Friday, 19 December 2014

TRAGIK – ‘Path Of Destruction’ - Album review

Phil Vincent has released a lot of albums. By my count, ‘Path Of destruction’ is his nine hundred and twelfth, although I may be a few out. Buolt like a brick shithouse and determined to bring the same weight to his music, Phil is never less than entertaining, and although the Tragic stuff still sees him write everything, the addition of extra musicians does seem to bring a new dimension to his songs.

This latest album sees Phil teaming back up with his Legion cohort and serial guitar guest Vince O’Regan, who pops up for lead guitar duties, with other long term cohort Damien D’ercole adding his own guitar licks to the songs. Opener ‘Look At me Now’ is a catchy piece of work, accentuated by Eric Ragno on keyboards, and manages to be punchy as hell with a stiff melodic backbone. It’s great to hear Phil’s vocals improving slightly, with some good harmonies bolstered by a crystal clear production. It’s a pretty accurate indicator for the rest of the album, which mixes crunchy riffs, melodic choruses and some sweet guitarwork throughout. Worthy of note is track three, ‘All The Time In the World’, which ranks as one of Phil Vincent’s most melodic pieces of work, culminating in a skin chafing solo from O’Regan.

The run time of 55 minutes is bolstered by track six, where it all goes ambitious with a five part song called ‘Lake Of Tears’, clocking in at nearly seventeen minutes. To be honest this doesn’t mean that Phil has gone all prog rock or anything (thankfully), and the time flies by, even if the reading of it as a single track means I can’t listen to the parts as individual tracks without faffing about. A little later the album closes with ‘Thank You’, a sweet song of thanks that could be directed towards a mother or God.

‘Path Of Destruction’ can stand proudly at the top of the Phil Vincent catalogue, providing 55 minutes of quality melodic rock mixed with big riffs and very tuneful vocals. You can’t fault his ambition in chucking in a six part song, nor his talent for catchy choruses, but you can fault the decision to stick a picture of a fake breasted scantily clad lady on the inner sleeve (not to mention the arse shot on the back). This makes a very decent album look tacky and dated, and I was genuinely embarrassed that anyone else should see it, especially after getting interested queries from those hearing the music as I reviewed it.

In the end, it’s the music that counts, and with that in mind I can thoroughly recommend this album. There’s not a dull moment to be had, not a track that begs to be skipped. If you’ve ever liked one of Phil Vincent’s many albums and projects, from solo to Legion, then Tragik will make you a very happy music fan. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

BIG HERO 6 - Film review

Well, if you thought ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ was an obscure comic to turn into a film, it’s got nothing on ‘Big Hero 6’, taken from a 1998 Marvel comic featuring Sunfire, Silver Samuraui and some other people. If you have actually read it and were hoping for a tight adaptation I’d walk away now, as ‘Big Hero 6’ has been kicked around and abused so much fans should bring a rape kit to the cinema.

Whilst the established marvel characters from the comic have been jettisoned, they’ve kept 13 year old genius (think Tony Stark in short trousers) Hiro, and marshmallow like robot (changed from a monster) Baymax (I kept hearing Betamax for some reason). Other original characters Honey Lemon, Wasabi and, um, Fred are intact as well, but with different origins. Basically, the comic has been Disneyfied, and to be honest is probably better for it.

Set in a mash up of San Franciso and Tokyo (San Fransokyo, natch), this east meets West film tries very hard to mix anime with Disney, and doesn’t succeed that well, with oriental characters not looking at all oriental to be honest. The animation is, of course, first class, with the city itself looking gorgeous. The plot centres round loss and revenge, basically, with one massive hole in it that should make everyone question the villain’s methods. 

The star of the film is Baymax, a white, sort of cuddly medical robot who tries to fix Hiro’s broken spirit after a personal tragedy. Baymax is very endearing and has his own personal development alongside Hiro as the two become close. The other characters are pretty one dimensional and after the main Big hero 2, the other 4 fail to make the viewer care that much for them, being neither likable nor unlikable, just sort of there.  

