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Posts Tagged ‘hugh jackman’

Battle of the Blockbuster Boys

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

trekwolverine

This year’s two big early summer blockbusters do not have a lot in common. Sure, they’re both based on nerd franchises, but one is a reboot of a cult TV show about a crew of spacefaring ambassador-adventurers, and the other is a comic book spin-off starring an ageless and mysterious loner with pointy claws. One is about preppy kids in space band-camp; the other is about an angry emo jock. One is bright and breezy; the other is grim ‘n’ gritty. One has side-partings; the other has buzz cuts. One is good; the other is not.

Yet there is one odd feature that unites Star Trek and Wolverine. Man-candy. Both movies feature a surprising number of healthy young turks with thrusting chests and Pepsodent smiles.

We all know Trek beats Wolverine when it comes to things like story, tension, effects and character, and Wolverine currently has the edge when it comes to box office, but which movie comes out ahead when you look at the most important factor of all - the totty? Don’t worry; I have the answers.

(By the way, I think that my version of Photoshop is broken. There was lens flare all over my Star Trek images, and it looked terrible. I’ve done what I can to minimise it.)

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The Nemesis: Eric Bana vs Liev Schreiber

I have a friend who thinks Liev Schreiber is just a low-rent Russell Crowe, which I think is absolutely shocking. I think Liev Scheiber is a rent-controlled Vincent D’Onofrio in a bad neighbourhood. His face is a cross between a sticklebrick and a billboard. Mussing him up and giving him stubble does not render him magically sexy.

Eric Bana, on the other hand, is so handsome that it’s impossible to ugly him up. Cover him in crazy prosthetics and tribal tattoos, and he still looks like a prettier version of Lincoln Burrows from Prison Break. He could play Aileen Wournos and she’d still be gorgeous.

Advantage: Trek

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The Clown: Simon Pegg vs Dominic Monaghan

I used to have a mild thing for Simon Pegg back in the Spaced days, but I got over it pretty quickly. I’ve never had a thing for Dominic Monaghan, despite his claim to fame as being the least punchable of the Hobbits. (For the record, in order of punchability from least to most, it goes Monaghan, Boyd, Wood, Astin.)

That said, Monaghan’s rough-looking circus outcast loser freak looks like he’d be better in the sack than Pegg’s slightly misplaced bag-hat-wearing loopy Scotsman.

Advantage: Wolverine

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The Korean: John Cho vs Daniel Henney

Look everyone! Asians! Asians in our action movies! And they’re not there to do karate! One of these chaps does fancy gun-fu, the other has a flashing blade. It’s a revolution!

Now, John Cho is a handsome and funny guy, and I’d definitely court Harold over Kumar; but Daniel Henney is quite a discovery; the prettiest Korean to shoot at a good guy since Rick Yune in Die Another Day. Not that this propelled Rick Yune to super-stardom, mind you. Hopefully Henney will break out bigger.

Advantage: Wolverine

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The Wiseguy: Karl Urban vs Ryan Reynolds

On first impressions, this is an easy one to call. Ryan Reynolds is stupidly lovely. He’s handsome in a generic Ben Affleck way, and he has an amazing Men’s Health magazine cover body, and he’s funny and goofy and charming. Karl Urban, on the other hand, tends to look a lot better onscreen than off, and has a face a bit like a pissed-off chihuahua. He was at his best playing a Zoolander pretty-boy assassin in The Bourne Supremacy.

Until now, that is. As Dr McCoy, Urban takes on a lip-jutting matinee idol raffishness. While Scotty got the gags and Kirk got the pratfalls, McCoy delivered most of the best lines. Wit and a pair of delightfully full lips will take you a long way in the Federation. Reynolds failed to achieve his usual potential on Wolverine; Urban emerged as one of the nicest surprises in Trek.

Advantage: Trek

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The Father Figure: Chris Hemsworth / Bruce Greenwood
vs Danny Huston / Aaron Jeffrey / Peter O’Brien

The heroes in both movies have both real and surrogate daddies. Actually, James Logan has three dads; real, adoptive, and evil. James Kirk only has two; dead and fake. Wolverine’s dead dads are both played by good-looking Antipodean soap actors, but both are only fleetingly seen. The more substantial father figure is Danny Huston’s William Stryker. Had the part been played by Dexter star Michael C Hall, as originally planned, the character might have had a little more magnetism.

