Tag Archives: wolverine

Review – Deadpool (15) [2016]

Deadpool - title banner

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Director:

  • Tim Miller

Cast:

  • Ryan Reynolds – X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Proposal, Buried, Truth In Advertising
  • Karan Soni – Supremacy, Goosebumps, Other Space, Ghostbusters
  • Ed Skrein – The Sweeney, Game of Thrones, The Transporter Refueled, The Model
  • Stefan Kapicic
  • Brianna Hildebrand – Prism, First Girl I Loved
  • Gina Carano – Haywire, Fast & Furious 6, In The Blood, Scorched Earth
  • Morena Baccarin – The OC, Homeland, Gotham, Malevolent

Music Composer:

Ryan Reynolds has wanted to play Deadpool since 2005. In 2009’s (forgettable) X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he got his wish; although, it was an insignificant role and did such an injustice to the foul-mouthed, raunchy character that has lit up Marvel comics since 1991. Well, now, Reynolds has finally got his wish and has made a Deadpool standalone film. But is the movie any good? Does the movie do justice to the character?

Wade (Ryan Reynolds) with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). The two of them hit it off quickly.

Wade (Ryan Reynolds) with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). The two of them hit it off quickly.

Deadpool centres round Wade Wilson (Reynolds). Wade is a former US special forces operative who works as a mercenary in New York City. One day, he finds out that he has multiple and terminal cancer(s). Not wanting to die, Wade goes to a special, underground clinic that claims to be trying a new cure for cancer, which could potentially save him.

However, when Wade arrives at the dodgy clinic, he learns that Ajax (Ed Skrein), the one performing the experimental cure on him, is not trying to cure him at all. Rather, Ajax is attempting to create a mutant, super-slave and disfigures Wade. Wade escapes, but does not manage to kill Ajax before the latter gets away. Wade is out for revenge and puts on the red spandex for good measure.

Deadpool is an entertaining film. It is action-packed, rude and raunchy. Wade/Deadpool is also the antithesis of what a superhero should be. Spiderman, the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Captain America are modest, selfless and caring individuals, while Iron Man and Thor are egotistical maniacs yet altruistic characters at heart. Deadpool, on the other hand, is irredeemably arrogant and selfish, and Reynolds looks like he is revelling in it all. (And fair play to him too. If one generally waits a decade to play a role, one should enjoy every moment of it when it finally comes around.)

Wade about to undergo an experimental procedure, with Ajax (Ed Skrein) looking over him and telling him so much that he would not want to hear.

Wade about to undergo an experimental procedure, with Ajax (Ed Skrein) looking over him and telling him so much that he would not want to hear.

The film’s filthy dialogue reflects the character. Possibly the best element of the movie is the numerous, inappropriate jokes. Not only are they genuinely funny, they keep audiences entertained when the action is not taking place. Nevertheless, due to the way Tim Miller has put the film together, one is never more than ten minutes away from a shoot-out or an explosion. The movie starts on an over-the-top chase scene. It keeps cutting out/back in time during this chase scene to explain the background, with the (unneeded) aid of a voiceover from Wade, until the movie catches up with the chase scene. Then, the film continues with the action.

As one can imagine, this style of directing can become grating after a while; particularly as Wade/Deadpool is so unapologetically full of himself. Equally grating are the constant (and unsubtle) references to other comic-book films, such as The Wolverine and the X-Men franchise. (We get it, Deadpool, you were in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the studio did not want to pay for the entire X-Men cast. You don’t need to ram it down our throats every fifteen minutes.)

Furthermore, the plot is silly and the villain is clichéd. Indeed, the silliness of the plot and the clichéd nature of the stereotypical British villain (played with unrepentant glee by Ed Skrein) should have fans wondering if the creators of Deadpool could have been any lazier in their planning.

Wade in his Deadpool spandex, taking out those who are either after him or who disfigured him.

Wade in his Deadpool spandex, taking out those who are either after him or who disfigured him.

The women add nothing to the film too. They are either there to be the (hackneyed) damsel-in-distress or to kick some arse. These are comic-book tropes that have been done repeatedly since Sam Raimi’s Spiderman came out in 2002. All the same, if done well they make for entertaining viewing. And Deadpool is undoubtedly entertaining viewing.

Over-all, Deadpool is a fun film. It has action aplenty and enough genuinely funny jokes to render it better than most comedies. Of course the movie is silly, referential to other comic-book movies, filled with tropes from the genre, and annoying. Yet, that is all pars for the course with the character and the movie certainly does our rude, crude and foul-mouthed super anti-hero justice. Thus, Deadpool has exorcised the pale imitation that appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and is the film that Ryan Reynolds and fans of the comics have been waiting for.

