Archives for posts with tag: Hugh Jackman

Taking place after “X-Men: The Last Stand,” Hugh Jackman (playing mutant Wolverine (special powers of healing factor, heightened smell, almost indestructible, Adamantium-laced bones and razor sharp claws)) is on a fast track to nowhere, living the life of a vagabond and trying to forget a painful past that include Jackman killing the only woman he ever loved.  He is without a group, without a purpose in life, and without a reason to live.  But life has its twists, and Jackman is given one in the form of a Japanese woman (played by Rila Fukushima) whose employer has tasked her with bringing Jackman to Japan.

Hal Yamanouchi plays Rila’s employer, a man whose life was saved by Jackman during the end of WWII; a man who knows of Jackman’s powers; a man who is dying and wants to thank Jackman by giving Jackman the gift of mortality.  It’s unclear why Jackman refuses Yamanouchi’s offer, but he does.  Jackman is attacked by a woman the same night of his refusal, and he soon finds his healing factor is severely impaired when he sustains multiple wounds from Yakuza gangsters while protecting Yamanouchi’s granddaughter.   Jackman must not only try to solve why the young woman is under attack by Japanese mobsters, he must also unravel the puzzle of what is happening to his healing power before his enemies find a way to kill him and the woman he is protecting and falling in love with.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Wolverine” is the scene when Jackman faces The Silver Samurai, a large robot fully armored with Adamantium and wielding double Adamantium swords that can superheat in seconds, giving the swords greater cutting power.  ** Spoiler alert here**The Silver Samurai cuts off Jackman’s claws with one stroke of its superheated sword!  That was shocking and very painful to watch.

**Spoiler alert here**First runner up for my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Jackman rips open his chest to remove an object that is attached to his heart which is the cause of his damaged, healing factor.  For those not in the know, Wolverine does feel pain.  Now just imagine what it must feel like to slice your chest open with a very large scalpel and reach into your chest and pull out a miniature robot that is attached to your heart, all without any anesthetic.  My palms get sweaty just trying to remove a splinter from my finger!

I’ve read many comic books that has the Wolverine character, and he is one of my two favorite comic book characters, so I expect much from a movie titled “The Wolverine.”  Were those expectations met?  No.  I like the movie, but it did not live up to the hype.  One of the problem I have: samurai swords, for the most part, were used to successfully parry against Wolverine’s claws.  That is absolute garbage.  Wolverine’s claws would have sliced those swords like they were made of butter.  The “making of” documentary has someone explaining they needed to have the swords withstand Wolverine’s claws so that they could have more action sequences of Wolverine fighting the samurai and ninjas.  Bulls@#t.  All the movie had to do was have some of the swords laced with Adamantium so they wouldn’t break easily against Wolverine’s claws.  That explanation would have sufficed.  But instead we get some crappy excuse about how they wanted Wolverine to be challenged and not easily defeat the enemy swords…sounds to me like the screenwriter and director were challenged instead.  My biggest problem of “The Wolverine”: he doesn’t live up to the bloodthirsty, borderline psychotic mutant who loves to slice his enemies to pieces.  The people involved in this movie go on about how this is a darker movie than the other Wolverine movies and we get to see a different, meaner side of Wolverine, blah blah blah.  This movie is rated PG-13!  And the PG-13 rating of this movie is a severe hindrance to this NC-17 rated character.

In a nutshell, this movie is like a Lamborghini Aventador forced to drive in the side streets at no more than 20 m.p.h.  Ooh, aahh, look at that fancy car going almost as fast as a little girl’s bicycle.

— M

 

The best X-Men movie I’ve seen: “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

The future of mutants and the humans who help them fight to attain their freedom and equality is very dark.  Under the guidance of a scientist played by Peter Dinklage, robots called Sentinels have the ability to adapt to mutant powers they encounter, thereby allowing the Sentinels to be very effective in killing mutants.  The only hope the few remaining mutants have is to send the consciousness of Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman) to his body decades in the past in order to alter an event that is crucial to how the future of mutants plays out.

