Flashback Friday: The Wolverine

I won’t talk long about THE WOLVERINE as I know there is understandable skepticism of my ability to be objective regarding a Marvel property, especially a week before its release. So I’ll just say that I like Hugh Jackman in general (see my earlier Flashback Friday in which I discussed REAL STEEL) and especially as Wolverine and I think James Mangold is a talented director. So, make of that what you will.

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

 POLO! (photo from collider.com)

POLO! (photo from collider.com)

Let’s not mince words. This isn’t very good.

There’s some fun to have with spot the mutant (Wolverine, Sabretooth, Blob, Gambit, John Wraith, Zero, and so on). Jackman is reliably good, Liev Schreiber’s an actor I like quite a bit who’s usually very good in the bad choices of movies he makes and here is no exception, and Ryan Reynolds is typically funny—while he still has a mouth.

The movie though is lumpy, weirdly paced, and seems far more focused on introducing more characters into the X-Men film universe than telling a strong coherent story.

Not recommended, especially if you aren’t a longtime X-fan. If you love the property, you might enjoy the various camoes and minor roles. Unless, of course, you’re a Deadpool fan. That, however, is a discussion I’d just assume avoid, thanks.

 

IDENTITY

The James Mangold directed IDENTITY has the odd distinction of being the screenplay idea of Charlie Kaufman’s “twin” in ADAPTATION brought to life. At least, that’s always been the sort of logline on it.

This is not what motivated me to see it in the first place—that was John Cusack—or to revisit it here—that would be that Mangold directed this and THE WOLVERINE. However, I did find myself pondering that assertion and arguing with it, “It’s not  the same as that fictional screenplay. A device in common, sure, but not the same!” Which is kind of dumb, especially when the movie’s ten years old.

Anyway, IDENTITY is a movie that features a twist ending. When it comes to twist endings, there are essentially two types of films. The first delivers the twist, blows your mind, and when you go back to it you find that it still is enjoyable as a movie even after you know the ending. These are your the USUAL SUSPECTS and SIXTH SENSE films. The other type delivers the twist, blows your mind, and then just isn’t as good or interesting a flick upon re-watch.

(Actually, there’s a third: movie delivers a twist, does it poorly, leaves you with no interest in returning to it. Think latter day M. Night films like THE HAPPENING or LADY IN THE WATER.)

IDENTITY is sadly, more #2 than #1. A riff on “Ten Little Indians” set in a motel with an emphasis on the slashing results, Mangold sells the hell out of it the first time, draping the film in thick blacks, sheets of rain, motel neon and fluorescent, and smart camera angles and moves. Going back with knowing the twist  though, the picture feels empty and slow. The reveal releases all the tension from the proceedings for future watches. It might be a  bit of an overstatement to say the twist makes everything before it meaningless, but it’s darn close.

I recommend it for people taking it in the first time or who can’t really remember it at all. If this is going to be your second, third, or more time sitting down in front of it, I say skip it and just remember how you liked it before you knew the twist.

 Sorry guys...they can't all be purely positive. (photo from maltinsworstratings.blogspot.com)

Sorry guys...they can't all be purely positive. (photo from maltinsworstratings.blogspot.com)