Tag Archives: Hugh Jackman

Logan

logan_2017_poster

Since the first X-Men film 17 years ago (17!), I’ve been a huge fan of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. And it’s not just me, as his popularity with the fans have seen Jackman appear in 9 different films across the X-Men universe. Now as Jackman prepares to hang up his claws we are promised a Wolverine solo movie that will put the others to shame. But can Jackman’s Wolverine end on a high?

It’s 2029, most of the X-Men are dead and no new mutants are being born. Wolverine spends his days drinking and working as a limo driver looking after a senile Professor X (Patrick Stewart). When he’s forced to take care of a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), who’s being chased by bad guys, Logan is forced into one last adventure.

Have you ever seen Wolverine in a movie think ‘what I really want to see is him older, drunker and really, really violent’. Then you’re in luck as Logan is the film for you! From the start this is a very different Wolverine movie to what we’ve seen before, more brutal, more sombre and surprisingly with a heavy emotional weight. Oddly enough this is one trilogy that does the opposite from what most movie trilogies achieve, in that they get better with each film. Not only that it’s one of the best comic adaptation and not just for an X Men movie. It may be because Director James Mangold takes inspiration not just from the Old Man Logan comic but also from Westerns, Shane in particular being a huge influence while there’s also hints of Children of Men and even Mad Max. It’s as far away from the quips and yellow spandex universe as you can get. In this near future we get to see Logan as we haven’t seen him before and it really allows Jackman to show his acting chops and emote in a way we haven’t witnessed him do in this franchise.

As for the supporting cast there’s no weak link. Teaming Logan with a kid could have been a disaster, instead Dafne Keen is a revelation. This girl will be one to watch. Then there’s Patrick Stewart in what is rumoured to be his last turn as Professor X. It’s great to see different sides to his character then what we’ve seen in previous films. This Professor X is much more frail but still potentially as powerful as before. If this is his last time as Charles Xavier he ends it with the gravitas he deserves.

If the film has one flaw it’s that at 2 and a half hours it does feel long. In the middle stretch I really started to notice it. However for the majority of it’s running time there’s enough to keep you glued to the screen to make you forget how long you’ve been sat there. I must admit I had a little tear in my eye as the film came to a close.

Rating 4.5/5 – a beautiful swan song for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

I used to love watching the X-Men cartoon as a kid, so I’ve always had a soft spot for the mutants. Despite a few fumbles along the way (particularly The Last Stand and Wolverine: Origins), I’ve enjoyed the big screen version of the X-Men. But with time travel and a huge ensemble involved in this sequel will it be an epic adventure or an overloaded mess?

In the future robots called Sentinels are killing mutants. Things have gotten so bad that Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Professor X(Patrick Stewart) have come together with a small band of surviving mutants to try to set things right. When Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) is able to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time (it makes more sense in the film-kind of), he tries to bring together the younger version of Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender) to stop Mistique (Jennifer Lawrence) from making a terrible mistake that will affect all the mutants.

Ok first up the bad points. Anyone who reads this blog knows how much of a fan I am of Jennifer Lawrence. However this was not her best film. Not that she was awful but she looked like she bored the whole way through. It may be because her character Mistique didn’t have a powerful character arc this time around. Most of the time her character was just there to be in the middle of a power struggle between two men. Boring. I also didn’t understand how the character Kitty Pryde got the power to send Wolverine back in time in the first place. Maybe I missed something.

Thankfully there is plenty of good things in this movie. The highlight of which is Quicksilver (Evan Peters), one of the new mutants brought into the film franchise. He’s of particular interest because his character is appearing in both this movie and in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Based on what we’ve seen here, Marvel Studios have got their work cut for them trying to beat this version. Peters’ speedster Quicksilver has just a few scenes but his Quicksilver is funny and interesting. The sequence when we see things from his perspective as he speeds up and everyone slows down is brilliantly realised. The humour, the music, everything is perfect. I’m also glad they kept him to just those scenes as he could have been overused but instead it’s one of the memorable moments of the film.

Out of the future mutants I was really interested in was Blink (Fan Bingbing) and her portal creating abilities. I hope we get to see more of her. While it could have been mutant overload with the two timeline worth of characters sharing the screen, the film never feels messy and it easily flits back and forth between the two settings. There is also a lot of welcome humour amidst all the drama. Jackman’s Wolverine has a lot of the best lines and it’s always fun to watch him step back into the role. It’s also great to see both versions of Magneto and Professor X again, and we even get a scene where both Charles face each other for a pep talk.

