Review Roundup - Knives out


So X-Men Origins: Wolverine is... a low point both on the series and movies in general to me. After so much focus on the character during the previous X-films, finally they could get down to business and show all that troubled history. Surely a gold mine of interesting stuff? Instead what happened is like a straight to video trainwreck of poor CG, poor characters and all round cartoon nonsense. I seriously expected it to kill the franchise at the time. As it happens, they appeared to scrap the "origins" tag and re-purposed their Magneto movie into First Class which was pretty entertaining if not up to the standards of the original two. At least it bettered the third installment. Could they do the same with Huge Action's solo outings? Is it a good time or another mess? Well kind of both I guess.

Firstly, as a comic spectacle movie the set pieces are entertaining enough. There's a funeral shoot out, a train top scene, a sword fight, and a really stupid robot showdown. Irritatingly, there's a trailer sequence that has been cut (ha) involving ninjas which means paying extra for the extended 3D home release if you want to see it. As is stands though, the action is all fairly well done and never feels stale with Wolvie's one trick powers. Outside the expected amount of stabbing and punching though things fare less well. It falls into travelogue territory on a few occasions - Oh look Pachinko! Love hotels! Which I guess might be novel to some but feels a little unnecessary even if I didn't mind it that much as they wheel out the Bullet Train and tattooed Yakuza thugs. The characterisation isn't too bad for this kind of thing and at least they took some time to include a few quieter moments, despite referencing The Last Stand once too often. The supporting cast are a mixed bag, so while sidekick Yukio is fun she gets sidelined a lot so we can have a (weak and forced) romantic interest that doesn't work, several side characters working for / against the villians whose intentions are unclear, and worst of all a mutant called Viper who serves no purpose they couldn't have just given to anyone else, besides looking extra stupid in the third act. She should just have been dropped from the script.

On that subject, the plot is the weakest aspect here. Early on there was a chance for the bad guys to get exactly what they wanted while Logan slept at their house and instead of course let him walk off and go on the rampage for the next hour of film. It should have been rethought or at least have them make a failed attempt to explain it. I understand it's a critical error by most villains, but it stands out here as they do a predictable reveal in the finale. The objectives of the bad guys and their methods are pretty ridiculous, and as I mentioned the minor characters aren't explained enough either. There are some other things here and there such as Logan being able to remember the 1940s just because the plot needed a flashback, and the idea of his powers being weakened or removed doesn't seem like a technology that would ever be one-off in this world. Still I was entertained enough and didn't get a headache so it gets a pass, even when it's not the best at what it does.