THE WOLVERINE

Hugh Jackman has played THE WOLVERINE six times. That’s more than anyone has played any superhero in a feature film. So, you might expect that Jackman could sleepwalk through the role and just cash his paycheck. but, that’s not Hugh Jackman. And his dedication to giving 100% to every role is what makes THE WOLVERINE special. The story is predictably dark, as all movies in this genre seem to be these days. Logan is in isolation in some unidentifiable wilderness, when he is discovered by a young Japanese girl. We learn she’s a mutant, though her ability to see someone’s death isn’t nearly as cool as like, oh say, killing someone with just a touch (Rogue for the uninitiated). She is a messenger sent by a Japanese tycoon who Logan saved from annihilation at Nagasaki. His old friend is dying and wants to say goodbye. Logan reluctantly travels to Japan and discovers his friend wants more than just a farewell, he wants his ability to heal himself and has found a way to do it. The darkness in the movie is internal to Logan. His struggle with immortality and whether he wants to continue being The Wolverine. Jean Gray appears to him in his nightmares, telling him to come be with her in death. Logan rescues his old friend’s granddaughter from the Yakuza which leads to a pretty good fight seen on top of a moving bullet train. Eventually, the movie does go off the rails a bit. It turns from introspection to all out superhero convention in the final third. But, fans will like that because that’s exactly where they want it to go. There were a couple of things that bothered me though. Logan swears a lot. I’m no prude when it comes to cursing in movies, but this felt jarring and out of place. If the point was to differentiate him from the mostly Japanese cast, well, he’s THE FREAKING WOLVERINE! That’s difference enough. We get he’s a bad-ass. Dropping some blue language in the dialogue doesn’t further the point. And without giving the ending away, there are some questions that were left unanswered about the state of Logan’s mutant abilities. That said, this is a very good movie with one great performance from Jackman, decent 3D effects and satisfying action sequences. Oh, and stay for the credits for one awesome teaser for what I can only assume is X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. — Alan Yjdman

PACIFIC RIM

                                  Plenty of filmmakers try to create their own world inside a move. They are not always successful. One who is would be Guillermo del Toro. Think about Pan’s Labyrinth or Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The worlds are beautifully constructed and totally believable within the context of the movie. Del Toro accomplishes the same feat in PACIFIC RIM. And with a budget commensurate with his vision del Toro delivers what may be the best popcorn movie of summer 2013. Alien monsters called Kaiju, are coming through a rift between tectonic plates at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Earth has created mechanized warriors called Jaegers to battle the Kaiju. But the aliens keep coming and because the Jaeger’s cannot defeat them, Earth has decided to erect a giant wall along the Pacific coastlines. Idris Elba leads a band of mercenaries to salvage the remaining Jaegers to defeat the Kaiju once and for all. What I’ve just described is about the first 20 minutes of the movie. While this exposition could be dull, in the hands of del Toro it is thrilling. The action gets going from the start. There’s no waiting for stuff to happen. The audience is dropped in the middle of a battle and the ride is on from there. PACIFC RIM never lets up, never disappoints and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats for more than two hours. The cast is amazing. Elba, Charlie Hunnum, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman elevate the material. The score by Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones) builds the anticipation and enhances the action. The Jaegers operate by the connection of two human brains working together. It’s something I don’t recall seeing in any other movie. And Michael Bay, take note. This is how you film action sequences involving giant robots. It’s beautiful and easy to follow. I never once was confused about perspective and position of the robots. In any other hands this could have been a mess, but in the extraordinarily capable hands of Guillermo del Toro, it is a complete thrill and a movie you must see. — Alan Yudman

Guillermo Del Toro has always been original and he brings that imagination to Pacific Rim…which is one if the most entertaining movies to come out in years. By establishing a reality on screen with giant robots, monsters, neural handshakes, and places like “shatterdome”, the fun comes when his rules in this world get broken by smarter than expected creatures. Del Toro focuses on the story first THEN cuts loose with epic battles that become even more epic as the movie goes on. If you don’t believe the premise, the movie fails and Del Toro makes sure you’re all in before the movie’s title appears on screen. Each action sequence is different and unpredictable because he adds new twists to each one. The cast is top notch, the FX awesome, the pacing terrific, and even the music gets you pumped. A note to the other big budget action flicks out there: you can make a dark action movie yet still have fun as long as you focus on the story. This flick is a blast that brought out the giddy little boy in me, while also appealing to the grown up. Just awesome!

