ORBzine - Superheroes Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Elektra

Elektra Instead of making Sin City , Rodriguez and Miller should have adapted Elektra: Assassin. Unfortunately they did not, which is why we are left with this effort. The best thing about it is that Ben Affleck's cameo (as Daredevil ) has been cut. Presumably the film-makers wanted to distance this film from the original, where Garner's character first appeared. Unfortunately they failed - this is just as bad as the original.

Elektra is no longer a vigilante. She was raised from the dead, trained as a Ninja by Terence Stamp ( Superman 2, Star Wars: TPM ), then went freelance as an assassin. Now she is hired to kill the father of a girl she befriends. The girl's dad is a guy from E.R., basically set up as a love interest. That particular plot cliche is worked in for no apparent reason, and makes no sense.

The villains come after Elektra and her new friends. Not only are there evil Ninjas, but even minor-league supervillains like Natassia Malthe . This guarantees that there will be lots of people for Elektra to fight, in a series of action sequences meant to make up for the lousy plot.

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  • Iron Man

    Iron Man Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr - Shaggy Dog ) is a playboy arms-dealer. While selling weapons to the US Military in Afghanistan he is captured by a militia who force him to build weapons for him.

    Stark's experiences as a hostage, combined with an encounter with liberal journalist Leslie Bibb , convince him to give up his arms-manufacturing ways. Creepy-looking business partner Obadiah [Jeff Bridges - ] tries to convince him that this is a mistake - after all, closing his factories would put a hundred thousand workers out of a job!

    Stark then ignores his friends USAF officer Terence Howard (Big Mama's House) and sidekick Pepper Potts ( Gwyneth Paltrow ), and spends his spare time perfecting the ultimate weapon, an armoured suit. The CGI version of the mechanics is reminiscent of the Transformers robots, but then they were designed by the same company so it is hardly surprising.

    Naturally Stark still has to fight the villains. It is all a bit predictable. Since he is too much for a bunch of men with rifles to take on, it is convenient for the story that a similarly-armoured opponent comes along.

    If you wait past the extended credits, there is a final scene that makes it all worthwhile!

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  • Iron Man 2

    Iron Man 2 Iron Man Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr - Tropic Thunder ) is stalked by crazy Russian weapons designer Mickey Rourke. He also faces competition from the villain from Charlie's Angels.

    Back in the office, Pepper Potts ( Gwyneth Paltrow ) takes over as CEO despite her rivalry with Scarlett Johanson . Journalist Leslie Bibb also pops up.

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  • Incredible Hulk

    Incredible Hulk This is not a direct sequel to the film Hulk . It has been completely re-cast, and there is a new back-story (as shown in the credits). However, it takes off where the first film ended.

    Bruce Banner (Ed Norton - Fight Club ) is living incognito in South America. General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt - ) sends in a snatch team led by psychotic Royal Marine Tim Roth ( Rosenkrantz and Gilderstern Are Dead ) ...

    The military guys certainly do not expect what they run into when the Hulk makes its first appearance. It is bigger, meaner and scarier than in the previous film!

    Bruce ends up returning to the USA, where he needs help from Betty ( Liv Tyler ). There may be a cure for the Gamma Poisoning that causes his transformations - but can he get cured before the US Military can dissect him?

    Despite the incredibly brutal violence, this film is only a PG-13. This leads to a somewhat distracting problem - even in the heat of combat, nobody actually swears!

    The climax, predictably enough, allows our hero to show off his talents against another monster. And like Iron Man , there is a final scene that implies something greater may be in the offing.

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  • Thor

    Thor This was directed by Kenneth Branagh . The title character, Norse God of thunder, is an alien who has superhuman powers (like Superman ). His father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins - Silence of the Lambs ), exiles him to Earth until he learns to control his warlike urges.

    Thor crashlands in New Mexico, where he befriends scientists Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings and Stellan Saarsgard ( Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest ). However, the MIB Agency of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes an interest. Agent Coulson and Hawkeye the Archer (Jeremy Renner - Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol ) turn up the heat on our hero.

  • 2000
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  • Captain America: The First Avenger

    Captain America: The First Avenger It is 1942, and New York's biggest weakling (Chris Evans - Sunshine ) is recruited to the US Army super-soldier program by scientist Stanley Tucci ( The Lovely Bones ) and General Tommy Lee Jones ( Space Cowboys ).

    The villains are a Nazi cabal named HYDRA, commanded by Nazi officer Hugo Weaving ( V for Vendetta ) and scientist Toby Jones ( Your Highness ).

    British Rent-a-villain Richard Armitage ( Robin Hood ) has some great scenes

    This completely fails the Bechdel test. But it does tie in with Iron Man as a lead-in to the forthcoming team-up movie Avengers Assemble .

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  • Marvel Avengers Assemble

    Marvel Avengers Assemble Loki, villain of Thor , is back for more. He has the backing of a mysterious race of aliens. His plan is to steal the Tesseract cube that Hydra used in the recent Captain America Film.

    Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson - Deep Blue Sea ) and his new sidekick (jumpsuit-clad Cobie Smulders ) assemble the Avengers, a mis-matched group of superheroes from other Marvel films.

