Films

Ramblings about Films – whether it’s new, reviews or something else.

REVIEW: Deadpool 2 (2018)

My original Deadpool 2 review from when it was first released.

Wade Wilson aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) puts together a superhero team to protect mutant kid Russell (Julian Dennison) from time travelling cyborg Cable (Josh Brolin) who is out for vengeance.

Considering how the first Deadpool film really didn’t work for me on rewatch, I was a bit apprehensive going into the sequel, but I was pleased to find that Deadpool 2 actually held up! Think this was mainly down to the new characters who were mostly played straight to Deadpool’s off the wall comedy and references. There are still a lot of references (some of the X-Men ones are especially good), crude humour and jokes but more consistently land this time. Plus it does help that they try and give Wade some more serious and emotional development for Reynolds to sink his teeth into, so Deadpool isn’t just a joke machine.

Director David Leitch (of John Wick fame) really ups the game with the action in Deadpool 2. It’s clear from his stunt background that Leitch knows how to film fights that are innovative and well shot, as well as how to show character through their fighting styles. It’s like everyone involved with Deadpool 2 just fully embraces the silliness of the film and its characters, which makes both fights and character beats just work so much better.

Most of Deadpool’s superhero team aren’t around long to make much of an impression but the sequence they are in is so unexpected and hilarious that it’s not really a shame they’re not in it much. Domino (Zazie Beetz) is the one member of Deadpool’s team that sticks around and she’s fantastic. Her superpower is being lucky and how that’s show on screen is very cinematic (no matter what Deadpool might say) and it’s just fun!

Josh Brolin as Cable is pretty brilliant too. The prosthetics and special effects work on his cyborg body and how that’s integrated with his human one looks impressive anyway and with that and the costuming, Cable is an intimidating presence. He’s almost unstoppable and how he and Deadpool work against one another (before naturally finding some common ground) is a great dynamic, with one being stoic and the other never shutting up.

That’s not to say Deadpool 2 doesn’t have its flaws. Julian Dennison’s performance as Russell doesn’t always work, it’s hard to take his anger seriously at times and equally the quieter, emotional moments don’t always land either. Then there’s the treatment of Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), the love of Wade’s life, it feels cheap and so cliché and while Wade often comments on narrative stereotypes, this one is treated so seriously. It’s there to just add emotional weight to Wade’s character and it’s a disservice to Vanessa as her own character.

Deadpool 2 is funny, action-packed and just good fun. The new characters work well with ones we’ve previously met – Karan Soni’s psycho killer Dopinder is an unexpected highlight – and while the first Deadpool movie worked for having a simple plot, Deadpool 2 flourishes for having more action, more characters and more emotional moments – though some don’t always hit the mark, at least the attempt was made. 4/5.

REVIEW: The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020)

Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan) can’t help but hoard past mementos from failed relationships, but after her latest breakup with her first proper Grown Up boyfriend Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar) her best friends convince her to start to try and let go of the past. In doing so, Lucy beings to curate an art space dedicated to past relationships with the reluctant help of wannabe hotel owner Nick (Dacre Montgomery).

The Broken Hearts Gallery doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of romcoms but what it does do his hit all the needed romcom beats very well and has a load of charm and a fantastic leading lady in Geraldine Viswanathan. Viswanathan is very funny, and she is the glue that holds this film together. She does a great job of showing the different sides to Lucy and make her sympathetic and believable. Plus, Viswanathan and Montgomery have great chemistry as their verbal sparring goes from friendly to flirty as they get closer.

The Broken Hearts Gallery works because it’s never cynical about romance or the type of genre film it is a part of. Yes, Lucy is a hopeless romantic and Nick is more closed off, but there’s something both satisfying and melancholy about the message of letting go to past relationships. That ability to be able to remember but also move on is important in the breakdown of any relationship, romantic or otherwise. Lucy curates this space in order for her to try and let go and it ends up snowballing into something so much bigger than she could imagine – because she’s not the only one who struggles with the what ifs and maybes.

Besides the romance aspect of The Broken Hearts Gallery, one of the key aspects of both Lucy and Nick’s lives are their friendships. Lucy lives with Amanda (Molly Gordon) and Nadine (Phillipa Soo), one whose been in a relationship for six years and the other that leaves behind a string of broken-hearted models. How they each think of love and commitment is different but then their friendship is so strong. They aren’t afraid to call each other out on their issues but they’re also very protective of one another and their dialogue, while full of quips and not particularly realistic, is often very funny. While it doesn’t get as much screen time as the girls’ relationship, Nick has Marcos (Arturo Castro), a friend/employee and his wife Randy (Megan Ferguson) and their relationship is often both funny and awkward.

