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Logan Review

Excellent

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with filmmaker James Mangold, who also directed 2013's The Wolverine. But this doesn't feel like any other X-Men movie; it strikes a sombre, gritty tone from the start to take the audience on a dark and rather brutal road trip. So while it feels rather long and repetitive, the movie also has a strong emotional kick.

It's set in the year 2029, when mutants have been wiped off the planet, and no new ones have been born for years. Hiding out in a drunken haze as a Texas limo driver, Logan aka Wolverine (Jackman) has stashed Charles aka Professor X (Patrick Stewart) across the border in Mexico, watched over by albino caretaker Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Then a nurse (Elizabeth Rodriguez) appears asking for Logan's help to transport the young Laura (Dafne Keen) to North Dakota. And Laura clearly has a genetic connection with Logan. It also turns out that she has escaped from a Mexico City hospital, so as Logan, Charles and Laura hit the road, the ruthless henchman Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and sinister Dr Rice (Richard E. Grant) are hot on their trail.

Mangold holds all of this in careful control, never tipping over into the usual whiz-bang Hollywood superhero action chaos (the violence is especially grisly). The story moves at a steady pace that adds an involving note of desperation to each sequence. This also makes the movie feel a bit repetitive and even wheel-spinning at times. Since the baddies are able to stay right on the heroes' heels, it's clear that even a nicely offhandedly sojourn with a farmer (Eriq La Salle) and his family will be short-lived. But the gnawing intensity, while never quite building into proper suspense, gets deep under the skin as it fleshes out the characters.

Continue reading: Logan Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Review

Very Good

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The Last Stand, the final part in the original X-Men trilogy: it shifts the focus from character detail and social commentary into a more standard effects-heavy action brawl. There's still a lot of strong character detail, and a big story that can't help but be entertaining. But it's impossible to escape the feeling that the film's scale is far bigger than it needed to be.

It's now 1983, and while Professor X (James McAvoy) works with Hank (Nicholas Hoult) to set up his school for young mutants, his old friend and nemesis Erik (Michael Fassbender) has started a family in a rural corner of Poland. But he can't hide forever. Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) is roaming the world helping mutants where she can, meeting the teleporting Kurt (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in Berlin before heading to Cairo. There, CIA operative Moira (Rose Byrne) has just uncovered a bizarre underground cult that has revived the ancient super-mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who immediately sets out on a quest to cleanse the planet and start over again. He needs four assistants, and the question is which of the X-Men will go over to the dark side.

This is the third comic book movie in a row about superheroes fighting each other, after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. And it's similarly enormous (all three films are around two-and-a-half hours long), with mammoth battles that don't quite make logical sense but are compelling enough that the audience goes with them. This film has a bit more emotional depth, including back-stories that have been developed with unusual complexity. But some characters fall through the cracks.

Continue reading: X-Men: Apocalypse Review

Deadpool Review

Very Good

Both the filmmakers and the characters on-screen are so pleased with themselves that this might just be the smuggest movie ever made. Thankfully, it's also very funny. It's a passion project for actor-producer Ryan Reynolds, who throws himself fully into his role as a snarky mercenary who becomes an indestructible superhero with nothing to lose. And in addition to a constant stream of irreverent humour, he underscores the film's snarkiness with some real emotion.

Reynolds plays Wade, a thug for hire who works out of a bar run by his comical pal Weasel (T.J. Miller), and when he meets fellow mercenary Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), it's love at first sight. The feisty pair match each other with sharp tongues and brutal physicality, but their romance is shaken when Wade is secretly diagnosed with end-stage cancer. His only hope lies in a shady treatment from the ropey Ajax (Ed Skrein) and his sidekick Angel Dust (Gina Carano), which turns out to literally be torture. Sure, it cures his cancer and sparks his innate mutant healing power, but it leaves him hideously scarred. As he sets out to get revenge, two young X-Men (Brianna Hildebrand's Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Stefan Kapcic's Colossus) try to recruit him to their cause. And Wade, now known as Deadpool, tries to work up the nerve to show Vanessa what's left of him.

All of this is revealed early on, as Wade's back-story is recounted in a series of flashbacks in the middle of a massive opening action sequence. And once we're caught up, the story heads into a succession of massive climactic action sequences. Fortunately, there are some quieter moments in between that are both hilarious and involving. Reynolds effortlessly bridges the film's wild mood swings. His sassy attitude and feisty physicality feed cleverly into his riveting chemistry with Baccarin, whose character starts off strongly before dissolving into the standard hackneyed girlfriend role.

