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"Do not go gentle into that good night"
Space is an interesting setting, due to its enigmatic properties, hidden secrets, and just the sense of awe it instills on us. There's something alluring to space, whether it's because of our curiosity to explore what's out there, or just because of the seemingly endless void of darkness. It's fascinating, and yet terror-inducing.
In "Interstellar", the earth has been ravaged by blight, and is in a desolate condition. Farming is the number one occupation and the only crops that still survive under the harsh conditions (frequent dust storms) is corn. Our protagonist is Cooper, a widowed engineer and former pilot who has two children, Tom and Murph. After an accidental incident, he stumbles onto a NASA hideout. There, he meets Professor Brand who informs him of the existence of a wormhole (a phenomenon that theoretically is able to act as a "shortcut" through spacetime). Then, he is requested by Brand to pilot the Endurance, an experimental spacecraft joined by Amelia (Brand's daughter), Doyle and Rommily, along with two versatile robots named CASE and TARS, on a trip to the discovered wormhole in hopes of colonizing new worlds to ensure mankind's survival. But this is a Christopher Nolan film, so there is sure to be more layers surrounding the plot of the film.
"Interstellar" boasts some of the most exhilarating and beautiful images I have ever seen on the big screen, and as i watched these spatial phenomenons unfold, I was completely baffled. I may not know much about astrophysics, but the wormhole and the spinning blackhole were extremely grand, massive, and digital wonders. Comparisons to "Gravity" will surely be present, but "Interstellar" is different enough in the sense that it has a much larger scale of setting and story then "Gravity".
One of the highlights this film carries is its scientific accuracy. Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne served as the scientific consultant of this film and the movie had a lot of physical concepts, most of which were interesting, but sometimes quite hard to grasp quickly. The quite prominent concept is that of time dilation, a phenomenon that occurs due to the difference in gravitational potential. Time will pass slower when there is a higher gravitational potential. In one situation, the characters visit a planet that is in close proximity to a blackhole, which means for every one hour they're there seven hours have elapsed back on Earth. Time is a valuable resource and therefore, everything the characters do must be carefully considered. There are other concepts too such as gravity and the nature of time itself.
Running at nearly three hours long, the film runs quite slowly in the first act, sweeps up into full gear in the second (after we enter the wormhole), but ends with a quite abrupt, rushed and confusing third act. Perhaps the concept makes sense but it feels quite out of place and preposterous. Nonetheless, the film is one that will make you think, one that actually requires you to think, and one that utilizes its characters to exchange ethical ideas. Director Christopher Nolan's confident sense of direction allows this movie to successfully hit the right notes as the film progresses.
The film has a lot of big talent in its cast and Matthew McConaughey leads the pack as Cooper. Fresh off his Academy Award-winning performance from "Dallas Buyers Club", McConaughey delivers a sensational experience as a caring father who is torn between having to travel far to save the world or be with his children. Anne Hathaway is superb as Amelia Brand, a very determined astronaut who later gets caught in her own motives and becomes confused in her judgment of what's right and wrong. Jessica Chastain was also amazing, able to display her anger and frustration at her father for leaving, and also her newfound determination to do something herself to help the human race. The rest of the supporting cast couldn't be anymore better. And don't forget about the two robots TARS and CASE, very imaginative creations who provide the light-hearted humor amidst the brooding atmosphere of the film.
In conclusion, "Interstellar" is a very beautiful visual experience that will take you back to that moment when you see something that made you feel out of this world, like "2001: A Space Odyssey". It is however a long epic film filled with technical concepts of physics and therefore, quite a heavy film for your mind to work on. But with the help of a superb cast and a clear direction from Christopher Nolan, "Interstellar" is a ride you should not miss, and instead experience on the big screen in its entirety.
A Film Bursting with Energy and Beautiful Storytelling, Unstoppable Fire
"Catching Fire" is the highly awaited sequel to the immensely box-office-smasher "The Hunger Games". Based on the middle book of Suzanne Collins's best-selling trilogy, it focuses on the complications Katniss faces after her actions in the previous film, and the rising of a rebellion against the cruel Capitol.
