Movie Review: The Wolverine (2013)

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Here we are people. The final movie in my “Mangoldathon” series of reviews leading up to the release of “Logan” this coming week. I’ve had fun going through this director’s movies, and I hope you enjoyed reading the reviews that came out of it all. But now we’re here… the last one. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Wolverine”.

After the events of “X-Men: The Last Stand” we find Logan (Hugh Jackman) at his lowest low, hiding out in the middle of nowhere. But one day he gets summoned to Japan by a man (Hal Yamanouchi) he once knew. And soon Logan gets dragged into a conflict which will test him both physically and mentally. And I honestly thought the plot here was really solid. It’s a pretty serious action-drama that touches upon a lot of interesting things regarding the character of Logan, including the themes of mortality and love. And I thought it was pretty damn great… except the last 20-ish minutes of the movie. I mean, that part was entertaining, but it’s such a weird shift in tone from the rest of the movie. Again, the majority of the plot is great, and that final bit of the movie is… fine.

The characters are interesting and entertaining to watch. I think it’s safe to say at this point that Hugh Jackman is awesome as Logan/Wolverine. I mean, the dude’s always been great in the role, but I feel like this might be his best outing as the character (Keep in mind that at the time of writing, I have not seen “Logan”). Here he gets to stretch some of his acting muscles a bit more, getting to show more emotions while also being more of a vulnerable/troubled character. Rila Fukushima plays Logan’s new ally Yukio, and she’s really good in the movie. Tao Okamoto plays Mariko, a young woman that Logan seems to be forming a bit of a romance with, and she’s really good in the movie. Svetlana Khodchenkova plays the character of Viper and while the character might feel a tiny bit out of place, Kodchenkova still did a really good job. And then we also get some great performances from people like Hiroyuki Sanada, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, Will Yun Lee, and Famke Janssen.

The score for the movie was composed by Marco Beltrami and it was pretty great. It was exciting, it was badass, and fit the location very well. The movie is set in Japan and to help with that, the score did feature some Japanese instruments, and I thought that was pretty cool. And overall the score just fits the movie very well overall.

As stated in the intro of the review, this movie was directed by James Mangold and he really did a great job. He directs the movie with a certain intensity that the other “X-Men” movies kind of lack. Especially the action scenes, which are all really badass and also fairly realistic. Or well, at least compared to other “X-Movies”. And the movie is just gorgeous, there were seriously shots in the movie that made me go “Wow”. Also, this is pretty violent for PG-13… yeah, it’s definitely one of the more violent PG-13 movies I’ve seen.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 69% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“The Wolverine” is a really solid action movie with some great character stuff for Logan/Wolverine. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. However, I am deducting some points because of that weird shift in tone near the end of the film. Time for my final score. *Snikt*. My final score for “The Wolverine” is a 9,01/10. I’d say that it’s worth buying.
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My review of “The Wolverine” is now completed.

And that’s it for the “Mangoldathon”… Hope “Logan” is good.

Movie Review: Taken (2008)

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I am honestly not a big fan of modern action movies. There are not that many that I have found that appealed to me. Sure, I have a few that I can call “guilty pleasures” (“Expendables 2” for example). And that is a bit of a disappointment considering I in general like action movies. Anyway… I also like Liam Neeson, the guy’s a great actor. Recently he started to do less dramas and insted do more action oriented movies. You might remember that I did a review for his most recent movie “Non-Stop” about a week ago. Well today we are not revisiting that movie! Today we are taking a look at the movie which launched him into the action movie circle.

Sons and daughters… “Taken”.

The story of “Taken” follows ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson). He lives a quiet life as a… retired guy. He retired from the CIA to be closer to his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) who now lives with her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen) and step-father Stuart (Xander Berkeley). One day Kim asks for his permission to go to Paris with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy). So after a little while, Bryan agrees to it… with a few conditions. So then Kim and Amanda goes to Paris… but it doesn’t end well. And by “doesn’t end well” I mean they get kidnapped and it is up to Bryan to get over there and find them… in the most badass way possible. And there we have our story… at least in a basic synopsis-y way. Is it a good premise? Yes. Is the execution of it good? Pretty good I suppose. I’m not saying the execution is bad, I am just saying it is not done in such a way where it keeps me interested. Although I was interested in a different thing about the movie that we’ll talk about in a bit. But back to the point! The drama in this movie was not very engaging and never felt as real as it could. Sure, a few bits struck a small nerve with me, but that’s about it. Not much interest in the execution of the story.

The characters are done in a way that actually keeps this movie going. Not saying they are my favorites in any movie ever… but they work. Let’s start with the only one really worth talking about (Yes, I’ll skip the others), Bryan Mills. He is one of the biggest badasses ever. But he doesn’t only kick literal ass in this movie, but also metaphorically… let me explain. He is very well-written and also carries the emotional parts of the story in this movie. Sure, he doesn’t start crying in this movie, but he really shows emotions compared to every other action hero ever. Also, while he is kicking ass in combat and never seems to lose, you can still notice that he is vulnerable… not just the ultimate killing machine (even though he is that as well). So in general, good characters that work, but we only care for Liam fucking Neeson because he is Liam fucking Neeson.

The music was pretty damn good. It was a mix of a few cold tracks (explanation of cold tracks: Tracks that are calm and used to create a cold and kill-all-the-happiness feeling) and exciting action based tracks. All tracks in this movie comes together to have an orgie and make a great soundtrack for this movie. And that is something I really like! Good job, soundtrack!

Remember when I said I would talk about something that interested me? Yeah, me neither. But time for it to happen! What I meant was the action in the movie… it is pretty awesome. Sure, some of it is obstructed by the curse of shaky-cam, but what you can see is pretty awesome. It is fun to watch and it makes for great entertainment. Also, like I said, this movie really helped launch Liam Neeson into the “action hero circle” which I am so thankful for because he is amazing in action movies (“Non-Stop” is a fine example). Also… camera work (when it isn’t having an epileptic seizure) is fantastic. The shots done in this movie are really great and makes for some real eye-candy.

Reception for “Taken” has been for the most part good…with a few exceptions. Rotten Tomatoes has a score of 58% on it. On Metacritic this movie has a 50/100 rating. And while I couldn’t find a decent quote, Roger Ebert seemed to like it a little bit since he gave this movie 2,5/4 stars. The highest (overall) score has to be on imdb.com since it has a 7,9/10 on there.

“Taken” has fun action, a decent plot, some great music and a great performance by Liam Neeson. So now I will hand out my final score and the movie will take (haha) it. My final score for “Taken” is a 9,52/10 which is just enough to give it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Taken” is at last reviewed.

This movie has Taken me in…