    Will the villains unleash an army with a thousand speeder-bikes into Manhattan? Is the army controlled the same way the Trade Federation's was in Phantom Menace - by a single control ship? At least the villains in Independence Day could still try to fight back after their control centre was taken out.

    This is the best blockbuster movie of 2012 so far, as good as the best bits of the previous four films put together. If not better. It certainly beats the other Marvel Universe superhero team movies ( X-Men, Fantastic Four ). Despite having three empowered female characters, and a Girl-Power writer-director ( Joss Whedon ), this actually fails the infamous Bechdel test. That said, the test is not a guarantee of quality.

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  • Iron Man 3

    Iron Man 3 This was co-written and directed by Shane Black , who previously directed Robert Downey Jnr in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Black's biggest previous film is Lethal Weapon 2, and this effort seems to mimic it on some levels. The action setpiece that features heavily in the trailer, where the villain's helicopters shoot up the hero's seaside home, and a clifftop house is toppled down the cliff,

    Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr - Tropic Thunder ) spends more time out of the Iron Man suit than in it. But at least his best buddy (Don Cheadle) gets something to do. The story turns into a mixed-race buddy-cop effort, with the explosive climax aboard a freighter in dock.

    It all starts in 1999, when Tony Stark is at a Symposium in Switzerland. He meets biologist Rebecca Hall (she is in everything these days) and eccentric brainiac Guy Pearse ( Lock Out ).

    As the plot thickens, Stark takes on a Bin Laden-like warlord, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley - The Sound of Thunder ).

    Finally, Pepper Potts ( Gwyneth Paltrow ) actually gets to do something!

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  • Thor 2: Dark World

    Thor The movie starts with an exposition splurge by Odin (Anthony Hopkins - Silence of the Lambs ). The Frost Giants are extinct, and the Chitauri are out of the fight, but luckily Asgard has even more enemies. The Dark Elves (reminiscent of the villains of Hellboy 2 ) were once defeated, but this ancient evil will be awoken ... A bit like in Green Lantern .

    Two years after the events of the first film, the human scientists ( Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings ) have relocated from New Mexico to London. They have had no luck detecting anything alien - until The Convergence happens. This is a planetary alignment.

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  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier This starts with Cap and Black Widow ( Scarlet Johansson ) leading a Special forces mission to liberate a SHIELD vessel that has been captured by Algerian pirates. Cap's use of non-lethal force is at odds with the Widow and the SHIELD goons, who kill anything that moves. And later on, Fury reveals his next plan to Cap - the militarization of Earth, to prevent another alien invasion.

    Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson - Deep Blue Sea ) suspects a conspiracy is at work. And when someone tries to have him killed, Cap takes over the investigation. The tiny band of surviving heroes must team up and overcome the Military Industrial complex. Just like in the recent GI Joe: Retaliation Movie, but with CGI super-soldiers instead of CGI Ninjas. Same difference, really.

    This all takes place over about three days (of the Condor - sorry, couldn't resist) - so our heroes have no time to call in the other Avengers. After all, the events of Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 mean that the others have lives of their own to lead in other cities. However, this means that a lot of supporting characters have a chance to shine instead. Cap's neighbour Sarah ( Emily Van Camp ) comes in useful. Maria Hill ( Cobie Smulders ) actually has something to do as well. Even Danny Pudi (Abed from Community) pops up as a SHIELD desk-jockey.

    SHIELD is presented as the mainstay of the US Military-Industrial Complex, but the International board of managers includes Jenny Agutter (English) and the villain from Lost (Australian). So is it the equivalent of the USMC, all of NATO or the United Nations Invasion Task-force?

  • 2000
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  • Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy Our protagonist (Chris Pratt - Jurassic World ), the self-proclaimed Starlord, is a Han Solo type who completes Indiana-Jones style adventures, falling foul of gangster Michael Rooker ( Walking Dead ) and alien super-soldier Djimon Houson (Amistad). He obtains a plot device, but before he can sell it he is targeted by a couple of bounty hunters - Rocket the Racoon (Bradley Cooper – My Little Eye ) and Groot the Tree (Vin Diesel – Riddick ).

    Worse, there is a Megalomaniac super-villain named Ronan on the loose. Lee Pace (the villainous Elf-Lord in The Hobbit ) has beefed up to look like something out of 300 , and is backed Thanos (Josh Brolin – Gangster Squad ). Yes, the arch-villain who used Loki as his proxy in Avengers Assemble is back to his old tricks, using intermediaries to invade other worlds. Thanos lends Ronan a pair of gorgeous female assassins – the blue-skinned Karen Gillen and the green-skinned Zoe Saldana .

    The result is possibly the finest of the Marvel Avengers universe movies so far. It works on every level - great action and great comedy.

