Superheroes | Kilburnlad | Film | Reviews

Kilburnlad

Incredibles 2


Incredibles 2

We saw the first Incredibles film back in 2004 and, besides enjoying it immensely, we were amused that the two heroes, Bob and Helen, shared the same names as us. Naturally with the release of the sequel we had to see it and we went last Friday on its release date.

Superheroes have been made illegal, or at least their superhero activities have. So when Bob and Helen leap into action to stop the Underminer robbing the city bank, causing an immense amount of collateral damage in the process, the government shuts down the Superhero Relocation Program, leaving them and their three children without financial assistance. Their superhero friend, Lucius Best (Frozone) tells them about an offer he's received from Winston Deavor, a super-rich superhero fan. Deavor's idea is to arrange a publicity stunt that will rekindle the public's support for Supers.

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Deadpool 2


Deadpool 2

This film continues the story from the first Deadpool, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Rather than repeat all the reasons why I enjoyed it, I would refer you to that first review, which sets the scene nicely.

This time we start with Deadpool in a thoroughly suicidal mood after the love of his life, Vanessa (aka Copycat) is killed by one of the low-lives he had previously tried to take out. But Deadpool is seemingly really indestructible, to the extent that being atomised by barrels of high explosive still doesn't do the trick. Instead his bits are recovered by Colossus from the X-Men and taken to the X-Mansion for him to recover, or should we say regenerate. He agrees to be a trainee X-Man to moderate his rather extreme style. His first assignment is to an incident at the Mutant Re-education Center, where a young mutant, Russell, aka Firefist, is threatening all kinds of retribution. This doesn't go well, Deadpool siding with the young boy and taking a lethal view towards the staff of the establishment. This results in Deadpool and Russell being arrested and incarcerated, high-tech neck bracelets being used to negate their superpowers.

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Black Panther


Black Panther

After the tranquility and true-to-life realism of the last couple of French films I've reviewed, a quantum leap into the world of the Black Panther. I've previously expressed my opinion regarding the saturation of the Marvel franchise, with the film studios appearing to offer up one film after another for what they obviously see as an inexhaustible appetite for this type of adventure. I fear, however, that we may be getting to the point where it's too much of a good thing. Peak Marvel!

Black Panther, however, does offer something different, in that the majority of the cast is Black, which is a refreshing milestone for a big-budget superhero film such as this. They snuck in Martin Freeman as a white CIA agent, but this was hardly to satisfy the need for a 'big' star, since there is plenty of talent and star quality on show from the rest of the cast. I didn't see Captain America: Civil War, so this was my first introduction to King T'Challa, or as the title says, the Black Panther. We're introduced to the reclusive African Nation of Wakanda, where an ancient meteor strike deposited huge quantities of vibranium, a mineral that has allowed the inhabitants to develop advanced technology and keep it and themselves largely hidden from the rest of the world. The vibranium affected the plant life, and one particular plant is used to bestow upon King T'Challa super powers, which he employs in the guise of the Black Panther.

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Justice League


Justice League

We saw Justice League on Friday, its release day here in the UK. I have mentioned previously that the whole superhero genre has started to wane a bit for me, basically because we've reached saturation. Deadpool was a refreshing change, Guardians of the Galaxy provided humour and great soundtracks and Wonder Woman was different because it at last gave us a female heroine. As for the rest, I'm afraid it's just more of the same. Which takes us to Justice League.

My take on the film is that is a group of superheroes looking for a plot; and what a plot. It appears that the super-villain in this case, Steppenwolf, does indeed hail from DC Comics, which surprised me as I thought the whole contrivance was verging on hallucinatory. We are introduced to the Mother Boxes, wrested from Steppenwolf in the past by the combined armies of the Olympian Gods, Amazons, Atlantians, ancient humans and Green Lanterns (an intergalactic police force, which was trailed but I didn't notice their representative in the film). The Mother Boxes must be kept apart, since if they are brought back together this would give Steppenwolf the power to conquer the Earth. To this end one is guarded by the Amazons, cue Diana Prince's involvement, one by Atlantis, cue Aquaman, and one by humans. The death of Superman has triggered the boxes to activate and Bruce Wayne is leading a quest to assemble a team to stop Steppenwolf taking over the Earth. In addition to those already mentioned, we have Barry Allen, the Flash, and Victor Stone, a Cyborg who is having trouble coming to terms with his cyborgness.

