*NEW* LOGAN REVIEW *NEW*

The BEST Wolverine movie?! Well, it didn’t have much to go up against.

He saw it and it was good.

A fitting swansong. It’s just a shame that we finally get the Wolverine spin-off we deserve when Jackman decides to hang up the claws. 17 years? Has it really been 17 years since the first X-Men movie hit the silver screen?

A franchise I grew up with (Well, a movie franchise. I’ll confess the comic books never appealed to me. Sacrilege, I know). In fact, it took me multiple watches to like the first X-Men movie BUT there was always one character that stole the show for me. Any guesses on who that could be?

Hugh Jackman is a fantastic actor but after all the hype and praise, I feared the worst for another botched Wolverine flick. Origins was a drawn out mess (Let’s not forget the Deadpool subplot) and The Wolverine was shambolic. I mean, come on! A metal samurai robot?! Really?

BUT thankfully, third time’s the charm.

In the near future, a weary Logan (Jackman) cares for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant (Dafne Keen) arrives, pursued by dark forces.

The brutally violent and bloody opener set the tone. This Wolverine had had enough. An embittered man ready to die. Done with the world and the people who live in it.

Mangold and co. really took advantage of that 15 certificate. The carnage was relentless. And let’s not forget the endless F-bombs.

BUT it also established a much more cynical and darker feel to the X-Men movies. A direction that would perfectly suit any upcoming DC movie. If they are lucky to be green lit any more.

Patrick Stewart was superb as Charles Xavier. The man who had all the answers. Lost in his own mind. Heartbreaking. I always loved the fractious relationship between him and Logan.

Never giving up on the soldier who had deemed himself a lost cause.

“I’m a glorified truffle pig” – My favourite line of the film. Mangold penned a cracking script.

I was a little anxious when I saw Stephen Merchant’s name pop up in this super-serious gritty neo-Western but the boy from Bristol did well as the albino mutant tracker Caliban. He delivered a much needed comic relief.

Boyd Holbrook was wasted in his role as the slick toothed Pierce. A gold toothed mercenary with cyber-enhancements. The Narcos star made a memorable introduction BUT he soon whimpered into the background to make way for Richard E Grant’s (incredibly weak) and slimy Dr. Rice.

I loved Mangold’s little nods. A Western to its very core. I loved the Shane movie montage sequence. Contrasting the frail and bloodied Logan to the iconic cowboy as he tried to refuse the call.

One last mission. To save a young mutant girl who was being made into a weapon. Something old Wolfie could relate to.

He soon met his match with Rice’s latest creation. NO SPOILERS HERE.

Dafne Keen didn’t do too bad as Laura. It didn’t really come as too much of a revelation about her abilities. Although comic fans will already know. I just wish the trailers hadn’t spoiled it.

Her incessant screaming and zombie stares did do my nut in at times BUT she worked well with Jackman. They made a good duo especially when they teamed up to dispose of their pursuers. One bloody corpse at a time.

John Mathieson’s cinematography was fantastic to look at. Beautifully captured. The special effects were incredible. Great action set pieces and cracking CGI.

The pace meandered by the 80 minute marker and the middle act did draw things to a slump BUT we were soon rewarded with a no-holds barred visceral action packed gore fest.

The only other niggle was that I was left with questions. The meta-textual references with the X-Men comics was a nice in-joke BUT I wondered what had happened to the rest of X-Men. No passing comments. Nothing. Gutted.

After all the time-altering in Days of Future Past, what changed? I’m trying to be as cryptic as possible without divulging too much story.

Mangold tried to make an accessible solo effort BUT I found he isolated the little things that would have polished it off for me.

BUT that didn’t spoil what was a bloody good watch. There were genuine moments where I actually felt a little tear in the eye for the Professor and his miserable protegee.

It may have taken two dreadful movies BUT we got there in the end and I don’t think any X-Men fans will be disappointed.

BUT I’ll let you be the judges.

3.5/5

*DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE END OF THE CREDITS. There are no teasers or spoilers. Nothing. Just a thank you to the people who made this movie. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME*

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*NEW* DEADPOOL REVIEW *NEW*

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Stupid, ridiculous, violent and . . . not bad at all.