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  • Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron

    Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron The film starts by finishing the HYDRA arc started in Captain America: Winter Soldier . Cap leads the Avengers against the HYDRA HQ in central Europe - it looks like the castle used as the Schloss Adler in Where Eagles Dare. How nice to see world-class superheroes take on normal humans with guns. Thor goes out of his way to mention that the Avengers did not actually kill anyone, which reduces this to a child-friendly PG-13 film. In contrast, the Agents of SHIELD kill as many HYDRA goons as they can, while in this movie the villains just get handed over to NATO. This begs a series of questions about morality and legality.

    The Avengers’ goal is Loki’s staff, which contains one of the four magic stones. Thor wants to take it back to Asgard, to give it to Odin ... which would create more problems than it solved. Worse, Tony Stark gets his hands on it first. Yes, since Stark privatised global security after SHIELD fell, he pays for the Avengers … but they follow his agenda (such as destroying his political enemies in HYDRA). In Iron Man 2 the villains used robotic drones to fight Stark, while in Iron Man 3 he had modified his suit into an army of drone pieces. Now he decides to take it a step further, using Loki’s evil magic-stick to create a super-AI that will protect the world with drones. Has he learned nothing from SHIELD’s folly in attempting world domination in the name of good?

    Naturally, Stark’s A.I. (Ultron, voiced by James Spader - Wolf ) goes rogue. This makes Tony Stark the biggest super-villain in history, since everything bad seems to be directly or indirectly his fault. A pair of former HYDRA minions (Scarlet Witch Elizabeth Olsen and Quicksilver Aaron Taylor-Johnson) also want revenge on Stark, teaming up with Ultron to help him get what he wants.

    After the climactic global invasion of the first film, if anything this is a let-down. In part it is an origin story for the Avengers B-team, introducing new characters and bringing the two African-American sidekicks into the mainstream. While it is nice to see locations outside the USA for a change (the Hulk rampages through a city in South Africa, while the others have a chase scene in a South Korea city) there is nothing that we have not seen before. There is a lot of spectacle, but not much originality.

    Even the relationships between the Avengers have changed. Black Widow ( Scarlett Johanson ) used to be close to Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner - Bourne Legacy ) - but now he has a new love interest ( Linda Cardinelli ) and she is flirting with Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo - 13 Going On 30 ). Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson - Snakes on a Plane ) is still pretending to be dead, even though HYDRA has been destroyed so there is no reason for him to hide.

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  • Ant Man

    Ant Man After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Michael Douglas ( Haywire ) falls out with Tony Stark’s Dad and Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell). He quits SHIELD, and takes his secret shrinking formula with him …

    In the modern day, the world’s best burglar (Paul Rudd – Role Models ) gets released from prison. Unfortunately he does not have a parole officer to find him a job. He gets a minimum-wage customer-service job at Baskin and Robbins (yes, there is a lot of product placement in movies these days) but ends up having to resort to crime again.

    Meanwhile, Douglas’ protégé (Corry Stoll – The Strain ) has decided to do what Stark could not do – duplicate the shrinking formula. The guy is clearly a supervillain, and an obsessed one at that. He has already built a flying battle-suit, something that was the holy grail of the new MCU arms race in Iron Man 2 . We also see there are effective counter-measures to an attack by a shrinking man, So he would be better off forgetting about the formula and just mass-producing the battle-suit instead.

    The burglar gets recruited to be the new Ant Man. He gets trained by his mentor’s estranged daughter ( Evangeline Lilly ), who has unresolved issues regarding her father. She is feisty, combatative, all the clichés. Also, she has an ugly wig that is quite distracting.

    HYDRA make a re-appearance towards the end. Despite by this stage their main leader in the USA IS Gr*nt W*rd in Agents of Shield , they have somehow scraped together (or stolen at two weeks notice) thousands of millions of dollars.

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  • Captain America: Civil War

    Captain America: Civil War This is not a Captain America movie, since it has most of the regular Avengers. Hulk and Thor are absent, probably off getting their own movies. Some fans think Black Widow deserves her own movie by merit of being the token female on the team. Well, no longer - Scarlet Witch ( Elizabeth Olsen ) is a full member of the team now. Unfortunately Ms Olsen has stated in press interviews that she does not want the stress of being the lead performer in a major tentpole movie.

    Cap, Black Widow and Scarlet Witch try to stop Crossbones, a former HYDRA goon, from stealing a bio-weapon and selling it to supervillains. In an effort to save hundreds of civilians in a crowded marketplace, the team cause slight damage to a nearby skyscraper. Nothing on the scale of the destruction to New York or Eastern Europe in previous films, but it is nice to see a film where violence actually has consequences. This causes the US Government to overreact and send in General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt - Humans ), the fascist psychopath who obsessively hunted the Hulk for years. Ross is now a politician, which if anything makes him more dangerous. He wants the Avengers to sign a document that makes them servants of the United Nations. Not the World Security Council, which presumably was a United Nations sub-committee, or SHIELD (which officially no longer exists) but the entire united Nations. Tony Stark is keen on this, because he is feeling guilty for causing Age of Ultron. Captain America refuses to sign, however, because he takes responsibility for his own actions.

