Tag Archive: arts


The X-Men series has come under a lot of criticism in it’s time despite the critical success that X-Men, X2 and X-Men: First Class has enjoyed. So if three of the five films have gone down well then why do fans of the X-Men continue to be critical of the series?  A lot of the criticism comes from the messed up continuity of the franchise and if you look hard enough you will find plenty of issues with the continuity throughout all five films; X-Men: The Last Stand came under fire for ruining a lot of hard work that Bryan Singer had set up in the first two instalments and X-Men Origins: Wolverine upset fans by just not being very good and ruining Gambit, a character that fans had wanted to see on screen for far too long for him to just be dismissed like he is.

So when The Wolverine was announced to be yet another film focussing on the escapades of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine the news was met with less than positive response on internet forums. Yet this week, finally, The Wolverine is connecting with fans and getting people actually hyped up due to one little quote that director James Mangold made to Empire magazine. Mangold won fans over by saying “Where this film sits in the universe of the films is after them all, Jean Grey is gone, most of the X-Men are disbanded or gone, so there’s a tremendous sense of isolation for him”. Everybody was assuming The Wolverine would be another prequel because it is set in Japan (the storyline from the comics in Japan happened before Wolverine met the X-Men) and now it appears that everything we thought about this film was untrue.

Everyone wanted a sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand and it seems as though The Wolverine could be the closest thing that we see to this. With this being a sequel it also gives the opportunity for former characters to return to the franchise. Returning characters was hinted at with the other prequel titled Days of Future Past but it seems that maybe fans were misled and Patrick Stewart’s and Famke Janssen’s comments about returning to the franchise could have been meant about The Wolverine rather than Days of Future Past. I, for one, would love to see some of the old characters return and it might be able to give an explanation to what happened to Cyclops, explain Professor X’s return and feature more of Angel perhaps. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this will happen though because the film will be set in Japan.

One of the main things that has been hinted at is that Wolverine would set up the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters and whilst this would be a very touching moment for the character and could set up some more stories for future X-Men you can’t help but feel this SHOULD have been done before the prequels of First Class came into existence. It seems as though The Wolverine will be a stand alone film and you have to hope it will be because right now there are too many strands of the same franchise going on:

X-Men prequels – First Class, Days of Future Past

Wolverine Prequels – Origins

Original X-Men timeline – X-Men, X2, The Last Stand

Wolverine sequels – The Wolverine

That is four different strands of the same franchise and you can see why so much confusion and continuity errors will be made! However, James Mangold says that he wanted to set the film in the timeline so you imagine he will try to stay true to events that have already happened. Mangold has been hit (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) and miss (Knight & Day) in his career so far but hopefully The Wolverine will be a hit! Regrettably, hopefully The Wolverine will be the last we see of Hugh Jackman too and the X-Men franchise is finally brought together and made simple once again.

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Last year FOX released X-Men: First Class and up until release nobody really knew whether it was a reboot or a prequel to the original X-Men trilogy. After it’s release and the cameo appearances from Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn still nobody knew whether it was a reboot or prequel and that continues to be a mystery as anticipation for the sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past grows with speculation that characters from the original X-Men trilogy could be in line to make a surprise return to the franchise, something which the Days of Future Past storyline from the comics would allow.

In Marvel’s comics the Days of Future Past storyline became one of the most successful X-Men titles of all time and, along with the Age of Apocalypse and House of M, is a storyline that all X-Men fans have wanted to see on the big screen. The story switches from present day to a future where the X-Men failed to stop Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from killing Senator Kelly; in the future mutants are a dying breed as the United States are ruled by Sentinels with the mutants placed in internment camps. The present day (or past) X-Men are forewarned about this by the future version of Kitty Pryde whose mind travels back in time into the body of her younger self.

Obviously there are a few characters missing if this was to take place; both Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers both had large parts to play in Days of Future Past in the comic books yet neither appeared in First Class and Rachel Summers hasn’t even been hinted at at all throughout the history of X-Men films. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem as the 90s cartoon version of X-Men portrayed this storyline with Bishop taking on the Kitty Pryde role, although Bishop is another character yet to make it to the big screen. However, Patrick Stewart has hinted recently that he could reprise his role of Charles Xavier and so perhaps there is a chance there to make Professor X the centre piece with Stewart’s older character finding a way to contact his younger self played by James McAvoy.

