Pointless Brain Droppings (May 17, 2018)

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negasonic teenage warheadNegasonic Teenage Warhead.

She of the two Deadpool movies. She’s also in the comic books, I’m told. Interesting character. One question that nags me, though:

What is she going to be called when she turns 20?

She wouldn’t technically be a Teenage Warhead any longer. Would it be Negasonic Warhead? Or just streamline it to just Warhead? I’d go for the latter, actually.

In hindsight, choosing to use the word “Teenage” in the name may have been a bit shortsighted. Like with New Kids On The Block, or Backstreet Boys. Sooner or later, they’re all going to have to give up and admit to the passage of time rendering those edgy monikers null and void.

Besides, life really does begin at 30, guys. This whole “teenage” thing was what you would call overrated.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Movie Review: X2

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x220th Century Fox
2003
PG-13

“Logan, my tolerance for your smoking in the mansion notwithstanding, continue smoking that in here, and you’ll spend the rest of your days under the belief that you’re a six-year-old girl.”

Fascinating. All this time, and even though I’ve reviewed all the other X-Men movies that have come out, I’ve never did a proper review for the second movie in the franchise, X2: X-Men United. I don’t know what may have caused this glaring oversight; consider this my long-overdue rectification of that issue.

At the time, X2 was described by director Bryan Singer as a darker, Empire Strikes Back style movie for the Merry Mutants. And yes…that is a very apt description of this movie. And if you’re somehow unfamiliar with the X2 storyline, let me tell you…

After an opening where the President of the United States narrowly escapes an assassination attempt, Wolverine returns from the journey of discovery he went on at the end of the first movie back to the Xavier Institute to find Professor Xavier tracking a mutant with a very erratic movement pattern. Later, while the Professor and Cyclops are off visiting Magneto in his prison, and Storm and Jean Grey are out trying to find Nightcrawler (the mutant that tried to kill the President), a military scientist gets the go ahead to invade Xavier’s school for gifted students. Wolverine manages to get several of the kids to safety, and escapes with Rogue, Iceman and Pyro. Meanwhile, Xavier and Cyclops are captured, while Mystique helps Magnito escape his prison. The two then run into the other X-Men, and form an uneasy alliance to take down the military scientist that invaded the mansion. His name is Stryker, and turns out is the man who originally infused the adamantium to Wolvie’s skeleton. They find the location of Stryker’s underground base, where he is using Xavier to telepathically kill every mutant on the planet. They infiltrate the base, and manage to free the mutants being held there, as well as destroy the device that was going to kill all mutantkind, and Jean Grey dies using her powers to keep the burst dam from killing everyone before the X-Men’s jet can take off. Everyone is safe, but sad now, although Professor Xavier senses things are not over with Jean.

Overall, X2 is counted as the best of the first three X-Men films for good reason. The stakes were higher, not everyone gets out unscathed, the villains are cast in a more sympathetic light, and not everything is what you would call black and white, cut and dried, and what have you. When we get to the end, there’s a tremendous sense of loss, but also a glimmer of hope on the horizon. X2 is a very satisfying X-Men movie, as well as an action movie in general. I still watch this one frequently, at least once every year or so, and count this as one of the few sequels that was better than the movie that preceded it. Hindsight being what it is, obviously X2 was probably the last one that fans really liked, until the First Class prequel ten years later. Regardless, I can’t think of anyone who’s a fan of the X-Men movies who haven’t seen X2 yet; if this is the case, you owe it to yourself to rectify that. Recommended.

Movie Review: LOGAN

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logan20th Century Fox
2017
R

“Charles Xavier, the world famous mutant octogenarian.”
“Actually, I’m a nonagenarian.”

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

I think we can all agree that Wolverine was the best thing about all of the X-Men movies that have been produced since 2000. Even the ones that were sub-par, with just a cameo of Wolvie made it at least a bit more bearable to sit through. An all-too-brief oasis of awesome in an otherwise mediocre experience. He was the best thing about that otherwise forgettable X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. And I have yet to find the strength to review that one.

With Logan, we finally get to witness our favorite X-Men character’s swan song…along with another X-Men’s swan song in the process. More on that in a bit. Also, perhaps now would be the best time to hoist the !!!SPOILERS!!! flag, so in case you’re one of the five or so people who haven’t watched Logan yet, you’ve been warned. And why are you reading this, when you can be watching Logan? Good grief, let’s get our priorities in order, here.