Stormy Curry

IRON MAN 3

The first Iron Man was awesome, the second forgettable. The third falls somewhere in the middle. Downey is game for the sequel, Ben Kingsley rocks it as “The Mandarin”, the problem is the story. It’s kinda lame and lazy. The other big problem: too much unbelievable action in the last half hour. A character falls from a building or very high place and grabs onto something with two fingers…I can buy that type of scenario once but it happens too many times throughout the final act. So much that it completely took me out if the movie. And why add a kid as a sidekick? Stark doesn’t need Cousin Oliver hanging around. And finally, an annoying trend that has surfaced in several of this summer’s big movies: fake out tragedy. Character blank dies, other character gets mad and seeks revenge, character blank turns out to be fine thanks to convenient plot twist. Happy ending. Enough. I didn’t hate this movie but I was floored that critics heaped it with the praise they did. It was okay but I think the “Iron” series has run out of steam. Should have stopped after the first one.

Stormy Curry

MAN OF STEEL

Whenever a successful franchise is rebooted, the question that must be answer is, why. Why this, why now? After 2006’s SUPERMAN RETURNS, MAN OF STEEL isn’t so much a reboot as a do over. The 2006 movie was unworthy of having “super” in the title. Zach Snyder avoids that by calling this MAN OF STEEL, which has several meanings other than the obvious reference to Clark Kent’s alter ego. So the answer to why is, because the 2006 movie was such an abject disappointment. This is darker, more brooding than any of the Christopher Reeve movies. In tone it is closer to Executive Producer Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy. In execution I’m sorry to say it falls a bit short. Snyder is no Nolan. But that’s not saying this isn’t good. The darkness and isolation that follows Clark Kent as he searches for and answer to his own “why” question is an excellent choice. Clark is still trying to figure out if he has the “steel” to be the “man” both his fathers hope him to be. Snyder does a good job of taking us on the journey as we learn more about the man and the boy through a series of flashbacks. It’s very satisfying. Then in the last third of the movie Snyder loses his way and the movie turns into what people are colloquially calling “disaster porn”. Things fly by and happen so fast that your brain has trouble processing it all. I know Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet”, but does he always have to fly that fast, Zach? The action set pieces are the necessary resolution to the story, but their execution is mind boggling. Is there anything left of Metropolis? Henry Cavill does a fairly good job of making us believe he is tormented by his inner struggle to become the man he’s destined to be. It’s an honest performance. Amy Adams is also adequate as Lois Lane. Michael Shannon is wonderful as the villain. He is one fine actor who hopefully will get more recognition after his turn as the malevolent General Zod. And it’s nice to see Russell Crowe back to being Russell Crowe (the good one, not the “Les Mis” one). It’ll be interesting to see where Nolan and Snyder take the franchise from here. I will be looking up in the sky for a bird.. no.. a plane… no.. for SUPERMAN!

Alan Yudman

This Superman reboot will make you appreciate not just the previous movies (including Singer’s Superman Returns) but also the comic, the cartoons, even the television show. Dark reboots are now the thing. Bond. Batman. Now Superman. Here’s the thing though: Superman cannot and SHOULDN’T be the Dark Knight. Instead of updating the mythology and bringing a darker tone, Man Of Steel changes virtually everything about the character…to the point he really isn’t Superman. Filmmakers have rebooted squeaky clean franchises with a darkness but they’re fun too (Raimi’s Spider Man anyone? Captain America?). This Man is a joyless, cynical shell of the character who is less “super” and more damaged. Instead of looking at him as an inspiration, he is more of a mess. We’re told that the symbol on his chest stands for hope, which is contradictory to the hopelessness this movie dwells in. By the end, the filmmakers try to leave us with that “yaaay we love Superman feeling” but at that point, we have been beaten down by the pessimism and this hero’s actions (especially in the final 15 minutes) that we don’t want to cheer for this guy, just forget him. He’s no better than us, nothing “super” about him.

Stormy Curry