• Tag Archives Zak Penn
  • Canister X Movie Review #99: X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

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    X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
    Written by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn
    Directed by Brett Ratner
    Runtime 104 min.
    3.5 out of 5

    When a cure is developed to rid mutants of their unusual abilities, the mutant community is torn in two, with some more than happy to get rid of what they view as a curse, while others are vehemently against it. Outraged at this development, Magneto makes war on the humans for trying to rid the world of mutantkind and the X-Men stand in the gap to stop him.


    This movie has a lot going on and seems to serve as an ending to the previous two movies, bringing to fruition a major confrontation between the X-Men and the Brotherhood. These two teams, while having skirmished in the other movies, never had an all-out battle and this flick shows that. It also brings to pass a version of the Dark Phoenix storyline with Jean Grey returning from the dead as the Phoenix and working for the bad guys.

    From an action standpoint, this movie has tons of it and it’s really cool. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) kicks butt as usual, while having the Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) running around and smashing into things makes you cheer. Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen) ups the metal-controlling ante in this—I mean, lifting a bridge? Flipping semis? Awesome!—and even having Beast (Kelsey Grammer) beasting it up adds a level of excitement that makes this comic-book-come-to-life a thrill. And when Jean Grey lets loose and destroys her childhood home while a bunch of X-Men and Brotherhood folks are fighting inside it? That was some jaw-dropping stuff!

    From a story standpoint, it kind of falters. In a general sense—the overall story, I mean—it’s fine as is. That is, the “what it’s about.” The delivery, however, seems to suffer from the same thing Spider-Man 3 did: too much going on and not enough time to tell it in. Had this third X-Men movie either been part one of two or even the first in a trilogy where the mutant cure is introduced, a war brews, there’s a big battle, some people die, etc. then that would’ve been fine. But it didn’t happen that way. I don’t know if that’s because of a change in hands of directors or what.

    The other thing that I didn’t like—but could’ve worked had the story justified it/been expanded into another movie or two—was everyone dying. We lost some major people in this movie and for seemingly no good reason. I have no trouble with killing off major characters. It can definitely add to the story . . . when done right. In this flick, there didn’t seem any justification for it.

    What’s amazing is thanks to the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, depending on how that plays out, there’s a chance of undoing some of the stuff that fell short in this outing and bringing back some people from the dead. After all, isn’t that what time travel’s for?

    In the meantime, yeah, if you want a fun superhero movie, I’d still recommend X-Men: The Last Stand.

  • Canister X Movie Review #42: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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    The Incredible Hulk (2008)
    Written by Zak Penn
    Directed by Louis Leterrier
    Runtime 112 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    Dr. Bruce Banner. Scientist. Researcher. Genius.

    Victim of a Gamma Ray experiment gone horribly wrong.

    Dr. Bruce Banner. Hulk.

    And the military knows it. They were there. They saw what he became—a hulking, big green behemoth made of pure muscle, rage and power—and the damage he caused.

    Bruce (Edward Norton) has been on the run from them ever since, keeping a low profile and doing everything within his power to find a cure for the gamma poisoning that created the beast caged inside him. And now he thinks he has one, so he ventures back to the States to meet a scientist codenamed “Mr. Blue” whom he’s been chatting with over a secure Internet line to work up a cure. He also accidentally runs into the love of his life, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), and the two are now on the run from Betty’s hotheaded military father, General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), who wants to turn the Hulk into a weapon.

    They evade him for the most part until General Ross decides to supe-up his special soldier, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), and, once that super soldier proves not enough of a threat to the Hulk, Emil takes it on himself to make himself a greater match and forces Dr. Blue, aka Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), to turn him into something else—an Abomination.

    Now only the Hulk can stop this new mammoth creature and the two wage a crazy, awe-inspiring war through the streets of New York.

    It’s time for Hulk to smash.


    I admit when I first heard about this movie I was leery. It was only five years before that Ang Lee’s Hulk came out and I knew that The Incredible Hulk was meant to be a reboot, so I wasn’t sure what to expect and, really, a reboot after only five years was just plain silly.

    As it turns out, this movie wasn’t a reboot per se, but more of a do-over, in that during the credits it quickly gave the Hulk’s origin story and then got into a story of its own without referring to the Hulk movie of 2003. And to make things even more “separate,” there was that oh-so-cool cameo at the end by you-know-who that cemented this new Hulk movie into the current timeline that Marvel’s got going on in the movies, one that will take us up to The Avengers in 2012.

    What can I say? This movie was way better than Hulk. More action. Cooler story. More realistic. This really was a solid Hulk-smash type of movie that didn’t get bogged down in so much drama like the one in 2003. I loved Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. Not only did he look the part of a scrawny scientist, he also acted like one plus also did a good job conveying the burden he carries and the suffering he has to go through because of what he is (i.e. sometimes living on the street).

    There was a chemistry between him and Liv Tyler, too. The two of them could easily pass as real-life lovers. This kind of realism was crucial in showing the sacrifices Bruce had made in order to protect those he cared about from the Hulk.

    The sheer power shown by the Hulk throughout this movie was just plain awesome. The strength displayed was astounding. The coolest display, in my opinion, was when the helicopter Betty was in caught fire and Hulk clapped his hands together so hard it sent a shockwave/gust of wind through the air to put out the flame.

    I enjoyed Tim Roth as the good-guy-turned-bad. He’s always convincing. And when he became Abomination, the big fight between Abomination and Hulk was terrific: two giant titans going head-to-head, muscle against muscle, power against power. Fantastic.

    The Incredible Hulk was such a great movie and made you look forward to any sequels or cameos the Hulk will have in the future.


  • Canister X Movie Review #29: Elektra (2005)

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    Elektra (2005)
    Written by Zak Penn, Stuart Zicherman and Raven Metzner
    Directed by Rob Bowman
    Runtime 97 min.
    2.5 out of 5

    After coming back from the dead and trained in the deadly art of Kimagure, Elektra Natchios is a killer-for-hire. Upon receiving her new contract, she goes up against a band of ninja assassins known as The Hand, who are also after the same target: a young martial arts prodigy with a potential for greatness. Elektra’s past meets her present as she seeks to protect this young prodigy while also facing demons of her own.


    I was in the minority of people who liked Daredevil, in which Jennifer Garner also played Elektra. When I heard she was getting her own spin-off movie, I was really excited because, while I’m not an expert on the Elektra character, I know enough to know that a film version would be awesome. We didn’t quite get that with this flick, but that’s not to say it was utterly terrible. However, what audiences expected and what they got were different things.

    Let’s see . . . I was happy that Elektra sported her famous red costume in this as opposed to the black one in Daredevil. Though technically totally impractical in real life, having her very-similar-to-comic-book-costume on screen was cool for fanboys and fangirls alike and, no, not for the reason you’d think. Just something about seeing a comic book character “as they are” on screen brings a thrill.

    The fighting sequences were not bad and Hollywood’s version/perception of the martial arts is always interesting as they tend to add all sorts of legend and mystique to them as opposed to their reality.

    They got the gist of the character but didn’t get hardcore into it, and it was clear this was just a way to cash in on the Daredevil movie that came out a couple years before. A solid story of Elektra’s assassin exploits—even if you want her to fight mercenaries with a similar agenda—would’ve been a great help, but this flick seemed more introspective and slower paced versus something that should’ve been geared toward the action-and-suspense genre (i.e. a high profile target, like a president or something, then have that person tie into Elektra’s mythology. Set her on the run while also giving her history and what it’s like to be someone who was supposed to be dead, some in-costume Daredevil universe cameos, and you’d have a solid story). Just ideas.

    In the end, if they ever went back and rebooted the character, I’d definitely check it out as the potential is there, but wasn’t fully exploited with this outing.