Tag Archives: Marco Beltrami

The Wolverine (2013, James Mangold), the extended edition

The extended version of The Wolverine adds some twelve minutes to the theatrical version. I can’t quite remember the differences, but mostly it just makes the film seem longer. Mangold hasn’t got a good pace for it; the fault for that problem, however, lies with the screenwriters.

The film opens with a flashback, moves on to establishing what Hugh Jackman’s been up to since his last outing, then gets him over to Japan with sidekick Rila Fukushima. And then The Wolverine introduces enough suspicious people in five minutes Raymond Chandler would be shaking his head.

But Wolverine isn’t noir (though there are some reasonable Big Sleep comparisons–or should be) and it’s not exactly superhero action either. Mangold and screenwriters Mark Bomback and Scott Frank want to make the film about Jackman rediscovering his will to live. Except he kind of does it in the first sequence after the flashback. There are a whole lot of contrivances–not just in the plot itself, but in the backstory–to get Wolverine to the finish. Way too many.

Mangold just can’t direct the action. The extended cut, which does feature some more action, still doesn’t have the right action. It’s supposed to be a samurai movie, right? Then Jackman should be kicking ass in lengthy, visually dynamic fight sequences. Not surprisingly as Mangold’s direction for the film is mind-numbingly bland.

It’s long, it’s boring, it could be worse. But the studio clearly didn’t cut any good stuff from the theatrical release.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by James Mangold; written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank; director of photography, Ross Emery; edited by Michael McCusker; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, François Audouy; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Hugh Jackman (Logan), Rila Fukushima (Yukio), Tao Okamoto (Mariko), Sanada Hiroyuki (Shingen), Will Yun Lee (Harada), Svetlana Khodchenkova (Viper), Hal Yamanouchi (Yashida) and Famke Janssen (Jean Grey).


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The Wolverine (2013, James Mangold)

The Wolverine suffers from too many pots on the stove, a director in Mangold who can’t manage said pots and some really, really silly things. Like giant monsters silly.

The film’s at its best during a long chase sequence–both in terms of run time and story time–when Hugh Jackman is protecting Tao Okamoto throughout Japan. There’s a bullet train sequence, a lot of other running around stuff. It works. Sadly, it comes towards the beginning of the second act and there’s never anything quite as good later on. Maybe if Mangold could actually direct fight scenes the later stuff would have worked better, but he can’t.

Until the third act, the movie plays reasonably well. Mangold’s just mediocre, never bad. The worst things for most of Wolverine are Svetlana Khodchenkova’s ludicrously weak performance as one of the villains and Marco Beltrami’s atrocious, generic score. Maybe if Mangold had found one or two things to build around–like the score–the film would have worked better.

Instead, it flounders.

Jackman does well in the lead, but the script doesn’t ask him for much. Even though he’s got three character development arcs, none of them require any heavy lifting. Mark Bomback and Scott Frank’s script is stunningly lazy.

Okamoto is okay, nothing more, as the love interest. She’s too slight opposite Jackman. Rila Fukushima is a lot better as Jackman’s erstwhile sidekick.

Will Yun Lee is harmlessly lame.

The Wolverine’s full of potential with absolutely no payoff.

It’s Mangold’s fault.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by James Mangold; written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank; director of photography, Ross Emery; edited by Michael McCusker; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, François Audouy; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Hugh Jackman (Logan), Rila Fukushima (Yukio), Tao Okamoto (Mariko), Sanada Hiroyuki (Shingen), Will Yun Lee (Harada), Svetlana Khodchenkova (Viper), Hal Yamanouchi (Yashida) and Famke Janssen (Jean Grey).


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Red Eye (2005, Wes Craven)

The saddest thing about Red Eye is Wes Craven. The film opens with an action movie build-up montage, which he handles fine (for what it is), moves into an Airport movie, which he handles fine, turns into an actor-based thriller, which he handles fine. What doesn’t he handle fine? What does he handle so poorly I’m asking rhetorical questions? The slasher movie chase through the house scene in the last act. To be fair, the script completely falls apart in the third act too, when the immediate action and the abstract catch up with each other, but still… Wes Craven has probably directed ten movies with these scenes, most with multiple instances, and he can’t do it here? For lower budget Hollywood film, Red Eye has a lot of gloss and it really, really doesn’t serve Craven in those last minutes. I kept wondering, actually, if Red Eye were originally intended to be Scream 4 (hell, it would have been better if it had been) and if Rachel McAdams was just a stand-in for Neve Campbell.

What surprised me, in a good way, was how well Craven handled McAdams, even after she turned into Ellen Ripley. I kept thinking he did a lot of female heroines, then remembered I was thinking of someone else. McAdams is solid throughout, even during the misfired last act, but it’s really nice at the beginning when she and Cillian Murphy are bantering. The biggest problem with the last act is it disregards the chemistry between the characters. They start doing unbelievable things in the way they act towards each other and then Murphy loses the ability to speak… All the suspense is also flushed after a certain point and Craven tries to carry the thing on his handling of the house chase, which is ass. During the majority of the film, it looked like Craven had a real talent for picking projects he could bring a flare to without dousing in Craven-muck. Then the end submerges the whole thing in it.

The film’s also got some politics problems. Even if I was the type of person to have sympathy for a Homeland Security director with the rhetoric of Joseph Goebbels, the movie doesn’t properly present the character (played by Jack Scalia, looking grateful to get the job). He’s not a believable target, it’s not a believable situation, so whenever that aspect comes up, it’s best ignored. There’s good stuff going on for a while, so it can be ignored… until the end. When there’s a CG rocket and Wes Craven’s inability to direct an action scene becomes painfully clear.

Like I said, McAdams is fine. Likable, appealing–in the situation. She doesn’t make the character likable, but that inability could very well be because the script hinges on the character’s secret… (It’d been better if she’d been a ghost. Or Sidney from Scream). Murphy’s great, having a lot of fun during the majority of the film until the script crashes. Brian Cox is apparently saying yes to every single script someone sends him. He’s hamming it up, but he’s decent at hamming, so whatever. If it’d been a real performance, the movie might have been a little better but not really.

Oh, jeez, I just realized… McAdams really isn’t stronger than Murphy in the end. Damn. I totally should have run with it. There’s a whole male vs. female thing running through it and it’s her dad who saves her, which is even worse than my standard example, John Carpenter’s Someone’s Watching Me!, when fate intervenes.

But, really, whatever.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Wes Craven; written by Carl Ellsworth, based on a story by Ellsworth and Dan Foos; director of photography, Robert D. Yeoman; edited by Patrick Lussier and Stuart Levy; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, Bruce Alan Miller; produced by Chris Bender and Marianne Maddalena; released by DreamWorks Pictures.

Starring Rachel McAdams (Lisa Reisert), Cillian Murphy (Jackson Rippner), Brian Cox (Joe Reisert), Jayma Mays (Cynthia) and Jack Scalia (Charles Keefe).


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