Monday, August 12, 2013

Can the "B-Team" superheroes step forward?

DC Comics Superman and Marvel's Wolverine returned to the silver screen this summer and I can categorically say they were both substantially better then their previous respective outings. However when you remember that both Brian Singer's Superman Returns and Gavin Hood's X-Men Origins: Wolverine are considered to be next to the worst movies they appeared in [Superman IV and X-Men: The Last Stand taking those distinctions] that's not saying a lot.

Man of Steel

Man of Steel was certainly a different take on the 75 year old American cultural icon once immortalised by Christopher Reeve on screen. Zack 300 Snyder took the reigns to present a more modern-era Superman/Clark Kent [Henry Cavill] who must pursue his destiny as protector of the planet from the evil General Zod [Michael Shannon].

Interestingly, while Snyder gives the character an origin story once again, he does not dwell to much on the characters infancy favouring a considerable look at life on Krypton before and of course during it's destruction. Russell Crowe delivers an outstanding performance as Jor-El during this period of the movie and you regret that it can't be longer. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner step into the parental roles as the Kents with Costner himself shining as the father figure who instilled wisdom into a young Clark.

Cavill himself is "competent" as the man himself, easily surpassing a forgettable Brandon Routh but has nowhere near the charm Christopher Reeve displayed on screen. A complete lack of story development between him and the criminally underused Amy Adams as Lois Lane as well as their relationship being devoid of chemistry is one of the movies major failings.

Despite being a special effects spectacle and sporting the unique sounds of maestro Hans Zimmer the movie fails to reach orbital heights it's title character is able to. The beginning is so utterly superior to the rest of the movie, you want it to be longer and the finale is so completely dragged out and arse-numbingly overlong that it can only delight those with a worryingly short attention span. I'm all for explosions and collateral damage and supermen being through through buildings, but after it happens over a dozen times in the one sequence you want to shout "get on with it!"

There will be a sequel which has been revealed to feature Batman?! Hopefully they've got all the near-pointless destruction out of their system now and well see some character development or at least some semblance of a proper story in the next Man of Steel.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ***1/2

The Wolverine

The Wolverine is a loose adaptation of the mutant's first solo outing by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller from 1982 in which Logan travels to Japan and has a grand adventure featuring The Silver Samurai, lots of Ninjas, Yukio the ronin and of course Mariko his true love.

The Wolverine, like the majority of comic-book movies, does not stick too rigidly to it’s source material. Claremont’s tale provided a framework for Mark Bomback and Scott Frank to craft a screenplay[something that was sorely lacking in the character’s previous solo instalment] and through DP Ross Emery, director James Mangold recreated some of Frank Millar's visceral visuals. If you appreciate a dose of Japanese culture, martial arts, Ninja/Samurai and all that lark in your modern popular culture then you’ll appreciate the type of action on offer here, and I’m confident the movie will go down well in Asian markets.

Hugh Jackman is given a great opportunity to flesh out the character of Logan and I believe the audience is drawn to truly empathise and relate with the character like never before. Given that he’s a roughly 130 year old self-healing mutant that can eject razor sharp claws from his hands, that’s not an inconsiderable writing/acting feat and kudos to all involved. It has escaped previous movies to adequately portray his internal battle as well as his external ones and this is the closest I've seen so far.

Jackman is joined on screen by Famke Janssen reprising her role as the late Jean Grey appearing in a series of haunting dreams and seems adamant that an increasingly depressed Logan join her in death as soon as possible - a feat made difficult due to his longevity and healing factor. Logan is intrigued by the offer made to him by Yashida whose life he saved during WWII, who through medical science may be able to allow Logan to age and die. Naturally, things in such movies are never so simple but if they weren’t then it wouldn’t be much of a movie.

I was certainly happier at how faithful Fox/Marvel were to the character, far more than the previous instalment and sadly a visibly greater effort that than WB/DC achieved with their own hero above.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****1/2

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