Sunday, May 3, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

So, here’s Hollywood’s way of stretching a dime: start a spinoff franchise that describe the origin of separate individual X-Men characters. Who cares? Where’s X-Men 4? Oh well, guess we have to focus on this.

If this Wolverine film is a taste of what this summer season has in store for us, then man oh man, prepare to have plenty of mouthwash handy. You’d think the best character of the X-Men films would receive a just treatment with his own prequel. Wrong. Maybe in better hands, but this Wolverine is a real dud.

We start with a cheesy back story that tries to describe where some of Wolverine’s trademark angst comes from. After accidentally killing his father, young Jimmy is off and running with his older brother, Victor. The two grow up and fight through the Civil War, both World Wars and Vietnam, which actually makes for a pretty cool opening credit sequence. But the whole time, I’m wondering one question: why do these two stop aging at a specific age, which happens to be somewhere in their mid-30s, I guess. I knew Wolverine never aged, that he was hundreds of years old, but why or how does he suddenly stop aging. We see him as a 10 year old boy, so we know he grows, but when is it decided that he stops growing?

Once this question popped into my mind, it never left. I’m sure there’s a convenient, comic-book-friendly answer, I just wish a character had mentioned it somewhere.

But let’s move on.

Jimmy (who then becomes Logan, who then becomes Wolverine) and his brother Victor (who then becomes Sabretooth) are recruited by Gen. Stryker to join a team of rouge mutants who go around kicking the shit out of people because Boss Man Stryker says so. Wolverine goes AWOL, moves to Canada, meets a hot teacher, becomes a lumberjack, and lives happily ever after. I wish I were making this up, but no, the plot is this poor and exhausted.

Stryker catches up with him and convinces Logan to undergo a messy procedure that will turn his bones into indestructible metal. If it sounds exciting, believe me, it’s not. In fact, I’m probably doing a better job presenting the film than it does presenting itself. Some cool mutants show up- trickster Gambit, a “jumper” played by Black Eyed Peas front man, the Blob, and others. But the film is way past redemption. Even the plentiful action scenes don’t impress, it just feels like stuff we’ve already seen, not to mention the effects (namely Wolverine’s metal claws) which look more computer animated than they did in the first three films.

Hugh Jackman became a star when he first played this character in 2000. He’s got the talent, and the body, to pull a role like this off, but a weak story can’t compel even the most popcorn-friendly audience. I did, however, enjoy Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. Schreiber brings a snarl and demonic laugh to his beast, making the character surprisingly amusing.

I did not, however, understand how Wolverine and Sabretooth are brothers. If you remember, Sabretooth is one of the key villains in the first X-Men film. In that film the two have an awesome showdown on the Statue of Liberty’s crown, but the fact that they are brothers is never mentioned. So, which is it? Brothers or not? Which director is using artistic license to completely diminish the timely comic books? Or, should I not give so much of a shit? C-

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