Posts Tagged ‘Hugh Jackman’

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a phenomenal film and one of my absolute favorites from 2015.

Released last summer, this movie has been relatively overlooked. Personally, I don’t know anyone else who has watched Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Maybe it’s because this was a smaller independent movie without major marketing or star power, but the whole cast is outstanding. Thomas Mann shines as the titular Me (actual character’s name is Greg), and RJ Cyler has a charismatic yet low-key presence as Greg’s best friend/co-worker/acquaintance Earl. Remember the names of those actors.

Olivia Cooke holds her own as well with a solid, overwhelmingly depressing performance as Rachel—the Dying Girl. After repeated viewings, you can really pick up on her nuances and see the literal and figurative transformation of the character. Rachel’s dad left when she was young so she only has her mom. Molly Shannon plays her mom (Denise) and this is undoubtedly the best performance of her career as well as her best movie. Denise actually starts the story in motion by telling Greg’s mom that Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia. Despite not necessarily being friends, Greg is practically pushed by his mom to hang out with Rachel, which results in an amazingly awkward introduction.

Parents

Within the first 15 minutes, the setup is complete and the story is established.

Although the story is based on a book written by Jesse Andrews, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon had Andrews tweak the screenplay. I haven’t read the book, but I wholeheartedly endorse the changes I discovered. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon felt like he was the only one who could tell this story, and it’s hard to argue with that. The movie was dedicated to his late father and you can tell it’s personalized with certain movie references that influenced Gomez-Rejon. In different (less adept) hands, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl could have transformed into your typical young adult romance fodder.

Steps

The interplay between Greg, Earl, and Rachel is the most compelling component of this character-driven drama. Greg tries to keep everyone at a distance because he has very low self-esteem and doesn’t want to get close to people, but he also becomes incredibly selfless through his friendship with Rachel. For better or worse, Greg’s carefully cultivated invisibility disappears. These characters feel like genuine people legitimately reacting to the events and having difficulty coping with their reality. Rachel is dealt a shitty hand by being abandoned by her dad early in life and then dealing with leukemia during her senior year. You feel the burden and weight these characters are carrying in their everyday lives.

While the subject matter is inescapably sad, you can savor the moments of levity.

In particular, Nick Offerman is fucking hilarious as Greg’s dad—it’s a nice counter to Connie Britton’s nagging mom routine. Nick Offerman plays an out-there, off-the-wall professor of sorts who somehow stays at home most of the time. He introduces Greg and Earl to the finest foreign cinema when they’re rather young, which inspired them to make their own homages to the movies they love.

Films

Basically, Greg and Earl change a word or two in the title of a movie they love and then make their own parody story. There are snippets of some movies and you just see the titles of others. In all, they have 42 films—gems like A Sockwork Orange, Burden of Screams, Eyes Wide Butt, My Dinner with Andre the Giant, and Raging Bullshit. I have a real appreciation for those little vignettes. Ultimately, it’s a few short seconds of actual screen time that likely took quite a while to compile the list of fake titles and compose the parody scenes. It is a delightful nod to film history. And most importantly, it results in at least one Werner Herzog impersonation in the movie. I hope you just read that sentence in his voice.

Jon Bernthal is his usual excellent self as the History teacher, Mr. McCarthy. Greg and Earl sit in his office to eat and watch videos during their lunch. It also affords Mr. McCarthy the opportunity to throw down life lessons here and there. I have never experienced a Jon Bernthal performance that I didn’t love, and this movie is absolutely no different. His character adds energy to the school sequences, and I’m convinced his mere presence elevated the performances of Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler. You wish you had a teacher as cool as Jon Bernthal. Hell, I wish I knew anyone as cool as Jon Bernthal.

McCarthy

It would’ve been too easy to make this movie a sappy teen cancer flick about finding love in the worst of times. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is enjoyable on several levels because it has so many layers. It is unmistakably a movie about how much cancer fucking sucks. But it’s also a comedy about how true friendship works. This is a movie that can and should be enjoyed by various types of audiences. Although the protagonists are teenagers in high school, I would argue that this even more of a heartfelt drama for adults. Prepare for an emotional ride through the human experience.

