Will Yun Lee

Power/Rangers (2015, Joseph Kahn)

Just from the concept, Power/Rangers should be a lot better. Or maybe not. The concept–a gritty action movie “Power Rangers” adaptation, done as a short with a professional cast, professional effects–sounds really amusing.

The result, however, is way too mired in continuity to be amusing for its fourteen minute run time. Or eleven and change, minus the end credits. It’s funny to rely so much on continuity from a kids show without a cult following, but it doesn’t make for a good narrative. Not even an eleven minute one.

The short has bad grown-up Power Ranger James Van Der Beek interrogating good grown-up Power Ranger Katee Sackhoff. Both actors are game, but Van Der Beek has too much material, Sackhoff not enough.

It’s a funny idea and an unsuccessful short. Director Kahn does okay with Power/Rangers, he just doesn’t know how to execute it.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Joseph Kahn; written by Kahn, James Van Der Beek and Dutch Southern; director of photography, Christopher Probst; music by Brian and Melissa; production designer, Brett Hess; produced by Adi Shankar and Jil Hardin.

Starring Katee Sackhoff (Kimberly/Pink), James Van Der Beek (Rocky), Russ Bain (Tommy/Green), Will Yun Lee (General Klank) and Gichi Gamba (Zack/Black).

The Wolverine (2013, James Mangold), the extended edition

The extended version of The Wolverine adds some twelve minutes to the theatrical version. I can’t quite remember the differences, but mostly it just makes the film seem longer. Mangold hasn’t got a good pace for it; the fault for that problem, however, lies with the screenwriters.

The film opens with a flashback, moves on to establishing what Hugh Jackman’s been up to since his last outing, then gets him over to Japan with sidekick Rila Fukushima. And then The Wolverine introduces enough suspicious people in five minutes Raymond Chandler would be shaking his head.

But Wolverine isn’t noir (though there are some reasonable Big Sleep comparisons–or should be) and it’s not exactly superhero action either. Mangold and screenwriters Mark Bomback and Scott Frank want to make the film about Jackman rediscovering his will to live. Except he kind of does it in the first sequence after the flashback. There are a whole lot of contrivances–not just in the plot itself, but in the backstory–to get Wolverine to the finish. Way too many.

Mangold just can’t direct the action. The extended cut, which does feature some more action, still doesn’t have the right action. It’s supposed to be a samurai movie, right? Then Jackman should be kicking ass in lengthy, visually dynamic fight sequences. Not surprisingly as Mangold’s direction for the film is mind-numbingly bland.

It’s long, it’s boring, it could be worse. But the studio clearly didn’t cut any good stuff from the theatrical release.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by James Mangold; written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank; director of photography, Ross Emery; edited by Michael McCusker; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, François Audouy; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Hugh Jackman (Logan), Rila Fukushima (Yukio), Tao Okamoto (Mariko), Sanada Hiroyuki (Shingen), Will Yun Lee (Harada), Svetlana Khodchenkova (Viper), Hal Yamanouchi (Yashida) and Famke Janssen (Jean Grey).


The Wolverine (2013, James Mangold)

The Wolverine suffers from too many pots on the stove, a director in Mangold who can’t manage said pots and some really, really silly things. Like giant monsters silly.

The film’s at its best during a long chase sequence–both in terms of run time and story time–when Hugh Jackman is protecting Tao Okamoto throughout Japan. There’s a bullet train sequence, a lot of other running around stuff. It works. Sadly, it comes towards the beginning of the second act and there’s never anything quite as good later on. Maybe if Mangold could actually direct fight scenes the later stuff would have worked better, but he can’t.

Until the third act, the movie plays reasonably well. Mangold’s just mediocre, never bad. The worst things for most of Wolverine are Svetlana Khodchenkova’s ludicrously weak performance as one of the villains and Marco Beltrami’s atrocious, generic score. Maybe if Mangold had found one or two things to build around–like the score–the film would have worked better.

Instead, it flounders.

Jackman does well in the lead, but the script doesn’t ask him for much. Even though he’s got three character development arcs, none of them require any heavy lifting. Mark Bomback and Scott Frank’s script is stunningly lazy.

Okamoto is okay, nothing more, as the love interest. She’s too slight opposite Jackman. Rila Fukushima is a lot better as Jackman’s erstwhile sidekick.

Will Yun Lee is harmlessly lame.

The Wolverine’s full of potential with absolutely no payoff.

It’s Mangold’s fault.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by James Mangold; written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank; director of photography, Ross Emery; edited by Michael McCusker; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, François Audouy; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Hugh Jackman (Logan), Rila Fukushima (Yukio), Tao Okamoto (Mariko), Sanada Hiroyuki (Shingen), Will Yun Lee (Harada), Svetlana Khodchenkova (Viper), Hal Yamanouchi (Yashida) and Famke Janssen (Jean Grey).


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