he is today, in a film that became one of the best comic book films to date. easily better than any Avengers film and the best Marvel film since X-Men: First Class. Alongside a great cast of characters and other lesser known X-Men characters mixed with the sights and sounds of a brilliant country and action to back the film up, The Wolverine is The Comic Book film of 2013.

Welcome to the Punch (Momentum Pictures - 2013)

4. Welcome To The Punch – In between all the big action blockbusters of 2013 is what could be considered by some as a small film. A film that nobody could see coming, and they didn’t, even I didn’t……….until I saw the trailer. While I initially forgot the name of the film, it looked brilliant and the mention of Ridley Scott as the Executive Producer sparked enough to get me interested, and thanks to the film’s lead actor appearing on Top Gear, reminded me of the film’s name. Welcome To The Punch is a proper British Action Cop film. Starring James McAvoy and Mark Strong it follows a London Detective as he is trying to pursue a man he was unable to catch several years previously, it is not until he finally confronts the man that he discovers a major conspiracy within the ranks. While it maybe an independent British Film, Welcome To The Punch is a film that shouldn’t be ignored. One of the film’s major points is that of actress Andrea Riseborough who gives an amazing performance as James McAvoy’s aide. With great action scenes and a plot that you will find gripping and intense backed up by a great cast including David Morrissey, Welcome to The Punch deserves its spot as one of the best films of 2013.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (StudioCanal - 2013)

3. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Easily the funniest film of the year. instead of just being a cheap comedy film made only for the sake of making money, Alan Partridge is a piece of clever comedy with truly laugh out loud moments, I think the last time I saw a film at the cinema that made me laugh out loud was Tropic Thunder. Steve Coogan resurrects his fine comedy creation brilliantly as the former TV Presenter is forced to go enter a hostage situation being run by one of his colleagues. With jokes every minute and moments that make you want to call for a break just to calm down and with a great supporting cast including Simon Greenall, Colm Meaney and Anna Maxwell Martin, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is a proper comedy film and the best one in years.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate - 2013)

2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – The Sequel to the Best Film of 2012. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire brought me back into a world that had impressed me since the first instalment, but this time I had read the book before hand. While the first film (as the book) shows more of a perspective of what is going on in the current moment with the characters, Catching Fire goes on to say what happens next as well as explore the world of The Hunger Games. All the regular cast from before return to amaze the audience again. Of course the lead in this film no doubt is Jennifer Lawrence, but all the others give a great performance that cannot be forgotten including Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth and the legendary Donald Sutherland. With Great moments of both the humankind nature and action that is easily on par with the more action orientated films, backed up with a great story from one of the best book series to date, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a truly Great Film that will have you pining for more, Guaranteed.

Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures - 2013)

1. Pacific Rim – In my opinion, Pacific Rim is pretty much the Perfect film if it wasn’t missing one key ingredient. Pacific Rim tells the story of humanities struggle in dealing with a race of Giant Monsters called Kaiju, they do this by building Giant Robots called Jaegers to fight the monster threat. In what could be considered in many ways as a tribute to the Japanese Kaiju genre that both inspired and created the idea of it, Pacific Rim is a Monster Movie taking those influences and adding its own spin to it and creating moments that will not be forgotten. Splendidly directed by Guillermo Del Toro and starring Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi and Idris Elba with a brilliant soundtrack provided by Ramin Djawadi and visuals that rival Jurassic Park in terms of both Beauty and Scale, Pacific Rim is a titan of a film and possibly the fore-seer of Monster films to come. The Best Film of 2013.

GENEPOOL





Top 10 Most Exciting Films in 2013

21 01 2013

2013

Just like I did last year with a list of my Top 10 Most Exciting Films in 2012 I have brought the list back to talk about (in brief) the films I am most looking forward to this year. Now it was hard to come up with a list seeing as when I looked through the release schedule, there appeared not to be much of interest. while there are films like Man of Steel which does have Christopher Nolan in a producing role I am not really looking forward to it. Much the same as the new Star Trek Film, to be honest I have not seen the previous one and am not really interested in Star Trek. I recently had a look at the 2012 film Cloud Atlas which gets released in the UK this year, but after watching the trailer I am not so sure. As far as I see it, the films in this list are the only films coming out this year which are worth watching, quite depressing really, but compared to what is being released in 2014, that could be for the Best. Don’t think though that all these films are going to be Pants, the following films in this list are here for a reason, because they look Good.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013 - Studio Canal)

10. The Alan Partridge MovieAlan Partridge in a Movie? That’s correct. This could either be really bad or the funniest film this year, who knows but we will find out very soon.

Seventh Son (2013 - Legendary Pictures)

9. The Seventh Son – Based on the best-selling book; The Spooks Apprentice by Joseph Delaney this film sounds interesting. I started reading the book a few months ago, it is quite hard to continue when you are reading 4 books at the same time but from what I have read, this could be a surprise hit (and this is coming from the person who did not see The Hunger Games coming, and loved it). What’s more is that the setting of the books is based around my home county of Lancashire and my home town of Lancaster is also mentioned. This is already sounding Fantastic.

The Wolverine (2013 - 20th Century Fox)

8. The Wolverine – While the previous film was not so Good, this one is looking exciting. Not only that it is connected to the X-Men films which are by far the Best of all the films Marvel have produced to date.

Iron Man 3 (Marvel Studios - 2013)

7. Iron Man 3 – The next film in one of only a few Marvel films that can rival the mighty X-Men films (but still not triumphant). The new film will still star Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow and will have the Mandarin as the villain. While looking awesome the trailer in some way does look a bit like The Dark Knight Rises.

Elysium (2013 - TriStar Pictures)

6. Elysium – Don’t be fooled by the District 9 Poster, it’s just a poster has yet to be released of this incredibly exciting film. From the Director of District 9; Neill Blomkamp comes a film set aboard a man-made space station. Do you need to know anything else, it’s made by the same bloke who did District 9, lets leave the rest until the film comes out.

Thor: The Dark World (Marvel Studios - 2013)

5. Thor: The Dark World – The sequel to one of the best films in 2011. Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Idris Elba return to star. It’s just a shame that Kenneth Branagh does not return to Direct.

47 Ronin (2013 - Universal Pictures)

4. 47 Ronin – Based on a Japanese Legend this rather unknown film stars Keanu Reeves and a whole cast of Japanese Actors. While being produced by Universal Pictures this is a Japanese Period Piece so that means it has Fantastic Potential to be Truly Great.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013 - Lionsgate)

3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – The sequel to the Fantastic Hunger Games. Based on the book of the same name the film sees Jennifer Lawrence return along with most of the cast from the original. I am currently over half way through the book of Catching Fire and if the previous film is anything to go by, the film will follow the plot line of the book to the letter, something Lord of the Pants could not do, which makes The Hunger Games an even more superior film, anyway. Catching Fire gets released this year.

Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures - 2013)

2. Pacific Rim – With one year to go until a year filled with Monster Movie’s it is nice to see a Monster Movie coming out this year. From the visionary Director who made Pan’s Labyrinth comes this Monster Movie inspired by Japanese Kaiju Films (a genre which includes GODZILLA). The film is supposed to come out in July of this year, which also means that when this film comes out it will be less than a year until the Legendary Pictures Godzilla Film. The trailer looks Fantastic, and the film as a whole looks Fantastic.

The Host (Showbox - 2006)

1. The Host Sequel – While the idea of a sequel to The Host has been talked about for a while now, a few weeks ago I did see a possible clip from the upcoming film. So I hope this is real because the Sequel to one of the Best (NON-GODZILA) Films will be Fantastic to watch.

GENEPOOL








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