Movie Review – King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Sometimes, less is more.

⭐ ⭐
Cherie Wheeler

Throw the traditional tale of the Knights of the Round Table into a blender, add a dash of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, then mix it in with any generic, supernatural video game that heavily leans on stylised violence, and ta-da! You’ll have something that resembles Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

The world of Camelot has been visited many times before on both the small and silver screens, so I appreciate the need to take some creative liberties on the original material to produce something fresh, but unfortunately, Ritchie’s re-envisioning of this classic story doesn’t quite land.

In Legend of the Sword, you can forget about Guinevere and Lancelot, and forgo any hopes of Merlin hanging around long enough to do anything significant. Instead, as the title suggests, this film is all about the sword in the stone: Excalibur.

Jealous brother to the King (Jude Law) craves power and uses dark magic to steal the throne from his royal sibling (Eric Bana). The son of the King, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) grows up orphaned in a slum with no knowledge of his heritage, while his Uncle rules Camelot with an iron fist. Resistance fighters loyal to Arthur’s father seek out the “true King” to lead a revolution with the power of the sword, but this Arthur is cocky, belligerent, and of course, reluctant to fulfil his birthright. There’s also a wide range of subplots running alongside this that include (but are certainly not limited to…) a sorceress, a gang of Vikings and a couple of non-white characters who’ve been blatantly shoehorned in for political correctness.

As you can see, we’ve already got a rather convoluted story, but this gets weighed down further by bulky exposition and supernatural mythology. Ritchie’s knee-jerk reaction is to turn to frenetic pacing and chaotic editing to try and keep things interesting. The end result, however, is a mind-boggling whirlwind. The fantastical elements are beyond far-fetched and simply don’t gel with the dialogue heavy, time-jumping style of storytelling.

On the bright side, there is some magnificent production design and cinematography on display, but it has clearly drawn its inspiration from Game of Thrones. In fact, the film tries a little too hard to emulate the HBO series, even borrowing Roose Bolton and Littlefinger for supporting cast roles. It doesn’t ever reach the same level of raw impact during its violent action sequences due to its reliance on well executed, but ultimately excessive visual effects.

Charlie Hunnam does what he can to bring to life this cheeky and obnoxious version of Arthur, but the character’s arrogance and disrespect for authority pushes credibility at times. I found myself constantly questioning the actions and motives of many characters and was not satisfied with the convenient explanations that would pop up in delayed flashback sequences to fill in holes of information.

At the end of the day, Legend of the Sword tries to be too many things at once. While Tarantino’s Kill Bill films and the more recent Get Out manage to successfully meld multiple styles and genre tropes, Ritchie’s King Arthur simply becomes a confusing, hot mess.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is available in Australian cinemas from May 18

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films

Movie Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The fifth instalment to the Pirates of the Caribbean series is at once familiar and comfortable, even if it’s all been done before.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Zachary Cruz-Tan

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies have long since crossed over into James Bond territory; they’re no longer about their heroes. What’s more important are the villains – who are usually dead, undead, or about to die – and the central MacGuffins. This time the villain is played by Javier Bardem and the MacGuffin is the legendary trident of Poseidon, and it’s a real doozy because unlike all the other MacGuffins, this one promises to undo the curses of the seven seas and restore life to normality, which, we are hoping, also includes scraping the barnacles off poor Orlando Bloom’s face.

As you may or may not recall, Will Turner (Bloom) suffered the dreaded barnacle curse at the hands of Davy Jones more than ten years ago, and as Dead Men Tell No Tales opens, his son Henry (Brenton Thwaites) vows to relieve him of it. To do that, of course, he will need the trident, which also means, by tradition of a Pirates of the Caribbean plot, he will have to team up with Jack Sparrow.

Sparrow is once again played by Johnny Depp and is once again a figure most intrusive. Depp plays him with so much flavour that the less we see of him, the better. But in Dead Men Sparrow is everywhere, usually severely unfunny and always in danger of derailing the film’s joys, of which there are surprisingly plenty.

