The Losers (Contains Spoilers)

This is probably the only graphic novel-based film that I’ll be likely to see this year that I won’t have previously read the original graphic novel. Which, now that I’ve seen the film, seems a bit of a shame because I truly enjoyed the film, which likely means that the graphic novel is just as entertaining! I don’t know why I haven’t decided to read The Losers before, as it seems like something I would most likely enjoy reading, but I decide that I liked the look of the film enough to just go ahead and see it without waiting to read the graphic novel first. As such, it means that whatever storyline, twists and shocks in the storyline of The Losers made it more interesting to watch rather than reading the graphic novel prior to seeing it and then expecting any parts of the story (that’s assuming that the storyline is the same in both…).

Essentially, I really enjoyed the film. If you’re in the mood for seeing a film with the perfect amount of brilliant action, hilarious comedy and story twists in equal measures, then The Losers ticks all the right boxes, if that’s what mind-set you’re in. The storyline, for those who have not read the graphic novel (like myself…) or don’t know much about it, The Losers follows a group of elite CIA black-ops agents, each with their own trademark talents. The start of the film see’s the mission they are on go awry, and when their assassination attempt goes wrong and ends in the death of a group of children instead of them, they’re left for dead in the jungles of Bolivia to plot their revenge on the man who ordered their hit in a way that only they can!

The team themselves is a mixture of personalities, each of which plays an important part. Jeffrey Dean Morgan does a great job of playing the Colonel of the group Clay – a gritty and hardened leader who makes calls when he needs to. He does a great job of playing the hard-ass (as already proven by him playing The Comedian in Watchmen last year), but also get some decent action time on-screen and can deliver some cool one-liners too. The main story obviously focuses more on him as a character, what with him being the leader of the team, along with Zoe Saldana (the main blue lady from Avatar – not that you’d recognise her from that, obviously!) playing Aisha, the teams ticket home with her own plans of revenge on the man who ordered their hit, Max (Jason Patric). The two of them have a decent back and forth, until the twist in the story that (for the most part) turns an already questionable relationship completely around, and it’s this relationship between them that keeps the story that much more compelling.

Other characters from the team include the silent but awesomely cool Cougar (Oscar Jaenada), the teams long-range Sniper who can do amazing things with just one bullet, Roque (Idris Elba) and Pooch (Columbus Short). But, the character that completely and shamelessly steals the movie is Jensen, played by Chris Evans (who, coicidentally, has now been drafted in to play Captain America very soon…). Why does he steal the show, you ask? He gets ALL the best lines, the best comedy, and some of the coolest scenes in the film! Ranging from lines like “That’s right, bitches. I got a crossbow.” and killing people magically with the power of his mind, to the different T-shirts he wears in every scene, Jensen is the character that flat-out makes The Losers what it is. The best example of this is the scene of him breaking into an office building, starting off by singing Don’t Stop Believin’ at the top of his voice and ending with him being cornered by three guys with guns and convincing them he has telekinetic powers by shooting them with his fingers. This last bit of the scene, coincidentally, is one part I have read from the graphic novel and the cinematography is taken straight from the panels of the book, which I personally thought was a great shot of zooming in on Cougar in another building through him making the “OK” sign to him. Without a doubt my favourite scene of the film!

I think that there were perhaps only a couple of places in which The Losers didn’t quite make the mark. Firstly, in the scene right before the credits start rolling where the team conduct a covert operation to get Pooch into a building that turns out to be… a hospital. So he can be with his wife when she gives birth to his child. For one thing, it’s a hospital, so it’s a public facility, so why not just walk in? Ok, they’re all classified as dead, but why would they check that if you’re going to see you’re wife? And secondly, why the hell does she not rip him a new one for not being around for nearly six months when she was the one who was sure he WASN’T dead? It’s one thing to be forgiving, and another to be totally placid during childbirth and seeing your husband for the first time in six months! Ok, the film itself isn’t meant to be realistic, obviously, but this was really dropping the ball. Secondly, the film ended a little too easily, after Max has nearly created entire world chaos and Clay has stopped it by catching the bomb trigger and pushing a button BUT I suspect this is mostly because there are more books and so this isn’t exactly the end.

