Why WORLD’S END ended with a wimper

tinseltown tuesday meme morpheous

On four different British Airways 747’s to India and back, I watched many, many movies. And it’s worth talking about them not in a “hey, this is out on DVD, so should you fire up Netflix?” kind of way, but in a storytelling way.

Did it work? Why or why not?

WORLD’S END proves that talent doesn’t always equal success. This is a movie with great comedic actors, yet a structural problem kills it. Because it’s truly two different movies slammed together.

The first movie is a comedy about five mates in England getting back together for an epic pub crawl they didn’t finish as college kids.

The second movie involves robots from space, which comes as a huge surprise, and not a good one.

Simon Pegg is brilliant, and he teams up with his sidekick once again, like in SHAWN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ. Brilliant!

This movie had potential but is not up to Simon’s usual snuff. The thing is, fixing this film wouldn’t take much.

While the Simon Pegg character is talking his buddies into returning to their home town for the crazy pub crawl, he could’ve dropped hints about drunken fights in pub bathrooms with possible robot imposters. A single line like that could’ve saved this movie.

But instead, we get an orphaned payoff with no real setup.

Bonus: Simon continues the stunt casting of former James Bonds with facial hair playing villains. Timothy Dalton with a Tom Selleck mustache was in HOT FUZZ and this time we’ve got Remington Steele with a goatee. Loved this.

THE WOLVERINE proves Writing Law #1 – Less is More

Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine on the big screen 873 times so far, and I love the man. Does a great job in the role.

However: Even the charm and acting chops of Hugh the Jackman weren’t enough to salvage the hot mess of the first solo Wolverine movie, which I believe was titled WOLVERINE: A TRAIN WRECK OF A SCRIPT.

So it is with pleasure that I say this latest Wolverine flick, now out on DVD and BluRay and 3D smello-vision and such, is far more watchable than the first hot mess. Check out the trailer:

But hear me now and believe me later in the week: even with the same director and a SMALLER BUDGET, you could have made this latest movie infinitely better. (Spoiler alert: I’m going to fix the movie while revealing big plot points and plot holes.)

Here’s how to fix it: Cut out every possible character. Show no mercy.

Because less is more.

There’s a long list of people who get screen time, which goes for about $1.7 million a minute these days in Hollywood, yet the screenwriter and director spend tons of time on side characters that don’t really matter. The current script on screen has the following major characters:

  1. Our hero, Hugh the Jackman with mutton chops and retractable claws
  2. The Silver Samurai, our villain, except he’s really the Adamantium Samurai, which doesn’t sound as cool
  3. The sidekick bodyguard, a red-headed woman who’s amazing with a sword
  4. The wispy love interest, heir to the Yashida company fortune
  5. The love interest’s father, who seems like the possible secret villain … until he’s killed by Wolverine early on, so nope, he’s not
  6. The love interest’s fiance, an evil defense minister politician type, who’s too wussy to be the real villain and gets thrown out of window by Wolverine
  7. Mr. Ninja, who was the love interest’s first boyfriend and still pines for her until he dies
  8. Viper, an evil blonde expert in biochemistry and such, a bit like Poison Ivy without the plant fetish
  9. Mr. Yashida, now a dying tycoon, who Wolverine saved during WWII when the bomb dropped
  10. Five zillion Yakuza gangsters and other people I’m forgetting

All these characters are hard to keep track of, and the screen time would have been better spent on the hero (Hugh the Jackman!) and the villain (the Silver Samurai, who we only see for a tiny bit at the end).

From the trailer, I thought the villain (the Silver Samurai) would have shown up earlier, and torn up Tokyo like Godzilla on a bender. And when he did show up, he was an awesome villain, and a great foe for Wolverine … for the five minutes or whatever he was on screen.

Instead, we got a huge dose of random Yakuza gangsters, who are not exactly a match for Wolverine, even if he’s weakened and such.

We also got endless scenes with this wispy love interest, and yes, she’s pretty, but she’s got relationships and backstory with just about every other character on this list. Her dad, her grandfather, her fiance, the ninja boyfriend, Wolverine, the redheaded bodyguard. Everybody is tied to her.

But guess what? The story doesn’t need her. At all.

Doesn’t need her or the ninja boyfriend, who only confuses things when he’s good, then bad, then good again.

Doesn’t need her fiance or her father, who dies so early in the script that he’s pointless. Whenever the love interest was on screen with Wolverine, teaching the caveman table manners and how to use chopsticks, I expected Peter Cetera to start belting out The Glory of Love.

Also: we don’t need the random Yakuza gangsters, who are more for comic relief in the end with that fight on top of the train.

So who are we left with, after killing off these unnecessary characters?

1) Hero: Wolverine

2) Villain: The Silver Samurai (hint: he’s also Yashida the tycoon)

3) Viper as a secondary villain, because she was scary and good

4) The redheaded bodyguard, since unlike the love interest, she was interesting every time she popped up on screen

That’s it. Four characters that we really get to know are far, far better than 10 characters we can’t keep straight. (Note: This is true for all forms of writing. As Stephen the King says, you write a mountain of words, then carve away the bad ones, like a sculptor, until only the best ones remain.)

Give us the Silver Samurai causing damage early, in Act 1, and show us much more dangerous he can be in Act 2.

Let the sneaky blonde Viper chew up more scenery and set her up against the redheaded bodyguard early and often. And if you really need Wolverine to kiss a girl, let it be the redheaded bodyguard (though that wouldn’t be a shock) or, more interestingly, Viper.

Setting up Viper as an ally at first, then showing her betrayal at the end, would’ve been a great reversal. As it was written and shot, you knew she was bad from the first second she popped up on screen.

What say you? Would you cut different members of the cast instead, saving the Lovely Model Who Was Boring, or would you expand the scenes of Wolverine in Alaska, playing with bears and rednecks in bars?