Famke Janssen has also hinted that her character could return to the X-Men continuity (which is already a mess if you want to get into the nitty gritty details, FOX really haven’t even tried to make it all add up to the correct answers) and this shouldn’t be a surprise because, yes she may have been killed by Wolverine in the awful X-Men: The Last Stand but she also ‘died’ in X2 and has died countless times in the comic books but she just keeps on coming back! I have to be honest and say that I would have really liked an X-Men 4 done properly after the travesty of The Last Stand, seeing what took place afterwards with Beast and Angel staying on at the mansion, the return of Professor X, what happened to Cyclops? It may have been poor in comparison to the previous two films but The Last Stand left ideas there for another sequel and I would like to see Cyclops, Storm and Wolverine all back on the big screen (that would also save us any more individual Jackman fuelled Wolverine efforts). But would it be right?

Obviously the storyline makes it possible for the older characters to return and continuity shouldn’t bother FOX as it never has done before but perhaps with the appointment of Mark Millar now as consultant on FOX’s Marvel properties he may manage to reign them in a little. Matthew Vaughn (director of First Class and producer of Days of Future Past) has previously stated that he only wanted to introduce one main character in the sequel and although he said that a very long time ago it would make this possibility of returning X-Men seem less likely, but would you really count the return of the original X-Men as an ‘introduction’ per say?

I would have liked to have seen an X-Men 4 and maybe a Days of Future Past film would be a good way to sort of make it happen and tie up loose ends for fans that want answers but if FOX have any sense I think they should stay away from this idea. The continuity has been tampered with too much and I think now is their chance to make First Class the real start of a reboot and cut all ties with the original trilogy. There are still plenty of characters they could introduce to still make the Days of Future Past storyline anything like the comics by introducing Bishop for example. The X-Men roster is always growing so there are countless ways to take this story.

What do you think?

Fanboys exist in all walks of life however it is a term most often seen associated with fans of comic books and comic book movies and this should come as no surprise as this group, despite being still looked down upon as nerds or geeks by a large number of people, are one of the most vocal about expectations of a film, especially on internet forums. This arises out of fear: fear of one of their most beloved characters or teams from the comic books that they have read for decades (Batman, X-Men, Incredible Hulk) will be ruined by a big screen adaptation because the wrong actors/actresses will be cast, the writer won’t know the source material or because things in the movie won’t be EXACTLY the same as they appear in the comic books. I would willingly describe myself as a fanboy, I kicked off (and still do) that in X-Men: The Last Stand Beast’s blue fur is part of his mutation, that Juggernaut is a mutant, that Juggernaut is not Professor X’s brother among many other things but I am not as extreme as some fans. An example being when Hugh Jackman was cast as Wolverine there was outrage because Hugh Jackman is a good foot taller than Wolverine’s comic book height; Wolverine went on to become synonymous with the X-men movie franchise and is, to date, Jackman’s most iconic film role. But that doesn’t mean that everything fanboys do is negative.

It is because of fanboys that these huge blockbuster films are possible; if the comic books never achieved a following in the first place then the characters would never have become known to mainstream audiences and would never have turned in to icons of the silver screen like they have done today. The characters owe their movie adaptations to these very fanboys. It is also these fanboys that will go and see films like The Dark Knight and The Avengers five, six or even as many as ten times! They’re passionate about what they love but if you do it right then you can win fanboys over forever, do it wrong and you will most likely be demonised and thought of as the spawn of Satan himself every time your name is mentioned.

Fans had every right to kick off when the might Galactus was represented as nothing more than a cloud in Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Among the majority of Batman films Christopher Nolan is held up as a God. He took their beloved Bruce Wayne and transferred his persona to the screen with all these very fine similarities to his comic book character without sticking directly to the source material. And if Christopher Nolan is God then Joel Schumacher is surely the devil; his camped up Batman & Robin with the infamous bat-nipples are often thought of a the worst comic book movies ever made. Other films to incur the wrath of the fanboy include X-Men: The Last Stand (as mentioned earlier), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hulk, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and one of the worst movies I have ever seen, Catwoman. Get them wrong and they can be really really horrible creations but if handled in the correct way a masterpiece can be achieved (see Iron Man, Batman Begins).

Whilst fanboys have their good parts as well as their bad points the real thing that annoys me about them is the rivalry between DC fans and Marvel fans. Of course, most of these people will watch films made by both companies and enjoy the characters. I read mainly Marvel comic books but I can sit and enjoy the Batman films more than some of the Marvel ones because I am a film fan most of all. But a minority of fans (we’re talking hardcore ‘Nolanites’ and ‘Whedonites’) will only see DC films or Marvel films (whichever they read) and will go out of their way to boycott the rival films, meaning that some pour souls out there have limited themselves to only seeing one of either The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers which are two of the best films I have ever seen, let alone of this year.

