Monday, May 4

FIGHTING FIT: Fireball, X-Men Origins: Wolverine

As the nation gloriously reeled from another Pacquiao victory, I took it upon myself to stretch the adrenaline rush. I was midway to the sofa, a cold beer in hand, when Pacquiao knocked the living daylights out of Hatton. It was one of those rare moments when I consciously indulged in a national experience that was quite macho and it was over even before I had a sip (gulp?) from my macho beer. I wanted more action. I wanted broken bones. I wanted blood. Grr.

Fireball ( ท้า/ชน), sans subtitles, makes a winning case that action---high kicks, knuckle-busting punches---speaks louder than words. The plot is quite easy to follow, though reading the synopsis ahead can help a great deal. Director Thanakorn Pongsuwan is committed to the lean, but surprisingly meaty in characterization, storytelling and makes no apologies to the brutality of the action. Fireball, the game, is more than a hybrid of muay thai and basketball. The inhuman, feral skills on display is simply superheroic in nature.

Pongsuwan's action scenes make the violence of Watchmen look like child's play. The sequence where Tai (Preeti Bank Barameeanan) and his ragtag team goes up against thick-necked roids with metal pipes could arguably be the only segment where basketball and muay thai are equally combined to a thrilling, visceral effect. Though I would sometimes hope that the camera would pull out so I could see full-body shots of the action, the tight shots and quick cut-to-cuts do make me feel like I am a part of the action. Oftentimes, I would duck (and spill my beer) while screaming Foul! to the screen.

The short vignettes that peek into the lives of the players are insightful enough to make the characters easy to sympathize with, making the tragic moments a little more emotional than one expects in an all-out action flick. And though language is a significant barrier to a fuller appreciation of Fireball, the defiance in the violence---passionate, breathtaking---is as tangible as any scripted dialogue and saves the movie from a hollow, forgettable existence. Here's hoping for a Region 1 release.

Rating: 3

And speaking of forgettable, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, with all its loud explosions and serviceable special effects, lacks the power to surprise. Good thing I grabbed a cup of coffee before I walked in the cinema. The first 30 minutes were promising enough. It was great to see Daniel Henny's Agent Zero in action, all sinewy and deadly. I'm not a fan of the Deadpool character but after following his relaunch during Marvel's Secret Invasion event, I understood why he was a fan favorite; he's the crazy, accidentally funny assassin underdog whose unpredictable nature makes him one of the more engaging anti-heroes. We only see hints of Wade Wilson/Deadpool's comic characterization here, and the ending of the movie totally messes up the character.

Wolverine is to Marvel as Batman is to DC. And if you're a comic book reader, you're kind of tired (well, I am) of seeing him everywhere; he has four ongoing titles, he is in all 3 of the 4 (?) X-men books, he is occasionally in the New Avengers. The movie doesn't offer anything new to Logan's much explored history; Victor Creed (Sabretooth) who is revealed right from the outset as Wolverine's brother in Marvel's movie universe is difficult to buy because the character was portrayed as a mumbling, dim-witted opponent in the first X-Men movie.

It is undeniable though that Hugh Jackman is the perfect Wolverine, a rare casting coup and second only to the late Christopher Reeve's Superman. So watch it for Jackman and the amazing Liev Schreiber. Watch it if you want to see Gambit throw kinetic cards (which he does only once). Watch it if you want to see younger versions of Professor Xavier, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Toad and Dust. Otherwise, you're better off watching X-Men 2 again.

Rating: 2


Andy Briones said...

"Watch it if you want to see Gambit throw kinetic cards (which he does only once)."

-> I sense bitterness here, ehehehe. Just kidding. :-)

I love Gambit. Fan ka ba ng tambalang Gambit/Rogue? Me, when I was still into comic books, gusto ko yung Archangel/Psylocke love team (although Psylocke got on my nerves when she got her flirt her on with Cyclops).

Is it true? Will they be doing an X-Men Origins: Magneto next time? Wait, am I imagining things again? Ehehehe.

Thor Bee said...

Andy: Yeah, bitterness aplenty. I am a Rogue/Gambit shipper; I guess it's out of the question now. Hehe. I also liked the Kitty/Colossus relationship but Kitty's somewhere in space stuck in a giant bullet. But they do seem to be building up the Cyclops/Emma Frost team-up. :p

The X-Men have been around for such a long time that it's quite difficult for me to watch a haphazardly done revision on their history. (Btw, Psylocke is now back in Fraction's Uncanny X-Men. Hehe.)