Katniss won the 74th Hunger Games, alongside Peeta Mellark. This means that she broke the rules as a single Hunger Game can only have one victor. by threatening the Capitol, they both won the game, although this meant breaking the rules. The Capitol felt mocked. What worried the Capitol was that this instilled a spark of hope within the citizens of Panem, and a rebellion itself might be imminent. So, in an attempt to reaffirm their authoritarian power, the 75th Hunger Games is born, and its tributes (participants) are to be chosen from the existing pool of victors. Since District 12 has only had one female victor, Katniss heads back to the arena.
Characters from the previous film are back. Our heroine Katniss Everdeen is back! She's even bolder this time around and her hatred against the Capitol is very conspicuous. Peeta Mellark is also back and let's not forget his famous rival Gale Hawthorne. Amazing side characters like Haymitch Abernathy, Cinna, and Effie Trinkett return too. Oh, and don't forget the lovable Primrose Everdeen too.
New movie, new characters. There's a new Gamemaker. Seneca Crane, the man with the fabulous beard, is replaced by Plutarch Heavensbee. He's more aggressive and his affiliation is mysterious. And the tributes! Just when you thought the District 1 and 2 tributes are terrifying in the first film, the new tributes are even more dangerous, having all been victors. Gloss, Cashmere, Brutus, Enobaria are the new Careers here. Other tributes include the brilliant Beetee and Wiress from District 3, the heart-melting Finnick Odair from District 4, the aged but humble Mags from District 4, and the violent & brave Johanna Mason from District 7.
"Catching Fire" amps up the stakes considerably compared to the previous film. While in the first film, only the other tributes pose the threats to the characters. But here, not only to the tributes become even tougher, they've also got the Capitol against them. The fate of the Panem is now in uncertain hands. Trust is scarce. What they say and their true feelings must carefully considered.
New director, new style. For those who despised the infamous "shaky cam" from the previous film, well don't worry. There are no shaky takes and you can enjoy the beautiful sets and thrills without a headache. The scenes are now smooth and some of the thrilling sequences are perfectly shot, literally perfectly. Watching it in IMAX glorifies this aspect.
The sets are amazing. The Capitol is amazing, futuristic, and just awesome. Beside the beautiful Capitol, there's also other districts too that are shown in the film, most notably District 11.
Performances were outstanding. Jennifer Lawrence is without a doubt the star. THE STAR. She has incredible talent and powerful skills. Her performance is incredibly captivating and we are always with Katniss. However, that's not to say that the other members were bad. They were also great, but do not measure to Lawrence's ability. Josh Hutcherson was great as Peeta and Liam Hemsworth was stellar as Gale Hawthorne. Sam Claflin was charismatic as the handsome Finnick Odair and Jena Malone was vicious in portraying Johanna Mason. Donald Sutherland was imposing as the feared President Snow and Stanley Tucci was of course charming as the exuberant host Caesar Flickerman.
With excellent storytelling capabilities and an interesting continuation, "Catching Fire" is one hell of a ride, with exhilarating action sequences and powerful performances, especially Jennifer Lawrence as the lead heroine. This film surpasses the original film in almost all aspects. Its story is more interesting, its themes are more mature, the stakes are higher. Wonderful job!
Final Verdict: "Catching Fire" is a perfect continuation of "The Hunger Games", with fluid pace, excellent storytelling, an interesting premise, and flawless performances, most notably Jennifer Lawrence.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
The God of Thunder Returns, with More Lightning
Marvel's superheroes just keep coming. It's just only been a few months since the release of the immensely successful "Iron Man 3". Now it's Thor, the God of Thunder to strike back. Thor is of course the least relatable of the Avengers. But that doesn't stop this movie from succeeding.
There are multiple references to what happened in the blockbuster "The Avengers". Often referred to as the "alien invasion in New York", it doesn't really play a major role in the primary plot in "Thor: The Dark World" itself. So, even if you haven't watched "The Avengers", don't worry, you won't feel left out.
