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6 reviews, 40 user ratings

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Puts The Load Into Illegal Download"
1 stars

Of all the various comic-book properties to hit movie screens in the last few years, the one that I have never really warmed up to (excluding such universally derided turkeys as the various incarnations of “Fantastic Four” and “The Punisher”) has been the gaggle of mutants known as the X-Men. I realize that the films have pulled off the difficult trick of being enormously popular at the box-office with the general public while still more or less satisfying the hardcore and hard-to-please fan base. That said, I have generally found the films to be tedious bores that spend so much time introducing the various characters (and each one includes enough players to field an old Irwin Allen disaster epic) and explaining both their mysterious powers and equally mysterious relationships to each other that by the time they have wrapped up all the exposition, there is no time for them to do anything other than beat the crap out of each other for the last couple of reels until the end credits finally begin to roll. Over the years, this particular viewpoint has inspired a not-inconsiderable amount of grief as friends and readers calmly and rationally explained to me in voluminous detail as to the many ways in which I am completely wrong in my analysis towards the films. However, my guess is that when it comes to the latest “X-Men” adventure, the spin-off vehicle “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” those especially devoted fans won’t be calling me out on my apparent heresies quite as much this time around. This is not because I have had a sudden change of heart by any means--it is just as noisy, stupid and confusing as its predecessors. No, it is because it so noisy, stupid and confusing that not even the most dedicated fanboys will be unable to overlook those flaws this time around.

As you can probably glean from the title, the film is a prequel that is designed to show the early years of one of the comic’s most popular characters, the mutton-chopped, cigar-smoking mutant James Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine, whose wounds spontaneously heal and who can shoot large and fearsome metallic claws out of his knuckles whenever he is required to appear in a fight scene. When we first get a glimpse of him here in one of the more baffling prologues in recent memory, he is a young lad whose peaceful existence living in the Northwest Territories of Canada is shattered when he is forced to run away with his brother, Victor, for reasons that I will leave for you to decipher (mainly because I can’t). During a credit montage that has unfortunate echoes to the opening credits of “Watchmen,” we see Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) battling their way through a century’s worth of wars without either aging or suffering any serious damage until Victor’s increasing bloodlust eventually leads the two of them to be court-martialed and sentenced to death by firing squad. After that doesn’t quite work out in the intended manner, they are recruited by shady government official William Stryker (Danny Huston) to join a team of mutants that he has recruited to search for a strange meteorite as part of a top-secret initiative known as Weapon X. Before long, Logan discovers the dark side of joining up with shadowy covert projects, especially ones that also employ the likes of Ryan Reynolds (who plays the sword-wielding motormouth Dead pool ), and eventually flees the group to live the life of a simple logger in the Canadian backwoods with girlfriend Kayla (Lynn Collins).

Six years later, Stryker turns up with news that someone out there is murdering members of the old Weapon X team and to try to convince Logan to re-up for a new project. It turns out that it is Victor doing the killing and when he murders Kayla, a vengeful Logan agrees to take part in Stryker’s new project--allowing his body to be infused with a metallic substance derived from that meteorite so as to become virtually indestructible--in order to get even with his brother but escapes when he realizes that Stryker is about to double-cross him by erasing his memories. Escaping to New Orleans, Logan reunites with John Wraith (Will I Am), another colleague from the Weapon X days, and discovers that Stryker and Victor are actually in cahoots in a plan to kidnap mutants as part of the even-more-mysterious plan known as Weapon XI. The only person who knows the whereabouts of their new base of operations is Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), a card-carrying mutant who is the only person to escape the facility, and Logan convinces him to take him there to settle things once and for all. As for the location of the new facility and the various shocking surprises regarding Weapon XI, among other things, I will leave them for you to discover--the former because it is probably the most amusing element of the entire film (provided that you are of a certain age) and the latter because I am fairly convinced that I couldn’t explain anything about the last 20-odd minutes of the film in a coherent manner if you put a gun to my head.

