Saturday, 30 May 2009

Movie Review: 12 Rounds

Check out Mike's review of John Cena's new movie 12 Rounds now out in UK cinemas.

12 Rounds Review

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Podcast Review: The Fear Shop

Twitter is a good way of finding out about things. I wouldn't have come across this series of podcasts otherwise. These guys have fun doing this but don't witter on too much like some podcasts. Their review of Martyrs is down to earth and honest - the way I like to write and read movie reviews.

I recommend horror movie fans to download and listen to what they say;

Fear Shop Podcasts

Toy Review: Bub (from George Romero's Day of the Dead)

Check out the review at The Zed Word

I love that bloody pail! What attention to detail! As good as it is it can't possibly emulate Howard Sherman's wonderful expressions. That guy should have won an oscar for that role. I do not joke! Ask anyone that knows me, I bring it up all the time ;o)

DVD Review: The Last Sentinel

Check out Mike's Review of The Last Sentinel - a newly released sci-fi movie (out on 1/06/09 to be precise). It has the tagline:

The Future Is Riding One Woman

Well if my future had me riding Katee Sackhoff, I wouldn't half mind ;o)

DVD Review: The Machine Girl

Image courtesy of

Check out my review of the wild Japanese movie The Machine Girl

It's a fun ride and worth checking out!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

DVD Review: Martyrs

Image courtesy of

Have a look at what I thought of this horror film, newly released on DVD. It's not an easy watch and by far one of the most cerebral movies of it's type.

Martyrs Review

Wolverine Weapon X #2

I don't know what it's like for US resident comic book collectors/readers but this title costs £3 from Forbidden Planet. With the amount of titles increasing as prices increase, collecting comic books is becoming a thing of the past. "Great!" I hear you say "Get over it. You're 40 years old". True, but I still like the mythological stories that run through good super-hero books.
So, here we have Wolverine: Weapon X, another spin-off from a solo series that was originally a spin-off from The Uncanny X-Men (which now has countless spin-offs, one-shots, mini-series x-cetra!) Jason Aaron does a nice job of telling a tale that shows, again, that Wolverine might not be at the top of the food chain. However, his Wolverine harks back to the old school version that I know and love; the badass. At times, Logan has been written as the "little uncle" for female characters of all ages. Over time and perhaps due to PC driven ideals, he became less angry and...well...badass. This was mainly due to the fact that Wolverine has been well overused, with Marvel looking to exploit the popularity at every opportunity.
Aaron nails the character, and with Ron Garney's superb art, they give a good account of the character, even if we experience a clear feeling of deja-vu when reading the story.
But at $3.99, it seems a little bit of a mickey take from Marvel.

Advice For The Young At Heart

Check out the following advice if you're suffering from an unrequited love. Don't continue to suffer, there is an answer! lol!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

IT Bites Tour in the UK

Monday, 25 May 2009

Interview With Toby Wilkins

photo from

Toby Wilkins, who directed the recently released movies; Splinter, The Grudge 3, kindly agreed to an interview for Flash-Bang movie reviews, see the interview here

It's an informative interview and I thank Toby, once again, for agreeing to do it. He's very busy at the moment and I look forward to seeing what projects he will work on in the future.

Toby's blog:

Splinter Site:

Friday, 22 May 2009

Invasion of the Not Quite Dead Movie - Get involved

Interesting times are ahead, as I've begun to get involved in this project;

When I say "involved" I mean that I have pre-ordered the DVD. I intend to purchase a producer package too.

Why? Well, I've always been interested in independent cinema, or low budget cinema. You may recall that i use the tagline;

"Low budget does not equal low quality"

I won't repeat information that is on the site, if you're interested too, please visit and get involved too.

I will be pursuing ways in which I can help this worthwhile project. this space. I will be posting updates. Otherwise, follow us on Twitter;

Zombie Short Story: The Bell's End

Image taken from slack-jawed hands as it seemed appropriate.

I wrote the following short story for a proposed e-book that was to raise money for Comic Relief, hence the innuendo of the title "The Bell's End".

The project "Zombie aid" asked writers to compose a short story about the rise of the living dead. It didn't have to be funny but I like to include black humour in whatever I write. As it is a lighthearted charity, i also included a few references to my favourite band. I apologise in advance to my fellow fans!

Zombie Aid received over a thousand submissions before, suddenly, disappearing.

In it's absence I felt that it would be good to put in on my myspace site for some people to read.

I'm not a professional writer, and will have taken some liberties with grammar. I still need to get my head around tenses.

The story is graphic in nature, so those easily offended please hit the back button.

all the best!


Authors Note:

There is no pub called The Bell in the Sea, in or around Aylesbury. Whilst there are plenty of pubs with the name The Bell, I have found no evidence of a pub called The Bell in the Sea. The characters contained in the story are not based on anybody living, deceased or undead. Any similarities to the living or the dead are completely coincidental.


August 2005

No-one would have believed in the early part of the twenty-first century that the dead would walk the Earth, but they did.

