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Logan (Film)

Logan is the tenth instalment of the X-Men film franchise and marks Hugh Jackman’s final portrayal of Wolverine. He’s played the iconic character for seventeen years. That’s a long fucking time. I saw X-Men in the theaters when I was fifteen, just after my freshman year of high school. I went to college, I moved around a bit, worked a few jobs, and now I’m thirty-one with a couple of kids and a mortgage. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was there for all of that. Ok, I don’t have kids or a mortgage, but I could if I didn’t live in San Francisco.

Hollywood has gone crazy with remakes and sequels and reboots and prequels. On the big screen alone I have seen three Spider-Mans, three Supermans, three Punishers, five Batmans, but there has only been one Wolverine. Logan is the perfect way to say goodbye to him. 

I realize that I haven’t actually talked about the movie yet. By now I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s good. It is good. I hear lots of comparisons to Deadpool because they are both R-rated and do justice to their comic book counterparts. I think it’s a better film than that Deadpool. It has more heart, more weight, more to say. It’s a more complex movie for a more complex character. Deadpool is great. Logan is better. X2 was easily my favorite X-Men movie… now it just might be Logan. That’s a bold statement. 

Props to Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, and especially to Dafne Keen as Laura/X-23. I’m not a fan of child actors, but Keen’s performance was on par with Jackman and Stewart. Anything less would have derailed the film. James Mangold directed one hell of a film. I wouldn’t be surprised if it won a couple of Oscars. It’s a legitimate film. Check it out, it’s the end of an era and it deserves to be recognized.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Wolverine (film)

Hugh Jackman returns to his iconic role as Logan/Wolverine in 2013’s The Wolverine. It’s directed by James Mangold, the same guy who wrote and directed Walk the Line. He knows how to make a dramatic, Oscar-worthy film. Too bad this is supposed to be an action flick and his directing style drags the film down. It’s a sequel of sorts to X-Men: The Last Stand and you get to see how Logan is handling the death of Jean Grey. The answer is not well. He’s living in the woods, keeps to himself, and dreams about Jean every night. He’s lost his way and has become a broken soldier. All this changes when a mutant precog named Yukio tracks Logan down and brings him to Japan.

It turns out Logan was summoned there by a guy named Yashida, a former Japanese soldier that Logan saved during World War II. Yashida is now the dying CEO of a huge company and he wants to pay his life debt to Logan before he succumbs to cancer. Yashida offers to transfer Logan’s healing abilities into his own body to alleviate him of the curse of immortality. Logan refuses and Yashida passes away. A few days later a few members of the Yakuza try to kidnap Yashida’s granddaughter, Mariko, at the funeral. Logan must protect Mariko and find out who tried to kidnap her and why. Only Logan must do it without his trademark healing abilities, which have mysteriously stopped working at that point.

It turns into your stereotypical chase/whodunit movie at that point. It’s like The Bourne Identity. A guy with superior fighting skills and a pretty girl on the run and hiding out from bad guys, they’re trying to solve a mystery and falling for each other at the same time. There’s a lot of unnecessarily sappy dialog and the dramatic scenes slow down the pace to a crawl. The film gets boring. And a film about mutants, particularly the most badass mutant, should never be boring. Having Logan lose his healing powers was a big mistake. It’s so pointless to have a superhero lose his powers. It doesn’t add any tension. You know that he’s going to get them back eventually.

The action scenes are decent, but I expected them to be a lot better. It doesn’t seem like an X-Men movie. There needs to be more spectacle. The best action sequence was the fight on top of the bullet train. The climactic battle was a bit of a let down as well. All in all this is an adequate action film, but a disappointing superhero film. It’s just kind of meh.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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X-Men: Age of Apocalypse (comic)

How much difference can one man make? Well, a lot, especially if we’re talking about Charles Xavier. Even if you’ve never read any X-Men comics or seen the movies, you still know that Charles Xavier is the leader of a group of mutants known as the X-Men. The Age of Apocalypse storyline explores what the world would be like without one of the key characters in the Marvel Universe. A time-traveling assassin goes back in time to when Magneto and Xavier are still friends, and tries to assassinate Magneto, but Xavier sacrifices himself to save his friend. Xavier dies and Magneto vows to keep Xavier’s dream of mutant and human harmony alive. With the death of Xavier, the immortal and evil mutant Apocalypse decides this is the perfect time to conquer the world.