Continue reading: Deadpool Review

Who Needs JJ? Star Wars Animated Series 'Rebels' To Debut In 2014


Simon Kinberg Harrison Ford Jj Abrams Carrie Fisher Mark Hamill

Forget Star Wars Episode 7! A new continuation of the classic sci-fi saga will be hitting screens before Jj Abrams new movie in the form ofStar Wars Rebels, an animated series for the Disney Channel. The series comes as Lucasfilm Animation winds down the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which premiered in 2008.

According to The Wrap, X-Men: First Class' Simon Kinberg will executive-produce and write the first episode of Revels, which will premiere in the fall of 2014. Set two decades between Star Wars Episode 3 and 4, the animated series finds the Empire hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights as a small band of revels united against it. Lucasfilm are on-board to produce the show, with fans attending Star Wars Celebration Europe will get the first exclusive look. "I couldn't be more excited to explore new corners of the Star Wars universe," said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. "I think 'Star Wars Rebels' will capture the look, feel and fun that both kids and their parents love about Star Wars."

Making up the crew will be executive producer Dave Filoni, who fan-boys will recognise as the director of The Clone Wars. Greg Weisman, of The Spectacular Spider-Man, is also executive producing. 

Continue reading: Who Needs JJ? Star Wars Animated Series 'Rebels' To Debut In 2014

Iconic Star Wars Writer To Return For New Films


Star Wars George Lucas Lawrence Kasdan Simon Kinberg

As the maniacal excitement dies down after the initial news that the Star Wars franchise had been bought by Disney for an enormous sum of over four billion dollars, and the revelation that there would be at least two more movies in the pipeline, it is now time for a few details to begin getting settled.

A couple of weeks ago we reported that Michael Arndt had been picked to pen the first of the two movies on the way. Now, the Hollywood Reporter has been told that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg have signed contracts to write episodes 8 and/or 9. Lawrence Kasdan is something of a Star Wars legend, as he wrote the scripts for The Empire Strikes Back (largely lauded as the best Star Wars movie to date), as well as Return of the Jedi. 

Since 1983, when The Return of the Jedi was released, Kasdan has also written The Bodyguard, which Whitney Houston starred in, as well as the award winning The Accidental Tourist, which was a very different kind of writing and film making than either Star Wars or The Bodyguard, and showed his great range and depth. Simon Kinberg has an equally impressive career history. He's written two X-Men movies, the Brad Pitt and Anjelina Joli movie Mr and Mrs Smith, plus the Robert Downey Junior version of Sherlock Holmes

Continue reading: Iconic Star Wars Writer To Return For New Films

'Empire Strikes Back' Scribe Signs On To Write New Star Wars Movies


Lawrence Kasdan Simon Kinberg Steven Spielberg Morgan Freeman Matthew Vaughn

Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg have closed deals to write instalments of the new Star Wars trilogy, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The pair will pen either Episode VIII or Episode IX though the exact division of their responsibilities is yet to be determined.

As was previously reported, Oscar winner Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) is writing the script for Episode VII, the first movie in the new trilogy. Kasdan is a Lucasfilm and Star Wars veteran having co-wrote 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and the 1983 movie Return of the Jedi. He recently co-wrote the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark, considered the finest movie from Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones movies. However, his latest feature film writing credit is the poorly received Stephen King adaptation Dreamcatcher, starring Morgan Freeman. Kinberg on the other hand has more contemporary material on his CV, co-writing the new X-Men movie Days of the Future Past and producing X-Men: First Class. He is also on the team for the forthcoming Cinderella film for Disney.

With the writers now locked down for the new movies, we should hear something about directors pretty soon. Matthew Vaughn is rumored to be in talks for the first movie in the new triology.

Continue reading: 'Empire Strikes Back' Scribe Signs On To Write New Star Wars Movies

This Means War Review


Very Good
A lively pace and a nicely warped sense of humour help make this paper-thin action-comedy a mindlessly enjoyable romp. Sure, the central romantic triangle never really gels, but the bromance subplot is rather sweet.