Two examples of internet memes created by Whedonites and Nolanites.

The extent of the rivalry should be put aside in favour of the huge spectacles that are brought to the big screen and while sometimes the fanboy community can go over the top in it’s dislike for a film, their passion should not be simply dismissed.

Pixar are responsible for bringing to life some of the greatest film characters of all time!

For years and years now Pixar have been one of the best studios in the movie business. Pixar have been turning out perfect films over and over again since their first feature length film back in 1995; that film of course was Toy Story. Since then Pixar have continued to make perfect films, some of my favourites including Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Wall-E and that’s not even mentioning Cars, Up, A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille or The Incredibles. It is plain to see that Pixar have a knack for creating real works of art with some of the best characters to ever grace the cinema screen. They have often been thought of, especially by me, as one of the best studios making films today because of their originality, their creativity and their lust to tell a story that hasn’t been told before on the big screen in a time where plenty of the biggest studios in Hollywood are relying on sequels, reboots, fairy tale adaptations and even origin stories for famous films. In other words, studios are getting desperate but Pixar always seemed like the bright spark within the industry but are they now turning in to just another studio?

Edwin E. Catmull – Co-founder and current President of Pixar Animations.

This week Pixar have announced plans to make a sequel to 2003 hit (and one of the best and most touching stories Pixar have ever told) Finding Nemo, to be directed by Andrew Stanton, the man behind the original film and Wall-E. This follows the news that there is development for a Toy Story 4 in the pipeline and of course next year a prequel to Monsters Inc called Monsters University will be released. There are also rumours that a sequel is in development for Pixar’s very own superpowered family The Incredibles. This follows the hugely successful Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 and the film seen by many as the worst Pixar have ever made, Cars 2. Obviously, film fans everywhere will be rejoicing at the fact that plans to bring Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mike, Sulley, Nemo, Marlin and Dory all back to the big screen because they are characters that were a huge part of so many people’s childhood and there will always be a sentimental connection towards those characters in the hearts of anyone who has ever watched these films. But are these proposed sequels bad news for Pixar and film fans in general?

The Toy Story franchise is a rare example of a trilogy where every film is of the highest quality, you can debate for days and days about which one is the best and why it is better than the other two but never will everyone agree. However, with Cars 2 it is the opinion of many that Pixar got it wrong; it didn’t really need a sequel and it wasn’t as good as the first one, it’s sort of a blotch on an otherwise stainless list of films in Pixar’s history. This means that if Pixar get it wrong with another sequel/prequel it could dampen feelings towards their much beloved characters.

Pixar’s feature length films have won a combined total of 11 Oscars and earned another 30 nominations!

Since 2003 Pixar have released a single film each year and it has done well commercially no matter what because Pixar is a name that will put bums on seats in cinemas, there remains no doubt about that. But with the news of the sequels it could signal one of two things: either Pixar is trying to follow suit of several other major film companies and milk the popularity of their characters for every last penny they can get out of them (something Disney are already managing to do with most of their character history) or rather more sadly, Pixar may just be running out of ideas. However, Pixar have said, although this was many years ago, that they would not consider making a sequel to one of their films if they couldn’t tell a story that was as good as the original, this suggests that a lot of hard work and thought will go into making these films but it will be a shame if this signals a slowing down in the creativity of Pixar because their characters have staying power like no others and everyone will be missing out if Pixar does indeed become ‘just another studio’.

Hanna is an American-European action thriller revolving around a 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin after she is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

Saoirse Ronan plays the sixteen year old girl at the centre of the movie and back in 2011 she was nominated for a number of awards, quite rightly, for her portrayal of the assassin. Right from the opening hunting scene you get a real sense of Ronan’s acting abilities and you know instantly that this is going to be a great performance from her. Hanna’s father, Erik Heller is played by Eric Bana and although he puts on a pretty convincing accent for his part in the film there is something very off putting about his on screen persona; this could be attributed to his character’s past but I think unfortunately it comes down to Bana himself (who I am not a fan of anyway after seeing him in The Hulk and being almost bored to tears watching The Time Traveler’s Wife). Cate Blanchett plays the villain pretty convincingly, she does seem like someone who you could really hate. And there’s a lovely moment where Jason Flemyng decides to pop up and inject a bit of humour into the film that is largely unexpected.

