Tag Archives: ‘x-men: days of future past’

Review: ‘Logan’ brilliant end to Wolverine saga

“Logan” (R)

It seems that Hugh Jackman has saved his best performance as Wolverine for last.

Jackman, of course, defined the role of the adamantium-clawed mutant in 2000’s “X-Men” — and reprised the role eight more times (including the new film) in the ensuing years — is brilliant in “Logan,” which the actor previously announced would be his last turn in the movie saga.

Expertly directed by “The Wolverine” helmer James Mangold, “Logan” strips the “X-Men” mythos to the bare essentials, and in the process, results in a raw and compelling superhero adventure. Concentrating mainly on three mutants, the film easily sets itself apart from the previous “X-Men” films in story, character development and action.


Audio slideshow: James Mangold talks “Logan”

Based on the “Old Man Logan” storyline from the Marvel Comics, “Logan” is set in 2029, in a society where mutants have all but been eradicated, and Logan/Wolverine, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Caliban (Stephen Merchant) take shelter in a run-down hideout on the Mexican border.

Old, cranky and sick, Logan and Charles are living a shadow of an existence, until a desperate woman tracks down Logan and pleads with him to transport a 10-year-old girl named Laura (a spectacular Dafne Keen) to a safe haven in northern part of the United States. Logan’s reluctant to do it, until a militaristic government organization shows up, seeking her capture. It turns out that the girl is a mutant as well, and her ties to Logan may be closer than he thinks.

Twentieth Century Fox definitely made the right move by allowing Jackman and Mangold to make “Logan” a R-rated film, the same sort of strategy that propelled “Deadpool” to worldwide blockbuster status last year. “Logan,” however, doesn’t have a wiseass tone like “Deadpool,” and is much more serious. It’s ultra-violent and bloody (what else would you expect from a guy with steely claws?), and without question earns the distinction of being the “John Wick” of superhero movies.

LINK:  See Tim Lammers’ archived video and audio interviews, including Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Viola Davis, Francis Ford Coppola and more on  his new YouTube channel.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have its share of comedic moments, particularly between Logan and Charles, who bicker at each other like a pair of grumpy old men (or is it grumpy old mutants?). It’s a real hoot to hear Charles – the majestic professor in the previous films – drop the F-bombs like there’s no tomorrow.

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The sad part of “Logan” is, it appears to be the end of the road for Stewart as Charles, too. You can’t help but feel a sense of sadness as “Logan” wraps up, knowing that Jackman and the always-great Stewart are hanging it up.

But as we’ve learned in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” there’s nothing ever final in the “X-Men” universe.

Lammometer: 9 (out of 10)

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Interview: Famke Janssen talks sacrifices, emotional impact of ‘Taken 3’

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anybody with an interest in “Taken 3,” mainly because of the big plot reveal in the trailers and television spots for the final installment in the “Taken” franchise: Things do not end well for Famke Janssen’s beloved character, Lenore.

In a phone call from New York Wednesday, Janssen told me not only did she know before she read the film’s script that something tragic was going to happen to Lenore – the ex-wife of former CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) – she wholeheartedly embraced the idea instead of getting depressed by it.

Quite simply, the charismatic actress said, the gut-wrenching event was a necessity to drive the plot of “Taken 3” forward.

“It was a smart decision to make to kill off Lenore, especially given the fact that we have spent two movies with them as a family and have rooted for Lenore and Bryan to get back into a romantic relationship,” Janssen said. “Because of that, the emotional impact of what happens to Lenore is much greater than if a random person had been picked to be taken. It’s more powerful to have somebody Bryan’s becoming close to again in his life be killed.”

Famke Janssen in 'Taken 3' (photo - Fox)
Famke Janssen in ‘Taken 3’ (photo: 20th Century Fox)

Opening in theaters nationwide on Friday, “Taken 3” finds Bryan framed for the murder and on the run from the CIA, FBI and police authorities, a

nd trying desperately to clear his name amid the devastation. Also never one to back down, Bryan once again employs his “particular set of skills” to find the real killers and protect his and Lenore’s daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), from any harm.

The “Taken” franchise has been a thrilling ride for viewers since 2008, starting with the kidnapping and liberation of Kim by her father in the first film; followed up the targeting of Bryan and Lenore by Kim’s captors in the second installment of the trilogy in 2012.