The plot of "Thor: The Dark World" concerns with something extremely ancient. The Aether is kind of like a fluid that is extremely full of energy and is able to turn ordinary matter into dark matter. This ancient relic begins to play its part in the story after scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) travels to another world accidentally and encounters it. It is later revealed that every 5000 years, the nine realms will be in perfect alignment and therefore, borders between these worlds become blurred. This is an event known as the "Convergence".
However, due to the recent activity of the Aether, a race called by the Dark Elves, led by Malekith, are awakened. Apparently, they were once ruthless rulers who were defeated by Odin's father Bor. Bor vanquished the Dark Elves and it started a peace that lasted for thousands of years. However, Malekith wants the Aether to plunge the whole universe into total darkness. He intends to that at the peak of the "Convergence". Now, it's up to Thor to stop Malekith and his evil schemes. If Thor is to defeat Malekith, he's going to need help from someone unlikely...
Yes! A team-up between Thor and Loki. This is one of the most exciting components of the film. Thor is serious, powerful whereas Loki is wise-cracking, mischievous, and very tricky. Together, they form a very well-balanced duo and seeing them work together is true joy.
There is plenty of action. Of course! It's a superhero action movie. But the superpowers incorporated here are mighty and therefore the sequences are intensified. The Aether is slick and don't forget, Mjolnir is a ravager. The 3D is amazing and I watched this in IMAX 3D. Not all of the scenes were shot in IMAX, but some of the landscapes were incredibly beautiful. More of Asgard is revealed and it really is gorgeous.
The movie also had a comedic nature. In fact, it was funnier than I expected. The mischievous and charismatic Loki is plenty of fun to watch. Watching him on screen is pure delight and his character is extremely interesting. But you also have to keep an eye on Dr. Erik Selvig, Jane's ally. He's gone a bit crazy in this movie and therefore, his antics are hilarious in the movie.
Malekith is an all-powerful villain and he is intimidating. However, I didn't really think he was an interesting villain. His background is rich but that was short. We don't know really know Malekith. He is extremely devoid of character and sometimes, he's so boring. He, along with his race, speak a language that sounds like pre-historic dialect to me.
Performances were wonderful. Chris Hemsworth is a well-rounded character and has given Thor adequate depth. Natalie Portman is stunning as the pretty and intelligent Jane Foster. Anthony Hopkins shows his class as Odin. Tom Hiddleston is flawless as Loki. His performance is top-notch. Christopher Eccleston's performance was polished enough, although his character was a bit boring.
So is it a good movie? Yes. "Thor: The Dark World" is a good sequel and I would say that this exceeds the original in quality. I enjoyed the film although the villain was kind of dull. It may fall in some aspects but overall, this is a great success. And as a Marvel film, check out the two post-credits scenes.
Final Verdict: "Thor: The Dark World" is a well-polished sequel that has great action, excellent chemistry (especially between Thor and Loki), but lacks character in the villain.
Fresh and Gripping; Space Masterpiece
"Gravity", the movie that's been talked about for quite a few months now, is something unlike any other. It has extremely beautiful shots, dazzling visuals, gripping narrative, and fantastic music. Alfonso Cuaron, director of the third "Harry Potter" film, has a guaranteed a spot as one of the masters of film-making with this film.
Set in space, a very intriguing setting, "Gravity" is a survival thriller about bio-medical engineer Mission Specialist Dr. Ryan Stone and astronaut Matt Kowalski and their exciting tale in space as debris from a Russian anti-satellite test creates a chain of destruction that damage their space shuttle and leave them stranded in space.
The movie is pure thrill. There are so many unexpected situations and each of them is memorable. The suspense starts fairly quickly when their space shuttle is hit by high- speed debris. The music elevates the tension and therefore, each of the suspenseful scenes never fails to please the crowd. Dying and getting lost in space is quite a terrifying scenario and terrible way to end one's life, and therefore, you're going to be on the edge of your seats as the action ensues.
The visuals were magnificent. Space is intriguing and this movie provides plenty of space panoramas. We see different parts of the Earth from space and it's just splendid. I also loved that the shots were long, instead of short unsatisfying ones. The scope of the setting is massive, and this is meant to be seen in a large screen, possibly IMAX. The 3D is pure enhancements and it's definitely recommended.
