Monday, May 4, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Comic book movies are always a sure fire way to get an audience. That audience is bound to simultaneously love and hate whatever is put on the screen. Thus is the curse of playing to the fanboys, a built in fan base that will be hypercritical of the movie, but still flock to see it.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is going to face the wrath of these fans this weekend.
The origin story of Logan, aka James Howlett, aka, Wolverine, aka Weapon X, is as convoluted at this point as it could possibly be. There are different tellings from different comic series that contradict certain points from one to the other, but this new retelling has the heart of it pretty straight. There are some missing characters and details, but director Gavin Hood took better care with the story and the characters than many directors would have.
Hood was at the helm for weightier pieces like Rendition and Tsotsi so a comicbook movie is an odd departure, and a wise choice for Marvel to start the Origins series with a character-centric telling rather than the action-centric one like the other X-Men movies.
Writing the Wolverine script was Skip Woods, who has a shorter resume including Hitman and Swordfish, and David Benioff, who penned the novel 25th Hour and screenplays for Troy and The Kite Runner. So right away, one can see where this movie was not destined to be a shoot-em-up explosion fest that people expect from many comic related movies.
This is actually where the movie's strengths lie, in the unexpected crew behind the wheel. It was a slightly different approach to the superhero genre with more attention paid to the characters than to the the special effects and battle scenes.
But that brings us to the weak points of the movie. There were some scenes that were seriously lacking in the special effects department to the point where obvious flaws were evident.
Other weak spots were the tertiary characters and their glossing over. Several of them were touched on and very quickly explained, but not well enough to warrant attention. This might have been for time constraints, or budget issues, but if they wanted to include more obscure characters like Deadpool, the Blob, Bolt or Emma Frost, there needs to be more explanation, or less explanation. Instead, they tell just enough about these characters to interest the audience, but not fully explain them.
Characters that would be looked at as secondary characters, like Gambit, Wraith and Col. Stryker were handled very well. Gambit played a big enough role in this to leave the possibility open for a larger examination in future X-Men movies, including the rumored Gambit movie that has been whispered about for years.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine gets a B-.
--John Berry, Online Editor--

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