‘Big Hero 6’ is remarkably contrived and very unoriginal, yet remains entertaining for all it’s faults. It’s never going to be regarded as a classic but will keep kids amused for 90 minutes with it’s fun characters and in your face action sequences. Just don’t expect too many of them to be clamouring for a baymax toy afterwards, as any excitement will probably disappear in a few hours.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

PADDINGTON - Film Review

When I was a wee sprog, I read a few Paddington books and enjoyed the adventures of the small bear from darkest Peru. I also hadrather a soft spot for the creatively made children’s TV series, where paper cut outs were animated to surprisingly good effect, and my mind will never forget next door grump Mr Curry’s shouts of ‘BEAR!’ whenever Paddington mucked things up. These are treasured memories, people, and I crossed fingers that the new film version wouldn’t trample all over them.

Well fear not, as ‘Paddington’ is one of the best family friendly films I’ve ever seen, full of genuinely hilarious and touching moments. The backstory of the bear himself is handled sensitively, with the animation of Paddington (un-named until he arrives at a certain railway station) and his Aunt & Uncle beautifully done. His adoption by the Brown family isn’t cut and dried, as grumpy risk assessor Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville) want’s to hand him over to ‘The Authorities’, which is never a Good Thing. 

It’s Mr Brown that provides the core of the film’s emotional heart, as he takes the same journey as Mr Banks in ‘Mary Poppins’, learning to love his family for who they are, not what he wants them to be, and to appreciate that having a bear in his life isn’t a bad thing, no matter how many times said bear accidentally nearly burns down the house, or floods the house etc etc. The rest of the family are very well sketched out and played, notably the old Scottish housekeeper Mrs Bird, played by a reliably on form Julie Walters. 

The only slight downside, for me anyway, is the need to add an evil villain to the plot. Nicole Kidman is Millicent, who basically wants to capture and stuff poor old Paddington. Her reasons for doing so neatly tie her in to the story, but I would have been happier if the film was simply about Paddington, the Browns and 90 minutes of mishaps. Nothing wrong with Kidman’s performance or indeed the plot itself, I just felt it wasn’t needed in any way, shape or form.

The best thing about the film is, rightly enough, Paddington himself. The personality, voice (from Ben Wishaw) and animation are faultless, and when he gets into a few little misadventures the comedy is fast and furious. A little bit of bother with a sellotape dispenser is worthy of Chaplin himself, and an escapade with a London bus brings to mind Norman Wisdom or even Frank Spencer at their best. His gradually acclimatisation to London life is handled well, as is his acceptance as part of the Brown family. The other highlight is some amazingly creative direction from Paul King, who uses several visual tricks that bring to mind Peter Howett’s imaginative ways back in the 90s. You may not have heard of him, but I have a feeling he is set for big things.

Absolutely stuffed full of jokes for young and old, smart and stupid, ‘Paddington’ is a film that all the family can enjoy. There has been a bit of a palaver over the PG rating, and to be honest it is definitely a case of the certification board being too overprotective of the young uns. There is nothing too upsetting here, or anything that impressionable minds are likely to copy. There is one, beautiful moment of peril that occurs in silence that had many in the cinema drawing in a concerned breath, but that’s about it, and it is brilliant to hear the reactions of the kids (and adults) to it. Very highly recommended, this will delight audiences for years to come.

Official trailer:


Monday, 24 November 2014

Film review - 'DUMB & DUMBER TO'

To many people, ‘Dumb & Dumber’ is a comedy classic, and rightfully so. Sure, it’s vulgar, crude and features two of the most annoying characters ever committed to celluloid, but boy is it funny. The ill advised prequel ‘Dumb & Dumberer’ did it’s best to soil the memory of the original, but now the Farrelly brothers have returned to give fans a proper sequel, but is it just a dumb move on their part?

Aside from the Farrellys, the big draw here is the return of original stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, both of whom look pretty much the same as they did twenty years ago. As Lloyd and Harry, they have breathed life into two characters that most people would want to murder after five minutes in their childish, moronic company. As with the original, the viewer gets a voyeuristic glee in watching them say and do terrible things that are funny mainly because of their naivety. Seriously, if these guys weren’t certified morons they’d be certified calculating psychopaths.