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Review – The Wolverine (12a) [2013]

The Wolverine - title banner

Star Rating: 2/5

Director:

  • James Mangold – Girl, Interrupted, 3:10 To Yuma, Knight & Day, Three Little Words

Cast:

  • Hugh Jackman – X-Men I-III, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Les Misérables, X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Famke Janssen – Goldeneye, X-Men I-III, Taken I-II, In The Woods
  • Rilo Fukushima
  • Tao Okamoto
  • Hiroyuki Sanada – The Last Samurai, Rush Hour III, The Railway Man
  • Svetlana Khodchenkova – No Love In The City, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Royal Killer

Music Composer:

Troubled productions can take on many forms. The Wolfman needed to reshoot scenes after completing filming; Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen did not have script three weeks before filming; and Margaret had numerous post-production problems that led to the movie coming out six years after it was shot. Suffice to say, all of these movies were a mess when they arrived at cinemas. The same is true for The Wolverine, which had a change of director and several delays at pre-production stages.

Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) running with Mariko (Tao Okamoto), trying to protect her from assassins working for... well that's anyone's guess.

Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) running with Mariko (Tao Okamoto), trying to protect her from assassins working for… well that’s anyone’s guess.

The Wolverine follows on from events in X3: The Last Stand. Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is traumatised from having killed his lover, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), and he spends his time nomadically walking around.

One night, he stumbles into a bar and meets Yukio (Rilo Fukushima), a random Japanese girl who has been trying to find him for a year. Yukio tells Logan that Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), someone Logan apparently saved at Nagasaki as the nuclear bomb went off in August 1945, is dying and wishes to see him one more time before he dies. Reluctantly, Logan agrees to go to Japan for a day to grant Shingen his wish.

But upon arrival, the paralysed Shingen informs Logan that he can end his immortality and pain. Logan declines. Shingen then begs Logan to protect his granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), the heir to his company and fortune, from others wishing to kill her to seize everything for themselves, to which again Logan reluctantly agrees.

As is often the case with films with major production problems, The Wolverine’s dialogue is senseless and the plot is all over the place. A flashing red light should immediately go off in one’s mind upon realising that the film takes place after events in 2006’s panned X3, warning viewers of the train-wreck ahead. And also, when has it ever been mentioned in any of the other X-Men films that Logan spent time in Japan during World War II and survived a nuclear bomb? These oh so small details are merely the starting point for the film’s problems. That the film does not even bother to explain why Logan was in Japan/Nagasaki in 1945 or what his relationship with Shingen was in the first place merely adds to the sense that the movie lost its way long before filming started.

Logan with his claws out ready to fight a nameless, Japanese sword-wielding baddie.

Logan with his claws out ready to fight a nameless, Japanese sword-wielding baddie.

Yet, what is probably most disappointing about The Wolverine is that it feels like an irrelevant sideshow throughout its 126 minutes of running time and adds nothing to Logan’s personal story. 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine might have been (rightly) ridiculed by fans and critics alike, but at least it showed audiences (albeit badly) how Logan acquired metal claws and why he has blanks in his memory.

The only positive aspect of The Wolverine’s storyline is Logan’s trauma. One must praise James Mangold for making Logan keep his psychological problem. But a trauma is a little bit more than half a dozen flashbacks to a deceased loved one. That the film doesn’t explore other angles of Logan’s psychological issues hints that the trauma was the idea of Darren Aranofsky, a specialist in films focussing on psychological problems and the initial director of The Wolverine, and that James Mangold carried on with the idea without having any real clue as to how to develop it.

Contending with this mess of a movie, Hugh Jackman does not do a bad job as the eponymous character. Whilst his performance is nothing special, Jackman at least makes us believe that the invincible Logan is suffering internally. Undoubtedly, Jackman is the film’s saving grace. The leading Japanese male actors do little more than shoot and swing swords (because that’s all Japanese men can do apparently), and the leading female actresses Rilo Fukushima and Tao Okamoto have no chemistry on set with Jackman/Logan and barely have an expression between them. Perhaps this is because Fukushima and Okamoto aren’t even actresses! They’re models (reminding us all of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s dreadful performance in Transformers III). Why couldn’t James Mangold find some qualified Japanese or Japanese-American actresses to do the jobs? What possible excuse is there for this?

Logan attempting to fend off the allure/threat of the sexy Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), one of several ambiguously-motivated, peripheral villains in the film.

Logan attempting to fend off the allure/threat of the sexy Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), one of several ambiguously-motivated, peripheral villains in the film.