Anyway, after watching Logan with the rest of the Exalted Geeks (and then promptly recording a Pubcast about it), I have to say that, if this is the way in which Wolverine is going to go out, then it’s a very satisfying way to go. Let’s face it, there was no other way than with a hard “R” rating that would do the character justice, and this movie uses that. And yet, even though this is a movie about the X-Men, Logan manages to be much, much more than just a mere superhero movie. This is a gritty western that happens to feature the Marvel mutants.

Here, we find Wolverine–now just going by his civilian name Logan–past his prime. His healing factor is failing him, bringing along several complications with it. Almost all of the other X-Men have died, and due to government modified corn (seriously) there hasn’t been any other mutants born in ages. Professor Xavier is still alive, but he’s in his 90s and suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s, causing his mutant brain to become classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the gov’ment. Logan has been taking care of Xavier at a secret location on the U. S. / Mexico boarder, working as a for-hire chauffeur, providing the meds necessary to keep Xavier’s seizures at bay. He’s hoping to buy a boat, so that he can have his father figure live out his final days in peace on the ocean. But, all of that is stuck on the back burner when they find themselves the guardians of a young girl that seems to be a hot commodity for a shady gov’ment agency. Now, Logan, Xavier and this kid is on the run to the north to get her to a place that may or may not exist. Oh, and the girl seems to have the same powers, accessories and disposition of a certain aging Canuk we all know and love.

Hype for Logan couldn’t have been higher leading up to the opening of the movie. We all knew this was going to be Hugh Jackman’s final portrayal of the character he played since 2000. Then we heard that Patrick Stewart was going to hang up his Professor X character after this one, as well. This was going to be the Wolverine movie set in Fox’s Mutant universe to end an era, and the two actors couldn’t have picked a better film to go out on.

Aside that it is possible to make a comic book superhero movie that’s smart, dark and doesn’t insult the audience’s collective intelligence, it finally manage to let the true character of the Wolverine come out, a man who struggles to do the right thing, despite the inner demons and the ravages of time and age. It maintains a bleak future, but with a light of hope at the end. Also, there’s tons and tons of what we’ve all wanted to see since we saw Jackman’s Wolverine pop his claws in the 2000 X-Men movie: Wolverine’s berserker rage. This may be a Marvel-based superhero movie, but it earns its “R” rating, so be warned, ye who want to bring your young kids with.

That said, Logan is more a modern western, with more than a passing comparison with a Sam Pickenpaw flick (the move Shane is referenced a couple of times, especially at the tear-inducing ending), rather than the glossy sci-fi that the X-Men reside in. The result is a grittiness that’s organic and not forced, where you feel how tired and reluctant to go on with his past Logan is. To that end, everyone involved with the acting were fantastic, especially the young girl who portrayed X-23/Laura. My favorite scene with her was where she was eating cereal when she senses the Reavers trying to stealthily sneak up on her. She pauses, then takes another bite of the breakfast food anyway. You have to watch it to understand, I guess.

Which is what I’m urging all of you to do, if you haven’t done so already. So what if you don’t like comic book superhero movies. Logan manages to transcend this label, and will stick with you long after you realize there is no post-credit scenes, and you just stuck around because they were playing a Johnny Cash song. No, not that one. The other one.

Movie Review: X-MEN: Apocalypse

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x-men_-_apocalypse20th Century Fox
2016
PG-13

“I’m just saying Empire is still the best. It’s the most complex, the most sophisticated. Wasn’t afraid to have a dark ending.”
“Yeah but come on, if it wasn’t for the first one, you wouldn’t have any of the rest of the movies.”
“Well, at least we can all agree the third one’s always the worst.”

Worshiped as a god since the dawn of civilization, the immortal Apocalypse becomes the firt and most powerful mutant. Awakening after thousands of years, he recruits the disheartened Magneto and other mutants to create a new world order. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Professor X and Raven lead a team of young X-Men to stop the seemingly invincible nemesis from destroying mankind.

It’s been another two years, and here we are at the third movie in the second X-Men trilogy, this are set in the 1980s and involving the Apocalypse storyline.

