What an interesting movie week. Sand and I knew that on Friday Wolverine would open in the theater, and we were both looking forward to it. I have really been enjoying all the "comic book" movies that are currently the vogue, and Marvel really has been doing the best job of moving their characters to the big screen, so I had my reasons for wanting to see this film. I'm sure Sand her reason (think Hugh Jackman). But before we got to Friday, we did some other movie watching as well.
From Netflix, we procured two movies that never made it around to our local theater: Hitchcock and Anna Karenina. I know, you're saying "Bernie, you must be smoking crack or somthin' if you think these two movies didn't play in your area," but I assure you, even though we sat through the trailers for these movies on more than a couple of occasions, the movie moguls apparently thought that we didn't deserve to see these films, and they never played our town. Hitchcock is the story of what the famous director had to do in order to make his hit Psycho. I'm not going to do an entire review, I'll just say that, despite the lukewarm acceptance by the critics, this is an excellent movie. Anthony Hopkins is excellent as Hitchcock, as is Helen Mirren as his wife. This one is well worth the rental fee.
Anna Karenina was an intriguing movie, albeit not what I expected. From the trailers, I expected a vodka-soaked costume drama filled with the frozen angst of Tsarist Russia, a kind of Dr. Zhivago movie. What you get is Dr. Zhivago meets Monty Python. Much of this film had a Terry Gilliam feel to it. However, if you are simply able to stay open to the style, this is an entertaining movie and a great presentation of a very complex story. Well worth the effort.
We also this past week purchased another copy of one of our favorite movies, Shakespeare in Love. Our original copy got loaned out and now sits in the DVD collection of some friend, and it's been a while since we've been able to watch this one. It is a great movie -- fabulous story, extremely well written, a dynamite cast giving splendid performances, great music, and beautiful costumes. I have nothing but praise for this movie. Do not die before seeing this film. If you are feeling at all uncertain about making it until tomorrow, go now to the video store and get a copy.
And finally, it was Friday, and we went off to the theater for the long anticipated Wolverine.
Do you remember the song Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me from the TV show Hee Haw? "If it weren't for bad luck," it goes, "I'd have no luck at all. Gloom, despair, and agony on me." Even though this movie features a bathtub scene that exposes most of Hugh Jackman's left butt cheek, that song kept running through my mind while I watched this story.
The film opens with Logan (a.k.a. Wolverine) trying to forget everything by living in the woods with a badly-drawn bear. Stupid, drunken, and inconsequential hunters kill the badly-drawn bear, infuriating Logan, who goes into town, confronts one of the hunters and tortures him a bit, which starts a bar fight that is joined by a Japanese girl who looks like a badly-drawn anime character. She's been looking for Logan in order to take him back to Japan so that Logan can meet with a guy named Yashida whose life Logan saved during the bombing of Nagasaki but who is now very rich and dying. Yashida wants not only to say thanks but (he says) to repay Logan by sucking out Logan's ability to heal himself thus providing Logan the possibility of dying a normal painful death in short order, rather than hanging around indefinitely looking like a buff forty-year-old Hugh Jackman. He would do this for Logan for the altruistic reasons of using Logan's powers to save himself.
But Yashida dies before Logan can decide what he wants to do, leaving the entire Yashida empire of electronic gadgetry and ramen noodle manufacturing to his granddaughter, and not his son. This will all make sense later on, more or less, as bunches of bad guys try to kidnap the granddaughter at Yasida's funeral. Logan rescues her, but in the process is badly wounded, and for some reason, doesn't heal up the way he used to, but that leads to the film's best part as the bleeding and injured Logan has to fight off a bunch of bad guys who corner him on one of Japan's famous Shinkansen, the Bullet Trains that speed up and down the island. The fight starts outside the train's bathrooms (even bad guys really have to go sometimes) but soon moves to the roof of the rapidly moving train. This sequence is the highlight of the film, a clever take on an old standard. (Train-top fights are always good, just like pie fights -- they just never get old.) After that, it is just a slow descent into mutant hell, and all is not what it seems.
This is a good-looking film, lots of nice visuals, lots of action, lots and lots of bad guys who are good guys, good guys who are bad guys, and lots of Hugh Jackman. The problem with this story is that it is bloated. There are too many elements, too many subplots, and the result is the story just ricochets from one thing to another with no substance. It was as if the story was written by committee. What was really needed here was an editor with a red pencil to pare this script down. I presume that is one of the functions of the director, one that this director failed to do.
However, to paraphrase Hee Haw, if it weren't for Wolverine, we'd have no schlock at all, so if you are a die hard fan, or just have a prurient curiosity about Australian butt cheek, you may want to go see this one. However, my recommendation is to save your bucks and wait for this one DVD.
Why yes, of course I went to see Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine. Did you think I saw the title The Wolverine and said, "OMG, it was my favorite comic!!!!"
Indeed, I have never seen a "Wolverine" comic, and had no idea that such a Marvel Comic character existed until I saw the original X-Men. However, Hugh Jackman captivated my imagination and I've seen most of his movie performances since then. There was no way I was going to miss this one.
Bernie has done a simply splashing job of giving a run-down of the story, so I won't repeat him, except to add my disgust at the utterly sub-par CGI of the bear at the beginning of the film, and my agreement concerning the extraneous elements of the story, which may have been added to appease comic buffs or to appeal to Asian markets, who knows, pick one, don't worry about it unless you are a film critic.
Oh, wait, I am a film critic.
Logan, the Wolverine, is worn out, worn down. In previous movies, his love, Jean Grey, had gone nutso, and he had to kill her. His brother, Sabretooth, had also joined the other side and was done for. He's lived for too many years, seen too much death. Death that he can't escape into -- escape from fighting for justice.
What Logan has to come to terms with is that fighting for justice, which has become kind of a habit with him, is a whole lot less easy if your body doesn't automatically heal itself. Tiredness and injury, the fate of regular non-mutant humans, puts a real damper on your ability to do the super-human things you did last week, duh.
The train fight was great.
The anime-style story line was not so appealing to me.
Still, Hugh Jackman.