            Things are definitely different without Xavier. The world has gone to shit. Most of your favorite characters have changed, some of them drastically. Like Wolverine isn’t Wolverine, he’s known as Weapon X and he’s missing a hand. And Cyclops is working for the bad guys. Age of Apocalypse isn’t just a comic; it’s a comic crossover, spanning multiple titles. You could track down and collect all of the individual issues, or you could just buy the 4-volume Complete Age of Apocalypse Epic trade paperback. With so many different titles and issues, there is obviously a lot of shit going on and it’s pretty overwhelming at first. The story goes all over the place and there are quite a few unnecessary subplots. It takes a lot of time to introduce characters and set up the plot, and it gradually gets more coherent. You’ll still be scratching your head over some plot holes and developments, but the overall story is satisfying.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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DC vs. Marvel (comic)

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the greatest, most powerful heroes and villains from the DC and Marvel Universes met? How awesome would that be? Well, it already happened in 1996, so you missed out. But you can relive the past and pick up DC vs. Marvel and see the two worlds collide.

There is actually a pretty coherent storyline. Writers Ron Marz and Peter David are able brings some of the biggest characters from two rival companies together in a comprehensive way. So back in the day, these two brothers/entities were controlling their own separate universes, until they learned of each other’s existence. One brother is the DC Universe, and the other represents the Marvel Universe. They decide to have a battle between their top superheroes to determine which universe will be destroyed.

Each separate universe starts to be aware that something weird is happening when heroes and villains start vanishing in a flash of light, and new, different masks start showing up. A young man named Axel Asher finds himself inexplicably drawn to an alley where a crazy homeless guy is trying desperately to keep an inter-dimensional gateway contained in a cardboard box. Axel is the Access, and he just might be the key to solving the crisis if he ever accepts his destiny.

6 Marvel characters are chosen to fight 6 DC characters in one-on-one battles to determine the mightier universe. There are some really obvious fights between similarly powered characters like Aquaman vs. Namor, Wolverine vs. Lobo, and Flash vs. Quicksilver. There are also weird, random fights like Robin vs. Jubilee and Superboy vs. Spider-man. Elektra fights Catwoman, the Green Lantern and Silver Surfer duke it out in space, Wonder Woman somehow loses to Storm, Batman and Captain America are pretty evenly matched, and Superman barely beats the Hulk into submission.

Instead of one universe getting destroyed, the Spectre and the Living Tribunal are able to temporarily merge the two universes together. This buys them some time, and has the awesome bonus of creating hybrid superheroes like Dark Claw (a mixture of Batman and Wolverine) and Super-Soldier (Superman and Captain America’s lovechild).

Access finally gets his shit together and it able to separate the merged universe back to the two separate ones. He gets a little assistance from Batman and Captain America to end the Space Brothers’ hissy fit. And now the two universes can co-exist and life is good.

Yeah, there’s a lot of nonsense about two brother universes using magic humans to end a cosmic dispute, but once you get past that you can appreciate the story. What if the superhero you depended on was powerless to stop the end of the world? What if that superhero vanished and was replaced by a stranger in tights? What if you are a superhero and you can’t simply punch your way to victory?

The art is awesome. The panels spill over into each other, they overlap, it feels very fluid. Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini’s drawings are bold and powerful. And it’s pretty cool to see the Hulk and Superman exchanging blows in the desert.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but it doesn’t slow down the momentum of the story. If you like DC, it’s worth checking out. If you like Marvel, it’s worth checking out. If you like comics, then you should have read this already. You’re slacking.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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X-Men: The Last Stand

The X-Men are back on the big screen for the third time and Brett Ratner does everything he can to ruin everything that Bryan Singer tried to accomplish with this trilogy. Most of the main characters from the first two movies reprise their roles, but there are way too many characters to give anyone a decent amount of screen time. The end result is a bunch of mutants running around fighting each other but you don’t give a fuck about who is fighting or why.

The movie starts twenty years before the events of the main story, a middle-aged Charles Xavier and Magneto meet with a Class 5 mutant named Jean Grey. They have a brief discussion about how powerful Jean in, and whether or not she will control her power or if it will control her. The movie jumps ahead another ten years to a young Warren Worthington III as he tries to hide his mutant wings from his disapproving father.

The movie jumps to the present day as Worthington Labs announces a cure for the mutant gene. This causes a huge rift in the mutant community. Some mutants want the cure and others view it as a form of extermination. Magneto uses it as a chance to recruit more mutants to join his side. He recruits Callisto, Psylocke, Arclight, and Kid Omega (who should be named Quill, but whatever, details aren’t important).