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Thor: Ragnarok


Thor: Ragnarok

The Marvel franchise has been ruthlessly marketed in recent times (this film is the seventeenth in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and one suspects that film companies and directors realise that the ubiquity of the genre will ultimately wane the audiences' interest. So we have things like Deadpool, the anti-hero, and Guardians of the Galaxy, a sublime mix of humour and a fantastic soundtrack, that offer audiences something different, with some success. This line of thinking has now permeated into the Thor brand with this latest offering, wherein Chris Hemsworth as Thor reveals his comic abilities, while the remainder of the cast play it as much for laughs as for serious intent. And it works.

We kick off with Thor enchained and at first we think he's addressing us, by way of narrative, but we soon see that in fact it is Surtur the fire dragon to whom he's speaking. In good comic book fashion his seemingly impossible plight is merely a temporary diversion awaiting the arrival of his famous Hammer. But before this happens Surtur spells out the forthcoming demise of Asgard at his hands, once he reunites his crown with the city's eternal flame. This prophecy, which goes by the name of Ragnarok, has a short life once Thor gets to work, but keep it in mind!

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Spider-Man: Homecoming


Spider-Man: Homecoming

We saw the latest instalment of Spider-Man today, although in putting that way it tends to suggest that this film is a continuation of those that have gone before: it isn't. This time we have, in effect, Spider-Boy. Tom Holland plays the role as naive 15 year-old high school student Peter Parker, with much of the plot dedicated to his friendship with his classmate, Ned, who early on in the scheme of things discovers his friend's superhero secret. This leads to some close calls as the over-enthusiastic Ned is just bursting to let everybody know what he knows. And then there's Liz, Peter's dream girl at school, who, as you might have guessed, has a thing for Spider-Man.

The scenario is that a group of salvage workers, led by Adrian Toombes (Michael Keaton), otherwise known as Vulture, some years earlier were effectively robbed of a contract to scrap and dispose of alien hardware left over from the scrap that took place in Captain America: Civil War, a film I didn't see. To rub it in, the lost contract went to Stark Enterprises, as in Tony Stark/Iron Man, who had been complicit in the mayhem that led to the need for the salvage operation. This enraged Toombes, who with his techie genius, The Tinkerer, set about using some retained alien power crystals to produce a range of super weapons for profit. Our youthful Spider-Man accidentally comes across a team of Toombes' men robbing cash machines and sets about stopping them, only to be confronted with more than he perhaps expected. From this point on our hero dedicates himself to tracking down the weapons and the people behind them, despite being told to leave it alone by Tony Stark.

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Wonder Woman


Wonder Woman

We were in Lille, France, for a week, and while there we saw Wonder Woman. It was the original English language version with French subtitles, although all the pre-film advertisements etc. were of course in French. We saw it in a multiplex and were treated to a wide-screen experience.

This film has been well received, in part because it's refreshing to have a female superhero, even if we have to have a male lead in the form of Chris Pine alongside. Hollywood likes to hedge its investment bets! The storyline starts by showing us how Diana of Themyscira (aka Wonder Woman) matures from the only child on the woman-only island into a super Amazonian with powers that surpass those of any mere mortal, basically because she's a demigoddess, although she doesn't yet know this. Her mother, Queen Hippolyta, tries to stop Diana learning to fight, but her aunt, General Antiope, defies her sister's wishes, recognising Diana's potential and her future need to protect herself.

Introduced into this tribe of elite women warriors drops (literally) Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American airman cum spy who is trying to escape the German army, having stolen a note book from an evil chemist who is developing a deadlier form of mustard gas. Diana, personified by Israeli actor Gal Gadot, rescues Steve from a watery grave just before a German warship breaks through the island's surrounding veil. The ensuing skirmish that pits Amazonian athleticism and bows and arrows against firearms is a well choreographed scene that uses slow motion sequences to good effect. The Germans defeated (although not sure why the warship didn't send more), Diana interrogates Steve using her magic lasso, since as Steve is a spy he won't talk voluntarily. Steve tells them about the war to end all wars, namely World War I, and Diana is immediately convinced that she must leave the island to stop the this terrible conflict. Her mother forbids it, but Diana is sure that the god Ares is behind this war, and believes that if she can stop him the war will end. As you would expect, and because the story demands it, Diana defies her mother and sets off with Steve, taking a ceremonial sword that she believes to be the 'Godkiller', a weapon bestowed to the Amazons by Zeus.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I remember seeing the trailer for the first instalment of Guardians of the Galaxy and concluding that it looked too daft to bother with. However, I watched it on TV a little while ago, and while my opinion of its daftness proved to be spot on, I found it extremely enjoyable. The humour and the background music carried it along and the fact that the plot lines and antics verged on the ridiculous hardly mattered.

