Following his adaptations of Pride & Prejudice and Anna Karenina, Joe Wright next turns his attentions to J.M. Barrie’s boy who never grew up. But instead of bringing the adventures of Peter, Wendy and Captain Hook to the big screen, Pan is a prequel, charting Peter’s arrival in Neverland and showdown with legendary pirate Blackbeard. What’s most surprising is that despite pushing fans well outside their comfort zones, Pan actually proves relatively entertaining.
This week we take a long look at X-Men:Days Of Future Past, the latest in a long series of mutant-obsessed action blockbusters and Disney’s Maleficent, a reworking of the classic Sleeping Beauty tale complete with yet another backstory, which prompts us to question the whole backstory obsession in today’s cinema.
Denis Villeneuve’s English language debut is a tough, gritty and downright chilly thriller about a man (Hugh Jackman) who takes the law into his own hands when his daughter goes missing. The cops seems slow and reluctant to help, while he is certain almost from the outset that Paul Dano’s weasely recluse is to blame. There are certainly similarities here to Israeli thriller Big Bad Wolves, but whether they are intentional (or for reasons even more nefarious) it doesn’t detract from either film. Prisoners takes dead aim at the US policy of advanced interrogation methods, torture and where exactly the line should be drawn between violent crime and the violence used to bring those people to justice. Ultimately it does all feel somewhat overcooked & heavyhanded, but is never less than utterly compelling. While Jackman shows an impressive degree of intensity here, Jake Gyllenhaal as the young detective is particularly good surrounded by a cast of screamers. Roger Deakins’ cinematography is also worthy of special mention.
Hugh Jackman reprises his signature role yet again, this time employing James Mangold to take Logan to Japan and embrace one of the character’s best-loved comic book story arcs. While proceedings do ultimately descend into indestructible objects punching each other, this is far more of a crime drama built around strong characters and meaningful relationships than anything the X-Men series has seen to-date. Sit it next to Ang Lee’s wrongly maligned Hulk and long may these genuinely intriguing one-offs continue.