Meanwhile the X-Men have lost Jean Grey from the events of the second movie, and Cyclops still hasn’t gotten over losing her. Shadowcat (Ellen Page) and Colossus have bigger roles on the team, and Beast (Kelsey Grammer) also joins the X-Men. Cyclops is all emo and goes to Alkali Lake and Jean reappears and the two are reunited. The joyous reunion is short-lived because Jean Grey is no longer Jean Grey, now she is the Phoenix.

Magneto keeps on recruiting more mutants to his cause. When he frees Mystique from her mobile prison, he also frees the Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) and the Multiple Man. They join the Brotherhood of Mutants without any persuasion, as soon as they are introduced they are recruited. How convenient. When Magneto and his posse go to recruit the Phoenix/Jean Grey, they bump into Xavier and a few X-Men who have the same idea. Magneto and Xavier both try to persuade her to join their side and Xavier ends up getting disintegrated.

The X-Men are without their leader and Magneto gets ready for an assault on Worthington Labs to destroy the cure. The remaining X-Men (Wolverine, Storm, Beast, Iceman, Colossus, and Shadowcat) form their last stand and try to defend the island. There is a mutant battle and mutants fight and mutants die. Jean momentarily regains control of herself and asks Wolverine to kill her and the Phoenix and he does even though he doesn’t want to.

There’s a scene after the credits where it’s hinted that Xavier has transferred his consciousness to a comatose guy. If genes are responsible for mutation, this new body shouldn’t have any powers, just throwing that out there.

There are a lot more mutants in this movie than in the previous two. They add mutants without establishing who they are. Callisto, Kid Omega, Psylocke, Arclight, Multiple Man, and the Juggernaut are all new mutants and they don’t waste anytime trying to establish their characters. They literally come onscreen, say their name and mention their powers and pledge their allegiance to Magneto. Super lazy writing.

The  X-Men are also treated like an afterthought. Cyclops is barely in the movie. Rogue’s character is completely wasted. She never even obtained the ability to fly like she did in the comics… she voluntarily gets the cure and stops being a mutant. Xavier dies simply for shock value. Colossus is on the team for the whole movie, but he has fewer lines than he did in five minutes that he was in the second movie. And where the fuck is Nightcrawler? Adding Beast was a nice touch, but you couldn’t have another blue mutant on the team?

The worst addition to the franchise was Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Angel (Ben Foster). They introduce his character in the beginning, he has a dramatic escape from being forcibly given the cure by his dad, he comes to the mansion for sanctuary, and he saves his dad from falling. That’s his arc. He doesn’t join the X-Men. He doesn’t fight. He just wastes screen time and keeps other characters from getting developed.

The first two movies balanced action who deeper themes of acceptance, of tolerance, of being proud of who you are… this movie is just noise and fireworks. Ratner takes all the characters that Singer established and ruins them. He takes all the care and thought and attention to detail and casts it aside. He doesn’t care that the first two movies were foreshadowing something great, he wants explosions and meaningless special effects. And he delivers. This movie looks awesome. It’s just not coherent and the story sucks and any decent performances by the actors are lost in the chaos. This is a terrible way to end a great trilogy.

Critically Rated at 8/17

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X2: X-Men United

X2 is a great sequel and one of the best comic book movies to date. Bryan Singer returns to direct, and most of the cast from the original come back, with a few new mutants and characters joining the fun. The story is bigger, the stakes are higher, the fights are more elaborate… this is a perfect sequel.

The movie starts with a bang as the teleporting Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) launches a near fatal attack on the US President. The President escapes injury, but the stage is set for the next level of the mutant/human war. Professor X (Patrick Stewart) dispatches Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Storm (Halle Berry) to track down Nightcrawler, while Professor X and Cyclops (James Marsden) go to visit Magneto in his plastic prison.

Magneto (Ian McKellen) has been tortured into giving William Stryker (Brian Cox) information about Xavier’s school for mutants. Stryker has been using his son’s power to manipulate and control mutants. Professor X and Cyclops walk into Stryker’s trap and they are captured. He plans on manipulating Xavier into using Cerebro to kill all the mutants.

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has been hunting around Alkali Lake for clues to his past, but when he doesn’t find anything, he returns to the mansion and winds up acting as the babysitter while everyone else is advancing the plot. He catches up with Rogue (Anna Paquin) and meets her new boyfriend Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman (Shawn Ashmore). The happy homecoming is short-lived as Stryker’s forces attack the mansion and the mutants are forced to flee.

