Friday, 26 July 2013



X-Men: Tokyo Drift.

126 Minutes. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Will Yun Lee, Brian Tee, Svetlana Khodchenkova & Famke Janssen. Director: James Mangold.

With Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk and the rest of The Avengers ruling everything-even Batman and the rest of D.C.-let's not forget the other superheroes to Marvel at. Stan Lee and his academy have more under their cape with the X-Men, whose own film series has been running longer than the most recent reboots, charging into it's second decade and thirteenth year. Lucky for some Professor Xavier's marvellous mutants have gained a lot of comic-book adaptation popularity due to their leather turncoat, sometime Avenger (let's make it happen studios and Spidey) with long nails. The same hero with the Australian accent and some of his finest acting performances under and behind his pants only belt (see 'Dark Knight' Nolan's 'The Prestige' the Oscar winning and his singing, scene stealing in 'Les Mis' and the dark, Zodiac like forthcoming 'Prisoners').  That's right Hugh Jackman is back as everyone's favourite X, 'The Wolverine' with avengance in this lone wolfs Black Rain'.

Sure the critics may have their claws out for this one after his fun and exciting 'Origins' story wasn't considered as 'First Class' as the other prequels, but here Jackman's wolf howls back at all that. Besides the Deadpool, Gambit, Black Eyed Pea, star-studded last Wolverine flick was among the most entertaining X-Men films, but for those who weren't in the mood this sequel to the original trilogy takes itself much more seriously. It's deeper, darker and low-budget. So what you've got is a film that has more story to read into then 'popcorn' to eat. Sure the original head-ripping idea of making this an R rated action affair (or making two separate versions, a little like 'A Good Day To Die Hard') may have been cast off, but thanks to a great assemble of actors and action this is probably the most realistic 'X-Men' film to date in a modern superhero genre which makes things a little bit more real-world (as real as a man in a bat suit, a guy with a red cape and bad disguise and a guy with metal fingers fighting evil is) as everyone is awaiting the Fassbender/Gandalf, McAvoy/Captain Picard, time travelling mash-up of 'Days Of Future Past'.

Right now however Logan's run takes him to Tokyo, as this X-Men marks the spot in Japan, back to the origins of this classic characters cell pages. On celluloid the only thing lost in translation, is a night fight under the epic, evocative neon lights of this incredible city. Everything else is in place perfectly. From tremendous temples to soaring cityscapes, the lavish landscape of this movie is matched by it's scintillating set pieces. From death tolls adding at funerals to bullet train battles shot perfectly, this film has more in the clip then everyone thought. Some may have not been excited by the trailer, but from snow showdowns to claw hand-to-hand combat with swords and (speaking of which) one of the best fights you have and will ever see in a comic-book, superhero film, the film that everyone began to forget is reminding you how much you loved this character, franchise and story. If this is a warm up for the formidable, forthcoming mega ensemble X-Men film then it doesn't get much hotter than this. Sure great 'Iron Man', 'Star Trek', 'Man Of Steel', 'Pacific Rim' films that exceeded expectations may have made this a crowded blockbuster circuit, but in a Summer where the mainstream films haven't disappointed in the slightest, 'The Wolverine' may surprisingly be the most impressive.

In a superhero by the scores year of saturated sequels and rehashed reboots including the popular 'Hangover', 'Fast & Furious' and 'Despicable Me' series', the film that finishes the season perfectly is as sharp as the blade of a sword. Sure you get the background of the story, the Wolverine is offered to become mortal again...whether he likes it or not, but there's more to the story than that bub. That's thanks to a great cast, including the formidable female sister act of Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima and some recognizable faces. Including Hiroyuki Sanada (who sped up 'Rush Hour 3'), Brian Tee (who drifted through Tokyo with 'Fast & Furious') and the wise wisdom of Haruhiko Yamanouchi. Will Yun Lee also shoots straight, getting his Hawkeye on, while Svetlana Khodchenkova's viper villain is slick, sick and looking like something out of a Spiderman movie. Speaking of which let's hope Peter Parker and Logan have the rights to make the next Avengers assembling because Hugh Jackman has still got it (and then some) as Wolverine, from his hilariously insulting one-liners to his 'hard to believe he's approaching middle-age' physique. With darker depths, shades of Jean Grey and maybe some glimpses to futures past this Wolverine film doesn't just scratch at what the fans claws away at it.

From becoming a satisfying sequel to those who thought the prequel peculiar (the scars are healed here) to those who wanted the true origins of an original X-Men movie to the perfect, beautiful old/new, future/past backdrop of Tokyo. Funny and serious, the lighter tones help hold down the darker elements and themes that outweigh this picture. Prepare for the entertainment levels to take on a whole new mutation with the excitement of this adventure. From the action of the first kick of martial arts to the last samurai. This blade deserves his trinity. Marvel proves yet again in this superhero battle with their vast, cast of characters they are strong as Adamantium and better than D.C. The Detective Comics will just have to take fight solace in the fact that they have the better villains (even if they are all in Batman).  Now the only thing left to settle is The Avengers vs X-Men (no offence to the Fantastic Four). After their classic assemble the pressure is on 'The Avengers 2' now, whereas X-Men's 'Days Of Future Past' will either be epic and mega or messy and all over the place. With Jackman's Logan's Wolverine standing in front it's looking good...for him at least. He has his place with The Avengers too...if only Fox will let him and his mutant friends out the trap. Let's hope Mickey Mouse can make this happen for the ultimate fan fantasia. This is all in the future however, today this has passed as a slice and cut above the rest. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Thursday, 18 July 2013



Monsters vs Iron Men.

