The Wolverine: In The Footsteps Of The Greats

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, head to Japan in order to tidy up a loose end from his past.

I think this is a perfectly fine film, certainly not on the same level as Logan or even X-Men Origins, in my controversial opinion, but a solid middle entry into the unofficial Wolverine trilogy. I think trying to adapt Frank Miller and Chris Claremont’s limited run wherein Wolverine fights the Yakuza and explores Japan’s underworld was both a ballsy move as well as one that was always doomed to end in heartbreak.

I think the major issue this film suffers from is though it explores some interesting concepts and scenarios, it pushes a lot of new characters and expects the audience to instantly care about them when in actuality they feel very little about them. This film could have benefited from at least having a few of the other X-Men pop up as this film ends up feeling isolated in a deeply negative way from the rest of the series.

Of course, despite these negatives the film still manages to get Wolverine right and has him be a badass through and through, of course this is helped along to no end by Hugh Jackman who gives it his all as always. Jackman’s Wolverine may be the best performance in a comic book film ever.

Overall, though this is still a cool Wolverine film, he feels a little bit too isolated and the film was fighting and uphill battle from the beginning trying to replicate the greatness of Miller and Claremont.

Pros.

It is very watchable

Jackman

The action lands well

Cons.

It feels too isolated from the wider X-Men film series

It is a poor adaptation    

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Man Of Steel: Zack Snyder’s Moment Of Glory

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Snyderverse is born.

Perhaps it is because of my age, or because I grew up with the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, but this always was the definitive Superman tale to me. I have seen some of the other takes on the character from further back but still when I think who or what is Superman I think of this film.

Now I am not saying this film is perfect, Zack Snyder’s trademark lack of subtlety does trip the film up to a degree and the heavy handed Christ comparisons do become a little tedious after a while. However, I think Snyder gets the broad strokes right, he understands the character of Kal-El and what drives him and that is clear throughout. Furthermore, no one does spectacle quite like Zack Snyder and whether that is the destruction of Krypton or the Oil refinery sequence he really adds quite a nice visual style and grandeur to the film.

In addition the performances across the board are also fantastic. Henry Cavill is magnificent in the lead and frankly the fact Warner Brothers aren’t foaming at the mouth to have him back for a sequel just shows how bad the management over there is. Amy Adams and Michael Shannon are also marvellous and worthy of being highlighted for their standout performances as well.    

Overall, this is the definitive cinematic take on Superman for me.

Pros.

Cavill

The spectacle

It does the character justice

The ending

Cons.

The writing lacks subtlety

The religious analogies becoming trying quickly

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X-Men Origins Wolverine: A Huge Missed Opportunity, Not Without Some Merit

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The origin story of James Howlett, played by Hugh Jackman.

I know that many people will have an issue with my score for this film, and that through the sheer fact of having the Tim Rothman requested mouth sown shut Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, that this film should automatically have a low score however allow me to try and change your mind.

I think rather undeniably this film has a very cool aesthetic, whether it is the opening montage of James and his half-brother Victor, played by Liev Schreiber, fighting through various wars, or the introduction of Gambit, played fantastically by Taylor Kitsch, there are a lot of cool scenes in this film that are hard not to be excited by.

Moreover, unlike in most of Wolverine’s other appearances in the various X-Men films the threat here feels both real and personal to him. Not only do we get to see him in a very raw state as he is made, but we also get to see him essentially lose at the end turning him into a tragic character. In many ways I think this approach does far more for the character then just seeing him slice up a roomful of dudes with his claws.

The downsides to this film are numerous and have been detailed in great accuracy in other places to me the biggest crime of this film are the parts of it wherein you can see the overly heavy hand of Tim Rothman and the wider studio coming in to suppress good ideas and do what they want. I think if Rothman had not been as he has been rumoured to have been then this film could have had a chance at being good.

Overall, a lot of interesting visuals and a solid Wolverine story, undercut by obvious studio interference.

Pros.

The opening montage

Giving Wolverine a clear emotional arc

A lot of solid action

It is fun to watch

Cons.

The blatant changes mandated by studio interference   

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Green Lantern: The Endless Horrors Of CGI

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The time when DC fundamentally screwed up on of their most popular characters.

This film has become a joke amongst fans of comic book cinema, and the jarring contrast between this and the contemporary Nolan Batman trilogy is blindly clear, where one is dark and gritty the other ops for poorly done CGI and a garish colour pallet and where one is good the other is this film. Pretty stark.

I think it is pretty clear throughout this film that Ryan Reynold’s doesn’t want to be there as his performance is lifeless, as such it is very hard to care about his character at all which leads to you switching off more and more whilst watching it. I also think having his whole costume be CGI was a terrible decision that becomes noticeably distracting as the film goes along.

