We’ve looked at the first X-Men trilogy, but before we get to Dark Phoenix, we’ve still got a few prequels to go, starting with Origins.
RELEASED: May 1st 2009 DIRECTED BY: Gavin Hood WRITTEN BY: David Benioff & Skip Woods PRODUCED BY: Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter, John Palermo & Hugh Jackman MUSIC BY: Harry Gregson Williams STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Lynn Collins, Taylor Kitsch, Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool, Will.i.am, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan, Daniel Henney, Tim Pocock, Tahyna Tozzi & Patrick Stewart
Unfortunately for 20th Century Fox, the first time they tried to venture away from the main series of X-Men films and provide some backstory to their characters also resulted in the worst film of the lot (that includes Dark Phoenix, in case you’re wondering – I’ll do a ranking later).
Dark Phoenix is out today, and who would have thought that ten years on it would end up being the worse adaptation of the ‘Dark Phoenix Saga’. But I’m getting ahead of myself; we’ve still got a few films to get through before we analyse why that is exactly, but for now, let’s take a look at Fox’s first attempt in the much maligned The Last Stand.
RELEASED: July 14th 2000 DIRECTED BY: Brett Ratner WRITTEN BY: Simon Kinberg & Zak Penn PRODUCED BY: Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter & Avi Arad MUSIC BY: John Powell STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammar, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, Ben Foster, Daniel Cudmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Dania Ramirez, Eric Dane & Patrick Stewart
After the heights of X2, The Last Stand sees the franchise handed over to director Brett Ratner, and sees the introduction of franchise stalwart Simon Kinberg. The result is a film that is often regarded as one of (if not the) worst X-Men films.
After mankind develops a so-called ‘cure’ for mutation, the X-Men find themselves split about how to move forward. Meanwhile, Magneto begins forming a mutant army to strike back at the U.S. Government for their effrontery, and may find a powerful ally in the recently resurrected Jean Grey, who seeks to unleash her true potential as the Phoenix.
I don’t know whether its because I’ve now seen what I consider to be a worst adaptation of this same story, nostalgia, or if it’s actually not awful, but I don’t think this film is as horrible as everyone says it is.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a good film. But there’s fun to be had with it.
Continuing our run-through of the X-Men film series, today’s review is of X2, or X-Men 2, or X2: X-Men United. Whatever you want to call it. The second film in the X-Men franchise from 2003.
RELEASED: May 2nd 2003 DIRECTED BY: Bryan Singer WRITTEN BY: Zak Penn, David Hayter, Dan Harris, Michael Dougherty & Bryan Singer PRODUCED BY: Lauren Shuler Donner & Ralph Winter MUSIC BY: John Ottman STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Bruce Davison, Rebecca Romijin-Stamos, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Brian Cox, Kelly Hu & Alan Cumming
After the defeat of Magneto in the first movie, X2 returns audiences to Charles Xavier’s school for Gifted Youngsters, where the X-Men find themselves under attack by mysterious men with a link to Wolverine’s past. With race-tensions at an all-time high, the X-Men must stop Magneto and Col. William Stryker and their plans to wipe out humans and mutants, respectively.
It’s strange to think about now, but at this point in the X-Men franchise, the future still seemed promising. X-Men was an enjoyable film with an interesting visual style, if a bit lacking in character development. X2 greatly improves things on that front, and while central X-Men like James Marsden’s Cyclops still get the short end of the stick in that regard, other characters, like Wolverine, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Iceman and to lesser extents Storm, Jean Grey and Mystique, finally get their time to truly shine. You come to really appreciate these characters as characters beyond their abilities to display cool looking superpowers.
The final film in Fox’s long-running X-Men franchise*, Dark Phoenix, is hitting cinemas soon. And while I’m a bit behind, it’s still a good excuse to go back and review the various X-Men films.
*And yes, I know there’s also New Mutants, but until its a certainty that that film is actually coming out, then this, for all intents and purposes, is the end.
RELEASED: July 14th 2000 DIRECTED BY: Bryan Singer WRITTEN BY: David Hayter, Tom DeSanto & Bryan Singer PRODUCED BY: Lauren Shuler Donner & Ralph Winter MUSIC BY: Michael Kamen STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Bruce Davison, Rebecca Romijin-Stamos, Ray Park, Tyler Mane & Anna Paquin
In the near future, two outcasts, Wolverine and Rogue, are drawn into the conflict between the heroic X-Men and the villainous Brotherhood, who are fighting to decide the fate of mutants relationship with a human race that hates and fears them.
Looking back at these early films, they’re a far cry from the superheroics we’re used to in the modern day. They seem quite quaint now, both in the scale of their storytelling as well as the way they’re produced. Unlike modern day blockbusters like Endgame, which features space and time-travel and giant purple men, X-Men instead takes time to focus on more human issues and decidedly smaller thrills like basic superpowers and the occasional blue person.
I’ve decided to play through Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu once more, this time with a more varied team and to a more complete degree. But after watching the movie Pokémon: I Choose You, there are some things about the original Pokédex that I feel need updating.