Of all the comic book exploits that have been adapted for the big screen for Marvel’s Merry Mutants, the one involving the oldest mutant Apocalypse is the one I’m least familiar with. I’m not completely ignorant of the story arc, just not as much as the Days Of Future Past story. So it was, going in to watch this movie with the other Exalted Geeks (we then recorded a podcast about it, right here), I didn’t have a very high expectation, except for having it as good a quality as both First Class and Days Of Future Past.

X-Men: Apocalypse seems to continue on in the grand Hollywood tradition of having the third in the trilogy be the one that’s either underwhelming or outright sucking so hard no light can escape its event horizon. Fortunately, this one only falls under the former category, meaning that while I found the movie entertaining enough, it just didn’t feel up to the level that the previous two entries in the series were.

And yes, I realize they lampshaded this in the movie itself (see above quote).

The story involves a millennia old mutant that, over the eons, has been worshiped as a god in older cultures. His secret to staying alive for so very long? Well, it’s not exactly living right, not smoking or drinking, and exercising daily, let’s just say. Eventually, he’s finally betrayed by the ancient Egyptian empire he was lording over, and was entombed until some FBI agent accidentally lets him loose in 1983. Apocalypse decides that humanity has lost its way, and thus sets out to destroy the world and remake it into his own image, gathering together his “Four Horsemen” (of course), which includes Magneto, who recently discovered how true the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” is. Meanwhile, in upstate New York, Professor Xavier has his own hands full with some new entries in his school for gifted children, when rumblings of this ancient mutant’s desire to do an episode of Extreme Makeover: Planet Earth Edition comes through (among other things), and he has to band together his X-Men to try and take down a god. Easy peasy.

Overall, there’s a lot to like about X-Men: Apocalypse. The visuals were up to the high standard, yes, the interaction between the characters were stellar, and I didn’t really see too many anachronism to the period it was set in. Mainly, the use of the Metallica tune, “The Four Horsemen”; while very much apropos (it played over a scene where Apocalypse was recruiting one of his Horsemen), I don’t know exactly which month this is set in the year 1983, and thus have no idea if the scene in question was set before July of 1983, which is when Kill ‘Em All–the album “The Four Horsemen” appear on–was released, and thus have no fuel for my NERD RAGE!!1! On the other hand, favorite scene, hands down. Also, I feel that this is the one time in all the series where they got the right person to play Storm.

But, when it’s all said and done, X-Men: Apocalypse felt like a lot of build up to a bit of a let-down. For a mutant with aspirations of destroying the entire planet and rebuilding from scratch, there wasn’t a lot of that to be had. At least, not in the “oh, crap, we’re boned” sense that I had with Days Of Future Past. That, and the fact that the method of bringing Magneto back to the dark side was rather arbitrary.

That all said, in the end X-Men: Apocalypse is a good movie for pure sci-fi escapism. It’s an X-Men movie, what more can I really say? If you like the X-Men movies, you’re gonna like this one.

Movie Review: X-MEN

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Movie Review: X-MEN20th Century Fox
2000
PG-13

Born into a world filled with prejudice are children who possess extraordinary and dangerous powers – the result of unique genetic mutations.  Cyclops unleashes bolts of energy from his eyes.  Storm can manipulate the weather at will.  Rogue absorbs the life force of anyone she touches.  But, under the tutelage of Professor Xavier, these and other outcasts learn to harness their powers for the good of mankind.  Now they must protect those who fear them as the nefarious Magneto, who believes humans and mutants can never co-exist, unveils his sinister plan for the future!

It’s easy nowadays to take a film like X-Men for granted. I mean, sure, it’s one of the earlier entries of Marvel-based comic book movies that have seemed to saturate much of the first two decades of the 21st Century. And for any of you so-called Millennials reading this, it’s hard to really explain how dark of a period it was in most of the 1980s and 1990s when it came to good comic book movies, without the benefit of having lived through it all. Sure, there were the first two Superman movies, plus the Batman movie in 1989, as well as Blade in 1998. But then, there was Batman Forever, followed by Batman & Robin, the shiny travesty that was Spawn, not to mention the lesser known Tank Girl and Barb Wire atrocities, to say nothing of the made-for-television movies for JLA, Generation-X, and Captain America. So you can probably understand why, when the news of a live-action X-Men movie was finally going to become a reality came about, there was a bit of cautious optimism about the outcome.

