Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Wolverine

The Wolverine takes a interesting look back at Wolverine past, but in a present setting. It has quite a few issues, and some annoyances. But when its predecessor was so awful, does making a few mistakes really matter? Wolverine as a franchise needed to improve greatly, and this movie tries to do this by setting itself aside from the other X films. With a story that does not seem at home in the marvel movie universe, does it manage to make up for the original Wolverine film?

Let's start with the story. Wolverine saved a Japanese soldiers life back at Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped. Many years have passed, and that soldier is now a old man at deaths door. He wishes to thank Logan for saving him, and invites him to his home in Tokyo. When Logan arrives, the man offers him a gift. He can take away his mutant powers, allowing him to give up his immortality. The man wishes for Logan to transfer his powers to him, as he is not ready to die. Logan refuses, but wouldn't you know it, bad stuff happens anyways. He is weakened, and his friends grand daughter is being targeted.

The story works pretty well within the movie, but it certainly doesn't feel like anything marvel has done before. If anything it reminded me of the older Blade movies, in that it was slow paced with good action thrown in from time to time. The story is also very Japanese, which isn't a bad thing. While you would expect "The Wolverine" to be mostly action, there really wasn't to much until the end. It focuses more on telling a tale about family, and honor. It wants you to know the different roles, and it focuses on what was really a defining moment in Logan's past. Comparing it to the first Wolverine film, this one easily outdoes the original in this category. I felt the story was one of the stronger parts of the movie.

One nice thing about the setting, mostly Japan, is that all the scenery is fantastic to look at. While some of the movie takes place in Tokyo, quite a lot of it takes place in the smaller cities and villages. You get to see some very beautiful architecture, and I really enjoyed seeing the country as they traveled about. The movie tried to show off multiple sides of Japan, as well as its different cultures.

This movie is a good bit bloodier then I was expecting, though for me that is not a bad thing. It is pg, so it doesn't go to overboard, but it is quite a bit worse then the first one. Seeing Wolverine cut people apart, or tossing them into heavy machinery that then spews blood and pulp is a treat. The effects were decent, and the claws no longer looked fake and ugly. While he did still do some things that are frankly impossible, even for him, most of the cheese factor was toned down. Well until the ending, but more on that later.

For acting, you have Hugh Jackman as Logan. Chances are by now, you have seen one of the X-men movies and know what to expect. He does well enough with the role, and continues to play it much like he has in the past. Famke Janssen has a surprisingly big role int his film as the deceased Jean Grey. Logan sees her quite frequently, both when he is asleep or on the verge of passing out. He is obsessed with her, and she acts almost like a guide for him at times. She did well enough with the role, though she never really gets to do much with it. Still it was a nice treat seeing her reprise the role, as I did not know she was in the movie going into it. The other two major players are Tao Okamoto as Mariko, Wolverines love interest. And Rila Fukushima, who plays his partner more or less. They both seemed to do well enough, though Fukushima was a stand out star in in the movie. She played bad ass rather well, and seeing her flip around and tear apart ninjas and Yakuza was very entertaining.

While it was neat to see Jean Grey used again, it was one of the things I didn't really like about the film. At first it was a nice touch, but she kept showing up over and over again. Logan can not let her go, and that actually plays into the story. He killed her in the last x-men movie, and that still haunts him. He also has not dealt with the fact that he loved her, but she never loved him in a romantic way. In the comics Logan has recently started a new school, and named it after Jean Grey. It is a direct competitor to her Husbands school, so clearly him not being over her works within the film. Still the extent they used it just got old, and came off as more creepy then anything else.

Now for the ending, and no don't worry about spoilers. Up until the ending, the movie was pretty decent. You had a good story, some cool fight scenes, and very little cheese. In the end though, that all goes out the window. You get a horrible final fight, that honestly didn't feel like it fit within the rest of the movie. I was leaning towards a pretty positive review until the last 15 minutes or so. It is not to say that they totally ruined the film, not by a long shot. But they did detract from everything else. Still it was better then a mute Deadpool getting his head cut off while he has Cyclop's mutant powers.

In the end, this movie was easily better then the original. Pretty much in every aspect. While the ending did take away from it a little, it still managed to be better then I thought it would be going into it. I was entertained for the duration, and we got some good action out of it. There is even a nice stinger after the credits, which I believe is a nod to Future Past, the next X-men movie.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Heat

A buddy cop movie staring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. The idea behind it is, Bullock is a very proficient F.B.I. Agent who everybody hates. She is good at her job, but she is awful with her co-workers. She gets sent out of town to work a case where she ends up working along side McCarthy. McCarthy is frankly horrible at her job, and should be fired. While most of her time on the job finds her committing acts that are, well let's just say not very legal or ethical, she is also presented as a super cop. Honestly that was the biggest issue I had with he movie. She should have been let go or possibly even imprisoned long ago. Still the 2 are very similar roles, with the exception being their lifestyles. McCarthy seems happier, and is able to interact with people on a better level then Bullock.