I couldn’t think of anybody better than “God’s Perfect Idiot” to take on the iconic role of everybody’s new favourite foul mouthed anti-hero.

How many chances can Ryan Reynolds have bringing a comic book character to the silver screen? Thankfully third time’s the charm.

A fast-talking mercenary with a morbid sense of humor is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a quest for revenge.

From the mental opening sequence, I knew what I was getting myself into. A lewd, crude, brutal BUT incredibly funny shoot em up.

The way people were raving about Deadpool; you would have thought you’ve never seen Ryan Reynolds shout and scream profanities!

The film swiftly flicked back and forth between Deadpool’s relentless revenge spree to his “unconventional” love story with the feisty hooker Vanessa (Morena Baccharin – Homeland).

I couldn’t resist laughing at Reynold’s quick witted one liners and smart ass insults while he clocked up the body count. This role really was made for him.

To be honest, the film only really lost momentum when it tried to take itself more seriously.

The pace lagging when we got to the origin stuff. Sorry, the NEW origin stuff. 

Apparently we’re supposed to forget about Deadpool’s origin story in X-Men Origins: Wolverine now. Especially during Wade’s experimentation.

Completely breezed over that little question with silly (BUT hilarious) meta-textual references. Reynolds even had a pop at himself with a Green Lantern gag for good measure.

I know we had to see the humble beginnings of this quick witted mad man BUT no matter how many sly digs, gags and 4th Wall breaking, you couldn’t hide the fact that it was the same old cliched story.

As much as Baccarin and Reynolds had great chemistry and the cheesy luvvy duvvy exchanges were replaced with messed up foreplay and a year long bonkathon montage to commemorate their romance, it was still boy meets girl.

“Oh, that’s because it’s Christmas Day Dopinder and I’m looking for someone on my naughty list!”.

I was actually more interested in the naive cabbie Dopinder’s (Karan Soni) subplot. Coaxed into ferrying Pool around on his vengeance-seeking killing spree.

I’ve never really rated Ed Skrein’s acting (The Transporter Refuelled) but he played the maniacal “British villain” Francis quite well. The man that made Deadpool; “A penis with teeth”.

Gina Carano (Haywire)’s delivery may have been colder than Colossus’ steel BUT she nailed the hard ass (and ironically titled) Angel Dust a treat.

T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley) was good as the Comic Relief BUT there wasn’t enough of him. 

The same could be said for Deadpool’s blind crackhead roomie Blind Al (Leslie Uggams).

The pair’s bickering over IKEA furniture while gunning up for battle was hysterical!

“It’s like the studio couldn’t get another X-Men”. I’m not going to lie. I’ve never read the comic books. I wasn’t aware that Deadpool existed in the same universe as the X-Men. 

Shock horror. It was great to see Colossus the metallic bad ass that owned the opening sequence from X-Men: Days of Future Past get a little more screen time.

We were even introduced to a new face; the moody emo-looking Negasonic Teenage Warhead (played brilliantly by Brianna Hildebrand). 

The unlikeliest crime fighting trio I’ve seen so far.

It was funny watching Deadpool ‘refusing the call’ to be an X-Men. Evading capture from Colossus by cutting his own hand off. Ouchie. God knows how he would fit in with that mad bunch?!

The shoot em ups and fighting sequences were brilliantly choreographed and deliciously gory. 

I just wish the deaths were a little more creative. Spelling enemies’ names with bodies, yes! Kicking a guard’s amputated head to disarm another guard, yes!

BUT once you’ve seen ol’ Pool slice and dice through a dozen bodies, it got a little repetitive. 

BUT despite it’s flaws, it was a breath of fresh air to see a film openly rip and poke fun at the endless superhero entries that are relentlessly bombarding the big screen. 

It really was a mad riot with Reynolds on fine form.

If that sounds like your kind of thing, then it won’t disappoint. 

I’m sure I don’t have to say it BUT please persevere through the credits for a little treat. Chicka chika!

3.5/5

*NEW* X-MEN: APOCALYPSE REVIEW *NEW*

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Was another one really necessary? Probably not BUT with Singer at the helm, I knew I was in for a treat.