In terms of how this film treats its characters and the wider DCEU lore, it cherry picks a few things and somewhat explains them, though not in a way a non-comic reading audience would understand. Worse yet it also manages to bastardise a lot of things and change characters and concepts from the comics for no real valid reason. These two things combined managed to alienate both the comic readers an the non-comic readers, well played DC.

Overall, boring, lifeless and not a fun time.

Pros.

It lead to some good memes

Cons.

The characters are awful

It dumps on wider DC lore

The CGI suit

It is incredibly dumb and generic

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Ms Marvel: No Normal

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Kamala, played by Iman Vellani, and her friends face off against the forces of Damage Control and a character I have named Agent Karen, played by Alysia Reiner.

So let’s get the big talking point out of the way first, do I like the fact that Kamala is the MCU’s first mutant? Not really, I am one of the few people who actually like the Inhumans, at least in the comics, and I think that this would have been the best time to have brought them into the fore. However, the author of the original run and creator of Ms Marvel as a character has said that she always wanted Kamala to be a mutant so I guess that it makes sense to make her one here.

Moving on, for the most part I really enjoyed this season finale I thought it was a smart move to focus on tying up emotional arcs rather than trying to shove in a huge CGI fest final battle, we do sort of get one but it is over with pretty quickly. I believe focusing on the characters is far more in-keeping with the type of show this is, which fundamentally is coming of age.

I also liked the fact that Kamala finally got her comics accurate costume and that we got a big time MCU cameo in the post credits, I thought that both things helped to give this finale episode a satisfying sense of payoff.

My two small complaints about this final episode would be that it entirely ignores the Nor dimension for the most part and that it brings back the incredibly bland Damage Control baddies that feel painfully uninteresting, I would have much preferred them to have brought back the Clandestines for one final scrap.

Overall, this series has proven itself to be the best Marvel Disney + show so far.

Pros.

The feeling of satisfaction

The emotions

The costume and the cameo

The teases for the future

Vellani

Cons.

Generic baddies

Ignoring the Nor dimension

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The Boys: The Instant White-Hot Wild

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The big fight between Homelander, played by Anthony Starr, and Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles, finally comes to fruition.

Before we get into all the things I like about this episode I want to talk about two things I didn’t so much, firstly the politics and the clear elusions to real world events feels incredibly on the nose which breaks from the more intelligent use of social commentary throughout the rest of the season, and secondly Ryan as a character is stalling the story and causing things to drag on. My issues with how they used Ryan here is that it deprived us of the big fight we wanted and instead lead to Butcher, played by Karl Urban, fighting Soldier Boy and Queen Maeve, played by Dominque McElligott, fight Homelander. Also I don’t really care about the Ryan/ Butcher relationship as it feels unnecessary to me.

In terms of things I did like, I enjoyed seeing Homelander rip apart, verbally, his remaining team members it was fun to see him fully tear each one of them down. I would have liked for Homelander to have gone a little bit more off the deep end by the end of the season, but no doubt that needle to the brain will cause him to lose it even more next season. Moreover, I like that they are transitioning the Victoria character, played by Claudia Doumit, into the shows own version of Vic the Veep, I am interested to see where that storyline will go next season and whether it will lead to Homelander and co trying to fully take over the USA.

I also thought the interpersonal moments where really strong here, with Mother’s Milk, played by Laz Alonso, and his daughter’s scene at the end being particularly touching. I think the best thing the show has done compared to the comics is really flesh out the personality and inter play between its cast of characters which means we get all these great moments.

Also just an aside, Starlight, played by Erin Moriarty, joining the Boys at the end of the episode was a deviation from the comics that works and feels rad. Very excited to see where things go from here and how the team dynamic works going forward.

Overall, a fairly strong end to the season.

Pros.

Queen Maeve’s retirement

Homelander fully laying into his remaining teammates

Starlight becoming one of the Boys

The ‘maniac’ dance/fight scene    

Cons.

Ryan

The finale Homelander scene feels a little too on the nose for me

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The Boys: Herogasm

5/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Spoilers

What an episode, The Boys and Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles, take the fight to Homelander, played by Anthony Star and we get to see Herogasm in all its glory.

I will get my one little nit-pick out of the way now. I would have liked Herogasm to be a bigger deal and more of an event, like it was in the comics, than what we got. I am not saying what we got wasn’t hedonism in the extreme, but I would just have liked it to be grander, I suppose maybe Amazon stepped in and said, ‘steady on’.

That aside this was a great episode. The fight between Butcher, played by Karl Urban, Soldier Boy, Hughie, played by Jack Quaid, and Homelander was great. Like I accurately predicted in my previous reviews Homelander loses, and it will be this and his public shaming at the end that will lead to him going full on monstrous and no doubt declaring war on America like he does in the comics.