It was a beautiful clear day, not a cloud in the sky, when I first heard of the outbreak. This was how the 24hr news channel described it, like it was a virus. I had been sitting in The Bell in the Sea, a homely 16th century British country pub, glad that the summer break for teachers had begun. The Bell was the best waterhole for miles. It was a large pub, with the two traditional bars; public and lounge, that consisted of brass rails and plush vinyl, leather look, seating. The walls were decorated with sea memorabilia, including a very old Map of the World, framed and showcased on the largest wall space. The building was set on a slight hillside, with large car parking facilities, front and back. A perimeter of high bushes gave it a slightly dark look, but the pub itself was welcoming. The sign was set from the top, arched roof, and swung in the wind with a slow grinding sound. The sign depicted a bell from Dunwich, a town said to have mostly covered by the sea. It is said that you can hear church bells ringing under the sea in the submerged part of Dunwich. I didnt pay attention to supernatural tales, but I could see the appeal.

I was enjoying a traditional pint of ale, a pint of Youngs Best. Id been waiting for a call from my friend, Mike, but he appeared to be incommunicado. All I had been getting that morning was an engaged signal. I wondered what on earth he had been doing. He wasnt normally this difficult to get hold of. It never occurred to me that he might have been in trouble.

Leaning on the dark brown oak bar, I had been mulling over the lunchtime menu in a haze of indecision caused by tiredness and the buzz of my first drink. The specials were artistically scrawled on a blackboard with a liquid chalk pen a generous list of alternatives to the main menu, including Gazpacho, cold soup. Id never had it. I thought of trying it, but I was really contemplating the game pie, as it was always very good - out of this world, in fact. It was a decision that soon became unnecessary to ponder on. One viewing of the news and I soon lost my appetite.

The news reports were surreal and I felt as if I was watching the television, which hung on the wall, from a hospital bedconfused and delirious. I had sat with my jaw hanging, as if dead myself, staring at the incredulous scenes of carnage. Seemingly, from a distance, ordinary men and women stumbled towards their victims, taking chunks out of them with their teeth. The worst aspects of the filmed footage were pixelated for the squeamish, as if the moral standards brigade would complain in the hundreds. It was, yet another This horror was happening outside and inside our homes, so it was necessary to shock, to make people realise the extent of the threat. Children's mums and dads could, at this moment be preparing to chow down on their little ones. It was a sickening thought. When Mum's coming toward you with her arms out, its difficult to kill her with the nearest kitchen implement. Strangely, a rogue thought entered my mind - what would happen to the remaining people in the Big Brother house? Presumably, the producers would let them out. God, what would it be like to die in the Big Brother house? It was goodbye to all that. I found myself grinning. There was no real humour in it, but I caught a black look from Ron, waiting at the bar. I was amused at Ron's calm ordering of a drink, like the world wasnt ending. But, then, what else was there left for us to do, but to get drunk? example of Political Correctness versus common sense.

I stared down at the circular pools of liquid left by pints of beer; a collection of which reminded me of the Olympics logo. What was happening to the world? I caught sight of Jennifer, sitting in the lounge bar, staring at a vodka and coke. The ice cracked in the glass as if a portent of the future. I'd had my eye on her for sometime. She was a pretty, slim blonde. Like many women in their twenties she was slim but curvy. Her hair hung, lustrously, over her shoulders and she always looked after herself, as if she'd stepped out of a magazine photo shoot to have a quiet drink. Her eyes were a pale blue that reminded me of clear Mediterranean waters. I imagined what it would be like to kiss her full, red lips, and lose myself in those eyes. She might've have been an incubus sent to torture me and take my mind off my work. I should cover my eyes when she's near, or turn away and just not look at her.

I'd never been able to start a conversation with Jennifer. I tried, feebly, once, but my voice cracked. My throat had been too dry; ok, it was nerves mainly. By the time I gathered the courage to go over and, assertively, talk to her, she'd gone. I'd be punching above my weight, anyway, I had thought. Why she always drank alone, I hadnt found out, but she was dressed in a little black dress that always made a certain part of my body twitch when I saw her in it. Her perfume radiated out, intoxicating me in her pheromones. Even the sight of her couldn't take away the morbid fascination I had with the news.

Watching that hideous footage, sitting under the seventeenth century beams of the pub didn't seem right to me, because everything around me had still seemed the same. Old Bert had been sitting in the corner, his tongue wrestling with something stuck in his teeth. Marjorie had been perched on a stool at the bar, already half cut. Her mascara looked as if it had been on all night, not flattering her age of fifty-five years. Jennifer, the complete opposite, immaculately made up, without looking like a tart. Gerry, the big, bald landlord (we called him The Big Wedge) had been pulling a pint of Best, stopping midway to listen to a posh, glamorous brunette in her early thirties describe people eating each other. Somehow, she still retained that trained, almost emotionless composure so many news presenters maintained unlike local news presenters.

Even so, as time went on more and more of the reporters on location looked highly perturbed at having to report that the recently deceased had come back to life and were, not only feeding on the living, but spreading the condition to their victims.

No one knew the exact cause of the reanimation. Pundits on the news channel put forward all sorts of reasons from al-Qaeda terrorist cells, to experiments in anti-aging creams, and even mad cow disease leading to cannibalism. Many viewers had text in their views, borne from watching Hollywood movies. Subsequently, probes from outer space and voodoo had been ruled out by scientists. The only similarity was that destroying the brain put them out of action.

