4/30/09

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Mutant character development.

There's no arguing that this is what this movie is all about; developing the character of Wolverine. In the previous X-Men movies all we know is that he couldn't remember anything about his past, now we see what that past is. But what I was impressed by in this prequel was the development of every other minor character.

I'd like to start by comparing it to Spider-Man III... it was FAR better, don't worry. Where Spider-Man III went wrong was by treating every character's story as the main plot. That was a huge mistake because there was too much plot development going on and there wasn't any focused attention on any one story. In the case of Wolverine, there were SO many more characters, but we never focused on them for any overbearing amount of time. The only thing we really needed to know about them was their power, and they gave us that along with a tasty smidgen of character. We didn't go into their troubled childhood or into their relationships with their spouses, we didn't get a five-minute-long monologue on how their suffering drives their actions. We got the sense that this sort of thing was there, we got enough of a taste to interest us, but not enough to bore us. We focused on Wolverine and just what was pertinent to him. We figured out what drives him, we figured out the kind of man (or animal) he is and we discovered his relationship with his brother. That's all we were looking for, and, along with some relishing flavor, that's all they gave us.

Fans of X-Men will see copious amounts of familiar faces and powers. These faces alone will conjure up the familiar back-stories. And for those unfamiliar, it will be just a another dab of icing on the cake. X-Men Origins is all about character development, and this job they did extremely well.

Oh, and don't worry, there's some awesome action sequences throughout.

4/11/09

Dragonball Evolution

Ok, it wasn't as terrible as I thought it was going to be. But it still wasn't good. Eye-catching action and a fair backstory kept me going to the end, but character introductions were random and motivations were questionable, making the character connections unbelievable. Granted, this may be a result of the film makers assuming everyone knows who these characters are because of the cartoon... but they're not supposed to make that assumption. I had no idea who they were. I had no idea what the background was or who came from where or why they wanted the Dragonballs. Thus, for me, the story was half-baked. I didn't believe the characters actually wanted to be there. I accepted their on-the-nose exposition of their motive, but it just didn't seem real - it didn't seem worth it.

Goku's story was alright on its own. If they took out all the secondary characters it would have been better (although fans would riot, I'm sure). The "search for these things to save the world" concept has been done to death, but you can't get away from the core of the source material. Given that, that story of the main character is enough to form a well-done concept out of a well-worn core. But tacking the other characters onto the story as they did with the movie was unnecessary were it not for the fact that they just simply existed in the original manga and cartoon. I wanted to believe that it was THEIR choice to be there, not the writer's.

After watching the movie I consulted with the resident anime expert at the theater who said the movie was pretty accurate to the original except for a few minor things like hair color and slight name variances. As a fan of the cartoon, he enjoyed the movie over all. So maybe the movie was just for fans and, not being a fan, I should have left well enough alone? That's not the best way to appeal to a larger market, but... c'est la vie.

Before the Ball

I am faced with the arduous task today of sitting down to a viewing of the newest geek movie, Dragonball Evolution. I don't expect to like it, but I walk into the theater with an open mind. You know if you've been reading long enough that I take movies based on their own merit without having the need to make a carbon-copy of the source material. In this case, I have never watched a single episode of Dragonball Z simply because I could never be convinced that it was a good show. So I have absolutely no source material to reference at all. That could be either good or bad for the film-making crew. I hope they surprise me and come up with an engaging story, but my hopes are not up.

Pray for me...