Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Conjuring [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Finding a good horror film this year, is like trying to find a rehab facility that Lindsay Lohan hasn't occupied yet. Horrible joke, I know..I think. By my count, I've only enjoyed three films from the horror genre in, Evil Dead, Mama and V/H/S 2, this year. So when people started raving that The Conjuring was the best horror to hit theaters this year, it quipped my interest. I've loved watching Vera Farmiga in the inaugural season of Bates Motel. Patrick Wilson was great in Watchmen and Insidious, while Insidious: Chapter 2, looks like a decent follow-up. Not to mention, I'll give anything with the great Ron Livingston in it a chance. Well maybe not anything, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for Office Space. But this is The Conjuring and James Wan has crafted a very good film. Made for a modern audience that has seen all the things this genre has to offer.

The Conjuring follows the story of a family of seven who move into an old farm house in 1971. Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston), along side their daughters Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy and April (Shanley Caswell, Hayley MacFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy and Kyla Deaver), are ready to start their lives fresh here. Strange things start happening the day after they move in. They find a mysterious bruise on Carolyn and their pet dog dead in the bushes. One night as Roger is away in Florida for work, Carolyn is locked in basement as an elderly, vengeful spirit attacks her daughters. This prompts Carolyn to get in contact with Ed and Loraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), a couple famous for their paranormal investigations. After an initial walk through of the house, they conclude that an exorcism may be necessary. First though, they have to call it in, provide ample evidence and get permission from the Catholic Church. Later, while researching the home, they find out that house belonged to a woman, Bathsheba. In 1863 she tried to sacrifice her children to the devil. Culminating in killing herself, whilst cursing anyone who claimed her land. The Warren family and their crew must use all of their previous experience in the paranormal field, to help save this family from the grips of an immensely evil paranormal entity.

This movie is through and through a horror. It relies on cliches at times, jump scares and only a satisfactory story. But this didn't keep me from enjoying it highly. James Wan has enthralled me with yet another film I can get behind. I'm a sucker for SAW and I loved Insidious. This feels a little different, due to the fact that it's based, at least partially, on true events. While the writing is nothing to write home about, Wan brings it to life so well. It helps that they gave him, what looks like a genuine place from the 70s to work with. It also helps a ton with the style and look, that the atmosphere created, takes on a life of its own. Like I said, it relies on a lot of horror cliches and the like, but it doesn't make it any less creepy. Especially any scenes revolving around the basement of the house. There's jump scares, and at points, what can be, campy music. But like I'll keep reiterating, this is chilling. Combine the direction from Wan with the capable story, and the good acting, and it's easier to forgive the shortcomings of this. Speaking of all those things, I still liked the music and score. It's campy at times sure, but it builds the tension well when needs be. Atmosphere is key in any movie, but you really have to give a little extra when setting up the scary, everyone will get sucked in. The music highly helps with this and it reminds me a lot of Insidious in a lot ways. By the way, the score for that movie is amazing. 

Getting back on track I want to point out the two people who really carried this movie well, and that's Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. They are the cornerstones of this movies as The Warrens, and they were perfectly casted in these roles. I keep mentioning Insidious, but it's so easy to when the star and director from it, hit another home run, with a separate film. Patrick Wilson is such a presence on screen in a film like this, and really carries any scene that he's in. Vera Farmiga needs to be mentioned as well be cause there's no one-two-punch without her being in top form. We all knew she could act, from her roles in The Departed and Up In The Air. but I never expected her to transition so well into horror (this) and suspense/horror (Bates Motel). Like Wilson, especially in their scenes together, helped command the screen. It also helps solidify The Warrens as the driving force of the story. Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor were pretty good as the worried and affected parents. While the kids weren't too much of a detraction overall either. This is a horror film, and people always want to know if it's scary. I would answer that with a yes. But caveat it with, it's more creepy and haunting, than pure terror. From the soundtrack, to the overall story, this is one that you can immerse yourself in. I've mentioned the jump scares, and there are a few throughout. But, like I've been saying, the direction from Wan makes everything just plain creepy. Even if it's something you'd normally groan at. I like a movie that can stick with you. This is one that is pretty creepy, especially if you look at it past face value. 

The Conjuring is one of the few horror films I'd recommend from this year. At almost two hours this is more than your average horror. It's got the meat and the acting talent to warrant it though. Not to mention the scares are there, it's creepy and the direction is fantastic. I can understand why someone would not like this, but I'd defend it to anyone claiming that this is bad. This is a well made horror, in an age where less than stellar ones are overly praised. James Wan's direction took what could've been horribly mediocre, and turned it into one of the best horror films of this year.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Disconnect [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

A thriller is a genre you really have to gear yourself up for when you go into a given movie. Comedies are lighthearted, action movies let your turn your brain off, while horror heightens your senses. With thrillers, you have to be ready to think, but also gear up that anticipation, like with horror. Disconnect is almost a modern day cautionary anthology of sorts. Unlike other anthologies, and what a lot of people are comparing this to, Crash, it really fits that modern audience. We all have computers, internet access, tablets, cell phones. We're all wired into society in this day and age. Led by Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgård and Max Thieriot, Disconnect tells three separate (yet intertwined) stories, of individuals and families, who are directly impacted and affected by all the negative technology can bring.

Disconnect follows the stories and interactions of three separate groups of people, two being families. We start with an up and coming reporter, Nina Dunham (Andrea Riseborough), who finds an underage chatroom worker, Kyle (Max Thieriot). Nina begins to befriend Kyle, and upon telling him that she wants to do a story on him, he agrees. The story is a huge hit, but Nina may have to break promises she told Kyle, as the FBI wants to expose him and his workmates. Two boys and friends, Jason Dixon (Colin Ford) and Frye (Aviad Bernstein), play a prank on their classmate Ben Boyd (Jonah Bobo). Ben sends a sexual picture to a fake girl, who is really Jason and Frye, and they pass it around the school. Later that week, Ben attempts suicide by hanging himself in his room, to be saved by his sister, Abby Boyd (Haley Ramm), and her friend. Ben is now in a coma, and his father Rich Boyd (Jason Bateman), a successful lawyer, is distraught and is determined to find out why all this has happened. A young couple, Cindy and Derek Hull (Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgård), have recently lost their child. Cindy turns to online message boards, to vent about her depression and befriends someone. Derek isn't much better as he has an online gambling addiction. One night, as Derek is away on a business trip, they find out that all of their money has been stolen. They hire a private detective Mike Dixon (Frank Grillo), Jason's father, to help them recover the money. They soon discover who they think did this to them and become vigilantes of sorts trying to hunt him down themselves. All these stories are weaved into each other in some form or way, as we see a darker side of the technology we all use everyday. 