"Gravity" doesn't have too many characters to play around with. Instead, we focus on Sandra Bullock's Ryan Stone, the female protagonist of the story. The other leading guy is Matt Kowalski, portrayed by George Clooney. By not having too many characters, we get to take a look inside these characters, really get to know them and this film does it, especially with the character of Dr. Ryan Stone.
The movie is headlined by two Academy Award winning actors and they are nothing short of excellent here. Bullock is so good in portraying the role of Dr. Ryan Stone here. She brought all the emotions here and was great. George Clooney was also impressive as the slightly cocky Matt Kowalski (although his role is less compared to Bullock's). They are experienced actors and this film shows just how professional they are.
Brilliant. That's the word for the film "Gravity". Never before have I seen something like this. It's gripping, it's beautiful, and perfect. This year has not been a very successful year for sci-fi but "Gravity" is different from the rest. It may contain more drama but it is nothing short of spectacular. Not all will find the brilliance but older audiences should discover just how magnificent this film is. "Gravity" is wow!
Final Verdict: "Gravity" is an experience like no other and will engage audiences with its thrills, visuals, and plot as if it's gravity itself.
Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
James Wan is on a hot streak this summer. After the success of July's "The Conjuring", he returns to deliver more thrills in "Insidious: Chapter 2", the sequel to the horrifying "Insidious". It may not compare to "The Conjuring", but "Insidious: Chapter 2" is also definitely a thrilling experience.
The main characters from the first film are back and the story picks up directly from the end of the first film. The Lambert family are back and the target of hauntings again. Patric Wilson is back as the head of the family, Josh Lambert and Rose Byrne is back as Renai Lambert. The kids are also back and even Specs and Tuckrr are back. The only new members are the new ghosts.
The story is similar to the first one, about astral projections. This time, it's the dad. They move to Lorraine's (Josh's mother) home to stay and strange occurrences still happen; the piano playing by itself, the baby's toy turning on by itself. Then they connect it to a mysterious person and it gets creepy.
The film is quite interesting. The flashbacks and background stories are intriguing and creepy. But what made the movie succeed was its shocks. The movie is skillful in producing scares and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The music was well-done too and provided quite the tension. The performances were also not too shabby and well-done.
However, what I felt was that kind of got repetitive towards the end. It was definitely formulaic and therefore, in the end, it got kind of annoying. In the end, the conclusion was nothing surprising and therefore played out normally. The last scene was quite expected and it's not surprising that the third installment is in the works right now.
But overall, "Insidious: Chapter 2" is quite a fun experience and it delivers quite enough shocks to satisfy horror fans. It may not surpass the freshness of the first film but "Chapter 2" is quite satisfying.
Final Verdict: Not a huge accomplishment, but "Insidious: Chapter 2" is a fun horror flick with an adequate amount of scares and is quite creepy.
Revisiting "Pitch Black"?
That's the kind of experience you're going to face when you watch this third installment of the "Riddick" franchise. Coming off the moderate second film, "Riddick" goes back to its roots and presents itself as basically a replica of the first film, a tale of survival.
There is practically no story here. The only scene that had more of a story lies in the first ten minutes. And it's not part of the main storyline, it came as a flashback describing how Riddick ended up in the desolate planet that will become the setting of this film. It is revealed that after Riddick became the Lord Marshall of the Necromongers, he wished to go back to his home planet of Furya. He made a deal with Vaako that he will be brought to Furya in exchange of him relinquishing the crown to Vaako. After Riddick lands on a desolate planet which he believes to be Furya, it is revealed that it is not Furya and he has been betrayed by the Necromongers. The Necromongers leave him and Riddick is stranded here. From then on, there is no single mention of the Necromongers anymore and it's basically a revamped "Pitch Black" all over again. (At one point, Riddick even said that it was the beginning all over again).