Jackman’s mission is almost an impossible one.  For starters, his future body is under threat of being killed by Sentinels.  If his future body is killed, his consciousness will leave his past body; and if that happens before he accomplishes his mission, his chance to alter the future is over.  Second, the “past” X-Men that Jackman encounters is a broken group.   James McAvoy (playing a young, professor X) is suffering from depression, anxiety, and is addicted to a drug that allows him to walk but takes away his mutant powers; Michael Fassbender (playing a young Magneto, and whose help Jackman needs) is in a non-metallic prison;  Jennifer Lawrence (who plays Mystique) is out there somewhere, about to commit the act that will solidify the nightmare future of all mutants, and neither McAvoy nor Fassbender knows where she is.  Third, many of the X-Men from “First Class” have been captured and experimented on and killed by the U.S. government, so Jackman won’t get any help from these corpses.  Last, Jackman’s past body is pre-adamantium, so his bones are regular bones that can break.  That last part leads us to…

One of my most memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Jackman’s future consciousness wakes up to his past body and gets into a beef with a couple of big gangsters.  Jackman unleashes his claws, only to see that they are not the razor-sharp, virtually indestructible, adamantium claws he’s used to seeing.  Oops.  Ever carry a weapon on a regular basis, and then trouble happens and you reach for that weapon and realize that you forgot to bring it with you?  Yeah, I know how Jackman felt in this scene.

My most memorable, movie moment of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is the first battle scene at the opening of the movie.  It’s set in the future, the Sentinels have found a few X-Men, and the mutants put up a vicious fight to stay alive as the robots absorb the mutant powers and use it against their targets.  No longer are mutants at the top of the food chain.  They are now flyweights fighting heavyweights, and a knockout is imminent.

Director Bryan Singer (who failed at the screenwriting level of “X-Men”) and the screenwriters of this movie did an amazing job of raising the stakes from the previous X-Men movies and giving the mutants a worthy enemy; and by doing so they have given the audience a movie worthy of our time and money.

–M

As the title states, we are shown the origins of Wolverine — my favorite comic book character — before he joined the X-Men, before he had Adamantium claws and skeleton, before he had lost his memory of who he was and what he did.

Very early in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” it is revealed that Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman) and Victor Creed, a.k.a Sabretooth (played by Liev Schreiber) are brothers.  Accepting the facts that they are both freaks of nature and that most of the world will not accept them for who they are, they stick together for several hundred years, fighting countless wars that give them an outlet for their rage.  Eventually, a special unit of the military headed by a soldier played by Danny Huston enlists Jackman and Schreiber for top-secret missions.  One of those missions causes a major rift between Jackman and Schreiber, and Jackman walks away from his unit.

It’s not long before Jackman’s past catches up with him, destroying his peaceful life that he struggled to build; and now Jackman seeks the help of Huston so that Jackman can become more powerful in order to defeat Schreiber.

One of my most memorable, movie moments of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is the scene when Professor X appears.  Why is this memorable?  Because Professor X is walking.   In the movie, “X-Men: First Class” Professor X is paralyzed in the early 1960s.  “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” takes place possibly in the 1980s or 1990s.  If there’s anyone out there who knows how to reconcile this discrepancy, let me know.  Until then, I call shenanigans!

My most memorable, movie moment of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is the sequence when we see Jackman and Schreiber fighting side by side during the Civil War, World War 1, World War II, and the Vietnam War.   It was intense, and gives the audience a very quick lesson in the powers that these characters have and the strong bond that they share.  The opening credits during this sequence does ruin it a bit.

Although I enjoyed this movie, I expected more from it.  After all, it is about my favorite comic book character.  One problem I’ll address is the PG-13 rating.  Wolverine and Sabretooth are characters that deserve an NC-17-rated movie in order for the audience to really know how violent and bloodthirsty these two characters are.  Putting them in a PG-13 movie is like forcing the NFL to play touch football.

But as I said, I still enjoyed it.  There is enough action, violence, drama, and a plot twist to keep your heart-rate up.  The direction and screenplay are good, and Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine is outstanding, as always.

That’s right, bub.

M

The war between the mutants and the humans peaks when the humans discover a mutant boy with the power to turn any mutant into a normal human.  Having synthesized a “cure” for mutation through experimentation with the mutant boy, the humans go after Ian McKellen (Magneto) and his growing Brotherhood of Mutants who have stepped up their attacks against the humans.  As always, Patrick Stewart (Professor X) and his X-Men stand in the way of McKellen’s efforts to end the lives of all humans.

While we see a new crop of Stewart’s students becoming full fledged members of the X-Men, all is not well at the mansion.  Famke Janssen, who plays mutant Jean Grey, is thought to be dead; and some of her students and X-Men teammates are still grieving over the loss, especially Hugh Jackman (Wolverine).  But apparently Janssen had survived, and the near death experience has brought out the repressed personality called Phoenix which has become the most powerful mutant on Earth.  Naturally, the X-Men want her back because they love Janssen.  Naturally, McKellen wants her to join the Brotherhood so he can have a nearly unstoppable force in his war against the humans.   Which group does Janssen choose?  It doesn’t really matter, as Janssen’s mind is so unstable and her power is so great that the entire world is in danger of being destroyed by her.