The road trip plot centres around the search for Harry’s long lost daughter he never knew he had, who Lloyd wants to bang. There’s a few complications along the way, but that’s sort of it. Naturally, it’s an excuse to put them into situations where they can behave like assholes and generally wind up everyone they meet, particularly at a science conference at the end. Oh, and we get to find out what Lloyd considers the second most annoying noise in the world, so that’s nice.

So is it funny? I have to say that’s a firm ‘yes’, because I certainly giggled plenty of times, especially at one of the funniest fart gags I’ve seen and a bizarre, gross encounter with a frisky old lady. The main characters are as preposterously dim as ever, and once you enter into their reality (in ours they would be dead by now, beaten by an angry mob) you can sit back and just enjoy the daft ride. 

‘Dumb & Dumber To’ is a fun way to waste and hour and a half or so, and although it doesn’t reach the comedic heights of the original it certainly has a good go. Carrey and Daniels are both excellent, Carrey especially, and I can’t do anything else but recommend this to fans of the first one. 

Official Trailer

Thursday, 25 September 2014

'READY PLAYER ONE' by Ernest Cline - Book Review

Sometimes, something comes along that just grabs you by the metaphysical balls and won’t let go. Usually, people tend to get grabbed by films of TV, maybe a special album or song, but if you’re really lucky it’s a book. I still remember the first time I read ‘The Colour of Magic’ by Terry Pratchett (in about 20BC when it was new), and I still like to dig out Robert Heinlein’s ‘The Door Into Summer’, because in my opinion it’s the best book ever read. You may disagree, but if so you probably haven’t read it, or you have and are simply wrong.  

I picked up ‘Ready Player One’ in a charity shop last week, with it’s cover and gushing quotes about it’s geeky loveliness hitting the part of my brain that used to thing the ZX Spectrum was awesome. A good holiday book is essential, so you have something to flick through while the wife is looking at shoes, handbags or, in may case, disappearing in health food shops for so long you expect her to come out with Dr Livingstone.

The book is three years old now, and is set thirty odd years in the future. He planet is getting more and more screwed up (the climate change ‘nuts’ were right, natch) and the people more and more poor. The only saving grace for the downtrodden masses is OASIS, the next giant step in technology. OASIS is a complete virtual reality world that has replaced the internet and is free for all to use. A kid can go to school in it, play in it, do absolutely anything. The thing is, it’s inventor dies and his legacy is a competition: whoever can find three hidden keys and gates within OASIS (which has many, many ‘planets’ created within it) will get all his money and control over the system. This is more than big, and just about everyone tries to find them, including our lowly trailer park hero Wade Watts. Wade is only a kid, but a smart one, but even he can’t decipher the first riddle clue, and after five years enthusiasm is waning. Well, it is until Wade finally cracks the clue and the hunt is really on, and it’s a race between him and the evil IOI corporation who want to find the prize and take over OASIS, but in a . y’know, evil way (their corporate slogan may as well be ‘Bwah ha ha haa’).

So we get a book that is mostly set inside the OASIS system, but does also give us a very good idea of what the ‘real’ world is like. The picture Cline paints of America in 30 years time is above all realistic. Just like some of William Gibsons ideas have come perilously close to reality now, the future depicted in ‘Ready Player One’ is depressingly prophetic. The characters are all wonderfully depicted, though, and I found myself rooting for Wade from the off. There’s only a few other characters  in the book, mainly as it’s narrated by Wade in the first person, but each is also very realistic and easy to envision within your mind (even if they all are represented by their OASIS avatars). When Wade makes a successful leap of logic in the quest, I found myself happy for him, and I also found myself hating IOI as much as he does. Much like the OASIS programme, ‘Ready Player One’ allows the reader to immerse themselves in the pages and live the story along with the hero.

Another cool thing is that there’s a huge amount of 1980’s retro stuff, logically explained away because OASIS’s creator James Halliday was obsessed by the decade and anyone who wants to win the prize must study his obsessions just as hard as he did. Monty Python, Ferris Bueller, The Commodore 64… it all gets a look in, as to classic arcade games like Pac Man and Joust. As a teenager of the 80s I loved this aspect, and it’s hard to stop the little geeky thrill as you recognise an obscure reference that isn’t otherwise explained in the text. The author even gave a way a DeLorian in a competition of his own last year. Good move, Mr Cline… Good move.