I highly enjoyed this movie, and I'm glad I finally got to see it earlier this month, as I'd been waiting to see it for the majority of the year. I love thrillers and movies that make you think a little more than your average comedy or action flick. This is a movie that is written quite well and it shows. The thing that really shines about this are the characters. They feel real, no matter the age or circumstance that they're in. The fearful and revenge minded parents who only want to see their son make it through. The earnest care that a newswoman begins to have for an underage boy that may not be doing what's best for his life. The couple, who are forced to the end of their ropes unexpectedly, still reeling from a loss, reconnecting over the course of their investigation. Everything about the characters, was really well done. Despite a few miscues, it was a pleasure to watch them all grow throughout this film. This also means that the acting, was top notch. I mentioned these three in my opening, but I thoroughly enjoyed Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgård and Max Thieriot in this. This is not to be out shined by the supporting roles. Hope Davis, Andrea Riseborough, Paula Patton and Frank Grillo, all complimented everyone well. Jason Bateman shined and it was great to see him show off his acting chops, as he does have them. His scenes with Hope Davis were good, and one in particular with Frank Grillo was fantastic. Alexander Skarsgård took the lead in his role, and along side Paula Patton, gave the great performance of a couple who is hanging on by a thread. Finally Max Thieriot and Andera Riseborough are great. They had the on-screen chemistry to pull off the fun, the good and the bad that happened between them. Also all the kids in this, Colin Ford, Aviad Bernstein, Jonah Bobo and Haley Ramm, were pretty good. I'm usually hesitant to point out kid's performances, but a good portion of this movie (and story) would've been garbage, had the younger actors not done well.

Speaking of the story, it was pretty solid, aided by everything acting and character-wise mentioned above, it was highly engaging. It's the kind of movie that blended between the stories pretty well. It keeps, in the back of your mind, that there are two other stories going on. It keeps you wondering and thinking about what's going to happen in them, while you focus on what's actually going on screen. That may seem a little confusing, but for me, it was helped by the act there's a lot of points in the film, where you can just digest all that happening or just happened. The one glaring problem with the story though is that it feels more like a warning, than a film. Sure the story is there, and all the elements that go with it, but overall, for me, it still felt like a cautionary tale. I'd have liked it a ton more if it didn't have those "Look out, this could easily happen to you!" undertones. I think in this day and age, even the least tech-literate of us out there, know about the underbelly of the internet, identity theft and cyber-bullying. So for me, this takes what I already try to avoid, and magnifies it to the point where I'm annoyed by it. Sure the message is good, there's no denying that, but this is a film, not a PSA. I just wish it didn't scream "DON'T DO THIS" to me, like I really felt it did. I will say though that the filming style was alright too, nothing bad, but again, everything felt authentic. Kids hanging out in the basement, a den of people essentially selling themselves in chat rooms, or even the homes, school or news station the people go to all feel like it belongs. The music was pretty good throughout as well, and I'm always happy went a soundtrack or score doesn't annoy me. The dialogue was pretty great as well. The writing especially for Max Thieriot's character Kyle, Jason Bateman's as Rich and Paula Patton as Cindy were highlights for me.

This is not a movie for the faint of heart. See? Now I'm being cautionary. Despite the underlying tones of caution, Disconnect deals with a ton of heavy subject matter. At nearly two hours this is a movie you need to commit yourselves to. While it never feels long, it's a movie best fit to submerse yourself in. The story is pretty solid, but the characters and performances are what you're really gonna key in on with his. I liked this movie a lot, and it's one of the best that I've seen all year. If you can get past the problems with the overall message being projected at you, you have a great group of stories played out by a great cast of characters. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

We're The Millers [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

We're The Millers is one of those movies I discounted initially, based off the premise and casting of this film. While I loved Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston in Horrible Bosses, they were greatly aided by a near perfect cast of characters. Emma Roberts one (and only) role I highly enjoyed was in Scream 4. While Will Pouter is someone that is a virtual unknown. I held out hope though. After seeing trailers and snippets of bit parts played by Ed Helms and Nick Offerman, I thought I could enjoy this. This is a movie that I started to believe could be half as good as Horrible Bosses. Upon watching with friends, it was a hugely fun afternoon, and a very fun movie.

We're The Millers follows the story of David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) as he becomes a drug mule who will transfer marijuana across the Mexican border. David is a down on his luck, small time pot dealer. Always flirting with his next door neighbor Rose O'Reilly (Jennifer Aniston), a stripper. He also deals with the downstairs neighbor, kid Kenny Rossmore (Will Pouter), and the runaway girl, Casey Mathis (Emma Roberts), who parks herself across the street from his apartment. One day Kenny decides to save Casey from a group of thugs and David has to get involved. This leads to a beat down, allowing the thugs to steal all of David's things. The next day his boss, Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms), gives him the assignment mentioned earlier, to make up for the losses. David must travel to Mexico in a world class RV and bring it back filled with the drugs. David hatches an idea that will makes things easier on him. He recruits Rose, Kenny, Casey to form a family on a vacation to Mexico, to mask the drug movement. David also agrees to give each person a cut of the money he makes. Along the way, they become more than just four people out to make a buck. They start to become a family, even though none of them are remotely related.

We'll start with the bad here, because this is a pretty good comedy, that I think is a bit underrated. But, the bad is pretty bad, and I'll compare this at times to Horrible Bosses cause to me they're oddly alike. The story in this is very straightforward. Guy loses his drugs, is given an oddly specific task and then nothing quite goes right until delivery is made. The problem is there's a lot of unnecessary sincerity sprinkled throughout this. I never went into this wanting to have that feel good moment. That may sound a little weird, but I wanted it to be a raunchy comedy, that I could laugh at. Which I did. I can understand the bond growing between the people, but sometimes it was a bit too much. This brand of comedy didn't really mesh well with it. While I appreciate character development as much as the next movie watcher, this didn't feel like the movie where I needed to really know these people. Also there were a lot of scenes that just plain weren't needed or were too long. A lot of the scenes involving Nick Offerman, as much as I like him, and Katheryn Hahn, were just plain boring. While there were a couple of good moments involving the two, keeping them at the level Ed Helms had would've done this movie a lot of good. It felt long for a comedy because it was pretty long for a comedy. At almost two hours, you're really going hit or miss with all the gags, jokes, development, and anything else you wanna throw in. Combine all that with misplaced story (maybe even subplot) of love, trust and growing close with those around you. This comedy hits hard with the funny, but not with (some of) the sentiments they put in with it.

