Tag Archives: Jackman


8 Mar
Hugh Jackman grunts and grimaces through his (possibly) final outing as the Wolverine

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Hugh Jackman grunts and grimaces through his (possibly) final outing as the Wolverine

Logan, the third Wolverine spin-off from the X-Men movie empire, which has grown terribly long in the tooth (or is that claw?), does a nice job of righting the ship with this elegiac closing chapter. Part of the reason for the franchise’s demise has been its lack of innovation, but also, and more to the point, the superhero market oversaturation with the Avengers and Justice League entries out there chasing fanboy dollars as well. Besides Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) the best thing about the X-Men series has always been the tortured soul of Logan. Brought so palpably to the screen by Hugh Jackman, his badger-like sneer, tang of feral sexuality, and discernible sense of conflicted rage has always raced around inside the character’s metal-reinforced body.

The good news for fans, and even more so those losing faith, is that Xavier and Logan find themselves back together and without a cavalcade of other mutants and two-dimensional bad guys to weigh them down. It essentially allows the two classically trained thespians to dig in deep and get at the core of their characters’ beaten-down and mercurial personas. As far as acting goes, Logan may just be the grand dame of slumming it. It takes place in the not-too-distant future (2029) and finds our two uber-beings on tough times. Mutants and mutations have been culled way down, and we’re fed the factoid that there hasn’t been a mutant born in a decade or so, making Logan and Xavier perhaps the last of their line.  Continue reading


7 Mar

‘Chappie’: This RoboCop is street smart, and South Africa’s better than ‘Elysium’

whitespace https://player.vimeo.com/video/117160271 Is Neill Blomkamp the next M. Night Shyamalan? Hard to tell from his latest, “Chappie,” a near-future tale in which a robo-cop gets infused with AI and falls in with the wrong crowd. The good news is that Blomkamp’s third feature is a step up from the pedantically plotted “Elysium” – but it’s nowhere near his cutting-edge debut, “District 9,” which had sci-fi fans hoping for the next coming of Ridley Scott and James Cameron (the early incarnations). 030615i Chappie b“Chappie” also takes Blomkamp back to his native South Africa and the grimy post-apocalyptic ghettos where “D9” took place, where the FX auteur clearly feels more at ease. Much of what transpires is borrowed heavily from Paul Verhoeven’s brilliantly biting satire, “RoboCop” especially “The Moose” – a clear (homage?) clone of the mega bipedal ED-209 that RoboCop has to go titanium to titanium with. It’s 2016 and Jo’Burg (Johannesburg) has remedied its rampant crime by contracting with an arms manufacturer to build and deploy humanoid droids to embed with police forces. They make great shields, hardly miss and never tire. Chappie is essentially scrap parts, put together by an engineer more interested in science than big bangs or big bucks (Dev Patel from “Slumdog Millionaire”) and injected with code that can allow him to learn, feel and essentially be human sans the flesh. Problem is, Jo’Burg is rife with thug life, mostly ripped, tatted white guys with grillz and cornrows who clearly model themselves after Gary Oldman in “True Romance.” Through a plot twist not worth going into, Chappie ends up in the hands of Die Antwoord. What, you’re probably asking? That’s the name of a South African music act (give a google and watch a few videos and be amused or horrified, as it may be) and the duo, Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser, play street punks (I’m not sure if there’s any real acting, as the pair maintain their name and smash mouth personas) who pull Chappie into their service as he begins to learn and grown his consciousness – hopefully in time for the big heist.  Continue reading

X-Men: Days of Future Past

25 May

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’: Mutant ’70s will delight fans, baffle most of humanity


Maybe I’m getting cantankerous in my old age, but a barrage of cool special FX does not make a movie, at least not in my book, and the ongoing glut of seamless, more-real digital renderings only exacerbates the problem. Take the “Iron Man” franchise: great character building and back story in chapter one, but by the third one Iron Man suits are flying everywhere and pre-“conscious uncoupling” Gwyneth Paltrow gets a vanity moment to flash her sculpted, post-40 abs – a lot of generic silliness to something that started so rooted and firm. That trend was realized again last week with the “Godzilla” reboot as the spectacle of the spiked Tokyo tosser all but stomped out a solid performance by Bryan Cranston. Here, in a psychedelic flashback to the ’70s, the “X-Men” franchise sacrifices soul for the computer-generated spectacular.