In this 3rd movie of the series, gone is director Bryan Singer, replaced by Brett Ratner.  Since there are many talents involved in a Hollywood movie, I’m not going to say “X-Men: The Last Stand” is better than the previous 2 movies just because of the director change, but “…The Last Stand” is better then the previous 2 X-Men movies.  The stakes are higher, there are more mutants, more fighting, the pace is faster, and there is more drama.   And Storm (played by Halle Berry) shows more of her power, and looks scary when she does it, which is a far cry from the weakling  she was made out to be in the first movie.   I’m sad to say that this movie is rated PG-13, so there’s not much gore and blood when people die.  It’s a sanitized way of showing what should be gruesome deaths, and gruesome deaths is what I want to see when Wolverine takes the claws out and cuts through the flesh of his enemies.  (sigh) Maybe one day someone will have the balls to make a rated R X-Men movie.

One of my memorable, movie moments of this third part of the X-Men movies is the scene when we see Stewart (Prof. X) walking.  It’s a scene that takes place about 20 years in the past.  So, that would mean the scene takes place in the 1980s.  Big problem here.  In the movie “X-Men: First Class,” Professor X become paralyzed at the end, and that movie takes place in the early 1960s.  What’s up with that?

Another memorable, movie moment of “…The Last Stand” is the scene when a boy mutant named Angel is cutting off his wings with scissors and knives, leaving bloody stumps on his back, and the beautiful, white feathers of his wings on the floor.  He does this because he doesn’t want to be a freak, he just wants to be normal.   When I saw this scene, I imagined all the boys and girls out there who are not considered “normal,” and who suffer daily because we still live in a world where intolerance of people’s differences is a “normal” thing.  Oh, and for those who consider Angel a funny, gay looking mutant who looks like he should be in a gay pride parade in the Village: in the comics, he is transformed by a bad character into a very mean looking, powerful mutant whose wings are now made of metal, and the feathers can fly off like razor blades to kill his enemies; and he’s got beef with Jackman.  We’ll see if this plays out in the future X-Men movies.

My most memorable, movie moment of “X-Men: The Last Stand” is the scene when McKellen gives a passionate speech to mutants as to why they should fight humans.  McKellen’s character was sent to a Nazi, concentration camp as a boy, and his speech is clearly based on his experiences during those frightening times.  A time of people denying what the government was doing, hoping for the best; and then in the middle of the night, the attacks begin, ending in the murder of millions who were considered different and/or unwanted.

Always keep your eyes open, people.   Yes, the world does overwhelm sometimes, and it’s so easy to plunge ourselves into mindless entertainment to decrease the stress levels.  But once in a while, stick your head out of the sand, and watch closely what is happening around you.  And the more powerful someone is, the less he should be trusted.

M

 

Patrick Stewart (Professor X) and his X-Men — led by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine — are back in “X2,”  where the stakes are raised when a government agent has used a mutant to attack the White House in order for the president of the U.S. to approve of harsher methods to reign in the freedoms of mutants.   With that “false flag” operation bearing fruit, the U.S. military sends in troops to Stewart’s mansion to remove, question, detain, and possibly torture and kill the mutants who live there; and to use Stewart’s very powerful computer called Cerebro to kill every mutant on the planet.

We are treated to a very suspenseful and infuriating sequence where the military tranquilizes every child mutant they see, while Jackman — the only adult mutant at the mansion — goes into berserker mode as he stabs, cuts and slices the soldiers to give the children time to escape.  Unfortunately, the slicing and dicing isn’t gruesome or bloody, thanks to the PG-13 rating.  All X-Men movies should be rated R, damn the kids!  Anyway…we see a few future X-Men using their powers to get away from the enemy, such as Colossus, a large mutant who can turn his body into steel; and his transformation into his metal body is one of my most memorable, movie moment of “X2.”  It was a shot that lasted only a couple of seconds, but for an X-Men fan, it was a very nice surprise to see one of the more favorite characters of the X-Men world.

With the mansion completely taken over by the U.S. military, Jackman and a few other mutants are on the run, trying to find the other X-Men who are on various missions.  Eventually the X-Men, with the help of Ian McKellen (mutant Magneto), locate a secret, underground, military base that the mutant children have been taken to.  The X-Men and “evil” mutants unite in order to storm the base and rescue the children.  But McKellen has an ulterior motive for joining the X-Men, one that will destroy all humans and bring a quick end to the mutant/human war.