    Some of the collateral damage in the skyscraper included civilians from Wakanda, the fictional country where Vibranium comes from. It is like Eddie Murphy's homeland in Coming To America, and the Prince who gets his royal foreskin cleaned every day is also local superhero Black Panther. When a terrorist attack is blamed on the Winter Soldier, Prince Panther swears revenge. Captain America decides to help Bucky, even though the cops have orders to shoot on sight. The Black Panther is a man who works out in a gymn and trains in a dojo a couple of times a week at most. Captain America and the Winter Soldier are virtually indestructable super-soldiers with decades of combat experience. Somehow he fights them so well he has earned his own spin-off movie.

    When SHIELD was destroyed, Earth's global defence was privatised and Tony Stark became the final decision-maker in the planet's future. This was obviously a terrible mistake. However, his most recent decision - to hand the Avengers over to a bunch of greedy politicians - is just as bad as any of his previous ones. This leads him on to another terrible decision - to lead half the Avengers to go against anyone who will not sign their life away. He even recruits a teenage boy as a child soldier. Yes, Peter Parker makes his first appearance in the MCU - and for the first time in a movie he actually looks young and wisecracks funny.

    The massive hero-on-hero fights actually detract from the overall film. It is nowhere near as grim as DC's Batman Vs Superman , because we know the goody-goody Avengers are not in any real danger. Civilians have a tendency to become collateral damage, but nobody cares about them anyway. There is a major disparity in superpowers - Hawkeye can lift his own bodyweight, Cap can lift half a ton, and the Iron Man suit can lift a hundred tons. However, they all come across as more or less equal.

    While the Civil War plotline is somewhat disappointing, the actual theme of the film is quite interesting. This is the first Avengers movie where the characters actually examine the consequences of their actions.

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  • Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange A villainous wizard (Mads Mikkelson - Valhalla Rising ) and his minions attack an oriental den of wisdom, in a scene reminiscent of The Golden Child . Luckily a jedi-powered Tripitaka figure (as in Monkey Magic! ) appears, and gives the villains a scenery-bending encounter that puts Inception to shame.

    Doctor Steven Strange (Benedict Cummerbach - Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug ) is an arrogant doctor, the best in the world at what he does, who ends up crippled and bitter against the world. Not unlike House, M.D. ... and that character (an American played by a Brit) is basically a pastiche of Sherlock Holmes ... who as recently played on the BBC by Cummerbach himself! Strange gets ditched by his girl friday ( Rachel Adams , veteran of the Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock Holmes ). However, a recovered cripple (Benjamin Bratt - Demolition Man ) points him to a mystical monk in Nepal.

    Strange starts to learn the mystical arts of wizardry, but ends up getting dragged into a war against a demon. This creature is an interdimensional Galactus (like in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ) and may be practically unstoppable.

    There are two post-credits scenes, and at least one of them is set-up for the sequel.

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  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2

    Guardians of the Galaxy The Guardians are back, earning a living as mercenaries and bounty hunters instead of just straight-up thieves and pirates. Even Baby Groot the Sapling (Vin Diesel – Riddick ) is still on the team, and plays an eye-catching role in the opening credits.

    The human protagonist (Chris Pratt - Jurassic World ), the self-proclaimed Starlord, finally gets to meet his birth father - Ego (Kurt Russell - Escape From New York ). The others tag along with him to Ego's planet, but they all have their own sub-plots.

    Rocket the Racoon (Bradley Cooper – My Little Eye ) is still a thieving little rodent. He steals a valuable plot device, which leads to a sub-plot involving pursuit by his victims. It also gives him the chance to bond with Starlord's foster-father, the disgraced gangster Michael Rooker ( Walking Dead ).

    Nebula ( Karen Gillen ), a villainous hench-woman in the previous film, is now a freelancer obsessed with revenge on her sister Gamora ( Zoe Saldana ).

    Just like the previous Guardians movie, this is one of the finest of the Marvel Avengers universe movies so far. It works on every level - great action and great comedy. There are cameos by Stan Lee, Howard the Duck and Sylvester Stallone ( Demolition Man ), as well as FIVE post-credits scenes!

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  • Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Spider-Man: Homecoming The story starts in the aftermath of Marvel Avengers Assemble . A salvage contractor (Michael Keaton - Birdman ) and his sidekick (Bokeem Woodbine - Blade: The Series ) are shut down by a SHIELD type US Federal Agency called Damage Control. They decide to go freelance, salvaging alien tech for the highest bidder rather than for the benefit of Stark's global financial empire. In all truth, we cannot blame the Vulture for what he does. Tony Stark has not merely privatised the world's defences. He monopolises the military-industrial complex, and gets paid to clean up the very messes that he himself has created.

    The story picks up a few years to the current timeline of the MCU. Stark has gotten worse, he actually recruited the teenage spider-boy as a child soldier in Captain America: Civil War . Peter Parker has been corrupted by his perceived friendship with Stark. He is so obsessed with the Stark internship, as he calls it, he does not even bother to learn how to use his super-suit properly. However, he has to come to terms with the fact he has been all but abandoned.

