5/09/2009

If I were to summarize my review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it would be “good, not great.” The movie is not as epic as the trailers would claim to be.

The opening shows a young Logan gaining his powers for the first time, and I won’t spoil what little power the scene has by revealing what goes on in it. Even still, the scene was almost completely ruined by the horrific child actors. They played a scene that should have been gut-wrenching as if it were a commercial for a videogame. Someone should have told the kids that putting in eyedrops to simulate tears isn’t enough to convey sadness. Really, I think you could point to that one opening scene as the problem with the entire movie. We have a lot of stuff that is very powerful and emotional on paper, but the actors and the director aren’t able to convey it.

The opening scene also captures the shallowness of all the characters. We don’t really know much about these two kids in the scene, and we never really do. I was looking forward to the movie to find out more about who Logan (a.k.a. James Howlett-lousy name, but blame Wolverine: Origin for that) was before he lost his memory, but we get very little of that as well. A hundred years of his life is glossed over with a montage of Logan and Victor fighting in every major war in the last century, but no explanation of why they were fighting the wars in the first place. The story only stops at the point where events are set in place to make him Wolverine. I guess that makes sense, but even a few lines of dialogue about Logan and where he came from would be welcome. I feel like I knew less about Logan than I did before I saw the movie. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a good explanation of how Logan became Wolverine, but not a good explanation of Logan himself.

The rest of the characters are paper-thin in most cases. Most of them walk on-screen and function throughout the film with no explanation of who they are and what their motivation is. This is a movie that would rather have a cool fight scene on top of a nuclear power plant’s cooling tower than provide an explanation for why the characters would climb up there in the first place. But of course, most of the film’s audience isn’t there to see the characters. They’re there to see an action movie, and in that sense, the movie delivers. The fight scenes are excellent with enough eye-popping stunts and cool mutant powers to make the movie worth seeing. Even if it doesn’t always make sense.

Really, the movie has a lot of plot holes, but considering that the Marvel comics still have trouble sorting out Wolverine’s origin, the movie can be forgiven. A few that stuck with me (spoiler alert: skip to the next paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie); still a little unclear on how they got the adamantium onto Wolverine’s bones. In the first movie, it looked like plates of adamantium were grafted onto his skeleton. In Wolverine, it seems they injected adamantium into his bones and that somehow infused the skeleton. But then how did his lumpy and circular bone claws become thin and knife-shaped? During the procedure, where were the champagne glasses and bunny-suited men from the first movie’s flashback scenes? Why didn’t Sabretooth mention that he was Logan’s brother in the first X-Men? No “hey, how’s it going, long time no see?” Why doesn’t anybody mention Sabretooth/Victor’s weird claw-like nails, even when he was a kid? How did Logan get from Three Mile Island in the U.S. to living in Canada, mere miles from Alkali Lake where he was created? And why would the U.S. government have a secret military project in Canada? And why doesn’t Striker have a Southern accent like he did in X2? And what kind of a stupid circus act is turning on a light bulb?

I found the ending a little disappointing. Considering the amount of build-up to the point where Logan loses his memory, I thought it really got short shrift. I won’t give it away if you haven’t seen it, but I found it too perfunctory and also slightly unbelievable. I mean, how could Striker really know that [censored] would destroy Logan’s memory? Couldn’t it also have turned him into a vegetable?

All that being said, it boils down to the fact the X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a pretty good movie for a summer action flick, but not strong enough for one of the biggest and most popular comic characters ever. Then again, could there ever really be a movie worthy of Wolverine that wasn’t five hours long? This one isn’t perfect, but it does the trick. I think the more of a hardcore fan you are of Wolverine and Marvel comics, the less you’ll enjoy the movie. So in this case, ignorance really is bliss.

***
3 of 5 stars
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1 comments:

Mauricem said...

Awesome review. Couldn't have done better myself ;)

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