The good in this is pretty simple. It's funny. It's a comedy that does it job. Like I said above the story and writing is pretty rocky, but not when it comes to the bits and jokes. As with all comedies, and you know movies, humor and enjoyment are highly objective. This is one that got legit laughs out of me. The majority of the bits and gags were good, and it's littered with one-liners that get you out of nowhere, so to speak. The comedic timing and rhythm of everyone is great. Obviously Jason Sudeikis, and to a lesser extent Jennifer Aniston, have the whole comedy thing down. I've never thought of Emma Roberts as a girl with a funny bone, and I had no idea who Will Pouter heading into this. BUT they all meshed together so well. For people who have barely worked together before, the exception being Sudeikis and Aniston, they felt like they've all known each other for decades. The timing for jokes was impeccable. At points there's a lot of rapid fire jokes, so it warrants a re-watch (especially if gets an extended or unrated cut) to catch everything. The characters being portrayed well adds into all this. You get to see them as they are. Then they put on the false front, but they're still the ones shown to you struggling and just trying to make ends meet. It's like you're watching a character, playing another character, while being themselves. If that makes any sense to you. But to me it works so well in capturing the essence of everyone involved. Bottom line is, this is a comedy, you watch a comedy to laugh, it made me laugh, it did it's job perfectly.

I maybe should've left that last line there for my closing thoughts, but we'll see where I ramble with this. We're The Millers was a bit of a surprise to me, as you read in my first paragraph. I wasn't sold on the casting and plot, but the comedy looked halfway decent. Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts and Will Pouter are a great on-screen team. One of them in each scene is gonna make you laugh or even crack a smile. This isn't a movie that's gonna win the Oscar for Best Screenplay, or even get high ratings. This is a fun (and funny) movie, that you can get your friends together to watch on movie night, and not be disappointed.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Drinking Buddies [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

If you know me, you know I overly love the actors I've followed for years or from the "beginning" of their acting careers. Jake Johnson is one of my favorite comedic actors right now. I love his role in New Girl, his bit part in 21 Jump Street is fantastic and I adore Safety Not Guaranteed from last year. Anna Kendrick is another actress I've been into ever since I saw her in Up In The Air. 50/50, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and End of Watch are all pretty good. Plus I've always thought her performance was the only good one in Pitch Perfect. Finally Olivia Wilde has been my favorite starlet ever since she became 13 on House. Not to mention I've always liked Alpha Dogs, yes beyond the reason you'd ALL think, and I really enjoyed Butter from last year. Throw in Ron Livingston, of Office Space fame, and this is a great ensemble. This is a movie I'd been looking forward to all year, and I wasn't disappointed when I finally saw it.

Drinking Buddies follows the story of Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson). Both of them work at a brewery day in and day out. Luke makes the beer, while Kate sets up parties at the location where the beer they make is served. They have a palpable chemistry, but the problem is that they are both in relationships. Kate is dating Chris (Ron Livingston), while Luke is with Jill (Anna Kendrick). It seems that Kate and Chris' relationship is rocky, while Luke and Jill are starting to discuss marriage. One weekend, after the two couples had mingled at a brewery shindig, Chris invites them to a weekend getaway at his cabin by the beach. You can tell there's a connection between Chris and Jill, while Kate and Luke continue to be the flirty selves they are. One day on a hike, that Luke and Kate wanted no part in, Chris and Jill set up a picnic and end up kissing. This sets in motion events for the rest of the movie. The relationships are tested and a seemingly prefect friendship is becoming strained. These two couples go through highs and lows in this comedy about drinking, relationships finding the right person for you.

This is labeled as a comedy, but this has a ton of romantic tendencies. While not your conventional romantic comedy where Kate Hudson finds Mr. Right in the middle on New York, this, I think, is one none the less. I think that it's one of the strengths of this. You go into this expecting laugh out loud comedy, and while it's certainly there, you also get the character development. Combine that with the relate-ability of the characters and what they are going through, and you have a well written movie (from the character stand point) that I think a lot of people can get into, even if they aren't as big of fans of these guys as someone like me is. Another great aspect of this movie is the atmosphere and cinematography. No matter which combination of actors are in a particular scene, you feel like you're right there with them. I love authenticity, and when Luke and Kate are joking around, or Luke and Jill are having an intimate moment, it feels like you're in the room with them, or hanging out as apart of their group. A little creepy if you think about being in a room with a couple as they discuss marriage, but it's almost as if you got to look directly into the lives of these characters, and I love it. The performances by Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson and Olivie Wilde really do make this movie. The chemistry between Wilde and Johnson, flies of the screen at you. On the flip side, looking into the life of a committed couple, that Kendrick and Johnson were was pretty great. I got the feeling between the three, they wanted to really get into these characters and they brought them to life so well.

The reason they were able to play these characters so well is because of the writing. While the story is fine, bringing everyone to life is what makes this great. As I said plenty of times above, everyone is written well and it gave the actors the chance to bring them to life. Joe Swanberg, who also directed this, did a great job of not only writing this, but putting together a cast that would play them well. This is a comedy, it is funny and it's really carried by Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson. Not saying that Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick were wet-blankets, but Wilde and Johnson had a lot of scenes together. This gave them a rapport and the chance to shine and bounce everything off of each other fluidly. Olivia Wilde has pretty good comedic timing, thought she's not known for her funny. But combining her with Jake Johnson was a great movie. Not to mention at this stage in his career Jake Johnson is one of the funniest people, at least I think, you could fill a comedic role with. Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston were a change of pace, and while they had their moments, they left the comedy to the others. There is a few things that irked me about this and most of it had to do with the length of scenes. You can act at an Oscar-level, but if you involved in draggy scenes or even unnecessary ones, it's gonna show. This is where I feel, Ron Livingston was in this unfortunately. A lot of the time it just felt like he was there to "stir the pot". Then once he served his purpose he felt out of place anytime afterward. The music and score to me were nothing to write home about, but nothing was bad or anything of that nature.

I really loved this movie and it's a great surprise for me in a year that has largely been filled with mediocrity. I hate to judge or base a movie's "goodness" based of the actors in them. But with Drinking Buddies, it really is easy to say that the threesome of Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick, really do shine. The comedy, the relationships, the emotion and the story is all here. Joe Swanberg did a great job all around with this movie, and I can't to revisit this in the future. I say this because I'm sure I'll enjoy it then, just as much as when I first watched it now.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Now this is my first actual review in awhile, so please forgive me if I'm a little rusty. I'd be lying if this a sequel I was looking forward to. I love over the top superhero movies and Kick-Ass was solid enough, even going back to re-watch it a month or so ago. I like the violence, action and humor for the most part, with the story being a fun origins one of sorts. Chloë Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl was a pleasant surprise, Nicholas Cage played a good role and it was (and is) nice to see Christopher Mintz-Plasse outside of comedic roles. One of the big things I did like about the first movie was how they handled Kick-Ass himself and it really reminded me of a Spider-Man lite story or sorts. I knew Kick-Ass 2 was either gonna be hit or miss, especially when the first one was borderline for me. This is a movie I wanted to like, but it's bogged do so badly by a bad script and scaled adaptation, it was hard for me to do so.