With the exception of “The Godfather Part II” and its segments showing the early days of Vito Corleone, most big-screen attempts to show us the origins of the characters and storylines of an already-established film franchise exist for one of only a couple of reasons--the current cast has either grown too old to appeal to younger viewers or too expensive to appeal to the studio bean counters or the series as a whole has gone so far off the tracks that a complete reboot is required to bring things back to the way they were. Although there have been some excellent films of this type to emerge over the years, the most obvious examples being “Batman Begins” and “Casino Royale,“ but for the most part, such things tend to be fairly useless as entertainment because much of the dramatic impact is muted by the fact that their stories are preordained--how much genuine excitement can be generated from the likes of “Butch and Sundance: The Early Years” or “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” since we know going in that Butch and Sundance are going to live and that the people up against Leatherface are less likely to make it to the end credits than usual? The problem with “Wolverine” is that there is never a single moment when you get the sense that screenwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods or director Gavin Hood or even Hugh Jackman himself had any real interest in doing anything other than extending the life of the X-Men franchise in the laziest manner possible by transplanting its most popular character into an incredibly lazy story involving chases, explosions, government conspiracies, double-crosses, long-hidden secrets and avuncular old couples who learn the hard way about what can happen when they take in mysterious strangers who turn up in the barn. (Apparently “Firestarter” must have been on Showtime a lot during the screenwriting process.) On its own, this is bad enough--few things are less exciting than a film that ends by setting up a film that came out nine years ago--but in terms of working as part of the on-screen universe established by the previous films in the series, this is a flat-out embarrassment--considering what transpires between Logan and Victor at the end of this chronologically first film, for example, how does that reconcile with the brawl between the two of them (with Victor now going under the name of Sabretooth) that occurs in the original “X-Men”?

Of course, this isn’t the only aspect of “Wolverine” that comes across as lacking in any sort of ambition. In the previous films in the series, for example, one could take the idea of mutants and their ostracism from a society that finds it easier to demonize them than to try to understand or relate to them as ordinary people and see it as a metaphor for how society marginalizes people based on race, religion, sexual orientation and the like. This isn’t to say that the films did this successfully, but at least they tried to bring another level to what could have easily been just a string of scenes of people with weird and vaguely defined powers whomping the crap out of each other. This time around, none of that subtextual material is on display and as a result, “Wolverine” is little more than a string of scenes of people with weird and vaguely defined powers whomping the crap out of each other. Granted, that might have still worked out to some degree if the fight scenes had been exciting enough, the various mutant powers were ingenious enough and the characters were charismatic enough but that is definitely not the case here. The fights here are all listlessly staged and executed and it quickly becomes obvious that Hood (who earned some cachet a few years ago with his overrated debut “Tsotsi” and then squandered most of it with the disastrous “Rendition”) has no idea of how to put together an elaborate special effects set piece--everything here is such a mess of poor editing, cheesy special effects and unconvincing production design that even the Sci-Fi Channel might have had some qualms if it had somehow been offered to them. As for the powers, they are, as depicted, pretty much a joke--one character can shoot people from long distances, another can hurl playing cards with deadly force and a third can hypnotize people simply by touching them. In other words, one has the same powers granted to Mark Wahlberg in “Shooter,” the second is essentially a younger and hunkier version of Ricky Jay and when you see who among the cast possesses the final power, that character’s ability won’t come as much as a surprise. None of the actors appear to be having much fun either--Jackman feels like he is simply going through the motions throughout, Schreiber is actively awful and none of the others are around long enough to make any sort of impression.

As you may have heard, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” made headlines a few weeks ago when a copy of a rough cut of the film was downloaded onto the internet by an unknown party and was subsequently viewed by countless people. Almost immediately, rumors began to spread that the studio itself knew more about the incident than they were letting on--either they knew who was responsible and chose not to publicize it (as they would have if it had been some ordinary schmuck) so as to save themselves embarrassment or that they did it themselves as either a strange form of viral marketing or to use it as an excuse if the film bombed in theaters. Personally, I don’t believe any of those particular conspiracy theories but there is a part of me that is stubbornly convinced that they did have something to do with the film hitting the internet. Imagine that you are a computer geek with a taste for pirating movies who has just discovered that one of the more highly anticipated films of the summer is now available for download. Now imagine that you have spent whatever time and energy is required to download an entire feature film onto your computer and are about to savor your spoils. Now imagine that the end result of all you labors is something as useless as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”--that could be enough to warn countless people away from the world of film piracy all by itself.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17549&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/01/09 00:00:00
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User Comments

