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Posts Tagged ‘Logan’

It’s that time of year again, my top ten favourite films of the year.  A really tough choice, my top five came easy, I then had a short list of twenty to choose from for the final five.  From a criteria point of view:  All films were released, and most importantly seen by me in the UK in 2017. 

  1. Blade Runner 2049: I am getting predictable.  Two years ago Sicario missed out on my top movie of the year by the smallest margin to Mad Max.  Last year Arrival took the top spot. Back in 2013, Prisoners made my top ten.  It is therefore no surprise that a Denis Villeneuve tops the tree again.  What is a surprise, is that my favourite film of the year, is one I didn’t want to be made. As a lover of the original Blade Runner I just didn’t want them to mess it up.  Far from it, the film is both excellent in its own right, and takes the original movie and its concepts in an interesting direction. Blade+Runner+2049-1
  2. The Handmaiden: Chan-wook Park’s second appearance on the list after Stoker took top spot in 2013.  His adaptation of Sarah Waters novel Fingersmith sees the setting change from Victorian England to Japanese occupied Korea.  The film looks amazing and has a plot that twists and turns in a most satisfying way.The Handmaiden
  3. Baby Driver: Every generation has a new movie about a getaway driver, Baby Driver is up there with the best thanks to a fantastic concept.  The car chases are the best I have seen in years, the soundtrack is killer.  The thing that sets it apart is the way the action is cut perfectly in time with the music.  The music becomes a character in itself. A film that could have disappeared in its own style and sheen turns out to be nothing short of amazing.  Baby Driver
  4. Free Fire: Ben Wheatley’s costume drama goes back to a more innocent time, well not exactly; 1978!  It is essentially a single location shoot ’em up  B movie set during and after a failed arms deal.  The outcome is violent but also highly amusing.  Clocking in at a brisk 90 minutes, it’s a movie a many filmmakers could learn a lot from.Free Fire
  5. Dunkirk: Christopher Nolan is yet to make a bad film.  Dunkirk looked like it would be his most conventional story to date.  The structure of three stories told over three different periods of time makes it far from conventional. The tension never lets up and is only enhanced by the lack of CGI and the imposing score.  The structure enhances rather than confuses the film.  The photography is nothing short of stunning especially when seen on IMAX. Dunkirk
  6. Atomic Blonde: Imagine if John Wick looked like Charlize Theron and was a spy in the last days of the Cold War, that would give you an idea of Atomic Blonde.  The miracle is how you make a movie like that work.  David Leitch, stunt man/coordinator and half the team behind John Wick has done it. Based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City, Theron finally gets her perfect and iconic character.  There is a little more plot than the movie needs but the action is great and it looks amazing.Atomic Blonde
  7. The Death of Stalin: Armando Iannucci made an interesting choice with his cast using a mix of British and American accents in this story of the power struggle in the days that followed the titular death of Starlin.  Farce and satire in equal parts, with a really dark undercurrent, the risk pays off, it is brilliant and hilarious.  The best comedy of the year. the death of stalin
  8. Logan: Finally a Wolverine movie worthy of the character from the comic books.  More violent than anything else we have seen from the franchise.  Within the confines of a comic book movie it is also far more realistic and grounded than usual.  Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are both fantastic in parts they have grown into in the seventeen years since the first X-Men movie.Logan
  9. Personal Shopper: After a fantastic supporting performance in director Olivier Assayas’ previous film Clouds of Sils Maria, Kristen Stewart returns to star.  A haunting film the seeps into your psyche.  Not as good as Clouds of Sils Maria but Stewart is sensational.Personal Shopper
  10. Get Out: A clever race satire dressed up as a horror/thriller.  Far more intelligent and subversive than many have give it credit for.  Best of all it is tremendous fun.Get Out

 

 

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After a gap in proceedings last month I finally caught up on Moonlight and Fences, the last two Oscar contenders I had missed.  Making up for lost time I also saw another dozen movies: 

Logan: Finally a Wolverine movie worthy of the character from the comic books.  More violent than anything else we have seen from the franchise.  Within the confines of a comic book movie it is also far more realistic and grounded than usual.  Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are both fantastic in parts they have grown into in the seventeen years since the first X-Men movie.

Logan

Trespass Against Us: Family crime drama set within a traveller community.  Michael Fassbender again proves to be one of the best actors working today.  Brendan Gleeson has fun with the more showy role.

Trespass Against Us

Moonlight: Had I seen this before all the hype I would have probably declared it the best small independent film in years.  As good as it is, and although I wouldn’t argue with its Oscar win, I have seen films in the past year that I prefer.

Moonlight

The Great Wall: As stunning to look at as you would expect from Yimou Zhang.  The story is silly beyond belief but is entertaining and fun.

The Great Wall

The LEGO Batman Movie: The follow up to The LEGO movie is essentially a Batman spoof and not a LEGO movie.  Ultimately it is good fun with the jokes coming thick and fast.

The LEGO Batman Movie

Kong: Skull Island: Shortly after the end of the Vietnam War a group of scientists and soldiers go in search of the titular giant ape.  Uneven and disjointed but always fun.  Not a patch on the 1933 original but better than most other attempts to update the story.

Kong Skull Island

Viceroy’s House: Essentially the Cliff Notes of Lord Mountbatten and Britain’s Withdrawal from India.  Entertaining and informative but lacking any great depth.