Frank (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are best-pal CIA operatives who wouldn't know the word "subtle" if it clubbed them over the head. After a chaotic case in Hong Kong, they're grounded back home in L.A., and both decide to use the down time to find women. The problem is that they find the same woman, Lauren (Witherspoon), who struggles to decide which one is right for her. Certainly her married best pal Trish (Handler) is no help. The bigger problem is that Frank and Tuck use the agency's resources to sabotage each other.

Continue reading: This Means War Review

X-men: First Class Review


Extraordinary
Matthew Vaughn kicks some life back into the X-men franchise with this superbly written, directed and acted adventure. In addition to restoring a sense of subtext to the premise (missing since X2), the film is a thrilling, intelligent blockbuster.

It's 1962, and Charles Xavier (McAvoy) is recruited by US Agent MacTaggart (Byrne) to explore how the CIA can benefit from mutant humans. The telepathic Charles grew up with shapeshifting Raven (Lawrence), and they start assembling a team. A key partner is metal-manipulator Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender), who's set on revenge against energy-absorbing Shaw (Bacon), who killed his mother in a Nazi war camp and has powers of his own. And now Shaw has his own mutant team (Jones, Flemyng and Gonzalez) and is sparking a nuclear war between the USA and the USSR.

Continue reading: X-men: First Class Review

Sherlock Holmes Review


Excellent

Raucous, rough energy infuses this film from start to finish, carrying us along even when the slightly over-egged script starts to feel somewhat slender. And it's the terrific chemistry between Downey and Law that makes the film worth seeing.

In Victorian London, private investigator Sherlock Holmes (Downey) is about to lose his partner John Watson (Law), who's moving out to marry his fiancee (Reilly). But the case they've just finished, involving a series of secret-society murders carried out by Lord Blackwood (Strong), just won't end.
Now Holmes' ex Irene (McAdams) is on the scene as well, and things are getting increasingly freaky with more murders and a conspiracy that could lead to a takeover of the whole government. But Holmes' fierce powers of observation are on the case.

The producers blast new life into fusty cinematic stalwarts with their canny choice of director and stars. In many ways this feels more faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle's stories than the dry, cerebral films we're used to. Downey perfectly combines the character's edgy physicality, brainy powers of deduction and sardonic wit. And he and Law are like an hilarious bickering married couple that has lived together just a little too long.

No one else in the cast quite registers. McAdams and Reilly at least play strong-minded women, while Strong glowers satanically from the shadows and Marsan (as the chief inspector) tuts amusingly. The script is mostly smoke and mirrors, weaving in all manner of Holmes' lore, from the original story details to playful references to previous film incarnations (although Holmes never says "elementary", and he never wears a deerstalker).

And if the script isn't nearly as smart as it thinks it is, at least it contains a few nifty twists, including one of the more enjoyable resolutions in recent blockbuster memory. But what we're here for are the fireworks between Downey and Law, a couple of feisty-sexy women and Ritchie-isms like nasty slo-mo fight sequences, witty editing and suggestive lighting. He also offers plenty of refreshingly abrasive vigour to go with the cool effects and a zingy Hans Zimmer score. Bring on the next case.

Jumper Review


Weak
Some kids break out in face-scarring acne. Most everyone's voice drops an octave or two. Yet right around the time David Rice (Max Thieriot) hit puberty, he discovered he could teleport. His first leap took him from a frozen lake to the local library so he could dodge a dangerous bully. He calls on the power to help him escape his abusive father (Michael Rooker, who you hire when Robert Patrick is unavailable). In time, the 15-year-old "bouncer" concocts schemes to rob banks, funding a lucrative lifestyle that starts drawing attention from unfavorable forces.

Hayden Christensen steps into the David Rice role as Jumper progresses and delivers a performance that's as bland and flavorless as his moniker suggests. Years after leaving home, David has mastered the art of jumping and uses it to have lunch atop the Great Sphinx, surf tubular waves off the coast of Fiji, flirt with chicks in a London pub, and take his high-school sweetheart, Millie (Rachel Bilson), around Rome's top tourist traps.

