The Wolverine

wolverineBack in 2009, 20th Century Fox released ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’, the first in what was planned to be a series of solo films featuring the merry band of mutants from Marvel Comics.  While ‘Origins’ failed to launch a continuation of their plans, it did bring in enough take at the box office to allow for plans for a sequel.

While ‘The Wolverine’ is not a direct sequel to ‘Origins’, it does act as a continuation of ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ and does work towards nailing down the entire X-Universe that has been created by the now six films that Fox has produced.

Hugh Jackman returns in his iconic role as Logan, The Wolverine, that made him a household name in North America, and it is clear that he has a definite love for the role.  For me personally, the more he has played this character, the better he has become at portraying the Canadian fur ball, and ‘The Wolverine’ certainly continues that path.

Based on the 1982 limited series that introduced Wolverine’s Japanese back story, ‘The Wolverine’ acts as a great bridge film in the greater X-Universe while also allowing for enough character development to rejuvenate Wolverine as well.

While not a perfect movie by any stretch of imagination, Viper afterall is a horrible job of casting, ‘The Wolverine’ does more than enough to work towards erasing the debacle that was ‘Origins’.

While this film does not adhere to the storyline it is based on 100%, the differences that it does have make perfect sense for the story being told, and as I have always said, there should be no issues with that, as times do change and stories should be adjusted accordingly.

All in all, ‘The Wolverine’ is a great adaptation of a seminal story about the character, and a great bridge from what has happened in the X-Universe to what is coming in next year’s ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’, and I tell ya, the mid-credits stinger that they have attached to this is one of the best anyone has ever produced, and left me wanting next year’s film today.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

RED 2

red22010’s ‘RED’ was a surprise hit, featuring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman as aged former spies thrust back into their old lives due to events from their past.  2013’s ‘RED 2’ features more of the same laughs and action as the original, and if you are a fan of the original, you will definitely enjoy the sequel.

For lack of a better term, ‘RED 2’ is a better ‘Die Hard’ than ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ was.  Bruce Willis is once again quite enjoyable in his role of retired spy Frank Moses, and his interactions with John Malkovich are once again what gives this film its heart.

Probably the best part of ‘RED 2’ for me was Anthony Hopkins in a supporting role far from anything we have really ever seen him in before.  The range in which he plays his character is also quite a nice surprise and brought some needed balance to the film this time around.  The inclusion of Hopkins also makes up for the loss of Morgan Freeman from the original as a character that brought necessary plot movement.

The action and comedy from the original were both prevalent in ‘RED 2’, which is something that has been lacking from sequels like this in the past, and that allowed this film to continue to grow its characters and develop enough of a story to make the film seem plausible, all while setting up the possibility of a third film down the road, and not having it seem like a tired, foregone conclusion.

All in all, ‘RED 2’ is a great continuation on ‘RED’ and well worth seeing, especially if you were a fan of the original.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

R.I.P.D.

ripdEvery summer there is a film that comes out and just defies every piece of logic imaginable, either good or bad, and in 2013 that appears to be ‘R.I.P.D.’.  This film is, as of this writing, quite possibly the worst film we will see in 2013.  It is that bad of a film.

I will say that Jeff Bridges seemed to do his best to make the film as entertaining as possible as a Wild West law man, but there was just not enough in this film other than that to make it worth while.

I am not sure if it was an issue with dis-interested actors, horrible scripting, awful direction, or a combination of all three, but ‘R.I.P.D.’ will easily go down in history as one of those films that people will watch but then never admit to having seen.

This film is ‘Jonah Hex’ bad, and yes, I do use ‘Jonah Hex’ as a barometer to gauge how awful other films are.  After watching ‘R.I.P.D.’, I had to wonder how this film ever saw the light of day.  A film that has no advance press screenings and that gets universally panned by both critics and audiences is a movie that will cost people careers, and that is what ‘R.I.P.D.’ should do, except for Bridges.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Pacific Rim

pacrim‘Pacific Rim’ is one of the most ambitious original Sci-Fi films to be attempted in recent years, and as a film to feature fights between giant robots and giant underwater aliens, it definitely succeeds.

While at times seeming to channel its best Power Rangers-esque homage, ‘Pacific Rim’ is the kind of light, airy summer popcorn film that we have been missing lately with a trend towards dark, broody films as of late, and in a film that really seems to not take itself seriously, ‘Pacific Rim’ is a breath of fresh air.

The visuals are some of the best I have ever seen in a theatre, and the ability to show the Jaegers, the giant robots that are humanity’s last resort, as having the necessary wear and tear of years of service is one of the first things that I noticed in the film.  Little touches like this are what really brings me into a film.