Kick-Ass 2 follows the stories of David Lezewski aka Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy Macready aka Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz). David is now retired as Kick-Ass, but has spurred on ordinary citizens to becomes superheroes. He has a change of heart and asks Mindy to help him with training. Noticing him not being around, his girlfriend Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca), assumes he's cheating on her and breaks up with him. Meanwhile, in the wake of his father and mothers death, Chris D'Amico, formerly Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), is letting his anger overtake him and vows to be the first supervillain, The Motherf***er. Upon being caught fighting crime as Hit-Girl, Mindy is forced to hang up her suit, to try and become a normal high school girl. Making friends, going out and joining the cheer leading squad, is not her ideal way to spend her days, before she begrudgingly gives in. Meanwhile Kick-Ass is now back in top form and doesn't want to fight alone. He seeks out a group of heroes called "Justice Forever", led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). Turns out David's friend Marty Eisenberg aka Battle Guy (Clark Duke) is apart of the team. Other members of the team include Miranda Swendlow aka Night-Bitch (Lindy Booth) and Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison). While this group is taking on petty crime and a illegal brothel, The Motherf***er is gathering a team of supervillains to take over the world. With Hit-Girl struggling with who she is and the city cracking down on masked heroes, it's going to take everything to stop The Motherf***er.

We'll start with the good cause I actually really liked the action, humor and a couple of the performances in this. There were three in particular that I enjoyed. In his limited role, I really enjoyed Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Long name aside, I feel he was the main focal point of the first part of the movie. While The Motherf***er was gathering recruits and Mindy going to sleepovers, Col. Stars and Stripes was preparing the heroes for the rest of it. Speaking of Mindy, Chloë Grace Moretz did a great job with what she was given. I wasn't too keen on how they handled he in the first part of the movie, but there will be more on that later. She came of as the struggling girl growing up well, yet kept that Hit-Girl air about her. Finally Christoper Mintz-Plasse as The Motherf***er was pretty cool. The humor was there, but you could tell he was playing the evil, demented, villain bent on destruction. I'll throw in Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Kick-Ass here. While he didn't give a stand-out performance, this is a movie based around Kick-Ass, obviously and the story would go nowhere without him. He was a good on-screen presence. Moving onto the action, it was better than the first overall I think. While nothing beats the hallway scene involving Hit-Girl from the first movie, everything in this seemed pretty real. From the mugging scene to start, to the first brawl the Justice Forever team has in the brothel, it all feels authentic and brutal. Plus when a guys hand gets chopped off or a grown mean beats down a bouncer with a bat, you think to yourself, "I don't want this happening to me in the slightest". Finally, the humor was pretty good throughout as well. Anything involving Jim Carrey was well as Christopher Mintz-Plasse, is bound to have a few laugh out loud moments. While this is an action comic book adaptation, it's full of one liners. The much talked about "rape" scene aside, there's a lot of funny in this. Not to mention the Hit-Girl character is one of the most fun in the movie as a whole.

The bad is what obliterates this movie for me. Starting with the story and writing. Kick-Ass, is for all intensive purposes a comic that pushes the boundaries. While at times this feels "edgy", it never reaches that shock value level I think the comics go for. Having not read the comics I can only imagine, but I think the studio's making this may have toned it down a bit. This felt like a movie that could go all the way but was being held back. Also the story, my goodness the story. They try to cram so much into this that everything feel rushed. What doesn't feel rushed, like the Hit-Girl "making friends" scenes, are entirely too overbearing and felt long to me. I would say that adding another twenty or thirty minutes to this could've evened things out, but adding more to a rushed script would have dragged out the bad even more more. On the flip side, removing anything would make the short movie shorter. While it feels long, it's not, and removing stuff, just takes away from the few good things this has to offer. While I praised the acting of the few, the cast as a whole, was definitely a let down. Clark Duke was given a prominent role as Battle Guy, and it felt like he was hardly in the movie. The girlfriend was relegated to a cameo, only to break up with the main character in a forgettable minute. Meanwhile people like Donald Faison and Lindy Booth, as two of the bigger support heroes, Night-Bitch and Doctor Gravity, are out shined, and again, wholly forgettable. Oh yeah, John Leguizamo is in this, I almost forgot. Why? I will say though, the main supervillain team is all but lost on me, save for Olga Kurkulina as Katryna Dubrovsky aka Mother Russia. I didn't feel comfortable adding her to the "stars" list, but she needs some recognition outside of The Motherf***er as the decent number two baddie. The green screen is still heavily used in this, but it doesn't look near a obvious as the first. The style and look of the movie is pretty on par with the first as well. Doesn't mean it didn't blew me away in the slightest. While the score, scenery and cinematography are nothing to write home about either.

Like I stated in my introduction, I was really looking forward to this. Kick-Ass 2 looked to be a fun sequel to a decent original. While it is fun, has a few really good performances and good stylized action, that's about the extent of the good in my eyes. The is the epitome of the turn your brain off action film, though it's a bit more violent than most would be used to. Jim Carrey filled the Nicholas Cage role from the last movie, thought with less impact. While the main three in Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl and now The Motherf***er all reprised their roles pretty well. Bogged down by a rushed script (even if it wasn't rushed it felt that way), lazy writing and lacking performances, this, to me, is the first major disappointment this year. Good for one watch if you liked the first one like I did. But, I don't think this is one you're gonna wanna go back to. I may read the comics to compare, but I'd rather just watch the first one if I need to get my kick-ass dosage in the future.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

X-Men [A Fat Jesus Superhero Franchise Review]

We all know of the X-Men at this stage in human history. At least I'd hope so. Whether living under a rock, an avid comic book reader, and even those who just watch movies. The long (and still current) running Marvel comic book series, was adapted into a cartoon series in the 90s and made into a live action movie franchise starting in 2000. The comic books and various story-lines have been published since 1963. X-Men, as a whole revolves around a group of mutants, people who have the "X-Gene", as they are referred to as. Led by a telepath, Charles Xavier, the mutants, are taught how to use their powers for good. How to contain and control their powers while still functioning in society. This doesn't come with risks and trails, as you'll see as this post winds on. Xavier's group, the X-Men, are often opposed by a league of evil mutants, led by Magneto (Xavier's friend who has the power to manipulate and control magnetic fields), called The Brotherhood. Xavier is constantly preaching harmony, while Magneto is condemning those who are not like him. This is the ever constant struggle in the X-Men's universe, and it's pretty unwavering not matter which way you get into the series. 

