Saturday, September 07, 2013

What I Watched in August

Two trips to the theater last month and both films were comic book adaptations. THE WOLVERINE finally spotlights Hugh Jackman's tortured hero in a film worthy of the actor's efforts.  The script uses the 1980's Wolverine comic book mini-series as its jumping off point but melds it with several ideas of its own. Logan is asked to visit Japan for the first time in years to say goodbye to a man he once saved from an horrific death. Once there he is pulled into a complicated power play by family members to control his friend's multi-billion dollar company. His instincts lead him to protect the young female heir especially after it becomes clear that there is a small army of ninja trained warriors after her. Adding to the complications is the fact that Logan has been poisoned in a way that is suppressing his super-human healing ability.

This film is well paced, well acted and is written at a level far above the previous Wolverine film. I was so disappointed by that movie and it wouldn't have taken much to improve on its bad memory but this is a picture that succeeds on nearly all levels. It not as satisfying as X-MEN: FIRST CLASS but it really is miles better than the sad ORIGINS movie. That previous film was a mess that tried to cram as many characters into the tale as it possibly could making the idea that it was a Wolverine origin story ridiculous. This movie wisely keeps the superhuman characters to less than a handful and lets the emotional changes Logan has to go through become the center of the story. Oh- and the action scenes are pretty damned good as well!

2 GUNS is the latest adaptation of a modern crime comic book and its a fun one. When THE ROAD TO PERDITION (2002) and A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005) were hits I expected to see more such adaptations reach the screen but, unless I've been missing them, there haven't been too many. 2 GUNS is based on a very good crime comic written by Steven Grant and while the film does alter some elements of the story it is a pretty good version. The film is crafted to play to the strengths of its two lead actors and the humor of the characters is heightened but it gets most things right. Of the two leads I enjoy Denzel Washington better because of his ease onscreen and effortless ability to make you believe every word he says. Mark Walberg is an actor I've never really warmed to even when I think he is well cast. I still don't understand why he was nominated for an Oscar for THE DEPARTED when his performance in that movie was easily the least impressive. Still, in this film he is acceptable as a foil for Denzel and the story is solid enough that I don't have to be interested in Walberg's character to enjoy the ride. I suspect 2 GUNS will find its audience on video and become better known.

ZAAT (1971)- 2 (terrible but fun)
SUPERMAN: UNBOUND (2013)- 6 (animated battle with Brainiac)
OUR MAN FLINT (1966)- 8 (rewatch)
BLINDMAN (1971)- 6 (pretty good spaghetti western)
CONQUEST (1983)- 3 (rewatch) (terrible Fulci fantasy)
THE ARTIST (2011)- 10 (rewatch)
THREE STRANGERS (1946)- 7 (excellent crime tale)
TARZAN'S MAGIC FOUNTAIN (1949)- 6 (Lex Barker as the Ape Man)
DREDD (2012)- 9 (rewatch)
DOUBLE CROSSBONES (1951)- 5 (silly, fun pirate comedy)
ZOTZ! (1962)- 5 (silly comedy from William Castle)
RITUALS (1977)- 7 (harsh backwoods stalker tale)
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (2012)- 3 (terrible horror effort)
EXIT HUMANITY (2010)- 2 (boring, pretentious zombie film)
THE VENGEANCE OF SHE (1968)- 6 (rewatch)
2 GUNS (2013)- 7 (solid crime caper)
KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1937) -6 (padded with songs!)
CURSE OF THE UNDEAD (1959)- 6 (rewatch) (vampire western)
BULLET TO THE HEAD (2013)- 7 (Walter Hill still knows manly action)
BARRACUDA (1978)- 3  (low budget JAWS rip off with an interesting ending)


Kal said...

I totally agree with you about Wolverine and Two Guns. Both were a lot of fun. I am looking forward to any other Wolverine movies that Jackman wants to make. Days of Future Past will be epic even with the changes to the original story.

Rod Barnett said...

Days o Future Past could end up being the best X-Men film yet. Fingers crossed!