I also liked seeing the character growth of both M.M, played by Laz Alonso, and A-Train, played by Jessie T. Usher, part of me wanted to see A-Train get killed by Hughie for comics accuracy but I actually thought the scene wherein A-Train gets emotional and apologizes was incredibly well done and touching. I do wonder if this is it for A-Train as when he uses his powers again he seems to have a heart attack, if it is the end I think he went out on a hell of a high. With M.M I thought seeing him go to town trying to hurt Butcher felt very therapeutic and much deserved, I also thought him being the hero rather than getting his revenge really does show the best of him and why he is the heart and soul of the team.

Finally, the b story with Frenchie, played by Tomer Capone, and Kimiko, played by Karen Fukuhara, was very sweet and continued to extent out their character dynamic. I look forward to seeing them as a couple even if I do think it will be short lived.

Overall, a spectacular episode of TV.

Pros.

The Homelander fight

Jensen Ackles continues to shine

The ending

Seeing a TV version of Herogasm

The character work

Cons.

Herogasm could have been a little more outrageous

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The Boys: The Last Time To Look On This World Of Lies

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles, returns to the States to settle some old scores and the Boys smell a team-up.

I thought this was one of the best episodes of this season so far. It was massively depressing for a number of reasons, but that didn’t bother me much as I have read the comics series and feel like I know where a number of these storylines are going, and am excited.

I thought the prospect of the Boys teaming up with Soldier Boy to fight Homelander, played by Anthony Starr, is really interesting. I think it is likely going to be this and Homelander possibly losing his powers during the battle that will likely lead to him going fully off the deep end. In that vein I thought Homelander appointing himself head of Vought and trying to get his fellow Seven members to take over different departments was incredibly in character and darkly hilarious.

The two things I wasn’t keen on and that keep it from being a 5 in my opinion is the continued relationship drama between Hughie, played by Jack Quaid, and Annie, played by Erin Moriarty, that feels very cliched and needless. I understand in the comics there relationship is often on the rocks but I think this season has really turned up the drama higher than it needs to be. The other thing I didn’t like was the Seth Rogen cameo, it wasn’t funny and just felt tired.

Overall, a near perfect episode, who would have thought The Boys could pull off a musical number.

Pros.

Ackles

Getting to meet the Legend

The musical number

It got political and I thought handled it really well

Cons.

The needless relationship drama

The Seth Rogen cameo

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The Boys: Glorious Five Year Plan

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Boys go to Russia to try and track down a weapon that will stop Homelander, played by Anthony Starr. Meanwhile, Starlight, played by Erin Moriarty, tries to recruit more supes to her anti-Homelander resistance.

I am glad to see that Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles, didn’t actually die and will not instead be a rival to Homelander in the supe game. I think that the season finale will be a battle between the two that likely Homelander will lose causing him to snap, and honestly I am very here for it. I enjoyed seeing more of the Boys get powers with Hughie, played by Jack Quaid, this time being the one to juice up. I hope more members of the gang do so it can be closer to the comics.

The Starlight sub-plot is again weaker, with everything he has done it makes little sense that she stays working alongside Homelander, but I will say it was cathartic to see Homelander put a definitive end to the love triangle between Starlight, Hughie and her old flame.

Overall, I think this episode brought the action and was firing on almost all cylinders.

Pros.

More of the Boys on V

The return of Solider Boy

The ending

Lots of action

Cons.

It makes little sense why Starlight is still in the Seven   

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The Boys: Barbary Cost

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After a very public rant Homelander, played by Anthony Starr, rises in public ratings and starts to feel like he can take on his Vought overlords. Meanwhile, the Boys ask Mallory, played by Laila Robins, about her time in Nicaragua wherein she saw the supposed death of Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles.

A slight step down from the second episode, but still quite strong. The octopus eating scene will stay with me for a while it is all kinds of messed up and really highlights The Boys at its obscene best. I do still strongly believe this season is pushing Homelander to an extreme wherein he is going to go fully off the rails by the end. In that vein I don’t like the idea of the quasi forced relationship between him and Starlight, played by Erin Moriarty, I know he is just doing it to mess with her but I don’t see why the character would care enough to fake a public relationship with her, especially after she just walked the red carpet with Hughie, played by Jack Quaid. This again feels like more forced relationship drama.

The Nicaragua stuff handles better and the flashbacks for the most part work well, we get to see Payback in action and see more of Jensen Ackles Soldier boy who is quicky starting to steal scenes. I also thought the Butcher, played by Karl Urban, side plot wherein he is suffering withdrawals from the temporary compound V was interesting to see and his scene with his surrogate son was quite powerful.

Overall, a very good episode but the Homelander/ Starlight relationship announcement at the end just feels like forced in drama and the action is a bit lacking in the episode as a whole.

Pros.

The flashbacks

More of Solider Boy

Homelander going further off the rails

Seeing Butcher destroy Ryan and the drama of it

Cons.

The episode as a whole lacks action

The Homelander Starlight relationship twist at the end feels forced, more needless drama for padding

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