Thursday, May 7, 2009

"Still shooting first? Asking questions later?"

Never thought I'd be saying, let alone writing, these words down, but I had very low expectations for X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  

Since word first got out that this movie was happening, I was as giddy as a little school girl for this movie.  I thought that 20th Century Fox couldn't get it wrong twice in a row with X-Men, let alone Wolverine.  The first film would be X-Men: The Last Stand, which really disappointed me because everything that was good with the first two films in this series was really, really wrong in the third film.  It seemed like it was less about the story and more about blowing stuff up.  And don't even get me started about the "mutant levels"...

And so I thought that things couldn't really get messed up with the most popular mutant of X-Men.  Wolverine had to be the greatest X-Men member.  He sliced first, asked questions when it suited him.  He's everything that we wish we could be, meaning taking the initiative to get things done, no matter what it takes.  With the release of XO: Wolverine and its subsequent reviews, though, I thought this could get ugly.

I don't even know where to begin.  James Howlett (young Logan/Wolverine) finds his "father" killed by his real father, whose last name really is Logan but only finds this out after killing his real father with his boney hand claws.  James and his half-brother Victor Creed run away, to which we have a quick speed-up of time during the opening credits, learning that the brothers fought in the Civil War, World War I and II, and the Vietnam War.  At this point, time goes back to normal speed.  The boys get in trouble in a Vietnamese village, leading to death by firing squad, which they survive as they have the power to HEAL!

Williams Stryker approaches the two in their jail cell, and they agree to join his special elite team of mutants, including Wade Wilson, Fred Dukes, John Wraith, Agent Zero, and Chris Bradley.  Stryker is bent on finding the source of a meteorite in Africa and is willing to kill the innocent to find it.  Logan can take it no more and leaves to find a quiet life in Canada, where he starts a life with his girlfriend and has a career as a logger.  Stryker comes back into his life six years later, warning him that Victor is killing everyone involved in the elite team and wants Logan back.  Logan brushes him off, only to later deal with the death of his wife at the hands of Victor.  

Logan is persuaded by Stryker to be a part of Weapon X, which involves reinforcing his skeleton with adamantium, the stuff found in the meteorite.  Logan survives this, and Stryker is ready to wipe his memory so he can use Logan as his own personal weapon.  Logan gets word of this and escapes, only to be hunted down by Agent Zero.  Logan is able to defeat Agent Zero, and finds Wraith and Dukes, hoping to get some info on the whereabouts of Stryker's new laboratory.  After a hard-fought battle against Dukes, Logan learns of a mutant who was once held by Stryker in this lab, a gentleman in New Orleans who was described as "Gambit."  Logan is able to find Gambit and the lab, leading to a whole bunch of answers to the questions he had had since his time with Stryker.

To avoid any spoilers, I have to stop there.  Really, the first three-quarters of the movie was predictable and had been shown in all those trailers running on the networks.  Where it finally got interesting was in the "final battle" with an enemy ready to take down Logan.  Too bad the battle was all of five minutes!!  And the way that Logan has his memory wiped of his past was really hard to swallow.  I guess what I'm saying is it was nice to see it on the big screen, but it really could have been so So SO much better.

Way too many characters without enough development.  Yes, this was about Wolverine, but you still need to set the foundation to really run with it.  It seemed the writers were just trying to fit whoever they could into the film, even if it didn't really fit with the comic books or the storyline.  I really think the blades coming out of Wolverine's hands looked very CGI compared to those in the first three films.  Didn't think that was possible.  And what they did with Deadpool...

Maybe it was the shakiness of the projector or the fact that I didn't get the Transformers 2 trailer that I was told showed before this film, but I'm glad I kept the expectations low.  It was fun to discuss with the SO the little intricacies of the film and the history of the X-Men, the villains, and the spin-offs.  It really made us want to go through and read every comic available for the Marvel universe.

Finally, two things that were really wrong with the film.  One, no cameo by Stan Lee.  Un-freakin-believable!  How could you not have him in this film?  He's been in every Marvel film I've watched but not this one?  He's an executive producer, how could he be left out?!

And two, everyone started walking out just as the end credits started.  What was the kicker was the film returned for a short scene, so everyone stopped, including the fat guy who stopped right in front of me!  And to really add flame to the fire, everyone but the SO, myself, and one guy stayed to the very end to see the special easter egg at the end.  For all of you who left before the bitter end, how could you?!  Have you never watched a Marvel film before?  Who does that?

Ultimately, I know this will be a future DVD purchase, mainly because the SO will want to see a naked Hugh Jackman again.  But maybe the deleted and extended scenes will satisfy my thirst for a solid Wolverine origins film.  A bummer to write, but it's how I feel.  Later!

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