I witnessed, what looked like, the grisly end of a cameraman. A living dead boy, that moved quicker than the other dead things, shot towards the lens, attacking the cameramans neck. The screen went lopsided, a squirt of bright blood and then blackness, with the hiss of empty static. The attractive brunette apologised for the interruption to the report and carried on giving us stats about the phenomenon. Then, I did laugh. A big throaty, nervous chuckle issued from my mouth. I just couldn't help it! No one could say anything; shock had cast a spell of silence throughout the pub. Old Bert got up and left. The rest of us looked at each other. Silently, we were wondering what each of us should do. I glanced at the term papers I had been preparing to mark, thinking that there probably wouldnt be much point in doing them now. The world was at some kind of end, for the human race. Id seen the movies. At least these buggers didnt seem to be able to run; apart from the kiddies. I hoped I never came across my class. Theyd make short work of me. A revenge for some of the essays I had set them, maybe.

The local newspaper that lay open in front of me, at page 19, suddenly made more sense; a short article, lacking in detail about riots in country towns. It had begun much earlier than I had thought. We';d ignored the warnings. Maybe it had been mad cows disease after all. No, I corrected myself. That would be silly. Articles like the headline about Youth binge drinkers in Aylesbury seemed so pointless now; Market Square Asbos indeed!

The Bell in the Sea was located just outside Aylesbury, in a small village. It had been untouched by the blight, so far. London, on the other hand, had been decimated. The once hard-partying city boys shuffled around looking for fresh victims, blood splashing the ornate architecture of a dying city. Police drafted in to protect the public against bombers, were now being attacked by the public, the dead public! Londoners fought back, as they always did, with a spirit unmatched. It would not be enough this time. Terrorism may not have been successful in breaking the spirit, but this threat was a different matter. I was supposed to be going to Chelsea next Monday; I wouldn't be now.

I suddenly felt the need to visit the Gents. It was clean facility with a marble effect toilet, with an ornate mirror; a mirror that showed me my current haunted face. I was six foot, with a mop of untidy brown hair. Kids often had a laugh at my expense about my large roman nose, but I didn't mind. I wouldnt have been in the teaching profession if I couldn't put up with childrens taunts.

I stood splashing into the urinal, hoping no splash-back hit my trousers. A couple of notices were on the wall, fixed by blu-tack. Some local band was playing at the civic centre. They were, once, very famous. What happened? Time, and the lack of a corporate money making machine behind them, maybe. Still, they seemed to be doing all right with the loyal fanbase behind them.

Walking back into the public bar, I said, I see you've not given up promoting that band you like Gerry. Didnt they have a hit with Ka...?

Shut it! Gerry interrupted, feigning anger at my little joke. I often wound him up over his favourite band's previous success.


I was going to leave the pub and go about my business; that was, until the crowd formed at the front of the place. At first, it looked like any crowd of elderly visitors having stopped for lunch. Upon closer inspection I noticed a number of horrifying irregularities. As the shuffling figures came into full view of The Bells windows, I could see the amount of blood covering their clothes. One elderly lady wearing a floral print dress had a long shard of glass sticking from her face which wavered as she moved. The neck of one man had been broken and his head lolled to one side; his eyes, blank and almost expressionless, but fixated on us, as if with intent. A trio of women, like witches from Macbeth staggered into view, gaping wounds dripping with black blood. A very old looking dead man walked, with his arms hanging listless by his sides, his eyes glassy and milky. When some of the dead saw us watching, long stringy drool issued from their gaping, moaning, mouths.

"Most likely a coach accident" Gerry had said, stating the obvious. I mumbled an agreement. I hated that blind curve a mile down the road. My fingers nervously twitched the curtain closed a little more, as if worried the corpses would see me. They sensed us. They wanted our warm flesh. They may not have even known why, just a primordial reflex to eat and kill what used to be them.

The coach driver, dressed in a dark green pullover, slick with dark red marks, had been hit in the face with the steering wheel; a large gouge was prominently displayed enlarging his mouth, making him look freakish. Another man had been partially set on fire. His face looked tarred by the heat; one single eye was on display among the charred flesh smoke still whisped from the wounded part of his body. A younger woman, possibly in her forties, dragged one twisted leg behind her; I noticed a white feather sticking out from a wound on her face, incongruously.

I took a room for the night. I didnt fancy driving back home, not with what was outside. Earlier, I could have out run the bunch of living dead geriatrics, but theyd now been joined by more visitors. A couple in their twenties wandered into the pub grounds. Both were partially dressed. When they were joined by three men tripping along the path with their trousers open, I guessed they had been dogging in an off road lay-by; a strange sexual practice that had proven fatal. All had massive bites on their bodies. The womans breasts had been chewed off, along with most of her right side. As she got closer I saw an uncoiled intestine dragging along beside her. The man with her had a large portion of his left shoulder missing, the bones showing from a mangled mess of bloodied muscle tissue. Finger nail marks streaked his greying face.

At first, the creatures blundered about the three cars parked on the driveway, bashing into them as they clumsily made their way to the pub. Then, Bert arrived, for the second time that day. Except that this wasnt the Bert we knew. He'd been attacked and left in quite a mess. Most of his face was missing; one eye partially eaten, the other hung by a thread. Fingers from his left hand had been chewed away, leaving it claw-like.