This is a proper swashbuckling action adventure, with the kind of scale to make David Lean proud and the sort of thunderous, full-blooded musical score that elevated Star Wars (1977) to an art form. Sparrow and Depp aside, directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg have crafted here a movie about the seas that plays like a chapter from a children’s novel pumped full of adrenaline. Yes, the plot is essentially a beeline to the MacGuffin, the film borrows almost every joke and narrative element from its predecessors, and the bad guys are once again shot in front of a green screen and digitally animated to look like half-eaten zombies, but I was relieved to discover a story behind all the action; an honest attempt to make us care for the characters for once.

Henry wants to return his dad to his former self, which brings out all the awws from the audience. Hector Barbossa (Rush) is back and despairs of ever finding true meaning in his life. Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), another new addition, dreams of finding the trident because it’s the quest her dad started and never got to finish, and Scodelario has some fun running about in her corseted dress as she makes all the men look like fools.

Dead Men is more entertaining than a fifth movie in an insufferable series has any right to be. There are visually splendid moments, such as when a mysterious island lights up with crystals to reflect the night sky. And there is a majesty about the film’s climactic showdown in which the ocean waters part like the Red Sea and the Black Pearl teeters precariously on the edge above.

I cannot recommend you see this film for the plot or the jokes, but I suspect you will have a good time feeling its cheerful energy. I, for one, walked out humming the theme music with a smile. That’s gotta count for something.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is available in Australian cinemas from May 25 

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Movie Review – John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick: Chapter 2 might just be the best video game movie ever made.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Rhys Graeme-Drury

 

Movies based on video games tend to get a bad rap; Assassin’s Creed, Warcraft and Lara Croft are just the tip of the iceberg. But movies that take inspiration from video games? Now they’re a different story all together. Think Edge of Tomorrow, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or Source Code; all films that draw from video game storytelling techniques and motifs to craft a compelling film in their own right. To this exclusive club you can add John Wick: Chapter 2, a film that looks and feels like a video game in ways that both elevate and hinder the viewing experience.

The film is so loaded with action that thin strands of plot barely factor into the equation; it’s a plug-and-play sort of scenario where the film points Wick in a vague direction and simply lets him loose to wreak havoc. He’s essentially a generic video game protagonist brought to life, and like all good video game protagonists, he’s monosyllabic and lets his pistols do the talking. The occasional dialogue scenes that punctuate the action feel like the brief cut scene reprieves one might idly sit through whilst playing Uncharted or Far Cry, fingers itching at the joysticks until you can jump back into the action, just as Wick’s hands hover over his holsters.

All you need to know is this: Wick’s (Keanu Reeves) actions in the first film have put the cat among the pigeons and a mysterious man from his past called Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) has a debt that needs to be repaid. Wick’s mission is to eliminate an important mob figure in Rome, and so he sets to work plotting an intricate assassination in the vein of Hitman or Assassin’s Creed.

Everything about this film feels plucked from the world of video games. The pre-mission montage that sees Wick tooling up recalls Battlefield or Titanfall, where the player cycles through outfit, weapon and perk loadouts before heading into the fray; the way Wick moves through each action sequence with swift destruction mimics the player experience on classic arcade shooters like Time Crisis or Ghost Squad; the waves upon waves of enemies that seemingly spawn out of nowhere and pop out of cover to receive a swift bullet to the cranium not at all unlike a frenzied de_dust deathmatch on Counter Strike. The way that Wick anticipates his enemies and delivers a swift no-scope head shot evokes someone who has already tried their hand at this level umpteen times before.

Even the set design invokes the way levels feel different and unique to one another as a player progresses through a video game, from a sewer labyrinth beneath a Roman basilica to a revolving hall of mirrors. The fight choreography is graceful and callous, like a swift combo execution on Mortal Kombat; the ruthless blood splatters akin to a fine-tuned finisher move.

Of course, this essentially leaves us with a film that is wafer thin on plot but top heavy on punchy martial arts. That will work for some – the audience at my particular screening was certainly lapping it up – but I concede this approach isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a film in which Reeves gets to emote, this isn’t it. But if gorgeous cinematography, seamless editing and unrelenting action are your thing, you simply can’t look past John Wick: Chapter 2. There isn’t any other film series out there right now quite like it; let’s hope this second installment doesn’t prove to be the final checkpoint.

John Wick: Chapter 2 is available in Australian cinemas from May 18 2017.