‘Ready Player One ticks all the boxes a good book should. It’s a speculative science fiction book that also taps into the fondness that the 1980s still holds for many people. It will appeal to sci fi fans and computer geeks, but is not so complicated it will put off people with a casual interest in either. If you like computers, video games, science fiction AND the 1980s then this is the perfect book for you. As I like all these things it’s straight into my top 10 and I’m not letting it go – find your own copy, geek boy (or girl).

Chapter One, as read by Wil Wheaton - have a listen

Very Unofficial but cool fan made trailer for the film that doesn't exist!

Friday, 15 August 2014

CHEF - Film Review

John Favreau is a lucky man. Ever since he penned the indie hit film ‘Swingers’ (primarily so he could be in it and therefore find some acting work) he has been a respected actor and director. A man who has been happy to earn enough to make life comfortable with no desire for a mountain of cash to sleep on (paging Mr Cruise…), he makes films he wants to make and has been shown to be pretty shrewd in his choosing. ‘Chef’ is his first script since ‘Swingers’, apparently because he found himself with a story idea he just had to tell, which gave him a fierce desire to write not felt since then. Of course, he had to direct as well, and the result is certainly not some kind of vanity project, it is instead one of the most honest films I’ve seen this year.

Favreau is Carl Casper, a very good chef. This is made very clear to us as he prepares to greet a very important food critic and serve him something to make him go bananas (though probably not actual bananas). The problem is that his asshole boss (Dustin Hoffman) wants him to stick to the same safe menu he has been doing for years. Inevitably, the critic gets the safe food and tears Casper apart in his review, disappointed because ten years ago he was the chef that made him fall in love with food and now he is a hack. Casper discovers tweeting because of this and accidentally starts a flame war with the guy, culminating in a face to face freak out that, naturally, makes him an internet sensation, something he definitely doesn’t want. 

We follow Carl’s story as he wonders what to do next, knowing that cooking is the only thing that makes him truly happy. Ex wife Inez suggests he gets a food truck to be his own boss and rediscover the joy of cooking for genuine customers, so he does and that’s where the story really takes off. What it’s really about, as these things tend to be, is Carl rekindling his relationship with his ten year old son as well as his one with food. It’s about a man remembering what life is all about, and finding out where he left the passion he had a decade ago.

As you may gather, I liked ‘Chef’. From the trailer I thought it should be okay, but was not expecting such a beautifully made film. Even though it contains such well known faces as Robery Downey Jr, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson it doesn’t need them. ‘Chef’ would stand up well if the only person in it you’d ever heard of was Favreau himself. It trundles along good naturedly, making you care for every single character as it goes along, and making you want to eat every single thing Casper cooks up. An ideal ‘date’ movie, ‘Chef’ contains the sort of heart that you don’t get from big studio movies, so go and see it. 


Thursday, 31 July 2014


It's no surprise that when Marvel's lastest movie was released many, many people (the non comics reading kind, mainly) said "Who?" The comic itself has never been what you call top tier, with various incarnations having been around for decades, although the film is based on the team created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning in 2008, now being serviced by top writer Brian Bendis.

Marvel certainly have made sure the Guardians have plenty of publicity, turning a bunch of also rans into a must see event and even having the confidence to proclaim "The Guardians Of The Galaxy Will Return" at the end of the movie. This is a company with the utmost confidence in their product, and after seeing it it's very easy to understand why.

First and foremost, Guardians... is fun. After a truly heartbreaking beginning everything goes a bit daft, mixing swashbuckling sci fi action with larger than life characters, and whilst at first you may be a little puzzled, it all streamlines into a simple plot soon enough. Basically, Guardians leader Peter Quill (known mainly to only himself as Star Lord) has a plot device, and other people also want the plot device. He forms an alliance with a very disparate bunch of people who each have their own reason for helping him. To go into more detail really isn't that necessary, as all it will involve is laying out a roster of names and personal grievances, and you'll get all that when you watch the film, because if you're reading this review I will lay odds you're going to see it.