The dead Bert came towards the pub entrance. I checked with Gerry that the door had been locked shut. It had. Sickeningly loud thuds warned of Berts intention to grab a lunchtime snack. We were definitely not on the list of specials. A low breathy moan issued from what left of Berts mouth, like a permanent death-rattle. Like a call for help, the actions drew the attention of the old age pensioners and the others. There was food in this pub and they all wanted to partake of the lunchtime buffet; all you can eat at no charge.

This was the last straw for Marjorie, who started to lose it, screaming at the top of her lungs like a switch had been pressed. She got up and ran for the back door. She threw the back door open and raced outside for her car. Gerry and I shouted for her to get back into the pub. She never replied. We locked the door behind her in a hurry. There were only a few of the things in the back, but shed have to get around to the front. It was a futile, fatal mission. We walked back to the front windows. They were quite high up and we had to clamber on to the plush seating to get a view. I felt soft hands placed on my shoulders and I caught a whiff of Jennifers perfume.

"We've got to help her" she breathed into my ear, causing a stirring in a totally inappropriate place.

"We, we cant" I stuttered. Slightly shocked by the events, I continued to stare at the gravel car park with the few cars that were left.


We'd managed to stay quiet, so as not to attract the dead. Soon, there were more thuds coming from the pubs double doors. Marjorie was wandering around the slow, shuffling things. She was terrified, but her confidence was returning. She was too confident. As she zigzagged around the living dead, through the gravel car park, one of the doggers caught her. The female managed to whip her good left arm around, at surprising speed and pull Marjorie toward her, giving her horrific sight of the dead womans face. It looked like a jigsaw puzzle that had lost a third of its pieces. The dead woman's chest wounds pressed against the living woman with a squelch. Her teeth were bared like a dogs and bit into Marjorie's neck, pulling at the flesh. Sinews stretched and snapped from her neck, blood from an artery pumped out and washed the partially naked corpse. The dead partner stumbled across, also grabbing at Marjorie; pulling her arm out of the socket, and then chewing the flabby flesh hanging from it. The female creature tore at Marjorie's clothing, plunging her hand under her ribcage, pulling at the flesh there scooping out the innards. As if making up for its own unravelled intestines, the female thing let Marjorie's guts slap the gravel; her dying body hit the ground, whilst another zombie closed in. An old dead man put its claw like fingers into Marjorie's neck and pulled. The remaining, undamaged neck sinews stretched until her dead head came off very little blood came from the wound after the rush of arterial spray. Another couple of elderly day-trippers converged on the still warm corpse tearing at kidneys and other offal. One old man attempted to bite into the corpse, but he had no teeth. Eventually, it managed to suck up some offal, partially placating its hunger. Lunch had definitely been served. To think, not long before I had been contemplating the Game pie. Suddenly, I felt I could become a vegetarian.

Although we watched in horror, I was transfixed. Jennifer had her arms around me, crying into my shoulder. Gerry was swearing quite loudly, cursing the ghouls parentage among other things. The sight of a dead person making a meal out of a severed hand wasnt pleasant. I had enough of the spectacle and slid back into the chair, head in hands. Jennifer joined me, and held me, softly weeping. Normally, I would have felt blessed by attention from this remarkably good looking woman. At that point all I could think about was the images I had just witnessed, flashing across my mind's eye on a loop. My head pounded with the stress.

My mobile was still acting up. I put it down to the emergency services, which were being given control of every network. This is the twenty-first century, I had thought, was there no contingency for this kind of thing; apparently not

More living dead had arrived to join the garden party. These were in worse condition than the others. They looked as if they had come from the ground. Three figures slowly wandered into the car park, their feet hardly moving the gravel as they shuffled. Earth covered their bodies, moist and dark. Decay had set in over time and their features were unrecognisable, the bone of the skulls visible. Tiny grey worms wriggled in the eye sockets, with maggots squirming in old wounds on the bodies. I wondered if these corpses had been subject to indecent burials nearby in the woods.

Ron decided that this was a good time to cut and run. With a shout of "I'll get help! They're feeding; they'll be too busy to get me!" he ran out of the pub, using the back door. He hadn't learnt from Marjorie's horrible death.

It was a big mistake. A group of dead rushed at him, pulling him to the ground, ripping and tearing in frenzy. Mercifully, we couldnt see what they were doing. There were too many of them. Once they'd finished, individual dead folk wandered off with various prizes; arms, legs. Some dragged Ron's insides around the car park, drizzling blood over the decorative plant pot bordering the site. Some of the fresher ghouls sat chewing off the man's bones. I was reminded of a ghoulish fried chicken fast food place. It looks like chicken, it tastes like chicken, let's just call it chicken.