    Peter is not driven by the character's classic motivation, the death of Uncle Ben. In fact, we have no idea how the Marisa Tomei version of Aunt May became single. This is probably a good thing, because in the last two decades we have already had TWO different big-screen retellings of the origin story, so it actually makes a change for us just to see the character develop by himself. Instead, we see a teenage Spider-Man who plays the role of vigilante superhero in order to impress his absent father-figure, Tony Stark.

    The main storyline would actually work as a crime movie, with the Vulture and his friends saving the working class from Tony Stark. However, instead we get a light-weight comedy-thriller with Parker (who actually looks like a teenager) mixing dialogue with his suit (voiced by Jennifer Connolly , wife of the man who voices Tony Stark's suit).

    There is a lot of teenager stuff, as Parker is still in High School. The supporting cast are now a racially diverse bunch, but they are well-cast and do a great job. For example, instead of being a blond-haired football jock the school bully Flash Thompson is now a snobby rich asian kid. Zendaya plays a geek girl - a real one, not a fake like the ones now running Marvel.

    All in all, this film is a great mix of different aspects. The characters and situations all work perfectly. There are even cameos of Captain America: even though he is technically an international crimninal the US Government still uses his image to inspire the school-children. Keep an eye out for the after-credits sequence.

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  • X-Men Franchise

    X-Men: First Class

    X-Men: First Class This is a re-launch of the franchise, though not a re-boot. It was directed by Matthew Vaughn , best known for off-beat comic-book superhero effort Kick-Ass , and seems to have been filmed mostly in England as well. And while the cast are mostly younger versions of the original cast, there are a couple of great cameos from stars of the first film.

    We start back in 1944, where the original X-Men Film began. Erik's powers of magnetism have been discovered by the Nazis - so they hand him over to the sinister Kevin Bacon ( Friday The Thirteenth ) for development as a weapon.

    By 1962, Erik looks like Michael Fassbender ( Jonah Hex ). He is on a roaring rampage of revenge, after Mr Bacon - Who is now playing both ends against the middle in the Cold War.

    Elsewhere, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy - Wanted ) teams up with CIA Agents Moira McTaggart ( Rose Byrne ) and Oliver Platt ( Three Musketeers ) to recruit a team of Mutant superheroes. This leads on to an amazing cameo by Wolverine (Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables ).

    The climax is the centre of the Cuban missile crisis. And the ending lays the foundations for the first film. The backstory to the series gets fleshed out, Magneto and Professor X's friendship and falling out.

  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
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  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine

    X-Men Origins: Wolverine The story starts in the nineteenth century, in Canada. Two boys learn that they are half-brothers, with superhuman powers. They go on the run together, and become professional soldiers. They serve with the US military in the US Civil War, and the First World war, Second World War ... all the time, never aging.

    However, after Vietnam they do not have much left. They are threatened with court-martial, until Colonel Stryker comes after them. He is recruiting troops for a special unit. Special troops, with special skills -

    The story is a bit predictable, since we know how it will all end, but it is about the journey as much as anything.

    Hugh Jackman is dependable as always as the title character, while Liev Schreiber ( Scream ) does his duty as Sabretooth. Wolverine’s love interest, who looks like Olivia Munn & Moon Bloodgood , is actually Lynn Collins . She is a new face on the scene, making herself known through work in TV shows like True Blood . She is certainly someone to watch out for in the future.

  • X-Men: First Class
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  • X-Men 2

    X-Men 2 Nightcrawler (Alan Cummings - Spy Kids ) infiltrates the White House and goes after the US President. POTUS relies on military hard man Commander Stryker (Brian Cox - Troy ) and his sidekick Lady Deathstrike ( Kelly Hu ).

    Mystique ( Rebecca Romjin ) plots to break Magneto (Ian McKellen - Lord of the Rings ) out of jail.

    Wolverine (Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables ) and the others go on the run. Along with Jean Grey ( Famke Janssen ) and Storm ( Halle Berry ) are a bunch of wanabees, including Iceman (Shawn Ashmore, twin brother of Jimmy Olsen in Smallville ).

    Brian Singer creates a scene where a teenage mutant comes out to his parents. All the usual cliches are played out, using mutancy as a metaphor for homosexuality.

  • X-Men: First Class
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • X-Men
  • X-Men 3: The Last Stand
  • The Wolverine
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Deadpool
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  • X-Men 3: The Last Stand

    X-Men 3: The Last Stand Brian Singer , having directed the first two films in the trilogy, jumped ship to do rival superhero film Superman Returns instead. The job of directing this concluding chapter went to Brent Ratner , who has been blamed for what fanboys perceive in shortcomings in the film.

    The story is simple enough, and is in many ways a mish-mash of the first two films. A medical treatment has been developed which can permanently remove mutant abilities. The mutants are horrified by this - Mystique was bullied as a child for having blue skin, but now she is so spiteful she revels in being inhuman. And when the US Government forces use the cure in dart-guns for self-defence purposes, there is even more of an outcry. Would it be better if they used lethal rounds instead?

    Magneto (Ian McKellen - Lord of the Rings ) and his ever-swelling Brotherhood decide to destroy the cure. His new recruits include Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones - Swordfish ). Jean Grey ( Famke Janssen ) is back, but different ...