Kirk’s dad is also played by a good-looking Antipodean soap actor, Chris Hemsworth of Home & Away. Kirk’s surrogate dad is Captain Pike, played by Bruce Greenwood. The original Captain Pike was played by Jeffrey Hunter, one of the most beautiful man who ever lived, so it’s natural that they didn’t try to replicate that. In the five-way battle of the daddies, the Abercrombie good looks of Captain Kirk père put him way out ahead.

Advantage: Trek

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The Girl: Zoe Saldana vs Lynn Collins

Or ‘funny-shaped lads’, as I like to think of them. Saldana is a very beautiful woman, but she could stand to eat a few fried Tribbles. Poor dear is wasting away. Collins is likewise attractive, if you can get past the fact that she looks like she smells of hemp and quinoa. The simple truth of the matter, though, is that they’re girls, and you don’t get any points for putting girls in my boy movies. Silly filmmakers!

Advantage: None

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The Sidekick: Zachary Quinto vs Taylor Kitsch

This is where it gets really tough. Quinto is a very handsome man, who made being a brain-eating psychopath seem sexy (and, yes, Sylar eats brains, no matter what he says). However, his bowl-haired Spock is not anywhere like as appealing as either Sylar or Quinto himself. Even with the lengths the movie goes to in order to sex Spock up, fancying Spock is something not everyone is mentally equipped to do. Besides, Quinto is at his best with a bit of stubble. Bring on the Mirror Universe!

In contrast, Taylor Kitsch gets to have fun playing omnisexual flirt and acrobatic hustler Gambit, and his few short scenes are some of the best moments in an otherwise clunky movie. Kitsch convinced me that I’d much sooner watch a Gambit movie than Wolverine 2, Deadpool or Magneto. His hair may be foofy, but it’s still better than Spock’s.

Advantage: Wolverine

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The Hero: Chris Pine vs Hugh Jackman

With scores tied, it all comes down to the leading men. If you’ve seen Jackman strutting about all muscular and shirtless in Wolverine, you’d be forgiven for thinking this a no-brainer. Jackman got himself into amazing shape, and he’s a hugely charismatic actor who can easily carry a big action movie. And he can sing, and he can dance, and he can even raise the ratings for the Academy Awards! He’s a fricking miracle worker!

Then there’s the new boy. Chris Pine is pretty. Chris Pine is flawlessly pretty. He’s as close as any human could come to being a Ken doll. In fact, he was born in LA, the son of two actors; he might as plausibly have been custom-made by Paramount. Consider this; he was born in late August 1980, which means he could have been ‘conceived’ on the very day that Star Trek: The Motion Picture hit cinemas in early December 1979. He’s not a human being! He’s a back-up plan!

The worst you can say about Chris Pine is that he’s too handsome. I don’t believe in ‘too handsome’. As the young, insolent, swaggering Cadet Kirk, pouty-lipped, big eyed Pine is a new icon of cinema sexy, in the grand tradition of Russell Crowe’s Maximus and Daniel Craig’s Bond. Sorry, Wolverine; you’ve finally been out-hunked.

Advantage: Trek
Winner: Trek

Wolverine: What He Does Ain’t Pretty

Monday, May 4th, 2009

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Despite leaking all over the internet and being widely panned by critics and internet scuttlebutt, the new Wolverine movie was a box office hit this past weekend. This is not at all surprising. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is a big draw; people don’t really care if the movie is good or not, just so long as they can watch Wolverine growling and slashing and saying ‘bub’. I suspect the leak had next to bugger all impact. The few thousand people who bothered to dowload an unfinished copy of the movie were exactly the sort of people who would go and see the movie anyway.

The reviews weren’t wrong. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a bad movie. It’s not X-Men: The Last Stand bad, but it is bad. Blame can be laid squarely at the feet of the writers, whose attempt to reverse-engineer an origin for the franchise’s most popular hero involves a skimpy un-plot strung together with a golden classics compendium of dialogue clichés.

Jackman is still good, of course. He can growl and chomp cigars and say “bub” like he was born to it. Ryan Reynolds is predictably entertaining as Wade Wilson, and Taylor Kitsch’s Gambit is so spot on that I want to see that Gambit movie now, please. (And I’m not just saying that because he’s hot, but if he weren’t hot, he wouldn’t be Gambit.) Daniel Henney’s role as the cool and beautiful Agent Zero will hopefully be the start of a long and wonderful career in silly action movies.

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Beyond the pretty boys’ brigade, the performances are less convincing. As an actor, Will.I.Am makes a terrible rapper, while Liev Schreiber’s saucer face seems hopelessly ill-suited to the part of Sabertooth, and making him do those silly cat leaps was a mistake. I came to regard him as a supervillain version of Nermal, the World’s Cutest Kitten. Danny Huston is a dependable rogue, of course, but the man deserved a meatier part to get his teeth into.