Image courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The Marvel Cinematic Universe presses ever on with another delightful outing from our friends in space.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Zachary Cruz-Tan

Too much of a good thing can indeed be bad, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 toys with this notion very dangerously, until we remember it’s a Guardians of the Galaxy movie and that no amount of petty squabbling, cosmic dogfights, or Baby Groot, can ever be a bad thing. In fact, it comes pretty close to being a great thing. For all the nitpicking I did in my head as I sat through this cinematic fireworks show, I’m already itching to see it again. Say what you will, these guys are just too much fun.

If my calculations are correct, the plot takes place almost immediately after the events of the first film. The Guardians have completed an important mission for some imperious clients, but Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) has stolen a few of their precious trinkets and now they’re on the run as a zillion fighters pursue them across the quadrant. Business as usual. Then, just as they’re about to hit a dead end – and Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) suddenly slips into emo mode as he reminisces about the father he never knew – who should miraculously appear to deliver them? Why, a man claiming to be Peter’s dad, of course. Hallelujah!

So Vol. 2 is about daddy issues. Peter is escorted by his newfound father, Ego (Kurt Russell), to Ego’s private planet (basically Richard Branson in space) and learns that he is a demigod, gifted with latent powers so extraordinary he can change the natural structure of molecules. Ego teaches him to harness this power and soon, in one of the film’s trademark quirky comedy moments, the two are bonding over baseball practice with a cosmic ball of energy.

The movie’s also about mummy issues, as we discover dark truths about the dissolution of Peter’s family and gradually Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 becomes a two-hour therapy session in space. And why not? What the Guardians movies are trying to do is establish a flawed but cohesive unit, like an actual family, and if they’re able to have fun along the way, they’re all the better for it.

That’s the key to these movies working: family and fun. The first Guardians cemented a style and method of humour that didn’t so much tickle us under the arm as completely intoxicate us with laughing gas. Vol. 2 is also very funny, but writer/director James Gunn lays the gags on pretty thick. And yet for every thing that doesn’t work, Vol. 2 throws in an eye-popping lifeline. There is an escape scene orchestrated by Yondu and Rocket that visually pops and could possibly rival the prison breakout of Guardians 1. These characters, and the often ludicrous situations they stumble into, are never less than entertaining.

I can’t say if Vol. 2 is better or worse than its predecessor, but it keeps up the energy and childlike enthusiasm of the franchise and injects another dose of mirth into the super-serious MCU. It has a villain who will give Thanos a run for his money, and teases us with an Empire Strikes Back-esque cliffhanger before ripping the rug out from under our feet and delivering one of the most devastating emotional gut-punches Marvel has ever attempted. I’ve never shed a tear for a superhero. Now I have. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a movie of surprises.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is available in Australian cinemas from April 27

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Movie Review – The Fate of the Furious

Fast cars, ludicrous stunts and dumb dialogue – exactly what you’d expect from a Fast and Furious movie!

⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Josip Knezevic

The Fast and The Furious franchise has returned for its eighth instalment, only this time it must continue its legacy without star lead Paul Walker. Walker’s absence set up quite the emotional impact in the previous movie, so I was curious to see where the series would head next. To my surprise, the series seems to be heading in the right direction… somewhat.

In The Fate of the Furious we re-unite with our beloved Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) who’s honeymooning with wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). A mysterious woman soon appears and lures Dom into becoming a hired terrorist, leading him to betray all those close to him. It’s up to our revhead compadres to figure what’s happened to the old Dom and save the world. Screw the C.I.A, who else would you trust, right?

Once again, the theme of family is a major player in this latest film. It’s been prevalent throughout the entire franchise, but while this is an important conceptual torch to bear, it only needs to exist in the background. We’ve seen the exact same situation in Fast 6 when Letty turned on her family. Now that we’re up to movie number eight, it’s kinda like beating a dead horse.

What makes a franchise everlasting is its ability to produce a range of memorable entries. With Harry Potter, the early films were a joyful introduction to the wizarding world, while the last films were far darker in tone. Each film in Fast and Furious feels like the same story just set in a different location around the world.