You know of Charles Xavier and Magneto, but there a ton of other X-Men that comprise the "main cast" if you will. I'll list off a few here, starting with Wolverine. Logan to the world, is a man with a tortured past, who has regenerative powers, an Adamantium skeleton with retractable claws. Cyclops is another staple of the series. Scott Summers as he's otherwise known as is a top mutant at Xavier's. He must wear some form of sunglasses at all times, as he has the power to shoot devastating laser beams out if his eyes. Another notable mutant is Storm, aka Ororo Monroe. Like Summers, she is an elite mutant with Xavier and she can manipulate the weather to her pleasing. Dr. Hank McCoy, aka Beast, is one of Xavier's oldest friends. He has intelligence that far surpasses any human, along with ape-like strength, speed and agility. Rachel Summers, or as you may know her as Jean Grey, Phoenix or Marvel Girl, is a mutant who in a relationship with Scott Summers (or is an alternate reality daughter to him, depending on the story arc). She is one Xavier's earlier students, and has extremely powerful telepathic and telekinetic powers. Anna Marie, aka Rouge, is a girl with the powers to "steal" another mutants powers if she is touching them. Mystique, otherwise known as Raven Darkhölme, is most always on the villain side of things with Magneto. Childhood friend of Xavier, she has the power to shape-shift into any human likeness. Emma Frost is also one of the X-Men's most prominent villains, as she as the ability transform herself into diamond, as well as being a powerful telepath. 

Other X-Men of note would be Remy Lebeau aka Gambit, Kurt Wagner aka Nightcrawler, Bobby Drake aka Iceman, Warren Worthington III aka Angel, Piotr "Peter" Rasputin aka Colossus and "Kitty" Pryde aka Shadowcat. With other notable Brotherhood members being, Cain Marko aka Juggernaut, Mortimer Toynbee aka Toad, Victor Creed aka Sabertooth. As well as Mastermind, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.

Now that you have a tiny little bit of the history of the X-Men and a basic knowledge of some of the main heroes and villains, I think it's high time I jumped into what I'm writing the post on. The X-Men film franchise. The first movie being in 2000, the X-Men series will be at a whopping nine movies by 2017, once X-Men: Apocalypse and Wolverine 3 come out. Apocalypse will be a sequel to Days of Future Past while Wolverine 3 is pretty obvious. You could bump that count to 11 if both X-Force and Deadpool go into production. So far we have a, I'd say at least, complete trilogy in X-Men, X2 and X-Men 3: The Last Stand. We also have an ongoing origins story of Wolverine which includes X-Men Origins: Wolverine as well as just released The Wolverine. Also there's a complete origins story, if you will, of the X-Men and The Brotherhood forming in X-Men First Class. We now have a combination of the trilogy and First Class with Days of Future Past releasing this past Friday. This has been an extensive series, with mega highs and terrible lows over the last decade or so, but it's produced a ton of good superhero movies. X-Men is an expansive universe, and while Marvel has other plans for their "phases", the X-Men series has been a quietly good addition to their hero catalog over the years. Producing three amazing movies (X-Men, First Class and Days of Future Past) and one that reserves the right as one of the best superhero movies of all time in X2


The first X-Men trilogy follows the stories of the X-Men as it relates to a power struggle of the mutants on earth. Between Magneto (Ian McKellen) recruiting, Xavier (Patrick Stewart) teaching and the Government wanting to "normalize" them, the mutants in this trilogy go through a lot. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is introduced very early on, as is Rouge (Anna Paquin) as they form a bond of sorts of the course of the movies. Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) is also introduced early on as her and Magneto have a healthy villain relationship throughout the series. 

X-Men follows the story of the X-Men, most notably Professor Xavier, Wolverine, Cyclops (James Marsden), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Storm (Halle Berry). They're trying and stop The Brotherhood, consisting of Magneto, Mystique, Toad (Ray Park) and Sabertooth (Tyler Mane), from using Rogue's powers, to turn the population of New York into mutants along side them. X2 (aka X2: X-Men United) builds upon the relationships and story-lines teased in the first movie. Introducing more mutants into the universe and giving us one of the best, I think, superhero movies of all time. Though the Brotherhood has been stopped, in the first movie, there is a new threat to all mutants on the earth, in William Stryker (Brian Cox). He's been extracting intelligence from the captured Magneto, which helps lead to the capture of Xavier and Cyclops. This also triggers a raid on Xaiver's Home For Gifted Youngsters, in which some of the mutants are captured. Though Wolverine, Pyro (Aaron Stanford), Iceman (Shaun Ashmore) and Rogue as well as Colossus and a group of kids escape. Jean Grey and Storm were elsewhere at the time. It becomes an all out war with Stryker to save Xavier as he may be used to destroy the mutants on earth. Finally to end the trilogy we have X-Men 3: The Last Stand. Taking place after the events of the second movie, we find out that Jean Grey is no longer able to control her immense powers. At the same time Magneto has escaped and is rounding up the brotherhood. This time without Toad and Sabertooth. Instead he's grabbing Multiple Man (Eric Dane), our very own Jean Grey, and Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones). The Brotherhood wants to wage war on the humans as they have found a cure (or so they think), that will turn mutants back into humans. Heeding the all the advice that Xavier has given them, the remaining mutants left, at a now shut down school, band together. They must stop the Brotherhood and save the earth from a group that wants to do more than just stop the spread of this "vaccine".

I still love this trilogy, despite the third movie being a bit lack-luster and confusing. The acting by this ensemble cast is fantastic. You can't go wrong with Ian McKellen or Patrick Stewart. Anna Paquin, even as a young actress does well as Rouge. Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman are on screen firepower as well. The writing at times is pretty cliche, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying these films. The story flows well between the movies. As I've said may a time already in this, X2 is probably one of the top five superhero movies in terms of story-line and writing. There's a lot of green screen and the use of wires for fighting in this series. As you probably expected, the mutants do fight each other. While it's much more noticeable in the first movie, the opening scene of X2 will make you forget about all that you saw in X-Men. Even with all that though the fights are fun and action packed. There's also a ton of character development that you really notice as you watch these films. Especially if you watch them very close together. There is bad though and it mostly comes with the third movie. I never understood the need to mindlessly kill off characters. Not just little ones, MAJOR ones central to the X-Men universe. Sure you can spin it that, they aren't really dead, or that it's a comic book movie, they'll just bring 'em back. All of that is plausible, but these are still feature films, and killing off characters is just some that always irked me about the third film.

It pains me, and I'll keep it short here, but in a moment you'll be reading abut X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I'm so so sorry.