Iceman takes Rogue, Wolverine and their friend John/Pyro (Aaron Stanford) to his parent’s house to hide out. Iceman comes out as a mutant to his family, and they aren’t too accepting. His little brother calls the cops on them and there’s a little showcase of raw mutant power before the X-Men (minus Cyclops and Xavier) all meet up again.

The X-Men are making their escape, but then the get attacked, but then they are saved by Magneto and Mystique. And so they decide to all join forces and become X-Men United. They make their way to Alkali Lake to confront Stryker, save Xavier, and save the world. Of course there has to be a slight twist and so there is one. So if you haven’t seen this movie that’s been out for more than nine years, be grateful that I didn’t spoil anything. This movie sets everything up for a great third installment, but then Bryan Singer left and Brett Ratner came in to ruin the final film.

One thing that has bothered me since the first time that I saw this movie is that Iceman doesn’t stop the raging floodwaters. I mean he’s Iceman. He can turn water vapor into ice. Surely he can turn cold water into ice. I mean there’s snow all around, it’s already cold, and it wouldn’t be that hard.

The first movie uses mutants as a metaphor for racism and equality. Charles Xavier is like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Magneto is like Malcolm X. This movie uses mutants as a metaphor for homosexuality and equality. Iceman comes out to his parents. He fearfully tells them that he is a mutant and his mom’s response is, “Have you tried not being a mutant?”. Director Bryan Singer is gay, and for him to include a scene like this in a summer blockbuster could have been controversial, but I think it adds to the context of the film.

This is a great movie, it’s a great sequel. It’s the best X-Men movie to date. There are great characters and awesome fights. There are morals and messages and themes and references to the comics that only avid fans will get. The opening sequence with Nightcrawler is one of the best opening scenes in any movie. It draws you in and you are instantly hooked.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Actors in Multiple Movie Franchises

Some movies make a lot of money. And people like money, so they decide to make a sequel to make even more money. And if that sequel makes money they might make a third movie. And three movies in the same series makes a trilogy, and (for the purposes of this article) a trilogy is a film franchise. So if an actor appears in three or more movies in the same franchise and three or more movies in another franchise, then they will appear on this list. Unless I forgot about them. Sorry forgotten celebrity.

Harrison Ford starred in the original Star Wars trilogy and the Indiana Jones trilogy (and that shitty fourth movie that I try to forget about). He’s also rumored to come back in the new Star Wars movies.

Tim Allen starred in the Toy Story trilogy and the Santa Clause movies.

Michael J. Fox went Back to the Future three times and voiced Stuart Little three times.

Matt Damon was Jason Bourne three times and was in Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen.

Eddie Murphy was Donkey in four Shrek movies and Axel Foley three times as a Beverly Hills Cop. Mike Myers was Shrek in the Shrek flicks and Austin Powers and Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies.

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Orlando Bloom was Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and he’s reprising his role in The Hobbit movie. He was also in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies too.

Sir Ian McKellen has saved the world as Gandalf in three Lord of the Rings movies and will do so again in The Hobbit trilogy. He’s also threatened the world three times as Magneto in the X-Men franchise.

Patrick Stewart played Captain Jean-Luc Picard four times on the big screen and played Charles Xavier in three X-Men movies with a cameo in the Wolverine movie.

Crazy anti-Semite Mel Gibson has been in four Lethal Weapon Movies and was Mad Max three times. You know he hates Jews right?

Warwick Davis was in six Leprechaun movies (about half were direct-to-video) and was also in all eight Harry Potter Movies playing duel roles as Professor Flitwick and Griphook.

Sylvester Stallone was Rambo four times and Rocky Balboa six times. I have a feeling he might be Expendable three times too.

Vin Diesel sucks a lot of balls, but he’s been in four Fast and/or Furious movies (one of them was just a cameo), and he will play Riddick again in 2013. I’m sure that there are at least four people who will pay to see that shit.

Ben Stiller has played Gaylord Focker in three movies and loaned his voice to three Madagascar movies.

Gary Oldman played Sirius Black in Harry Potter 3, 4, 5 and 7.5 and has been James Gordon three times in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

Bruce Campbell has played Ash in the Evil Dead movies and had cameos in all of Sam Raimi’s Spider-man movies. That might be a stretch, but it still counts.

Antonio Banderas has been Puss in Boots in three Shrek movies and one spinoff and was in four Spy Kids movies (his scene was cut in the fourth one. Yes, there are four Spy Kids movies). He was played El Mariachi in two out of the three El Mariachi movies, so he doesn’t get any points for that.