All in all, I thought The Losers was a completely enjoyable film, even though I have yet to read the graphic novel. Again, though, this probably added to my enjoyment of the film as it made it newer and fresher that it would likely have otherwise been. I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you want something cool and funny at the same time!

Advertisements

Iron Man 2 (Contains Spoilers)

The second outing of the metallic hero sees the (nearly) entire cast of the original returning for the next installment in Marvel Studios various projects currently being undergone. I’ll admit that, along with Kick-Ass, Iron Man 2 is my big geeky pleasure of the year (well, until Scott Pilgrim VS The World, that is!) and I’ve been looking forward to this since the last one came out. But, I’ve been wary about films that I’ve gotten overly excited about before (for reference, go find my views on Alice In Wonderland *heaves*), but I’m happy to say that Iron Man 2 didn’t disappoint me!

Without reciting the entire film and everything that happened in each scene, Iron Man 2 had everything that it needed in there. There was a point when fans and critics worried about it suffering from the Spider-Man 3 disease of having too many bad guys come into the mix, but the way it was executed meant that it didn’t suffer at all. Mickey Rourke was basically a slightly Russian Mickey Rourke throughout this, but he is in the bad guy spotlight in this film. Everything that occurs is because of him, and Sam Rockwell playing Justin Hammer is merely a means to how Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko/Whiplash is able to conduct all these things that happen throughout the film (even though the character of Ivan Vanko was actually Crimson Dynamo in the original story, as Whiplash was only ever Whiplash). Which is why it works so well that he first appears and has a face off with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man so early in the film. It means that they can break up the storyline of the film that much more with fight scenes earlier on, which means there isn’t any lengthy scenes of expositional nothingness… like with Spider-Man 3…

Then, of course, there is the constant undercurrent of Stark slowly (and pretty ironically) being poisoned by the Arc Reactor in his chest that he invented to keep himself alive, which then leads to his midlife depression and alcoholism which was famously tackled in the comics for some time. The ONLY bad thing I have to say about Iron Man 2 is that when he discovers a way to create a new kind of reactor to replace his that won’t kill him anymore, and will be even more efficient than his other one, he has to create a new element in order to do it and this happens a little to easily. BUT, having said that, this is entirely justified in the simple fact that he is Tony Stark, and if he can create a suit of armour that flies at over Mach 5 speeds and fires lasers, then why wouldn’t this be possible too? The only qualm over this is the fact that he had to go through the process of finding a hidden design for this in a model city his Father made in order to invent such a thing.

It does have to be said, however, that arguably one of the most impressive bits of the movie is the Suitcase Armour he uses during the first fight with Whiplash. It’s a little thing from the comics that some of the more die-hard fans might recognise and appreciate, and Jon Favreau and the writers did well to work it into the film. However, what I wasn’t much of a fan of was how Mickey Rourke made Whiplash look a bit more like someone who got lost on their way to an S&M gathering at the start. Luckily, this is rectified at the end when he turns up in an admittedly too-close-to-Iron Man-looking armour himself at the end, but is very much closer to how he should look – like more of a badass!

Whilst it’s a bit of a shame that Terrence Howard decided not to return for the second film, Don Cheadle does a very good job of stepping into his shoes as James Rhodes, who steps up to the plate as War Machine in this film. And he does a great job too – there’s I personally thought that Terrence Howard might have done differently apart from maybe bringing a bit more “cool” to the role. But considering that Rhodey is a captain in the Air Force, it’s tough to be too laid back in that position! Other new characters include the previously mentioned Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer (who, admittedly, does become a little annoying after a while…) and the amazingly sexy-looking Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanov/Black Widow, who obviously did a lot of training for her role and will most likely appear in more Iron Man/Marvel films in the future because of this.