The story revolves around them trying to catch  a big drug dealer. While the story had no real issues with it, it also was not the main point of the film. This is a comedy, and the story quickly fades into the background. While I normally don't care for McCarthy, she did well in this role. She was humorous, and probably provided more entertainment then Bullock. 

From seeing the two getting smashed in a bar, to their over the top cop antics, the heat managed to keep me happy throughout its duration. While it was not an amazing film, for a rental I was quite happy. If you are a fan of McCarthy, you know what to expect. If you like Bullock, she does well in the comedy role. I would say if your looking for some laughs, you could do a lot worse.

The Internship

The Internship is a comedy staring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. After losing their jobs selling watches, they decide to try and get an internship at Google. The hiring process is apparently a summer long competition, with the winners getting a job offer. While I have no clue how the Google hiring process actually works, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the movie was fairly accurate. That being said, I don't know if I would hire somebody based off of their Quiditch skills. 

The issue with this movie isn't the plot, as much as it is the poor dialogue and acting. Owen Wilson hasn't been worth watching in years. Vince Vaughn is about the same. Neither did well with the comedy. While there are a few funny moments, they are spread out rather thinly over a movie that felt way to long. Most of the movie felt like it was dragging, and it never managed to find its' stride. I almost turned it off a few times, but after a while, something interesting would usually happen. 

I enjoyed the challenges the interns had to do, and they were pretty much the only real stand out moments of the film. Seeing them play Quiditch from the Harry Potter series for example. It was the most memorable part of the movie for me.

Josh Brener also played a big role in this movie. You may know him from those awful Samsung galaxy phone commercials. He was somehow able to be more unlikable, which frankly is an accomplishment in its own right. 

Honestly this movie has very little going for it. While it has some humor, most of it just fails to entertain. With long spans of boredom between the few worthwhile portions, it is hard to recommend this movie. For a rental, you can do much better. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Frozen is a new Disney film staring Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad. Oddly enough, I hadn't really seen any advertising done for the film. So it was kind of nice going into it with no real knowledge or expectations. After quite a few previews, and as many amc adds....why advertise the theater I am already in? After all that, the movie began, except not. You are treated to a Mickey Mouse short that frankly could have been removed and I would have been happier. I am not sure if it was included due to Pixar usually doing something, but it fell flat and started the movie off with me annoyed. This brings me to another point, the sound. The sound was awful at the theater I saw it at. The Universal Studios theater. It sounded all filtered and distorted. I know this is not the movies fault, so I will not hold it against it. But since it was a movie with lots of singing, understand that is why I don't really spend much time on that section.

The story, with minor spoilers, is that Anna and Elise are princesses of some land with a name I don't remember. They are very close as children, but over the course of a musical number we see that all change. Elise has magic powers that allow her to create and control ice and snow. Afraid of her hurting her sister with her powers, the parents decide to seal off the children from the world. They raise them separately  and they no longer interact with each other. The main story kicks in when they are older and Elise is becoming queen. After finally seeing her sister again, Anna gets carried away and angers her. Elise looses control of her powers and sends their kingdom into an eternal  winter. 

Voice acting is very different from regular acting. It requires different talents and skills. I don't recall Kristen Bell doing voice work before, so it was very nice to see she took naturally to it. From what I could tell, she also did well with the singing portions. Her character Anna was the main role in the movie, and Bell was fantastic. The person who surprised me though was Josh Gad. I had no clue who he was going into the film, but his role as Olef the snowman was a show stealer. He does a musical number about how he wants to see summer, so he can finally do whatever it is snow does when it gets hot. Between his dopey but lovable demeanor, he easily had some of the more humorous and memorable parts. Groff also did well, but other then one musical portion, his character really doesn't stand out much. 

Sound...yeah. Music sounded like it was all well done, and a few of the numbers were very clever. Nothing really stood out as just being bad from what I could tell. Oh if you see it with your family or friends, make sure to ask them who voices the reindeer with a serious face. Don't worry, you will know when the time is right to ask.

Animation was pretty good in this one. It was done in a similar style as Tangeled or Brave. The people looked rather realistic, but the faces are often done in a more exaggerated manor. It seems like it allows for a wider range of emotions, but that could also be just in my head. The snow was cool though, and the magic stuff was impressive to see. You expect a certain level from a big Disney animated film, and this one easily met it. Seeing Elise manipulate her surroundings was always enjoyable.

The story overall was decent. Seeing the sisters trying to deal with their issues was a nice change of pace. While it wouldn't be a Disney movie without a romance subplot, this one felt unique enough to stand out. It never takes the main stage, and it didn't feel forced. The sound was hard to gauge, but I think everything was good with it. And the voice work was animated and enjoyable. Great animation quality, and cool magical visuals to round everything up. Honestly I enjoyed this movie more then I thought I would. It is a great date night movie if your lady is into these kind of films. And a great family movie that I think both male and female kids would enjoy. Hell, I can even say as a almost 30 year old male that I enjoyed the musical princess film.