Friday, August 9, 2013

In Memoria

I can't be the only one who looked at this story about the possibility of false memories and thought, "this would be an awesome way to enjoy a movie."

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Wolverine: A One Sentence Review Plus Some Other Explanatory Sentences

My review:

"At some point, the writers and director of The Wolverine became so bored and/or disillusioned with mauling one of Marvel's most badass, yet multi-dimensional characters that they decided they would rather be making Iron Man 4: Bushido Burns Hot."

I admit, I didn't mind the thing so much while sitting through it, but much like the poison and cancer the movie showcases, it's been eating at me since.  And since I have the coffin already open and prepped, allow me to present, in no particular order, the nails I will use to close it (I would warn that spoilers follow, but then the whole damn thing is pretty spoiled):

--Like it or not, and some don't, it has long been orthodoxy that the adamantium bonded to his bones would kill Wolverine if he were deprived of his healing factor.  In this movie, he is deprived of his healing factor.  But instead of sepsis, he goes on to enjoy some homemade tempura.

--Further, a Wolverine without a healing factor who nevertheless decides to extend and retract his claws would do nothing but bleed from the six gaping knife wounds in his hands and ruin his dress pants.  But no, Wolvie's dress pants survive just fine.  Apart from the bullets.

--The one thing you should know about Japanese culture is that they value family honor above all else.  No, literally, that's the one thing this film has to say about Japanese culture.

--Who is the white girl mutant named Viper?  Does she want to be rich?  In charge?  Is she enthusiastically serving the main villain out of loyalty?  Why is she even in Japan?  Also, if shedding her skin lets her shake off an arrow to the back and the blunt force trauma of the three-story fall that follows said arrow, then how is she killed by a second sizable blow to the head?  Does she only have one get-out-of-skin-free card?

--On that note, I submit a Moratorium Request: no more assuming that if a mutant has one power--say, Viper's poison, just to grab an example from the ether--that this mutant also has 1) super-strength, 2) expert martial arts training, and/or 3) physical invulnerability.  Last I checked, ingesting poison and ingesting an arrow with your spine are two completely unrelated bodily processes.

--Following on this, the bug Wolvie finds playing with his heart and dampening his healing factor is of the same variety as the two or three shown swimming around Yashida when we first meet him and his then oncologist, Viper, and something tells me that actively suppressing a cancer patient's immune system is not terribly Hippocratic.  So...the bugs were not dampening Yashida's natural healing too?  They only have adverse affects on gaijin?  Buehller?

--As for Yashida's intentions, man alive, what a waste.  We first see him in a WWII prison camp in Nagasaki and he's freeing American POWs so they can escape the coming nuclear holocaust.  So, good guy.  The rest of the movie features him as some super techno-savvy Tony Stark of Nipon only interested in living forever.  Not living forever so he can complete his life's work that would otherwise be left unfinished when he succumbed to cancer.  Nope, nothing so noble, just "living forever."  Even though he has a suit that's keeping him alive just fine.  (Cough, Tony Stark, cough.  Further digression: best iron lung EVAR.)  Okay, I see that the survival instinct that makes him turn away from seppuku and leap into a pit with Logan is the same instinct that guides his quest for immortality, but then that means his selflessly saving the POWs was...a simplistically moral writerly device to allow our hero Logan to save him in good conscience?  Why, that's not at all cynical screenwriting.  How much more interesting would the question be if the "gift" of a normal human life (and death) offered to Logan by the older, dying Yashida was done out of genuine compassion, rather than as a pretext for more sinister ends?

--Asian Hawkeye is just as gripping a character as his American counterpart.

--Apparently, Wolverine's healing factor is located in the bone of his claws.  Good to know.

--Sorry, but adamantium does not cut adamantium, even if the bit doing the cutting has been heated first.  Especially if it's been heated first.

--Much like half of the people in the movie, dead Jean Grey comes off as uncharacteristically selfish, wanting nothing but for Logan to stop trying to help people (!), finally give up the ghost, and join her in death...all to keep her from being lonely.  This is not who Jean Grey actually was (outside the grip of the Phoenix Force), it is the mutant ghost of Over-Attached Girlfriend.

--I lied before: the film knows two things about Japanese culture, the second being that all Japanese women speak in humble monotones--even the ones with swords--and just as a bird's song is used to attract a mate, the humblest monotone of them all snags the man.

--When your most sympathetic character is a CGI she-bear whose shining moment is pissing on a tree somewhere in the vicinity of our hero before meeting her untimely end just ten minutes into the movie, you, dear action flick, are in deep doo-doo.

High Points:

--The train fight was cool.

--My theater only charges $5.

I give it one claw.

A Call To Violence

The larger point here is not incorrect: religion is not some special spur to violence that, if removed, would leave a world of blissed-out unicorn rainbows in its wake.  There are many things that move people to violence--competition for land, resources, mates, etc.  Hell, if you extrapolate "resources" outward to a state level you have the only real reason anyone starts a war.  After all, nationalism is derived from pride, and pride is a feeling of being owed something, whether that's a tribute, taxes, or deference (and deference is often what leads to real world gains via trade negotiations, say, or military showdowns).  To be satisfied, nationalism demands something it can touch.

No, the reason people like me find religiously-inspired violence so nonsensical is because, of all the tangible things humans kill other humans in order to claim--better access to food and water; a woman; a parking spot--God is the one thing that does not exist.