The Wolverine (2013) – Movie Review

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In a summer of superhero movies overload, it is a shame that none of them has managed to really cause a dent or become relevant enough to stay in the collective conscience of moviegoers, Iron Man 3 was disappointing.
Man of Steel was all kinds of meh. Add The Wolverine to the growing list.

You might need mutant powers to follow-up with the timeline of all these X-men movies. The Wolverine happens after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. It has very few elements that relate it to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And quite frankly, I just don’t get the infatuation with this X-man, out of them all, to give him movie after movie. Yet again, the only reason The Wolverine was made is apparently to draw in some serious cash. The good thing is that unlike other superhero movies, Wolverine has been played by only one actor – Hugh Jackman – who has gotten his character down to a science.

The script, which I bet was written in less time than it has taken me to write this review, starts with Logan flashing back to surviving the Nagazaki atomic bomb and saving a young Japanese man in the process. Flash forward to present time and Logan is trotting it in some woods, trying to stay away from civilization until he is sought out by a Japanese woman who wants to take him back to the man he saved those many years ago, now the head of Japan’s leading corporation and dying of cancer. That man, Yashida, offers Logan something he had been seeking for a long time: a way to die.

The cast, most of which is Japanese, does a good job. But that’s not saying much because the material they’re given is dismal at best. There are too many villains. None of them is memorable enough. Even the big bad villain reveal, aimed to be shocking, comes off on the cooler side of tepid, predictable, boring, uneventful. None of the characters are engrossing. They are all there to advance a movie that’s seemingly going nowhere interesting.

Despite some strong scenes interspersed here and there, The Wolverine comes off on the weaker side in the X-men series. For a casual viewer, the movie might prove entertaining and different enough (it takes place in Japan, not New York) to watch. But for those who had high hopes that this would be their movie of the summer or at least keep up the momentum that X-Men: Origins started, be ready for one big fest of claws coming out, the big bad guys panicking and you yawning.

2/5

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The Amazing Spider-Man – Review

Forget dreary Tobey Maguire. Forget melodramatic Kirsten Dunst. Forget depressing spidey. The world’s most popular superhero is back.

The Amazing Spider-Man is more or less the same story of the first Spider-Man movie that saw light in 2002. Peter Parker, a 17 year old high school student who lost both of his parents years before, gets bitten by a spider while visiting a high-tech lab and develops spider-related abilities such as cunning senses and extra sticky digits. He is the victim of radical biological experiments involving cross species hybridization, which his father had started before his death. Soon enough, this research takes a bad turn when its power begins to be used for purposes other than the one it was intended for.

Andrew Garfield, at 28, is far more convincing as a teenager than Maguire, who was even younger when he acted in the first Spider-Man movie. You’d think Garfield just had his growth spurt and is still getting accustomed to his new self. He’s extra shy around the girl he likes: Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), he’s awkward and agitated. He’s also great to watch on screen.

Emma Stone is great as well as Spidey’s love interest in this movie. What’s interesting about her character is that it doesn’t melt in the whole love-aspect of things but stands alone as a credible female character that can surprise you, entertain you and stand up for herself when needed.

Garfield and Stone have stunning chemistry together on screen. They work so well together you can’t but wonder at times where this combo had been hiding for years. Of course, they are helped by a terrific supporting cast in the form of Sally Field and Martin Sheen as Peter’s aunt May and uncle Ben, respectively.

Director Mark Webb, yes that is his real name fitting as it is, does a great job in breathing new life into a story we all know and giving it another dimension we hadn’t been exposed to before. His previous work is the very entertaining 500 Days of Summer, an indie comedy. He pulls off the blockbuster aspect of things in a great way and even adds a little touch of the humanitarian aspect present in copious amounts in indie movies to his reboot of Spider-Man.

The story may be familiar. The last Spider-Man movie, horrible as it may have been, was only five years ago. But The Amazing Spider-Man is a more than welcome restart of a franchise I had thought is long gone by now. The movie exceeded my expectations. I never thought I’d be this entertained by it. I never thought I’d be taken in from the first frame that poped on screen and never let go until the credits started rolling. I never thought it would be this well-casted. The Amazing Spider-Man advances with great pace, works well with its buildup and even has a few tricks up its sleeve so freshen the story up. The special effects are more than well done but in an age where this is becoming easier and easier to accomplish, where The Amazing Spider-Man rises is in it having substantial amounts of heart.

Some parts of the story are left open as the movie ends, to be resolved in subsequent installments. Even the characters’ personalities are not developed until they’ve been turned dull, which makes The Amazing Spider-Man even more interesting to watch and to predict what might come next. It sure doesn’t hurt that the screenwriters are some of the best in the business such as Steve Kloves, the man who brought you Harry Potter. But this is what the original Spider-Man should have been about.

The Amazing Spider-Man is amazing, indeed. Welcome back spidey. You’ve been missed.

9/10

Thor – Movie Review

I think I may be a sucker for Marvel-related movies but I have failed not to like any Marvel superhero movie and Thor is no exception, albeit some of those movies are better than others… Thor, however, ranks as one of the best superhero movies I have seen.

Not as famous in pop culture as Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Iron Man, etc… Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), a man who waged a war against the Frost Giants of Jotenheim and their king Laufey and stole their source of power. Thor, however, is not as reasonable as his father and is more reckless-material than king-material. As he prepares to ascend to become king of Asgard, the festivities are interrupted by an apparent breach in their fortress’ security by the Frost Giants. Thor becomes overly furious and leads an act of vengence against them, despite his father telling him not to do so. As a result, he is banished to Earth, without his power, in the form of the almighty hammer Mjolnir. But there is a traitor in the house of Odin, one that will do everything to prevent Thor from coming back.

On Earth, Thor meets Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), a physicist, her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings) and mentor Erik (Stellan Skarsgård). And when Mjolnir is uncovered in the desert and seized by government officials, Thor needs to do everything to recover it and get back home – but that will not be as easy as it seems.

Thor is a very, very entertaining movie. It has everything you could expect from a superhero movie: fight scenes (although I would have liked to see more of those), a story (a very interesting one at that), comedy (there will be some scenes where you fall down off your seat laughing) and ultimately some romance, which is always necessary in superhero movies.

The performances by the actors and actresses of the movie are spot-on. They do not underperform but on the other hand, they do not really excel and give powerhouse performances, mostly because this is not the movie vehicle to do so. But there is no miscast here. Chris Hemsworth, the actor portraying Thor, has probably spent more time at the gym than the time he spent pursuing a college degree and it obviously shows. Natalie Portman is, well, Natalie Portman and she never does anything less than credible with her movies. And how perfect can Anthony Hopkins be in the role of a the “father of all things”?

The special effects are great as well but the 3D is sort of useless here. The directing is also very well executed and the music is not bad. There are some corny moments and some parts of the movie are overly predictable as well but that does not deter you from enjoying it.

Overall, Thor is awesome! It is a movie that will immerse you. It focuses on character development more so that blinding action sequences and that is definitely a good thing because the characters in Thor are interesting to say the least but I would have preferred if the action scenes already present in the movie were extended a bit. Sure, Thor has its flaws but if you felt like going to a movie simply to have fun and get out of it with a need to google the existence of a sequel, this is it.