While the acting in ‘Pacific Rim’ was definitely not Oscar-class, I was quite impressed by Idris Elba.  Elba was able to carry enough strength and gravitas in his role as Marshall Stacker Pentecost to make the organizational structure of the Jaeger program believable.  Elba is turning into another strong British actor, and his role in ‘Pacific Rim’ will not do anything to hurt that.

As a straight-forward, summer action flick, not much can beat what ‘Pacific Rim’ brings to the screen, especially for a film that really does not take itself seriously.  Guillermo del Toro fashions a fun homage to Godzilla-style films and does so with enough action to keep audiences happy.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Grown Ups 2

Back in 2010, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider got together to make ‘Grown Ups’. It was not a hit with critics, but the level of comedy that it provided was more than enough for theatre goers, as it brought in $162 million and was the top grossing comedy in North America that year.

Skip ahead to 2013 and we have ‘Grown Ups 2’ that was just released this past weekend. Featuring most of the cast of the original, minus Schneider, this film highlights the one fact most people spout about sequels, the fact that a sequel is generally never quite as good as the original.

What we have actually ended up with is a film that heavily relied on crude humour which may not be right up the alley of everyone, and may not be for everyone that was a fan of the original film.  While the original managed to have a story that had some heart-warming moments, the sequel completely avoided any of the positive vibes from the first.

‘Grown Ups 2’ lacked much of what made ‘Grown Ups’ a likeable film and suffers drastically as a result.  While the laughs were there in the sequel, it will most likely kill off any idea of growing this as a franchise further.  Compared to the original, ‘Grown Ups 2’ is a heartless waste of time, and I would have trouble recommending this even as a rental to anyone looking for anything more than dick and fart jokes.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Despicable Me 2

dm2‘Despicable Me’ was such a surprise hit in 2010, being the debut effort ever from French animation company Illumination Entertainment and an aspect sorely missing from Universal Pictures repertoire, being an animated feature length film.

Featuring a heart-warming change of character for the lead, adorable supporting characters and the best scene-stealers since the Madagascar Penguins, ‘Despicable Me’ was the second highest grossing animated film of 2010, behind only ‘Toy Story 3’ and ahead of ‘Shrek Forever After’ and “How to Train Your Dragon’, and was the seventh highest grossing film of the year overall in North America.

‘Despicable Me 2’ is a great continuation film from the original, naturally furthering the changes seen at the end of the original and providing more of the same emotional content and great laughs in such a great manner that there was no issues that it would have any of the issues that sometimes plague sequels.

Coming in at almost a third of the budget of Pixar’s ‘Monsters University’, ‘Despicable Me 2’ brings more laughs than it’s big budget compatriot and as a whole, I would have to say is a better overall movie.  While realism certainly raised the budget on ‘MU’, the cartoony nature of ‘DM2’ was a great change of pace.

Next year we are going to be getting a Minions spin-off solo movie, but I am not sure how a full feature length film starring just the Minions will go as they are great as a supporting character to give us laughs in these films, and their inclusion is one of best revelations of the films and that carries forward in ‘Despicable Me 2’.

The laughs are great in ‘Despicable Me 2’, it does a great job of continuing character development from the first film and does an awesome job of avoiding the dreaded “sequelitis”.  Well worth a visit to the theatre for anyone with kids.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

The Lone Ranger

loneranger

Disney has proceeded to lay another egg in the franchise building category with ‘The Lone Ranger’ from Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, otherwise known as the people who brought us the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise.

There are definitely some good moments in this film, but they are overshadowed by the less than stellar aspects that certainly take away from the film as well.

Amongst the positives for ‘The Lone Ranger’ is Armie Hammer as the titular character.  Hammer really seemed to embody his role as lawyer-turned-ranger-turned-vigilante, and managed to bring to the screen the differences in each of these aspects.

The structure of the film was the biggest downfall for me.  The way they “told” the story was just plain wrong and took away all the momentum the film would be building while actually showing The Lone Ranger and Tonto doing their thing, and this completely took me out of the film on multiple occasions.

I have also been hearing about complaints of too much gore in ‘The Lone Ranger’, but I don’t remember really seeing anything like that.  Sure, there was some implied gore as it was set during the Wild West era of the United States, but nothing that I felt would shrug off the PG-13 rating that it garnered.  Certainly nothing worse than can be found on cable television today.

Finally, Johnny Depp seemed to be a bit misplaced as Tonto.  In a role that could almost be said to be Captain Jack in facepaint, Depp was written as the primary focus of the film, and I think that was a disservice to the film that we could have gotten with Hammer’s Lone Ranger as the primary focal point.

There was just so much potential in ‘The Lone Ranger’ that the direction it was taken in is such a letdown.  The only hope is that the film makes enough money overseas to overcome the disastrous North American box office that is to come to warrant a sequel that focuses more on The Lone Ranger instead of Tonto.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.