The movie looks beautiful throughout, probably thanks to the thousand or so "Digital Artists" who take up a large part of the end credits. Ship design is fantastic, with many looking like they were pulled direct from a Chris Foss art book, and if you know Foss you'll know this is a high compliment. Yeah, the bad guys have dull, dark vessels with inadequate lighting (surely evil needs to see as well?) but the good guys have some sexy vessels indeed. Sound wise, it may seem odd that a 2014 state of the art sci fi movie will have a 1970's chart soundtrack, but the inclusion of The Runaways, Rupert Holmes and, of course, Blue Swede's "Hooked On A Feeling" is completely explained and rather poignant. It would be nice, too, if kids start downloading some of this awesome old stuff and finally start listening to real music (so speaks an old fart).

So in a nutshell this is a very good movie. It's packed with fun and enjoyable characters, but also has it's fair share of down beats and dead beats. Top honours are fought out for between Chris Pratt, excellent and ridiculously likeable as Peter Quill, and the brilliant Rocket Raccoon, a purely CGI character stuffed with attitude and some great one liners. The other main characters all do well, however, with even big bag Ronan (no, not the Boyzone one, mores the pity) being well served and very well played with menace aforethought by Lee Pace.

One thing people want to know about Marvel films is what's the afer credits scene like? Well, without being spoilery, I'll say two things: one, it's NOT a big reveal or anything like that, but two, it's really funny if you have a knowledge of a certain old Marvel character. Oh yeah, and you get to play eveyone's favourite game in the movie - 'Spot Stan Lee'. It just wouldn't be the same without him mugging it up somewhere.

In closing, "Guardians Of The Galaxy" is right up there with the rest of Marvel's cinematic output, making a clear mark by being totally different to anything else we've so far seen. It's Fun with a captial 'F', and engaging throughout. Some of the violence may be a bit much for smaller kids, and there's a bit of moderately fruity language (is 'dick' fruity still? I fall behind sometimes). That said, kids who don't mind a walking tree impaling people or a raccoon murderising people with a kick ass gun will have a blast. Big, beautiful and badass, "Guardians Of The Galaxy" is definitely the feel good fantasy of 2014, as evidenced by the shit eating grin still stuck to my face. All together now... "I'm hooked on a feeling..."

Trailer... nah, you've all seen it, so here's 2014's official ear worm to keep you singing:

Wednesday, 30 July 2014


The Punisher is forty years old. Forty years since Gerry Conway created him for his Amazing Spider-Man title, the big loony with a skull shirt and plenty of weaponry. Since then he featured in plenty of comics, never really realizing his potential until Garth Ennis got hold of him in 2000. Although his first run at the character was brutal it had a sense of fun running through it, his second, under the MAX banner, went deeper. Punisher MAX saw the character finally get the treatment he deserved. Ennis and a succession of gritty artists made the Punisher into the ultimate killer. They also took him away from the same old mob killings and introduced creative scenarios, often more akin to a war comic than anything else. For me, this IS the Punisher.

The first Punisher movie was released in 1989, with Dolph Lundgren as the main man. It was the first film to be written by Boaz Yakim, who has since written several other shit films (as well as a couple of good ones, to be fair). Saddled with a first time writer is bad enough, but The Punisher also got a rookie director in the shape of Mark Goldblatt. Much better known as a veteran editor, Goldblatt’s only other directing credit was the fantastically awful supernatural cop buddy comedy ‘Dead Heat’. After The Punisher he only ever did it one more time (on an episode of ‘Errie, Indiana’) and after watching The Punisher I’m glad of that. The films faults are legion, and start with the totally charm free Lundgren. He certainly looks the part, but that’s about it. Not that he has much to work with, mind, as the script is rather pathetic as well. Throw in abysmal fight scenes  (with, for some reason, several people being pinned to walls) and clumsy cutting and you have a film that is a poor bookend to a decade that provided us with so many action classics. Basically, it sucks.

