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Wolfen

One from the Vault

41yzr9evhpl_ss500_I know this is based a book by Whitley Strieber but I have never read any of Strieber’s books so can’t compare it as an adaptation. I have heard this film named among werewolf films of the 80s but [SPOILERS AHEAD] it really isn’t a werewolf film. In fact it is difficult to categorise this film since it has elements of the creature feature mixed with what is an urban crime drama.

A wealthy businessman Van der Meer and his wife are brutally killed along with their driver in Battery Park, New York. The police chief Warren (Dick O’Neill) puts semi-retired detective Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) on the case. Dewey is an experienced cop but he’s rarely seen anything like this with the bodies torn apart and pieces missing. On the scene is Whittington (Gregory Hines) from the coroner’s office

They suspect a political motive in the murders. Van der Meer had a private security firm watching him and his driver worked for them too. They are able to trace everywhere Van der Meer went until he was killed.  Rebecca Neff (Diane Venora) is an expert in terror groups and fringe political organisations so Warren asks her to work with Dewey.

They don’t get anywhere with the political angle but that doesn’t stop them and the security company keeps at it while Dewey consults Whittington who can’t help identifying the murder weapon since he can’t find any trace of metal in the wounds. The body of a homeless wino is found in the rubble in a demolition site in the slums of South Bronx and though there is no obvious connection between the victims evidence from the body shows he was killed the same way. Dewey thinks this proves that the motive is not political.

Dewey and Rebecca visit the South Bronx site and are drawn to the remains of an old church. Rebecca climbs the bell tower to investigate a strange noise she thinks is like a baby crying but Dewey gets an urgent feeling of danger so he grabs her and rushes both of them outside. Rebecca asks what he thought was up there and he can’t really say apart from the glimpse of a pair of glowing yellow eyes.

Whittington finds hair on the body of the homeless man and they match hairs he found on the body of Mrs Van Der Meer. Hair expert Baldy (James Tolkan) eliminates humans as the source of the hair so they talk to Whittington’s friend Ferguson (Tom Noonan) at the zoo who identifies them as wolf hairs. Ferguson would have been my number one suspect but then I think that’s because I saw Manhunter and Robocop 2. Ferguson goes on about how wolves aren’t killers and how it is humans who are the savages. It’s a point of view held by many who seem to be overcompensating for centuries of abuse but events will prove him wrong.

Dewey knows there is something strange about the killings but he still thinks a human is behind them. In fact he wants to talk to a Native American construction worker Eddie Holt (Edward James Olmos) who has been jailed for violent activity for the Native American cause. Dewey has to climb up one New York’s massive suspension bridges to talk to Eddie [There is no way I would have gone up there. Those shots were stunning and terrifying]. Eddie knows what he thinks and plays up to his fears with talk of skinwalkers being able to take on the shape of an animal.

This is what Dewey actually thinks and he follows Eddie when he leaves his local bar. Eddie goes to the beach and strips off and starts some crazy running about like he’s possessed by a wolf. He comes towards Dewey acting crazy and frothing at the mouth. This freaks Dewey out at which point Eddie spits out the foaming tablet and laughs at his joke on Dewey. “I told you it’s all in the head,“  he says as he runs off.

The last part of the film Dewey is left with only the truth about the killers but the killers know that Dewey has been looking for them and they have to take steps to stop Dewey uncovering them. After Ferguson disappears and Whittington gets his throat torn out trying to get pictures of the killers, Dewey goes to the bar where Eddie Holt drinks and they tell him about how when modern man arrived and built cities on their old hunting grounds a pack of magic wolves adapted to the city and lived off those who fall through the gaps. The rich man died because he wanted to redevelop the slums where they hunt.  I id cringe at this stuff but giggled out right when Dewey calls them wolves and he is corrected that they are Wolfen which might impress the ignorant or the hippies but that is just German for wolves.

Magic wolves may seem a bit of an unfair way of describing them but that is the only way to explain ending. Dewey was in Van Der Meer’s penthouse putting everything together when Warren and Rebecca arrive with news that a group of terrorists are being blamed for killing Van Der Meer and they’ve all been killed. They found a wolf skin in their base which is good enough to explain the wolf hairs. So everything has been wrapped neatly for the authorities even if Dewey knows it’s all BS. They leave and when getting to their cars the wolves strike killing Warren and driving Dewey and Rebecca back into Van Der Meer’s building and up to the penthouse. Just when they think they are safe wolves smash in through the window. Dewey does not attack the wolves but instead makes a point of disarming and then as symbol of his understanding he smashes up the model of Van Der Meer’s redevelopment plans and after that the wolves disappear.