I’ve never collected or read the X-Men comics. I have a firm running knowledge of the history of the comics and the characters due to my being a general pop culture junkie; instead, my knowledge of everyone’s favorite Marvel Mutants stemmed from the cartoon from the 1990s. Classic stuff, that. I knew of the core classic characters, but I didn’t really go beyond the televised version. You might say that I went into watching the X-Men movie as a rather novice, one might say “casual” fan.

I watched the movie twice the day it opened. Once at a matinee, and then once more in the evening with a couple of friends. It was–as it is now, after so many years since opening night–a rather well-made and entertaining comic book-based action movie that finally proved that we can make something based on four-color funnybooks and not make it a joke. Most of the cast were well-picked to play the iconic characters–I do still hold that Halle Berry wasn’t the right pick for Storm, and as much as I detest the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, I do consider Liev Schreiber to be the better Sabretooth–with a rather solid story that went deeper and had more texture than your standard cardboard-cutout Good-Vs.-Evil trope, and compelling character development. And, oh yeah, the action was awesome as well.

X-Men can be looked at as the movie that signaled Marvel’s rise as the comic book movie titans we all know them as now. As I’ve mentioned before, it still holds up as a great film after all these years, and one that, if you still haven’t seen it, you really should.

Movie Review: DEADPOOL

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deadpool20th Century Fox
2016
R

I’m gonna do to your face what Limp Bizkit did to music in the late 90s!

Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, Deadpool tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

Finally. Finally finally finally. After having our collective intelegence insulted with the mishandling of the Merc with a Mouth (actually, technically “Wade Wilson”, not really “Deadpool”, but still) in the cinematic wet fart that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and what constituted as several years of wishy-washy commitment issues from the studios, we long-time Deadpool fans finally have a movie that not only gets the character right, but goes well beyond our expectations on what a good, proper Deadpool movie would be. And considering that this was delivered by the Fox studios (the ones who gave us those wonderful Fantastic 4 movies, among others), I’m fully expecting to see pigs flying in the near future.

You see, I’m in a rather awkward position; I want to go on about the film, about how good it is and all that, but…I also don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who (for some reason I cannot fathom at the moment) hasn’t seen the film yet. So, assuming you haven’t seen it yet, lemme try and shove you off of that fence you’ve been straddling:

For one thing, you’ll be laughing within the first few seconds of the movie. The very opening credits had me and the rest of the theater howling at the way it sets up the irreverent and subversive nature of the movie. And the entire movie is chock full of this kind of funny stuff: the writing is fantastic, the actors’ delivery is impeccable, and there’s so much that I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to watch this again, just to catch whatever I may have missed this one time. Unlike a lot of other comic book-based movies, I’m actually well acquainted with the Deadpool comics (Joe Kelly’s run being my favorite), and I’m proud to say that this Deadpool movie stays very true to that character. Ryan Reynolds is spot-on, and while there are a few tweaks made with the movie version, overall this was a very well-made origin story for the Merc with a Mouth.

I’m going to have to stop there. You have no idea how much I want to go on about this movie. But, I shan’t. I will say, though, that Deadpool well earns that “R” rating, and is not for the squeamish and/or easily offended. Buuuut, if you were familiar with Deadpool, you’d probably know this. That said, Deadpool is awesome, and you really should see it. I’m very picky about which movies I’ll see in the theaters, and it’s rare that I’ll want to see a movie in the theater again after that. Deadpool is a movie I want to see again in the theater. That should tell you something.

Movie Review: X-MEN: Days Of Future Past

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X-Men_Days_of_Future_Past_poster20th Century Fox
2014
PG-13

“Here’s what’s going to go down: I’m from the future, and you’re going to give me your clothes and the keys to your car.”

The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. The Beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from “X-Men: First Class”, in an epic battle that must change the past–to save our future.

Full disclosure: my fandom of the X-Men franchise involves the movies and that classic cartoon from the early 1990s, not the comics. I understand the history of the comics, and am familiar with the eras and storylines from the comic book series; but unless you count Deadpool, I don’t collect the various X-Men comic books. And there are a lot of them. It can boggle the mind, really. I bring this up, because of the comic storyline that X-Men: Days Of Future Past is based on. It’s a classic one, to be sure. Iconic, really. One of the Top 5 classic X-Men stories, and one of the higher-ranking comic book stories overall.

