Some short thoughts on Wolverine  

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cross-posted from The Fortress of Soliloquy.

I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine last night. It was at least as terrible as everyone's been saying, which is a shame, because I like Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber, and I thought the first two X-Men movies were quite good. But, where X-Men III suffered from too much story (among other things), this one suffered from far, far too little...among other things. Spoilers from here on out.

  • First, there's the matter of Wolverine's name. Now, my fianceĆ© and I both concluded that he must have taken the name "Logan" from the man he thought was his father, and that his actual father must have been screaming "Mister Logan" or something along those lines at the beginning. This wasn't clear, largely because it wasn't easy to hear what Fathertooth was saying, and could have used some clarifying.
  • What muddies things is that Wolvie apparently started going by "Logan" after he left Stryker's team and started living with Kayla...but then Wraith and Stryker call him "Logan" when he's with them later. This could have been easily remedied, but the way it played out, it became one of the film's many glaring continuity errors.
  • Among the most glaring, as my fianceĆ© noted, was Logan's disappearing clothes. He's wearing his leather jacket in the helicopter (a jacket that's at least very similar to the one he wears in the other films), but not when he gets to the island. At some point, in between cuts, he loses his shirt and ends up in nothing more than a wifebeater. Was it so hot on Three Mile Island that Logan just had to strip down between shots? Take this with the number of times where people suddenly appear where they shouldn't be (when did Gambit get onto the roof after being knocked out? How did Wolverine suddenly reappear in the lab after Kayla's scream, with no apparent doors or windows in that end of the room?) and the number of places where we completely lose track of how much time things take (so they left Logan strapped to the machine, waiting, while they went and pressed him some new dog tags?), and what you should end up with is a jobless continuity editor.
  • Gosh, there sure were an awful lot of characters in this movie. Too bad so few of them had well-defined powers (so Deadpool can...swing things fast?) or any real character development. Stryker's team could have been half its size or smaller, and the movie would have been much better for it.
  • Unfortunately, this movie seems to have taken to heart that timeless characterization shortcut, telling instead of showing. We don't need to see Gambit do a daring escape from Three Mile Island, we just need to tell us how badass he is, and that's totally enough.
  • Proof that Wolverine is better than any other superhero: where other heroes have one character-defining tragedy, Wolverine has four--although the fourth one is really just the second one again. I don't think I've ever seen one character do the Big No this many times in a single film before.
  • You know, I don't really mind Gambit as a character all that much, and I'm glad that this wasn't a film full of Claremontistic stereotype accents, but would it have killed Taylor Kitsch to make a choice about the Cajun drawl? Either use it or don't, but don't let your accent meander all over the south.
  • So, how 'bout those crappy special effects? I can't remember the last time I saw effects this bad in a theatrical film. I'm not sure whose decision it was to apparently go 99% CGI on the claws (at least the metal ones), but they looked realistic maybe once or twice. The other films at least occasionally used prop claws instead of animated ones; were there really none left around after the last three movies? That wasn't the only bad CGI, either--the sky during the cooling tower fight looked like a Windows desktop background, and at one point there was a lens flare that screamed to me "this movie made with Photoshop '98." Xavier at the end looked even more mannequin-esque than in X-Men III, and I have to imagine it'd work better just to use some damn makeup. Everything CGI was noticeably CGI, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of having CGI effects in the first place. We've been doing better computer animation with more seamless integration into live action for over ten years; what is this movie's excuse?
  • Speaking of things that were done better ten years ago, I don't think I've ever seen a less convincing fat suit than the one they used for the Blob. It worked pretty well for one of the close-up face shots toward the end, but otherwise it was rigid in all the wrong ways, never seemed to have any real weight to it, and it certainly didn't react to punches and combat the way anything even resembling real fat would. They tried to use CGI to make it look more realistic, but it only hurt things to see Blob's man-boobs bouncing out of sync with the rest of his body--CGI by the iJiggle app. "Weird Al" had a better fat suit in 1988. This was just lazy.
  • The dialogue was awful. Often laughably awful. "Back to back!" Ugh.
  • So, uh, does Sabretooth suddenly have electrical powers? Seems like lights flickered on and off quite a bit when he was around, for no apparent reason.
  • Why didn't Wolverine notice that there for all the blood on Kayla, there were no wounds? I guess he's not the best there is at forensics.
  • Why was Deadpool's mouth fused shut? Shortly before that, they showed him with lips sewn shut, but then suddenly there's scar tissue all over the bottom of his face. I could come up with a No-Prize explanation, but I really shouldn't have to.
  • One thing the film did that really bothered me was the Boba Fett retcon (the Fettcon?). See, Boba Fett was awesome in "Empire" because he looked really cool and didn't say much and managed to capture Han Solo. He was only marginally more important than the random aliens that populated Mos Eisley and Jabba's palace, but altogether they helped flesh out the universe. Briefly-appearing characters like Boba Fett made the universe feel like it was full of individuals, and that the protagonists weren't the actual focal point of the cosmos. After all, if someone we've never heard of can just swoop in and take out one of the main cast, then maybe they're all that vulnerable; maybe they aren't protected by contractual immortality. But then the Prequels came along, and suddenly Boba Fett isn't just some random badass, he's the son of the prototype badass on whom all the other badasses were based. They went back and changed Fett from just some guy who comes out of nowhere to take out Han Solo into a focal point of the universe, a major part of the cosmic backstory. Doing so might seem like a good idea--fans love Boba Fett, so surely they'll love that he has a more important role, right?--but instead it serves to make the universe seem less vast and well-populated, and it makes the heroes seem far less vulnerable, which kills the suspense. When the same handful of characters keep popping up over and over in the significant events that shape the universe, it starts seeming less like a universe and more like a high school reunion. When the villain taking out the heroes isn't just some faceless guy, but is the faceless guy who was destined from birth to be an amazing yadda yadda, then the heroes don't really have much to fear from the faceless guys after all.

    Point being, in the first X-Men movie, Wolverine was just some guy with his own life and his own problems who got swept up into the grand Mutant war and Xavier's team and all that. Eventually he grew into the role, but he did so as our POV character (alongside Rogue). X-Men Origins: Wolverine makes Logan into a key player from the start, who even frees Cyclops, thus paving the way for the X-Men to be created. It's a silly move, made sillier by the fact that apparently no one who escaped from Three Mile Island thanks to Wolverine ever ran into him again at Xavier's.
  • Speaking of silliness, exactly why would bones appear shiny on an X-Ray?
  • And as long as I've only recently mentioned Star Wars, young Logan screaming with his little bone claws out is about as intimidating as Anakin Skywalker shouting "yippee!" in "Phantom Menace." Showing badasses as kids is generally a bad idea.
  • Couldn't they have slashed up Sabretooth's face a bit, to at least provide some explanation for why he would look so different in the first movie?
  • Why would Adamantium bullets necessarily pierce Adamantium? If I shoot lead bullets at a lead wall, they don't just magically phase through. Sure, it's possible that the sheer force behind the bullets, combined with the fact that they're as hard as Wolverine's skeletal coating, might be enough to break through his head, but then wouldn't he have two big bullet shaped gaps in his skull coating? Besides that, I didn't see his healing brain expel the bullets, nor did I see any exit did his brain just grow around the Adamantium bullets? Does he have four gaps in his Adamantium-coated skull?

There's a lot to dislike about "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," and I'm hard-pressed to think of anything there was to like about it. It, um, had Quicksilver in it for a second or two, that was good, right?

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