This film is one I often forget about. It didn’t spawn any sequels and doesn’t seem to have acquired a large cult following. It does have some of the typical simplistic romantic attitude of the evils of modern man and how he is out of touch with nature and his past and that is a sort crude them running through the story. The film does a good job of building up the tension of the presence of the killer wolves without actually showing them until the climax and I wonder if this is because the wolves just too adorable to show very often. It plays about with  audience expectations very deliberately when Dewey seems to be following up the skinwalker angle then laughs at us for taking it seriously. This may be why some misremember it as being werewolf film. The best thing about the film is Dewey and his dry morbid sense of humour and he is full of funny lines though the rest of the cast give back as good as they get. He comes across a bit like a grumpy Columbo and Albert Finney plays him perfectly. While it does get a wee bit preachy and pretentious and it’s a bit dated in its style, subject and pacing it is an enjoyable film.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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I Frankenstein

Bluray Pile

I Frankenstein Bluray 001This my second attempt to watch this film without falling asleep to give it a fair review then I can just forget it existed. This film is certainly not horror but is more of a fantasy action adventure film and in tone and colour palette is very similar to Underworld, which means very stagey dialogue interspersed with bloodless cartoon fight scenes and a sense that it’s up itself with its own importance.

The film starts right where the novel finished with Frankenstein dead and his creature (Aaron Eckhart) brings his body home to bury him in his family plot. That’s when he gets attacked by demons that seem to have escaped from an episode of Buffy. He kills some of them before getting knocked out and a couple of CGI gargoyles fly to his rescue, transforming into humans as they land.

Ophir (Mahesh Jadu) and Keziah (Caitlin Stasey) take him back to the cathedral to see their queen Leonore (Miranda Otto). After reading the text of the book they found with him Leonore realises what the Creature is and takes pity on him, naming him Adam. She explains to Adam the war between the gargoyles who fight for good and the demons who fight for evil and that he is being sought by the demon Lord Naberius. Leonore offers Adam shelter but he’s not interested though he accepts the offer of a free dip in their armoury and leaves with two demon killing sticks.

Forward about two hundred years to the present (I think, it is difficult to tell since the only real world event ever referenced is the publication of the original Frankenstein novel). Adam hunts down and kills demons in an alleyway but a policeman gets killed by a demon and this apparently is such terrible event that the gargoyles grab him and hold him prisoner.

We finally get to see Naberius (Bill Nighy) the lord of the demons as he supervises an experiment by a scientist called Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) who is trying to reanimate a dead rat and the experiment works. Naberius wants to know when human testing is happening and Terra claims that reviving a rat is simple! and that humans are so much more complex than a rat. That is just ignorant bullshit and I have been given no reason to be kind to the writer of this garbage.

Naberius asks Terra about what she thinks of the story of Frankenstein and Terra dismisses it as fiction but Naberius pulls her up for her close-mindedness. Naberius is funding Terra’s research for the same reason he has been looking for Adam. He needs soulless re-animated corpses to house the demon army he has waiting in hell and wants to examine Adam because clearly Frankenstein succeeded. He sends one of his demon commanders to capture Leonore to force the gargoyles to hand Adam over.

Adam escapes the cathedral and breaks into the demon base and meets Terra who is very excited to see him. Terra wants to help Adam if he can help her but she has no idea what Naberius plans to do with her work.

Visually the film is okay but the story is dull and the characters are just flat creatures of the plot. The script tries to draw on emotional relationships during death scenes that were never given the time to be established. The whole story is ridiculous but the film has no humour or joy in it.

Rating 4.0/10

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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Odd Thomas

Streaming

odd thomasThis is a film that suddenly appeared on Netflix with little publicity and I certainly heard nothing about theatrical release or even DVD. The film is based on a book by Dean Koontz but I haven’t read the original story so I can’t really say how good an adaptation it is. I found it an entertaining story and it has quite a memorable punch to its ending

Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) starts out by justifying his Odd name and for better or worse we learn that this film is narrated. This a common way of adapting novels and providing the internal monologue that is such a common part of a novel. This has the danger of making the narrator’s character seem like a smug know-it-all. Odd is charming enough to get away with it but it’s a borderline case. Anyway Odd’s mother claims it was a mistake and his name was supposed to be Todd but his father claims his mother is insane and his name was always meant to be Odd and he seems to have point since all we see of her is a couple of scenes of his mother lunging at someone with a knife and then getting taken way to a psychiatric hospital. We see even less of Odd’s father.