As the franchise unfolds, the one redeeming factor is that each new film grows in scale and strives to outdo the last. In the early days, the films were all about street racing, then drifting and then bank robberies. This has progressed to tank battles, the world’s longest airplane chase and driving Lamborghini’s from skyscraper into skyscraper. It’s ridiculous, but it’s what I fucking love. You can’t help but enjoy the spectacle, and thankfully The Fate of The Furious continues this to greater lengths.

This is ultimately why I would recommend seeing this on the big screen. The action sequences are mindless, but great to watch, and comic relief characters such as Roman (Tyrese Gibson) allow for some genuine laughs.

If people love something so much that they’re prepared to keep coming back again and again, why then would The Fast and the Furious bother to change its formula? But to become a truly great franchise, it needs to go beyond following a simple formula and be bold in its storytelling. I’m hoping for a ninth installment that either ventures into new territory thematically, or at least continues to amp up the level of ludicrousness in the action sequences. But for now, it’s time to enjoy some submarine car chases.

The Fate of the Furious is available in Australian cinemas from April 13

Image (c) Universal Pictures 2017

Movie Review – Smurfs: The Lost Village

Our favourite little blue creatures are back on the big screen, but it’s starting to wear a little thin the third time around.

⭐ ⭐
Josip Knezevic

Unlike the previous Smurf films, Smurfs: The Lost Village focuses on the most unique of these blue critters; the only female smurf, aptly named Smurfette (voiced by Julia Roberts). In a village filled with male Smurfs who each have a defining trait, Smurfette begins to feel out of place. Unlike her fellow villagers, Smurfette was created from a piece of clay by the evil wizard Gargamel (voiced by Rainn Wilson) and so she lacks a singular special skill. Naturally, this leads her on a journey to discover her identity. Throw in the possibility of other Smurfs existing in a place unknown and you can see exactly where this story is going…

What’s truly great about The Lost Village is the smooth 3D animation. Everything flows seamlessly, but it’s the large colourful displays during the action set pieces that shine the most. The scene where the Smurfs encounter a group of dragonflies is particularly noteworthy; each creature has been meticulously designed with unique colour traits. As a childhood fan of these characters, I can confidently say that the Smurfs translate well from their original hand drawn cartoon to CGI animation… but sadly, this is where the good stuff ends.

While I enjoyed the focus on Smurfette’s character arc, it felt as though the story lost (pun intended) it’s meaning along the way. What began as an interesting decision to tackle identity and one’s purpose in life, slowly shifted to basic storytelling: a village is found, Gargamel plans to capture the village, Smurfette and her friends must stop him… and that’s pretty much it.

Not only do you know how it’s all going to end, but the journey along the way is far too unoriginal to be even remotely engaging. In this sense it reminds me of the new Power Rangers, but where The Lost Village outshines that particular mess is in its character dynamics. There’s some well-crafted interactions between Smurfette, Clumsy, Brainy and Hefty that have hilarious outcomes. It’s just a shame that the relationships between these characters lose any sense of depth against a plot that doesn’t lend itself to exploring these little personalities.

There are reasons why we ultimately love children’s films. It’s because they’re not just films for children. We can still get the same feelings watching The Lion King now as we did 20 years or so ago. It’s why we’ll pay money again to see a live-action imagining of an animated film we’ve loved for decades. This is where The Lost Village is lacking. Parents, take your kids to see The LEGO Batman Movie instead. They’ll enjoy it. You’ll enjoy it. It’s a much better result for all.

Smurfs: The Lost Village is available in Australian cinemas from March 30

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures

Movie Review – Ghost in the Shell

Why is it so difficult to take a concept made for TV and translate it into a feature film? Ghost In The Shell adds to a long list of failed adaptations, following in the footsteps of Power Rangers and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

⭐ ⭐
Josip Knezevic

Based on the anime series, Ghost in the Shell explores a near future where humans have developed technology that allows for cybernetic enhancements. From increasing vision capabilities, to a robotic liver that can withstand any amount of alcohol, the boundaries of this technology are pushed to the limit. Soon young woman the Major (Scarlett Johansson) wakes to find she has become the first human integrated A.I., with a mechanical body that has been fused with her human mind.