Occasionally this movie drags a bit in between the action. However it tends to pick itself up again quite quickly. And I have to say I love the ending. The last few scenes are great and leaves you eagerly anticipating the next film.

Rating 4/5 – exciting, fun and full of action, in other words a great summer blockbuster

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Prisoners

Prisoners is an American thriller that tackles every parents worse nightmare and what horrors they are prepared to commit for the sake of their children.

After their daughters go missing during Thanksgiving, two families the Dovers (Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello) and the Birch (Terrance Howard and Viola Davis) are looking for answers. When Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) releases a suspect Alex (Paul Dano) due to lack of evidence, Keller Dover (Jackman) decides to take  the law into his own hands to find his missing daughter.

From the moment the girls goes missing the tension in Prisoners never lets up as we follow Detective Loki in his investigation and Keller as he conducts his own source of interrogation. The audience watches as Keller’s techniques to extract information from his prisoner escalates to the point that you’re not sure whose side you’re suppose to be on. The film doesn’t give you any easy answers instead posing a series of questions to its audience. If your child went missing what would you do to go them back? Would you resort to torture? Is Keller justified in what he’s doing? If Alex is guilty does that make Keller’s actions acceptable? Theres also the matter that Alex has the IQ of a ten-year old, so can he be held responsible for anything he may have done? It’s a tough watch, and although not particularly gory, there is some serious violence  and threat involved which makes for uncomfortable viewing.

The cast that has been assembled is incredible. However at times it feels like the female cast members are a bit wasted. Viola Davis at least gets a few meaty scenes to get her teeth into (and anyone who saw her stirling work in Doubt knows that she only needs one scene to grab everyone’s attention). Maria Bello fares less well, with her character mostly drugged out by grief for the majority of the movie.

The male cast fare better. Howard is great as the reluctant father pulled into Jackman’s schemes although his character does get sidelined as the film gets closer to the end. Dano is brilliant as main suspect Alex, able to turn from creepy, to vulnerable and childlike within the same scene. The standouts however are Gyllenhaal and Jackman. Both are men are desperate to find the girls using very different means. Jackman’s performance in particular is mesmerizing, both men deserve to be showered in awards come the Oscar season, whether Prisoners is too grim for the voting committee is another matter.

What makes Prisoners such a good  thriller is that is can raise these serious issues about morality and tell an engaging story at the same time. You are kept on edge the whole way through, hoping some kind of happy ending can be salvaged somehow among the darkness.

Rating- 4/5 -an uncompramising thriller about the horrors people do featuring fantastic performances from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal.

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The Wolverine

Hugh Jackman is back with the latest in the X-Men franchise and the second of his stand alone films. Surely it has to be better the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine? As it really can’t get much worse.

The Wolverine starts with our hero isolated and alone with only his dreams about his dead love Jean for company. Then he is approached by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant girl who can forsee people’s deaths. Logan once saved her employer Yashida’s life many years ago and wants to thank him on his death bed. Once in Japan Logan finds that Yashida wants to do more than thank him as he offers to take away Logan’s immortality and live a normal life. Things get more complicated when mysterious men try to kidnap Yahida’s grandaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto)  and her and Logan end up on the run.

First things first. Yes this movie is so much better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The story is base on the comic mini series Wolverine by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller and the change of location to Japan helps rejuvinate the Wolverine. Logan is placed in a country where he relearns about respect and honour and finds his purpose again.

The Wolverine is more of a personal stand alone story. There is some references to Jean Grey and other parts of the X-Men franchise but  rather than the mutant overload in Origins, Wolverine  himself is the main focus of this story and doesn’t get overwhelmed by a mix of new characters.

Some audiences may want a bit less brooding and personal discovery and more action but I think this film does a good balance. There is a great chase scene through Japan’s streets and nail biting sequence on top of a train. It helps that this film feels like there is something at stake here. Logan has been made vulnerable due to Viper’s meddling so there is a sense of threat that hasn’t been there before, every wound he gets will slow him down which could have fatal consequences.