After the re-emergence of the world’s first mutant, world-destroyer Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

I loved the X-Men movies (Yes, even The Last Stand. No, really! I’ve seen worse. Trust me). BUT I couldn’t get into X-Men: First Class and felt the Wolverine spin-offs were a massive let down (Although I still have high hopes for Logan!). A shame considering the cast, the characters and Hugh flippin’ Jackman!

Disappointing affairs that there were either too long, too dull or riddled with far too many plot holes and I didn’t even read the comic books.

Thankfully Days of Future Past was a return to form and mixed the old cast with the new perfectly. Singer’s direction being the missing ingredient. I had to laugh at his sly dig about the third movie always being the worst in a “Star Wars” debate. Righting so many wrongs in one action packed package.

So here we are . . . *WARNING POSSIBLE SPOILERS!* After the bombshell that was delivered at the finale of Days of Future Past, I really wanted to see the next installment. BUT one that followed on. NOT going back into the past again! I was a little disappointed BUT it was still a highly watchable and enjoyable effort.

The idea of mutants existing through history and NOT just from experimentation was a different angle.

The opening felt like something out of The Mummy (The Stephen Sommers saga) with all the crazy golden swag everywhere and demented ritual stuff. BUT it got things going and set up the chrome-esque Humpty Dumpty looking and (poorly named) Apocalypse quite well.

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Looks a bit like Ivan Ooze.

Despite all that make up and silly voice tampering, Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina) was still a convincing super-villain (Even if he spent the majority of the film monologuing). A god hell bent on bringing the Second Coming with the help of his chosen Horsemen.

Writer Simon Kinberg and Singer explored the origins of the old favourites quite well. Tye Sheridan (Scouts’ Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) was very good as a young Scott Summers/Cyclops. Sophie “Game of Thrones” Turner was excellent as Jean Grey. Her accent was impeccable.

There wasn’t enough of Kodi Smit-McPhee’s (Let Me In) Nightcrawler. He captured Alan Cummings’ mannerisms perfectly and stole every scene. Alexandra Shipp’s Storm was tragically lost in the mix far too much. A bit like her older counterpart in Future Past. Shame.

It was intriguing to see Fassbender’s Magneto portrayed as the tormented anti-hero. Doomed to never have a normal life after trying to start a family in Poland. The only problem was that despite giving an extra depth to the maniacal metal man, it left him skulking around for the rest of the film. Gutted.

I loved the transformation of Mystique’s character. To change from a morphing femme fatale to a conflicted symbol for the mutants’ fight for survival. BUT then again what did you expect when you have Jennifer Lawrence taking on the role?!

The only problem was that it felt like a retread from FP with Raven refusing to take the call. Even though you knew the inevitable outcome.

BUT where Singer and Kinberg explored old faces, they tried to bring in new ones which didn’t quite work. Ben Hardy’s Angel and the beautiful Olivia Munn’s Psylocke were a waste of time. Even Sabre Tooth and Toad made more memorable minions.

However, there was one face I was happy to see return and that was Evan Peters’ (American Horror Story) Quicksilver. He stole the show in Future Past and did it yet again. Featuring in one of the best animated sequences I’ve seen in a long time.

You thought the prison breakout was impressive in FP, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The detail. The effects! Fantastic. It may have taken months to shoot BUT it was worth every frame. And all perfectly timed to the rhythmic beat of Eurthymics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).

It was entertaining as hell as Quicksilver kung fu kicked doors and moon walked across fiery hallways while his clueless comrades stood frozen in time; oblivious of their impending doom.

I was a little annoyed with the influx of new faces that didn’t get enough back story to make a proper introduction. Scott’s brother Alex or Havok (Lucas Till) was hyped up as such a crucial character BUT it was his first appearance in the franchise. An unnecessary addition by the time the credits rolled.

The pace did test in the final third and the finale, despite the amazing visuals, felt like a retread of FP and First Class with Magneto sulking and wanting to end the world (Again). Yawn.

It might help to have watched the other entries to appreciate all the little nods. Especially First Class because I had completely forgotten about Rose Byrne’s character and her silly little love subplot with Professor X. Thankfully Singer and co. did a quick recap to jog the memories of those who aren’t up to speed on their X-Men history.