The Broken Hearts Gallery is sweet, funny and heart-warming. It’s a film that’s made to put a big smile on your face and has relationships that are full of chemistry – platonic and romantic. It’s just a delightful film that makes you feel better if you’re feeling down. 4/5.

REVIEW: Logan (2017)

My original review of Logan from when it was released four years ago.

In the future where mutants are nearly extinct, an old and weary Logan (Hugh Jackman) leads a quiet life, trying to keep himself and Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) out of harm’s way. When Laura (Dafne Keene), a young mutant who’s more like him than he first realises, comes to him for help Logan reluctantly tries to get her to safety.

Logan is a lot more real and grounded compared to the previous X-Men films. There’s no spandex and there’s fewer powers on show. This is a Logan and Charles who are both old and frail in different ways, who have seen are lot and are weary with the world – though Charles has more hope than Logan.

Putting aside the superpowered side effects of Charles’ illness, how he acts is very true to life in terms of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. He sometimes doesn’t remember Logan, he has mood swings, he doesn’t always remember what he’s previously said or done. It’s sad anyway but seeing Patrick Stewart play Charles Xavier, a man we’ve previously seen to always be in control of his mind and just about any situation not being able to manage the simplest of tasks just goes to show how long and hard a life these characters have had.

The action in Logan is brutal. Logan isn’t as strong as he once was, and he doesn’t heal as fast, but he can still stab and slash at bad guys when needed. Laura, on the other hand, has a tonne of energy and is vicious as she takes down the men who want to take her. There’s blood and screams and limbs are torn from bodies as well as a few decapitations too. It’s rough but it is well suited to the characters of Wolverine and X-23 and I think we’re lucky we’ve seen the full extent of what these characters can do when the film’s rating isn’t an issue.

Logan is an incredibly satisfying end to Wolverine’s story (or at least Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of him). There’s some humour and hope in amongst this dreary and hard world these characters now live and Jackman and Stewart’s performances and chemistry are both phenomenal and, at times, can bring you to tears.

Logan is a sombre, personal story about two weary men trying to save one girls life and for her to have a life better than there’s. Logan is the perfect swansong for the character and for Hugh Jackman who has made the role his own over all these years and films. It really is a drama with comic book elements rather than being a full-on typical superhero movie and it really works as that. 5/5.

REVIEW: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

My original X-Men: Apocalypse review from when it was first released.

Ten years after the Washington incident, mutants are known to the world. When En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), who is believed to be the world’s first mutant, resurfaces Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his X-Men must unite to save the world from destruction.

I honestly don’t know how I feel about X-Men: Apocalypse. I feel like it’s the epitome of a mixed bag. There are some things I really liked but there are a lot that I really didn’t. Let’s start with the good.

The crop of new characters (or younger versions of characters we already know) are fun and it’s nice to see their dynamics. There are hints of the extent of Jean’s (Sophie Turner) powers and a young Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) is suitable bashful and cocky as he tries to come to terms with his new powers. Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is some comedic relief but the full extent of how visually impressive his powers are (as seen in X2) is never truly realised and he’s used to just ferry around people to move the plot along.

Evan Peters returns as Peter Maximoff and while how his parentage is revealed (or not) is very annoying, Peter as a character is one of the best things in this film. He’s so much fun and brightens every scene he’s in. There’s once again a sequence that shows his powers to their fullest and it’s got another great song accompanying it. Honestly, this film would’ve been over at the halfway point if Peter hadn’t shown up.

Now for the not so good. Michael Fassbender returns as Magneto and his performance is still great and is still one of the best casting decisions in this franchise. However, the decision to have Magneto destroy Auschwitz seems insensitive at best and that scene is just uncomfortable to watch. Having four costumed superpowered people just standing in there seemed weird to begin with and while mutants are an allegory for minority groups and Magneto is Jewish it just seems like a sequence that shouldn’t have gotten past the script drafting stages.

En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse is such a bland and generic villain. He’s big on the monologues and he’s not particularly intimidating either. Oscar Isaac is wasted in the role and to be honest anyone could have been under all those prosthetics and make up and the performance would have hardly changed.

