Even after joining the X-Men, perceived in 1975 to be one of the prolific team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby?s few misses, he wasn?t an immediate hit. It was only when John Byrne (Half Canadian himself) took over as penciller of the title that the man known only as Logan was pushed to the fore and his popularity began to grow. In the month of the film?s release Wolverine will star in no less than three ongoing solo books, a couple of mini series and as a member of the X-Men, The New Avengers and leader of X-Force. Basically if you put Wolverine on the front of a comic it is going to sell. The question is, can the same logic be applied to the movies?
Given these facts it is unsurprising that Wolverine is the first of the X-characters to receive his own solo film. He is certainly the star of the first two X-Men films (largely responsible for the rejuvenation of the comic book movie genre). Their narratives revolve around Wolverine?s story skillfully weaving in the rest of the team and their sub-plots along the way. The third film perhaps suffers for not adhering to this formula as it attempts to adapt two epic stories into a narrative designed to spread the spotlight on more characters (The change of director from Bryan Singer to Matthew Vaughn and at the last minute to Brett Ratner didn?t help either). With the casting of this film it seems like the studio is moving toward the direction of the first two. It is Wolverine?s name in the title but he certainly isn?t alone. Featured prominently in the trailer are fellow mutants Sabretooth, Cyclops, Emma Frost, The Blob, Gambit and Deadpool. The perfect casting of Ryan Reynolds as the wisecracking Merc with a Mouth Deadpool suggests that someone at Fox has an eye on the potential for spin offs from this spin off.
There is certainly potential here. Wolverine?s healing factor allows the film to span the decades like an all action mutant Forrest Gump. The director Gavin Hood has a good pedigree, having been behind the camera on the excellent Tsotsi. At the very least we can expect the action sequences to be spectacular. There are also plenty of Marvel?s mightiest Mutants to appease the fanboys. We can only hope lessons will have been learnt from X-Men 3 and story won?t be sacrificed in aid of flashy action sequences and special effects.
The very presence of Wolverine is enough usually to make people pick up a comic. I think it?ll be enough to get people to hit the theatre too. The question is then, will it be any good? As Wolverine says himself, he?s the best he is at what he does and what he does isn?t very nice. If Hood lets his star loose then I?m sure this blockbuster will set the mark for the rest of the summer money spinners to follow.
Director: Gavin Hood
Writer: David Benioff
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, Liev Schreiber
The creator of Stardust and the critically acclaimed Sandman saga sees another of his works adapted this month by the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The creator is Neil Gaiman, the director is Henry Selick and the film is Coraline. The plot involves a girl transported to a magical realm that at first seems to be an idealised version of her life before becoming a threat to both her and her family. It is classic Gaiman turning established storytelling conventions on their heads like a twisted and quite often terrifying Alice Through The Looking Glass. Selick is a master of stop motion animation but his work has never looked as refined as it does here. There are distinctive looks for the real world and the magical other realm and with the use of 3D this looks to be an absolute banquet for the eyeballs.
Competing with Wolverine in the blockbuster stakes is the rebooted Star Trek franchise. From the fertile mind of J.J. Abrams (Lost, Cloverfield, Alias) the new movie wisely jettisons the baggage associated with the previous films and television series and goes back to the start with Kirk (played by James T. Pine) and Spock (played by Zachary ?Sylar? Quinto) at the Starfleet Academy. I?m no Trekkie but the trailers have got me really looking forward to this. It seems as if Abrams is on a mission to return the sense of awe associated with space exploration. Beam me up.
? ? ?
For those dreading the start of blockbuster season Synedoche, New York offers an alternative. From the genius mind of Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) this marks his first film as writer and director. It is a typically mind bending concept as a theatre director attempts to build an exact replica of New York inside a warehouse. The trailer suggests Kaufman will deal with his usual themes of mortality, frustration and the nature of art and with a heavyweight lead performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman it looks to follow his other films in challenging audiences to exit their comfort zones and deal with challenging and difficult ideas.