BUT there was still enough fun and action to keep me entertained. The only problem by trying to fill in the gaps and explore new territory, Singer unwittingly put more cracks in the time frame from the original efforts. There was a revelation surrounding one character that came out so half arsed that I wondered why they even bothered in the first place?!

Despite my gripes, Apocalypse still fitted perfectly as a precursor to the first X-Men movie (That’s the 2000 release for those who want to be pedantic with the crazy time frame) and wasn’t quite the wash out that people had me believe.

The cast were great, the effects and set pieces were breathtaking and I still had fun after 16 years and 7 films (Does The Wolverine count? Okay, 8. What about Deadpool? Steady on).

3.5/5

TOP 20 FILMS OF 2014 SO FAR

So here we are. What films have surprised, intrigued and entertained you this year . . . so far? Now I’ve waffled on about having pretty much a season ticket pass to the cinema. So far I’ve seen 85 films this year which . . . isn’t a lot in comparison to my last year’s total of 144 (Yep, crazy) and that is because I have found it harder to enjoy films lately. I have had to endure through endless entries of mindless drivel regurgitating the same old plot, clichéd characters (even in their 3D wrapped foils) and excruciating acting or dreadful dialogue.

To be honest, it killed my enthusiasm a little bit. I see a trailer and have doubts. I have to talk myself into going, simply hoping that it will at least be watchable (which most of them are) but enjoyable? Well . . .

Now some entries you may question and unfortunately release dates are always different. My argument is films I’ve seen this year. Some may have been released at the end of 2013 but I didn’t see them until early January and it says it all if they are in here because I have found it difficult to fill my top 20. I had to pick films that surprised for not being a complete blunder or just for keeping my attention. BUT here we go.

The top 20 films of 2014 . . . so far

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1. The Dallas Buyers Club

A film that certainly surprised me. I went in not knowing what to expect and was rewarded with a different story, engaging characters that were done to justice by two actors that had seemed to be pushed into the movie wilderness. McConaughey was launched back into the limelight and rightly so, beating Ejiofor to the Oscar. I still couldn’t believe Jared Leto’s supporting role. More to him than just a singer from an emo-rock-pop band.

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2. 12 Years A Slave

A visceral and haunting film that delves into the human condition of one man’s plight into slavery. Steve McQueen certainly delivered one of his most ambitious, if slightly overhyped, projects to date. A harrowing story expertly acted by a fantastic cast. Ejiofor was unlucky not to win but he has certainly proved he can handle the leading role. This was all helped by an Oscar-winning supporting turn from newcomer Lupita Nyong’o and a sinister one from Michael Fassbender.

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3. August: Osage County

An underrated drama. A perfect showcase in acting. Meryl Streep proving yet again why she keeps getting those Oscar nods. A simple story revolving a family feud. But with a family of well written characters with a huge ensemble of talented characters made this one to watch for me. Its abrupt ending may have lost marks but it didn’t ruin great performances. Shame none of the contenders won this time round.

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4. The Book Thief

Now I will admit that I haven’t read the book but if the film is anything to go by, then I really want to read it. An endearing, if slow burning war drama that is shown through the eyes of a little girl who finds solace in stealing books. A great performance by Sophie Nelisse. It’s always a gamble with kid actors, especially when they are the main characters. But a great performance that is aided by a fantastic supporting cast consisting of Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson made this an engaging and highly watchable affair with an inevitable but emotional ending.

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5. 22 Jump Street

My name is Jeff! Yes, conforming to the masses but if when a blockbuster is this funny, who cares? Hill and Tatum are back pretty much doing the same thing which worked the first time round to better and bigger results. I laughed from start to finish. The very purpose of a comedy for me. It’s big, dumb and stupid but so funny. Invest.

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6. The Guardians of The Galaxy

Another Marvel movie is unleashed. But what a film. James Gunn manages to make an enjoyable romp of a space opera with the same old predictable guff of intergalactic rogues turned superheroes spiel. However, I actually cared about these rogues and cannot wait for another inevitable sequel. This is all helped with a great script, fantastic cast and an awesome soundtrack. So good I saw it twice.