The first X-Men movie following the trilogy is this one, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Everyone, including myself, was mega excited for this to come out. Wolverine is pretty prolific and has arguably one of the best origins stories in all of the comic book world. With characters introduced such as Deadpool, Gambit, The Blob and a young Cyclops, this movie was primed to be a top tier superhero film. But, that was not to be as it critically bombed. It is also universally panned as not only a terrible superhero film, but one of the worst in recent memory. This is a spin-off of the first trilogy, and essentially, partly a prequel to it. I haven't seen The Wolverine as of yet, but I hear it's pretty damn solid and leagues better than what I'm about to talk about.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine follows the origins story of, you guessed it, Wolverine. We start with a flashback to the 1800s with Wolverine. As a kid he was James, and he is shown accidentally killing his father with three bone claws protruding from his hands. He flees with his brother Victor Creed aka Sabertooth (Liev Schreiber), as they begun, as brothers and mutants, living throughout the years and wars that the world have been involved in. After being sentenced to death via firing squad, and surviving, they are contacted by William Stryker. He asks them to become a part of Team X, consisting of Fred Dukes aka The Blob (Kevin Durand), Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), Wade Wilson aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), John Wraith ( and Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan). The group are mercenaries of sorts, looking for a specific item. James, leaves after learning of their disregard for human life. Six years later, James, now Logan, is happily living in Canada as a lumberjack living with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). Stryker again approaches Logan, asking him for help as members of Team X are being assassinated. Logan refuses, but after a series of terrible events, and losing his girlfriend to Sabertooth, he agrees. The Adamantium is fused to his bones and they story of Wolverine begins as he hunts down the brother he once fought alongside.

I think from that little synopsis of the film, I make it out to be an entertaining, action filled movie. Right? But I can assure you, past the point where Logan becomes the Wolverine we know and love, its a mess. Full of asking yourself "Why?" and noticing every scene has terribly done special effects and green-screen CGI. The action even for a superhero movie, is over the top. The acting is mostly fine by Liev Schreiber and Hugh Jackman, but that's not enough to save this. If you get used to a character here, they'll probably die. Even the HUGE ones introduced, like Gambit and Deadpool, feel forced. Deadpool is not the Deadpool comic fans have come to know and love. While Gambit feels like a plot device, more than a character. Not only that but most all of the other acting feels uninspired. It doesn't help that with this script, anyone other than Wolverine was hard to pull off. There is so much bad, it's a wonder a script, that has SO much detail to work with, can come across so awful. The start was fine, felt like an origins movie, but once you get done with that, you'll find yourself wanting to never have to see this ever again. Don't worry, as soon as I see The Wolverine there will be a review up, in full detail like all my other ones, so look forward to that next week.

This is easily the weakest of the X-Men franchise, but things are looking up (with The Wolverine). Also next comes a different type of origins story, so to speak, as we focus on the leaders and the veterans on the X-Men and Brotherhood in this second spin-off. Complete with a completely different feel than this trash of a film.


Ever since I had seen X-Men Origins: Wolverine I had a bad taste in my mouth. As did I think 100% of people who saw it. So when they announced X-Men: First Class and we started to hear more and more about it I was pumped. This was going to bring the franchise back into the plus. Completely separate from the previous films, this is an origins story of sorts (as well as a prequel for the entire series). In the sense that we don't see some of these "veteran" mutants get their powers. What we do see is the formation of the two biggest factions of the X-Men universe and it sets up any and all future movies, while keeping the comic book lore intact. This is before the X-Men and The Brotherhood, but directly leads into the creation of them.

X-Men: First Class follows the story of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Erik Lensherr aka Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and they follow separate paths in life leading to stopping the first "real" super villain in Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Flanked by childhood friend Raven Darkholme aka Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Xavier begins helping the CIA. The reason they were contacted, is because on a covert mission, CIA Agent Moria MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) sees Shaw and three other mutants, who turn out to be Emma Frost (January Jones), Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and Janos Quested aka Riptide (Alex Gonzalez), bullying a US Army Colonel. Xavier saves Erik, as he is hellbent on killing Shaw for what he did to him and his family during World War II. They start gathering young mutants with the help of Dr. Hank McCoy, aka Beast's (Nicholas Hoult), invention Cerebro. They recruit stripper Angel Salvadore (Zoe Kravitz), taxi driver Armando Muñoz aka Darwin (Edi Gathegi), Army prisoner Alex Summers aka Havok (Lucas Till), and Sean Cassidy aka Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones). They also approach Wolverine, who tells them to screw off, putting it nicely. These are the mutants of the future, being trained by the mutant expert in Charles Xavier. But, they have to band together as a unit to stop a world war from happening again, by stopping Shaw and dealing with their own inner demons.

This movie blew me away the first time I saw it and on a repeat viewing it was as good if not better. It was reminiscent of X-Men to me. As in this is a great superhero film and if they do this right, the sequel is going to be phenomenal. X-Men: Days of Future Past is already shaping up to be great, but let's take a little closer look at this film. The story great from off the bat. I liked them using the opening from the first movie, cause it works so well with the characters (Xavier and Magneto) that they were establishing. There were slow parts sure, unnecessary scenes, etc. But, aside from that Hugh Jackman cameo, there were no previous actors from the first four movies in this. They had to establish these guys as their younger selves. Which they did alarmingly well. Character development is key in a movie like this and everyone (at least the main group) got great screen time, without forcing them down our throats.  The action was great, mind you, a lot of it was training and not mutant on mutant (till the end), but it did well. We didn't need to see a ton of fighting, cause we got to see their skills develop. Plus the set pieces for this, aka the beach scene at the end, were great. Finally the acting, lead by the great Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and a very capable Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult and Rose Bynre, was spot on. The leads lead superbly and the support followed and never felt lost.


We open The Wolverine with Logan (Hugh Jackman) being imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp near Nagasaki in 1945. After being freed in the wake of the atomic bomb being dropped, he saved an officer name Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) from the blast. Present day, Logan is living the Yukon, tormented by hallucinations of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). He is found by Yukio (Rila Fukushima) a mutant who is able to foresee people's deaths. Yukio was sent by Yashida (now CEO of a technology corporation in Tokyo) to get Logan and bring him to him, so that he may repay his debt. When Logan arrives in Tokyo he meets Yashida's son, Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto). Yashida, who is dying of cancer, proposes that he transfers Logan's healing abilities to himself, giving Logan the freedom to live life until a timely death. Logan refuses and prepares to leave the next day. That night however Yashida's physician, Dr. Green (Svetlana Khodchenkova), puts something into Logan's body. Logan dismisses this as a dream. The next morning Logan finds out that Yashida has passed away. At his funeral a group of Yakuza gangsters attempt to kidnap Mariko. Logan saves her and is shot, but his wounds aren't healing like normal. Logan begins a journey to not only protect Mariko, but also to find out who (and what) he's become and why Mariko is in grave danger.