132 Minutes. Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day & Ron Perlman. Director: Guillermo del Toro.

If your childlike, science-fiction dreams ever wondered what it would be like if Godzilla like creatures duked it out with Transformer like robots then look no further than the powerful punch of 'Pacific Rim'. Visionary 'Pans Labyrinth' director Guillermo del Toro enters the bold blockbuster circuit with possibly the best of the year in a sensational Summer season of mainstream popcorn movies that have focussed on the spectatcular Sci-Fi side of the out of this world budgets and effects. Even 'Star Trek' and the 'Man Of Steel' can't take it quite out of the planet like this. It doesn't get bigger and better than this. This is a whole different type of animal uncaged for the monster movie screens. You thought you had seen the best movie this year? You thought you'd seen it all? Surprise this is the biggest bazinga of the big bang theory year of geeked out, grand classics. This is the new cool. This is the new way to make modern cinema great again.

Del Toro's, mainstream but indie feeling style can't be mimiced. The man who most recentely has had a hand helping write Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' for the big-screen is the new lord of the monster fight club. These IMAX epic, graphic and grandiose battles between man/machine against alien/monster makes everything else look like 'Rock Em, Sock Em' robots, quite frankly the big scale special effects of extra terrestrial and man made machines has never been done this brilliantly. Set to the neon beauty of a Hong Kong backdrop, nothing shines brighter than the magnificent monsters and the marvellous machines. Sharper than a blade, the Snipes vampire hunter director offers something even your 3D glasses won't be able to take. Every frame captures every nuance of each fight perfectly, from the depths of the ocean, to the tops of the skyscrapers (and you thought Superman wrecked the city?!). This Pacific labyrinth raises the bar, not just for action, science-fiction, special effects and blockbuster raises the bar for everything.

The cast is iron-strong too. Charlie Hunnam comes back from the apocalypse of 'Children Of Men' and shows he has the metal to be our hope to save the world. Strinking the line between a Channing Tatum and Sam Worthington-as he plays avatar to piloting the ultimate terminator-Hunnam shows he is the next male lead in waiting. He'll be manning more top roles soon. Still he can't do it alone and the rising star of Rinko Kikuchi (who was bold and brillaint in 'Babel') co-pilots this machine alongside our male lead. Behind every strong man is a woman and here this combo provide the perfect marriage of human and machine, as these robots can only be controlled by two who are mentally in tune with each other as the right and left hemispheres of these metal creatures brains. From the fights to the emotional battles these two are perfectly in sync with each other as this blockbuster films delves into depths and methaphors of teamwork, togetherness and love. Built off memories and experiences flashback to the past and you will see the greatest child-actor performance you may have just ever seen in the mature and magnificent Mana Ashida. The emotional depth displayed here by Agnes in the Japanese version of 'Despicable Me' shows that we have a star in the making for decades.

Theres's more great support from Charlie Day who goes from 'Horrible Bosses' to mad scientist, with his pudding bowl haircut, high trouser, walking stick partner making this all look like a Laurel & Hardy affair. Also what would a Del Toro film be without 'Hellboy' himself? Ron Perlman shines in all his extravagence, suited and booted with signature style alongside his favourite director once again for a charismatic bigger than a cameo performance. Still with all these great cast members it's 'Luther' who comes out of the darkness and shines brightest in this light of day. The man of the moment who has been rumored to be everything from the next James Bond to Doctor Who is the British intelligence of Idris Elba. He's come along way from the sensational, small-screen, drug-lord underworld of 'The Wire'. The actor/singers trademark gravelly voice may need some throat tablets after this one. Shouting his way to the cancelling of the apocalypse this man delivers a soaring speech that could inspire every goosebump and tear duct in the house. Hairs will stand on end as Elba brings hope and faith to a despaired and dark situation. It's clear to hear he's been watching Bill Pullman in 'Independence Day' for this July 4th movie moment. Tooooday this star won't go quietly into the night.

As the Kaijus and Jaeger's muscle up a new cult classic flexes it's way on screen and fights it's way to the top of a crowded blockbuster season like the zombies in 'World War Z'  or the Marvel and DC superheroes. This is everyones perfect comic book fantasy brought to the celluoid of cinema. From the bleak gray destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge (it's just a target for every Hollywood disaster flick) in San Fransisco to the humanoid machines with real human nature heart and hope, this film deals with all sorts of themes and transcends modern mainstream films that lack thought or a provocation of more than just death and destruction. Out of the darkness and with the risk of colonization, Guillermo goes nuclear and sheds more light then just the neon effervescent effects of his bold and beautiful battle royales. Attacking every sense you just have to see and get a taste of what everyones heard about and touched on since the first time the metal siren, scintillating trailer debuted. This doesn't deliver on the hype and the goes beyond it. The blockbuster Summer season may almost be over, but what a way to finish it. You can settle the debate and competition now 'Pacific Rim is here. It's over, even Iron Man needs to bolt up now. With oceans of talent and effects, everything else rims out and doesn't come close. The fight for the top is over and the real iron men of steel and the most orginal and impressive aliens you've ever seen have won. Now they've won this battle, in 'Pacific Rim' who will win the war? TIM DAVID HARVEY.