I liked this particular pub because of its history. It was still an old country pub, and hadn't lost its identity by becoming a fun pub, like so many do in this age. It was out of the way, and often had a lock in. Ironically, we were well and truly locked in. More and more of the living dead had congregated outside; word had got around that there was food and it was holed up in the pub. We didn't care; we had beer and plenty of food in the freezer. There was only myself, Gerry and Jennifer stuck in there anyway, with Gerry's wife Lucy upstairs. We hadn't seen her for a while. Gerry had told us that she'd been unwell. We assumed that the authorities would get a grip on the problem and sort it out; after all, they were only walking corpses. The military would be able to stop the already walking dead, and measures could be put in place to stop anymore from walking about. Coldly, I remembered that many police officers from other area, like Aylesbury, had been sent to London to bolster the defence against terrorism. I shivered thinking about it.

"I should check on Lucy" Jennifer muttered, trying to get a grip on herself. She was understandably terrified. I wasn't far short of the same feelings.

"I'll come with you" I replied, putting my arm around her, comforted by our newfound closeness. I thought that we might come out of this mess able to start a proper relationship.

"There's no need. She's all right, just a fever" Gerry stated, nervously rubbing his hands together.

She's had that fever for a day now he said, listlessly.

Well check on her, make sure shes comfortable. We dont know how long it'll be before the authorities take control and we can safely get Lucy some anti-biotics. I replied, giving Gerry's shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

Carefully, we climbed the stairs, slightly warped with age. The corridor was dark and had a slight damp smell at least thats what I thought it was. The carpet was a plush, expensive kind, deep pile that appeared to have absorbed the stench of age. The bedroom door was shut. Jennifer and I exchanged glances and I carefully opened the door, which complained as if it was in a horror movie. The stench of decay hit us straightaway and before I could register what was happening, a very dead Lucy had taken a chunk out of Jennifers shoulder. Blood shot up into my eyes. I was blinded.


I awoke with a start! Tears were in my eyes blurring my vision. I thought it was the blood, but that had been a dream; a stupid dream. Thatd teach me to stay up late and watch The Horror Channel. The bedclothes were piled up at the end of the bed, as if I had been battling the undead during the night. I got up, stretching, happier that I was awake in a fairly normal world. I wouldn't complain about teaching a bunch of unruly kids that day. Except that something didn't feel right. I couldn't put my finger on it, immediately. It was something in the air, an instinct. I put it down to the dream I had just experienced; a horrible and vivid dream.

The weather looked lovely out, not a cloud in the sky. No one can spoil this day, I thought, not even my nightmares. Just for the record, the day was mapped out for me: Go to the school, pick up some term papers and mark them in my favourite pub, the pub Id dreamt about. There, I would meet my friend Mike.

The school was deserted when I got there, so I was able to go to the staff room and retrieve the papers. The messy room still smelled of stale tobacco, a throw back to the days when smoking was allowed in public buildings.

I sped off in my Mondeo toward The Bell in the Sea, hoping Jennifer would be there. Maybe this time, I'd have more of a conversation with her, learn a little about her. Finally, I felt the personal strength I needed to strike up a conversation with her. It gave me an extra spring in my step.

As I turned into the pubs gravel driveway, I noticed only a few cars. As it was eleven-thirty, I wasnt surprised.

I sat nursing a fine pint of ale, as the landlord, Gerry, switched on the television.

I heard the news report and it made my blood clot in my veins.

I repeat. The bodies of the dead are returning to life and attacking people. We have been told they are eating the bodies of their victims

I felt my gorge rise and a taste of the breakfast I'd had earlier came to my mouth. I flipped the lid of my clamshell mobile and hit speed dial number 5; Mikes number. It was engaged.

I wondered where Gerrys wife Lucy was. I looked over, at the other customers in the pub; there was Old Bert, Marjorie andJennifer.

At least there was a possibility of being with her, briefly, before the end. I'd rather get a taste of love before my death, like the smell of a radiant flower before the autumn takes it away...

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Movie Review: Star Trek

Movie of the year? Well, it's a strong contender, but as only 5 months have past, who knows? See what I thought at Flash-Bang

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Indepth Review

With a blog title of Tales From the Weapon X Lab, it's a certainty that I'm a Wolverine fan, from the comic books to the movies, so...

The character of Wolverine/Logan/Patch/James Howlett whatever he’s called this week, is one closest to my heart as I think of it as a definitive modern take on mythological heroes of old. Instead of having the world on his shoulders or a woman divesting him of his powers through the cutting of his hair, he finds a constant battle between his nature and that which he aspires to. It’s a struggle that many of us come up against at some point, in some way. This article is not meant as an attack on the film because it changed elements from the comic books. That would be ignorant and stupid. What works on the page does not necessarily translate to the screen unless you're adapting Sin City , of course.

When X-men came out, it wasn’t perfect but Hugh Jackman made a superb effort at bringing the character to the screen. The first time he popped those adamantium claws was a cool moment despite the dodgy effect. He nailed the character's attitude in that bar .So, from then on, I was waiting, hoping for a Wolverine solo film. Now, we have one, but what a mess it is.

No-one seems to have learnt anything from recent events. The Dark Knight and what made that an award winning blockbuster seems to have escaped the makers of (the mouthful); X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s not quite Batman and Robin bad but it’s not far off. Think Elektra and you’ve got a closer reference. Decades of Wolverine based stories appears to have also bypassed the Wolverine scribes, too. I mean the stories are already written, it’s not as if anyone had to go far to look for a compelling story to adapt.

