Friday, May 29, 2009

Wolverine's Fourth (But Really First) Time Out

Well it's been several weeks and I know you're all dying to know what I thought of the piece of cinema that was (and is) X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Now I know this movie has been much maligned by comic book nerds and critics alike, but quite frankly anyone who didn't like this movie is either on crack or has his head buried in the darkest recesses of his own asshole.

This was not an amazing movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it was action-packed and very entertaining. The trick is to go in with very low expectations. I know this sounds like kind of a backhanded compliment (and I suppose in a very accurate way, it is) but this is a movie based on a series of comic books. Now before all you nerds start getting upset at my obvious ignorance of the Modern Mythology handed down to us by the gods from the DC and Marvel universes and how comics (or "graphic novels" as they are sometimes referred to today) are legitimate forms of literature worthy of study at the finest universities let me assure you: I am in complete and total agreement. However, the centre of this debate is how well comics translate from the page to the screen and the answer is a resounding "Not well."

This is not to say that it can't be done. There are the obvious exceptions like Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, X-men 1 & 2, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight (obviously), and (in my contoversial opinion) Watcmen. But for every one great movies of these there is a plethora of shitty (or at least mediocre) ones. Just for fun, let's see: there's the six Superman travesties, Daredevil, both Fantastic Four movies, anything with "Punisher" in the title, Spider-Man 3, Hulk, X3, Elektra, Catwoman, the whole 80's/90's Batman franchise (except the first one, for nostalgia sake), Ghost Rider, Spawn, not to mention the terrible Captain America movie back in good old 1990. The problem isn't necessarily with the source material, the problem is making an effective transition from the page to the screen, two very different mediums. Some of the difficulty lies in the visual aspect. Sometimes bright blue or yellow spandex just doesn't look as good in the real world as it does on the paper. Sometimes it's interference from ignorant or incompetent directors (read: Brett Ratner). And sometimes it may be difficult for filmmakers to try to pick out the "best of the best" from up to 50 years of storylines and mash it all into a coherent two hour narrative.

Anyway this is all off the point. The main thing is this movie was generally enjoyable. Hugh Jackman is a competent actor and he gets the job done. I must say he was in the best shape I've seen him in so far. It was nice to see him really throw himself into the role. Liev Schreiber also does a nice job as Victor Creed (AKA Sabertooth) Wolvie's long-time rival. Ryan Reynolds puts in a solid performance as Deadpool, a character I know nothing about and do not care to. It always amused me that whenever I talked to anybody about anticipation about this movie and they would always sight their eagerness at seeing Gambit. Now I was never a huge Gambit fan, but I didn't feel like Taylor Kitsch was the right man for the job. He was OK, and it was cool to see Gambit on the big screen doing some serious damage, but Kitsch just didn't seem right for the part, and his cajun accent was definitely nowhere near thick enough. The rest of the cast was also good, nothing special. (Keep your eyes peeled for a hobbit!)

The plot, much like the title, was too convulted and drawn out. It started out with a bit of action, got really slow with the love story in the middle, then picked up again near the end. The action was great and the fights between Wolverine and Sabertooth were very well done and there was some attempt made to give them an emotional context but it was really pretty thin. It made sense in the context of the film to go over Logan's beginnings as a small child, but I don't like the fact that they actually made it all so clear. I always thought it was more interesting when we didn't know where and when he actually came from. The ambiguity was really great and there was that romantic notion of the mysterious stranger who wanders into town and takes down the bad guys like Clint Eastwood. Except Logan was so mysterious even he didn't know who he was. Although it was awesome to see that one of my favourite superheroes is Canadian. ( After William Stryker tells Logan that he should come back to serve his country he replies "I'm Canadian.")

The two main problems with the movie for me were the love story and the fact that they just tried to stuff too much into the movie. I know there was some content from the Weapon X series, but it felt like it was too condensed and wasn't given the attention it deserved. The love story just seemed to pop in from nowhere and really I don't know why it was in there. It really didn't feel emotionally relevent. And the whole story about how Wolverine chose his name was kind of weak. The other weak point was how Wolvie lost his memory which felt really tacked-on.

All of the action was fun to watch and it was great to see Wolverine destroying and killing stuff with his shiny new claws. the final battle of the film was big and flashy and satisfying. They did a good job of giving each character his own unique fighting style. There were a ton of cameos by other mutants from the Marvel universe, so I won't go over all of them. It was a veritable mutant orgy which may sound erotic, but in the end served to be far to distract far too much in such a short film. Again, this is one of the problems in adapting comics to the screen, especially with the X-Men because there are so many characters. The movie would have been a lot better with more focus.