    Storm ends up as the new leader of the X-Men. Yes, Halle Berry actually gets something to do! Prior to this her oscar-winning talents were sidelined, and the only Superhero movie she had a decent-sized role in was Catwoman !

  • X-Men: First Class
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  • X-Men
  • X-Men 2
  • The Wolverine
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Deadpool
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  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

    X-Men: Days of Future Past The movie starts in a Post-Apocalyptic world. Giant robots named Sentinels are hunting and killing mutants. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart - Excalibur ) has teamed up with his arch-enemy Magneto (Ian McKellen - Lord of the Rings ) in order to save the Mutants from extinction. Kitty Pryde ( Ellen Page ) sends the mind of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables ) back into his body in 1973. He must prevent Mystique ( Jennifer Lawrence ) from killing Peter Dinklage ( Game of Thrones ). The inevitable backlash will allow his sidekick (Major Stryker) to perfect the Sentinals and use them to comit genocide.

    Wolverine must convince young Xavier (James McAvoy - Wanted ) to help him break young Magneto (Michael Fassbender - Haywire ) out of a well-guarded (and thus labour-intensive) cell under the Pentagon. Quicksilver (Evan Peters - American Horror Story ) gets called in to help out, resulting in an amazing scene that is one of this series' most impressive.

    Dinklage must have spent the Sixties mapping the human genome, because he has a handheld device that can detect the mutant DNA of anyone standing nearby him.

  • X-Men: First Class
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  • X-Men: Apocalypse

    X-Men: Apocalypse This is set in 1983, ten years after the timeline was reset in X-Men: Days of Future Past . As a result, the introduction of the X-Men happens differently from in the original Brian Singer movies. Nightcrawler faces off against Angel, decades before they made their appearances in the second and third movies.

    It is the height of the Cold War. Instead of worrying about the KGB and Warsaw Pact, CIA Agent Moira McTaggart ( Rose Byrne ) spies on a religious cult in Egypt. She accidentally revives Apocalypse, an ancient mutant whose main power is that he can amplify others' powers. Soon Psylocke ( Olivia Munn ) makes her first appearance, seduced by the power that Apocalypse offers her. Another recruit is Storm, still in her late teens.

    Magneto (Michael Fassbender - Haywire ) has been off the grid for a decade, despite being the world's most wanted man. He fled back across the Iron Curtain, to his original home in Poland, and does manual labour in an iron foundry. However, despite blending in with a wife and daughter (like Dr Zhivago), things predictably go bad for him. He goes back to his old ways, starting trouble and blaming everyone else. This makes him a perfect recruit for the four footsoldiers of Apocalypse.

    Mystique ( Jennifer Lawrence ) teams up with her estranged foster-brother Xavier (James McAvoy - Wanted ). He has a new team of pupils at the school, including Jean Grey ( Sophie Turner ). Quicksilver (Evan Peters - American Horror Story ) also pops up, just in time to use his powers in an eye-catching way that is reminiscent of (yet inferior to) the one in his previous appearance.

    There is also a subplot involving Colonel Stryker. This adds nothing to the main storyline, but is important crowd-pleasing filler for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it allows for the essential cameo by Wolverine (Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables ). Again, like Quicksilver this is nowhere near as good as his cameo in a previous movie - in his case, X-Men: First Class . The second thing about this subplot is that it is referenced in the post-credits sequence, which will apparently be important in future spin-off movies.

    The main story comes to a climax in Egypt. Cairo is scene to destruction that makes 9/11 pale in comparison. Seriously, the destruction of NYC in Avengers Assemble or Metropolis in Man of Steel just pales in comparison. And the damage is not limited to Egypt, it is global. The first half of Apocalypse's plan is to use Magneto's power to destroy everything on Earth that includes ferrous metal. Since this means pretty much all technology, it will reduce the human race to the Bronze Age. The other half of the plan is to take over Xavier's body. The down side is, he will sacrifice a healthy, fast-healing mutant body for that of a middle-aged man paralysed from the waist down. However, Apocalypse seems to absorb the powers of his host body. He might be able to take the fast-healing power with him, but he will definitely be able to use Xavier's power and mind-control everyone who survives the catastrophic transition back to Bronze Age society.

    Apocalypse may have incapacitated the two main players, Magneto and Xavier, but a handful of students are still around. This leads on to a massive battle between superpowered warriors. As always, this ends up as style over substance. Unfortunately this means the film is a bit of a let-down, especially compared to the films set in 1961 and 1973. It just seems a bit flimsy, script-wise.

  • X-Men: First Class
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • X-Men
  • X-Men 2
  • X-Men 3: The Last Stand
  • The Wolverine
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
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  • Deadpool

    Deadpool This is narrated by the title character AKA Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds - Green Lantern ), a freelance henchman who comes out with a constant stream of wisecracks. He falls in love with a hooker with a heart of gold ( Morena Baccarin ), but gets diagnosed with terminal cancer. The only cure for cancer will also give him superpowers ...