There’s a whole segment where Colonel William Stryker (Josh Helman) makes an appearance and captures some of our heroes that feels out of place when you think about it too much. It’s really just there to give Jean, Scott and Nightcrawler something to do and to facilitate a big cameo. The reasons why Stryker has taken them are paper thin and it does just seem like a way for the heroes to get a plane and some cool battle suits. There could have been another way to achieve those things and shave twenty minutes off the films runtime while doing so.

X-Men: Apocalypse is a bit of a mess really. The final battle is exciting, the ways various characters fight one another with their powers is always cool to watch, and the film does end on a good note with the formation of the X-Men, but the dialogue is often terrible and anything but subtle, and with a one-dimensional villain it feels like the threat to the world is there just because the characters told you it is. 2/5.

Z is for Zorro

I’m kind of cheating and having almost a generalisation on the last day of the A-Z in April Challenge – or a title for many characters rather than an individual character in particular. Like how I said I like the Robin Hood stories, I like the story of Zorro for a lot of the same reasons.

As I said in my post about Elena de la Vega, I love The Mask of Zorro. I think it shows how the title of Zorro can be passed down, and highlights what the main qualities of Zorro should be. Alejandro Murrieta is vastly different to Diego de la Vega, the original Zorro, when they first met due to his drinking and grief and anger. Though he is still a bit reckless and impulsive, through Diego’s training, Alejandro becomes a good imitation of a nobleman and a skilled fighter.

A few years ago, I read Zorro by Isabel Allende which is like a retelling/origin story of the legendary Zorro and I enjoyed it a lot. It follows his through child and teen years to his early twenties and the events and relationships that make him into a young man who would become a masked vigilante.

Y is for Yzma

This is definitely a cheat post.

For the life of me, I could not think of a character whose first or last name began with a Y and that it was a character I loved, and I hadn’t used before in previous A-Z in April Challenge’s. So, I took to Google and that’s what led me to Yzma.

I’m not totally lying as I do like Yzma. The Emperor’s New Groove is such a odd and funny film and she has some of the best moments in it. Yzma is power-hungry, malicious and funny. She’s a political advisor and chemist so she’s smart but she’s also very dramatic so her plans are often far more complicated than they need to be.

I besides the interesting look and animation of Yzma, the reason she is such a memorable and fun character is because of Eartha Kitt’s performance. Her raspy voice and wit just shine through and she really nails that slightly manic edge Yzma has.

X is for Xtras

I’m sure like many people who do the A-Z in April Challenge, I often really struggle with the letter X. I’ve previously had Charles Xavier when I wrote about favourite characters before but as I don’t want any repeats, I’m cheating and just sharing a few favourite characters that didn’t quite make the cut for their own post.

Steve Harrington
My all-out favourite from Stranger Things. I love his growth as a character and even when he was a bit of a bully towards Jonathan in the first season, he realised his mistakes and went to apologise and became a great monster hunter. I love how protective Steve is of the kids, how he’ll always put himself in harms way to stop others getting hurt (he really needs to be checked for any brain injuries) and that while he’s not academically smart, he picks on things up others don’t.

Jaylah
Star Trek Beyond is my favourite Star Trek film and is generally one of my favourite films. Jaylah is a brilliant character and I love how she fits in with the crew of the Enterprise. She’s a fierce fighter, she’s a smart engineer, and though she’s scared of what they have to face thanks to her traumatic childhood, she is brave enough to stare down her demons and finds a new family with the crew.

Jesper Fahey
Jesper was already one of my favourite characters from Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom but having finished (and loved) the Shadow and Bone TV show, I love him even more. He is funny and charming and brave, and he is such a good friend. There’s a moment when a friend asks him to kill someone for her and his response is “Ugh why me? But OK.” because that’s just how he is. He has a gambling problem which often leads him to get into scrapes so it’s a good job his such a fantastic shot – honestly how they showed his guns skills in the show was so cool.

Elizabeth Swann
I still believe the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy are brilliant and The Curse of the Black Pearl is a fantastic film. I love how Elizabeth evolves as a person over the course of the films though still stays the same adventurous and quick-witted person she always was. She’s brave but sometimes reckless, caring but sometimes harsh – she’s one of the most interesting characters in that franchise. I also love how she becomes such a great sword fighter, pirate, and the Pirate King.

W is for Will Scarlett

I really like the story of Robin Hood and pretty much any iteration of it. The whole stealing from the rich to give to the poor and people to coming together thing are tropes or themes that I love. Like the story, I tend to really like Will Scarlett in any version.

My favourite Robin Hood adaptation is Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and that has my favourite Will Scarlett. What I love about this Will Scarlett here is his attitude and his backstory.