Viceroy's House

Fences: Denzel Washington’s movie adapted from August Wilson’s play.  Fantastic acting but the film fails to escapes its theatrical origin.

Fences

Free Fire: Ben Wheatley’s costume drama goes back to a more innocent time, well not exactly; 1978, an arms deal goes wrong resulting in a violent but often amusing shootout.  Clocking in at a brisk 90 minutes, it’s a movie a many filmmakers could learn a lot from.

Free Fire

Personal Shopper: After a fantastic supporting performance in director Olivier Assayas’ previouse film Clouds of Sils Maria, Kristen Stewart returns to star.  A haunting film the seeps into your psyche.  Not as good as Clouds of Sils Maria but Stewart is sensational.

Personal Shopper

Get Out: A clever race satire dressed up as a horror/thriller.  Far more intelligent and subversive than many have give it credit for.  Best of all it is tremendous fun.

Get Out

Life: Is there life on Mars? Scientists on the international space station examine samples from The Red Planet and find that there was Life on Mars.  Engaging, largely thanks to a likeable cast but without the grit or originality of Alien.

2219634 - LIFE

Power Rangers: Surprisingly not terrible.  Most of the film is a teen drama that is clichéd but not dull.  The robots hitting each other ending is as bad as anything Transformers has to offer.

Power Rangers

Ghost in the Shell: Like action remake of Mamoru Oshii’s seminal 1995 cyberpunk manga anime.  It looks amazing and Scarlett Johansson is brilliant perfectly playing a charter who is literally uncomfortable in her own skin.  Unable to transcend its manga and anime origins it is a little cold but texture is added by Clint Mansell and Lorne Balfe’s fantastic retro future score.  If that hasn’t sold it to you, to top it all off, it also features Takeshi Kitano.

Ghost in the Shell

Not every film I saw this month where great, but I enjoyed them all in some way, even the weaker ones.  When you strip away the also ran’s we are left with five contenders for movie of the month.  You could argue that Moonlight is the best film this month but it isn’t the movie of the month.  Did I truly love Personal Shopper or did I just love Kristen Stewart’s performance? Get Out is the cleverest and probably most relevant movie of the month and is so close, but not the movie of the month.  Logan was my movie of the month right up until I started writing this last paragraph, I can’t get beyond the simple sublime brilliance of the movie of the month: Free Fire. 

Free Fire movie poster

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2009 X-Men origin: Wolverine was a mess; it suffered from too many characters and an incoherent plot.  Previous X-Men movies have handled the character well revelling parts of his mysterious back story in flashbacks and exposition.  An origin story is just that, taking the character back to the origins and exploring how he became the charter we know.  With the back-story out the way how does a second Wolverine movie stand up?the-wolverine

Set some time after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), haunted by the death of Jean Grey, Logan (Hugh Jackman) has dropped the moniker Wolverine and is living a solitary existence in the woods.  He is tracked down by a young woman whose employer is keen for him to visit Japan.

A notably better movie than Origins or The Last Stand but it still lacks the magic of the other X-Men movies.  The most notable thing about the story is the scale and subtext.  While the X-Men movies are concerned with global issues and have social subtext, The Wolverine is concerned with a story more personal to the character and subtext (if there is one) that is more existential. This helps the movie survive on its own merits away from a big franchise.  There is enough exposition to allow a newcomer enjoy the movie without being bogged down with the back-story.  The Wolverine

The mutant level is also kept to a minimum with just a couple of other “gifted” characters.  These include the villain, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), who like lots of other characters in the movie are based on characters from the comic books.  We get a version of Mariko (Tao Okamoto) Yukio (Rila Fukushima) and Silver Samurai, comic book purists may not like them, but they do work within the context of the movie.  Viper is well used both orchestrating the henchmen and getting involved with the action herself, although her first appearance in a movie she seems very familiar, coming across as a combination of Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) from Batman & Robin (1997) and Typhoid Mary (Natassia Malthe) from Elektra (2005). As with the comic book character she is based on Viper goes back to the traditions of the early days of the comic book villains she dresses in green.  She is interestingly the only character in the movie who dresses in what can be described as a comic book costume. Viper and Mariko in the wolverine

The action scenes are well handled when they involve Logan fighting with sword or claws but fall down when CGI gets involved.  A case in point is a fight seen on a bullet train, there are elements of it that are really good but others that are ludicrous.  This kind of sums the whole film up, some of it works some of it doesn’t.  The final showdown could have been better but it does neatly tie up the story and leaves us wanting more.  As you would expect for a comic book movie, there is a “stinger” a short way into the credits.  Without spoiling it too much I will say it appears to relate to the forthcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).  For the first time in an X-Men movie they have managed in the one scene to achieve what the Avengers movies do, creating excitement for the next film.Rila Fukushima

Although different in tone the movie does fit in with the other movies in the series with one exception: Unless I am missing something, there is a huge continuity error, Logan lost his memory towards the end of Origins (it appears to be 1979), and yet in the present day he appears to have memories of 1945.  As mentioned in a previous article, we still have more than 20 years of Logan’s life that is unaccounted for between the end Origins and his first appearance in X-men, so there is lots of space for another stand alone story. 

It doesn’t always feel like an X-Men movie and it is flawed, but it is largely a fun and enjoyable.  It has its charms and some great moments marks a great improvement on Wolverines other solo outing.

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