Although I never really got into the comic books, X-Men was easily one of my most treasured childhood cartoons. As with most of the other kids at the time, Wolverine was my favorite character, so imagine my excitement when I heard about X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This prequel to the first three X-Men movies provides us with a brief glimpse into the Weapon X project, how Wolverine got his adamantium skeleton, and where he got the Wolverine name in the first place. This was one of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer and for good reason: it’s a concept that sounds like it can’t miss.
If you’ve been paying attention to the media lately, then you may be familiar with the bad rap that X-Men Origins: Wolverine has been receiving. While I don’t think that it’s exactly Oscar-worthy material, this film isn’t nearly as bad as what the critics may be leading you to believe. I was glad to see Hugh Jackman provide a little dash of humor to the role, providing a little reprieve from the massive action sequences. Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool was equally amusing.
I enjoyed the opening war era montage with Logan (Wolverine) and Victor (Sabretooth), but this movie was not without its faults. The special effects, like Wolvie’s shiny new claws in the mirror, left a lot to be desired. Taylor Kitsch didn’t have the same kind of suave and “cool” demeanor as the Gambit that I’ve come to expect, nor was his southern accent quite heavy enough. I could continue to nit-pick on a few smaller details, but X-Men Origins: Wolverine is ultimately the superhero movie that you should be expecting: good, but nowhere near Dark Knight great.
What do you do when Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are no longer relevant to today’s generation? You come forth with a new environmentally-focused division, of course, and that’s where the “new” Disneynature brand has come into the limelight. The first project is Disney’s Earth, a truncated and re-edited version of the Planet Earth series from BBC. This isn’t your typical Disney movie with grand musical numbers, but you still get colorful characters… they just happen to be real animals and not talking ones.
We all recognize that the environment is the hottest subject of the day. I haven’t watched the entirety of Planet Earth, but I’ve been told that Disney’s Earth was shot at the same time, using the exact same footage. The movie is billed as following the trials and tribulations of three animal families, like that of the polar bear shown above, but the narrative (as provided by James Earl Jones) was remarkably superficial. We never really gain any sense of depth and the camera cuts away just before we experience the gruesome realities of nature. There’s hunting, but no feeding. Implied death, but no blood. I guess that’s what you get when you watch a G-rated Disney movie.
That said, the visuals are positively awe-inspiring. Everything is taken to epic proportions. You literally see the migration of thousands (millions?) of birds and deer. The scale is amazing, so this really is something you want to watch on the big screen.
Marley & Me
Dogs are integral parts of many families, even if they can cause some grief sometimes. They can be problematic, tearing up your carpet, having accidents in the living room, and yanking on the leash. But you still love them just the same, because they offer you the same unconditional love in return.
Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston play a couple of newlyweds who adopt a young puppy named Marley. He’s not an aggressive dog, but he has more than his fair share of behavioral problems. The majority of the movie is rather generic with its portrayal of marital issues and a problem dog, but the movie’s powerful conclusion is where it manages to transcend this utter sense of mediocrity. If you’ve ever lost a pet of your own, you may want to get a box of tissues ready.
Marley & Me, as a movie, is far from stellar. The book, so I’ve been told, infuses the canine with a lot more personality than the rather one-sided character we see on the screen. Owen Wilson is easily funnier in other films where he approaches some lighter-hearted fare. All that said, this movie still provides a valuable lesson about the love and loyalty that our furry friends bring into our lives.