The supporting characters also feel like they have more of a purpose this time around. Rather than shoehorning in lots of characters from the X-Men comics the film is more selective. The female characters in this film are great. Mariko initally comes off rather passive and dull but she improves as the film continues and even kicks some ass as well. She also makes a good counterpoint to Logan. She is reserved and calm where Logan is full of anger and passion. She serves as a reminder that there are other things to live for in this world and of the good Logan can still do. Even better is Yukio, who manages to be a badass and be the fun sidekick to Logan’s surly hero. She also brings an emotional edge as her power is to forsee other people’s deaths.

Svetlana Khodchenkova as Villianess Viper is campy and fun, with a bit of a grusome body hrror when she starts peeling off her own skin. Although I liked Will Yun Lee as Kenuichio Harada, an old friend of Mariko and deadly with an arrow I felt he was underused and his character not explored enough.  

Considering it is so much better than Origins it would be easy to forget the film’s downsides but they can’t be forgotten. First off it’s eays to figure out who the villians are. The main twists of the film can also be worked out pretty quickly. Although the film’s climatic scenes are good they also go a bit over the top and jar a bit with the rest of the film.

However while it may not reach the heights of Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel, it is still a fun blockbuster with a great performance by Jackman. Japan seems to suit the Wolverine well so lets hope he manages to make more visits back East.

Rating 3.5/5-A vast improvement on Origins, which is all I could have hoped for.

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Les Miserables

I came out of seeing Les Miserables an emotional wreck. I wasn’t expecting the film to hit me this hard. After all everyone’s singing –it can’t be sad right?

Very wrong.

The basic plot of Les Miserable starts in 1815 when prisoner Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is set free after nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread. When he breaks his parole to start a new better life for himself under a new identity he is followed by Russell Crowe’s Javert who is determined to bring him to justice. Years later Valjean’s life crosses that of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) and her daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen and later Amanda Seyfried) changing his life forever.

It’s astonishing that Tom Hooper is not nominated for Best Director at this year’s Oscars. The scale of this film is immense and he handles an all-star cast and the extravagantly detailed sets with aplomb. Anyone else might have let the grandness of this film overwhelmed the film itself, Hooper manages to keep everything in order and produce a fantastic film at the same time.

As the film is set in three time periods it appropriate that there’s three actors who stand out in each time period.

In the film’s first section set in 1815, Hugh Jackman is amazing as Jean Valjean. When we first see him he is thin, haggard, a prisoner whose been barely treated like a human for nineteen years. His desperation shows throughout his face and his transformation from petty criminal without hope to a well-respected man with a new sense of dignity and responsibility is convincingly portrayed. He thoroughly deserved his win at the golden globes.

Speaking of golden globe winners-best supporting actress Anne Hathaway steals the second part of the film based eight years later.  Although she is barely in the film Hathaway makes a huge impact. Her character’s Fantine’s fall from grace is harrowing and Hathaway bares it all in her performance. Fantine is broken and has given up everything for the love of her child. It was a risk for Hooper to make the cast sing live on film, rather than in a recording studio but it pays off when you hear the emotion and despair in her voice during “I dreamed a dream”.

The last part of the film takes place nine years later. It’s here where newcomer Samantha Barks (from tv’s I’d do Anything) stands out against the Hollywood heavies acting beside her. It helps that she played Eponine in the west end. As lonely, hopelessly in love Eponine she conveys much more feeling and emotion than the bland love story between Marius (Eddie Redmayne) and Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) does. Her song of unrequited love for Marius in “On my own” shows her impressive vocal range whilst pulling tightly on your heart strings. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor girl.

It’s fair to say that Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks break my heart in this film.

However the film is not without its flaws. It does feel too long at times, where the story seems to drag. I didn’t feel emotionally connected to the story of Cosette and Marius (mostly because I cared about poor Eponine instead). Also Russell Crowe doesn’t have the strength in his singing voice that the other actors do, although it’s not as bad as others may have you believe, but he does struggle with the singing but then that is the risk in letting all your actors sing live. However he acts the part well and is an intimidating antagonist to Jackman’s Valjean.

These points however don’t get in the way of a heartbreakingly, emotional film full of terrific performances.

Rating 4/5

Tears, young love, unrequited love, death, a man on the run and a student uprising-the film packs a lot in its 158 running time, but it wasn’t a disappointment.

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