Monday, May 4, 2009

...and what he does is not very nice

They've deviated slightly from the source material in the... in... in Wolverine, to... to make it work for... for the purposes of the film.
-Ryan Reynolds, on his character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

(Warning: this post is mostly me bs'ing. Also, lots of spoilers.)

It all started with me geeking out over how cool Wolverine is after having seen the first trailer.

Then my enthusiasm for the project was somewhat lessened by the second trailer.

Now that I have seen this movie, it's a bit hard to wrap my brain around it. My lady* and I had been looking forward to this film and speculating about its content (and projected levels of awesome) for so long that I sometimes catch myself wondering what Wolverine will be like, having momentarily forgotten that I already know. In fact, watching the movie was very much like watching the trailers: some incredibly badass moments separated by scenes I was already trying to forget before they were over.

To start things off, I should mention that Hugh Jackman really is the only person who could have played Wolverine and pulled it off. He spends much of the movie growling, roaring, and attacking people with claws that come out of his hands, and he makes it as believable as any actor could. Sure, it's a superhero movie, so realism really doesn't play a terribly big part in the whole thing, but it's nice to watch a movie in which the main actor is putting himself into the role.

We all know that a movie version of a character is going to be different from the comic version, because a lot of the over-the-top drama and action in comics has to be dialed down to keep from looking ridiculous in movies. This leaves a gap in the character, and a truly good comic book movie actor will fill that gap with humanity. Hugh Jackman does this for Logan, wearing the character like a battered leather jacket that years of comfortable wear have molded to his body. Rather than trying to ask himself "What would it be like to be (insert the entire Wolverine Wikipedia article here)," Jackman seems to be asking himself, "What would it be like to be a loner with animal instincts, an unbreakable skeleton, and claws that go 'snikt'?"

And who doesn't want to see Hugh Jackman in character as Wolverine, striding slowly away from a towering explosion?

Credit also goes to Liev Schreiber, who plays Victor Creed (Sabertooth) and does such a good job of it that I did a double-take when I saw a picture of the Sabertooth from the original X-Men film. This new Sabertooth is brutal without being savage, unhinged without being a raving lunatic. I really liked the fight scenes between Jackman and Schrieber. They were well-choreographed and sold by both actors. There's one scene where Creed throws Logan into a stack of lumber that made me wince.

The montage at the beginning with Logan and Creed going through wars together was awesome.

Given that the relationship between Logan and Creed is what holds this movie together, I would say we have a good, solid foundation to this movie. Unfortunately, nearly everything this movie tries to build on that foundation fails.

Each of the Weapon X characters is completely bland and relies entirely on special effects to create an audience reaction. Agent Zero was a lot cooler when his name was Cleric John Preston and he had an entire movie dedicated to him**. The Blob was fat and stupid. The machine-controlling dude made faces that made elevators go. Wraith filled the role of The Cool Black Guy Who Thinks The White Guy Is Cool (see: the weapons guy from Batman, the Air Force guy from Iron Man). Stryker was completely generic, which is a shame because they actually brought up his backstory involving his mutant son, only to do exactly nothing with it. Also, I guess Ryan Reynolds was in it. I think he played some obnoxious dude with swords, but I can't really remember him that well since he's only really in it for one scene. He comes back at the end as a laser-eyed, sword-armed shirtless dude, which I thought was pretty cool. I'm not entirely sure which Marvel character that was based on, but I'm sure I'll think of it eventually.

The love story was so completely generic that my lady couldn't help but laugh. Whoever thoughts that Wolverine should be named after some whiny tearjerker myth, rather than the fact that he's a hairy badass who flips out and wrecks people, needs to be severely reprimanded. Though I did like Hugh Jackman in the scene where his wife makes him kiss her goodbye. He really sells the happy balance between a man who is hopelessly in love and wants to be romantic while still being a man's man. It's too bad the woman he was cast beside was utterly bland and brought nothing to the role.

I was also not too happy about the part where the wife touches an angry redneck and calms him down. The film gives us an unnecessary sound effect when she touches him, making it bleedingly obvious that she is using a mutant power on him. It would have been just as effective, and a whole lot more satisfying, to leave the sound out and make us wonder, so that later in the film when we learn she has powers we say "Oh, so that's what happened with the trucker earlier..."

I wasn't a big fan of the claws in this movie. Wolverine's claws looked aluminum and too wide, while Sabertooth's grow out of his fingers for some reason.

There were other mutants in this movie, as well, such as Cyclops and Emma Frost. Emma Frost looked like a bimbo who could cover herself in bulletproof styrofoam, and contributed nothing to the plot. Cyclops continued to prove why he's the least interesting character in X-Men. Oh, and apparently his laserbeams can cut through entire buildings now. He's sure come a long way since the days of the 90s X-Men cartoon, when his lasers would sometimes push people back and make their clothing smolder a little.

I was actually quite pleasantly surprised by Taylor Kitsch's pleasantly laconic portrayal of the not-so-ragin' Cajun, Gambit. When I said nearly everything this movie tries to build on the foundation of Logan and Creed fails, the one other part that did not fail was Gambit. His pimp staff was a bit too magical, both when he was climbing walls with its two halves and when he was chopping falling buildings in half with it. Also, he was apparently telekinetic. Well, never mind all that. In his ten minutes of screen time, he was roguish and likable, and that's what Gambit is all about.

To wrap up, I'd like to say that Ryan Reynolds once apparently expressed interest in playing Deadpool in a Marvel movie. Whatever happened to that? I hope they let him give it a shot someday. He'd make a really good Deadpool.

*and how awesome is it to have a lady who is genuinely excited to see Wolverine with you (and whom you can kiss when he says his famous line)?
**credit goes to my lady for showing me Equilibrium


bluefish said...

You said it, bub.

Kawaika said...

When I heard that they were making a movie about Wolverine I was excited until I started learning more about the movie. I don't think I'll watch it, at least not anytime soon.

Russell said...

Hopefully that will help you.

And Sabretooth's claws have always grown out of his fingers. You'd better not be wanting the lame-assed ultimates version.

I've read about seven reviews on this film now, and they all say the same thing: I'm trying really hard to like this movie even though it's flat and cliche because Wolverine is in it. Well Wolverine is the patron deity of the flat character and the cliche. This film understands that.

Lord Admiral said...

Woot Deadpool movie!

Wow. I am amazed at how quickly my hopes have gone from "dashed" to "high" ... again.

And to clarify, I meant that Sabertooth's claws grow at all, not where they grow from. I believe that Sabertooth's claws should remain consistent in length, rather than getting longer before each fight.