I’ve never read it. Maybe one day I will, but up to now I’ve only watched the animated series adaptation. Which is to say, I once again went into a comic book adaptation movie with very fe preconceived fanboy baggage, beyond the understandable “How is this going to tie the two X-Men franchises together?” And the answer to that question is, “in a satisfactory manner.”

The story involves a bleak reality in the near future, where mutants are hunted and exterminated by Sentinels, highly advanced and extremely adaptable killbots developed by the scariest Keebler elf to ever get into science. He’s basically The Brain from Pinky & The Brain in human form. And he rocks the manliest mustache this side of Yosemite Sam. There, I’ve hit my diminutive persons quips quota for this review.

Anyway, seems the incident that helped to expedite the creation of these Mutant hunting machines (and the universal hatred of Mutants in general) is the assassination of this scientist back in 1973 by a certain blue-skinned shape shifting femme fatal. Things are so bad that Magneto and Professor Xavier have resolved their philosophical differences and united to find a way to stop the all but inevitable extinction of Homo Superior. Which turns out to be time traveling back to 1973 to stop the assassination attempt. Of course. But, since there’s no TARDIS lying around (where’s a Doctor when you need one, amiright?), they have to take the next best route: have Kitty Pryde do a mind-meldy thing with whoever’s travelling back. Because…reasons. She just can. It’s probably best if you don’t think about it too much.

Anyway, seems the only one powerful enough to be sent back that far in time without having their brains liquified is Wolverine. Of course. He’s sent back to the year that brought us the end of the Vietnam war, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, the movie The Exorcist and…oh, yeah, the birth of yours truly, to find the younger Professor Xavier and convince him to snap out of the existential funk he’s in and help prevent the future extermination of Mutant-kind. It’s not going to be easy, what with young Xavier being hooked on a serum that helps him to walk again, but also suppresses his psychic abilities in the process. Will everyone be able to put aside personal butt-hurts and work together to prevent possible extinction? I’m not going to spoil things entirely here, but…well, there is another sequel already being prepped, so…you do the math.

After the initial disappointment of X3 (which I don’t agree with, I actually think it’s still a pretty good movie), and the even more of a disappointment with X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which really was rather bad), the fact that the franchise seems to be bouncing back with strong contenders of The Wolverine (haven’t seen that one yet) and the X-Men: First Class prequel (massively enjoyed it, just haven’t gotten around to reviewing that one yet), doing a movie that brings together the prequel universe with the modern day incarnation seemed rather ambitious, if not risky. But, Bryan Singer was back helming this, so I was interested in how the outcome was going to play out. And I must say, X-Men: Days Of Future Past was a very entertaining and solid entry in the X-Men franchise. There’s a lot to like about this movie: The darker storyline, the snappy dialogue, the tight story, the rather good acting. The young Xavier’s grief at what he perceives as his personal failures is very palpable, which makes his own journey of personal redemption inspirational. Mistakes were made, but we must find the strength to go forward, and all that. The two standout new players in this movie were Dr. Bolivar Trask and Quicksilver. As much as I joke earlier about him, Peter Dinklage was a fantastic choice as the scientist who built the Sentinels, bringing the awesome to what could have been a joke, really. A testament to the man’s acting abilities. Still not going to be watching Game Of Thrones any time soon, though. And perhaps the greatest scene in this movie is owned by Quicksilver helping to break Magneto out of the Pentagon. I can’t say anything about this…you have to watch it. Only ten minutes of screen time with that character, and it was the most memorable scene there. Trust me.

There’s a few things about the movie that still make me scratch my head, though: obviously, how they achieve time travel still makes me throw up my hands and utter an exasperated “WHAAAAAAAAAA…?” Also, I’m assuming, thanks to that after credits sequence at the end of X3, that Xavier’s been bopping around inside the body of his braindead twin brother (always good to have a spare to put your conscience into, just in case), so…what happened to that one to keep him from walking again? Ah, who knows. I can come up with some fanfic theories or something. In the meantime, though X-Men: Days Of Future Past is a great summertime sci-fi flick that you would do well to catch in the theaters while it’s still out. Recommended.