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X-Men Origins, Wolverine

by Mark Dickson     0   0   0   0   0
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Wolverine is Hugh Jackman’s second foray into mainstream film production and with a cinema full of celebrity movie buffs (Margaret and David were in the front row!) It felt like everyone was interested in the result.

The movie traces Wolverine’s life from the childhood awakening of his powers in the 1850’s & his life from war to war alongside his brother Creed (Sabertooth, played by US born Liev Schreiber). The relationship becomes more uneasy as Creed’s blood lust becomes more obvious. This finally causes Logan to split from an elite squad of Mutants recruited by the military – moving to a quieter life in the Canadian Rockies with his girlfriend played by Lynn Collins.

Skipping part of the story as it would give too much away… Wolverine agrees to be injected with Adamantium to gain revenge … and through several plot twists ends up at a laboratory where mutants are being used – ending up with more spectacular fighting & introduction briefly towards the end of a key character from the X-men movies.

We see few other of the future X men characters, most just briefly as children; apart from Wolverine, Sabretooth and Cyclops (played by NIDA graduate & Sydney born Tim Pocock – Previously more familiar as a Tenor in The Australian Opera). I suspect they are holding back on these characters for future “X Men Origins”.

There are plenty of new characters though, including Bolt, with power over electricity (pardon the pun!) played by Dominic Monaghan (Merry from LOTR); Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) with control of playing cards and some crazy trick with a stick; and Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) with a nifty flick of the sword wrist (and who turns up later as XI, but played by Scott Adkins).

A criticism is lack of clarity in just some of the landscape shots (a waterfall fly by looks distinctly fuzzy), but this is not the case in the action shots, maybe this is just a grading issue with one part. The action sequences however are excellent, & some details are better than the original X men films such as Wolverine’s blades & the way they emerge from his hands. How this occurs is shown & also the original form they took before Adamantium merged with his skeleton.

We also of course get just as much detail of Hugh’s muscular body that he has worked so hard to harden up! According to interviews he was eating massive amounts from before dawn (mostly chicken apparently); as well as working out 6 days a week, listening to hard rock music and yelling like wolverine while doing it. I really have to speak to my trainer…. I knew I was doing something wrong!

Oddly, again there is a nod to Star Wars (as there was in Star Trek) – the goading of Luke by The Emperor in Return of the Jedi immediately came to mind during one piece of dialogue.

Overall this is a solid start to a franchise and worth going to see, even if just for the action sequences. The 100+ years of war sequences are sped through during credits & What thereafter starts slowly builds to an exciting last half, perhaps dulled a little as we know that the two main leads appear in the chronologically later X men movies, although their interactions are more important than that one issue. The formation of Wolverine’s character is very well handled by Hugh and bodes well for future films.

By the way, don’t stand up as soon as the credits start…. and stay to the end of them – there are two last bits that you’d miss if you weren’t a movie reviewer; and finally the best line of the movie…..“Ooh, Shiny!”

Release date in Australia 30th April 2009 – limited release on 28th.
Directed by Gavin Hood (Rendition in 2007)

Full cast and credits:


Star Trek : Beginnings

by Mark Dickson     0   0   0   0   0
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I don’t know how I can wait until May 7th – Having watched this stunning movie once; I wanted to watch the whole thing all over again immediately!

The movie begins the epic Star Trek tale again, from before the story started, but from after the story left off.
We start with James Tiberius Kirk’s birth amongst disaster, where his father George Kirk (Melbourne actor Chris Hemsworth) gallantly fought to save the crew in face of impossible odds from a gigantic rogue Romulan ship from the future captained by a vengeful Nero (Eric Bana).

We then dive forward into his childhood as an Iowa farm boy (with Jimmy Bennett playing Kirk) & quickly into his adulthood where James, now 25 & played by the very easy on the eye Chris Pine, gets into a fight after flirting with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) in a bar & is rescued by the current Enterprise captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood).

James is brilliant, but troubled & directionless but manages to end up at star fleet academy – meeting most of the key characters we all know in the process, and even shagging someone …revealing that the new Kirk is more than a match for William Shatner in the body stakes, and revealing a lot more than the previous Kirks did!

The tension between James and & the young Spock (Zachary Quinto) starts in earnest here, but the story doesn’t slow down with the characterisation at this stage as an emergency calls all able bodied star fleet to arms, including the cadets…

Then there are: Fights, crashes, arguments, Emotions, Ice planets, Rabid monsters, Meetings, escapes, Romulins, Disasters, Weapons, torpedos, Bangs, Flashes,..

…but you can get all that from the trailers so I don’t know why you are trying to find spoilers here!

We go on a journey of discovery with the crew, as they all have to grow up very quickly & rely on each other. All the characters pay homage to the originals – with occasional hints at their forebear’s affectations or signature phrases – but never really falling into mimicry.

Chris especially manages to show the arrogance and the humanity in Kirk that we loved from William Shatner (Apparently he got the nod from William in a letter when he got the part)

The various other elements of the movie combine to make it the epic we hoped for – from the sound track highs and lows, to the cinematography – even the subtle contrast between the blood on James’ face and the neon lights behind him in the bar stick out. (Can see this in trailer 3)

Influence of other movies in the sci fi genre are apparent – with grand scenes similar to Star Wars IV and the Hoth ice planet in Empire Strikes back. Indeed Star Trek ”Beginning” has all the hallmarks of the start of a strong and successful new voyage “where no one has gone before.
If the story in other movie series can be looped back on itself as successfully as this has I would say this may be the future of sequels to come for many movies…and if they have a director as good as JJ Abrams a the helm it bodes well for the future of big screen movies.

Development of the film began in 2005 when Paramount Pictures contacted Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman for ideas to revive the franchise. They wanted to be faithful to the long history of Star Trek, take elements from the novels and modernise the production. Filming started in November 2007 & finished about a year ago – Release date is 7th May.