    This is where things get a bit complicated. This movie is set within the X-Men Franchise universe, although there is a disused SHIELD helicarrier prominently displayed towards the end. However, although the character of Deadpool (as played by Ryan Reynolds) previously appeared in Wolverine: Origins that character was converted by Stryker in the 1970s. This new Deadpool is a character of the modern era. This may well be a side-effect of what Mystique ( Jennifer Lawrence ) did in the post-credits sequence of X-Men: Days of Future Past .

    Wade goes to get a superpower transformation courtesy of Francis (Ed Skrein - Game of Thrones ) and his henchperson, Angel Dust ( Gina Carano ). However, it turns out that they are not the nice guys they pretended to be. They do not like Wade's constant wise-cracking, so they MUST be eeevil!

    Wade gets Wolverine's mutant healing factor, and the skill to use a pair of 1980s-style ninja swords. However, he is disfigured by the transformation process. Like the protagonist of Dark Man he decides he cannot go back to the loving arms of his girlfriend. No, he decides to go on a kill-crazy rampage. Luckily this is a city without a police department! Seriously, it is worse than Gotham . At least the GCPD has Batman to do their job for them - the local population in this movie have to rely on off-duty X-men dropping by when they are bored. Every criminal in the movie - the teenage stalker, the bar full of thugs, the smugglers and supervillains, the car-jackering revenge-seeking spree-killer of a hero ... all go about their business entirely unimpeded by any form of police authority. The only thing that slows them down is when they bump into someone tougher than they are.

  • X-Men: First Class
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • X-Men
  • X-Men 2
  • X-Men 3: The Last Stand
  • The Wolverine
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
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  • Logan

    Logan The year is 2029. There have been no mutants born in a quarter of a century. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables ) has started to grow older and slowly lose his regenerative ability. He is living off the grid as a limousine driver to support the now-senile Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart - Excalibur ) and cowardly Caliban the albino (Stephen Merchant - ). The other X-Men are long gone, in an off-screen but much referred-to cataclysm. But now our heroes are reluctantly dragged into a final, desperate mission.

    An evil MegaCorp run by mad scientist Richard E. Grant ( Hudson Hawk ) has been illegally cloning mutants to create an army of superpowered children. Unfortunately the kids are reluctant to fight or kill - except for the training staff and security guards, of course. The result was a breakout, like in Dark Angel . Now Wolverine and Xavier must get a young girl to a mythical place codenamed Eden, the equivalent of Sanctuary in Logan's Run .

    This is not a futuristic western, despite what the trailer depicts. Nor is it a superhero movie - Wolverine may have superpowers, but he fights conventional humans and the stakes are much lower than world domination. It is more like a road movie, more like Midnight Special than anything else. The theme, which hangs over the entire film, is death ... and rebirth.

  • X-Men: First Class
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • X-Men
  • X-Men 2
  • X-Men 3: The Last Stand
  • The Wolverine
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Deadpool
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  • Batman Franchise

    The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight This is a hard-edged thriller, a more than suitable follow-up to Batman Begins . It starts with a bank robbery, and the pace does not let up. The film is almost 3 hours long, but it is just the right length.

    Gotham's mobsters, led by Eric Roberts ( Dr Who TV Movie ), are sick of Batman and new DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart - Paycheck ) cracking down on their operations. The crooks are desperate enough to make a deal with The Joker (Heath Ledger - A Knight's Tale ), a psychopathic genius who shows himself capable of matching Batman at every step. Unfortunately the Joker has an agenda of his own ...

    Bruce Wayne is beset on all sides. The Joker is on a kill-crazy rampage, and Harvey Dent is seducing Bruce's lost love Rachel ( Maggie Gyllenhall ). Everything is in place for three hours of mayhem and violence ...

    All in all, an unmissable film!

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  • The Dark Knight Rises

    The Dark Knight Rises Christopher Nolan brings his Batman trilogy to an explosive conclusion. It has been eight years since the events of the previous film. Harvey Dent's fall to the dark side has been whitewashed, and he is a martyr while Batman is treated as a villain. In his wake the Governmant passed the Dent Act, which allows a thousand hardened criminals to be held without parole. And Gotham seems to be peaceful. Twelve million citizens, with only three thousand cops and one thousand convicts ...

    Masked Mercenary-cum-Warlord Bane (Tom Hardy - Star Trek: Nemesis ) and his army of gun-toting henchmen move into Gotham's sewers, with a mysterious plan.

    Cat-burglar Selina Kyle ( Anne Hathaway ) does the cliched one last job to buy her way out of a life of crime.

    A couple of Nolan veterans from Inception round out the supporting cast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a cop, and Marion Cotillard is an eco-friendly millionairess.

    The only gaping hole in this film is the complete (and deliberate) lack of reference to the Joker. If anything, this in itself acts as a memorial to him.

    This film could also have been called The Cat, the Bane and the Daggett.