One may argue that viewers do not go to see films like The Wolverine (or Transformers II) for the acting, but rather for the action and the special effects. If that is the case, The Wolverine won’t frustrate such people since there is a plethora of decent-looking (if inconsequential) fight scenes that fill the time. But it has all been seen and done before in the previous X-Men movies, making the fighting pointless and tedious.

All-in-all, The Wolverine’s troubles behind the scenes are reflected in the film’s end result. The plot goes to nowhere; the script makes no sense; the cast (with the exception of Hugh Jackman) are wooden; and the special effects and action scenes fail to flatter. Thus, but for the fact that the film is about Wolverine, arguably X-Men’s most well-known superhero, The Wolverine might as well as have been thrown in the bin.

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Review – X-Men: First Class (12a) [2011]

Star Rating: 4/5

There is a theme currently in Hollywood not only to remake films, but also to make prequels of blockbusters, such as Batman and Hannibal. (Although, whether one would call Planet of the Apes a blockbuster is questionable.) X-Men: First Class is part of the wider X-Men Origins series that began with Wolverine two years ago. First Class is not as dark and gothic as Batman Begins; yet, it is an entertaining movie with strong moral messages.

Erik, Sean/Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Charles, Moira, Raven/Mystique and Cyclops’ younger brother, Alex/Havoc (Lucas Till) all making observations during their time in CIA Headquarters.

Set mainly in early-1960s America, the film centres on the mutants Charles Xavier (James McAvoy – Atonement, Wanted, Trance), the future wheelchair-bound Professor X (played by Patrick Stewart in X-Men I, II & III), and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender – 300, Inglorious Basterds, Shame), the future renegade Magneto (played by Ian McKellen in later films).

Whilst the storyline is about how the US and Soviet governments need their respective mutants for espionage and to avoid going to war over Cuba in the run up to the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962), the mutants spend much time discussing how they just want to fit into mainstream society, despite being different: ‘mutant and proud’ they say (sounds similar to ‘gay and proud’ if you ask me). Oh how such slogans must make Lady Gaga happy! Nevertheless, one cannot help but note the political message here in First Class. The movie takes place at the same time as black people in America were starting to demonstrate and riot for equal rights. That mutants would want the same rights is understandable.

Yet, despite the civil rights aspect and the revising of history with a fantastic conspiracy theory about how the Cuban Missile Crisis played itself out, First Class is more about the contrast in mentalities between Charles and Erik: two friends who would become adversaries.

The mutant Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), formerly the Nazi, Mengele-like doctor who experimented on Erik when he was a boy, casually chatting with the beautiful Emma Frost/White Queen.

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender both play well, without being brilliant. As a wise professor with little baggage, McAvoy has the easier of the two roles. Fassbender, without being crude or cliché, illustrates well Erik’s transformation into Magneto. (Arguably, more time could have been given to this, and it could have made for some fascinating psychological viewing. This is just a personal opinion though.) Alas, much of what Erik says is true; yet, undoubtedly, the crucial message of the film – ‘that killing will not bring you peace’ – is put across emphatically by Charles, who fears for his friend. If one thinks about an angry group of hate-filled people against the West in our own age, we might get a true understanding for who that message is really aimed at.

Charles and Erik are not, though, the only mutants seen in First Class. Although many of the bigger names of the later films do not feature, there are still some mutants that audiences may recognise. However, with exception of the beautiful, but insecure Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone, The Beaver, The Hunger Games), none of the lesser characters are given much screen-time. Note though that all the women in the movie are gorgeous and sexy: Dr. Moira MacTaggart (Rose Byrne – 28 Weeks Later, Get Him to the Greek, Bridesmaids), Angel Salvadore (Zoe Kravitz – The Brave One, Californication) and, especially, Emma Frost/The White Queen (January Jones – Mad Men, Unknown, American Pie: The Wedding).

Two good friends happily playing chess. It is here that Charles voices his grave concern to Erik, regarding the latter’s desire for vengeance.

If the women and the differences between Charles and Erik are not enough to keep one entertained, the action scenes and the mutants’ supernatural powers should do the trick. The training sessions, wherein Charles teaches his mutant pupils how to control their abilities, are very funny. The special effects are not bad either. They may not always be great, but they adequately enhance the scenes.

All-in-all, First Class gives the viewers what they would want from this sort of film. It may not be as dark as other prequels; nonetheless, the movie has action, a good-looking cast, and poignant moral messages. Most importantly, the director, Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Stardust, Layer Cake) shows us how Charles and Erik became enemies and sets up the context for X-Men I, even if some of the major characters have yet to join.

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