LOGAN

Logan2

3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2017

The acting was good, the story was believable, the action was slick, and the violence was suitably graphic. The overall experience, though, was kind of a downer.

I suppose that was to be expected; the promotional material made it clear Logan’s abilities were fading and Charles was losing control over his body and mind. But it’s really depressing to see your heroes stuck in such a miserable existence and being so vulnerable. Logan actually took a bullet for his car in the opening scene, and it was completely without irony since he seriously needed that car to make a living.

It’s definitely a well-made and thoughtful film, but I guess I have a personal bias toward badassery in my superhero movies. LOGAN left me feeling sad.

THE WOLVERINE

The Wolverine 2013

2 stars (out of 4)

Released 2013

It’s Wolverine week in the Jacquie household!

So yes, I had purchased this second Wolverine DVD as well, and despite my good intentions, and the fact that it takes place in Japan, and the positive reviews, I didn’t watch this one either until now.

I’m really surprised that this was the better received film! It didn’t even seem like much of an X-Men story, there were so few mutants in it! Well, if you’re not really into superheroes and would prefer to see swordfights instead, this might be more widely accessible, maybe.

In the earlier Wolverine film, all of the action scenes were very relevant to the plot. Here, they played out more like an excuse to present a travelogue of uniquely (and rather stereotypically) Japanese imagery.

Almost as if the story had to have a reason to be set in Japan, it included scenes of samurai swordfights, black-clad ninja, love hotels, pachinko parlours, and more. I tried to be open-minded, but I couldn’t help thinking it was a bit much. Logan even fights a mobile suit, for Christ’s sake!

At least Godzilla was nowhere to be seen.

I suppose the train fight was impressively ambitious. I’ve seen many train-roof battles before; but granted, never one unfolding at 300km/hr atop a Shinkansen. Only problem was, I couldn’t buy that the bad guys were actually scheming anything in that situation. When you’re clinging to an object moving at that kind of speed, I would imagine your one and only priority would be to just stay alive.

All the attempts at humour fell pretty flat.

In order to care about the heroine, Mariko, I needed to see some development in the relationship with her adopted sister, or her father, or her boyfriend – pretty much anything but what we got. Her relationship with Logan was both unnecessary and uninteresting.

Ultimately, I could have forgiven some of that tropey stuff, especially if it pleased the intended audience, if it were not for the paper-thin, unconvincing plot. That, I could not overlook.

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

X-Men Origins Wolverine

3.5 stars (out of 4)

Released 2009

It was probably around the time when this film came out that I started to have less inclination to go to the movies. There might have been some superhero-movie fatigue too. Add to that the tepid reviews and the fact that I had already read various Wolverine origins stories before in comic book form, and the result was I never bothered to go out and see this.

Some years ago, I purchased the DVD because it was on sale; and even then I didn’t actually watch it. Until now. What the heck – it’s really good!

Perhaps it isn’t as metaphorical or philosophical as something on the level of First Class, but as a coherent, plot-driven action film and character study, it gets the job done in a riveting and entertaining way. While the events are mostly serious, there are segments of comic relief, and they work really well.

The only questionable aspect I can think of is a strange driving sequence which looks really fake, almost as if they were trying to emulate the way films used to look during the time period of that scene. Why they would do that, I don’t know. The rest of the film looks pretty great.

Well also, could hydrochlorothiazide do what they suggested? I kind of doubt it, but then again, the “patient” is not exactly a normal human being either.

Anyway, I enjoyed ORIGINS a lot. Hugh Jackman was excellent as Logan/Wolverine, as he always is. I love him in this role!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

captain america civil war

3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2016

The Avengers are coming under fire from the public, and feeling their own regrets, over the collateral damage that happens during their missions. The UN proposes the Sokovia Accords to govern the deployment of the Avengers; but this divides their members, as some of them cannot stomach the political interference into their activities.

It’s a valid argument: what is the right amount of autonomy or oversight for an organization such as the Avengers? The film does a fine job of presenting both angles of the dispute, represented mainly by Captain America and Iron Man on opposite sides. Meanwhile, a number of other plots are unfolding which further threaten to tear the team apart.

The movie features great characterization, as usual, of each of the superheroes, especially Captain America and Iron Man. I really liked Black Widow too. Peter Parker makes an appearance in this film and he’s really funny, as Spider-Man ought to be. Is it too soon for another Spider-Man reboot? I don’t know. If what we get here is any indication, I think it could work!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 3D

3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2014

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is a reasonably enjoyable sci-fi/superhero flick. I liked that it didn’t really take itself seriously. Events that veered into overly dramatic or cheesy territory were quickly and deftly subverted to humourous effect.

Going in, I never expected that a smart-mouthed anthropomorphic raccoon and a tree creature could be so adorable.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2014

The film begins with an apocalyptic scenario: mutants and their sympathizers are facing certain extinction, having no effective defense against the highly evolved Sentinels sent to kill them. In desperation, Wolverine (actually, his consciousness) is sent 50 years to the past in order to change a key event which triggered the development of the current situation.

Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I watched First Class, but I recall that movie having a more complicated plot and being heavier on the philosophy. This one was more straight-up action. And time travel.

I thought it was really creative the way the casts from both the X-Men trilogy and First Class were incorporated into this story.

Just in brief: the action scenes were stunning, the Sentinels were truly frightening, and there was a satisfying amount of humour. Quicksilver only had a small part in the film, but he really made it count. And it’s not that I was necessarily rooting for him, but Magneto was so cool.

IRON MAN 3

3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2013

I went into this without seeing IRON MAN 2.  Fortunately, I had seen THE AVENGERS last year.  Viewing the THE AVENGERS should be considered a prerequisite for this film, as there are many references to a traumatic event that happened in New York in the past that the audience is assumed to have knowledge of.

What I liked especially about this current installment of IRON MAN was the really creative use of the mechanical suits.  Let’s face it, watching a super hero fighting in a faceless power suit can get old after a while.  Therefore, I enjoyed seeing that the suit could be used fully or partially, defensively or offensively; pretty much every imaginable permutation was on display.

My only half-joking complaint is that this movie may be offensive to US presidents and vice presidents.  I could understand if Mr. President was not physically strong or athletic, but he should have seemed a little bright, at least.  Here, he was depicted as nothing more than a damsel in distress; he was not afforded even one smart line of dialogue.  For other reasons, I also found the actions of the vice president to be unbelievable…