And so to Vol.2. Well, it's a fairly seamless continuation from the first film. All the team are in place, although in place of Groot, the walking-talking tree whose self sacrifice saved the rest of the team in the first film, we have a Baby Groot who was planted as a sapling from an offshoot of the dying Groot. Now it has to be said that Baby Groot is adorable, getting into all sorts of trouble as any devil-may-care youngster might. Like Groot senior, his only vocabularly is "I am Groot". If you're not familiar with the Guardians, the rest of the team are almost as bizarre as Groot. Peter Quill, or Star-Lord as he likes to be known, is the leader. He's human of the Earthling type, although not entirely so, as we find out. Gamora is the green-skinned woman who's the sensible one. She has a sister, Nebula, who's not on the team. In fact Nebula wants to kill Gamora. Drax the Destroyer is all muscle but with a softer side. And finally Rocket, a genetically modified raccoon, who's a master of weapons and military tactics. I did say it may seem daft.

In this sequel the team is first seen protecting some valuable batteries in the service of, Ayesha, the High Priestess of the Sovereign people, a gold race that is genetically engineered to be both physically and mentally perfect. This involves a battle with an inter-dimensional monster and they are doing this to secure the release of Nebula, who was caught trying to steal the batteries. Task complete they leave, only to be pursued by the Sovereign's drones because, it transpires, Rocket has pocketed some of the batteries.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Back to the cinema after the school holidays and this week it was the epic battle between these two superheroes. I was intrigued on two levels: firstly, why two good guys should fight and, secondly, how Batman, despite his abilities, could hope to take on an indestructible opponent.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The answer to both conundrums becomes clear as we are shown the destruction of Metropolis as a result of the earlier battle between Superman and the evil Zod, which leaves Batman highly distrustful of Superman, who he feels would be able at any time to wreak havoc, should he so choose. Add to this the devilish scheming of Lex Luther, who I thought was interestingly portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, whose aim is to set the two crime fighters against each other. Then we have, of course, a large chunk of Kryptonite, the final leveller in the battle that was to ensue.

In this film Batman's suit is more like armour and he certainly comes across as a much meaner figure than in earlier films, his demeanour matching his outfit. Superman is much nicer, his relationship with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) being sort of out in the open on this occasion. In fact his rescuing of Lois early on in the story turns out to be the result of a Lex Luther plot that is part of the grand plan to undermine Superman's public persona.

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Deadpool

We saw Deadpool at the cinema today. Every so often a film comes along that is truly different, and I believe that Deadpool deserves this accolade. Yes, it's a superhero story; yes, it involves lots of shoot-em-up and beat-em-up moments; yes, there are lots of (amazing) stunts. So what's different? Well, this is almost a send-up of the genre, it is very funny, and the 'good' guy is at the same time pretty mean.

Deadpool

Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool), who renamed himself after a sweepstake that bet on the likelihood of who was going to die first out of a group mercenaries that offered protection to woman for money. After starting a passionate romance with Copycat, played by the gorgeous Morena Baccarin (Brody's wife in Homeland), he finds out that he has terminal cancer and takes up an offer of a cure that involves him mutating, à la X-men. His 'doctor' is Ajax, a really mean piece of work, who relishes inflicting pain, spurred on by Wilson's refusal to stop joshing him.

The cure has some rather unpleasant side effects but Wilson, who has now named himself Deadpool, has become almost indestructible. He sets off to find Ajax believing that he can help him undo the unwanted effects of the treatment. He travels by taxi to his showdown, which sort of sums up the non super hero aspects of this film. The showdown itself is a feast of amazing slow-mo photography as vehicles and people are spread all over the freeway. Things are interrupted by the arrival of a couple from the X-men stable, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who don't exactly agree with Deadpool's approach.

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Man of Steel

I keep referring to Orange Wednesday, but of course it's now EE Wednesday, but that doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Today it was Man of Steel. I remember being bowled over by the original Superman film with Christopher Reeves. In 1978 the 'special' effects were ground-breaking, and impressive. As they said at the time, "you'll really believe that a man can fly." We've long since absorbed this type of effect and these days it's difficult to be surprised by people 'flying', and by whole cities being reduced to wastelands. So while these things were present in today's film, it needed more to differentiate itself. I was however impressed by the inclusion of sonic booms and shock waves as he broke the sound barrier - nice touch.

For the women the differentiation was no doubt provided by Henry Cavill, who even from a male perspective was, I must admit, certainly up to the job. But us males weren't short-changed, since Amy Adams is playing Lois Lane.

Fan worship aside, I liked how this version was structured. Clark Kent's job at the Daily Planet only came at the end, and we instead saw him in a number of jobbing roles as he came to terms with his identity, and his uniqueness, and the childhood years were presented in flashbacks triggered by events in this adult life. Russell Crowe was great as his father and the demise of Krypton, and the reasons for this, were I thought described in more detail and more convincingly in this version.

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