“X-2” is one of those rare, second movie in a series that is better than its predecessor.   Not much better, but better.  The story is more interesting, and the pacing is faster.  Of course, I still feel that this movie doesn’t do justice to the X-Men of the comics; but I found myself more entertained with this second movie than I was with the first.

Oh, I almost forgot.  My most memorable, movie moment of “X2″…that would be the scene when McKellen escapes his plastic and glass prison.   SPOILER ALERT here.  McKellen senses one of the guards has too much iron in his blood, so he extracts the iron through the man’s skin, producing thousands of tiny wounds that make the guard bleed out.  The microscopic iron float like a cloud in front of McKellen, who fashions them into 3 ball bearings that he uses to destroy his prison and kill the other guards.   That was a frightening and cool scene!

Which group of mutants would I join?  Stewart and his X-Men, or McKellen and his Brotherhood of Mutants?   None of the above.  Both groups have good and bad aspects to them, and rather than conform to any group’s ideals which I do not completely share, I’d rather be by myself.  Plus I don’t like taking orders, anyway.

M

The “X-Men” are mutants who live and/or work with another mutant named Charles Xavier, or Professor X (played by Patrick Stewart).  In this world, mutants are feared; and anything or anyone that people fear, they like to concentrate in one area where they can control and/or destroy them.   This story deals with issues such as prejudice, xenophobia, the struggle of being different from most people, and the right to be left alone and simply live one’s life.

On one end of the mutant spectrum, we have Stewart and his group of heroic mutants.  They band together for safety and spiritual and moral support, and try to educate regular humans on peaceful co-existence with mutants.  On the other end of the mutant spectrum is a powerful mutant named Magneto (played by Ian McKellen), who believes humans will never accept mutants; and that humans will continue to pass laws that will force the mutants into concentration camps where they will be destroyed.

As an X-Men and Wolverine fan for decades — I’ve read my share of those comic books — it’s surprising for me to write that in this movie, McKellen’s character is the most interesting one.   The reasoning behind McKellen’s actions (going to war with humans, and protecting his kind by any means necessary) are clear-cut and understandable.  In the first scene of the movie, which happens to be one of my most memorable, movie moments of “X-Men,” we see McKellen when he was a boy, being slowly marched into a Nazi, concentration camp with his parents.  When separated from his parents, McKellen’s powers emerge, forcing the iron and wooden gates to bend as he tries to get back to his mother and father.   A guard knocks him out, ending the boy’s attempt to reunite with his parents.   Fast forward into the movie’s present, and we see McKellen with a serial number tattooed on his forearm.   So, when McKellen realizes that the U.S. is moving ahead with the Mutant Registration Act, you just know what’s going on in his head: “never again.”

“X-Men” is a movie that could have been much, much better had it been given to a director who was a huge fan of The X-Men and Wolverine characters; but director Bryan Singer, as far as I remember, had been unaware of these characters until he was told of the movie adaptation that was being planned.   Singer did a great job dealing with the issue of people being afraid of others whom they know not much of, something that has been going on for thousands of years, and still going on today.  As for the X-Men characters…not such a good job.  I give him a C-, and I’m being kind here.

First, Rogue.   She was made much, much weaker than in the comics.  Rogue should be about as powerful as Superman, and yes, she can fly.  Now let’s go to Storm.  Again, she’s made much weaker than in the comics.  In “X-Men,” Storm is constantly getting her ass kicked before she finally uses her power to control weather and strike back.  Storm can create tornadoes and hurricanes and lightning, so why does she usually hang back to let other mutants do a job that she can easily handle?   As for Wolverine…first, when I found out that he was going to be played by an actor who is about a foot taller than the character — yes, Wolverine is short, about 5′ 4″, hence the name Wolverine, which is a small, ferocious animal — I flipped!  But over the years, Hugh Jackman has done a terrific job portraying him, so I let that go.  But…Singer has reduced Wolverine’s extremely violent/psychotic tendencies (probably due to the studio’s concerns for keeping the PG-13 rating) to the point where I look at his character in this movie as “Wolverine Light.”   Also, in “X-Men,” Wolverine is having a hard time fighting off the mutant Mystique.  Are you f@$%&ng kidding!   Mystique would’ve been mauled in a heartbeat.    Well, what do you expect from a non-fan director?

Well, let me calm down and tell you of my most memorable, movie moment of “X-Men.”  It’s the scene when Hugh Jackman (who plays Wolverine) comes into a room where fellow X-Man Cyclops is in.  Cyclops doesn’t know if it’s really Jackman, or a mutant pretending to be Jackman, so Cyclops is about to blast him with his eye.  Jackman tells Cyclops that it’s really him.  Cyclops says “prove it.”  Jackman says, “you’re a dick.”  Cyclops accepts that proof.  Ha ha!  Singer got one part of The X-Men correct: the animosity Cyclops and Wolverine have for each other.

