Wednesday, May 6, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine No. 2

Note: The reason for the creation of this blog was to show both positive and negative reviews for each summer movie written by either myself, Mitch, or a third party that we choose. We want each movie to be reviewed at least once in each way. But since Mitch and I agreed on this particular film, we thank Mr. Barry Rodgers for giving us his opinion. You will almost assuredly here from him again in the future (Transformers 2, perhaps?). - Juddy

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
A Positive Spin
By Barry Rodgers

Summer rocks. No doubt about it, as far as seasons go, it’s definitely my favorite. The weather is warmer. The day is longer. The air has that familiar aroma that really helps cap off the experience.

Ok, so screw all of that stuff. It all pales in comparison to the best part of the season: Summer Blockbusters. These are the movies that the studios drop hundreds of millions of dollars on to literally give us the bang for our buck. These are the movies that you most definitely won’t see topping the Oscar nominations list, save for the special effects category. And I wouldn’t want them to. I, as well as many I would assume, hold these movies to a different standard of production.

I don’t expect the standard dramatic fare. Hell, I don’t even want it. That’s a movie experience I get three quarters of the year. I want shit to blow up. I want capes, epic action sequences, and story that’s only strong enough to feasibly string together the elements I just mentioned. If I want a movie to move me, then I’ll rewatch “The Departed”. So with all that in mind, where does this Blockbuster Season’s opening act, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, stand?

To be honest, I haven’t had a chance to read Judson’s little diatribe about the flick, seeing as I’m writing this review at work, where Facebook has been blocked, but seeing as I saw him actually exiting the flick, I’m willing to bet I can guess. In general this movie hasn’t been reviewing well, and I can understand why. But seeing as this is a review based on where the movie stands with me, I’ll say this; “Wolverine” was decent. Just over the passable line. I don’t think it’s even close to what other movies like the reboot of “Star Trek” are going to be bringing to the table, but for a season opener, I was definitely entertained.

As I’ve previously mentioned, the big element where movies like this tend to fall short is in the story itself. Unfortunately, that’s no exception here. The movie was riddled with campy dialogue, gaping plot holes, and quite possibly the biggest bastardization of a comic book character ever seen in a movie based on the genre. Comic book fanboys have been up in arms over the big differences in the story of this movie and the canon of the comic that they love with a passion. In a recent poll of the top 100 Superheroes of all time, Wizard Magazine placed Wolverine as number 1, above Superman, and even Batman. There is no doubt that a Wolverine solo film had some mighty big expectations attached to it by the comic reading populace. Again, I can understand this sentiment seeing as I’m one said fanboys.

To back track a bit, I’m glad that Superhero movies have been evolving in terms of story. I am. I think movies like the “Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” have been instrumental in showing filmmakers that good stories can be told while not holding back on the blockbuster-esque feel. But that being said, this movie holds true the standard I set for these kinds of films.

Was there action? Yeah. Lots of it. This movie does a good job of setting a pace, and keeping to it. Yeah, story is pretty flat, but there is enough of it that the movie can move forward without too many questions bogging you down (that is of course, unless you are Mitch, and every out of place detail will give you volumes of things to nitpick). As I’ve said before, the action in this type of movie really makes or breaks it for me. It’s what made Michael Bay’s “Transformers” work for me, despite my intense distaste for him as a director. Admittedly, some of the special effects were a bit….silly. Wolverine’s nemesis Sabretooth has a rather distinct animalistic leap/run that really suffered with shoddy wirework. But the fights were more then fun to watch, especially the final showdown involving Deadpool. And of course, we can’t forget the prominent helicopter scene, made famous by the trailer. Going in, I was skeptical about how that particular bit of physics breaking special effects was going to fly for me, but surprisingly, it worked. Viable? Of course not, but it was entertaining as hell, and totally befitting our favorite antihero.

The cast was absolutely choice for this movie. Hugh Jackman brought Wolverine back, and with more intensity then ever. I know this is an iffy subject for many fans of the X-Men franchise. Again, personal taste plays a lot into this. I think Jackman is a talented actor, and he truly shows his dedication for the character in this film. Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool is probably the most pitch perfect casting for any superhero brought to the big screen since Downey was cast as Tony Stark. Liev Schreiber was an interesting choice for the role of Wolverine’s iconic nemesis Sabretooth, but certainly not a poor one. He truly sold the demented nature of his character. The rest of the cast works very well among each other. Even Taylor Kitsch as the much anticipated fan favorite, Gambit, managed to pull off a decent show, despite the fact that his television program “Friday Night Lights” is truly awful.

Here is what it boils down to folks: If you had expectations for this movie to be a game changer for the genre, you are definitely in for a massive let down. If you saw the previews and you built your expectations based on that, you might go in there and have a decent viewing experience, as I did. I won’t claim that this movie is the crème de la crème of the superhero flicks. Not by a long, long, long shot. But it’s a more than passable experience for a season opener.

Oh, and for those of you concerned with the bastardization of the character I was talking about, I implore you to stay after the credits to have that plot point more or less wrapped up in a slightly more satisfying way.

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