Sensibly, Hollywood left Frank castle alone for the next fifteen years, but Ennis’ resurrection of the character must have persuaded someone to give it another bash. Helmer and co-writer this time was Jonathan Hensleigh, the man who brought us Die Hard With A Vengeance and Armageddon among others. So it was a promising start, with Hensleigh having plans for a sixty million dollar all action movie. Unfortunately that was cut down to fifteen million and extensive re writes were necessary. What this means is we get The Punisher playing mind games with his target instead of blowing shit up, and it’s not remotely exciting. Thomas Jane plays Castle pretty well, with John Travolta scraping by as the big bad mobster, and there’s even some good supporting turns, notably the reliable Will Patton. They even pull some stuff from Ennis’ original run, and have a good go even though it doesn’t really work like in the comics. Whilst there’s a good lot of things to like about the movie, in the end it’s just not engaging enough, with a mid section that drags horribly. An improvement on the 1989 attempt, but still not the Frank Castle we deserve on screen.

Finally, we come to Punisher:War Zone, the 2010 movie that nearly got it right. A number of important boxes were ticked on the way, staring with Ray Stevenson as The Punisher. He looks perfect, has some charisma and importantly is decked out in Kevlar and the like throughout. Whilst Thomas Jane’s moron Punisher went into a  firefight wearing a sleeveless Kevlar vest, this version goes fully expecting to be shot at. The film also introduces occasional Punisher support character Micro (played well by Wayne Knight), the guy who gets Frank all his ordinance. The plot is solid enough, as Frank accidentally kills an undercover agent and has to protect said agent’s widow and child from crazed mobster Jigsaw. It’s tied in by the fact that Jigsaw’s grotesque face is the result of The Punisher putting him through a bottle grinding machine. Whilst Jigsaw and his brother Loony Bin Jimmy are standard villain caricatures, even they cannot ruin what is a very gritty movie. When The Punisher goes into a firefight he uses proper tactics and is smooth and efficient. You really believe that this man knows what he is doing and enjoys it. This is the veteran soldier of Ennis’ MAX series, with barely a laugh throughout and plenty of dead bodies. The Ennis run was a very obvious inspiration, and the strong script shows genuine attention to the main character. It’s not perfect, with a few over the top moments that seem out of place and the aforementioned caricature gangsters, but it’s the closest yet.

So what could the future hold for The Punisher? As I see it, if someone took the Punisher MAX series from Ennis and made an adult TV series based around some of the stories and the character as written there they’d have a hit. Not just mobsters, but human traffikers, international terrorists and plain old scumbags. The Punisher should be dark and gritty, but should ideally reflect the lowest dregs of the world we live in, where the only light is a brick shithouse wearing a skull on his chest.

To finish, here’s the ten minute short that Thomas Jane starred in a couple of years ago, reprising his role for a lowly fan film, albeit it a very, very well made and written one. If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth a look.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Film Review - "Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes"

I’m a big fan of the old school Planet of The Apes movies, and rate the original as one of the finest films ever made. Considering it was made 45 years ago the acting, script and even the make up has held together astonishingly well. I even liked Tim Burton’s much maligned version, which itself had some amazing make up. For me it was a good film that only died on it’s arse with the awful ‘surprise’ ending that mystifies me to this day.

So it’s established that I’m an Apes fan, so it will come as no surprise that I absolutely loved Rise Of The Planet of The Apes, a film that actually came up with a plausible (for cinema) way that the whole mess could have happened in the first place. Combine that with a very powerful, emotional story and flawless motion capture effects and you have the kick start to a whole new Apetastic era. So what next? Well, this…

In Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes we join the story ten years later, with the simian flu having wiped out a fair percentage of the Human race. Meanwhile, Caesar and his apes have been building a community in the woods near San Francisco untroubled. Until now, as the San Francisco survivors want to use the dam near the Apes home to generate power. Caesar is cautiously agreeable, whilst Koba, who has only known the cruelty of humans, urges the leader to wipe the humans out. The humans have their own dickhead in the shape of Carver (Kirk Acevedo), who seems to only be in the film to act like a total arse. Will there be war between apes and humans despite Caesar and Malcom’s best efforts? Well, it would be a pretty dull film if there wasn’t, eh?