Hugh Jackman was a “producer” on this effort, too, so sadly gets the mud thrown his direction too. He’s a nice guy but doesn’t seem to understand the character as much as he thinks he does. Don’t get me wrong, though, I think he’s good in the role, he just needed a better screenplay, then i think he would have been great in the role. One thing he has embarrassed himself over is this insistence on saying that Wolverine will flow into X-men number one. Yeah, that’d be great if they’d kept the same bike jacket that Logan ’s wearing and Canadian tags. Yes, they’ve changed the Canadian tags to US tags. This is just one sloppy reference gone wrong in a movie where no-one seems to know one bit of the story from another – a pot pourri of discarded elements from other X-films. It’s as if the film was written by a Committee instead of a couple of people. Neither David Denioff or Skipp Woods have illustrious careers so far; Denioff with Troy (a vapid but entertaining movie) and Skipp with Hitman and Swordfish. Swordfish was a good thriller enhanced by the stars and some cool explosions, Hitman another movie wide of its mark. What makes Wolverine one of the most loved comic book characters totally escapes the screenwriters. Hugh Jackman, in interview, states that characters have to have conflict. But, totally misses the point in this film. What makes Wolverine such a popular character is the conflict within himself. Kayla says at one point "You're not an animal Logan ". That's about the only reference to this conflict. That said, I went to see the movie with someone who felt that a lot of what I complained about is in fact addressed.

The movie begins with a short, well adapted version of the story "Origin" in which we see the sickly James Howlett discover his mutation. I had no problem with the writers making Victor Creed, Logan 's half-brother as there are plenty of hints to suggest it in the comics. (although I suspect that "Dog" is in fact Romulus in the current Wolverine Origins comic book).

We then get a montage of the brothers fighting through various wars. The reason is never explained. The "clawless" action, presumably to get the PG-13 rating, has the brothers killing a superior without the audience being properly aware until they're put under a firing squad. Just before this, Logan's baring his claws. Strange, i can't see your average G.I. think this was ok.

Stryker offers them a chance to be on a "special team". This team - Team X - consists of Wade Wilson, Fred Dukes, David North, Chris Bradley and John Wraith. All play their roles with conviction. Ryan Reynolds, (like Hugh Jackman for Wolverine) seems born to play Wilson and adds a little comic relief to the proceedings. But as is typical with this screenplay, the humour is half-cocked and cheesy. We get to meet Team X in a Predator or Aliens inspired scene on a transport plane. Ryan Reynolds gets to deliver a couple of mildly funny lines and establish Logan 's hate of flying. This is kind of hinted at in X-Men 1, where Logan looks uncomfortable at the X-Jet landing.

A fairly pointless action scene, involving some seriously obvious wire work (as much as the effect on Storm's lightning attack on Sabretooth in X-Men), is set up just to take a ball of raw adamantium from a drug dealer. Wraith could have stolen it and interrogated the dealer in a second. Stryker is collecting mutants - why not telepaths? The information could have been picked out of the dealer's thoughts instead of drawing attention to the exploits of a covert team of mutants; mudane plotting. Although the swords deflecting bullets wasn't bad, just a bit too much "We've seen this before and done better". It's the same with Agent Zero's "Gun-Fu". We've seen this performed far better in Equilibrium and Wanted. It's lazy film making.

The Team go to Africa to find where the adamantium meteor crashed Actions here cause Logan to decide to quit, after Team X "decimate" a village -as in some ADD direction implies that the mutants are killing villagers. It's very unconvincing and makes Logan look like he's having little more than a hissy fit as opposed to having a genuine grievance.

We then find Logan in a cabin, shacked up with a teacher. How did he get there? How did he meet Kayla? Stryker pays a visit, with Agent Zero who asks what the audience might be thinking; "What's Logan doing working as a lumberjack?". For a guy who is supposed to have a berserker rage he does very well settling down and leading a "normal" life.

Dominic Monaghan's character gets taken out by Sabretooth in an example of Team X cleansing. We're asked to believe that he is working at a circus with a lame lightbulb trick that wouldn't be worth it's place in the carnival.

So, we get a couple of lovey scenes that introduce Kayla's mutant power and the idea of the "Wolverine" and Creed gets down to "killing" Kayla. Logan falls for this ploy quite easily as it appears that his amazing senses are on hold whilst Kayla "dies". Either that or the blood that is spilt on her body was withdrawn at some point before and given to Victor in the bag.

The fight in the bar is anotehr good example of a scene that works. Both Jackaman and Schreiber revel in this PG-13 restricted fight that would have been great in an R rated movie. Logan really gets beat up, but it's reduced to a Hanna-Barbera cartoon style fight because there's no indication of real life pain, except for the smashing of his bone claws. Some fanboys moan about the fact that in teh comic book it took Logan's smashed bone claws a long time to grow back. I can understand but not agree with that frustration.

After the vicious attack by Creed, that leaves Logan (lol!) Styker turns up and offers Logan a deal to get revenge on his partner's killer. We cut almost straight away to Logan in the "bathtub" being told that he won't have experienced anything as painful as this. The adamantium gets injected and Logan *gasp* "dies"! I don't know who was concerned at this stage. Logan wakes to hear that he's going to be destroyed and that he's outlived his purpose. With a massive roar, Logan leaps up, presumably kills a couple of guards (the PG-13 rating restrains yet again) and disappears out a back door. His claws cut through a metal door before he escapes, running buck nekkid through a forest.

