Tuesday, January 19, 2010

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” – Stay ‘til the end.

The first thing you need to know is that I love Wolverine, have since I was a little kid. I loved all three of the X-Men movies and I was practically catatonic when I saw previews for the new movie. My point is that I’m biased and there was almost no way I wasn’t going to like this movie. Hugh Jackman would have had to have looked in the camera, given the audience the finger and walked off screen for me to have not liked it. That’s not to say there weren’t some problems with this film; it’s just that I’m not going to like the film any less.

I have to give the writers and producers a lot of credit for changing the direction of the franchise and going with a prequel instead of another sequel. This keeps the franchise fresh and allows them to give the audience detailed back story on some of the characters. In this case, it’s Wolverine, Victor Creed (Sabertooth), and Stryker. Even though the film is titled “Wolverine,” the story is just as much about Sabertooth. The relationship and history between the two of them is one of the most interesting story lines in comics, along side Professor Xavier and Magneto. Coincidentally, rumors are flying that the next movie will focus on Magneto’s origins and will undoubtedly include the professor.

One of the big criticisms of the film was that the story was really thin. On the surface, it seems that way. Stryker and Sabertooth are capturing mutants to experiment on them and pool their powers into Stryker’s son to create a super-mutant (Deadpool). Wolverine and a couple other mutants are trying to stop them. It’s actually a fairly typical plot for a superhero movie. What these non-thinking morons are missing is right in front of their face; that the point of this movie is to give us Wolverine’s history and explain some things we know about him. In other words, his “Origins.”

We get to learn about his connections to Sabertooth. We get to see a little of his childhood, including when he first “pops” his claws, pre-adamantium. We get to see WHY he undergoes the process to fuse adamantium to his bones. We get to see how long he’s been alive. We even find out why he doesn’t remember anything about the procedure or his past, all of which explains much of what we know about him from the first three movies. Sometimes I wonder if most so-called critics spend more than thirty seconds thinking about a film after watching it.

Another great move by the production crew was casting Liev Schreiber as Sabertooth. I think Schreiber may by one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. Like Jackman with Wolverine, Schreiber perfected the facial gestures needed to make his character both sympathetic and sinister, as well as matching it with the delivery of his dialogue. We know he’s one of the bad guys, but we can’t help rooting for him just a little bit.

The biggest surprise of the movie was Will.I.Am and it was a good surprise. Yes, the same guy that is part of the band, “Black Eyed Peas.” When I saw his name in the opening credits, I almost fell out of my chair laughing. Not only did he not suck, but he was actually very good. I would go see him again if he lands another movie role.

On the flip side, they did make a mistake with the character Gambit. The guy they cast seemed to be okay, but he was missing what makes the character so great. Traditionally, Gambit is a smarmy Cajun who is always defusing tension with sarcastic remarks. In the film, he is missing the wisecracks and the smarminess. I’m not sure if this was the writing or the delivery, but it was a big let down for me.

Another strange casting/writing decision was Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool. We see him in the beginning of the film before he becomes Deadpool, but he disappears after the first scene. We don’t see him again until the last few minutes of the movie and you can’t even tell it’s him. This was a tremendous waste of a very talented actor, when this role could have been filled by just about anyone. Deadpool is known for his mouth and wisecracks – as are most of Reynolds’ previous characters – yet they chose to sew his mouth shut as Deadpool. Maybe Reynolds gets paid per word.

Just to show you that I’m not a complete hypocrite, I will tell you about the one glaring problem with this film. The special effects, specifically the CGI rendering was not good. The number one rule of special effects is that the audience shouldn’t notice the effects. Movies like this one don’t work without special effects, so they need to look real and the audience has to unconsciously accept them. In the previous X-Men films, Wolverine’s claws looked like they were a part of him, but there were scenes in this film where they were obviously not real. Other examples include Reynolds swordplay in the opening scene, Agent Zero’s gunplay throughout the film, and Sabertooth’s jumping around when chasing people. For the amount of money they put into this film, you’d think that they would have addressed this problem.

As I said before, this movie was awesome for me, regardless of its flaws. I love Wolverine, I love the X-Men and I will continue to see these movies as long as they keep making them. That is, as long as Hugh Jackman doesn’t flip me off.

Rating: Worth every penny. In fact, go see it again (And don’t forget to stay until the end of the credits).

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