The Wolverine (2013)


You Have Struggled Long Enough.  I Can End Your Eternity…

The Wolverine (2013)I was very excited to see today’s movie, but I was also a little suspicious.  There is a person at my job who I constantly engage in conversation about comic books movie, and I found myself shocked by the fact that she did not intend to see this movie.  But I also understood her logic.  The previous movie for this character was the ass.  I found it to be one of the most irritating comic book movies in recent history because of how poorly they handled some of my favorite comic book characters.  That being said, my argument for her was that none of these problems tied into today’s movie.  None of the same writers or directors were involved in this movie, so I had no reason to believe they’d make the same shitty choices.  And I never had a problem with the person playing the main character.  He’s played this character in five movies previously, and the greater majority of those movies were good, and he was good in all of them.  So I still had high hopes for The Wolverine, written by Mark Bomback, Scott Frank, and Christopher McQuarrie, directed by James Mangold, and starring Hugh Jackman, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Hiroyuki Sanada, Will Yun Lee, Brian Tee, Famke Janssen, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart.

In 1945, the mutant known as Logan (Hugh Jackman), also known as Wolverine, saves the life of an officer named Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.  Years later, Yashida sends a precognitive mutant named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) to bring Logan to Tokyo to give Yashida the chance to repay his debt to Logan before he dies.  His offer: to negate Logan’s healing abilities so that he can finally live life as a mortal man.  Since that offer is so goddamned stupid, Logan refuses, but Yashida’s nurse, Dr. Green (Svetlana Khodchenkova), introduces something into him that negates his healing anyway.  And then Yashida dies.  Now Logan must try to protect Yashida’s granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), from Yakuza and Ninjas without the use of his healing abilities until she is put in charge of Yashida’s company, as Yashida’s will states.

Sadly, I found myself pretty disappointed with this movie, but it did have its charms that elevated it far above Wolverine’s previous outing.  So it was an improvement and a disappointment simultaneously.  The story of the movie was fine, but I had problems with a lot of the writing.  There were so many occasions where they had the opportunity for a great line, but the one they chose just fell flat.  Like the part where the Yakuza guy tells Wolverine that he never talks.  That’s perfect for a great line!  Instead, Wolverine just stabs him and he talks.  And later when someone says, “Don’t hit my friends.”  That’s such a weak line where such a potentially great one could have been.  Instead it sounds like an elementary school student standing up to a bully.  Later, when someone asks Wolverine what kind of monster he is and he throws back, “The Wolverine,” I know what they were going for.  I assume they wanted me to get all excited because I had seen that on the poster before I came in, but I just wanted more.  They were able to set up fantastic lines, but completely unable to deliver them.  I found it to be quite a bummer.

I guess I was okay with the rest of the story though.  I was worried about the premise of the movie as I knew it going in.  All I really knew was going to happen in this movie was that Wolverine would lose his healing abilities.  That made me nervous that he wouldn’t be able to be as badass as I needed him to be.  It wasn’t as bad as I expected.   He was noticeably diminished, but he maintained a great enough deal of badassitude.  His friend Yukio could’ve been a little more helpful though.  I mean, she was precognitive, but was never really forthright with her information.  She tells Wolverine that she has some important information for her, but is cut off when he says she needs her to drive him somewhere, and then she tells him after they arrive.  You showed us some of that long car ride.  We know you had time to tell him.  That was information he could have needed.  As for more information that someone could have needed: we later find out that the Silver Samurai is made mostly from adamantium.  If only he had known that before he chose his name.  There were also a few things that I need to say, but I need to hide them in a ::SPOILER ALERT::  When Yoshida says that Wolverine should not look so shocked that he was in the Silver Samurai outfit, he was right.  No one should have been shocked by that.  Also, the movie bummed me out by not giving Wolverine his adamantium claws back by the time the movie ended.  The bone claws are lame.  I don’t want him to have to start another movie with those.  Couldn’t they just have decided that Mariko used the company’s obvious knowledge of how to shape adamantium to give them back?  It’s not like they didn’t have some spare adamantium lying around after the Silver/Adamantium Samurai was destroyed.  ::END SPOILER::  I would have to say that I liked the after credit sequence, and that you should make sure you stick around for it.

The cast in the movie was very strong.  Especially Hugh Jackman.  He looked so goddamned strong in this movie.  There was not a vein in his body that was not on display.  At least not north of the belt line.  He was awesome though.  Maybe not the most awesome person though, and I’m basing that mainly on his relationship with Mariko.  I know Wolverine has the tendency to knock the bottom out of some lucky lady, but this girl was already married AND in love with that Japanese Hawkeye guy, and Wolverine still had to get his dick wet.  And right after that came another problem: why does anyone ever sleep next to Wolverine?  He has the terrible habit of stabbing people that sleep next to him.  He stabbed Rogue in the first movie, almost stabbed his girlfriend in Origins, almost stabbed Mariko, dream-stabbed Jean Gray.  Stop sleeping next to him!  If you want the sex; get it and get out!  After him, I didn’t really think that much about anyone else in the cast.  Hiroyuki Sanada was fine.  Tao Okamoto was cute and did well.  Rila Fukushima caused no complaints.  I guess I was never really on board with Svetlana Khodchenkova’s performance.  Just didn’t do it for me.  She was hot though, so she doesn’t really need to act that well.