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7. The Inbetweeners 2

The boys are back but this time they’re going down under. If you’re a fan then expect the same old dirty smut that still manages to have you heaving and laughing all the way. They may be reaching their thirties but the cast were still very much on form, making this instalment surpass the movie, not quite the series. Get on it, my movie fwends. Fwend, aww.

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8. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Now I am actually reading the book. This film lost marks for stretching out its source material to the max. However, Jackson still manages to deliver the goods by harvesting a special effects extravaganza of a movie. This slicker, darker follow up to An Unexpected Journey has left me awaiting for the final installment of the prequel trilogy. But does it really have to be three hours again?

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9. X-Men: Days of Future Past

X Men Give to Ya. A return to form from a franchise that had lost its way BIG TIME. Mixing the old with the new cast along with a time travelling plot device made for some twists and turns and a little spring cleaning as Singer made his return to the helm. With that we got an action packed restoration to former glories, near enough.

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10. The Raid 2

Despite lacking the pace and tenacity of the original and leaving us chomping our nails, waiting impatiently through the monotonous set up after a gruelling opening sequence, The Raid 2 finally delivered the goods with an all-out explosive lets-crank-this-to 11 adrenaline pumped finale with some crazy cult characters and memorable fight sequences.

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11. Captain America: Winter Soldier

A solid sequel that improved tremendously on its rushed predecessor and allowed to flesh out the ol’ Cap and some of the supporting characters that we only really had little cameos. Nick Fury, I’m looking at you. The introduction of new characters helped provide a more interesting environment. The whole adjustment to the modern era was a nice touch and gave Cap a little more dimension. If more films are to follow for the Cap, I await with anticipation.

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12. How To Train Your Dragon 2

It may not have topped the original but it still entertained the masses with terrific animation, an easy going plot and great characters. Definitely one of the better family movies out this year. I cannot wait for the next one.

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13. The Railway Man

A endearing, well acted war biopic that received such a panning, I feared the worst. However, although a little slow burning, I thought Colin Firth was incredible and was snubbed an Oscar nomination for his performance. Nicole Kidman may have been wasted in this role but the final confrontation between Firth and Hiroyuki Sanada was emotional and gripping. Worth a watch.

 

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14. Last Vegas

It know what is was from the get go. A group of old talented screen icons lapping it up in Las Vegas. It’s corny, OTT but left me smiling coming out of the cinema. Let’s be honest not all old boy movies hit it off. Wild Hogs and Space Cowboys (cough cough). The fact a sequel has been green lit, says it all.

 

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15. Begin Again

An unexpected treat. A feel good summer movie if ever there was one. Not without its imperfections. The flashing back and forth stuttered the opening and it may have ended a little abrupt and too open for my liking. BUT the songs were catchy. The cast were fantastic and Keira Knightley can sing. Oh my goodness.

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16. The LEGO Movie

How could I not? Everything is AWESOME! It’s funny, bonkers and blew the box office away. A talented voice cast boost a bunch of crazy but memorable characters with jokes and puns to entertain both kids and adults.

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17. Frozen

What? Losing movie cred. Entertaining, funny supporting characters, catchy songs. Disney returning to form and going old school with this icy escapade of a musical.

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18. The Wolf of Wall Street

Now despite complaining about the length and the hype, it was still a visceral tour-de-force of a drug induced thriller. Leo was unstoppable but did anyone else feel he tried too hard? Slight bias for me as I’m a Scorsese nut but it was still intense, funny and satirical to the max.

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19. Cuban Fury

I was torn between this and Edge of Tomorrow but despite seeing Tom Cruise killed 200 times, it was hardly original. Now, I know Cuban Fury isn’t original either but its easy going, funny and it was great to see Nick Frost come to the fore. The dance off sequence with an unexpected cameo was worth seeing alone.

 

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20. Delivery Man

Yep, you read that right. I’m going for the outsider. I read so many negative reviews that I dreaded watching this. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Now when it first started with Vaughan shouting and yelling in Spanish, I feared the worse. However, this soon turned in a dramedy and Vaughan was able to show that he can still act and be funny at the same time with an easy going story. And plus a scene stealing supporting turn from Chris Pratt as Vaughan’s useless lawyer pal made it all the better.