The first part of the movie was delivered in a very slow pace. We got to see Riddick beat up the deadly animals alone. There isn't a variety of creatures here; I only found three (striped feline creature, giant scorpions, and pterodactyls). However, there was one bright spot of the film that offered humor for the film and was a bit unexpected. Riddick takes care of one of the striped feline creature and soon it becomes Riddick's companion. The creature is actually quite adorable (an unusual word used to associate with the term "Riddick"). That was the only character that was actually quite interesting.
The other characters (the mercenaries) were dull and boring except the incredibly annoying Santana. I'll admit, at some points, he was actually pretty funny and provided the movie a comedic tone. However, sometimes, he just came across as being annoying and presenting the characters with additional problems. The side characters were basically unknown. You only know their names, but you don't know who they actually are. We don't know anything about them, because they're all so busy shooting the monsters.
This is what goes on for the rest of the movie. The mercenaries hid the battery as they intend to use the function-less ship as bait. Riddick stole it and put it somewhere far away. They don't make an agreement until a storm comes where large hordes of giant scorpions come lurking out. The two alliances comply to each other's terms and attempt to pass through the large flocks of scorpions and retrieve the battery. That's basically the whole movie aka "Pitch Black" all again.
The action sequences were quite thrilling, but nothing to brag about. It was quite standard with all the slashing and blood. The film is actually quite bloody and extreme. There are many decapitations and lots of blood. The creatures are too quite disgusting with all the organs lying around in some cases. But the action scenes were one of the positives of the movie. Another positive is the comedic theme incorporated here. It actually worked and was quite well done.
"Riddick" is certainly an improvement over "The Chronicles of Riddick" but is definitely steps below the original "Pitch Black". It is basically a revamped version of "Pitch Black". Newcomers won't find this that great but fans should find themselves quite satisfied with this installment (although I was a bit let down by the alarmingly close similarity to the first film).
Final Verdict: "Riddick" is a near-exact replica of the original "Pitch Black" that should offer enough to satisfy fans, but not newcomers.
Fun, Interesting, and Magical
Another adaptation of a wildly popular book franchise comes alight. "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" is the big-screen adaptation of the fantasy book saga penned by Cassandra Clare. It borrows from other materials but the film offers quite an intriguing story line of magic.
Here, the magical-powered people are called Shadowhunters. There are two possible ways one can be a Shadowhunter; you're descended from a Shadowhunter, or you drink from the Mortal Cup granted by the Angel Raziel.
The story starts with Clary Fray starting to see strange symbols and seeing things other can't see. After her mother has been kidnapped, she is drawn into the world of the Shadowhunters, warriors trained to slay demons. She learns that the Shadowhunters are after one of the Mortal Instruments: the Mortal Cup. The villains are after it in hopes of conquering the world and the good guys are here to prevent the villains from succeeding. Along the way, there are many twists and a rich background story that makes this a wonderful ride.
There are many twists concerning the alliances of the characters. In the beginning, some of these twists work and are quite surprising and therefore they work. However, as the movie moves along, similar twists are put and it becomes kind of repetitive that it becomes quite predictable (at least for me).
The movie itself has quite an interesting and fun plot. The background is rich and the characters are quite interesting. It blends various mythologies and also incorporates some peculiar tiny bits (Johann Sebastian Bach was a Shadowhunter). The characters' motives are quite clear too. However, I felt a little bit down during the climax since the main character was not really involved prominently and therefore it was kind of disappointing.
The film has a wonderful ensemble of young likable stars. The role of the protagonist is taken by the beautiful young Lily Collins. Her performance here was stunning and definitely a highlight. Coming in as the her love interest is Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland. Although he had a fine performance, it didn't match Collins's performance. The rest of the cast also gave impressive performances.
The pace was quite well-done and it didn't feel rushed. However, sometimes the film did feel draggy in some scenes. The visual effects were incredible too and definitely a treat for the eyes. Characters were quite well-developed too.
All in all, "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" is a well-crafted fantasy adaptation that is enjoyable. It's loosely based on the book. It's not for all and no, it doesn't put the love triangle as the main theme of the film so not all "Twilight" fans will enjoy this. If you just open your mind a bit, you might be able to savor the film.