Odd can see dead people but Odd doesn’t just see them: he does something about it. He claims that he keeps this a secret in case he get locked away like his mother but it seems to be a secret that everyone he knows is in on. The dead people he sees are hanging around because they have unfinished business and he confronts the murderer of a teenage girl in a chase and fight across the neighbourhood that Odd eventually wins and he turns the murderer over to the police. Odd has a strange relationship with police in that the Police Chief  Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe) knows about Odd’s abilities but he needs to present a case to a judge that doesn’t involve help from the dead.

Odd works as a cook in a diner where he’s very content since so much of his spare time is taken up with helping the dead. We meet his co-worker Viola (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her two young nieces. Then we meet Stormy Llewelyn (Addison Timlin) the love of Odd’s life. Stormy and Odd have known each other since childhood and he knows they are destined to be together because a fortune teller machine give them a card to say so.

Odd gets worried when a bizarre looking man that Stormy nicknames Fungus Bob (Shuler Hensley) comes into the diner and he is being swarmed by bodachs that only Odd can see, nasty looking parasitic special effects that are attracted to pain and carnage. One is bad news but there are dozens swarming around this guy. Odd decides he needs to keep an eye on him but he knows that bodachs will kill anyone if they discover they can see them.

The small town of Pico Mundo seems like such a nice place that it’s surprise that Odd finds much to do but he’s never seen anything on the scale that all the signs seem to indicate is on its way. Odd tries to investigate but he lives up to Stormy’s nickname of Pooh Bear because at times his head is full of stuffing and he notices important clues then forgets them.

The mood of the film seems to be quite light and humorous but there is a sense of the threat building and only Odd seems to have any clue that something is going to happen. When a woman called Lysette (Shuler Hensley) is killed by dogs only hours after Odd spoke to her at a barbecue he really takes it badly.

I really enjoyed watching this film and I liked the quirky characters and the set-up though there weren’t very many ghosts around. It reminded me a lot of Paranorman only this is live action and definitely for an older audience. It has a sort of indie feel about it so that will it probably not appeal to everyone. There’s a character played by Patton Oswalt who was probably more significant in the original story but has been cut down to a single appearance which is a pity. It has the feel of a TV pilot about it, but one of those pilots that makes me think about checking it out for a few more episodes.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Inception

Bluray Shelf

inception bluray 001I honestly though that I had reviewed this film before when I saw it at the cinema or when it came out on Bluray but I guess I haven’t so this will be a SPOILER HEAVY review.

I had a great time watching this film right from the first time I saw it and subsequent viewing has only enhanced that experience. Christopher Nolan has earned himself a reputation as a skilled storyteller willing to work with non-traditional narratives though this film is not as challenging as Memento. When you look beyond the science fiction technology It is basically a heist movie which means there isn’t much in the way of characterisation apart from the main character of Cobb

Industrial espionage in the unspecified but not too distant future has gone to whole new level after the invention of a Mad Science device that allows people to enter another’s dreams. This has been developed for the military to help with training but has other even less legitimate uses. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is skilled at working with a team to steal secrets from the minds of others by putting them into a dream state and then taking them into another person’s dream which has been designed to give Cobb and his team control over the environment.

Cobb and his team of Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Nash (Lukas Haas) are trying to extract secrets from energy company boss Saito (Ken Watanabe) but Saito is onto them and knows he’s in a dream so Cobb has to make a quick getaway before the criminal Cobol conglomerate employing him catches up to him and punishes him for his failure. One of the consequences of the existence of people like Cobb is that targets like Saito have been taught techniques to defend their subconscious from attacks though it seems he also had help from Cobb’s dead wife Mal (Marion Cotillard).

Saito captures Cobb and Arthur when they are trying to escape thanks to Nash’s betrayal but Saito is not angry. He wants to hire them to carry out an inception which is the planting of an idea into the mind of another. Arthur quickly dismisses it as impossible but Cobb tells Saito it can be done. Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite), the owner of the largest energy company in the world is dying and Saito wants Cobb to plant the idea of breaking up his father’s company when he inherits it into the mind of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). Saito promises Cobb he will be able fix it to allow him to return home to the United States and tells Cobb to go ahead and assemble his team.

