Friday, May 01, 2009

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

Written by David Benioff and Skip Woods
Directed by Gavin Hood
Starring Hugh Jackman, Live Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Lynn Collins and Danny Huston


Kayla Silverfox: You’re not an animal, Logan. What you have is a gift?
Logan/Wolverine: A gift? You can return a gift.

I guess I got caught up in wanting it all to get started. I was treated to an unseasonal bout of good weather after a particularly tepid spring at the movies and I wanted to watch things get blown up already. I can’t come up with any other reason why I would have been suddenly excited to see X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, the summer’s first major event picture. Well, I’m sure staring at Hugh Jackman’s arms had something to do with it too but I’m not usually that easily coaxed by rugged beauty into seeing potential schlock. Yet, there I was, popcorn in hand, for a big, bad popcorn movie. Pitched as a prequel to the X-Men films, director Gavin Hood, was set to show us how a little boy born in the North West Territories in 1845 turned out to be the Wolverine, arguably Marvel Comic’s most popular X-Man. Instead, what he did was put together a giant showcase for Jackman’s brawn and little else.


I’ve never quite understood why Wolverine is as loved as he is by so many men out there. Is it because he is rugged and brooding? Because he keeps to himself and doesn’t exhbit any emotions no matter what the situation is? Or is it because he is genetically designed to beat the crap out of people? Unfortunately, the story of his origins did little to make it all any clearer to me. If anything, I would think that this film would actually take away from some of the mystery behind the man-beast. To clarify, what the concept of the X-Men Origin series is designed to do is to show who these icons were before they joined the X-Men, not to show how they became to be mutants to begin with. Before he became Wolverine, James Logan was a lumberjack up in the Canadian Rockies. He set himself up there for a peaceful existence after spending decades of his life (he doesn’t age all that fast) fighting other people’s battles in war after war. Aside from chopping down trees and enjoying the scenery half naked in the morning, he also falls in love there, with a beautiful woman by the name of Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). I may be wrong here but why would a man who is revered for living by his animal instincts need to be shown searching for inner peace and sharing his heart with someone?


Of course, the honeymoon doesn’t last and Wolverine must take on an army man named, Stryker (Danny Huston), who is kidnapping mutants so that he can harness their power to make one great super mutant that will then, in turn, be able to kill all of the world’s actual mutants, while engaging in a long time death match with his brother, Victor (Liev Schreiber). Screenwriters, David Benioff and Skip Woods, must be confusing me with someone who gives a shit. No, I’m not being flippant; I am merely quoting some of the banalities they pass off as intense dialogue throughout the film. WOLVERINE’s weakest element is certainly its screenplay. Taking on Hood (TSOTSI, RENDITION) as director, was supposed to bring a darker tone to the film, which would have been brilliantly appropriate considering the inherently dark nature of the character. Unfortunately, the script Hood had to work with never allowed for an exploration of the scary corners of Wolverine’s mind; it was always torn between potentially going there and making certain the tone stays summertime light.


Jackman has a lot at stake with X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. Not only is he the face of the film but he is also a producer on the project. Success here, which is essentially inevitable no matter what is said about it, will determine just how many more films in the origin series get made. More importantly, Jackman needs to demonstrate that he can carry a major action film all by himself. Fortunately for him, he has no problems doing that whatsoever. Unfortunately for the film though, focusing on Jackman alone left very little else of note to cut through to the surface.



(ps. I would have graded slightly lower but any film that allows Jackman to run around naked for ten minutes has to get bonus points.)

2 comments:

foolishblatherings said...

I echo every word that you said. Seeing Hugh naked is the best thing about the movie.

I think this movie is worse than X3.

Nomad said...

i almost laughed out loud when the helicopter blew up, then blew up again, then one more time...