Movie Buff

Reviews: Wolverine, Pacific Rim, White House Down and World War Z

Who needs movies?  I do.  Don’t ask me.  Just sit back and relax. Wolverine.   Stars: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima | Director: James Mangold. Screenplay:  Mark Bomback,  Scott Frank The mutant with razor-blade claws called  Wolverine and starring in the movie with the same name, and acted out by Hugh Jackman, was someone I didn’t […]

Who needs movies?  I do.  Don’t ask me.  Just sit back and relax.

Wolverine.   Stars: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima | Director: James Mangold. Screenplay:  Mark Bomback,  Scott Frank

The mutant with razor-blade claws called  Wolverine and starring in the movie with the same name, and acted out by Hugh Jackman, was someone I didn’t know existed until I stumbled upon this movie.

Knowing now that this is a sequel has left me even wondering if I should have at least searched the Net to gain some background information about this icon or superhero before I even considered seeing it.  Which is why I felt this movie was tailor-made for fans hooked on Marvel comics, and I wasn’t, for Pinoys will tell you a copy is already worth a quarter of a poor man’s wage.

All throughout the movie I kept wondering which side of the planet the Wolverine exploded out. No matter that I went to see it in 3D, there were times I simply got bored despite the action piling up, and my eyes,  caged in unglamorous glasses, were drooping.

But I understand this can be pretty exciting for all those in the know.  Well, at least, it is a chance to showcase Asian talents, and I was particularly impressed with the woman warrior Yukio (Rila Fukushima) who is a stark contrast to the prim and demure tycoon’s daughter Mariko (Tao Omato).  They both show that, even as they are clad in tradition, Japanese women can be tough.  But the Yukio role inspires independence, valor, and skill especially for women.

wolverineI also find it disturbing that the Wolverine may even be peddling stereotypes about the Japanese, showing them as sly and cunning and completely bereft of utang-na-loob even as the tycoon Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), in his younger years as a soldier, was saved by Wolverine’s remarkable powers from the atomic blast in Nagasaki.

All throughout the years, as the soldier rises to become a powerful capitalist, it apparently became his lifetime ambition to divest Wolverine of his healing powers and powerful stamina and transport these to him, with the use of force and technology combined.  That is why Yukio was searching for Wolverine for years to bring him before the dying and scheming tycoon, who wants to falsely say his thanks to Wolverine.

And Wolverine fell into the trap.  Attempts are made to keep him hostage, and at one point it seemed that he could actually die, but, really, even with all the blasting and iron-clad violence, nothing came off it, since everyone knows who can win over a superhero.

So, in this fight between Japan and the U.S. , obviously the U.S. always wins, with the tycoon finally meeting his end while Wolverine goes into the sunset, so to speak, this time riding in a jet with the feisty and repentant Yukio at his side.

 Pacific Rim.  Stars:  Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi Director: Guillermo del Toro | Screenplay: Travis Beacham,  Guillermo del Toro.  Story: Travis Beacham

pacific rimWhat am I doing sitting before this screen of giant robots and menacing sea monsters?  Well, to pay tribute,  perhaps, to the special effects guys who do not need Hollywood stars to produce a blockbuster.  There is no star power in this film, only wrestling matches.

After seeing the film for two hours and 11 minutes, I know I will never see another sci-fi adventure of this type, not even Transformers. Futuristic technologies with too much destruction, coupled with monstrous creatures, are much too much for someone who is used to watching her characters in the flesh.  Even if the reason is to save Earth.  But how many more movies must we endure in the name of saving the planet and the human race?

We actually don’t need monsters to do that in all their size and complexity.  For there are enough two-legged monsters in our midst who cause the destruction of everything we hold dear – our air, land, waters and environment.

Again what saves the day for me is this creature—human, yes, and female.  Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) plays the love interest of the lead star Pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam).  She is shy and adopted but has terrific fighting skills and killer instincts, as well as being agile and adept, and ultimately becomes  co-pilot of a Jaeger (nuclear-powered robot).  Technology levels the playing field.  Cool.

 White House Down.  Stars:  Channing Tatum,  Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Director: Roland Emmerich. Writer: James Vanderbilt

white house downWhen the most famous house in the world is taken over by extremists, the lesson of the story is you can’t win.  This has happened once in Olympus Has Fallen, and now comes twice with White House Down.

Well, well, even with all the firepower on display and the treachery of the President’s own close circle, a good guy will always rise to the occasion and defend the presidency with his own life. That is the message, or lunacy, that makes the White House invincible from fall.

And so Capitol policeman John Cale (Channing Tatum) plays up to this role of saving the country and its institutions, and becomes the hero.  It helps that he has a young, precocious daughter Emily (Joey King ) to provide suspense and drama, who also happens to be in the same vicinity with the extremists while she is touring the White House.

Cale who is refused entry into the Secret Service but shows valor in protecting the president (Jamie Foxx) later had his reward.  And Emily has her moments of fame, too, when she is caught on TV waving a  flag to stop Blackhawks on wrong mission orders to blow up the White House.

Channing Tatum is one reason to see the movie, if only to see how this guy ended up SMA (Sexiest Man Alive). Another reason is the White House itself and its secretly guarded but nuclear-protected basement chamber that is said to be impenetrable, which isn’t as far as this movie can tell.  And don’t forget the extremists –  deadly brutes but  more like loonies.

World War Z.  Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos.  Director: Marc Forster.  Screenplay:  Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof.  Screenstory: Matthew Michael Carnahan, J. Michael Straczynsk. Based on the novel by Max Brooks

world war zIf Brad Pitt made this movie for his kids, World War Z is indeed a blast.  It combines an intense story– a pandemic that threatens to end humanity with a father out to do everything to save his family– with a fast-rising tempo and shock-full of flesh-eating zombies tumbling over each other like jelly beans.

In the eyes of his children, Pitt will never be anything but a hero, and they probably would have their fill of zombies, too.  No more Dad, we’re done.

Or, are they?  Because no sooner had World War Z become a certified blockbuster that Pitt was already thinking of a sequel, a franchise.  Kids are great; they can bring papa more moolah.

Back to the movie, WWZ  at least tries to dazzle.  The moment it hit the trailers I had it in my must-see schedule.  The pace is just relentless; the scenes loud and chaotic. For a minute there, it was all-freaky and gripping.  But why did they have to show the best scenes in the trailers? The trailers kept me spellbound than the movie.

But give it to Brad Pitt.  His persona is as intriguing as the roles he makes. He doesn’t fail to inject some lofty ideals into the movie.  Come apocalypse, nations will come together, whatever their color, politics or ideology. But things are not as simple as it seems.  The movie has a lot of subtexts, like it’s a satire.  Go, figure, while I enjoy my movie.