X-Men: Days of Future Past – Messing with my mind

Film

X-Men: Days of Future Past

It has been a very long time since I wrote down my thoughts on any film, long or short, here on my blog. Something I feel like I need to get into the habit of again. Admittedly, I’m no film critic – so far from it. But … I think I miss regurgitating my thoughts on films I’ve seen.

So here I am, starting it up again with the latest X-Men film – X-Men: Day of Future Past.

100 movies: The Hunger Games

100 movies of 2012

Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy!

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games (23/03/12)

Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.

Vague disclaimer: I have not read the books. I know very little about the books other than a load of teenagers fighting to the death with only one winner. Very simplistic. But that’s all I knew going into this film.

Right, onto the film. So we have a future world where things ain’t so great for the every day people. But of course there are the city folk who seem to be doing pretty well with themselves. Oh and they look absolutely fabulous. The government’s got the people under their thumb and are doing a pretty damn good job at controlling the people. And then we’ve got The Hunger Games. The chance for the Districts to proudly watch their teenagers fight for their people. To the death. For entertainment.

The Hunger Games brought a couple of films to mind – Battle Royale and The Running Man. With Battle Royale you’ve got the fighting teens and The Running Man’s got the reality TV aspect. Smoosh them together with a bit of a Tween feeling and you’ve got The Hunger Games. But… it just didn’t work all that well for me. Sure, I enjoyed the film and thought it was good enough. But thought there were a fair few things that didn’t work for me in the film.

The whole thing with these kids killing each other for entertainment is pretty damn dark. There were some fairly brutal scenes. But I didn’t think it went far enough. In The Running Man you’ve got the over the top reality TV aspect which was missing here. It was just a by-the-by kind of thing. It wasn’t capitalised enough upon.

The film began to drag a little bit. It is a fairly long film. I’m not adverse to sitting in the cinema for over two hours, but when it begins to feel like more than two hours I start to get a bit ‘eh’. The pacing was great – really snappy, until the games actually got going. Things got slow and I grew a little bored. Well, bored’s a strong word. Restless moreso.

It was hard for me to connect with the characters. Jennifer Lawrence did a great job, but I thought I could feel more invested in Katniss’ plight. I just didn’t. She was just going through the motions. And me watching along with.

The rest of the supporting cast are great. Just wish there was more time spent on them. Though, I guess, it’s not really their story.

There was one point in the film (SPOILER ALERT) when District 12 have their little uprising after a certain death. I didn’t understand why after 74 Hunger Games, after that many deaths, that’s when they really think about things? Really?

I feel like I’m being really hard on the film. Thought it was good. Not great. The fangirls in the cinema loved it, so it must have done a lot of things right. Heck the guy in his 40s sitting in front of me was cradling his head during the last 20 minutes of the film. Just didn’t quite effect me that much.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

120+ movies: Winter’s Bone

120+ Movies of 2011, Annual Movie Challenge

My goal of 120 films watched this year isn’t looking like something I can get to. I’ve got just about a month to watch 30 films. Erm. Yeah, even with the Christmas season, somehow I don’t think this will happen! How on EARTH did I manage it last year?!

Winter's BoneWinter’s Bone (27/11/11)

An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.

Winter’s Bone is a good film. Though it’s not exactly enjoyable to watch. It’s bloody depressing! Watching a 17 year old girl look after her entire family while trying to deal with a whole heap of those unsavory lot while trying to find her father.

Jennifer Lawrence is great in the film. She’s got the entire film on her shoulders and she does a brilliant job. She’s one determined teenager.

Why did I only give this film a 3/5? I thought it was a good film, it just lacked something for me. A great performance from Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t quite enough. Needed something else. I don’t know what it is though! If I think of it I’ll let you know.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far:

120+ Movies: Update!

120+ Movies of 2011

This post has taken me over a week to finally finish writing. Must not leave it this long in between updates!

I dread to think how much money I’ve spent going to the cinema this year….