Cobb goes to Paris to talk to his father-in-law Miles (Michael Caine) who is a professor at a university there. He gives Miles gifts for his children who are living with his mother-in-law in the US since his wife’s suicide and Cobb’s exile. He’s really in Paris to recruit one of Miles’ students as an architect and after setting Ariadne (Ellen Page) a puzzle design task he agrees to give her a try. Next scene is Cobb introducing Ariadne to the dream manipulation concept while they are inside a dream in his head.

Ariadne takes to the idea fairly quickly, manipulating the environment easily but this raises another problem, if the subconscious of the dreamer notices it is being manipulated by alien elements it will become hostile to that alien influence. The people populating the dream start attacking Ariadne then the image of Cobb’s wife Mal appears and stabs Ariadne. If you die in a dream this wakes you up from that dream.

Ariadne is not happy that Cobb didn’t warn her about being attacked by Cobb’s subconscious, especially since his unresolved issues with his wife’s suicide are so bad that they prevent him from being an architect himself. These personal issues are actually the main plot of the film but only Ariadne and Cobb seem aware of the problem. What killed Ariadne in the dream was Cobb not Mal who is created from Cobb’s memories.

Cobb visits Eames (Tom Hardy) in Mombasa and convinces him to join the team. Eames doesn’t need to be convinced that inception is possible since he agrees that it is but that is very difficult. Eames knows a chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao) that can provide the sedation that they will need since Cobb wants to go down into three levels of dreams within dreams to plant the idea deep into Fischer’s subconscious. The only element left is the opportunity which comes in the form of a ten hour flight to Los Angeles. Cobb is thinking about how they will infiltrate the airline but Saito just buys it.

With his team assembled they all go into the dream of Yusuf where they don black masks and kidnap Fischer and Eames takes on the character of his godfather Browning (Tom Berenger). They demand Fischer tells them the combination of his father’s safe which contains his father’s secret will. This is all part of planting the concept of a secret in a safe that Fischer will fill in with his subconscious. Normally their task is to discover what Fischer’s mind puts on the will but the point of inception is to plant the idea they want him to find. This does not go smoothly as it turns out that Fischer has been prepared with training for these mental attacks and his subconscious response is very militarized. Then a freight train comes out of Cobb’s subconscious, sabotaging the mission and resulting in Saito getting shot.

Normally dying in a dream results waking up but Yusuf explains that they are too sedated to wake up that way and instead they will end up with their mind trapped in limbo, a sort timeless zone deep in the subconscious. So Saito has to stay alive or he will lose his mind. I should mention here the time extension property of the dream. Time moves 12 times slower in the dream and this goes for each level so on the second level time moves 144 times slower and in the third level it is 1596 times slower. As for limbo it seems that you can live entire lifetime there in a few hours of sleep.

This is the source of Cobb’s secret guilt. Cobb and his wife used the technology to share a lot of time in the dream world together where they created entire cities out of their memories. But Mal became depressed and withdrawn in the real world and wanted to spend all her time in the dream world, ignoring their two children. To get Mal back to reality Cobb planted an idea in her head that the dream world is not real. Unfortunately Mal carried this into the real world and killed herself to try to get back to ‘reality’ and now the image of Mal keeps leaking out of his subconscious trying to get Cobb to kill himself too. This is why Cobb knew inception was possible and also why inception is just not a good idea.

All through the film every time Cobb enters the dream world Mal would sabotage his mission and she is endangering the minds of whole team. But Mal is just a manifestation of Cobb’s guilt and he has avoided confronting her because his memories are all he has left but when she shoots Fischer on the third level and holds him hostage in limbo, Cobb and Ariadne have to go rescue him leading to a climax that resolves both plots.

There is a danger that a story about the dreams within dreams could get confusing but by giving each level a distinctive look I never a problem knowing what is happening. The visuals are amazing through the whole film but the sequence where all the dreams are coming to an end was just stunning. Arthur’s free-fall sequences were really well done but I think I missed how they explained why the snow fortress in level three was not also in free-fall.

