Thursday, April 30, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

More X-Men

I guess the major news items coming out from this movie, are its infamous internet leak where the only consolation are some few minutes of missing footage, plus some unfinished special effects, and its rumoured six different codas after the end credits roll. I won't know what the illegal downloadable version looks like, and neither am I interested to find out, but the six codas reek of the time of how the comic book industry shot itself in the foot with the variant covers just to get the fanboys to buy them all. I don't suppose this will cause anyone to want to sit through this bland and mediocre film so many times just for a few extra seconds as well.

One can just see this film coming, because of how popular the Wolverine character is amongst the X-Men titles, and having its own standalone title in the comics is the stamp of approval from fans. They too took to Hugh Jackman's portrayal like fish to water, and what better than to reward the loyal fanbase by digging into Wolverine's troubled past, which has plenty of richness for a cinematic outing, if distilled right. As for the other rumoured Origin film focused on Magneto, I won't be holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

While Hugh Jackman continues his angst-ridden portrayal of the beloved character, he's ultimately let down by a terribly uninteresting spin and weak direction by Gavin Hood. Hood is no Bryan Singer or even Brett Ratner for juicing up the last installment of the X-franchise into an all-out whackfest, choosing instead to straddle the line between character drama and action, both at which he fails. The drama just drags on seemingly like forever with pretty much boring dialogue, while the action sequences are cliché, bland and everything you would have seen before already, what with military vehicles, snipers, sword-fights, guns, and those claws. In fact, the trailer pretty much spoils it for you, save for one climatic fight sequence which I admit to being nothing short of exciting, and thankfully kept under wraps.

But it's an incredibly long crawl to that, which scribes David Benioff and Skip Woods would have to take responsibility for. Memorable scenes are terribly few, though the opening montage was a nice spin on trying to establish the brotherly bonds between Jackman's Logan and Liev Schreiber's Victor Creed aka Sabretooth. Choosing to make them half-brothers was a nice attempt at some mature, dramatic exploration into Cain and Abel, brothers turned enemies dilemma, but what it degenerated into was some weak excuse just to pit those two same-type fighters together.

Then there's the subscription to the mantra of loading the film with more mutants to automatically mean a better movie. Not. Granted that the dwelling on the backstory with his involvement in Team X led by William Stryker (Danny Huston), which gives rise to an opportunity to showcase The Blob (Kevin Durand), Bolt (Dominic Monaghan), Agent Zero (Daniel Henny), but only done so rather haphazardly, and there's nothing in the “Team” about the way they operate – just one demonstration of their powers after another. Having Ryan Reynolds play Deadpool was an excellent choice I feel, but the character's only inserted, like the other fan idol Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), just because the filmmakers can as a one-up against the X-men film franchise, and they suffer from cardboard characterization. Too many characters not handled deftly, only equates to mediocre posers who look the part, exhibit the inherent powers, but serve no purpose.

Which led me to feel that the filmmakers had little love for the character Wolverine as well. That all important Weapon X sequence where he gets intimately acquainted with the adamantium element, was done double quick time, and you wonder if it's a mockery of the immense pain, both physical and emotional, that Logan had to go through, character-wise. As already mentioned in so many instances, characterization goes down the drain in this film, as you can tell Hood just can't wait to get all characters onto the next bland action sequence.

For those new to the Wolverine character, or didn't know much about his history, then this film will serve up some questions that may pique interest to dig up those back issue comics. At most, this film serves up to be an introduction to the X-Men film franchise, with again, some key characters in their youthful stage introduced here (keep your eyes open now). There is plenty of room left open for a Wolverine sequel given one of the end codas here with Logan being in Japan (in a scene very meaningless if you have absolutely no background knowledge) that serves to be yet another important milestone in his life, but hopefully, the mistakes learnt here won't get repeated in any potential sequels.

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