 

Feel free to share your top 20, debate my selections, all skip the post altogether.

COMING UP MY 20 WORST FILMS OF 2014. This will take me a whole lot longer to decide because there are so many choices!

X MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST REVIEW

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X Men Give It To Ya! Days of Making Good Films At Last! Finally! Thank you! Welcome back Mr Bryan Singer. A little while since X Men was released, I know, but so many bad movies got my pulse racing that I pushed this little gem to the drafts.

But low and behold, a film that entertains, intrigues and keeps you engrossed. Everything you could hope for. Singer is deservedly back at the realm to resurrect a flailing franchise. To be honest, I loved Singer’s entries (easy now) and didn’t mind the X Men First Class and (cough) The Last Stand. What? The Last Stand wasn’t perfect and lacked Singer’s direction. Sorry Mr Ratner but it wasn’t all bad.

It was a shame that the Wolverine spin offs were so turgid and flat. If not for the bravado of the legendary Hugh Jackman, they would have been a complete write off. So much rich material and yet they go for the slow meandering cliché rubbish that is . . . not in the comic. If not for the little teasers of a reunion I might not have bothered. However, not this time. I mean I’m not going to lie. I am not a comic book guy but I love the adaptations. There may be too many but none the less. Most of them are alright and this one, most certainly, is.

After an incredibly dark and action packed opening in which an apocalyptic war has broken out between humans and mutants. We see our heroes hiding and struggling against a new foe, the ever-adaptable Sentinels. However, it’s up to Wolfie to go back in time to stop the turning point that led to the Sentinels’ very origins – an assassination attempt in the 70s by a murderous Mystique (the lovely Miss Jennifer Lawrence). But of course, it’s not that easy as Wolfie must work with an angry Xavier and vengeful Magneto at the time where they couldn’t be farther apart. Leading to a good movie.

The only irritating thing is that we lose out on the epic duo of McKellen and Stewart but it’s not all bad as they are upgraded with their younger counterparts, the talented McAvoy and Fassbender or McBender. The pair work well together and deliver their take on two iconic characters played by two iconic actors to perfection. Hugh Jackman is fantastic as Wolverine. And the dude is hench. 45 and ripped like that. Damn. It was great to see old Tyrion, Peter Dinklage getting his teeth into a villainous role. Shame it was a little part and no that was not an intentional jibe. Come on, I’m above that. (What?)

The 3D is a worthy investment. A fantastic prison escape sequence in which new guy Quicksilver (Evan Peters – American Horror Story) is able to show his talents is worth the ticket alone. Slow motion, glass and water flying out the screen, brilliant. Peters was fantastic as Quicksilver and provided a memorable supporting role. I feared adding more characters might be a case of too many cooks in the broth but not this guy. The same cannot be said for the collection of mutants that appeared in the futuristic opening. Sorry, Bishop and Warpath. I’m looking at you.

Basically your overall reaction will always be down to a few things. A) How much of an X Men fan you are – obviously. B) How you felt about the other instalments? C) What Bryan Singer, a man who has shared quite publicly, his distaste on how certain sequels *cough* The Last Stand *cough cough* may have messed things up.

Now if you were a director who could come back and had time travel as a plot device, what would you do? That’s all I will say.

The film is not without its imperfections. My main issue was that with such a huge number of characters at Singer’s disposal and the plot line, there is always that fear that a favourite character will be removed, restricted or not even included.

Singer does his best to include as many as possible but being that they are battling a genocidal war in the future, it just easy to say they died for the cause. However, you are then sitting there, asking how? But the film would have been three hours or another movie, which although tempting, would have taken the Michael. However, it’s well written, well-acted and the pace rarely dips. An unexpected but equally predictable climax does inevitably leave things open yet again.

Also don’t wait for the end credits, it’s not worth it. I’m sure it will be on YouTube. That will save you ten to fifteen minutes learning who was the PA of the PA for Sir Ian McKellen.

BUT in comparison to the number of hit and misses that have tortured my normally tolerant resolve, this gets a solid 4. INVEST.

Currently ranks 18 out of 184!