  • Catwoman is a Burglar who dances with Bruce Wayne, acts as a Defender of Womyn, and plays both sides against each other for her own profit.
  • Penguin/Bane is a Freak who lives in the tunnels under the city with an army of minions. We get Flashbacks to an origin story. He has a team-up with catwoman, although they have a falling-out.
  • Shreck/Daggett uses Boardroom trickery to get control of the power plant that controls the city. He double-crosses catwoman, who bears a grudge against him.
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  • Non-Franchise Films

    Hancock

    Hancock Will Smith plays the title character, an alcoholic superhero. Not so much a hero, in fact, as a good-hearted down-and-out with a hero complex. And superhuman powers, of course. He can fly, he is super-strong and bullet-proof. However, every time he overpowers some high-profile criminals he causes a lot of property damage. Nobody gets hurt (except sometimes the crooks) but apparently nobody in the city has insurance either. As a result, saving human life at the cost of a little bit of money has made Hancock very unpopular!

    Luckily, Hancock saves a PR Guru who then offers his services for free. Hancock tries to turn his life around, and become a real hero.

    Of all superhero movies, the one this most resembles is Unbreakable . It is a drama about the hero coming to terms with his powers. There is a sub-plot about his criminal enemies, but there is no super villain.

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  • The Spirit

    The Spirit This was delivered by Frank Miller , the writer of Sin City & 300 . It apes the visual style of the former, which explains why despite the relatively small cast it has hundreds of technicians listed in the crew!

    The title character (Gabriel Macht - The Others ) is a superhero who prowls the city at night, clad in trenchcoat and face-mask. The Spirit's arch-enemy is super-villain The Octopus (Samuel L Jackson - Sphere ). Their powers include superhuman strength and healing.

    The Octopus, his sidekick ( Scarlett Johanson ) and their army of idiotic hench-clones (Louis Lombardi from 24) are after a mysterious locked box. A femme fatale named San Serif ( Eva Mendes ) is also after the box. And as always in this kind of thing, by incredible coincidence she was once the Spirit's love interest!

    Despite its Film Noir look, it is set in the modern day - the characters use mobile phones, for example. There is a lot more story and characterisation than in Sin City , the nearest comparison, so this effort pretty much wins hands down.

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  • Watchmen

    Watchmen Zack Snyder delivers the long-awaited adaptation of Alan Moore's incredible comic-book. This is taken directly from the original source material, so there are very few surprises. That said, there are quite a lot of changes - tiny little changes, insignificant and almost unnoticeable little things that niggle at anyone familiar with the original work. The fanboys are tearing this film apart on-line because of those changes, though it really is not worth the effort.

    The Director took a deliberate decision to make this as shocking as the comic. He deliberately put in extra sex and violence, pushing the censorship rating up to an "18".

    The story is simple. It is 1985, President Nixon is in the White House (on his fifth term) and superheroes are real (but retired). One of the costumed vigilantes gets murdered, and his former colleagues must hunt down the killer. There is a conspiracy, a supervillain ... all again a backdrop of impending nuclear war.

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  • Push

    Push Chris Evans, once known as The Human Torch in Fantastic Four , is an on-the-run mutant hiding out in the slums of Hong Kong. Then fellow superpowered type Dakota Fanning comes a-calling, with news that he must help her defeat the MIBs who are oppressing mutantkind.

    Director Paul McGuigan , veteran of grimy gangster flicks like Gangster No. 1, delivers a gritty little thriller with a good cast and some down-to-earth superhero stuff.

    There are a few plot holes, however. The MIBs only send their two top men to Hong Kong - naturally, an army would attract the attention of Red China. But the Chinese government is not even mentioned. The only other interested party is a local small-time gangster!

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  • Kick-Ass

    Kick-Ass British director Matthew Vaughn delivers an awesome adaptation of 2000AD veteran Mark Millar's Graphic Novel. Although it is made by Brits, and the supporting cast includes familiar faces like Dexter Fletcher ( Below ), it is set in New York City.

    A teenage comic-book fan wonders why nobody ever becoms a super-hero in real life. Nobody bothers pointing out the distinction between Super- and Costumed heroes, but that is the least of his problems. He buys a costume and sets himself up as a hero, with the nom-de-guerre Kick-Ass.

    Unfortunately Kick-Ass walks into a secret war between rent-a-villain Dimico (Mark Strong - Sherlock Holmes ) and murderous vigilantes Hit-girl ( Chloe Moretz ) and Big Daddy (Nic Cage - Family Man, Ghost Rider ).

    Dimico's son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse - Role Models ) decides to take Kick-Ass and the others down, by posing as a superhero himself!

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  • Kick-Ass 2

    Kick-Ass 2 This takes up a few years after the events of the original film. Chris Dimico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse - Role Models ) decides to become a supervillain. He calls himself The Mother-F*cker and builds a crew of super-villains.

    Hit-girl trains Kick-Ass, but will not patrol with him. Instead he joins another group of heroes led by Jim Carey ( The Mask ). The other heroes include Lindy Booth , who is hidden behind a mask and some cleavage.

    The former Hit-Girl ( Chloe Moretz ) has problems fitting in at school. Luckily, she has a sick-stick from Minority Report . However, the actress covered the same ground in the recent remake of Carrie .

    All in all, this is actually quite a disappointing follow-up to an impressive original film.

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