Some people have perceived an ambiguity in the ending that may suggest that Cobb is still in a dream or may have always been in one because his spinning top totem didn’t fall before the credits appeared but I think they are just screwing with us. It is true that that the world Cobb calls reality does have some the same elements as the dreams like Cobb being chased by agents of Cobol but that reality is also completely missing appearances by Mal which is only true of actual reality. This is a very exciting action thriller that has all typical elements of a heist story like the different gang member with their character quirks and areas of expertise though at its core is about a man learning to forgive himself and move on from his loss. Some may think it is over rated but I think it is a film that neatly accomplishes what it set out to do

Rating 9.5/10

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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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The Haunting in Connecticut 2 : Ghosts of Georgia

The DVD Pile

Haunting In Connecticut 2 001The title makes no sense apart for wanting to connect this film to another supernatural mystery story by the same producers. And even though is set in Georgia it was filmed in Louisiana. Of course it is ‘based on true events’ but then that is a common claim in many of these films. This film does have couple of scary moments but it really spends more time uncovering the mystery than building up the cheap jump scares. The story was okay but not exactly original

A family move into their new house in country, a house that was going cheap because it has been lying empty for many years and needs some fixing up. Of course another reason it is so cheap is that is very haunted.  The family is Lisa Wyrick (Abigail Spencer) and her husband Andy (Chad Michael Murray) and they have a young daughter called Heidi (Emily Alyn Lind) and there’s also a freeloading sister Joyce (Katee Sackhoff) who appears within a day of them moving in.

It doesn’t take long for strange things to start happening because Lisa, Joyce and Heidi are all psychic and can see ghosts. Joyce totally accepts her abilities but Lisa has rejected hers and constantly takes medication to make them go away. Heidi seems happy with her powers but Lisa is putting pressure on her to reject them too.

This becomes increasingly difficult when time after time Heidi gets information from a spirit she calls Mr Gordy (Grant James) that is not only impossible for her to know but completely correct. When Mr Gordy tells Heidi that there is money buried in the garden and Andy finds a box of old coins buried there he is convinced there is more to Heidi’s story than childish imagination which is what Lisa is trying to convince everyone it is.

They get a visit from Pastor Wells (Lance E. Nichols) from the local church who tells them that their property is historically significant as one of the stations in the Underground Railroad. When slavery was legal in some states and illegal in others slaves on the run could use the Underground Railroad which was a series of safe properties owned by those sympathetic to their cause where they could rest or meet up. The owners of these properties were called Station Masters. They find the remains of the building where those on the run could hide. Many of the spirits that they see are of those who were on the Underground Railroad did not get further than this station. Some were merely victims of misfortune but many others were victims of something much more malevolent and its spirit is also still around.

Lisa doesn’t seem to have any convincing justification for her sceptical behaviour in the film. The ghosts are real and their revelations are true and even Andy who sees nothing spooky is convinced.  In fact Andy is so supportive and understanding of Heidi’s visions that there seems to no pressure on Lisa to be acting way she does. I know she is supposed to based on a real person and people are not always rational but I was never convinced.

This film was okay but I doubt I’ll be remembering it for long afterwards. It’s one of those stories that have been done several times before with minor variations in character and some of the details. The big evil is just nonsense which might be justified if the true story involved making these same discoveries. Unfortunately the only thing that’s true is that Heidi had reported having visions of Mr Gordy and other spirits. The acting was mostly okay and there were some reasonable special effects.

Rating 6.0/10

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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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X Men: Days of Future Past

At the Movies

858070_353242348128690_933500536_oStrap in for the long haul as I have a complete geek-out here. I’ve a been an X Men comic book fan for a long time and though I did enjoy all the previous films I was concerned when they fumbled their attempt at the Phoenix Saga in X Men Last Stand then stumbled again with Wolverine Origins. I was so happy when they went the prequel route in First Class and I really enjoyed seeing the younger take on Xavier and Eric. They followed this with a respectable solo film for Wolverine. And now they have really got their franchise back on track by using the time travel device to retcon away some of their less popular choices from earlier films with a strong character driven story.

Days of Future Past is based on the story in the comics and the script does a good job adapting the story without slavishly following it. The future is a nightmare with mutants hunted down and captured or killed by mutant hunting robots called sentinels that can adapt to any attack from those with mutant powers. The whole world is a war zone and mutants are nearly extinct. Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) gather with a small group of surviving X Men to try one last desperate attempt to not only save themselves but to prevent the whole nightmare from happening: they want to change the past.

Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) seems to have developed a secondary mutation where she can send a person’s consciousness back in time to an earlier version of themselves and we see her do this with Bishop (Omar Sy), allowing them to avoid a sentinel attack that nearly wiped them out. Thanks to this ‘reset button’ power the film doesn’t hold its punches when shows just how brutal these sentinel attacks are. We also get to see some nice bits of the X Men working together in battle such as Blink (Bingbing Fan) combining her portals with the attacks of the other X Men. These include Sunspot (Adan Canto) [who seems to have acquired Sunfire’s atomic fire powers], Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Warpath (Booboo Stewart) , Storm (Halle Berry) and it’s great to see Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) in full ice form using his ice slides.

Kitty’s power is only used for sending someone a couple weeks back at most as any more causes damage to the mind/brain. Xavier wants to go back to the 1970s to prevent the assassination of Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) the scientist who developed the prototype sentinels and was trying to sell them to the US government. When he was killed by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) this convinced the government of the danger posed by mutants and also gave them access to Mystique’s DNA which Trask’s company used to develop the lethal future sentinels.

Xavier is not physically capable of surviving the strain of the time displacement so they need to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) which has the advantage of making sense in the story and perfect sense for such prominent role to be played by the star of the series. I know that in the comic it was Kitty who went back and in the cartoon series it was Bishop but neither character has much chance of even existing that far back and Wolverine has been the audience entry point to this film series. Fortunately Wolverine is more than adequately balanced out by the other characters in this film.

Back in 1973 Wolverine wakes up in bed with some anonymous woman and he stops to give the audience a lingering look at his naked butt before a gang of thugs break down the door and try to kill him. After dealing with them he goes to find Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) in his family mansion. Xavier is living with Beast (Nicholas Hoult) who looks a bit more human than last time we saw him in First Class. This is because of a magic serum plotholefillium Beast developed which supresses mutations but stops working if Beast gets upset [a bit like the Hulk only blue and furry]. Charles has also been taking the serum so he no longer has his telepathy but for some reason the serum allows him to walk despite the bullet in his spine. Charles Xavier has been broken by events since the last film. Two of his students were conscripted into the army when the Vietnam war started and Mystique left with Magneto so he had no-one apart from Beast. He has lost his optimism and his vision of humans and mutants living together in peace.

Next Wolverine has to get Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who is being held in a non-metallic prison under the Pentagon. Fortunately Wolverine knows someone who can help them, a teenage boy called Peter Maximoff (Evan Peters) otherwise known as Quicksilver. This is one of those strange characters that live in a sort of twilight zone that allows Fox and Disney/Marvel to use them. He was an Avenger in the comics but he’s a mutant and has been involved in X Men related titles such as X Factor. He is a great character, funny and mischievous and the scene of him using his power to rescue them from armed guards is the highlight of the film as we see him racing round the room in bullet time gently nudging things, shifting things into place and when we return to normal time the guards have knocked each other out and all their bullets have missed. [A minor spoiler from the comics is that Peter is Magneto’s son but they only hinted that in the film.]

Now Magneto and Xavier have to get over their disagreements to stop Mystique but they don’t know where she is and since Xavier is powerless he can’t find her but they do know she is going to be in Paris to kill Bolivar Trask as he pimps his sentinel project to various military leaders. Mystique went with Magneto at the end of the First Class film but she has since left him too and now is working on her own for the cause of mutants in very practical ways, such as rescuing a group of mutant soldiers in Vietnam from getting sent to a secret lab as a reward for serving their country. These mutants include Havok (Lucas Till), Toad (Evan Jonigkeit), Ink (Gregg Lowe) and some other guy with spines. Mystique is not targeting Trask because of the sentinels but because of what he did to mutants during his research [in case you are wondering what happened to all the other mutants from First class.]

The mission to change history is going as planned but Magneto decides to try to take things further, leading to a very public mutant battle being filmed by several cameras and of course the mutant threat is the top news story, guaranteeing Trask gets funding for his sentinels. Now they have made everything worse so Xavier has to come off his magic juice so he can use Cerebro to find Mystique and this is where he uses Wolverine to contact his future self and find the reason to go on with the fight. Of course this means Xavier has to give up walking and re-establish his control of his mental powers.