It’s also rather important, in a big special effects blockbuster, to get the special effects right. Maybe the people who saw the leaked version without effects were lucky; they were spared the sight of claws that looked like cardboard covered in tin foil, and a de-aged plastic Xavier who looked like the water creature from The Abyss.

Now for the fanboy stuff. (This is where it gets spoilery.) The filmmakers threw some geek-chum into the waters to please the loyal base - guest appearances by the likes of Toad, Quicksilver and Storm. Unfortunately, they ballsed up most of the things that fans are actually likely to care about. Emma Frost as a funny-looking girl in a tanktop? Heather Hudson reimagined as Ma Kent from Superman? Cyclops using his eye beams to set things on fire? And they used the origin from Origins, which I personally think is disastrously stupid. Making Wolverine’s origin that of Little Lord Fauntleclaws feels like a fundamental misreading of the character.

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The biggest crime, though - apart from having Wolverine spending centuries fighting for the US military when he should have been fighting for Canada - was what they did to Deadpool. Ever since Blade: Trinity, Ryan Reynolds has been considered dream casting for that role - so of course they squandered it, turning the merc with the mouth into a mute goon who shoots fricking laser beams out of his face. Fans don’t like it when you pretend you’re going to give them what they want, then whip it away from them.

I’ve seen a lot of people complaining that the film got Deadpool so badly wrong that they cannot possibly do a spin-off. And, you know, they cut off his head. The fact is, Wolverine had the third most successful opening weekend of any Fox picture. Spin-offs are going to happen, and a little decapitation isn’t going to stop that. A sociopathic Deadpool with blades, teleportation and a healing factor is pretty consistent with the comics version (even if the blades do now come out of his arms). I just pray that they drop the laser beams.

The Gambit spin-off and the long promised Magneto spin-off have to be good bets as well, but apparently the most likely direction for the next movie (apart from X-Men Origins: Wolverine II: Wolverine in Japan) is X-Men: First Class, following the first class of Xavier’s students (probably Scott, Jean, Hank and some others, since Bobby and Warren won’t be available in this continuity). Mind you, if that means more of Xavier’s Oil of Olay face, I can probably live without it.

Oh, Oscar!

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

The world’s most glamorous dog and pony show has come and gone for another year. Hugh Jackman was the host for the 81st Academy Awards, and if he seemed like an odd choice given the show’s tendency to favour comics and professional talkers in the role, all fears quickly faded the moment he sang the word ‘excrement’ into Kate Winslet’s face. The jokes were a little pantomime, the songs were a little ropy, but one thing Jackman has in spades is charm. The opening number also gave us Anne Hathaway as Richard Nixon, and the blissfully barefaced cheek of the ‘I haven’t seen The Reader’ song, which was the most brilliantly stage-managed snub I’ve ever seen.

I’m getting ahead of myself, of course. I haven’t talked about the red carpet, where all the buzz was about Brad and Ange - he looking immaculate, she looking a little vampiric. Not only did they give short shrift to Ryan Seacrest on E, they also breezed quickly past the fawning official Oscar broadcast. Brad and Ange don’t stop for anyone unless they’re holding fresh orphan.

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Beyoncé came dressed as a lacquer vase. Jessica Biel forgot to take the napkin out of her dress after dinner. Tilda Swinton wore a bizaare dress with a golden top half and a black bottom half. True fact - if you tipped her upside down she became Cate Blanchett.

oscar-tilda-kate

Kate Winslet’s two-face dress aptly had me in two minds. I think I liked the steely retro Tamara de Lempicka-flavoured under-dress more than I liked the Spanish widow over-dress, but I think she carried it off well.

The stars of High School Musical and Hannah Montana were all there, of course. Good to see the Mario Lopezes and Elizabeth Berkleys of tomorrow out in force and getting their due recognition. I’m only sorry that there was no sign of Lizzie McGuire or the Jonas Brothers.

There were no real trainwreck speeches, but my favourite of the night was the heartfelt speech from Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, whose win seemed necessary in order to give him that platform to speak out about gay rights and gay acceptance. The white ribbon he wore on his lapel was a wedding knot, the symbol for the fight for gay marriage equality.