I have no problem with the decision to write the Hudsons in as an old couple, similar to Ma and Pa Kent from the Richard Donner Superman movie. Clearly, there wouldn't have been time to explore the comic book version of James and Heather Hudson's discovery of Logan . I quite liked the scenes with the Hudsons . Here, there's a little comedy with Logan in the bathroom. Just before the Hudson 's get a few of Agent Zero's bullets, they get to give him a similar looking leather jacket to the one he wears in X1 and X2, and a motorbike. In the first of two explosive hero moments, Stryker orders a helicopter to fly off a couple of missiles at the barn. It explodes in suitably movie style (as if the Hudsons had kept a huge stock of explosive material in every room) whilst Logan bursts out of it riding the motorbike. what follows is an average chase through the woods, with Logan followed by the helo and a couple of jeeps. A cool looking moment is Logan swerving the bike, using his claws as extra brakes, reminding me of a moment in Akira and a panel in the Wolverine comic book. Then follows a Jeep slice and dice before the trailered helicopter moment. This looks a lot better, furious edited into the movie than it did in the trailer. Logan striking the gasoline trail on the ground that leads to the helicopter's remains looks very iconic and displays the larger than life character framed against an explosive backdrop exceptionally well. Kudos to whoever had the idea to put that in the film.

The next scene implies that Logan and John Wraith had a mild friendship during their time in Team X. Logan questions Wraith on Victor Creed's location and the whereabouts of a mysterious " Island " that he'd heard of whilst in the adamantium tank. Wraith doesn't know but thinks that Frank Dukes might. It seems that Dukes has tried to get through the trauma of working in Team X by eating and is now a lot bigger. Here we get the fat suit. Throughout these scenes, we get a glimpse of the previous movie's Logan ; earnest and passionate. He cares that Team X had a hidden agenda that he didn't stick around to see. Jackman implies, with a look, that Logan is guilty that he walked away that perhaps by staying longer he could have subverted this treatment of mutants. It's this kind of quandry that I wanted more of. There just wasn't time for it, it seems.

Another bit of comedy sees Logan go up against "The Blob". Pointlessly, but probably designed to appeal to the kids, Logan is pitted against the bigger Frank Dukes in the ring. After a couple of belts, Logan almost goes beserker and threatens Frank with his claws. Frank knows nothing but knows a man who might know something. Dukes puts Logan and Wraith up against Remy LeBeau (who's known as "Gambit"). Here follows more rubbish plot developments (if you can call them "developments").

When i saw the trailer for Punisher War Zone, I was worried that the film would look like it's taking place in one big set. When Wraith and Logan get to New Orleans , that's what they find; an alleyway that looks suspiciously like a set. Whilst Logan questions Gambit during a card game - "I know what you are, Geeambit" - Wraith fights Creed, predictably, in the alley/set. Gambit sends Logan flying through a wall, and inexplicably gets in the way of a fight between Logan and Creed; a fight where Logan has the upper hand. The reason for this interruption is never adequately explained in my view, other than to save Creed to battle Logan , later.

Scott Summers, soon to become Cyclops is snatched by Sabretooth at school in a scene that feels shoehorned into the movie.

Gambit is convinced into flying Logan to "The island". Once again, Logan 's hatred of flying is highlighted. So, this dubious bit of characterisation can be mentioned...twice, but no-one can remember that Logan had Canadian dog tags. Jeez!

So, we find that Wade Wilson has become Weapon Eleven (XI) to Wolverine's Ten (X). Again, I didn't have a problem with the change in Deadpool's look as I felt this was the beginning of the character's origin, too. It is strange, as a friend pointed out, why Wolverine has to face a similar foe. Whilst Stryker is overlooking the Weapon XI progress, Logan infiltrates the island facility. I use the word "infiltrate" loosely as he appears to just stroll in. In a shocking twist of events, it turns out that Kayla is still alive.(ok, I'm being sarccy). Creed used hydrochlorothiazide to slow her heartbeat to an almost imperceptible level (except in reality it just makes you pee). Surely, Logan would have noticed. Creed then sprayed her with blood. As I said before, presumably Kayla's blood that was withdrawn sometime before. It seems that Kayla is a mutant that can convince people to do her bidding and has a sister that Stryker has captive.

Another PG-13 Creed/Logan fight ensues. It looks good and would have been better without the need to lessen the visual impact.

After seemingly besting Creed in battle (cut short by Kayla reminding Logan that he's "not an animal"), Logan and Kayla free the captive mutants from their cages. This includes Kayla's sister who appears to be Emma Frost from the comic books, in her diamond form. The mutants escape and a familiar face is there to greet them; Professor Xavier. So, Professor X has just been waiting in the wings for someone, like Wolverine to go in and shake things up? He doesn't lift a finger and then allows Logan to wander for 15 years? FFS! Not only crappy writing but the CGI "plastic surgery" on Patrick Stewart is far short of the CGI flashback scenes in X3. Again, why take a step back?