While the movie is predominantly set in Kanto, it clearly is set in a world that includes all the other regions created since the first generation, unlike Let’s Go, which mostly operates in its own bubble. Because of that, some of the Pokémon that appear (or rather, don’t appear) doesn’t really make sense, because later generations have gone on to introduce further evolutions or pre-evolutions of those Pokémon. Furthermore, the fact that you play as new characters (Chase/Elaine) with a new rival (Trace), and can meet the player characters from previous games (Red/Blue/Green) means that this is clearly set some years after, when this increased number of Pokémon would be common knowledge (in-universe).
As such, I’ve decided to go through what the Kanto Pokédex seen in the Let’s Go games should look like, considering where it fits in the timeline:
We’ll get back to John Wick at some point, but for now, a much more pressing matter has come up: the final season of Game of Thrones…
RELEASED: April 14th 2019 – May 19th 2019 SHOWRUNNER: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss WRITTEN BY: Dave Hill, Bryan Cogman, David Benioff & D. B. Weiss DIRECTED BY: David Nutter, Miguel Sapochnik, David Benioff & D. B. Weiss MUSIC BY: Ramin Djawadi STARRING: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Liam Cunningham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Gwendoline Christie, Conleth Hill, Rory McCann, Jerome Flynn, Kristofer Hivju, Joe Dempsie, Jacob Anderson, Iain Glen, Hannah Murray, Carice van Houten, Richard Dormer, Ben Crompton, Daniel Portman, Bella Ramsey, Vladimir Furdik, Pilou Asbæk, Anton Lesser, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, Gemma Whelan, Tobias Menzies & Lino Facioli
In the final season of Game of Thrones, the Stark forces in the North, led by Jon Snow, Sansa Stark and Arya Stark, come together with the foreign legions of the ‘Mother of Dragons’, Daenerys Targaryen, to fight the Night King and his forces of the Undead in the ‘Great War’.
However, even with abysmal prospects ahead of them, Daenerys still has her eye on travelling south to King’s Landing for the ‘Final War’ against Cersei Lannister, where she hopes to reclaim the Iron Throne for the Targaryens. However, the revelation that Jon Snow is secretly the son of her brother Rhaegar Targaryen and Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna means that she is no longer the one with the greatest claim to the throne…
You’ve probably heard by now, but this season hasn’t gone down all that well with the majority of watchers. The reasons have been discussed online ad nauseam, but I’m going to discuss them again anyway because they’re pretty crucial to reviewing this season.
“People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer, but yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.”
RELEASED: October 24th 2014 DIRECTED BY: Chad Stahelski WRITTEN BY: Derek Kolstad PRODUCED BY: Basil Iwanyk & Erica Lee MUSIC BY: Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard STARRING: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Laurence Fishburne, Peter Serafinowicz, Peter Stormare & Franco Nero
Unlike John Wick: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 seems to be just as good as I remember it being. While I will admit that some action sequences are better in the first movie, as a whole, the quality of the second film remains consistently high across all fronts.
For one, the action sequences are more bountiful and varied – you have car action, hand-to-hand action, gunfights, pencil fights, knife fights; the whole shebang. All of it is excellently choreographed, and while there are some action sequences that feel slightly repetitive; I suppose it makes sense that a dedicated assassin would have his go-to movies.
Chapter 2 opens with John Wick finally tracking down his car from the first movie, and finishing off the rest of his Russian rival’s forces. However, after inflicting so much carnage, John gets a visit from an Italian crimelord whom he owes a favour, and who has come to collect now that John is seemingly back in the game. Forced to take on a job he doesn’t want to do – one that will have dire consequences – John must once more take a whole lot of lives so that he can return to retirement.
The main problem with the first film was perhaps the script. Fortunately, the script for Chapter 2 seems to have improved greatly, despite being written by the same man, John Wick creator Derek Kolstad. Here, the dialogue is less awkward and more flowing, and John gets to develop his personality a bit more. The world he inhabits is further fleshed out, and the result is a fascinating and different action film to those that have come before. Whereas Chapter 1 had hints of this, it mostly centred in on the tired ‘practised killer, out for revenge after the death of a loved one’ trope, and while, of course, that can be done right, Chapter 1 just hit the same beats and relied heavily on its action spectacle.
Chapter 2 manages to create its own world that’s worth exploring, with interesting characters and an interesting plot and then heaping Stahelski’s excellent action back on top.
There are some great performances here; Common, I think, being the highlight for me, and Ian McShane’s Winston once again standing above the rest. Reeve’s Wick is less hammy this time around and feels more genuinely burdened as a result.
I’m not sure what exactly has changed here, seeing as Chapter 1 co-director David Leitch wasn’t credited on the first film and didn’t contribute to directorial duties at all on the second film, but his disappearance seems to make all the difference. Furthermore, if you look to his projects post-Wick (Deadpool 2), one can’t help but wonder if he was dragging the project down slightly.