052414i X-Men- Days of Future PastThere are some clever, brilliant nuances to “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” such as the scene where Quicksilver (Evan Peters of “American Horror Story”) in a slo-mo microsecond aptly done to Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” rearranges the trajectory of bullets and plays puckish pranks on the guards holding the guns about to take out Professor X (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) or when Wolverine travels back to 1973 and wakes up next to a lava lamp and the shrill pitch of Minnie Riperton singing “Lovin’ You” (though I believe that was a ’74 or ’75 song). And so why 1973? Well there’s an impending apocalypse in the now that stems from the actions of a pint-sized McCarthy-minded White House adviser named Trask (Peter Dinklage) who wants to wipe out all the mutants, and to do so he has weaponized a solution by leveraging the DNA of Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Zany history-rewriting threads involving Nixon and Kennedy ensue and there’s a neat Vietnam spin reminiscent of Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen,” and a follow-on in Paris that intrigues, but the developing action becomes a tedious waiting game pulling the whole construct down and the flashing to and fro begins to take its toll.  Continue reading


25 Sep

‘Prisoners’: Kidnap flick holds you with top actors, high tension for much of run

By Tom Meek
September 25, 2013


The title “Prisoners” is multifaceted in meaning, referring primarily to two young girls who are kidnapped off the street of a rural Pennsylvania town on Thanksgiving Day, but also to the parents of those kidnapped girls who grow frustrated with the sputtering police investigation and take matters into their own hands – they take a person of interest captive – as well as the homicide detective who is tripped up constantly by the interfering parents and an unsupportive higher-up, and the burnt-out working-class town that has suffered through decades of tragedy.

092513 PrisonersIt’s a broad net, probably broader than screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski (the Brockton native who penned “Contraband”) intended, but the material in the hands of Denis Villeneuve (whose haunting 2010 exploration of arcane family roots in the Middle East, “Incendies,” garnered an Academy Award nomination) is narrow, focused and rife with tension. That’s the gift and bane of “Prisoners”: eternal, dark bleakness. Take either of David Fincher’s serial killer flicks, “Zodiac” or “Se7en,” and you’d have a good idea what Villeneuve is shooting for.  Continue reading

The Wolverine

26 Jul

‘The Wolverine’: It’s claws against ninja blades, without losing the human touch

By Tom Meek
July 26, 2013


The Wolverine onscreen always was the most intriguing of the X-Men lot. As an enigmatic outsider with a tortured past and taciturn persona he had character and depth, something few of the skimpily sketched circus anomalies in Professor Xavier’s menagerie could offer. If you draped a poncho across his back and put a six-shooter in his hand he’d not be unlike a young Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” trilogy. And now that I come to think of it, the man who plays Logan (a.k.a the Wolverine), Hugh Jackman, and Eastwood, thought of at a similar age, look and sound somewhat alike. I’m not sure if their politics or tastes in furniture are akin, but that’s beside the point.

072613 The WolverineGiven the “cool” factor, it’s no surprise that the immortal mutant with a metal-reinforced skeleton and rapier-sharp retractable blades in his wrists got his own franchise. The first installment, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” didn’t exactly wow, but backstory up ’til “last we left off” tends to do that. Here in “The Wolverine” we’re post the last X-Men chapter (”X-Men: The Last Stand”) and Logan is living (and looking) like a vagrant in the Yukon and depressed about the death of his beloved Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, who comes to him in dream sequences). He’s got a grizzly bear as neighbor, but before we get to all that, there’s the important rewind back to Nagasaki during World War II when Logan saves one of his captors from “the bomb.” That benefactor went on to become a wealthy industrialist and now, on his deathbed, would like Logan to pay him one final visit.   Continue reading