I wish I could say that Hollywood has done justice to the original anime series of Ghost in the Shell, but if I could describe the motion picture version in one word, it would be lacklustre. The film opts to focus heavily on the Major (rather than the variety of characters featured in the anime), which may have worked if not for Johansson’s flat performance. The whole point of the movie is to show that the  Major is more than just a robot, and yet Johansson’s expression remains stone cold for the entirety of the film, making it very difficult to relate to her character. There’s been plenty of artificial intelligence based characters in films such as I, Robot and Aliens that have managed to show enough human emotion to allow us to care for them, but Johansson never brings any such warmth or charisma.

Backing up this dreary lead performance is a predictable and uneventful story where nothing of consequence ever really happens. Thankfully, a strong performance from Pilou Absaek as the Major’s partner Batou keeps the film from being completely unwatchable. The visual effects are also excellent in creating a realistic picture of our world thirty years from now. But overall, Ghost in the Shell is just another forgettable rehash of a great TV show.

Ghost in the Shell is available in Australian cinemas from March 29

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures 

Movie Review – The LEGO Batman Movie

Attention all movies. Always be yourself… unless you can be Lego Batman.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Josip Knezevic

Holy crap was this ever so fun to watch. You heard it here: go see The LEGO Batman Movie as soon as possible! I can’t believe how ecstatic I am to be sitting here writing this review, but OK, time to focus…

From the producers of The Lego Movie, LEGO Batman swiftly expands the Lego Universe to the city of Gotham, and by expand I really do mean expand. We witness the first on screen appearances of the most dangerous villains from the Batman franchise in Lego form. It’s a star-studded affair and it’s simply perfect.

When the credits rolled and my happiness levels peaked, I was surprised to see a total of 5 writers responsible for this magical Lego experience. It’s rare to see such a large team of writers work so well together. The sheer number of jokes per minute is staggering. This is quite possibly the funniest superhero movie ever made, with jokes that film buffs, Batman fans and basically anyone can enjoy.

Aside from the humour, LEGO Batman also tackles dramatic themes with the meaning of family and the fear of loss. Given how well this ties in with Bruce Wayne’s story, I’m surprised these ideas haven’t been previously explored in other films set in the Batman universe. It’s a refreshing approach and one that serves it purpose appropriately among all the jokes and spectacle of the animation.

Yes, LEGO Batman is predictable, but it doesn’t matter. You’re too busy enjoying yourself to care. It isn’t as smart as the original Lego Movie, but it has enough pizzazz to elevate itself as a standout film for 2017. It’s entirely self-aware and the special effects team do an outstanding job of creating the Lego world with a really high attention to detail.

I can’t wait to see The LEGO NINJAGO Movie due out at the end of the year, and I hope the creative team explore more multiverse interactions in the future. Bring on LEGO Avengers and Justice League!

The LEGO Batman Movie is available in Australian cinemas from March 30 

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films

Movie Review – Kong: Skull Island

Gorgeous retro posters and a star-studded line-up don’t stop Kong: Skull Island from missing the mark completely.

⭐ ½
Zachary Cruz-Tan

In addition to all the rehashing Hollywood is doing these days, it has become very fond of something called the Cinematic Universe, thanks, no doubt, to Marvel’s business model. It wants every property and franchise to interconnect and speak to each other, often discarding relatively new iterations. Remember Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man? I don’t, and that was just 2 years ago. And now you’re telling me they’re doing another King Kong movie? What was wrong with the old one?

Nothing, of course. It just didn’t fit in with the plan. So here comes Kong: Skull Island, the brand new adventure that’s supposed to up the ante, raise the stakes and deliver on its promise to usher in a new Shared Universe with Godzilla. And if its marketing campaign is anything to go by, it should be a wild, thoroughly satisfying ride. But let me just say – it’s really, really not. This is a dumb old movie, quite possibly the Jurassic World of 2017.

It’s rather remarkable how little actually happens here, despite all the larger-than-life creepy crawlies the CGI puts on display. The great beast is revealed way too early, killing all suspense. There is an entire scene devoted to Kong tearing a giant squid to pieces, y’know, because he can. There is literally a standoff between Kong and Samuel L. Jackson as a horde of exploding helicopters rains down around them. And the cast. My word. Not for a long while have I witnessed such an expansive cast do absolutely nothing in an action movie.