Maybe it’s just me, but I found a lot to fall madly in love with this movie. As long as you pay attention, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl can continue unfolding itself to you even after the credits roll.

Respect the Research

5 out of 5 stars

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The opening montage of Chappie appropriately sets the stage by introducing the audience to the new robotic police force that is tasked with cleaning up the rampant crime in Johannesburg, South Africa. If you watched District 9, the faux documentarian approach employed early on is familiar territory.

While effective, it’s indicative of the movie as a whole and writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s work.

By now, we’ve all grown accustomed to the imagery.

The look and feel of District 9, Elysium, and Chappie are mostly the same. South Africa is a horrifyingly beautiful place stricken with poverty and blessed with pretty landscapes. I can certainly understand why Blomkamp is comfortable with using his home country of South Africa as a foundation for his movies. But people have reached a point where they want more diversity discovering new stories.

Although Chappie isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.

Unfortunately, Chappie didn’t seem to find its audience here domestically. An early release in March seemed like odd timing as Chappie feels like it should have been closer to the string of summer releases—somewhere around late April/early May or at the tail-end of blockbuster season near August. Both District 9 (2009) and Elysium (2013) were August releases. Pure armchair speculation, but those studio decisions are typically indicative of their own opinions on the movie.

Maybe they were right, to an extent. Disclaimer: Chappie is not for everyone. And that’s fine.

This is not a movie that would likely sit well with test audiences. I can understand why studio executives wouldn’t get it either. Squares in suits with ties cinched around their necks are not going to enjoy Chappie. Clearly, this movie is intended for Blomkamp’s well-carved out niche audience. I count myself amongst them. Chappie is dumb, entertaining fun with a heart. Do not try to think too much or else the plot holes will hurt your brain. If you want a thinking man’s movie about artificial intelligence, then watch the terrific acting performances of Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson in Ex Machina. Both of these movies are great in their own right, just in different ways. Ex Machina should be an Oscar contender in some respect.

Hugh Jackman

That’s right, I think Chappie is great. And that’s not because of Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel, or Sigourney Weaver. While I enjoy Ripley as much as the next person (and we can probably credit Chappie for the eventual creation of the next Alien movie), Sigourney Weaver was wholly useless in this movie. It wasn’t her fault, but that role of Tetravaal CEO was so bland that literally any man or woman could have filled out. That was a bit of a disappointment. Dev Patel was solid yet unspectacular as Deon, the genius inventor of the robotic police force. A number of actors could have done as serviceable of a job as Slumdog Millionaire. Hugh Jackman was delightful as the prickish, jealous ex-military co-worker of Deon who wants to watch the world burn if it means his massive remote controlled MOOSE robot can come in and wreck shit. His haircut was ridiculous and Jackman seemed to revel in the freedom of the role.

Sharlto Copley deserves immense praise for giving life to Chappie—both voice and motion-capture. At several points, I had to remind myself that it was the same person that played the lead in District 9 and was relatively terrifying as Kruger in Elysium. Copley bring a humanity to Chappie that I didn’t expect. There’s one particularly heart-wrenching scene where Chappie is in danger in the slums of Johannesburg while still trying to understand the world. Copley captures the spirit of every situation perfectly.

But no, none of these actors are the highlight of the film. I feel confident in saying that whether or not you like Chappie hinges on what you think about the gangsters Ninja and Yo-Landi.

If the purpose of Chappie was to thrust Die Antwoord on the American populous, then I consider Chappie to be a resounding success. Ninja and Yo-Landi stole this movie and made it entertaining. Die Antwoord is interwoven into the fabric of Chappie—this movie couldn’t work without them. Several production sets are clearly from Die Antwoord’s music videos, which brings an awesome sense of surrealism. Die Antwoord’s music is dropped in at perfect, opportune moments to add some levity and zef style.