The Wolverine disappointed me with a decent story riddled with mediocre dialogue that could’ve (and should’ve) been so much more awesome than it was.  But I felt like the action was able to keep a good enough pace even though Wolverine himself was diminished by the story elements for a good part of the movie, and the performances mostly did a great job.  Overall I suppose I’d say that I enjoyed the movie, and certainly a lot more than I liked Wolverine’s previous outing, but I just wanted this movie to be more.  Definitely worth watching, but you can probably wait for a rental.  The Wolverine gets “Is that all the men you brought?” out of “It’s an honor to meet the Wolverine.”

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Total Recall (2012)


Trust Me, Baby, You’re Gonna Wish You Had Three Hands.

Total Recall (2012)Remakes get a really bad rap. But, most of the time, they deserve them. Remakes are usually a sign that Hollywood has run out of ideas and must dig into movies that have already been made instead of supporting a new idea. It typically gets even worse when the movie that’s being remade is a movie that’s generally agreed upon as a movie that does not require a remake. If we already have that movie and it was good, you’re probably not going to add anything to it. All of that lead to me not really having a great desire to watch today’s movie. But when my end of the year review was approaching, my standards lowered and I decided to watch the remake of Total Recall, loosely based on the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, written for the screen by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback, directed by Len Wiseman, and starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho, Ethan Hawke, and Kaitlyn Leeb.

In the near future, war has devastated the Earth … because no movie can let us think that we have anything to look forward to. The world has mostly mellowed out, but a group of resistance fighters still occasionally cause trouble for the Man. A factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) decides to visit a place called Rekall to get some artificial memories implanted to add some excitement to his life, even though his bangin’ hot wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) and straight-jackin’ best friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) warn him against it. The Rekall employee, Bob McClane (John Cho), suggests that Quaid try out their secret agent package, but also warns him that past memory augmentations could create problems. Suddenly, Bob gets agitated by something on the computer and pulls a gun on Quaid, but is killed by a SWAT team that arrive and attempt to arrest Quaid, who proceeds to beat the snot out of all of them with skills he didn’t realize he had. Confused, he goes home to his wife, who perplexes him further by going all Death Dealer and trying to kill him. He eventually gets rescued by Melina (Jessica Biel), who tells Quaid that he is a spy working with the Resistance. Is this all a fake memory?! IS IT?!?!?!? ANSWER ME!!!!!

Some people gave this movie a hard time because they have such fondness for the original that they could not stomach the notion of it being remade. The difference between those people and me is that I have no particular fondness for the original. I saw the movie much later in life than most people did, and found it entertaining enough, but dated and extremely goofy in parts. That didn’t stop me from finding the irony in the fact that the studio behind this movie was called “Original Film” though. I mean, that’s balls! To call yourself “Original Film” and put out a movie that is a remake of a movie that was itself based on a book is pretty amusing to me. But, once I got into the movie, I actually found that I liked it more than I liked the original movie. It wasn’t terribly goofy and the action and visuals had drastically improved from the original. The opening perplexed me a little bit because it pretty much gave away the fact that Quaid worked for the Resistance, and only thinly veiled that by writing it off as a dream sequence, but when I got to thinking about it I realized that they were probably well aware of the fact that the people seeing this movie had probably already seen the other movie and that trying to act like it was a surprise would’ve just been a waste of time. But from that point on I was on board with the story pretty much all the way through. Sure, it wasn’t drastically different from the original movie, but who cares. It was a fun movie. I did get a little perturbed by the scene with Harry, where he’s trying to convince Quaid to shoot Melina because he was trying to convince him that he was trapped in the Rekall machine and couldn’t get out without shooting her. I feel like that moment would’ve been really easy for me. Just shoot the guy! If you kill him, then he was lying and was working for the enemy. If you don’t kill him because he wasn’t real, then he wasn’t real and who gives a shit? And let that be a warning to all of my friends: if you try to convince me I’m in a dream world, my first response will be to try to kill you.

The look of this movie took drastic steps in the right direction. The future world was very well-realized. They didn’t go horribly over the top with the future technology, but they also didn’t just set it in today’s world and say it was the future. I particularly liked the LCD Phone he had in his hand that he could touch to glass to display pictures. Take that, Samsung Galaxy Note 2! Acting all big and bad and shit! (This review is sponsored by the LG Optimus G. “If you want a phone, go with the O.G.”) One of the pieces of technology in this movie was the money they used in the future, the Obamoney. …Cute… The action in the movie was mostly over-the-top, but definitely fun to watch, even though the camera could go a little crazy in some of the scenes. I probably could’ve done without a lot of the music in the movie. I assume what I was hearing a few times in this movie would be considered “dub step,” but I really have no way to be sure. I’ve been graced enough in life to have little to no experience with dub step beyond hearing people make fun of it.

I really didn’t have a lot to say about the performances in this movie. Literally. The only note I took in the performances department was: “Bokeem Woodbine. ‘STRAIGHT JACKIN’!” And even that is just a joke meant strictly to amuse my friend Phil and me. Not that anyone in this movie did a bad job; it’s just that I didn’t have anything to say about any of them. …Any of them save for one. The crowning achievement in this movie was the performance by Kaitlyn Leeb who played the Three-Breasted Woman. YAY! THEY GAVE US THE THREE-BOOBED CHICK! That’s almost entirely all I remember about the original movie!

It’s probably not a popular opinion to admit that I enjoyed this movie more than I enjoyed the original Total Recall. The story was roughly the same but thankfully much less goofy than the original, and the visuals and the action were far better. And the performances included Bokeem Woodbine and a chick with three boobs, so I’m down with them as well. I don’t know if I’d feel the need to buy the movie, but it’s definitely worth checking out as a rental. Total Recall gets “The past is just a mental construct” out of “And by the way, you haven’t even begun to see me try to kill you!”

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