Hanna is quite a step away from what director Joe Wright is known for; he previously directed Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. His direction, however, is one of the most interesting aspects of the film. Every shot is clearly well thought through and the film just looks like a wonderful piece of artwork, the visuals are very very good. There is a sequence early on where Hanna, after thinking she has completed her mission, breaks out from where she is being held and her escape is so visually stimulating its incredible, the camera work, the effects: everything is detailed perfectly and it is a very fun sequence to watch. The film also has an underlying theme of fantasy and fairy tale (one of Hanna’s only forms of escapism comes in the form of a Grimm fairy tale book) and you really get a sense for that whilst watching. It’s not ‘in your face’ so much but when you notice it it really adds another layer to the film itself.

I would have liked to have seen more fight scenes and more action because at some times it did become quite dull and things seemed to take longer than perhaps they should have (Hanna’s friendship with the British girl she meets almost seems irrelevant) but when the action did take place and fights happened they were choreographed excellently. Eric Bana takes on four men in an underground car park type place and it is shot and fought really well. As for being a thriller it is good to see the seeds planted for the revelations at the end quite early on but I do think more back story would have been helpful to let the audience connect with the characters better.

Overall a very good film, the directing and the acting helps to overcome the sparse action sequences.

My Rating: 7/10.

Django Unchained is the upcoming western film from critically acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino. It is set for a Christmas release in the States and has a release date of January 18th 2013 here in the UK but so far, very little has been seen from the film. For a film that is already all but guaranteed success being a Tarantino film it is unusual that we have heard little of it; no trailer has been released and limited set photos and official photos have been seen but it is one of the films I am most looking forward to seeing in the next year and here is why:

The Story: Django Unchained is set in the deep south of America and follows Django, a freed slave who travels across America with dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Together, they try to retrieve Django’s wife from the charming but sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie and his band of ruthless slavers. It sounds like a good old revenge story, something which Quentin Tarantino has done excellently before with the wonderful Inglorious Basterds and possibly my favourite Tarantino film: Kill Bill.

The Genre: This is Tarantino’s first Western. Having dipped his toe in the action, crime, war and thriller genres he now turns his hand to this. The western is the oldest genre of film and cinema owes its heritage to the genre. However, recent westerns such as Appaloosa, The Assassination of Jesse James and 3:10 to Yuma haven’t been critical successes (despite the last two being brilliant films) and maybe the audience has grown tired with the genre as it offers nothing new really. Recently, sci-fi has taken over as the dominant genre of film in cinema but Tarantino obviously just sees that as a challenge.

 

The Cast: Regular Tarantino collaborator Samuel L. Jackson is on board (no surprises there) but in the main role is Jamie Foxx. Foxx seems to split opinion between film fans and it is obvious why, his back catalogue of films leaves a lot to be desired but he does have one Oscar win and another nomination to his name, proving that he does have the talent and Tarantino could easily get the best out of him.

Playing the villain of the piece is the phenomenal Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio started out as a young heartthrob but has developed into a fine actor and seems to get better and better with every film he makes; working with such a highly rated director could give DiCaprio the chance to win the Oscar he longs for. Playing the German bounty hunter is Christoph Waltz who, of course, won an Oscar for Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds where he put in a great performance and I think the same can be expected here. The supporting cast includes James Remar, Kerry Washington and James Russo, all well established actors themselves.

The Director: Everybody knows Quentin Tarantino and everybody on the planet should have seen at least one of his films during their lifetime. Ever since Tarantino made his directorial debut he has churned out success after success with Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds. He is yet to falter in the world of film making and so that pretty much nails success to Django Unchained. Everything that he touches turns to gold and, as a big fan of the Western genre, I hope he has the same effect here. His very unique style and love for action, dialogue and story make his films a delight to watch and Django Unchained should be fantastic!

Django Unchained comes out in less than a year, spot on for Oscar contenders and you have to imagine that this would be a tactical move by Tarantino and the studio. In the build up to its release we can hope for a lot of trailers and more pictures to be revealed soon which will almost certainly raise the hype for Django Unchained.

A LEGO Movie, Really?

For some time now a LEGO movie has been in development, that’s right, LEGO, those little bricks you used to play with when you were a kid, the ones that really hurt if you stood on them by accident, they’re making a film out of that. This week it has been announced that the film will be released in 3D on the 28th of February 2014. But why do this?

For years, the LEGO building blocks have been best sellers all year round in the toy department. They have already moved into the video game genre with the likes of LEGO Star Wars or LEGO Harry Potter. So why not try films?

I think that using LEGO to make a film could be something very interesting. It’s not a film about LEGO, it’s just a film with its own characters and its own story; the LEGO is just the material being used to make the film, just like the clay used in Aardman Animations films. This is just another type of animation and if it works on the big screen we may even get more films made in this style.