Continue reading: Jumper Review

Simon Kinberg, screenplay and Ziegfeld Theatre - Simon Kinberg, screenplay New York City, USA - New York Premiere of 'Jumper' at the Ziegfeld Theatre - Arrivals Monday 11th February 2008

Simon Kinberg, Screenplay and Ziegfeld Theatre
Simon Kinberg, Molly Kinberg and Ziegfeld Theatre
Simon Kinberg, Molly Kinberg and Ziegfeld Theatre

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review


Excellent
It will go down in infamy as the film that split up Brad and Jen -- assuming that 10 or 20 years from now people still remember the headline-making legacy of the ill-fated Pitt-Aniston marriage.

Unfortunately for gossip fiends, Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn't really bear any mark of Angelina Jolie as homewrecker or of Brad Pitt as any more infatuated with the lippy screen queen than any normal, red-blooded man ought to be. And fortunately for moviegoers, Smith (wholly unrelated to the 1941 Hitchcock film of the same name) is a funny and wild ride, an impressive blend of black comedy, ultraviolence, and romance that we rarely get to see -- and which rarer still is any good.

Continue reading: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review

X-Men: The Last Stand Review


OK

We've witnessed, this summer, how fresh blood can rejuvenate a franchise entering its third installment. Weeks ago, Paramount handed the Mission: Impossible keys to J.J. Abrams (Alias) and clicked their heels when the inventive television director breathed new life into a financially healthy but creatively stagnant series.

Fox attempts a similar trick with its valuable X-Men venture, though in honesty the studio had little choice. After conceiving two blockbuster films that delighted both critics and fans, director Bryan Singer walked away from the X universe for the chance to direct the next Man of Steel movie (his Superman Returns arrives in theaters next month). Fox wouldn't let Singer's exit kill its golden-egg-laying goose, so the studio plopped oft-maligned hired gun filmmaker Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) behind the camera and prayed that he wouldn't botch The Last Stand, reportedly the final installment.

Continue reading: X-Men: The Last Stand Review

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review


Excellent
It will go down in infamy as the film that split up Brad and Jen -- assuming that 10 or 20 years from now people still remember the headline-making legacy of the ill-fated Pitt-Aniston marriage.

Unfortunately for gossip fiends, Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn't really bear any mark of Angelina Jolie as homewrecker or of Brad Pitt as any more infatuated with the lippy screen queen than any normal, red-blooded man ought to be. And fortunately for moviegoers, Smith (wholly unrelated to the 1941 Hitchcock film of the same name) is a funny and wild ride, an impressive blend of black comedy, ultraviolence, and romance that we rarely get to see -- and which rarer still is any good.

Continue reading: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review

XXX: State Of The Union Review


Weak
Who says sequels are never better than their predecessors? Megabudget producers have hammered away at proving this maxim wrong, primarily through sequelizing as many crummy movies as good ones. Sure, a movie like The Matrix sets a gratifyingly high bar for its successors, but it's quite the opposite for films like XXX, Tomb Raider, and Resident Evil; hardly any effort at all is needed to surpass the original.

And hardly any effort is often what they get, which brings us to XXX: State of the Union. This follow-up to XXX, the 2002 extreme-sports-and-videogames-themed James Bond knockoff, is markedly superior. Which is to say it is slightly less tedious, slightly less blatant in its idiocy, and still miles away from working as a competent action movie.

Continue reading: XXX: State Of The Union Review

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Simon Kinberg Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Deadpool Movie Review

Deadpool Movie Review

Both the filmmakers and the characters on-screen are so pleased with themselves that this might...

The Martian Movie Review

The Martian Movie Review

Just as people began to write off veteran director Ridley Scott after a series of...

Fantastic Four Movie Review

Fantastic Four Movie Review

Until the special effects take over in the final act, this is an unusually gritty,...

Cinderella Movie Review

Cinderella Movie Review

The thing that makes this Disney live-action remake so wonderful is the same thing that...

Chappie Movie Review

Chappie Movie Review

This is a terrific small film about artificial intelligence wrapped within a much bigger, less...

X-men: Days of Future Past Movie Review

X-men: Days of Future Past Movie Review

Continuing to be the most original and resonant of the Marvel superhero franchises, the X-men...

Elysium Movie Review

Elysium Movie Review

As he did with District 9, South African filmmaker Blomkamp grounds this sci-fi thriller in...

This Means War Movie Review

This Means War Movie Review

A lively pace and a nicely warped sense of humour help make this paper-thin action-comedy...

X-men: First Class Movie Review

X-men: First Class Movie Review

Matthew Vaughn kicks some life back into the X-men franchise with this superbly written, directed...

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