Zef

It’s been six months now and I’ve watched Chappie on three separate occasions.

I still haven’t escaped the rabbit hole that is South African rap group Die Antwoord’s ridiculous music. Such classics as Cookie Thumper!, Enter The Ninja, Fatty Boom Boom, Happy Go Sucky Fucky, I Fink U Freeky, Raging Zef Boner, and Strunk. And I hate almost every electronic dance music song I’ve ever heard. But the fat beats and zef raps of Die Antwoord will seep into your brain and infect you.

In Chappie, the gangster duo of Ninja and Yo-Landi are accompanied by Amerika—their Yankee cohort played by Jose Pablo Cantillo, best known as Martinez in his run on The Walking Dead. Chappie has a limited story, which is set into motion by these lovable gangsters needing to pay off a $20 million debt in a week to the not-so-lovable Hippo—a steroid freak with a hilarious haircut played by Brandon Auret. I think Auret is a weak link in a very good cast, but he serves as an imposing figure in his few scenes.

I was shocked that I enjoyed Chappie as much as I did. Several people were probably turned off by a shitting marketing campaign, but this movie deserves better. Blomkamp apparently already has a trilogy planned out, it seems completely unnecessary in terms of pure storytelling. While the foreign market at least balanced the budget, Chappie probably isn’t long for a sequel. And that’s fine.

Although I truly hope Blomkamp’s contribution to the Alien franchise comes to fruition, I don’t want to see Blomkamp return to any of his works. We’re done with the world of Chappie. The story comes to a nice resolution that we don’t need to revisit. It’s time to move along to a new story and different world.

Story Time

Die Antwoord made this movie with real, human performances that I connected with—surprisingly enough. It seems unlikely that Chappie even got off the ground with the unknown rap duo practically starring with more screen time than Hugh Jackman. You can see that Blomkamp leaves a window open with the ending that he could squeeze through for a sequel, but let’s just close that shut now.

While this movie is nowhere near Oscar-worthy in any category, Chappie is great in its own right. It’s much more entertaining than it had any right being. With an odd blend of charisma and panache injected by Die Antwoord, Chappie manages to be unique—something all movies should strive toward.

Give Chappie a chance. Maybe it won’t touch your heart, but you should enjoy the ride regardless.

Fist Bump

4 out of 5 stars

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Amidst a largely disappointing summer season, X-Men: Days of Future Past delivers on the promise of a summer blockbuster: providing ample mindless entertainment. While this movie isn’t without its own fair share of flaws, the latest X-Men effort is arguably the best in a long series of mostly worthwhile films. Let’s all agree X-Men Origins: Wolverine never happened. The world is just a better place that way.

Considering that The Wolverine was such an awful mess as well, it’s hard not to walk away impressed with this successful blend of two separate casts in a relatively straightforward time-travel plot.

X-Men: Days of Future Past doesn’t waste any time setting up the story and plunging forward. In this dystopian future, Sentinels (robots) track down and destroy mutants, but they’ve also been designed to hunt humans who help mutants. The introduction displays countless bodies dumped in what appears to be a makeshift mutant landfill. Charles Xavier, Wolverine, and our favorite band of merry mutants attempt to act as a counterforce against the Sentinels, but it’s always a battle they can never win.

Kitty Pryde (played by Ellen Page) can send a person’s consciousness into their younger self, but this form of time-travel is limited because going back more than a week or so will irreparably hurt that person.

If only there was an indestructible mutant that can heal himself. Oh yeah, that’s Wolverine.

In a true stroke of either genius or luck, the writers get to use their biggest movie star (Hugh Jackman) as the connection between past and present. More screen time for Hugh Jackman is never a bad thing for box office success. As a result, the story once again works around the dichotomy between the relationship of Professor Xavier and Magneto, which really has been the driving force in all the traditional X-Men movies. In this version, the audience gets to see this relationship play out over time with different actors.

You can have a movie jam-packed with action sequences and amazing visual effects, but this movie works because of the performances of James McAvoy (Xavier) and Michael Fassbender (Magneto). At this point, no one should be surprised that Fassbender put forth an amazing performance since he’s one of the best working actors. However, I was kinda taken back by James McAvoy. Given the ability to act as the emotional center, McAvoy runs the gamut and comes out shining on the other side.

In X-Men: Days of Future Past, both Xavier and Magneto are basically fighting over the soul or at least the moral core of Mystique as the story is fixated on going back into the past to prevent Mystique from assassinating Dr. Bolivar Trask (played by Peter Dinklage)—who invented the Sentinels in 1973. The primary reason the Sentinels prove to be unstoppable murderers of mutants is Mystique being captured after the assassination and the incorporation of her unique DNA into the Sentinels.

Jennifer Lawrence does a solid job in human and mutant form as Mystique. And blah, blah, blah.

Mystique

I enjoy watching a half-naked Jennifer Lawrence as much as any pre-pubescent male, and her jiggle was impressive and on full display during this movie. But please endure a short rant…

What the fuck were they thinking with Mystique’s makeup? I understand Jennifer Lawrence has become a genuine movie star after the commercial success of The Hunger Games, but there’s a better way to cut down on the makeup time while still putting forth a more quality product. From shoulders to feet, the sequins on her body suit stand out like it’s part of a crappy arts and crafts project. And I can point to scenes where the awkward orange wig does not sit proper. Yes, this is very nitpicky, but it’s an observation of a distracting component of a majorly successful, multi-million dollar summer blockbuster.

Maybe it’s just my hyper-vigilance. I hope so.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is more of the same in the current surge of comic book movies with a certain gritty realism—inspired by The Dark Knight (directed by Christopher Nolan). However, it also puts a slight twist with the time-travel plot, which gives the audience the illusion of something new.

That’s a credit to Bryan Singer.

I haven’t read much into the Bryan Singer scandal to know if it is bullshit or not. Appearing on an episode of Face Off—a reality competition show based on special effects movie makeups—for Jack the Giant Slayer, I came away with the impression that Singer was a little odd on a personal level. But that’s not an indication of anything other than being goofy. In terms of directing, Singer’s slightly off demeanor may even help him present his movies in a more interesting light with a unique perspective.

Magneto

In particular, one of the most impressive portions of X-Men: Days of Future Past is the character introduction of Quicksilver. I was admittedly among those horrified of the initial preview of this character. The images released beforehand showed Evan Peters as an Asian hipster with light purple hair.

It all looked so fucking awful.

Even though the outfit still left a lot to be desire, it didn’t seem so out of place in the context of the movie as well as the specific set designs of his mom’s basement and the Pentagon, which are the only two scenes featuring Quicksilver. In fact, the action sequence of Quicksilver breaking out Magneto from the Pentagon will remain the most memorable scene from this movie years down the road. I can’t envision another actor successfully pulling off the portrayal of this particular vision of Quicksilver. Evan Peters exuded charisma and actually transformed an unlikable character into someone who’s at least tolerated.

Quicksilver1

Quicksilver2

Quicksilver3

The other new mutants (Bishop, Blink, Warpath, and even Sunspot) did not get that same treatment or any true effort to flesh out more backstory. But with a remarkable blend of solid story and a few action scenes, this movie is a perfect recipe for a summer blockbuster. Don’t expect an Academy Award winner, but this new X-Men movie has easily been the best, most enjoyable I’ve seen in theaters this summer.

Now that the stage is set for X-Men: Apocalypse, it’ll be interesting to see the big screen treatment of such an infamous villain. Growing up as an avid fan of X-Men (reading comics and watching the 90s cartoon), I would love to see Sinister added to the mix as well. There are so many more mutants could be introduced, and I think most fans would love to see the next movie feature a more diverse array than the same old characters. With the focus on the younger cast, that could be a real possibility in X-Men: Apocalypse.

But if the announcement of Channing Tatum as Gambit, I do not have much hope of the next movie achieving this same level of entertainment. Like everyone, my favorite character has always been Wolverine, but Gambit is a close second. Channing Tatum is a very odd choice and I don’t see this turning out too well. For now, just enjoy the X-Men universe where Channing Tatum doesn’t exist.

Gambit

4.5 out of 5 stars

Jackman

Rare is the occasion when a trailer does anything except ruin a movie.

But I found the theatrical trailer for Prisoners to be creepy and haunting. I was hooked from the second I saw Paul Dano in what seemed to be a very disturbing role as a potential child kidnapper/molester. Paul Dano is a phenomenal actor, and I don’t need to be convinced to see one of his movies.

Then I saw the runtime: 153 minutes.

One-hundred and fifty-three fucking minutes. That’s nearly 2 1/2 brutal hours of a movie with a brooding, dark tone. No movie needs to be 2 hours. I don’t even like to watch a movie that is longer than 100 minutes. All the goodwill and promise exemplified in the glimpse of the trailer was thrown out the window.

BANNED!

I was looking for any and every reason to avoid watching this movie. But my frigid mindset towards Prisoners was warmed when I read how long it took Anderson Cowan (from The Film Vault) to pee after watching the movie. Yes, you read that right. My hatred for unnecessarily long movies was dissolved—at least in this instance—by a 93-second stay at a urinal. For a little context…

“93 seconds. Perhaps this is too graphic or too much information, but I feel that telling you the length of time I spent urinating (I clocked it with my phone for the sake of accuracy) after viewing Dennis Villendeuve’s dramatic thriller, helps illustrate just how gripping this thing is. I was loaded with 20 ounces of coffee and held captive in the theater, unable to pick a moment where I might escape for bladder relief without missing something big. This is unusual as in usually if I have to exit a film there are plenty of predictable turns and or obligatory exposition fill in scenes that lend themselves to this purpose. Not with this 153 minute epic and for that I was painfully grateful.”

While this review re-ignited my interest in Prisoners, the movie ultimately failed to deliver on its potential. Instead a gripping, gritty thriller, I felt like I was watching a whodunit mired in quicksand. My problem with Prisoners is that it was incredibly predictable for a whodunit, which is supposed to be a “complex, plot-driven variety of the detective story in which the audience is given the opportunity to engage in the same process of deduction as the protagonist throughout the investigation of a crime.”

Spoilers galore.

Don’t get me wrong, the first hour of Prisoners actually was fascinating and extremely engaging—especially considering it’s a character-driven drama. Hugh Jackman is terrific in his role as Keller Dover. I fucking love Hugh Jackman, and it’s a shame so much of his career has been relegated to just being Wolverine over and over again. The Dovers (Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello) head over to the neighboring Birches (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) for Thanksgiving dinner. After a creepy scene where the daughters of the Dovers and Birches are playing near and on a parked RV, these two stupid girls escape the sight of their parents and decide they don’t need any pesky supervision.

Of course, the two girls disappear immediately. Jake Gyllenhaal comes into the picture as Detective Loki, who is the lead detective on the case and is on the scene when the RV is found next to a wooded area with Paul Dano at the wheel. Typically, I don’t care for either of the Gyllenhaals (Jake or Maggie) because I find them entirely replaceable, and Prisoners is a perfect example. For a character-driven movie, Jake Gyllenhaal added nothing to his character and there could have been 5-10 other actors substituted in his place. With that said, Gyllenhaal did a decent job even if his presence peaked with Alex’s interrogation.

Dano

Although Detective Loki makes a hard run at Alex, he doesn’t break his silent, disturbed demeanor and the police have to let Alex go because of a lack of any physical evidence in the RV. This is the instance where the façade of a great movie falls apart for me. If you haven’t seen this movie, stop reading.

Please, stop…okay.

As I’ve said a few times, Prisoners is a character-driven drama, which means the actors and actresses essentially serve as the primary focus and the cast really does a great job of driving the movie. But my question is who the fuck is responsible for that abomination of a make-up on Melissa Leo? It was distractingly awful and not even up to the standard of the worst Face-Off contestants. As soon as Academy Award winning actress Melissa Leo (playing Holly Jones, the aunt of Alex) shows up on the screen, anyone who is a movie-lover with a keen eye should know what is eventually going to unfold. I can only imagine the creators threw that abysmal old age make-up on Melissa Leo to try to fool people into not recognizing Melissa Leo and then wondering why she is playing such a seemingly small role.

A huge hint is also provided when Holly tells Alex to write his full name on the paper at the police station to retrieve his belongings. The camera lingers on Alex’s poor penmanship and frightened expression, which just blew everything up for me. You have to know that there’s no fucking way that Alex (played by Paul Dano) will actually be the one responsible for kidnapping the girls because the previews put the emphasis on him as the primary suspect. Of course there’s going to be a switcheroo surprise ending, and you see it coming a mile away if you notice Melissa Leo and feel her character’s calm, controlling presence looming and lurking. The foreshadowing was way too belabored when the side plot reveals a dead body in the basement of a priest who claimed the man confessed to him about kidnapping and killing children.

GyllenhaalI immediately made the connection that this man was the husband of Holly, who is now pulling the strings as the evil puppeteer orchestrating the chaos. When you know who does it in a whodunit, there’s no tension anymore and the build-up is meandering and monotonous. However, Prisoners still managed to hold my interest for most of the movie because of Alex and the phenomenal acting of Paul Dano as you don’t really know the level of his complicity. You know something is off with little Alex, which is exemplified with his cryptic statement—“they only cried when I left them”—to Keller as he’s outside the police station after being released. If only he shut his fucking mouth. Keller seizes on that statement as proof that Alex knows what happened and where his daughter is being held.

Although you can feel the raw emotion of Hugh Jackman as Keller, the movie misses a fantastic opportunity to make more of the interaction between Keller and Alex. Instead, the story quickly takes a torture porn twist as Keller kidnaps Alex and does anything he can think of to beat information out of him. If they were able to produce more depth with this portion of the story, I would have cared more about the question of how far is too far when you’re in Keller’s shoes as a parent with a missing child. Also, the contrast between Keller Dover and Franklin Birch (played by Terrence Howard) was also way too black and white for me. Wouldn’t it have been more interesting to see some interplay between Dover and Birch trying to decide together what they should do rather than Keller taking the lead and Birch taking a backseat?

Birch’s good behavior is rewarded by karma as his daughter (Joy) escapes. When laying in the hospital and questioned on what she can remember, Joy reveals that Keller was there, which is the final piece of the puzzle so Keller immediately leaves to go to confront Holly. Loki isn’t far behind, but Holly is a step ahead of both as she forces Keller to drink her late husband’s special mixture then forces him down the same ditch where his daughter was being held. Holly injected Dover’s daughter with a fatal solution right before Loki shows up and shoots her—though he takes one in the head in the process. Loki rushes the unconscious girl to the hospital and saves her life even though he could have killed a handful of people while trying to drive with blood gushing down his face and losing his vision as a result of the bullet wound.

When it comes down to it, I had way too many problems with the story and execution of the journey—let alone all of the issues with the end destination. Settling on the “waging a war against God” angle seemed trite and uninspired. And the shitty fade to black, Sopranos-esque ending was an admission that they couldn’t create a satisfactory conclusion even if it strayed from the book ending. Although the movie was nearly 2 1/2 hours, I wanted some sort of resolution after it was revealed Alex was the first child that Holly and her husband kidnapped. Seeing him try to find some sort of normalcy after experiencing that trauma or at least see the moment the mother was reunited with her son would have been heartbreaking. Without a meaningful resolution, the ending is a jarring shift that drags the rest of the movie down dramatically.

I wish Prisoners delivered on its potential, but it is a pretty lackluster execution of a great idea. If only I stuck to my guns and banned the movie. Again, no movie should be 2 hours or more. Prisoners needed an editor who could’ve taken a machete to hack away and clear the clutter. I can recommend watching the first hour or so, but I was begging for it all to end—much like little Alex. Mercifully, it ended.

3 out of 5 stars

Wolverine

I defy you to tell me one positive thing about The Wolverine. My eyes were just raped. Dry eye rape.

Void of any humor, The Wolverine fails to provide anything aside from a one-dimensional comic book movie. Perhaps we’ve all been spoiled by The Dark Knight as the pinnacle of what a superhero movie can aspire towards. This movie could have been so much better if it had any grit or personality…or if there was anything remotely interesting in The Wolverine.

There’s no amount of drugs that can make this movie tolerable.

Without question, the first act contains all of the “best” parts of The Wolverine. However, the second act quickly fades into obscurity thanks to a tedious pace and the third act just struggles miserably to the finish line. And if you think you have an idea of what is going to happen, it will play out exactly as you think it will happen. The Wolverine does not go out on a limb by any standard (and it has no imagination), and its predictability will only provide satisfaction for the stupid who love a nice pretty bow on everything.

It is really a shame since Wolverine is such a rich character that is almost impossible to hate. As far as comic book characters are concerned, Wolverine has to be right near the top of any list. His character offers an entertaining concoction of vulnerability and balls, and he always is and will continue to be the correct answer to any “superhero vs. superhero” theoretical argument.

I don’t think The Wolverine knew what it wanted to be. But they did know how they wanted to market it. While this will be a considered a box office success and likely have a huge international return, The Wolverine is a disjointed mess without any memorable aspect. After the next few days, the only thing I will remember about this movie is how much I did not enjoy it.

The whole time watching this movie, I kept thinking how significantly more entertaining The Wolverine could have been if Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler) actually directed it, which is part of the reason why this movie feels so disjointed. James Mangold ended up directing The Wolverine with the screenplay crafted by Christopher McQuarrie, Scott Frank, and Mark Bomback—originally written by McQuarrie and re-written by Bomback after Darren Aronofsky dropped out. Maybe not even Aronofsky could have saved this turd, but I have a hard time believing this wouldn’t have been substantially better with him behind the wheel.

MoleSure, directors and actors are attached to and drop out from movies all the time before production. But I don’t think this movie should have been made without Aronofsky. The Wolverine is just an amalgamation of the worst parts of the X-Men franchise minus all the mutants. Aside from Wolverine, the only other mutant is Viper, which is a female foe that hits one note and nothing more. Viper is played by Svetlana Khodchenkova and her acting was distractingly dismal. Khodchenkova is best known for playing the role of the mole on Fred Savage’s face during Austin Powers in Goldmember. I kept expecting her mole to turn into a bug and crawl towards her fucking mouth.

VeinsI wish there was at least a really good acting performance that you could hang on to in The Wolverine. Hugh Jackman did a solid job yet again, but what more can he do with this role? At this point, even Hugh has to be tired of donning that ridiculous hairdo. Well, maybe all the millions he’s set to rake in as a result will offset that.

Can someone explain to me why Jackman went on the Ryan Braun diet for The Wolverine? I hate to tell him all his carb-loading and intense workouts were entirely necessary. Luckily, I didn’t watch this in 3D. I was afraid Jackman’s disgusting veins were going to explode whenever he strained himself.

I’m not spoiling anything here, but there are a few scenes in the beginning where Wolverine shares the screen with a grizzly bear. That has to be some of the worst special effects for a big budget movie in recent memory. Regardless of whether it was CGI or a prop head/puppet or some combination thereof, but it was distractingly bad. There’s been a lot of buzz about the bullet train scene as well.

Prepared to be disappointed.

I’ve probably written way more than The Wolverine warrants, but I’m motivated to finish this so I can move on and start forgetting I even watched it. The best part of The Wolverine is when the movie ends—in more ways than one. There’s an end of credits scene that sets up the next movie, which is destined to be considerably more entertaining since there has to be more mutants than you can count on one hand.

Do yourself a favor and skip The Wolverine. Do not watch.

1 out of 5 stars