Saturday, May 02, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (**)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  107 mins.  PG-13.  Directed by Gavin Hood.  Written by David Benioff and Skip Woods.  Starring Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Houston, Will.I.Am, Lynn Collins, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch, and Ryan Reynolds.

One of the most disappointing things about this X-Men spin-off, among many, is that you leave the theater wondering why you even liked Wolverine in the first place.  As played by Hugh Jackman, who continues to do the role justice even in the face of a script that lets him down every step of the way, Wolverine used to be a charming bad-ass who was never without a funny quip or two.  Here, Jackman is saddled with playing a sad-sack version of the character - one who's constantly moping and seeking justice for the death of his lady love (Lynn Collins).  The whole movie hinges on this relationship and, unfortunately, the audience couldn't care less.  We want big amazing action set pieces.  What we get is one big scene with a helicopter, which fails to impress, and then a handful of one-on-one or two-on-one fight scenes that are poorly choreographed and repetitive.  Indeed, every time Wolverine sees his nemesis, and brother, Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber), the two exchange a line or two and then just run at each other.  This happens about twenty times I think - not sure though, I lost track after a while.  Director Gavin Hood (the Academy Award-winning Tsotsi) seems way over his head here: I understand that he has no experience directing action scenes, but you would think the characters' emotional scenes would be more deftly handled.  His collaborators offer no assistance either: the special effects are cheesy (Wolverine's claws look more fake now than they did back in '00 with the original X-Men film), the music nondescript, and the script is a mess - packing in a ton of fan favorite characters (Gambit, Deadpool) with no rhyme or reason or time spent developing them.  Wolverine is not a terrible film, just a completely mediocre one.  It's utterly forgettable and often below average.  The character of Wolverine (and Jackman) deserve better than this.  If this is the first of many X-Men origin tales, the series is off to a rocky start.



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