Dawn… is another powerful film from the same creative team as Rise… - you don’t really root for either side, but you can emphasize with each of the main protagonists. The character of Caesar is amazing, his eyes blazing with wisdom and power, his movements that bit more human than the rest of the apes. Koba again is beautifully realized, a devious bugger who will do anything to set ape against human, reasoning that the end justifies the means. We are also introduced to Bright Eyes (a nod to the original), Caesar’s son, who is caught between the two. Again, the apes are as real as anyone could imagine, bringing an authenticity to the film that could never previously have been achieved. Story wise it’s not as emotional as the first one, mainly because we have more protagonists to follow. This isn’t a happy film, people, it’s a dark, violent one.

If compared to the original movies, Dawn… would be somewhere between the new society and hope of ‘Battle For The Planet Of The Apes’ and the bloodshed of ‘Conquest Of The Planet of The Apes’. It ends making you want to know what happens next, and we will certainly find out in a few years with the third part. The big question for that one will be: will they blow it all up? I, for one, can’t wait to find out. Ook!

We've come a long way from this:


Saturday, 31 May 2014


Time travel can be awesome. Marty McFly did it in a frickin’ DeLorien, whilst some drunk American’s did it in a hot tub, of all things. What we have learned from time travel movies is that a) it’s fun, and b) it can get really confusing. Usually, A overcomes B, and as long as we’re having a good time we can overlook a little confusion, mainly because the whole thing is impossible anyway.

“X-Men: days Of Future Past” is inspired by/based on a two part comic story from the Eighties by Chris Claremont (who cameos as a senator here), often seen as one of the finest X-Men stories of all time, proving you don’t need fifty seven issue crossover bobbins with foil covers to get your point across. In the original, there’s a nasty future where mutants have been systematically wiped out by giant robot Sentinels, with the whole mess being traced to a single assassination of a senator in Magneto and his minions. Kitty Pryde (Shadowkat/Sprite/etc) has her mind sent back in time to her younger self so she can thwart Magneto’s plans and save the future. 

The new version is set some years after the events of “X Men: First Class”, with Vietnam a very pertinent part of the background. Xavier has not been at his best since Magneto crippled him, and with most of his students drafted he’s fallen into a bit of a blue funk. Meanwhile, genius and general mutant hater Bolivar Trask is trying to get congress to approve the funding for his mutant hunting Sentinel robots. Even more meanwhile, we see fifty years into the future, where the last few mutants are struggling to stop themselves being obliterated by, you guessed it, mutant hunting Sentinels. Holy time travel plot, Batman! 

The film takes this basic idea from the comics, expands on it, twists it several times and runs with it. Someone has to be sent back to try and change the pivotal point from the past, and only has a limited time to do it, but as to who (although I’m sure you already know) and what it is, I’ll remain spoiler free because I may be a bastard but I’m not a fucking bastard (name the film). 

There has been a few moans that this is a confusing time travel film, but I didn’t feel so, as long as you just go along with the rules as set out by the writers. Because there is no such thing as time travel, everyone has their own rules. What it is, is a strong, character driven film that is not afraid to have way more dialogue then action, although when the action comes it’s beautifully handled and often frenetic. There’s an expanded cast of future X-Men that will delight comic fans, whilst most of the alumni from “X-Men: First Class” are discarded in favour of a small group. Not surprisingly, Hugh Jackman stands out a mile as Wolverine. The performances are boosted by some incredibly good special effects and camerawork, with director Bryan Singer creating a well structured and well shot narrative throughout.

“X-Men: Days Of Future Past” is a definite success. The return to the franchise of Bryan Singer is a blessing, as he handles multiple character drama so well. Unlike the recent Woverine film there is a lot of respect given to the comics it is based on, even if they have been adapted to fit the cinematic universe, and the result is a smart, well made, interesting addition to the franchise. Like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” it’s essentially a period piece, and whilst I prefer the former this will certainly sit in the upper ecelons of any list detailing the best Superhero films to date.