Yeah, next up daw yung Magneto origin, which was beautifully done in a recent Marvel Knights limited series. But honestly, it doesn't sound too exciting. They should do a villains-united thing, the formation of the Hellfire Club or launch the New Mutants or Young X-men with cameos from Wolverine, Beast, etc. and have Cyclops and Emma Frost lead the team. But no. They stupidly killed off Scott Summers in X-Men 3.


tessa marie said...

before the x-men movies were released, i thought jackman wouldn't make a spot-on wolverine because he is usually shorter and stockier in the comic books. i stand corrected.

you are right, there is no better comic book hero portrayal than christopher reeve's superman.

as for the most successful comic-film franchise, i still don't think there is any actor who played bruce wayne the way i always imagined him to be. although i absolutely like batman begins and the dark knight, and i like christian bale as bruce wayne, he still isn't quite the person i picture in my head. but that never ruined my movie experience anyway...

Andy Briones said...

"But they do seem to be building up the Cyclops/Emma Frost team-up. :p"

-> Huwhaaat? Whatever happened to Jean Gray? Don't tell me she died again? She keeps on dying, ehehe.

"Btw, Psylocke is now back in Fraction's Uncanny X-Men."

-> Isa pa 'tong si Psylocke... di ba they killed her before? I'm assuming she's alive and kicking again. What's up with these people? They kll characters then they bring them back again. :p

Thor Bee said...

Tessa Marie: I, too, had doubts with Jackman being cast as Wolverine. But he surprisingly fit the role, and it helped that they got the hair right.

And I have to agree with your take on Bale. His Bruce Wayne is almost perfect but lacks the charm which should create a contrast from his superhero persona. Good, but not there yet.


And no signs of bringing her back. For now. She was killed by Magneto in Grant Morrison's run. Emma Frost and Cyclops are now leading the X-Men. Haven't caught up with the X books after the last crossover.

So I'm not sure how they brought back Psylocke and how her brother, Captain Britain, reacted.

The Captain Britain series though continues to RULE! :D

Andy Briones said...

Whoa, Jean Gray has been dead for 3 years now? I'm so out of the loop, ehehehe. I hope she remains dead — forevah! :p

I love Captain Britain! I used to buy Excalibur when I was in high school! :-)

Thor Bee said...

Andy: It's still as good as ever with hints of Doctor Who! Excalibur had Rachel Summers, Meggan, Kitty and Wisdom back then right? Now they're hinting at a Meggan comeback, which I don't mind. Nrian has been so lonely...concerned talaga di ba? Hehe. That's why I want to find out if he's already aware that his sister is alive.

Andy Briones said...

When I started buying Excalibur, sina Captain Britain, Phoenix, Meggan, Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler pa lang; late na nag join si Pete Wisdom. Alan Davis did both the illustrations and the writing. :-)

I got pissed when they banished Phoenix to an alternate dimension/timeline and they replaced her with that boring Cerise woman. :p

Is Captain Britain still part of Excalibur or does he have his own title na?

Thor Bee said...

Andy: I loved that Alan Davis run! I miss the way he draws...

Phoenix (Rachel Summers) is back in the present timeline. After spending time with the Uncanny Men, she joins the Star Jammers with Havoc and Polaris. She is now in space, helping out in the Kree-Skrull War in the event WAR OF KINGS.

Meggan died during the recent CIVIL WAR. And Capt. Britain disappeared because the nation has lost faith in him. I found this part cool, that his strength was relative to the country's patriotism. He now has his own on-going title called CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND THE MI 13 and in his team are Blade, Wisdom, Black Knight, a lady vampire and a Muslim woman who wields the Excalibur sword.

Kitty is M.I.A.

And there has been only ONE mutant birth since the HOUSE OF M storyline so the mutants are now near extinction...

Andy Briones said...

Nice, I love the CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND THE MI 13 lineup! Panalo ang members, mejo medieval ang dating — I like! Is this available at Comic Quest? If so, how much per issue?

Thor Bee said...

P160 per issue but if you become a regular, you get a 10% discount. At least that's what I get from Comic Odyssey at Robinsons Galleria.

The first collected trade paperback of CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND THE MI 13 is also out. I think it collects issues 1-5. The series is now on its 3rd story arc.