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Believe it or not, this bit works a lot better in context than it did in the trailers.

The Wolverine isn’t just the best X-Men movie (First Class has not aged well), it is also nuanced and focused in a way that most comic book superhero movies just aren’t. This makes it feel more like a “real movie” than Origins or even First Class ever did. This is because pandering is kept lower key, characters don’t get thrown in for no reason or just to be cute, and most everything is foreshadowed, setup, justified, and paid off. There is way less “and then” storytelling going on in The Wolverine than has become typical for superhero movies, let alone Hollywood’s foundering big budget output.

Though the third act is clunky and full of bad contrivances that threaten to derail the movie, it’s also the only part where The Wolverine fully indulges its comic book origin. This is going to work for some and be a dealbreaker for others. For me it was a mild mess. I’ll go into more detail later, but for now be satisfied that it’s the third act problems that keep The Wolverine from being legitimately great. It seems like we have to wait a bit longer for a superhero solo outing to be truly awe-inspiring (Man of Steel comes so close), but in the broader context of these types of movies it is hard to be cynical about the satisfaction level that The Wolverine reaches rather handily. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jeremy Renner is always swell but I never liked Gemma Arterton in anything before.

If, like me, you expected Hansel & Gretel: Witchhunters to be just another shitty Van Helsing you might be curious to find out that this is not the case. Owing more to Sam Raimi than Stephen Sommers, Hansel & Gretel is an irreverent, sassy B-movie that uses the fairy tale as an excuse. It’s light, breezy, and full of little details and jokes that usually work in spite of being a betrayal of the ostensible 19th Century German countryside setting.

I was consistently tickled by Hansel & Gretel and while it’s a bit too self-indulgent to be completely transcendent, it does what Your Highness also attempted but failed to accomplish. It uses tropes and ideas from fantasy, takes the piss out of them, and feeds them back to you in a satisfying way that acknowledges both a sense of humor about, and an affection for, the fantasy genre. Be warned that it’s a fairly low budget movie and you may get tired of seeing the same sets over and over, but it’s all worth it for the ques que fuck climax where they basically inhale deeply from a big cup full of insane witch and blow it all over your face.

It’s glorious in its own semi-retarded way. Read the rest of this entry »

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