The director Gavin Hood hasn't done a whole lot but I expect we'll be seeing more of his work. While X-Men Origins: Wolverine isn't the best film ever made, or even the best superhero film ever made, it was still a solid entry into the franchise and it definitely was not the clusterfuck everyone thought it was going to be. It was miles better thanIn order of awesomeness I would have to say it goes X-Men2, X-Men, Wolverine, then X3. Overall I would recomend seeing this movie, and if you get a chance it is definitely worth the price of a movie ticket which is more than I can say for a lot of shit these days.

I give this movie a solid 6.5/10 = One Adamantium-Coated, Bullet-Riddled Skull

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Observe and Report... and Suck Balls

Well, one thing I can say is that this should be the easiest review I've ever had to write. When asked whether or not to see this movie the simple answer I give is: "Don't". It is a single serving of cow vomit with a side of anal rape. Observe and Report has got to be one of the worst (if not the worst) comedy I have ever had the displeasure of seeing.

I don't know what the hell Jody Hill was thinking when he was writing this, or while he was making it, or during the editing process. The answer is he probably wasn't thinking at all. This movie -and I use the term "movie" very lightly- was billed as a "dark comedy" meaning I suppose that the jokes were based around such taboo subjects as date rape, mental instability, flashing, and assaulting law inforcement officers. These things all could have been funny, but they weren't. This was not a comedy. This movie does not fit into any known category. It is in a genre all by itself. The Anti-Comedy. This movie was the antithesis of funny.

One big bias I had before seeing this movie was my hatred of all things Seth Rogen. Now to be fair, the dude can be funny in small (very small) doses, and supporting roles, but he does not have the staying power, the charisma or the acting ability to be a leading man. (The exception that proves the rule being Zack and Miri Make a Porno where I could stand Rogen's suckiness only because of Kevin Smith's awesomeness.) So I went into this experience trying to keep an open mind and give Rogen the benefit of the doubt. I was not rewarded. To be fair again, most of the problems probably stemmed from inexperienced directing and a shitty script. Still, Rogen's acting was definitely nowhere near the level it would have needed to be at to even begin to salvage this bag of putrid garbage.

I can't really summaraize the plot, because there seemed to be a total lack of narrative structure. The reason I hesitate to call this random collection of scenes poorly cobbled together a "movie" is because it lacks the characteristics of a movie. None of the scenes seemed connected, the editing was choppy at best, and most of the scenes were just thrown in completely out of context. There was no continuity. And as to the whole "dark comedy" thing, it simply wasn't even that dark. It tried to be dark, but I've seen much crazier shit in much better comedies handled much more competently. One of the main "plot points" was a flasher who was terrorizing the good people working or shopping at the mall. The final scene depicts this flasher running through the mall being chased by Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen) and it went on waaaaaaay too long. Now male nudity can be funny like in Borat, but this one was just annoying and disturbing. And then (spoiler alert!) when Barnhardt finally gets the upper hand and gets ahead of the guy I was expecting a good old-fashioned clothes-lining, but no the mother-fucker shoots the flasher point blank in the chest! It wasn't even funny. It was just like "What the fuck?!"

The acting really isn't worth mentioning. Anna Faris seemed to be in her element in yet another mindless "comedy". I had no idea how Ray Liotta ended up in this flic, but he must have realized since it came out that it was a steaming pile. Ray Liotta is a terrific actor and he needs to get back to doing quality movies again (Goodfellas II: Henry's Revenge). And there was no emotional investment in any of the characters. There were simply no redeeming characteristics in the protagonist at all. He was an asshole, but he wasn't a cool asshole.

I'm going to rap this up now because just thinnking about this pool of disease-ridden bodily fluids dripping from a hobo's corpse known as Observe and Report is making me angry. It wasted eighty-six minutes of my life I will never get back. Thank god I had a coupon from the back of a cereal box (go Oatmeal Crisp!) to see this movie because I would have been really pissed if I had paid actual money to have my eyes raped. And the title. What the hell does that even mean? It has nothing to do with anything that happens in the movie. Jody Hill can likc my balls. And in fact he should lick all of our balls because after what he did with this movie, he owes us. He should mail ten bucks to everyone who had to sit through this shit. I could go on, but I'm not going to let this terrible movie waste even one more minute of my life. In fact, I might delete this post later because just seeing it again will only remind me of the time wasted.

My rating: 1/10 = One Mall Security Guard's Head with Goat Balls in Its Mouth