Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Movies of 2013, Superhero, pt4

The Wolverine, or "Really?  Have we not had enough of Wolverine yet?"
Overall: 6/10
Hugh, buddy.  Can you stop looking amazing?  Kind of setting the bar for guys like me a little high.
            I enjoyed this movie a hell of a lot more than I thought I would.  They give Wolverine a sidekick to play off of, though the actress' hair is weird (I like the color, but her bangs are sideways or something, and her eyes are super wide, I don't know why, she just looks odd).  They give him an enemy with a clear motivation and resources to pose an actual threat, they have tertiary villains with interesting and distinct looks, action sequences that are varied in execution (if not color scheme, metal and black are the colors of this movie to the point of being kind of annoying).  Now to the real complaints.
            Problem 1: The love interest.
            Wolverine does not need a love interest, he is a knight errant, he does extreme violence to serve his personal code of honor but never feels tied down (that is his character).  Yeah, sure he beds women when the opportunity presents itself, but the love affair in this movie does not work.  There is no chemistry and the speed of the situation does not behoove the development of feelings.  He is a violent, headstrong, culturally insensitive thug who kills people by the bus load in this film... There is no reason for the woman who he bangs to be attached to him.  Also, he is old, like 100+, he should not be banging a 20 something unless she shows real emotional depth and maturity (this one does not).  It is the Edward and Bella problem of modern romantic subplots.
            Problem 2: This movie has terrible gameplay.
            The movie is ordered like a video game, Wolverine fights hillbillies, then mobsters, then mobster hit men on a train (boss fight), then ninjas, then a master sword fighter (boss fight), more ninjas on their home turf, a snake lady, and then a giant mecha (that can cut thru his bones and drain his powers, bigger boss fight).  He even gets a lot of his powers toned down to add tension (as if the protection of the various vulnerable squishy humans was not enough to add tension... It doesn't because they are paper thin characters, but it could have).  I am not even sure this can be considered a complaint, because I thought the variety of fights worked to a benefit, but it is oddly structured for a movie narrative.
            Problem 3: Dulling of claws.
            There are plenty of scenes in which Wolverine kills people who are actively harming other people.  LOTS OF MOBSTERS DIE POINTY DEATHS.  But there is a scene which I felt was really bad and kind of dulled the movie.  Wolverine captures a police official who is helping the mafia, then interrogates him in a cool funny scene, he then throws the asshole off a hotel balcony.  That is awesome.  But (and I am sure this is what happened), since you can't have the hero of a PG-13 movie kill a helpless guy in an awesome fashion (unlike, say, "DREDD"), we instead see that the guy fell into a pool that Wolverine claims to have not known about.
            Here is the thing.  If you are going to not kill the bad guy, having the hero say, "What pool?" makes him seem dumb in addition to ruthless.  Either have him kill the guy to show he means business, or have him throw the guy into a pool just to scare him.  Trying to have your cake and eat it too doesn't work.
           Problem 4: Wolverine is played out.
This follows what I consider to be the best scene in the movie in which he cuts out his own heart.
Similar to that only good scene in "Prometheus".
            I like Wolverine a good bit, he has a distinctive power set of indestructible man with knifes for hands, he has a cool back story of mysterious soldier of fortune, and he is part of a disaffected minority (Canadians).  But he has been the star of 5/6 X-Men films, and we have seen nearly every aspect of his life and all the interactions he has had between numerous characters, be they romantic rivals (Cyclopes), kid side kicks (Rogue), professional rivals (Sabretooth), authority figures (Prof X, Stryker), and comrades in arms (Storm, Wraith).  Can we get a movie that focuses on the actual main conflict of X-Men... in addition to "First Class"?
            The end of this movie is actually a microcosm of the issues, the movie ends with Wolverine getting on a plane with his new sidekick with no direction.  Then the after the credits sequence skips ahead a couple years (his sidekick now gone, we never learn of her fate.  Dead?  Back in Japan?  Who knows?)  And there is Magneto (with his powers returned) and Prof X (now no longer a pile of dust).  Wolverine has no reason to be a part of their story, and his story is so unimportant that it is dropped so he can be pulled into X-Men drama.  Why?  Let him go.  If you want to make Wolverine movies, then make them and let the X-Men do their thing, they have enough interesting characters that are thirsty for screen time that you don't need Logan to be there.

Kick-Ass 2, or "Rape isn't funny.  How about attempted rape?  Wait, why are we trying to make that scene funny?"
Overall: 5/10
Ironically if Hit Girl were real and watched this movie she would probably call it pussy footing bullshit.
            This movie skull fucks my sense of reason because it is really hard to evaluate on its own.  I have to look at it as both a sequel to the first movie, as an adaptation of the book, and how it stands on its own, but I don't know how to reconcile all of those parts in a meaningful way.  There are lots of things about it I would like if it were in a different movie, and there are lots of things I hate because they are in this movie, or because they short change the books.  I don't know.
            The first "Kick Ass" was alright and had a lot of problems, mostly with the subject matter itself.  And this continues that grand tradition.
            In regards to being a sequel to the first movie, there are issues with continuity, like how they ditch Kick-Ass' girlfriend (who knows he is Kick-Ass in the movies, and should trust that he is not fucking the now 14 year old Hit Girl, but for the sake of the story calls him a pervert and ditches him).  And the movie has lots of little things like that, especially in the glorification of Big Daddy who should be seen less as a hero and more of a complex figure, if not an outright monster like he was in the comics.
            This movie does something the books did not do, attempts to show the villain's journey in addition to the heroes'.  I don't think that works.  Trying to rape a female superhero and failing because he is so impotent isn't funny.  Either have the guts to have rape, or don't.  Being too flaccid to actually follow thru just serves as metaphor for the movie as a whole.  Constantly backing away from the violence of the comic in favor of soft and goofy action that doesn't work.  It Feels weird to call it soft when you consider the amount of murder and blood in this.  I would compare it to "the Walking Dead" TV show, which is so loosely based on the comics that I find it to be odd to watch, the violence in it is just not hard enough, it lacks the shock and terror it could have.  It is 'meh'.
            On its own, as if I had not read the books or seen the first one, I still have issues again with Hit Girl being too grown up on certain subjects.  She is a psychopath.  Just because she has the ability to kill the bad guy does not make her "mature" or capable of healthily expressing emotion, but if anything they make her far too dutiful and reasonable.  She should be a broken person, but instead they play her up as a hero or role model.  That does not work.  They almost show her as she should be, but again they dial it back.  It fails.

            I can't believe I am saying this, but "The Wolverine" fits better into his crazy and poorly thought out mythos than this movie fits into its own.  Which considering it is the second movie and is based on a comic series that only consists of "Kick Ass" and "Kick Ass 2" how is that possible?  How can you eschew things so completely?  How is it this jumbled?
            There is also the controversy of Jim Carrey, who plays an interesting character rethinking his stance on violence in the media because of the recent mass shootings.  Jim believed that he should not promote the film because of its violence (even though his character in the movie is a staunch opponent of gun violence being a former hitman turned born again Christian).  If I had to guess Jim made this known to do two things: one, settle his conscience for participating in a movie that both glorifies violence while portraying it as not terribly dangerous; and two, stir some controversy because he did not want to torpedo the work of his costars.  Cause things are complicated.

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