Janssen believes the reason the “Taken” movies are so popular with audiences is, despite all the extraordinary action and intrigue the characters experience, moviegoers can still relate to it on a human level. Most people, after all, are driven by a primal instinct to protect their family members from all harm no matter the cost.

“They all probably hope that they have somebody in their lives like Liam Neeson, who is going to go out and protect and fight for them — and avenge for them if needed,” Janssen said. “That’s why the films have struck a chord with people.”

In “Taken 3,” it appears that Neeson’s character’s passion to protect his family has no doubt had an effect on Lenore, as the two are on the verge of getting back together before the tragedy. Their possible re-coupling was a well-thought out plot development, Janssen said, and she’s glad the filmmakers didn’t throw the two back together willy-nilly after Bryan’s heroics in the first film.

“Revisiting the first film, it’s pretty clear that he hadn’t been there for years for his daughter,” Janssen observed. “Of course, everybody still loved him when he appeared on screen and hated me, but he clearly hadn’t been the greatest father — we have to remember that. He tries really hard to make up for it, even though it’s by giving his grown-up daughter a stuffed panda.”

Future/past
Despite her untimely demise in “Taken 3,” one thing that Janssen has discovered — at least in the “X-Men” films — is just because it seems like it’s all over, doesn’t mean it’s over. After her character, Jean Grey, met a tragic end in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” it didn’t seem possible we’d see the telepath’s streaming, fiery red locks on screen again — that is until some unique, dream world storytelling in “The Wolverine” and her revival in “Days of Future Past” revealed a world of new opportunities for the character.

From what’s been reported so far, it appears that franchise will carry forth for the time in being in “X-Men: Apocalypse” with the younger, prequel version of the characters. But in the event writer-director Bryan Singer calls her for a future “X-Men” film, Janssen said she’ll jump at the opportunity to play Jean again.

“Of course, I’d love to be back, but I think, realistically, with the way ‘Days of Future Past’ ends, is that it’s going back to the 1980s and there will be a much younger Jean Grey,” said Janssen, 50. “The great thing about ‘Days of Future Past’ is you don’t know where the next story lines are going to lead.”

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As for this casting a younger Jean Grey business, I told Janssen not to sell herself short about the filmmakers finding somebody 20-30 years junior taking over the role. Despite hitting the milestone birthday in November, the stunning actress still gives the appearance that she stopped aging at 30.

Besides, Janssen said, people should take note of their surroundings, and only think of age as a mere number. Maybe, in a sort of way, the way Lenore’s life is cut short in “Taken 3” makes Janssen’s point all the more poignant.

“As far as it comes to aging, I always say, ‘It’s better than the opposite.’ We should feel lucky to be here, and there are many worse things in life than aging,” Janssen said, humbly. “I think aging makes us wiser than ever before, and more thankful to be alive.”

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Tim Lammers picks top movies of 2014

Agree or disagree, here’s this year’s Top 10 list — wedging in 14 of the best movies on the big screen in 2014. See you at the movies in 2015.

10. “The Box Trolls”/”The Lego Movie”“The Boxtrolls” proves why stop-motion is still the best of all forms of animation, and “The Lego Movie,” a computer-animated film that mimics the under-appreciated art form, proves why we need more.

9. “Unbroken”/”Fury” — Directors Angelina Jolie and David Ayer shine proper lights on the unsung heroes of World War II: POW survivor Louie Zamperini in “Unbroken,” and a Sherman tank crew forced to do horrific things in order to survive in “Fury.” What Jolie lacks in context of Zamperini’s sufferings in the PG-13 “Unbroken” is more than made up for in brutally realistic R-rated “Fury,” starring, oddly enough, Jolie’s husband Brad Pitt.

Bradley Cooper in 'American Sniper' (photo Warner Bros.)
Bradley Cooper in ‘American Sniper’ (photo Warner Bros.).

8. “The Imitation Game”/̶

1;Big Eyes” — The amazing tale of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is told on two levels: One about Turing the  genius mathematician who invents a pre-cursor to the computer to help the British break German’s Enigma code during World War II; and second Turing as gay man in a time where homosexuality was outlawed in the U.K. Since his covert efforts with Britain’s MI: 6 technically didn’t exist, not even saving millions of lives couldn’t prevent the persecution of one life – Turning’s own. “Big Eyes,” meanwhile, tells another true story about secrets – this one set in pop art scene of the 1950s and ’60s – through the unique cinematic brushstrokes of canvas and film artist Tim Burton.

7. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”/”X-Men: Days of Future Past” — While the wonderfully funny and action-packed “Guardians of the Galaxy” marked a departure to the light side for Marvel Studios, the latest film in “The Avengers” superhero saga daringly ventured down the complete opposite path with a ’70s political thriller twist, to boot. Though technically not a Marvel Studios property, “Days of Future Past” and star Hugh Jackman did its Marvel Comics roots justice by righting some wrongs from previous films in the “X-Men” series.

6. “St. Vincent” — Bill Murray is at his best in the feel-good movie of the year as a ne’er do-well with a heart of gold and chamber of heartbreaking secrets. Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd and newcomer Jaeden Lieberher complete the joyous halo that encircles Murray in “St. Vincent,” a dramedy that’s every bit as poignant as it is funny.

5. “Gone Girl” – Director David Fincher is at the top of his game in Gillian Flynn’s complex crime thriller, expertly adapted by the screenwriter from her own best-selling novel. Featuring one of the best ensemble casts of the year (including Ben Affleck, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Missi Pyle and Sela Ward), “Gone Girl” is taken to a whole new level by former Bond girl Rosamund Pike in what’s easily the best female lead performance of the year.

4. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” – Director Matt Reeves pulls off the impossible by topping “Dawn’s” predecessor, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – a brilliant reboot of a classic film series. The apes continue to evolve in “Dawn,” and so does the story and Andy Serkis’ motion capture acting. Awards voters better soon get with the program and accept what Serkis does as a legitimate form of acting.

3. “Birdman” – Michael Keaton gives a career performance as a struggling big-screen superhero trying to reinvent himself on Broadway in “Birdman,” the most inventively staged film of the year. The only reason this film works is because of Keaton, who will no doubt enjoy a career renaissance with an Oscar nomination (if not a win) in his future. Of course, it helps to have Edward Norton in your cast, who is as brilliant as ever in a crucial supporting role.

2. “Whiplash” – J.K. Simmons gives the one of the best performances of the year as a conniving, vitriolic jazz conservatory instructor who uses mental abuse in an effort to try to bring out the best in his students – specifically an immensely talented but emotionally fragile drummer (Miles Teller). Simmons is so explosive in “Whiplash” that he makes Louis Gossett Jr. in “An Officer and a Gentleman” feel like a pre-school teacher.

1. “American Sniper” – Director Clint Eastwood places you in the thick of the battle in the Iraq war while Bradley Cooper puts you in Chris Kyle’s conflicted mind in this brutally honest portrayal of the most lethal sniper in the American military. Sienna Miller is also heartbreaking at Kyle’s wife, Taya, a woman suffering the residual effects war has on families. To say the film is riveting is an huge understatement, especially given the tragic fate that awaits Kyle as he finally finds his peace and tries to help other veterans adjust to life on the home front.

Most over-rated movie of the year: “Boyhood” — It’s a clever idea no doubt, filming a child’s life over a 12-year period and there’s no deny the effort and planning director Richard Linklater put into the project, but ultimately, “Boyhood” feels like a gimmick because of a mostly uneventful story. Perhaps critics were ultimately more fascinated with the idea of making a movie over 12-year period than the film itself. Besides, haven’t we seen characters grow up on screen before with the films in the “Harry Potter” saga?

Worst movie of the year: “Inherent Vice” — The film’s top-shelf talent is completely wasted by Paul Thomas Anderson’s pretentious writing and direction, and a nonsensical script that’s virtually impossible to grasp. Don’t pay attention to the film snobs who pretend to understand what’s going on in this bloated heap of “I’m smarter than you are” filmmaking, because they really don’t. Dreadful and disappointing, this movie should have been called “Incoherent Vice.”

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Reviews: Tim Lammers talks ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past,’ ‘Blended’ on KARE-TV

X-Men Days of Future Past
Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (photo: 20th Century Fox).

Tim reviews the Marvel superhero adventure “X-Men: Days of Future Past” with Bryan Piatt on KARE 11 TV (NBC) in Minneapolis.  See the review of the film, starring Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, below, as well as a review of the new Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore comedy “Blended.” You can also read the print version of the reviews on BringMeTheNews.com. Also, click HERE to read Tim’s interview with Hugh Jackman.

Tim also reviewed the films with John Williams on WCCO AM 830 (Click HERE to listen: audio begins at 3:30) and Rider and Eric Perkins on 96.3 K-TWIN. Listen to the K-TWIN audio below.

The Wolverine Marvel Sixth Scale Figure