John Cho has hung out with Kumar three times as Harold, and he was in American Pie, American Pie 2, American Wedding, and American Reunion. Cameos count. Right, Bruce Campbell?

Samuel L. Jackson was Mace Windu in Star Wars Episode I-III. He also played Nick Fury in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers, which are all part of the same universe, so he gets included.

Jackie Chan has three franchises under his belt. Three Rush Hour movies, four Police Story movies, and he’s loaned his voice to two Kung Fu Panda movies with a third coming out in 2013.

Christopher Lee played Fu Manchu three times, he was Dracula in a bunch of movies. He was Count Dooku in Episodes II and III and the animated Clone Wars movie. He was in Lord of the Rings too.

Hugo Weaving has also been in three franchises. He threatened Neo three times as Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy. He loaned his voice to Megatron in the Transfomers movies. And he was Elrond in the Lord of the Rings movie and will reprise his role again in one of the upcoming Hobbit movies.

So that’s my list. I think it’s pretty complete. If you see anyone that I’m missing leave a comment. And I’ll either correct you or add it to my list. I don’t know how to rate this so I will just settle for something like this:

Critically Rated at 12/17

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X-Men (film)

Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) directs the big screen adaptation of the X-Men. In the not too distant future, mutants with superpowers have been popping up more and more. People fear what they don’t understand, and people fear mutants, causing US Senator Robert Kelly to attempt to pass the Mutant Registration Act. Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants decides to wage war on mankind, and nothing can stop him… Except for Charles Xavier’s X-Men.

The movie begins with a young Eric Lehnsherr being separated from his parents in a concentration camp. He tries to get back to his parents, but the guards won’t let him. Desperately he reaches for them, and the gates start to bend and twist towards him, until the guards knock him out. This is a real quick scene and it’s a great introduction to the world of the X-Men. Right off the bat, you know that this world is both real and familiar, but also fantastic and different. You’re introduced to a mutant using his powers right away, and it also establishes Eric Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto as a sympathetic villain. No matter how diabolical he gets, you understand his reasons perfectly.

Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison) is advocating the Mutant Registration Act, which would force mutants to identify themselves. Magneto (Ian McKellen) doesn’t want to go along with this, and he’s going to do something about it. His Brotherhood of Mutants wage war on humanity. The Brotherhood consists of the shape shifter Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), Toad (Ray Park), and Sabretooth (Tyler Mane).

Magneto’s old friend Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) leads the X-Men, another team of mutants who are determined to stop the Brotherhood. The X-Men members are the telepathic/telekinetic Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), the cycloptic Cyclops (James Marsden), and the weather-controlling Storm (Halle Berry).

Meanwhile, a young mutant named Marie a.k.a. Rogue (Anna Paquin) accidently almost kills her boyfriend just by touching him and runs away. She meets a hairy, angry cage fighter named Wolverine and decides to get in the car with him. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Rogue get attacked by Sabretooth and get rescued by Cyclops and Storm and they take them to the X Mansion. They chill there for a while, and they learn about how good Xavier is, and how misguided Magneto is. There’s bonding moments and character developing and a mutant montage.

Magneto is moving along with his plan, and he kidnaps Senator Kelly and turns him into a mutant. And he reveals his plan to turn a bunch of diplomats and world leaders into mutants at some summit for something. But Senator Kelly escapes and goes to the X-Men for help. He dies from complication of being turned into a mutant, but Magneto doesn’t know that, so he doesn’t know that he would just kill everyone if he goes through with his plan.

The next step in Magneto’s plan is kidnapping Rogue. Magneto will use Rogue to power the mutant conversion machine, the stress of which will kill her. So the X-Men have to step up and save Rogue and stop Magneto from killing diplomats and world leaders at that summit thing. And I don’t want to spoil the ending, but they do.

It has a pretty decent cast. It was Hugh Jackman’s breakout role. Patrick Stewart is perfect for Xavier. Ian McKellen is formidable as Magneto. Rebecca Romijn was a sexy blue chick way before Avatar. Halle Berry looks pretty but her Storm sucked in this one, she didn’t do anything. She had a stupid accent too.

This is a good flick. Not only did it launch the X-Men movie franchise, but it gave Hollywood the green light to start churning out comic book movies. I know they changed a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff. But the movies are their own thing. They acknowledge the comics. They make references to them. There are some differences with characters between the film version and the comic version. But that is ok. Bryan Singer made an awesome movie. It’s fun. It’s rewatchable. It’s a summer blockbuster popcorn movie.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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