Xavier’s character arc is basically about Xavier becoming the man he is in the other films, a teacher, a leader and a peacemaker. Magneto is already willing to play the role of the villain that the human authorities claim him to be. He may be willing to work with Xavier to prevent becoming victim of another holocaust but that doesn’t mean he will give up plans to launch his own holocaust. Mystique has grown away from both men as she fights for mutants directly on her own and the fate of the world depends on what choices she makes.

Bolivar Trask is an interesting villain with motives that seem to mirror Magneto’s. He is not motivated by hatred of mutants but out of loyalty to humans. He has read Xavier’s academic work and uses quotes from it in his presentation to the military. He does get side-lined by a plot that is more concerned with the interactions of the main characters so doesn’t really get to fully play a villain role but now that they have him set up I hope they make better use of him in later films.

As you can probably tell I really got into this film. The writers have done an amazing job linking up the past with future in a way that doesn’t hurt the head. Even though there are many characters in the film it focuses on Magneto, Xavier, and Mystique with Wolverine and Beast playing supporting roles. The scenes of the future were very brutal so there was always a good sense of how high the stakes were though there isn’t too much time to see any character stuff in the future. The cast are all really great especially James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence but a special word goes out to Evan Peters who took a lot of abuse before the film’s release and really delivered a version of Quicksilver that raises the bar for Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron film. I highly recommend this film especially to anyone who enjoyed the first X Men films and I’m really looking forward to Apocalypse in two years time

Rating 9.0/10

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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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The Borderlands

DVD Pile

Botderlands DVD 001I saw this film going cheap in the local Sainsburys and remember  film critic Mark Kermode mentioning that he was genuinely creeped out by some scenes in it so I had to give it a go. It’s a British found footage film with a low budget and small cast but it manages get beyond these limitations to deliver an effectively atmospheric horror. It is a bit slow to get going and there is nothing you could really call action but it kept me watching and I was amused and surprised by the ending

A group of investigators from the Vatican are called in to a small English village church to investigate the strange occurrences that the local priest Father Crellick (Luke Neal) is claiming is a sign of a miracle. The investigators are Father Deacon (Gordon Kennedy), a gruff cynical world-beaten man, Gray (Robin Hill) who is a sound and camera technician and not an active church member and finally the officious little politician Father Mark (Aidan McArdle).

Gray sets up cameras all around the church and their living quarters and all three have to wear head-mounted cameras at all times except for sleep and toilet. This is apparently a precaution that resulted from an earlier case that ended tragically and there are references to this incident throughout the film but the main result is that Mark is in charge but before ‘The Incident’ Deacon led investigations.

The miracle being investigated is the video of the motion of a couple of things on the altar during a christening. Right away Deacon and Mark assumes it’s fake and they are just investigating how Crellick did it and they have the priest move out while they investigate. In fact only Gray is open to the events being real and he seems surprised at how close-minded Deacon and Mark are.  Deacon’s scepticism seems to be more from cynicism while Mark doesn’t believe in the supernatural at all, he believes in the church and his place in it.

When they investigate they get the same movements on the altar and there are sounds of things moving in the walls and the creepy sound of children crying. It doesn’t sound very exciting and mostly it isn’t but they do pretty good job building up tension. No matter what happens Mark always insists there’s nothing to it and has a naturalistic explanation ready no matter how desperate and unlikely it is.

Deacon comes to believe there is something evil going on and calls in help from Father Calvino (Patrick Godfrey) which puts Mark’s nose out of joint since Deacon went over his head to call him.  Calvino is an expert on church history and he talks about this church was built over a site of ancient pagan worship and whatever spirit they worshipped is still there.

They go the church and Calvino starts a banishment ritual and that’s when the things go crazy with lights blowing out and some force seems to be tossing them around.  When the lights come on again Calvino seems to have disappeared and Mark has gone down the old steps to the basement and this when the film starts becoming a bit like a Lovecraft story where Deacon and Gray chase after Mark and they get deeper and into strangeness and uncover disturbing ancient secrets.

The film is pretty interesting for a found footage film and it has an excellent cast whose performances helped with conveying the building sense of dread which is also helped with some great use of sound. Although I found the film interesting I have feeling others may think it is a bit slow and if you are not familiar with the works of HP Lovecraft the ending may seem strange. I found the first half was quite slow myself but the characters interested me enough to carry me into the second half.

Rating  6.5/10

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Posted by on June 1, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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