X-Men: First ClassX-Men: First Class (01/06/11)

In 1962, Charles Xavier starts up a school and later a team, for humans with superhuman abilities. Among them is Erik Lensherr, his best friend… and future archenemy.

X-Men 1 and 2 are among my favourite comic book films. You’ve got to hand it to the first X-Men film, that effectively kicked off all of the current comic book movie adaptations we’ve got now. Well, you might or might not be grateful for that.

Last Stand had some good bits, but on the whole it was a mess. The less said about Wolverine, the better. So First Class had a lot of work to do. The terrible film posters before release didn’t help it.

Though am happy to say that it surpassed my expectations! Okay, so said expectations were probably quite low, but they were still surpassed.

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender held the film together brilliantly. I loved James’ portrayal of a young Xavier. Michael’s Erik was excellent too. Even if his accent slipped all over the place a little bit.

Some of my favourite bits were the training montage of the new mutants. Love me a bit of split screen. The closing credits were beautiful! I just blocked out the song they were playing over it. Oh and the score has been one of my favourites of the summer blockbuster season.

The not so good were probably the villains. Not Kevin Bacon (who was rather good!), but the other villainous mutants. January Jones sucked the life right out of Emma Frost. Azazel and Riptide weren’t given the courtesy of actually having a character past their mutant abilities.

The cameos were brilliant and I may have snorted a little bit when I saw Michael Ironside appear in the film. He has that reaction for me when I see him in any film these days!

While Thor remains my favourite comic book movie adaptation of the summer so far, this is a close second. Glad to say the X-Men movie franchise has found it’s feet again.
Rating: 4/5

Electra LuxxElectra Luxx (04/06/11)

Life for porn actress Elektra Luxx gets turned upside down when she finds out she’s pregnant.

For the love of JGL. That’s the reason I watched this. It’s turning into a habit. First GI Joe and now Electra Luxx. However, unlike GI Joe, this was more of a better film! With the added bonus of Timothy Olyphant. I’m not a totally fickle film viewer, honest.

It’s a funny little film. Funny ha-ha, not funny odd. Well, maybe a little odd, but the good kind of odd.

Sadly, it’s been so long since I saw this film I can’t remember all too much about it save that I enjoyed it, laughed a little and at the end was rather happy that I decided to watch it.

Oh and the opening credits are among the best I have ever seen. Reminded me heavily of the Queens of the Stone Age music video for Go With the Flow. Just gorgeous to watch!
Rating: 3/5

The Usual SuspectsThe Usual Suspects (05/06/11)

A boat has been destroyed, criminals are dead, and the key to this mystery lies with the only survivor and his twisted, convoluted story beginning with five career crooks in a seemingly random police lineup.

Yes, it has taken ME this many years to see this film. Woops! Was the whole ending ruined for me? Not really. Somehow I’ve shielded myself from seeing the twist here from the never-ending lists on film sites about the ‘best film twist ending’. Probably my own subconscious knowing that some day I would finally see The Usual Suspects.

Loved it. From start to end. Very tense. Very cool. Questions at every turn, up until the ending. Not much more that needs to be said! I understand why this film is a modern classic. Though I think I need to see it again.
Rating: 5/5

SennaSenna (10/06/11)

A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34.

In 1994 I was 10 years old and I remember watching the Formula 1 race at Imola that Ayrton Senna had an un-spectacular crash that ultimately killed him. I also remember playing my F1 game on my Amiga and the only driver I wanted to play was Ayrton.

I’ve been looking forward to the release of this film since Jeremy Clarkson mentioned it way back on Top Gear. Though, this was not the documentary I was expecting.

What I got was an impressive documentary magically stitched together using footage from races and the behind-the-scenes of Ayrton’s life as a racer and a very proud Brazilian. No talking heads. Instead we’ve got Ayrton narrating his own life along with the people he worked with and his family.

The film charts his life from his go-karting career into F1 where he his the spotlight being a bit of a risk taking driver. No doubt about it, when he got into the cockpit and out onto the track, all he wanted to do was win. And why not? He was known for doing some insane things on the track and you get to see a few of them.