5/07/19 I Hate FF Wolverine's trilogy movies has been very bad. 1 stars
9/02/14 Jeff pure shit 1 stars
3/07/11 The GLC interesting story line with female co-star, great cinematography, lots of unexpected. 5 stars
6/27/10 Charles Tatum By-the-numbers; did anyone really need this to be made? 3 stars
2/27/10 daveyt you know what you're going to get, I enjoyed it... so there! 4 stars
10/13/09 Nick So shitty it was probably written by crayon. 1 stars
9/27/09 Drake Samson has nothing to do with wolvies actual story,horrid script,terrible raping of characters 1 stars
9/24/09 george webster simply put,Pure Disappointment! 2 stars
6/28/09 damalc perfect example of more being less. underwhelming. 2 stars
6/07/09 mr.mike Good but does not demand to be seen on the big screen. 4 stars
6/01/09 Pokejedservo Not the best X-Men movie but it surprisingly wasn't that bad to me at all. 4 stars
5/21/09 Rouge THE MOVIE WAS THE BEST NOT ONLY THAT BUT ALL OF THE X-MEN MOVIES WERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/20/09 Vindicator No James & Heather Hudson. No Alpha Flight. Adapted not with a scalple, but a chainsaw. 1 stars
5/15/09 james obrien why did this come off so bad 2 stars
5/12/09 Ming I enjoy watching this film...lots of great actions 4 stars
5/08/09 duffy Terrible movie is there actually a person stupid enough to enjoy this film? 1 stars
5/08/09 shawn terrible script a complete let down for hardcore x-men fans. Sabertoota and Logan bros WTF? 1 stars
5/08/09 Bud Too many cameos cluttered it, but honestly was about what I expected for my money. 3 stars
5/07/09 David Terrible script, effects, and campy direction. Seriously almost no redeeming qualities. 1 stars
5/06/09 gc Lots if cool actions scenes with no depth to any character and no plot at all. 2 stars
5/06/09 Ray The reviewer expressed thoughts better then I could have 2 stars
5/06/09 RadAd This reviewer has it spot on. Jimmy? Come on. 2 stars
5/05/09 ES Entertaining 4 stars
5/05/09 matt i changed my mind. no amount of action could have saved this disaster. the script kills it 1 stars
5/05/09 Bambi Didn't care what happened to any of the characters one way or the other. 2 stars
5/04/09 GutterBall Good God. How can you have The Merc With The Mouth...without a mouth?? WTF? 1 stars
5/04/09 French adamantium bullets?? When I saw that I threw up my arms and said "I'm done, bitches!" 2 stars
5/04/09 Nick Miletta Not good at all 1 stars
5/03/09 M Enjoy it for what it is an ACTION movie. 4 stars
5/03/09 belike What were they thinking? 1 stars
5/03/09 action movie fan experment gone wrong-wolvering is unstoppable-best x-men yet fun to watch 4 stars
5/03/09 caiphn Meh. Laughable at times with some neat action sequences. 3 stars
5/02/09 Dan Generally good acting, good action, some good lines- but no real plot. 3 stars
5/02/09 matt Horribly paced, written, acted, and just awkward. good action scenes though 3 stars
5/01/09 Raul Valdez Jr yes use your anger movie watches then your path to the darkside will be complete 4 stars
5/01/09 Darkstar They fucked up Deadpool!!! Fuck you Hugh Jackman!!!! 1 stars
5/01/09 Toni For what it was I liked it (Look it's not War & Peace and never was going to be) 4 stars
5/01/09 Dk Slightly better than average, largely thanks to Liev Schreiber and Jackman 3 stars
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  01-May-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Sep-2009


  DVD: 15-Sep-2009

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