Personality-wise, Will is impulsive and cocky and jealous. Not really the nicest qualities but he’s also pretty charming and a skilled fighter. Plus, when you learn his backstory his attitude towards Robin makes so much sense as it’s easy to understand where all his resentment came from. I especially like how once Robin knows Will is his younger half-brother, he wants to protect him and not put him in danger, and Will’s like “You shot me in the hand, I think you don’t get to tell me what’s dangerous.”

The dynamics between Will and the other Merry Men are great but it’s that push and pull relationship he has with Robin, both before and after everyone knows they’re brothers that’s really fun.

V is for Elena de la Vega

The Mask of Zorro is one of my favourite films, in the sense that it’s a film I love but I kind of forget about it until I watch it and fall in love with it all over again. I think I’ve watched the sequel, The Legend of Zorro, a couple of times but it’s the first one that I truly love.

Elena is just fab – and no she’s not my namesake though I wouldn’t be mad if she was. I love how she’s kind, sensitive and a strong sense of justice but she sometimes struggles with that as it’s not seemly for an upstanding young lady in society to talk of and be passionate about such things. There are almost two sides to her, the one of the respectable lady in high society and then the young woman who knows how to sword fight and is not afraid to knock out a guard to rescue someone.

How she is conflicted when she learns the truth about her parentage is so believable. She’s grown up knowing one man as her father, and while he is not a nice person generally, he’s always loved her. So then learning that he’s been lying to her all her life and meeting her biological father gives her a whole mess of emotions. She doesn’t want the man she just learnt is her biological father to be hurt but equally she still cares about the man who raise her.

I just really like how feisty and strong and passionate Elena is for political issues and having a more just society. She is more than a match for both of her fathers, and for Alejando Murrieta aka Zorro.

REVIEW: Deadpool (2016)

My original Deadpool review from when it was first released.

After experimental cancer treatment left ex-mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) with full-body scarring and accelerated healing, he sets out to find Ajax (Ed Skrein), the man responsible.

Yes, I decided to include the Deadpool films in my big X-Men rewatch as they are technically part of the same universe. This is also one of the films that I haven’t seen since the cinema five years ago, so I was interested to see if it held up.

In short no. While there were some chuckles and smiles there wasn’t the full belly laughs I remember it giving me in the cinema. I think this is a problem for comedies in general. My enjoyment of them can vastly depend on where (and who with) I watch them if the comedy is mediocre. With Deadpool five years ago, it was a surprise. The referential humour, the fourth wall breaks, and gracious violence wasn’t something we’d seen before in a superhero movie so that combined with seeing it in a packed cinema with friends probably made a lot of the films feel funnier than it was. Now having also seen Deadpool 2 and being five years older, once you’ve had thirty minutes of the references and violence you know exactly what Deadpool as a film is doing so there isn’t the surprise factor and not as many jokes land as you thought.

That being said, while the comedy element of Deadpool doesn’t always work as well on rewatch the action still holds up. The opening fight sequence as Wade literally drops into a motorcade and proceeds to maim and/or kill everyone in the vehicle is well shot and easy to follow even with the added crotch shots. Likewise having Wade only having a set number of bullets in the freeway shoot out makes his kills more innovative.

Deadpool works as a story because the action and motive are all small scale and personal – especially compared to a lot of the other superhero films released then and since. Deadpool is a revenge story bookended by a love story. Wade is in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) so in order to have a life with her, he submits himself for the experimental treatment. Then it’s a revenge story after what the treatment does to him which then turns back into a love story as Wade has to go rescue Vanessa from the bad guys. There is CGI in Deadpool and the final battle in an old shipping yard doesn’t look quite as good as some of the previous sequences but on the whole the action is bloody and brutal and with Wade cracking jokes all the time it’s often funny too.

Speaking of CGI there is the proclaimed CGI Character with Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) one of the two X-Men featured in Deadpool who is more of a pacifist and keeps trying to convince Wade to stop killing people and join them. The other is Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), a moody teen who makes fun of Wade and doesn’t say a lot. Personally, Wade’s referential jokes about the X-Men movies and actors were my favourite because it really is so hard to keep track of these films’ timelines.

All in all, Deadpool is a bit funny with decent action and a tight story. The fact that it is still so different to the majority of superhero movies today does stand in its favour and maybe one day studios (namely Disney as they now own everything Marvel) will put out the odd film that doesn’t follow the usual narrative and ratings they’ve gone for so far. Though to be honest those films make them a lot of money so in their mind they’re probably like “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 2/5.