Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets

The Chamber of Secrets is the second entry in the series and it even further illustrates the limits to Chris Columbus's work as a director. He has nothing to add to what he did in the first film, as his attempt at adaptation is to try to take the book verbatim. This leads to the film only leaving out a few bits of the book, and leads the film to an almost three hour running time. A long running time is fine if it calls for it, but by the end of the film it becomes repetitive. Columbus keeps everything excessively straight so there's a real lack of panache to the proceedings. The positive elements are still quite prevalent though, the score, the actors (now with Kenneth Branagh, and Jason Isaacs joining the troupe), and the story is there technically speaking. The impact of pivotal scenes are diminished since Columbus essentially makes everything as important in his refusal to make his own statement on the material. There is also a problem brewing (no pun intended) with this film in Steve Kloves's writing. This film begins the wrecking of Ron as a character as the street smart wizard of the group, in order to further prop up Hermione in a needless fashion by giving her pivotal lines that were Ron's in the book. Again even with these problems the source material is there, the qualities of the first film are there, and it is enough to still make it a decent film.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone is the first entry in the series and it's interesting to see what exactly it accomplished. Now there are problems. It is directed by Chris Columbus, who I'd say is a better writer than a director. As director I'd describe his work as the standard for a standard kids movie. Of course I'd actually say this isn't too problematic for the simpler story of this film. What the film does well is get things going. It effectively set the basis for the aesthetic elements of the series, though more enterprising directors would take this further later, and it contained of course John Williams's wholly fitting score that now is synonymous with the series. It also began the intelligent use of extremely accomplished British thespians such as John Hurt, Maggie Smith, Richard Harris, and of course Alan Rickman. Now there are problems the visual effects here in particular leave something to be desired, and the child acting is bit rusty in spots. The thing is though even with its fault it works, and most importantly it set off the series on the right foot.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

X-Men: Days of Future Past

If First Class gave the X-Men series the shot in the arm it needed then Days Of Future Past proceeded to perform corrective surgery on its failing parts. This is almost close to being literal being that the film purged itself of the terror that was X-Men The Last Stand from ever existing. Now within this janitorial work it managed to actually create one of the best entries in the series. There are few problems. The villain Trask, despite having the reliable Peter Dinklage, seems wasted, and the majority of the characters in the future have absolutely no development. Luckily this is basically made for the arresting visuals in those sequences and particularly devoted performances from Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. The past sequences though are the central focus, which have a proper sense of urgency due to the Terminator style plot around Wolverine being sent back to correct the future. Although it is perhaps a bit obvious why Mystique became so important suddenly, I will say it works in this film, as they successfully used her to be the proper focal point between the philosophies of Professor X and Magneto. The film uses this well to bring about a natural conclusion that is compelling both in terms of spectacle and emotion. This is in large part due to James McAvoy's portrayal as a broken Professor X, as he gives the best performance in any X-Men film. Now in all of this though there is a real sense of fun, particularly when Evan Peter's Quicksilver shows up, and manages a proper balance of tone to craft an emotionally engaging and properly entertaining blockbuster.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Wolverine

The Wolverine is the far more successful second attempt into giving Wolverine his own solo film. Of course besting its predecessor is no accomplishment at all. The whole film though is a more than acceptable solo venture. There is absolutely nothing special about it. The action scenes are good. Jackman is good, the supporting cast is fine for the most part, the plot is fine, the villain are well they're a little underwhelming. Nevertheless the film pulls through to be entirely adequate  no more no less.

X-Men: First Class

X-Men first class was set to be a rejuvenation of the franchise after the failures of  X-Men Origins Wolverine and X-Men The Last Stand, though initially is was suppose to be specifically be a Magneto origin story, that set up can be clearly seen. Those scenes are actually the strongest of the film, where director Matthew Vaughn seems most comfortable in terms of the intensity. Michael Fassbender is a worthy young Magneto, and those scenes are indeed thrilling to the point that one would imagine they could have just made the Magneto story. You certainly have the villain in Kevin Bacon baconing it up in a good way, and there is an interesting dynamic between two men of similar minds coming into conflict. The film though desires to set up the team. James McAvoy actually does a very good job of crafting his own Professor X, and actually sets up the arc he'd go on for the future sequels. The only problem is the only other X-Men who even sort of work are Beast and Mystique who both have limited roles, but they serve their purpose. Everyone else is more of just there for their power. Luckily Vaughn's style utilizes the 60's setting well and makes for an entertaining film even when they characters are not. Although even on that note the action is a little flimsy at times, almost as though Vaughn is bit lost when he can't have heads explode. The film is technically a little messy but it successfully was the injection of energy the series desperately needed.