Apparently up to 20% of the film could be live action but the whole backdrop for the film will be LEGO. This includes any car chases or explosions, they will all be made out of LEGO. There have even been rumours that characters such as LEGO Harry Potter or LEGO Indiana Jones could pop up in the film.

Okay, so the idea of this may not sound very interesting at all to some people. But when you find out that the directors are Phil Lord and Chris Miller, directors of one of the funniest films this year and surprise hit 21 Jump Street, then that must intrigue the avid moviegoer a little bit. After coming off the back of two very successful films commercially, their other being Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, then there must be something in the LEGO movie that has them excited.

Nothing of the plot is really known yet and it will be some time before we get a glimpse of the film but this is something to ponder. Maybe it will be nice to have a new ‘style’ of film competing and who knows, it could turn out to be brilliant.

So it seems as though Michael Bay is on a one man mission to destroy the childhood of millions. First, he enraged a large majority of Transformers fans with his franchise that consisted mainly of blowing things up and now he has incurred the wrath of millions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans with his latest announcement.

At the annual Nickelodeon presentation producer Michael Bay said of the loveable Turtles in their new film: “These turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.”

Aliens?! The heroes in a half-shell are not aliens, they are mutants: Teenage MUTANT Ninja Turtles.

Seriously, what is Michael Bay’s problem?

I was looking forward to this film before the latest announcement. Changing the origin changes the whole story of the Turtles and the millions of people who grew up loving the green heroes tutored by a rat are set to be disappointed. And speaking of the mentor rat, Splinter, is he a mutant rat or another alien? Absolutely ridiculous!

This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film has been slated for a Christmas 2013 release.

The Turtles' last film outing was an enjoyable CGI adventure back in 2007.

Are 3D Movies Already Dying?

Despite numerous past attempts, 3D films have never really taken off in the past but since 2003(ish) there has been a resurgence of 3D films in mainstream cinema. There have been films made specifically for the purpose of being 3D and then films that have been shot in 2D have been transformed into 3D films and this happens with both live action and animated features. But is 3D really needed?

Avatar was praised hugely for the use of 3D

Two of modern cinema’s most successful directors have a different approach to making films in 3D. I am talking of James Cameron and Christopher Nolan. Cameron embraces 3D; his film Avatar became the highest grossing film of all time and that was made in 3D, whilst Nolan decided against using the effect on Inception and The Dark Knight Rises as, although he has seen 3D work well, he claimed it restricted what they were able to do. So that’s what the professionals think, what about audiences?

In 2010, 28 films were released in 3D and that number rose to 47 in 2011. However, takings for 3D films dropped by seven million pound despite more films being made in the format, showing that audiences were not going to see 3D films as much as they had been; something the studios have taken into consideration and the number of films being released in 3D this year (2012) is down to 33. Perhaps audiences have now experimented with 3D films and decided that they do not like them.

The final Harry Potter was the highest grossing 3D film of 2011, yet more people saw it in 2D.

So why are people not going to watch films in 3D? The price is one reason. Cinema ticket prices are on the increase all the time it seems and the price for drinks and popcorn is absolutely ludicrous. If you want to go see a film in 3D that bumps the price up by another two or three pound, therefore if you want a 3D film, a drink and popcorn you’re looking at spending nearly £15 probably to see a film. And if that film ends up being more like Clash of the Titans than Up then you’re going to feel more than a little bit ripped off.

Reason two: the really stupid glasses that everyone is forced to wear. Sure, they look better than the cardboard glasses you used to get with one blue lens and one red lens which made pictures seem 3D in magazines etc. but they are going to hurt your nose. Nobody wants to sit for two hours and feel like their nose is being crushed by these bricks you are forced to wear to enjoy the film in all it’s ‘glory’.

You don't need 3D to enjoy Woody and Buzz!

And finally, does 3D really add anything to the film? The films I have seen in 3D (Toy Story 3, Shrek Forever After, Thor, among others) have not really benefited from the technology. I’m not saying that the 3D didn’t look good, because it did, but I would have quite happily watched these films in 2D and still felt the same.

In my opinion, 3D was a scheme by studio bosses to try and make audiences fork out more money for the films as almost every decision made high up is about money. But audiences have now seen a 3D film or two and decided that they are quite happy with 2D without the intimacy this new effect offers. I could quite happily go the rest of my life without watching another 3D film. I know some people enjoy it and good for them, but I am yet to see a reason why it is needed.