Monday, March 13, 2017

LOGAN: A Popcorn for One Review

A pretty good way to say goodbye to two characters and two actors who helped make the X-Men franchise so popular.  Both Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine) and Sir Patrick Stewart (Charles Xavier/Professor X) say they are walking away from the roles they have become so identified with.  In the case of Jackman, these are the films that pretty much made him a star.  Of course, there have been rumors that he might decide to put on the claws once again to do a cameo in the second DEADPOOL film, but I don't believe that has been confirmed as yet.

The X-Men films have played fast & loose with time and their own continuity for a while now.  To be honest, you really don't have to have seen all the other films to understand this one.  There is even a small bit that implies that not everything we thought we knew was necessarily as it happened. Indeed, there is little reference to the other mutants who followed the Professor, except for the mentioning of an incident in the past where Xavier may have used his abilities, causing the death of the rest of the team.  Both Charles and Logan are ill, their hope is to get enough money so that they can purchase a boat and get out of the country.  Meanwhile, a corporation that has been experimenting on children in order to create a new race of mutants, is searching for one child in particular who has escaped.

Jackman and Stewart are the focus of the film and their relationship has become reversed, with Logan caring for the aging Charles, whose power has become hard to control, unless he is constantly being medicated.  The adamantium which was injected into Logan to make him into Weapon X is now poisoning him.  His ability to heal is becoming less reliable as time goes by.  Both men know their time is limited, but Charles has a secret.  He is waiting for the child, known as Laura (played remarkably by the young Dafne Keen) who has a link to Logan of which he is unaware.

Sort of a dark, 'road picture' with the two actors and their young companion attempting to get to safety and perhaps finally get that boat.

I don't want to give anything away and the trailers give you a taste of what you are in store for.  It is indeed deserving of an "R" rating, since Logan and others reveal a ferocity only hinted at in earlier films.  The only negative I can admit to is that there is a bit of a drag in the second part of the film, so a bit of editing could have taken out maybe 5-10 minutes without effecting the film badly.

Oh, and to save you the time, there are no post credit scenes so you can pack up if you don't normally stay through the lists of accountants and animal wranglers.  You might want to get there a bit early though, as there is a DEADPOOL teaser before the film begins.  Also, if you are anything like me you might bring a tissue or two.

Monday, February 06, 2017

MANGAMAN - A Graphic Novel Review

Writer Barry Lyga has created some wonderful characters and a great story. What if a boy from a world that looks and acts like a manga somehow came to a reality much like ours? How would he or could he fit in and what happens if he falls in love with a girl from this world? Ryoko was a teenager growing up in a world of speedlines, kaiju and giant mecha. When a warp opens he finds himself on a world where the physical restraints are quite different. However, he doesn't follow those new limitations. Marissa was the most popular girl in high school, dating the most popular guy, but one day she decides that it isn't enough. When the two meet it isn't a surprise that some folks, including her parents, aren't too happy about the situation. Also, the government is a little concerned that the kaiju that can also travel through the warp might decide to visit. I can't think of an artist besides Colleen Doran (A Distant Soil) who would have been a better choice. She not only brings her beautiful style to the characters of this world, but brilliantly captures the look of Ryoko and his world as well. I don't think you have to be a manga fan, or even a comics fan to enjoy this story of romance and tragedy.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - A Popcorn For One Review (Possible Spoilers)

I might accidentally throw in a SPOILER or two without meaning to, depending on how much attention you've already paid to the trailers, early reviews and rumors that preceded the release of the film.  I'm not going to give away the ending or the fates of the characters, so with that warning we can get down to it.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is the first of the stand alone films that tie into the SW universe, but are not part of the trilogies that make up the Skywalker legacy, if you will.  To be honest, if this film is going to set the pattern for future ones it does seem to help to be somewhat familiar with what is already canon in the world created by George Lucas and others.  This film, especially, assumes you have seen or have some knowledge of the prequels (Revenge of the Seth) in particular. Also, it does set up things we already know from SW: A New Hope, as Rogue One pretty much leads directly into that film.

In the years following events in RotS the Empire has tightened it's grip on just about everything and everyone.  A fledgling rebellion is forming among many worlds and the Emperor desires a weapon that will inspire fear and crush the spirit of those who will not yield.  Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) was one of the most brilliant engineers working for the Empire until he left with his wife and child to become a farmer.  When the Empire's own scientists are unable to complete work on the great weapon, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is sent to retrieve him. When Galen refuses his wife is killed and his daughter, Jyn goes into hiding until rescued by Galen's friend, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker).  Saw raises Jyn for years until he leaves her to find her own way.  The older Jyn (Felicity Jones) has spent the following years as a petty thief, so when we first see her she is imprisoned by the Empire and being sent to a penal colony.  At this point she is rescued and ends up in the hands of the rebel alliance, who want her assistance in finding her father.

As you can see from the trailers she soon becomes actively involved in the rebellion and eventually takes part in an attempt to retrieve the plans for the Death Star, which may contain information that will aid in its destruction. 

That's if for plot points since I don't want to give away too much, but all the above you pretty much get from the TV spots and trailers already released.  There are a few surprises, including characters we have seen in the prequels and in the original trilogy.  We also finally get an answer to something that has been bothering some fans since the very, first film came out and has not been answered (at least in the films) up until now.  It has actually become something of a joke among even casual folks familiar with the SW story.

I can't say that RO ranks up there with SW IV - VIII, but I enjoyed the film, despite some weaker moments.  As other reviewers have said the early parts of the movie have some wonderful scenes, but there is also a lot of time introducing a pretty large cast and filling us in on things most of already know.  I'm still not sure how I feel about the CGI recreation of some characters, although it was done brilliantly in the case of one of them.  We also get to see Darth Vader in action and it becomes evident why he was so feared in the earlier movies. The final third of the film leads up to the action we have been shown in the trailers and the battles themselves.  This is indeed a 'war movie' taking place in the SW universe, making the fights we have seen in previous films pale in comparison.

I'm giving the movie a solid "B" throughout and ending in a "B+" thanks to the final battle and it's outcome.  Not a perfect film, but any means, but the folks involved have shown that you can continue the SW saga even without the major players we've grown up with.


Just quickly I want to mention that it was nice to see a decent number of trailers before the movie began and these were well chosen.  I've seen more than my share of movie previews that seem ill-fitted for the audiences waiting for a particular feature.  Here, however, the trailers were all for SF and super-hero films which fit in perfectly.  Not sure if what you'll see are different, as I saw the movie in a Regal theater and other chains may play others.

What I did see were:  LOGAN (an X-Men related film and possibly Hugh Jackman's final one as Wolverine. One I want to see.); PASSENGERS (an SF film with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence); TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (which interests me as much as the others I have never seen); SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (the first solo film in the new Tom Holland led franchise of that character. A must in my book.); THE MUMMY (another attempt to create a Universal monster universe, this time with Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, plus a female mummy. Action looks good, and Cruise can do that well, but the scenes of the mummy remind me too much of the Enchantress character in Suicide Squad so this may continue to bother me.); PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEADMEN TELL NO TALES (to be honest I gave up after the second film and this looks something only a PotC fan would care about);GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOL. 2 (the only trailer that got a noticeable and positive reaction from the audience and the theater was almost full. I think everybody in there seemed excited about this movie.)

That does it for me until the next time.

Saturday, December 03, 2016