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May 7, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Kramer's first name. The face of Home Improvement's Wilson. What Bill Murray whispered to Scarlett Johansson at the end of Lost in Translation. Add the origin tale of the mutton-chopped X-Man to the list of pop culture mysteries that should have never been solved. Would you really want to know what the contents of Ronin's metal case were? What about the briefcase Jules and Vincent recovered in Pulp Fiction? Odds are that you'd be disappointed with whatever the reveal was; if there's anything Cloverfield taught us (if we didn't already know), it's that the anticipation is always better than the reality.

Wolverine is no different, though for a different reason. The fact is, anyone casually familiar with X-Men and Wolverine already generally knew just how he became an amnesiac loose-cannon with adamantium-laced bones. Also, it's not as though the film really goes into detail about some of his other hows and whys; such questions as "why does he have regenerative powers?" and "why does he have claws to begin with" remain unanswered, or answered indirectly with the general "because he's a mutant."

No, Wolverine is different because the execution of this particular mystery is so awful that it needed not be told. To be somewhat fair, the filmmakers' were already at a disadvantage - with the audience already knowing the fates of several of the key players (Wolverine, Stryker, Sabretooth, etc.), the task was to come up with a good enough story to connect us from Point A to Point D. To fill in the blanks. Hell, if George Lucas could create three (decent if unspectacular) movies from a similar starting point, surely director Gavin Hood and screenwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods could create one good one for Logan, right? Right?

Wrong. All they have for us is repetitive, mind-numbing action sequences, unmemorable dialogue, too many (flat) characters, and themes and cliches lifted from everything from every superhero film ever made, not to mention Slumdog Millionaire Really, how many times must we watch Hugh Jackman and Liev Schrieber run towards each other at full speed, to bash heads in yet another battle that we know neither will win? This would be the ultimate "good bad" movie, only there's hardly anything fun about it - the wisecracking Wolverine of the prior three films is gone, replaced by a guy with two emotions (if you can call them that): flexing, snarling angry guy and doting, smitten, loving guy. What little fun given to us is done sparingly. Ryan Reynolds steals his scenes as the guy that will later turn into Deadpool, cracking wise and kicking ass simultaneously (like that Wolverine guy used to!). Liev Schrieber's Victor Creed is amongst the flattest of the characters, but it's not for a lack of effort; Schrieber's a better actor than most onscreen and it shows - he's got verve and a sparkle in his eye that the sleepwalking Jackman just can't match. And Taylor Kitsch's Gambit, found by Wolverine playing texas hold 'em poker in New Orleans (hey, that's fun!) has what amounts to little more than a cameo in the film.

In the end, this origin tale reminded me of another one from last year, The Incredible Hulk. For that review, I posed a bunch of questions about the film's logic and/or other things that made my brain hurt and ending up giving the film a "Painful" rating. This one's worse - it doesn't even deserve the time and energy needed to ask those questions - 'nuff said.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"I want you to punch me as hard as you can."

P.S. - If you really want to see another mystery solved, watch the season (and possibly series) finale of Scrubs (which originally aired last night), where the Janitor's name was finally revealed. Or not.

11 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine"

Nick said...

I disagree. I'm not saying it wasn't a bad movie, because it was. But I found it more disappointing than painful. The characters were all wasted, the pacing was terrible... but the action was good enough to keep my mind (mostly) away from its disappointing-ness.

And I think comparing it to The Incredible Hulk is unfair. Though, I really liked TIH. But I think they're different calibers of movies. On a film level (story, acting, character development, CGI, etc.), TIH was far superior.

And to me, the only real good things about the Wolverine movie were the action, Liev Schrieber, and Ryan Reynolds (in his all-too-brief appearance). But mostly Ryan Reynolds. Seriously... great line: "People are dead!" :P

The Mad Hatter said...

I tried desperately in my review of the film not to compare it to other recent comic book flicks - but that's what holds this film back: the inevitable comparison.

As a summer/action/fast-food-combo flick it's good enough. But that's the thing right? "Good enough" isn't really good enough anymore. As an origin story, it could have been BATMAN BEGINS...instead it was SPIDER-MAN.

Could it be that what's dragging our opinion of it down, is looking at it as what could have been?