Let me start by saying, this movie, location and sometimes story-wise, is all over the place. We got Logan's head games, the Yukon, 1940s Japan AND present day Japan. With all of this scenery in this film, it's less of a jumbled mess than you would think it to be. On the flip side of that it can be confusing what's going on at times. Also the flow feels weird, disjointed at times almost. The action sprinkled in is fine, but the main story around it, feels pieced together like a torn piece of paper. While it fits together in theory, when you're adapting a movie every detail, moment, line doesn't have to translate. Also characters feel rushed. You get good performances out of Hugh Jackman, Wolverine, and Tao Okamoto, Mariko. But everyone else feels like they're just around. Jean Grey is a plot device and doesn't really carry the film. Yukio was is an interesting character that feels like she just drops off the face of the earth from mid-film to the end. While Dr. Green turned out to be one of the enemies that barely has any screen time until the end. All while Yashida is a nice addition and character, that felt bland to me and was highly forgettable. This is a long movie and to have so much that is seemingly forgettable, really brings down the movie. Also, the overuse of Japan can hurt this at times. From the traditional scenes in old style homes/palaces, to the Pancinko building and the Love Hotel. It's feels like they crammed in Japan just because it was the setting. While some of the more traditional places are fine, the bells and whistles are unneeded. Some things like said Love Hotel, jack it up to the umpteenth degree, and at times leaves you with that "Why did they do this?" feeling.

This movie does improve on just about every aspect of it's predecessor. The action is fun throughout. Integrating ninja and samurai, are a little more inviting than the, "Look out, mutant attacks!", we've become used to with the X-Men franchise. The hand to hand combat is fun, Jackman is used well as Wolverine, as you'd expect. This isn't a R-rated film, but I like when a movie can feel brutal and real with fight scenes. The final battle, while clunky, is in a great location and delivers over the course of the battle. Like I said above the story can be confusing and jumpy, but it's a pretty good one. Again it deviates from the traditional X-Men like narrative. It really gives us a glimpse into what adaptions can look like when they use the comics in making a movie. This is excites me cause X-Men: Days of Future Past, is an adaptation and it gives me high hopes that is can be even better than this. I touched on this above, but they also did well for the character development on Logan/Wolverine. We've all gotten used to the gruff and tough, fight first ask questions later aspect. With this we get the softer side of Logan. Battling with his inner demons, and helping those in need selflessly. We finally get that much needed dimension to a character that sorely needed it. Another interesting character they introduced, and my or may not keep around going forward, was that of Mariko. Not a mutant, and not Jean Grey, she is the catalyst throughout the movie that helps Logan get past his issues. She's the pseudo love interest that never really feels like one, but never feels out of place as damsel in distress. They're the anchors of the movie and are played quite well by Jackman and Okamoto. This is a long movie, a little over two hours, so hunker down. At times it feels draggy, but if you can get through the bad, the second half is smooth sailing. The score and music are pretty solid as well, nothing distracting. With the more intimate or action filled sequences sounding fine. Finally, there's a pretty sick mid-credits scene that with get any fan pretty hype.

The Wolverine isn't everything that Origins: Wolverine was supposed to be. But, it does set any future stand alone Wolverine movie in a better place. The story is a little average, and the characters can be forgettable too. But this was a bounce back for Wolverine, and Hugh Jackman, in what looked to be an ailing series. Fun action and a couple of great performances add up to an interesting movie. This is not a power house in the superhero genre, or even within the X-Men franchise. What this does well is set up future movies while keeping one of the series biggest character fresh. Next up, X-Men: Days of Future Past. I'm ready for ya.


X-Men: Days of Future Past is one of those Marvel superhero films you can boast about loving, because it truly is good. You can make cases for movies like ThorCaptain America: The First Avenger or even Iron Man 3 being in the group but I beg to differ. I'd rather put this movie in the group of my personal favorites form Marvel over the years. This list includes X2Spider-Man 2Iron ManX-Men: First Class and even The Avengers. There's a plethora of things that can go wrong when you're mixing casts from different movies in a given franchise, not to mention this is a movie about time travel. Luckily for all of us, the source material was great, the screenplay worked to a tee and they brought back a veteran director of the series to add that extra little oomph to set it apart from the rest of the superhero movies flooding the market.

X-Men: Days of Future Past follows the story of the X-Men in the distant future. Bolivar Trask's (Peter Dinklage) is assassinated in the 1970s, but his creations, The Sentinels, have taken over a now dystopian earth. Once designed to only eliminate mutants, they grew to a point where they took out anyone standing with mutants as well, sending them all into hiding. A select group of mutants are still surviving, who with the powers of Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), are able to evade The Sentinels. The group meets up with another group on the run, which consists of Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Storm (Halle Berry) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). They devise a plan to stop the world from ever getting to this point of devastation. Using Kitty Pryde's powers they send Wolverine back in time to stop the assassination of Trask. With the help of young Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Wolverine embarks on last chance, cross era adventure, to save their kind and the world as we know it.

There's a ton of things that can go wrong with a movie involving time travel or anything of the sort in movies, see Looper. This film manages to keep everything fairly straightforward and neat. There are couple of wonky spots, midway through, that you can certainly argue towards being bad. But other than that, they handled to time travel part of this film well. The writing is also good in the character department and really felt like they focused on the heroes (and villains) of  X-Men: First Class, of which we've seen less of, than the people from the first trilogy or even Wolverine. They developed Xavier, Magneto and Mystique even further, while giving us some more of Beast and even introducing Quicksilver. They also did great with the melding of the two sets of characters shown, if they both were on-screen. Like Xavier and Magneto for instance. You see both ends of  the spectrum for each. Seasoned and older, on-screen along with young and less experienced. It's cool to see both characters above, at such different places in time, working towards a what they think is best to change the world and it all plays out so well. The source material is hailed as great, but you have to give major props to the writers who did such a good job adapting it all to a movie screen. This leads me to the story itself which was really cool. Compared to the rest of the series this ranks up there as probably the best overall story told in a setting. With X2 and even The Wolverine to an extent, having good stories. The actors fit characters so well and really embody them at this point in the series. The overall story is set up quickly, giving more time for everything to unfold. There's shock, tension, emotion and humor all paced at the right time, making it all work. Stuff wasn't just through in to be in there or get a cheap reaction.

Speaking of the characters throughout that whole paragraph, the actors that played them did a really great job. I'm still blown away by how well James McAvoy plays Xavier, while Michael Fassbender is such a perfect fit for Magneto. Jennifer Lawrence was better as Mystique this time around, cause she was just kind there in the first film. Evan Peters as young Quicksilver was a great mix of charisma and comedic timing. The CGI scene he got was utterly brilliant to me too and probably one of my favorite parts of the film. The rest of the original trilogy cast was pretty fine as well. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen stepped back into their roles as Xavier and Magneto well. The bit of on-screen time Ellen Page had was fun. With Hugh Jackman's part in the movie being major, but not major at the same time. He was fine and got the story going, but once McAvoy, Fassbender, Dinklage and Lawrence took over, it was theirs to handle. Dinklage also added a sort of acting presence as well. As one of the bad guys he did well, probably one of the best acted characters, but I never thought that he was the true bad guy kinda thing. The CGI was also done pretty well in this, especially compared to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The biggest scene I noticed full of CGI was the scene involving Quicksilver and that scene was awesome to me. The rest of the film was done well and you can tell they didn't want to jam this film full of CGI, so when they had to use it, they made it look good. Felt very much like the CGI was used with the original trilogy members parts and they kept it more "real" for the newer ones from First Class. The action and set pieces were fun as well and I've really never had a problem with the action in a given X-Men film. Big props to Bryan Singer in part to this, as he brought a charm that the first two films had to one this late in the franchise. I really hope they bring him back for X-Men: Apocalypse. The music was pretty good throughout, the run time, of just over two hours, never felt long and scenes never felt draggy either. I love that in a film.

