The unnecessary and the potential – The Wolverine

The Wolverine - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Wolverine – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Wolverine (2013)

Director: James Mangold
Writers: Mark Bomback (screenplay), Scott Frank (screenplay)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima

The Wolverine is the latest instalment for the X-Men film franchise. The Marvel comic book universe of X-Men has come alive on the screen over the last 13 years. There is always some issues in adapting a piece of literature to the screen, and especially so with comics as they come with a plethora of canon and decades of story lines intertwining. The X-Men movie franchise has been somewhat successful in creating its own world on the big screen. There are however issues with this latest instalment.

Wolverine (aka Logan, played by Hugh Jackman) is practically immortal. His immortality comes in handy every now and again but it is more of a burden and a curse than a blessing. The story begins with Wolverine saving a Japanese man in the Nagasaki blast in 1945. In the present day the man he saved, Yashida, is dying and requests that Logan comes to say his final farewells to him before he passes away. Logan travels to Japan to see the man but all is not as it seems. Yashida has been researching Mutants and in particular the adamantium metal that Logan has infused in his skeleton.

The story is interesting and moves along in a swift and compelling pace but it is how the story is formed that is troubling. The saying “sex sells” is put into action in The Wolverine. Jean Grey, Logan’s previous love interest, turns up in his dreams as his conscience, always lying in bed with Logan in a silky night dress. And then there is the granddaughter of Yashida, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), who Logan saves from Japanese mobsters and then falls in love with as they escape from danger and work out how to stop the evil guys. If the story was more fully developed then these two love affairs, one in the past that Logan still holds on to and the new one he is trying to move on to, could have made more sense. But the lack of time spent and clarity of the underlying ideas behind these relationships was disappointing. Instead Wolverine comes out looking like he is only using Mariko to get over Jean. This, I am told by a dedicated fan of the comics, is not what it is meant to be. Yes, I understand that the relationship between Logan and Jean needed resolving but to throw Mariko into the picture without being clear on Logan’s emotional progression creates flaws in the fabric of this, otherwise good, comic book film.

There are some great female characters in Yukio and Viper, as well as Mariko. They provide some balance to the overload of male ninjas in the film and are spectacularly cast, especially with Rila Fukushima as Yukio and her execution of the line “I am you’re bodyguard” to Logan. Nice touch Mark Bomback and Scott Frank.

All in all, The Wolverine is steady-footed film that helps progress Logan’s story to a place where X-Men: Days of Future Past (due out 2014) can really expand upon Logan/Wolverine’s role in the X-Men franchise.

3/5

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Who Am I? – Les Miserables

Les Misérables - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Les Misérables – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Les Misérables (2012)

Director: Tom Hooper
Writers: Claude-Michel Schönberg (book) & Alain Boublil (book) & Victor Hugo (novel) & Herbert Kretzmer (lyrics) & Alain Boublil (original: French text) & Jean-Marc Natel (original: French text) & James Fenton (additional text) & William Nicholson (screenplay)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway

I have always loved musicals. I grew up watching Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, etc, and loved everyone of them, good and bad. My favourite film is Singin’ In The Rain and will continue to be until my life’s end. I say that in order to justify my instant love of Les Misérables. I have never seen it on stage but I have had friends in the past who have raved about it.  I now understand why.

Although there are parts of the film which could be improved, *cough Russell Crowe cough*, the musical is adapted onto film brilliantly. It has a raw and gritty quality to it which makes the story feel real and grounded in history. The music is beautiful and the integration of story-telling with the music is seamless. Hugh Jackman does a great job of Jean Valjean and really carries the film and us with him on the journey of his hard life. However, the kids in the film are what really make it for me. Daniel Huttlestone (Gavroche) and Isabelle Allen (young Cosette) are incredible little talents. They come alive on screen and steal every scene they are in, especially Daniel.

The best thing about this film is that it has real heart. I cried, nay, I sobbed as Eddie Redmayne sang about how his friends would never sing again. Oh my gosh did I sob! Every moment was breathtaking and heartbreaking and heartwarming and oh just everything! It wasn’t that this was a brilliant film, or a brilliant musical, but it is a great story, well told, and in a lot of ways that is what films should be, even musicals.

4/5

Hope, Wonder, Fun, Delight – Rise of the Guardians

Rise Of The Guardians - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Rise Of The Guardians – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Director: Peter Ramsey
Writers: David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay), William Joyce (book)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin and Isla Fisher

There is something wonderful about children’s films. They are delightful to get swept up in, especially when they are good. Rise Of The Guardians is a joy to watch. It’s not the best animated film ever but it has everything it needs to make you smile and laugh as well as teach you lessons about what is good to believe in. The morals infused in every character are at the forefront of this story as we travel with Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) as he discovers who he truly is and why he is chosen to be a guardian of the children of the world.

Jack joins North (Santa, voiced by Alec Baldwin), Tooth (The Tooth Fairy, voiced by Isla Fisher), Sandman (not voiced, but wonderfully animated!), and Bunny (The Easter Bunny, voiced by Hugh Jackman), as they battle Pitch (The Boogeyman, voiced by Jude Law) who has taken it upon himself to torture and torment children with fear and nightmares. There is a great narrative progression through this film and it throws you around through the tunnels of children’s belief and their determination to believe in the core of each of these folklores. It is uplifting and cheery and has some great characters, although a little underdeveloped for my liking.

With Christmas creeping up incredibly quickly this is a great film for the family to see together as it refocuses both children and parents on what the festive seasons we celebrate in western culture represent. The wonder and delight of children are what we really aim for at Christmas, but we also love to reawaken that childish fun in ourselves over the Christmas and New Year period. Rise of The Guardians is not just a Christmas film but it certainly does hold all those little goodies that make Christmas movies so great and what make children films so beautiful.

3.7/5