As the film moves on, it becomes more and more obvious over the links to future Marvel/Avengers-related films as Samuel L. Jackson has lengthy appearances as Nick Fury in Iron Man 2 and mentions more and more the notion of grouping together The Avengers. Almost as a joke, Stark gets handed a partially dismantled shield of Captain America to prop up some machinery he is working on in his workplace. The biggest of these, however, is rewarded to those patient enough to stay until after the credits when we are treated to a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative travelling to a dig site in the middle of the desert – a dig site where they have found Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor. So, at least now we know which film to look forward to for next year, don’t we?

Overall, apart from some slightly slow areas and perhaps not being as consistently impressive as the first one, Iron Man 2 definitely ticked all the boxes that I expected it to – it had some very entertaining action sequences, new characters, a storyline with enough taken from the comics to please fans and enough things left to tie up that they’ll make another one (which is rumoured to be a crossover with a second/third Hulk movie), and some huge geek-out moments that will keep me interested until next year’s ones!

LISTED Film Previews – May ’10

Well, after FINALLY making my way to see Kick-Ass last month (it was, by the way, completely kick-ass! Very worth while!) right at the end of it’s cross-over from the UK to the US, I thought I’d bring you another set of previews with some more films I’m excited over that could be the highlights of this years film releases! So, if you can make it out to see these, I’d love your opinions. If not, you really should get out more…

IRON MAN 2 (12A) (Dir. Jon Favreau)

After the huge success and countless geek-outs at the end of the first film, Robert Downey Jr. is back in the Iron Man armour again for another CGI heavy dose of coolness. After publically announcing himself as Iron Man, Tony Stark (RDJ) is under pressure to share his hi-tech armour with the US Military. When he is unwilling to give up his invention, he must face powerful new enemies (Mickey Rourke as “Whiplash”) out for revenge, and create new Iron Man armours in order to outwit them. After geeking out at the new trailers, I can tell you that this is definitely one blockbuster worth getting excited about, and should be one of the more successful hits of the summer! Released May 7th.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (18) (Dir. Samuel Bayer)

The latest in a long line of not just horror/80’s films remakes, this re-hashing of Wes Craven’s original 1984 horror looks to fall pretty far below the mark. Jackie Earle Hayley (“Rorschach” from Watchmen) plays the razor fingered, dream-stalking serial killer Freddy Kreuger in this new version which quite frankly looks almost exactly the same as the original, scene-for-scene, save for better film quality and some fresh new talent/victims. The trailer itself is pretty spooky but that’s really about it, meaning the real nightmare here might be this remake! Go and see it if you’re bored, but otherwise just buy the box-set of originals for the same price. Released May 7th.

ROBIN HOOD (12A) (Dir. Ridley Scott)

Seeing Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe re-uniting after the success of Gladiator should be really exciting. That is, if you don’t mind seeing this version of Robin Hood done in that same style. Despite that, this Robin Hood story is not the typical, merry men story you might expect but instead charts the history of an archer in the army of Richard Coeur de Lion fighting against Norman invaders, who rises to become the hero and outlaw known as Robin Hood. After nearly not being made due to several script re-writes, this version of the Robin Hood story looks to be as epic as so many of Ridley Scott’s films are! Released May 14th.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME (12A) (Dir. Mike Newall)

The first film of the year that will see Jerry Bruckheimer’s company on the way towards taking it home in boatloads, this is also the first (non-CGI) videogame-film that actually looks decent! Set in medieval Persia, Prince of Persia follows a rogue prince who sets out to prevent a dark force from obtaining a dagger that grants people control of the Sands of Time to rule the world. Also, seeing Jake Gyllenhaal in the role of an action star is pretty new, so there may be more of these! The trailer looks pretty great too, recreating a lot of the stunts from the game. But then what did you expect from the studio that made Pirates of the Caribbean? Released May 28th.

As published in Listed Magazine Issue 27 and on www.listedmagazine.com