X-Men: Days of Future Past was a blast to say the least. It's one of those movies that just clicked on all cylinders for me. The story, the acting, the action, the humor, the characters, the visuals, just everything worked so well. I loved seeing both McAvoy and Stewart on screen a Xavier, as well as Fassbender and McKellen as Magneto. The rest of the cast did well and Hugh Jackman is still a good anchor as Wolverine at this point in the series. I'm highly excited for X-Men: Apocalypse and this is now the second time in the past few years a main X-Men movie has knocked it out of the park.


There's still a lot to be excited about if you're a comic movie fan, or just an X-Men fan in general. Having just watched all the movies, I can say that they all hold up pretty solidly and for the most part are good. Of course X-Men 3: The Last Stand was only okay, while X-Men Origins: Wolverine blew chunks, it was still fun to watch the progression. I highly enjoyed writing this, and hope to do more like this in the future. I love comic movies and a post like this really gets my creative juices flowing. I hope you have enjoyed this look at the first five X-Men movies and remember, 2016 we'll have the next installment with X-Men: Apocalypse.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Top Pro Wrestling Matches (WWE/TNA) From 2013...So Far

It has been well over a month since I've posted here. I've been watching a lot of wrestling in that time period.  Don't worry I'm still watching movies too and have 2013 movie reviews planned for later this month. But, it's been a good year for wrestling. This is my first wrestling post here, it'll be rare, but you'll see one like this every once in awhile I'm sure. I wish I could say that I keep up with the independent scene and the stuff going on in Japan, but that's very hard to do. But, what I do keep up with is, obviously, the WWE. Also a tiny bit of TNA, now Impact, if I hear there's a rare outrageous match. I wanted to make a list of matches from this year, that someone who may not be "into", could get into pro wrestling by watching.

Right now, and over this past year (so far), more than in recent years, there's been a stellar number of TV and PPV matches that will get your inner fan going. The rise of Daniel Bryan (WWE's version), The Shield and Antonio Cesaro. The continued dominance of stars like CM Punk, Christian and Chris Jericho. These help make watching one of WWE's four weekly shows (sorry Superstars and Saturday Morning Slam) a joy to watch. This isn't gonna be a post where I break down and do play by play of every match. I just figure, that if you're a new fan, or even an old one, and are having a boring Saturday (like me right now), you could scour the internet and find some pro wrestling entertainment. 

These matches are broken down into shows for the most part. PPVs, Raw, Smackdown, Main Event and NXT. There's even a few TNA matches that I enjoyed thrown in there. None of these are rated, but I've watched and re-watched all of these recently. Hell, two of them are from this week's Smackdown. All are very fun, technical, crowd pleasing, etc. A newer fan could watch some of the Main Event or NXT matches to get the hang of what they're watching. Or they could hop into a Daniel Bryan match from Raw and be sucked in by the overwhelming presence that is D-Bry right now. There is no right or wrong way to get into wrestling. But if you wanna try, 2013 has been a stellar year so far in my opinion. Here is a good 30 matches that may make you a fan, or just give you a great afternoon of watching pro wrestling.

CM Punk vs The Undertaker (Wrestlemania XXIX)
Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio (Payback, World Heavyweight Championship)
CM Punk vs Chris Jericho (Payback)
AJ Lee vs Kaitlyn (Payback, Divas Championship)
World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank Ladder Match 
[Damien Sandow, Dean Ambrose, Fandango, Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger, Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes] (Money in the Bank)
WWE Championship Money in the Bank Ladder Match [Randy Orton, Sheamus, Christian, CM Punk, Rob Van Dam and Daniel Bryan] (Money in the Bank)

Daniel Bryan vs Antonio Cesaro (7/22/13)
Chris Jericho vs Rob Van Dam (7/15/13)
Randy Orton vs Daniel Bryan (6/24/13)
Daniel Bryan vs Seth Rollins (6/10/13)
Team Hell No and Kofi Kingston vs The Shield (5/20/13)
Team Hell No and The Undertaker vs The Shield (4/22/13)
Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio (4/8/13, World Heavyweight Championship)
John Cena vs CM Punk (2/23/13, No.1 Contender for WWE Championship)

WWE Smackdown
Christian vs Alberto Del Rio (8/9/13)
Randy Orton vs Rob Van Dam (8/9/13)
Randy Orton vs Rob Van Dam vs Christian (8/2/13, No.1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship)
Fandango vs CM Punk (8/2/13)
Daniel Bryan vs Christian (7/12/13)
Team Hell No and Randy Orton vs The Shield (6/14/13)
The Undertaker vs Dean Ambrose (4/26/13)

WWE Main Event
Fandango vs Christian (7/17/13)
Dolph Ziggler vs Antonio Cesaro (7/10/13)
Christian vs Damien Sandow (7/3/13)
Cody Rhodes vs Chris Jericho (6/26/13)
Sheamus vs Wade Barrett (5/29/13)

Paige vs Emma (7/25/13, Women's Championship)
Antonio Cesaro vs Sami Zayn (6/12/13)
Kassius Ohno vs William Regal (4/10/13)

Gail Kim vs Taryn Terrell (7/11/13, Ladder Match)
Kurt Angle vs AJ Styles (Slammiversary XI)
Gail Kim vs Taryn Terrell (Slammiversary XI, Last Knockout Standing)

As a bit of a bonus here, I've taken all the competitors and broken them down, and listed the number of matches they were involved in. Just a little extra tidbit, and a nod, to people like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Dean Ambrose, Antonio Cesaro, and all the others who have a ton of quality matches this year.

Daniel Bryan- 7
Christian- 5
CM Punk- 5
Dean Ambrose- 5
Antonio Cesaro- 4
Randy Orton- 4
Rob Van Dam- 4
Seth Rollins- 4
Alberto Del Rio- 3
Chris Jericho- 3
Dolph Ziggler- 3
Fandango- 3
Kane- 3
Roman Reigns- 3
The Undertaker- 3
Cody Rhodes -2
Damien Sandow- 2
Gail Kim- 2
Sheamus- 2
Taryn Terrell- 2
Wade Barrett- 2
AJ Lee- 1
AJ Styles- 1
Emma- 1
Jack Swagger- 1
John Cena- 1
Kaitlyn- 1
Kassius Ohno- 1
Kofi Kingston- 1
Kurt Angle- 1
Paige- 1
Sami Zayn- 1
William Regal- 1