Tom Hiddleston plays James Conrad, a tracker basically hired to sift through some sand and look off ominously into the distance, while Jackson’s army colonel Preston Packard huffs and puffs and tries to bring the ape down with toothpicks. John Goodman and Corey Hawkins play the scientists responsible for bringing everyone to the island in the first place. Brie Larson’s “photojournalist” does nothing but take pointless pictures and wear skin-tight tops. And, of course, there’s your token Asian presence, pencilled in by Jing Tian, who’s not even important enough for an introduction. Fifty points if you can tell me her name and what she does.

Kong, therefore, can’t rely on its human characters for any kind of support. The entire film is essentially a two-hour setup for the future and a needless reminder of the past, with Goodman babbling on about how the Earth actually belongs to prehistoric creatures and will become the stage for a mammoth showdown. Didn’t we hear all this in Godzilla (2014)?

What it does do well is deliver a few impressive action sequences – but then how many modern blockbusters don’t? Scenes in which Kong fends off numerous overgrown lizards are edited with urgency and pump some blood into the movie’s otherwise limp veins, but even they seem like hollow echoes of Peter Jackson’s King Kong (2005) – a vastly superior giant gorilla picture.

What we end up with is a reboot that succeeds only on a superficial level, by shifting the timeframe of the story from the 1930s to the 1970s and doing away with the film crew and the damsel in distress. On a deeper front, Kong: Skull Island is one big mess, offering a pointless human element, some inadvertently laughable moments, and a genuinely underwhelming experience. 1933 Kong must be turning in his grave.

Kong: Skull Island is available in Australian cinemas from March 9

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films 

Movie Review – Logan

A sick and slick flick. It’s my pick. See it quick!

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Cody Fullbrook 

Nowadays, actors who are cast as superheroes are blessed with the knowledge that they’ll be working that role for years… unless the franchise gets rebooted. Speaking of Spider-Man, it’s impossible to picture anyone else except J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, and the same goes for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, who first appeared in X-Men, 17 years ago. Feel old yet? Well, Wolverine certainly does/is in Logan where he’s thrust into being a reluctant caregiver for both Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and a mysterious girl called Laura (Dafne Keen).

Even with eye lasers, magnetic powers and frog people, the X-Men films have been somewhat darker than other superhero entries, and Logan is easily the grittiest of all; perhaps even one of the most violent and grim of its genre. This is a Wolverine film like no other, as well as a Wolverine like we’ve never seen before. He is tired and beaten by life, and by other people.

Excluding some triumphant moments during the climax, there’s nothing glorious to be seen here. Logan doesn’t enjoy this journey and only continues it out of obligation or proving a point. Every single moment of temporary safety is punctuated by a catastrophe, such as a relaxing scene with friendly farmers concluding with a heartbreaking moment of violence and distrust. Logan, Laura and Charles bring pain wherever they go, whether it’s a gas station employee who gets assaulted or hotel patrons that are all mentally barraged by Charles’ unstable mind.

Patrick Stewart returns as Charles Xavier, showing incredible versatility with a role he’s been doing for as long as Jackman. Even though Jackman wears a constant beard and crinkled brow, we never lose the emotion in Logan’s position as the strong protector. He doesn’t just shrug off tragedy. He gets angry, and his paternal moments with Laura are all genuine. The film shines with sincerity when all three are together, especially Logan and Charles who both realistically oscillate between heavy weariness, annoyance and humour akin to old friends.

Unfortunately, an unavoidable problem with Logan is that any antagonist is going to unnecessarily draw attention away from our main cast, and the evil mercenary, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), the evil scientist, Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) and their “pet” mostly pose physical threats to a primarily emotional story. Plot wise, they also expose their mutant tracking prisoner, Caliban (Stephen Merchant), as a magical crystal ball that falls into their hands, whose only purpose is to prevent our heroes from easily succeeding, like the villain equivalent of the crocodile from Peter Pan.

Logan is a must see for anyone who may just have a passing interest in the X-Men film franchise, and a few references to previous movies, both new and old, will be appreciated by any fan. Even those who are totally unfamiliar and willing to endure the long runtime will be easily swept up in a generic, but nonetheless classic, story filled with heart. And blood. And guts. And a kid being harpooned in the leg.

Logan is available in Australian cinemas from March 2nd 

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox