Thursday, August 15, 2013

Re-Introducing Wolverine. Again.

Following the 2009 debacle of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, FOX inches ever-closer to getting it right with The Wolverine.


ARTH VADER (AV): At this point, continuity in all these non-Marvel Studios movies is a joke, Pontificator. Without going down the long, winding (and uninteresting) road of not following the source material, these (mutant) movies can't even follow their own story arc in chronological succession. I can be somewhat forgiving on this topic but it can't be ignored. The last Wolverine movie–that supposedly took place in the 1970's–left Logan without memory and grabbing a brew at bar in Japan (see post-credit cut scene from X-Men Origins: Wolverine). So what happened here Ponty? Did Logan not like his Japanese beer and left to go hang with the X-Men for a while before heading back to hibernate in Alaska? I'm confused...

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): This film takes place after the events in X-Men: Last Stand (instead of X-Men Origins: Wolverine), so the continuity remains intact (if you swallow the red pill), as far as the films are concerned Vader. As far as keeping pace with the comic books, the X-Men films by Fox Studios left continuity behind a long, long time ago... in an alternate universe (my best guess).


AV: Until the day I draw my final breath, Hugh Jackman will evermore be Wolverine to me. There, I said it. Newcomer actress Tao Ocomoto may just yet become my newest movie actress crush. Smart, sophisticated and mysterious, her portrayal of Logan's one true love, Mariko was great. Director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Girl interrupted)'s vision of Wolverine was captivating. While the screenplay certainly had some holes, the casting was spot on in The Wolverine. So much so that any movie goer, fan boy or other, could watch and have a really good time. Your thoughts?

TP: Hugh Jackman is Wolverine... until they find someone better to fit the role. He has branded the character with his own interpretation of Logan, and it has been pretty good. The overall acting the film was alright and I had no real complaints except for Svetlana Khodchenkova... who I found to be unnecessary and a waste of a character. I’ll get more into that later, but the slow pace of the film didn’t do it any favors either. To be a true summer blockbuster, you have to come stronger than this film O’Dark One.


AV: Two parts of the film stand out as ridiculous SFX shots, Ponty. First, the train scene. While this scene may very well eclipse every good moving action sequence in the history of the action movie genre, this train ride seriously goes (ahem) off the rails–at 180 mph. Its a ridiculously fun action sequence that serves no purpose but to deliver gratuitous levels of adrenaline-soaked mayhem. The second is the end sequence featuring the robotic and awkwardly re-imagined Silver Samurai. While the premise of the idea is just downright stupid, it looked phenomenal. Kind of a running theme in this film. 

TP: <Snikt>...we’ve seen it a million times now, the popping of the claws, the healing factor, and so I wondered where could they find an opening to dazzle me with effects? Fortunately the filmmakers have learned all the lessons taught by others in CGI and were able to pull off the Silver Samurai much better than I anticipated. It was menacing and believable... unlike the train fight scene which was not new (see: Skyfall, Spider-man 2 and Mission Impossible) and quite predictable. Aside from the Silver Samurai, there was nothing being offered in this film in the effects department, that hasn’t already been digested before.


AV: It's a tired conversation to state these non Marvel Studios films go off on weird story arcs and unnecessary tangents. These screenplays butcher perfectly legit stories and dumb them down to experiments in absurdity. The Wolverine suffers from a wandering, listless identity crisis... BUT, the first half of this movie is introspective, exceptionally well shot and so rich in character-driven story telling, it may be amongst the best I have seen. The end is unfortunately a mish-mash of bunk that is as hard to swallow as it is to watch. The beginning feels very much like an entirely different movie than the ending. That said, I liked it overall and would encourage others to check it out as well. P-Man? 

TP: I don’t know exactly where they dropped the ball here Vader, but I can think of a few areas that certainly need some attention, starting with the plot. With so much material in comics, for the plot to be so shoddy is inexcusable. Somehow we are supposed to believe that the gratitude of having your life saved culminates in a murder plot for the one that saved it. Umm... lame. In comics the Silver Samurai has innate power, so why not simply keep that instead of making Viper a mutant... which she certainly is not. Such a rich and profound character reduced to a “mutant” cameo... sad. On top of all that, losing the claws was just dumb. All it did was open the door for a future plot device, equally ridiculous. The complete mish-mash of so many comic elements from past Wolverine stories, thrown together with no coherent plot, made this film as dicey as the bloodless ninjas on the business end of the claws.


AV: As of the writing of this post, Hugh Jackman is discussing a four-picture, $100 million deal that would cement him as Wolverine for the foreseeable future. There is no doubt we will see him in future installments. The post-credit sequence is clearly a build-up to X-Men: Days of Future Past, due out next summer (2014) and his one of the most exciting moments in the film. We need more Wolverine and we demand better scripts! Ponty?

TP: Why was I so sure somebody wanted to look back on the Wolverine films and say “trilogy”? Now you say four? I shudder to think where they will go next because they never seem to get there via the familiar roads already paved. Yes, after the credits we get teased by a scene that looks toward the future for the X-Men... but that doesn’t make me any more optimistic about another Wolverine film... never mind another two.


ARTH VADER Rates The Wolverine: Somehow, even after a fifth appearance on screen, the Wolverine is almost but just not quite there. It's fun, he's furry, he's furious and unfortunately the screenplay still plays like a schizophrenic day dream. But that doesn't stop this from being a frenzied, fun-filled fight fest full feral, flash-ripping fun (don't worry true believers, the theatrical release sports a PG-13 rating but the forthcoming director's cut Blue-Ray DVD will show this movies true color: Red!). Though it still struggles to find it's sense of self, The Wolverine is worthy of a healthy eight (8) Adamantium-filled busted blocks. 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates The Wolverine: I really tried to like this film and it helped to have some good scenes and Jackman’s rendition of the character be so endearing, but in the end, much of it was stale. Even though I enjoyed the Silver Samurai (changed as he was), the final battle was somewhat anti-climactic and the waste of Viper and the opportunity for some serious ninja scenes left me feeling heavy... and left this film only able to slice six (6) busted blocks.
The Wolverine: 7/10 Busted Blocks

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