The portrayal of the ongoing battle between him and Alain Prost was amazing to see. I’m not sure how much of it was over-hyped for the documentary’s purpose. Or how the saga had been manipulated for the film’s purpose. It made for some good drama.

There were lots of emotional moments in the film. Seeing the aftermath of Martin Donnelly’s crash was tough to see. Equally emotional was watching Ayrton Senna’s career unfold.

But the bit that hit me hard was moments before Senna’s own crash. I knew it was coming. I remember, vaguely, watching that race. I think my heart was beating in my throat, then it happened. My memory made it look a lot more violent than it actually was! Strange to think that that was the accident that killed Senna. After that, my emotions were all over the place. Which made Senna’s funeral all the harder to watch with tears streaming down my face!

Right, this is a bit long already. I should end it now. Go watch Senna. Even if you’re not a driving/racing fan. I’m not an F1 fan. I was back then. I went with a non-petrol head person and he seemed to enjoy it! Senna is a brilliantly put together documentary with a very moving soundtrack about one of the best sportsmen of our time.
Rating: 5/5

The Human CentipedeThe Human Centipede (10/06/11)

A mad scientist kidnaps and mutilates a trio of tourists in order to reassemble them into a new pet – a human centipede.

From Senna to this. And the less said about this the better. It’s a very bad film. Sure the subject matter is horrific, but in the execution of it, they’ve skipped the majority of the gross-ness.

Bad acting, bad dialogue, bad everything. Why did I watch this? Like a lot of people – I was curious!
Rating: 1/5

Green LanternGreen Lantern (17/06/11)

A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.

Considering how many comic book films there are already out, getting released and have all ready come and gone, there’s a bar up there which they all need to hit. Green Lantern just didn’t cut it.

As origin stories go, this was your average story. Childhood trauma leads to unstable adult who eventually overcomes his own shortcomings to become the hero he’s known to be. There was nothing along the way to attempt to change things in any way. Just to shake it up a little bit at least.

Ryan Reynolds made the film watchable and amusing at times. The rest of the cast weren’t all that engaging. The CG wasn’t all that fantastic. There just seemed to be so much of it. I understand the need for it, but if you’re going to throw that much CG at a film, at least make it good. Most of the time it looked like I was watching a digitally animated film. Yes, those moments on the Green Lanterns home planet.

The underlying notion of will vs. fear was an interesting one, though I don’t think they made full advantage of it. It was just used in passing to explain a few little things. Which is a shame – could have been what was needed to give the film some added depth.

Had I seen the film in 3D, I might have called it a waste of money. I was grateful that there was a 2D showing that I could see. Which might have given me the inclination to give this film one more point that maybe it’s worth. It’s light entertainment. Not a great comic book film. Not a terribly bad one either. Definitely not as bad as Wolverine. Just doesn’t match up to what has already come this summer with Thor and X-Men: First Class.

(I think I’ve been a tad harsh giving this film a 2/5, but I couldn’t justify a 3! Even though I did partly enjoy it.)
Rating: 2/5

PaulPaul (18/06/11)

Two British comic-book geeks traveling across the U.S. encounter an alien outside Area 51.

I think Paul lived up to expectations. Funny, silly and full of Simon Pegg/Nick Frost bromance. With an added alien. Lots of fun cameos. Jason Bateman being pretty damn awesome. Tonnes of other sci-fi movie references. Made for a very entertaining film.

I didn’t find it hilariously funny. Just had a bit of a smile on my face throughout the film. The film rattled through to the end pretty swiftly. With one little surprise.

Paul himself I loved. I wouldn’t mind my own little Paul. He made me laugh! And surprisingly good CG on him.

Fantastic score too – thanks to David Arnold. Really made a big impact during the more action packed scenes. It’s not the kind of film I’d pair up with having a score on par with Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace. Wouldn’t have been possible without David Arnold.

A very silly but fun little film.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far: