I’ve gotten a little behind on my review folder so there should be another post coming soon. This time out we have 4 action films (Superheroes, Martial Arts & Science Fiction) and one biopic. The schizophrenic biography of a porn classic.
Let’s get right to it…
To the reviews
First up another stab at a Wolverine solo movie.
The Wolverine 2013 (20th Century Fox)
Directed by James Mangold
Written by Mark Bomback & Scott Frank
Based on Wolverine by Chris Claremont & Frank Miller
Starring Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Brian Tee & Famke Janssen
This is a really good comic book movie. This is what it’s like when the filmmakers respect the source material.
The Wolverine 2013 is a lot like the Wolverine comic. Complete w/ ninjas, that remarkable calm before each storm and another doomed romance. I owned these books back when I was a collector. I like this story.
I love this movie. This is how a comic book movie should be made.
There are epic battles against Ninjas and Yakuza and Evil Mutants and an epilogue that serves as a prologue to the next X-Men movie. This is a great film.
Rent it (I’ll be buying it. Definitely re-watchable)
Elysium (TriStar Pictures)
Written & Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura & William Fichtner
Elysium suffers from a sloppy story that veers off in odd directions. A great premise but some bad writing.
I wanted to like this movie so much. I love Neill Blomkamp’s other film; District 9, but Elysium is a swing and a miss his second time out. Jodie Foster is amazing as always, acting in both languages (I love when she pulls out her French) but honestly, at this point, it would be strange if she weren’t amazing. Ms Foster brings 100% every time out.
I would have preferred for her and Matt to have had more scenes together. I would have added a comm link between the two for a little trash talking as she tries to capture him. You have two sensational actors and they don’t play off each other. What a waste.
Elysium has a good message about the direction the world is taking and Matt Damon is fantastic but it’s a bad execution of a great idea. I think I wanted more from this film. Good effects. Good premise. It’s just lacking in focus.
Rent it (There are good things here. Good performances etc. Just don’t expect too much)
Next up… a sequel?
Kick-Ass 2 (Universal Pictures)
I would have preferred Kick-Ass 2 had just been a Hit-Girl movie. She was the only truly badass character from the first movie. She should have gotten her own film.
Kick-Ass 2 is about the formation of a justice league type superhero group. But the only good thing about the movie is Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s supervillain; The Mother Fucker. I love that guy. McLovin is the shit. And in this he’s mostly silly but still the best thing in the movie.
The writing and directing of Kick-Ass 2 is very bad. It is awful. And at times the screenplay borrows scenes from other, better films. There is a scene stolen directly from Ferris Beuller’s Day Off where Hit-Girl is trying to get home before her guardian and way too much of the dialogue is lifted from other things, other movies, better movies. It’s lazy writing. It’s lazy filmmaking. And then there is this wholly unnecessary vomiting and diarrhea scene in a High School cafeteria. This is a bad movie.
And except for McLovin, it’s not even that funny. Not even interesting. There are a couple of “kind of” cool fight scenes… kind of cool. Jim Carrey is underutilized (he’s still an underrated actor in my opinion) and (THIS IS IMPORTANT) Sharks have to move to breathe. (That’s right I said it). The shark’s tank is too small. The shark is dead. The joke would have been better with Piranhas. Kick-Ass 2 is just too silly and too dumb.
The movie is crap.
Skip it (There is very little of substance here that isn’t silly, stupid or disgusting)
Next up… a drama… no explosions.
Lovelace (Millennium Films)
Directed by Rob Epstein and also by Jeffrey Friedman
Written by Andy Bellin
Starring Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Adam Brody & Juno Temple
Lovelace is a film that means well. It has a great cast that give fine performances, including Sharon Stone, Peter Sarsgaard & a sensational James Franco cameo as a young Hugh Hefner. Headed, of course, by Amanda Seyfried at her best, it tries to show both sides of the always sleazy and sometimes sordid story of the most famous porn film in history.
Lovelace starts off by showing us the industry’s (and her ex-husband’s) claim; that the experience wasn’t as bad as Linda Lovelace tells in her bio and then it switches abruptly to show her version of the story. Obviously a lot truer than theirs but there was no need to separate them.
I don’t know if they had to do this because they feared lawsuits but it was a bad choice.
Why they didn’t just put all the scenes together in a linear timeline (because they don’t overlap much at all). So that her version and their version can share the screen at the same time. A better director (there are two here) could have made a sensational biopic out of the footage they have,
But what they end up with is this half porn industry cinderella tale, half porn industry horror story, cautionary tale. Lovelace feels ham-fisted from both sides (yes I did that on purpose). The directors try too hard to separate the two accounts and end up with two disparate versions of a confusing story.
Rent it (For the performances but really nothing else)
And lastly… something good.
Man of Tai Chi (Universal Pictures)
Directed by Keanu Reeves
Written by Michael G. Cooney
Starring Keanu Reeves, Tiger Chen, Karen Mok, Simon Yam & Iko Uwais
Man of Tai Chi is a fun movie that’s a bit of a throwback to the classic mainstream Hong Kong martial arts films of the past.
First of all it’s half in English, even to the point where in the middle of a sentence they’ll just start speaking English. It reminded me a lot of the old Jackie Chan films or the ones with the British bad guy who speaks English but the good guys speak Chinese.
Second, Man of Tai Chi is about a martial arts tournament where our hero enters but no one believes he has a chance to win because of his chosen discipline, in this case, Tai Chi, thought of as more of a meditation and an exercise than a martial style.
Third it’s about a school/temple that is falling apart and a teacher with only one student (our hero, whose teacher does not want him to fight) trying to rebuild it on his own.
And lastly it’s about a separate underground, no rules, illegal tournament run by the evil & wealthy, but really evil Keanu Reeves, who also directs the film, and the Hong Kong cops who are hot on its trail. I’ve totally seen this movie before.
Because Man of Tai Chi has all the makings of a classic Hong Kong martial arts movie and it’s a lot of fun, I recommend it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Keanu is a decent director (and like I said it’s paint by numbers Hong Kong action). It has a great message about the balance between Chi and Meditation, between Flow and Power. There are some really good fights. A couple of epic battles and a bunch of great tournament fights showing different brutal MMA type styles against Tai Chi.
I don’t know how accurate or authentic these fights are but they are well-choreographed. Not too much wire work from the great Yuen Wo Ping, and it’s a good story. Although even after the movie, I still don’t know how long Tai Chi would last in an authorized tourney or an MMA style underground tourney. But it’s a really good movie.
Rent it (especially if you’re a Kung Fu instructor and your name is Alex. You, my friend will love it)
And that’s all we have for this time. There was…
Okay, old man.
So to recap…
There were two movies based on comics; The Wolverine and Kick-Ass 2. One of them very good, the other not so much. It sucked.
There were two movies with stellar all-star casts; Elysium and Lovelace. Both of them worth a watch but neither live up to its casting.
And one Martial Arts film; Man of Tai Chi. That doesn’t take itself too seriously while paying homage to the Hong Kong classics.
I will probably be back in a couple of days with another five DVDs. There were a lot of new releases that I missed, A lot of big comedies I need to watch. And miles to go before I sleep.
Until next time.
See you at the movies,