Final Verdict: "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" is an enjoyable adaptation of the popular fantasy book series with an intriguing plot and an excellent performance by Lily Collins.
Back to Camp Half-Blood
Greek mythology returns in "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters", the sequel to 2010's "The Lightning Thief". Based on the novels by Rick Riordan, the series puts a spin on the rich mythology by blending it with modern society, which is kind of interesting.
The bulk of all the characters here are demigods/half-bloods (offspring of gods and humans). But the protagonist is Percy Jackson, a demigod son of Poseidon. Previously, he along with his besties Annabeth (daughter of Athena) and Grover (a satyr), stopped Luke, the Lightning thief, from destroying Olympus. Here, Camp Half-Blood (demigods' safe haven) are under threat after Thalia's tree, the boundary that protects the camp, is poisoned. The only thing that can heal it is the Golden Fleece which is located on an island in the Sea of Monsters, or what we like to call the Bermuda Triangle.
The movie is quite action-packed and pits our hero against a variety of Greek monsters. I loved the scene where the half-bloods had to face the Colchis bull. The mechanical bull was quite extraordinary and that scene was entertaining. However, I felt that the climax was a bit of a letdown as all the tension that had been generated zipped away so quickly.
Characters come and go. In "Sea of Monsters", much of the ensemble cast that make up the deities from the previous film are absent. We will see no more of Zeus (Sean Bean), Poseidon (Kevin McKidd), Hades (Steve Coogan), Persephone (Rosario Dawson), and Chiron (Pierce Brosnan). That means most of the experienced actors are out (not to forget Uma Thurman as Medusa). In replacement, we get Dionysus portrayed by the reliable Stanley Tucci. The gods Hermes and Chiron have replacements (Nathan Fillion and Anthony Head, respectively). We also have the clumsy but humble Tyson (Douglas Smith), Percy's cyclops half-brother, and the self-eccentric Clarisse La Rue (Leven Rambin), demigod daughter of Ares.
The movie had lots of scenes involving special effects. It was okay but it wasn't excellent. Some of the creatures were stunning (the hippocampus was amazing and eye-candy) whereas some looked pretty cheap and effortless (Kronos).
Under the direction of a new director, the movie is more faithful to the source compared to the first movie's similarity to the book (although by a tiny bit). But that's not to say some of the scenes diverge from he book. The movie is quite well-paced and during the ride, there are plenty of laughs to enjoy.
Overall, "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" is quite an enjoyable film. It's not better than the first and it's not worse than the first. It has quite an interesting premise and some fine action sequences.
Final Verdict: "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" is a decent sequel that provides plenty of action scenes and laughs, with passable acting and okay visual effects.
Snail in Full Speed
"Turbo" may not be the most original or inventive animated film ever but it's a good time and pretty fun. The story is pretty simple and one that a little child can imagine. But the way it delivers the story is gorgeous. It has lovable characters and sense of humor.
Theo (who prefers to be called Turbo) is a garden snail who lives as an outsider among his snail community. His dream of becoming the Indianapolis 500 champion makes him an outcast and his obsession with speed brings embarrassment to his brother, Chet. However, after an unexpected accident, Theo is granted incredible speed and also inherits some characteristics of an actual car (headlights, radio).
He is then taken by a chubby guy named Tito. Tito and his brother Angelo own a taco shop that is struggling. The other tenants in the area are also facing the same problem. Tito has this idea of registering Turbo into the Indy 500 in order to help his business prosper. And there are also other snails who become Turbo's buddies.
"Turbo" may not have as much depth as some of the animated masterpieces. But "Turbo" doesn't aim in being that. It wants to become a fun-filled adventure about a freaking-fast snail racing in the midst of an array of monstrous cars. And it doesn't disappoint. It's enjoyable, slick and plenty of fun.
The characters are likable too. Turbo is ambitious, funny, and adventurous. All the qualities of a fun character are embodied in him. Chet, his brother, is caring and more cautious but is also adorable in some moments. The other snails are also plenty of fun due to their ridiculous antics. Besides the mollusks, we also have the human characters. Tito, with his large build, is extremely chubby and funny. Tito's other friends are also a joy to watch.
"Turbo" also has a great sense of humor. I had a blast watching this film. Not all the jokes work, but most of them do. But I do want to mention that there's a joke concerning crows snatching one snail at a time, and to me it seems a bit extreme because the idea of a snail being eaten by a crow is kinda creepy, don't you think? Or maybe it's just me. But the bottom line is "Turbo" is plenty of fun to watch.
The animation is not the best I've seen but it's pretty good. It possesses beautiful sets and the colors are fluorescent. The voice cast was excellent too and Ryan Reynolds did a great job lending his voice to Turbo.
"Turbo" is a fun and rollicking adventure and it is plenty of joy to watch these lovable characters see what they're up to. Just don't expect too much from it and don't expect it to be a masterpiece.
Final Verdict: It may not be original but "Turbo" is a hell of a roller-coaster ride that will provide plenty of joy and laughs with its lovable characters.
The Wolverine (2013)
Wolverine's True Comeback
Wolverine is finally back, and this new installment in the "X-Men" franchise is extremely slick, exhilarating, and top-notch. Forget the disappointing "Origins" 4 years ago, this is the real Wolverine movie. It's action-packed, dark, occasionally humorous, and surprisingly has depth. It may not be the best "X-Men" film but "The Wolverine" is a solid entry that will help the "X-Men" franchise recover from the disappointing "Last Stand" and "Origins".
In this installment, Wolverine is struggling with his immortality. His lover, Jean Grey died way back in "The Last Stand" and he's been suffering from an endless period of nightmares. It feels as if he has nothing to do on this Earth and he's longing to re-join his lover in the other side. But when an old acquaintance Yashida (a man who Wolverine saved during the 1945 bombing of Nagasaki) invites him to Japan and offers to remove his immortality, Wolverine is delved into new territory.
There are two women who work alongside Wolverine here. First, there's Mariko Yashida, the granddaughter of Yashida and the chosen heiress to the throne. When she takes her grandfather's role, she will become the most powerful person in Japan and will need protection from the endless hordes of the Yakuza. The other person is the pink-haired Yukio who is an excellent fighter and form a great team with Wolverine.
"The Wolverine" is set in an environment new to the "X-Men" franchise, Japan. The vibrant colors, tall buildings, beautiful scenery are used in a maximizing manner. The action scenes look really well in this new setting.
What made "The Wolverine" more engaging was that we finally get to see Logan mortal. He literally will get hurt if he gets shot or cut. For the first time ever, he is no longer invincible and this escalates the tension every time he's in a fight against an adversary. We see Wolverine lingering in the boundary between life and death. Wounded.
Then we have the action sequences which are extremely intense. The climax was gripping but I also expressed extreme fondness for the action scene where Wolverine battled against several Yakuza members on top of a lightning-fast moving bullet train. That scene was extremely suspenseful and was one of the highlights, at least for me. Don't get me wrong, the other action sequences were fun too but that bullet train scene was just amazing.
Hugh Jackman returns once again as the ageless Logan aka Wolverine. As usual, his performance is strong, gritty, and excellent. The only difference between his performance here and "Origins" is that his performance here is not burdened by an awful script as it was in "Origins". The other performances were powerful too. Tao Okamoto was perfect as the heiress Mariko Yashida and Rila Fukushima was bad-ass as Yukio. Everyone of the cast was good.
All in all, "The Wolverine" is solid, action-packed and a satisfying addition to the "X-Men" franchise. It has incredible action scenes, solid acting, and a great script. However, I did find something nit-picking (no spoilers here but it concerns Logan's ability to recall a certain memory). Nonetheless, "The Wolverine" is successfully in continuing the revival of the "X-Men" franchise and only gets me more hyped about next year's "Days of Future Past". And watch out for the post-credits scene in the end.
Final Verdict: Forget "Origins", "The Wolverine" is a terrific new entry in the "X-Men" franchise that serves as the Wolverine movie we all wanted.