I will end this piece by telling you people of an article I recently read about a filmmaker involved in “The Wolverine”, and how he was influenced by Roger Ebert’s take on the Wolverine character.  Ebert stated that he doesn’t care about Wolverine because how can you care about a character who cannot die and doesn’t feel pain.  What the hell?  Huh?  Wolverine does feel pain.   Even in “X-Men,” there’s a scene when Anna Paquin (who plays Rogue) asks Jackman if it hurts when his claws come out.  Jackman replies, “every time.”  Also, in the comics, Wolverine’s powers do not involve him being impervious to pain, so yeah, he does get hurt.  And he can die.  His healing factor can only do so much, and when it’s overwhelmed with injuries that are too great and fast, my favorite comic book character will die.

Soooo, Roger Ebert, if you were still alive, I’d slap you.  But I shall wait until I’m dead, then I’ll find you in the spirit world, and then I’ll slap you!   That’s right, Spartacus, I said it.

M

Take “The Champ” and combine it with “Rocky” and you have “Real Steel.”  And it’s real good.  Hugh Jackman plays an absentee father who is busy controlling large, robot boxers and making bets on them that he can’t make good on.   He is a selfish man who is always looking for a big score the easy way, but nothing works out for him until his 11-year-old son comes into his life when the child’s mother dies.  Of course, he doesn’t want to deal with having a kid, so he quickly signs over custody to his child’s aunt in exchange for $100,000.  There’s a catch: the aunt’s husband wants to go on a 2 month vacation in Italy and would rather not have the rugrat there, so Jackman takes his kid with him for the next two months under the pretense that he wants to spend time with the kid before finally letting him go.

Well, you probably guessed what happens next.  Slowly they bond during the time they have together, and of course there are the usual fights and arguments that help them get to know each other; but it is handled well and the characters are likeable — even the robot — and there were moments when I was sure the story was going to go a certain way but it didn’t, so those unexpected moments were a pleasure.  Watching Jackman and his son fix and train a robot boxer and have it go from junk to championship contender is very enjoyable, entertaining, and satisfying.  There are many feel good moments — and yes “Real Steel” follows the basic formula for this type of movie — and you can’t help yourself from rooting for Jackman’s robot.   We Americans love an underdog.

At the start of the movie, I noticed how beautiful the cinematography is.  We are treated to long, wide shots of the countryside as Jackman drives to a fair to fight his robot.  There are more great shots like these throughout the movie when father and son are driving to their next fight.  So, to the director and cinematographer, I send a special thank you for having done a great job in “Real Steel.”

My most memorable, movie moment is the scene where Jackman is talking about tossing away a robot he just bought called Noisy Boy.  Noisy Boy was damaged because Jackman wasn’t paying attention during the fight.  Jackman’s son wants to fix Noisy Boy; but Jackman is adamant about getting rid of the damaged robot and buying another robot.  Jackman’s son tells him that Jackman is the kind of person who throws away things when he doesn’t need them anymore.  Ouch.  We know exactly what the son is talking about.  And I agree with the kid in fixing things, as long as you are able to.

I never understood how some people could casually get rid of their things, like older, working cars to buy newer ones.   I understand the reasoning, but not the lack of emotion.   I’ve always had an emotional connection with all of my cars, including the first one I drove which belonged to my father (a red ’72 Chevy Nova two door fastback).  I regret my father selling her for just a few hundred dollars; and my role in arguing for it so he can concentrate on his new Corolla and not worry about fixing the old girl all the time.   I remember my first car, a 1985 Pontiac 6000 LE that my parents bought for me back in 1990.  I had to give her up because she was broken in so many places I could not afford to keep up with the maintenance; I decided to replace her with a new, 2000 Hyundai Elantra.  Now the Elantra is old, and people have told me I should just get rid of her; but instead I spent thousands of dollars to keep her on the road and now she runs fine.  She is my secondary car and as long as I don’t push her too hard she plays the role well.  I’m not giving her up without a fight.

I always wonder where the Nova and Pontiac are, if they are still somewhere on the road, with new owners who will take good care of them.  When you’ve been with a car for many years, it becomes part of your soul.  At least that’s how I’m built.

M

Me with my dad’s ’72 Chevy Nova in 1989

Me upset that some jackass ran into my 1985 Pontiac 6000 LE after being chased by the cops. This happened in the mid 1990s.

Me and my 2000 Hyundai Elantra GLS in 2011.

 

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