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The Man Comes Around (Spoiler Free!)

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When news of Logan first emerged I was both excited and sceptical as apart from his inclusion in all the X-Men movies, Wolverine has been treated woefully and underappreciated in his solo outings. His solo movies have been a mismatch of horribly inaccurate back stories, disappointing action and one can only assume, studio pandering. They never really showed a movie audience the sheer veracity and anger that eats Wolverine alive. As the man has said himself, he is “the best at what he does, but what I do isn’t very nice.” And what is he exactly? He is an animal, a violent, feral beast that is trying to piece together his life, history and find his place in this world. None of this was depicted well in the past big screen adaptations but fear not James Mangold and Hugh Jackman have addressed these issues and so much more in the absolutely wonderful Logan.

The film opens with a visibly older Logan working as an Uber driver and generally looking like a beaten down man. After a fantastically violent interaction with some wannabe thieves, he takes off and goes to pick up fares in his battered limousine. Why is he working as a driver? Well it’s been ten years since the Westchester incident and both Logan and Charles Xavier (a wonderfully frail yet still classy Patrick Stewart) are on the run and trying to keep low profiles with the help of Caliban (a heavily made up, yet still recognisable Stephen Merchant). They are all hiding out on the Mexican border. But Logan is soon spotted by a woman at a funeral. He ignores her and says he “can’t help her”.

The woman is desperate for his help as she is aware of the existence of a little girl (Dafne Keen is absolutely amazing here). She needs help and quickly as she is being pursued by The Reavers. A band of vicious mercenaries led by a wonderful Boyd Holbrook as the cyber armed boss man, Pierce. Not to give anything away, but Pierce is pretty desperate to get this little girl back. And this is where the movie picks up and settles into the awesome road western tone as Logan reluctantly straps on his boots and agrees to help transport the little girl and Xavier to a safe haven.

In a tonal shift from traditional superhero fare, the movie takes it’s time telling the story and lets the human emotion and struggle win out. Don’t get me wrong, there are perfectly portioned and timed action scenes. All of which are feral and violent just like the movie’s title! But they all seem natural and unforced in their placement. And when they kick in, they don’t leave much to the imagination! But the trek to the safe haven is the main plot point which takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion and hits hard when it peaks.

When the film was over, I was actually tired. There was so much to take in, not in terms of overblown effects and loud noises. A lot of emotion and genuine grief at what had happened. I felt like I had watched a lost Clint Eastwood or John Wayne movie about a lone gunslinger that is forced to throw on his gun belt one more time and do what’s right.  Except with uber-violence, visibly more swearing and mutants (well not as much as previous X-Men movies, but as I said I can’t say too much!). Extremely sad that Jackman is hanging up his claws but there was no better way to send him off! Anyway, enough from me, get out and go see this awesome Mutant Western. And bring tissues, lots of tissues!!

5/5

 

Written by thepanch

March 7, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Insidious Review

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Trailers can be deceptive. For example, when this writer saw the first teaser for The A Team movie, I flipped. But initial hype over, the movie itself was a sum of the best parts of the trailer wrapped around a mediocre story, laced with some impressive set pieces. Having spotted the trailer for Insidious trailer late one Sunday night while channel surfing, my horror antennae was well and truly spiked.
The film is the work of director James Wan and Leigh Wannell, respectively, the writer and director of the Saw franchise. That surpressed my interest somewhat as I feared it would be another instalment in the horror / torture porn category. And my interest in that genre peaked at the end of Saw. However they have resorted to another, recently untapped genre of horror, the haunted house. A genre indeed that can inspire greatness (The Amityville Horror, House on Haunted Hill) and pure drek (The Haunting in Conneticut, House on Haunted Hill (remake). Insidious has the misfortune of falling somewhere in the middle.
The story revolves around ever busy teacher, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and his stay at home, composer wife Renai (Rose Byrne). They move home and their middle son, Dane goes exploring in an open attic. Uh-oh! Being a chap, he wears a cape and tries to scale a rickety ladder. He falls and the resulting wooden floor causes him to go into a coma. Then the fun starts!
Spooky noises come through the baby monitor, the bay is awaken by the noises. Shadows grow on the walls, the house goes bump in the night. And Dane’s room keeps getting mysteriously interfered with. This all happens in the first hour and is indeed the better half of the film by a mile. Wan incorporates some solid scares, with tried and tested jump reveals and clever camera work.
The terrors increase and Josh decides the best way to deal with a sick son and a terrified wife is to stay at school “marking papers.” So Renai calls in Josh’s mother, who in turn calls in a psychic investigator Elsie Rainer (Lin Shaye). It is a testament to the talent of Shaye that she delivers the plot twist and the reason for the strange goings on with such a level of seriousness. Not to give anything away, but the explanation wavers on the unintentionally hilarious.
The climax, which can be seen coming around 50 minutes into the movie, is handled like a bad 1980’s made for television horror film. No, that is not a good thing. Smoke. Check. Soft focus lens. Check. Noises. Check. The whole thing plays out like a bed dream and after a while feels like you’re being hit upside the head by a child on a bus. Annoying, but ultimately you’re powerless to stop it.
Overall, it is a film of two halves. The first half is spectacular, with a scare every eight to ten minutes. All of which, though obvious are handled beautifully by Wan. The script is also better in the first half, with the undercurrent of the weary wife begging the husband to do his duty and save his son. Wannell has improved as a writer, finally crafting well rounded characters.
However the second half veers into the science fiction / fantasy realm, and the power of the scares and tension in the house is moved and ultimately defused. The end is also overlong and could have been edited a bit tighter. That being said, the scares come thick and fast for the first hour and the talent of the cast, especially Shayle as the spirit-busting psychic save the second half from descending into a parody of itself.

3 / 5

Written by thepanch

May 14, 2011 at 8:04 am