So off the helicopter goes, presumably back to the Xavier estate in Westchester . No anti-aircraft weaponry on this island, thankfully for them. Weapon XI fails in his attempt to rid the world of Weapon X, even with multiple mutant powers. Logan is given a hand by his brother in a scene that I liked; brothers back to back. "Nobody kills you but me" The trouble is, some of the CG work rivalled the Statue of Liberty fight, in X1 for bargain basement CG and that was made in 1999!

Already introduced, Stryker feels it's time for the Adamantium bullet answer. Stryker shoots Logan in the head with adamantium bullets that should erase his memories. This was one of the worst plot contrivances in the movie rivalling the nuked fridge in Indy 4. This was the only time i thought "Should have stuck with the comic book". in the series "Weapon X" a celebrated graphic novel in it's collected form, Barry Windsor Smith recounts the time that Logan spent going through the Weapon X program. What they did to Logan was to wipe his memory through the training process, not shooting him with adamantium bullets. I can't understand the logic behind it. How would it work? Apart from being able to pierce his metal laced skull, I don't see how the impact on his healing factor would have screwed with his memory cells. Stryker tries to finish off a wounded Kayla, but she convinces him to walk "until his feet bleed". This leads to a totally pointless scene during the credits with Stryker being picked up by Military Police for the murder of a General.

Logan has no memory of what has transpired and doesn't recognise either Gambit or Kayla.

Logan is left to walk away and we get a final scene, which I actually liked, of Logan in a Japanese bar explaining that he is drinking "to remember". This, to me was more in keeping with the character. Although I gather that it wasn't very popular compared to the Iron Man "Avengers" clip.

The director, Gavin Hood has a couple of very good, intellectual movies under his belt in Tsotsi and Rendition. His ability to direct action and people isn’t under scrutiny, it’s the writing in my view. Having said that, Hood isn't averse to using some old cliches. he never misses an opportunity to frame Team X in a position ready for the stills camera; Wolverine posing in front of the others.

Apart from the direction and Jackman/Schreiber’s commitment to the movie, everything else just comes across as cheap and lazy. With cheap effects; the helicopter, a frickin fat suit out of Austin Powers and overall some awful CGI that looks like the film was made in the 90s. The laziness comes in with the attention to obvious detail and the, ludicrous by any standards, explanation as to how Logan became a wanderer with little or no memory. Adamantium bullets? Jeez! A recent animated feature - Hulk Vs Wolverine - did a better job of portraying the Weapon X scenes, and with more blood! How difficult was it to go and research exactly what makes Wolverine such a compelling character? Instead we get a clawless 2-dimensional version with no clear motivation apart from his half-brother killing the love of his life. How did he meet her?; What real evidence is there that she was his soul mate or otherwise? Nada.

I'm convinced that this film was made for young boys with Attention Deficit. Nothing is dwelled upon for very long. The myriad of characters get very little screen time to flesh out their characters and make them meaningful. The main casualties of this are Dominic Monaghan and Ryan Reynolds. Monaghan, particularly is hideously underused and whay they would put a counter-intelligence operative in the field of battle is beyond me. he could have done he's stuff in the safety of the transport.

A heartfelt plea to whoever's working on another Wolverine movie; Don't myopically see that the movie has to be set before X-Men. There are plenty of Wolverine solo stories that can be told. in the books, he tended to go off and do his own thing, often to the detriment of the other X-Men. This has already been shown in X1 where he goes off to find the Weapon X facility. There's potential to make a fun, highly dramatic film with a few other mutant characters that haven't been seen before. Drop the amount of characters in future movies. Either make a 4 hour epic taking into account a number of new mutant characters or spend time on a small number of existing characters. I realise Marvel want to sell as many action figures as they can off the back of the film but it shouldn't be the driver in making the movie. If Japan is the next stop, adapt Frank Miller's story of Logan trying to win Mariko Yashida's heart whilst facing her evil father Shingen. If that can't be done, if it can't be at least equalled, don't bother. Leave the franchise alone for Marvel once they regain the rights for the character. Personally, I'd love to see Wolverine in Madripoor; a stand-alone story where he is defending Tyger Tiger as the rival crimelord to a more evil crimelord that deals in slavery, drugs and torture. Give the film a bit of an edge, and push that PG-13 rating as hard as possible. I will be writing an article on my favourite Wolverine stories, soon. Sure, it's been done before. Wizard magazine probably publishes one once a year, but this will be mine, to illustrate how easy it is to adapt a good story for a general audience.

I will be buying this on DVD. I'm dying to hear a commentary track.

If you've read this far, then thanks! i like to think that my views are less a comic "geek" rant than an overview on why I was disappointed by what could have been so much better given a bit more attention and care. I wish Hugh Jackman the best for the future but hope he and his production team look to experts to write a sequel screenplay and not amateurs.

On a final but more positive note, the game is far better than teh film it adapts, and it's rated 18.

Movie Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

A sanitised review of mine is up over at Flash-Bang

I was very disappointed in what should have been, and had the potential to be, a masterclass in super-hero movie making, up there with The Dark Knight. After all, there's tons of solo Wolverine material to draw from.

Anyway, coming soon; my fanboy take on why this movie didn't work for me.