What we learned at the 81st Academy Awards:

  • Frank Langella is the real Richard Nixon, according to Hugh Jackman. (When Skeletor does it, that means that it is not illegal.)
  • The ceremony just isn’t long enough. In order to add vital minutes to the running time, the acting awards all need to have five presenters, made up of a carefully selected squad of past winners including at least one barely-remembered veteran, one legend, one lunatic, and one person you’re quite sure shouldn’t have won an Oscar in the first place. How nice it was to see Cuba Gooding Jr up on that stage again. (Traditionally one would make a joke about Marisa Tomei at this point, but since she got nominated again this year, I guess that’s no longer a joke.)
  • They only asked Cuba Gooding Jr up there so that they could have a black actor talk about Robert Downey Jr in Tropic Thunder, and they only had Christopher Walken up there because talking about unknown nominee Michael Shannon is boring, but Walken is always entertaining.
  • Angelina Jolie smiled during Jennifer Aniston’s bit. STOP THE PRESSES! This is doubly shocking, as Jennifer Aniston’s bit was not funny. And why the hell is Jennifer Aniston at the Oscars? Couldn’t they afford to get the dog from Marley and Me?
  • Everyone loves a montage. The action montage! The romance montage! The comedy montage! The Oscars are turning into the MTV Movie Awards. Soon there’ll be an Academy Award for Best Kiss.
  • Seth Rogen likes to promote both DVD piracy and gay panic. Ha ha ha, gay panic never stops being funny. Good work there, Milk star James Franco.
  • Ben Stiller probably paid Joaquin Phoenix to act strange on Letterman so that he’d have something to do at the Oscars. (But it was still pretty funny.)
  • Rogen and Stiller are both a lot funnier than Jerry Lewis ever was. The Jerry Lewis montage powerfully demonstrated the limits of Lewis’ schtick, which was basially just one facial expression. (And yet Renee Zellweger has built her career on so much less.)
  • Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé Knowles singing Abba in a montage from the musicals will do more to recruit homosexuals than Harvey Milk ever could. 
  • Actually, that medley was kind of painful. If the rebirth of the musical means more exposure to the stars of High School Musical and Mamma Mia, I’ll just stick to my Rogers and Hammerstein DVDs, thank you very much.
  • When Peter Gabriel throws a snit about not being allowed to perform his nominated song in its entirety, the Oscar producers are forced to fall back on that old standby John Legend. Swapping out Gabriel for an act that kids have actually heard of must have had the producers kicking themselves.
  • It was a great night for Slumdog Millionaire, and the more awards the movie won, the wider director Danny Boyle’s giant toothy smile got, until he was forced to hold his teeth in to stop them from escaping. 
  • Paul Newman totally won the deathreel popularity contest. Sorry, Charlton Heston. (Getting Queen Latifah to sing along to it was a nice touch.)
  • Jack Nicholson is either unwell or missing, as there were no cuts to him all night. How can you have an Oscars without shots of Jack Nicholson wearing shades and grinning, every five minutes? Even if he was busy that night, couldn’t they have got a film crew to follow him around wherever he happened to be? Here’s Jack wearing shades and grinning in the supermarket. Here’s Jack wearing shades and grinning while he reads the sports pages. Here’s Jack wearing shades and grinning while he has a nap.
  • If they must have montages, I’d most like to see a montage of the best Academy Award Jack Nicholson cutaways from the past 81 years.
  • Sophia Loren is so terrifying that even the usually unsinkable Meryl Streep looked daunted while being addressed by her. Loren seemed to be getting ready to wrestle Streep for the title of world’s greatest actress. Then she would have torn Anne Hathaway in two with her teeth and sucked the youth right out of her.
  • Kate Winslet is now Academy Award winner Kate Winslet, and about bloody time. Judging from the reaction in the theatre, I’m not the only one who felt that way. After calling Angelina Jolie ‘the other one’ at the Golden Globes, she seemed to make a point of going over to Ange on her way to the stage. We’re all at peace with Angelina Jolie now.
  • Sean Penn deservedly won for Milk, but his acceptance speech probably wasn’t as good as the one Mickey Rourke would have given, despite the line about ‘Commie homo-loving sons-of-guns’, and the powerful message about how those who voted for Proposition 8 would make their future grandchildren ashamed. If Rourke had gone up there, there was always the chance that he might have melted under the lights, or vomited blood all over Amy Adams.
  • At one point the camera fixed on the weird dragalicious man-shambles that is Rourke, and over his right shoulder we could see tousle-haired vampire pretty-boy Robert Pattinson, and over Rourke’s left shoulder we could see sexy schoolmarm and comedy goddess Tina Fey, and in that shining glorious moment the zeitgeist of the last six months was tied up in a tidy package and wrapped with a dainty bow. And now we can all move on to the next thing, whatever that is.