In The Wolverine, Logan (Hugh Jackman) has nightmares — but that’s the least of his worries. He also has to become an unwilling pawn in a family struggle and contend with some limp storytelling in the process. Despite all this stacking up against him, The Wolverine is an entertaining action film that does not disappoint often.
Starting out in the World War II days, Logan (aka Wolverine) saves a young soldier’s life in Nagasaki. Decades later the soldier, Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), becomes the head of a Japanese technology empire who on his deathbed sends Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a young girl with kick-ass katana skills, to fetch Logan to Japan. As it happens, Logan’s healing factor can help save Yashida from cancer.
Logan denies but soon has to guard Yashida’s daughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) from Yakuza hit-men, while contending with bad dreams about Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who died by his hands in X-Men: The Last Stand. He, surprisingly, also suffers from a failing healing factor, making him an easy prey for many of the film’s assassins.
The lack of original plotting in The Wolverine and the lack of mutant heroes and villains from the last solo Wolverine film works somewhat in its favour. The villains that do get introduced (Viper, played by Svetlana Khodchenkova and the Silver Samurai) get limited exposure because there’s not a lot for them to do here.
In the meantime, the screenplay by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank (and the un-credited Christopher McQuarrie) and its director James Mangold, focus on a succession of action sequences out of which some get you in the mood to appreciate what the film has to offer.
Primarily, the offering is Jackman whose likability in the role fits like a glove; but then again, as the leading mutant in almost all X-Men films (and lets not forget the cameo in X-Men: First Class), getting the character wrong is the least of his worries. Plus, he and Yukio make a fine action pair.
Released by 20th Century Fox, The Wolverine is rated PG-13 for painful action.
A snail’s pace
DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo has an absurd and highly optimistic premise about a small snail and his big dream of racing in the Indy 500.
Theo aka Turbo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) is a snail who loves racing. He watches old car races on TV repeatedly and idolises French racing legend Guy Gagné (Bill Hader) even as the voice of reason, his older brother Chet (Paul Giamatti), tries to make him focus on survival. Survival for snails is a trip to the vegetable garden to gather tomatoes (snails getting nipped by crows is part of the routine).
Following an argument with Chet, Turbo lands up on the bonnet of a racing car, in the middle of a street race. He gets sucked into the engine and takes nitro-powered fuel into his system — and develops headlight-like eyes and the super speed of professional racing cars.
Later, Chet and Turbo are adopted by Tito (Michael Peña), who mirrors the two brother relationships with his older sibling Angelo (Luis Guzmán), the owner of a Taco shop in a lifeless area. Tito, as it turns out, is a snail-racing enthusiast with other shop owners of the area, and Turbo makes friend with like-minded racing snails: Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg), White Shadow (Michael Bell), Burn (Maya Rudolph) and Skidmark (Ben Schwartz). Encouraged by Tito, and his friends, Turbo heads to Indy 500 for fame, glory and publicity for Tito’s Taco business.
Turbo’s biggest flaw is mediocrity: it is just one of the many far better made underdog-achieving-his-dreams films such as Ratatouille, Kung Fu Panda and Happy Feet. What Turbo does have is likability, which is saying much as snails are neither cute nor cuddly. Once the snail compadre-ship kicks in, the film gets saved from being a siesta session.
Released by 20th Century Fox, Turbo is directed by David Soren and written by Soren, Robert Siegel and Darren Lemke, and is rated PG.
The masked rider
The Lone Ranger is built for screen by producer Jerry Bruckheimer and his Pirate cohort Gore Verbinski. The rest of the film starts in 1933 (when the original Lone Ranger made appearances on the radio) with flashbacks to a “should be true” fable set in 1869, narrated to a young boy (Mason Cook) by a Native American statue (Johnny Depp in prosthetic disguise).
Depp is Tonto, a half-wacked version of his Jack Sparrow, and the future Lone Ranger’s sidekick. With Depp’s persona, he comes off as the real lead of the film. The screenplay by Ted Elliott, Terry Rosio and Justin Haythe tries to adjust Armie Hammer into the film to the best of their abilities and circumstances.
Hammer plays John Reid, a square, law-abiding prosecutor whose brother, a Texas Ranger, and co. get massacred by Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), a disfigured carnivorous outlaw, who later takes Reid’s brother wife and son hostage. Reid, who is also left for dead, recovers and is told by Tonto that he is a “spirit walker”, who cannot be killed in battle.
The rest of The Lone Ranger is about every darn Wild West film ever made. The cavalry, the gold rush (in this case, silver rush), railroad, a woman with a concealed gun in a prosthetic leg (Helena Bonham Carter), vendetta, a bit of Native American magic, some Road Runner-like gusto and a very long running time.
Disney’s The Lone Ranger is rated PG-13. — Mohammad Kamran Jawaid