PS - Right with ya on the Scrubs finale. That was perfection.

Fletch said...

Nick (and Hatter) - I think what doomed Wolv to the Hulk comparison mostly was the multiple Wolverine-Sabretooth-run-fast-towards-each-other things that they had in Hulk with Hulky and the Abomination, which in turn reminded me of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the fight between Jekkyl and the dude that drinks the potion), and it all goes downhill from there.

Even worse, with Wolv vs. Sabre, the outcome is even less in doubt. I think what it boils down to most (and you could say this of the entire film, I guess), is that there's no drama in watching an invincible man fight other people. It'd be like watching a filmed version of the "How Many 5-Year Olds Can You Beat Up?" question - yeah, I could kick their butts all day long, but would that really be fun to watch?

I wish it had been Spider-Man, Hatter. At least that flick had some style to it. I wasn't expecting a Nolan-like drama, just a fun action pic that didn't bore me to tears and punch me over the head with caring, obviously doomed old people and one-note look-at-that-mutation! warriors and bad guys who be bad just cause it feels good (sidenote: the whole 'be an animal! no, be human!' theme just wasn't doing it for me).

Then again, I liked the 3rd X-Men movie when it came out, and the fanboys hated the crap out of it. So what do I know?

Nick said...

Fletch: Strangely, I liked the 3rd X-Men movie, as well, when it came out. But then again, I also liked Spider-Man 3, so what do I know? :P

Just as a random side note... watching an invisible man beat other people up might not bring drama, but seeing the main character get the shit beat out of him by apparently invisible people... incredible drama.

You should see "Special" with Michael Rappaport. I think you might like it.

Also... completely random note... but you are being delivered to me at the moment. At least, "Fletch" is. Finally, I shall see what all the fuss is about :P .

Fletch said...

Haha - you wrote "invisible" instead of "invincible." Changes the meaning completely. I don't think there's any drama watching invisible people fight at all. :p

Yea, I remember your review of Special. Sounds interesting and fun.

Before you watch Fletch, keep the following things in mind: the music is really dated, the music is really dated, and the music is really dated. Of course, I love the music, but that's because I'm intimately familiar with it.

Fletch isn't a physical, LOL movie like Superbad, but it's full of snark and more one-liners than all of the comedies of the last 3 years put together. Chase is so awesome in it...and it's got some great character actors. I know it's hard to appreciate "older" movies, but I hope you like it.

Nick said...

Oh... damn. I thought you had said invisible. I think it's because you brought up League of Extraordinary Gentleman right before that, and it has an invisible man fight. That's what I thought you were referring to (don't ask me how).

I don't really mind older movies *that* much, so music doesn't really bother me. It's usually the visual/camera style of older films that bugs me (they're all old and grainy looking, if you know what I mean).

Nick said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention. The only downfall of "Fletch" is gonna be its lack of Nic Cage. He can make anything perfect, you know.

Robb said...

Just saw this last night, and was totally disappointed. None of the relationships seemed real or important, which left me not caring about anything except being annoyed that the Hobbit died so early and without fanfare, and I only cared about that because, hey, I was annoyed when he died too soon as Charlie too. I heard they are making another Origins movie about Ryan Reynolds, which seems to be a good idea though, he was great in his early scene. They just need to get Brian Singer to do it, because apparently he is the only person who can make a good mutant movie.

Oh, and Fletch, you gotta see "Special". Weird little movie that perhaps doesn't live up to its full potential, but still totally worth it.

Fletch said...

Ok ok, I'm putting special on my imaginary Netflix queue....now.

Coffee Maker said...

i thought Liev Schreiber in particular did an awesome job from all the way through; he brought some genuine acting prowess to the whole production

Clive Dangerously said...

I thought X2 did a sufficient job with Logan's backstory... Stryker was in charge, Logan volunteered but freaked out... I don't know, I wasn't left with any questions. What is the purpose of this movie?

Probably going to skip this one. A shame, too. I would say seeing X-Men in the theater (granted, I was nine) was one of my top ten moviegoing experiences. My jaw was open for at least twelve hours afterward. Yay memories.

Ha! My word capture is 'Calisto'.