X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – Movie Review

wolverine origins

The problem with making a film about the origin of the mutant super-hero Wolverine is that he was never meant to have an origin. He was created as a throwaway character for an issue of The Incredible Hulk, then got picked up as a supporting character for the revamping of the X-Men. No one really thought he was important enough to have his own origin, but he became one of the most popular comic book characters of the last 30 years. That led to a series of attempts to graft a powerful and moving beginning onto a character that was only intended to be a badass with a cool gimmick. But instead of a simple but profound start like “Strange visitor from another planet” or “With great power comes great responsibility”, Wolverine got an origin that became increasingly convoluted and overwrought as more and more was added to it over time. That’s reflected in this movie, which actually crams at least three distinct origin tales into 107 minutes. Throw in the traditional “summer movie” boatload of explosions, gunfire and combat and there’s not much room left for a good story.

I mean, you know that scene where someone kneels over the body of a dead loved one and screams “Nooooooooo!” to the heavens? This movie has two scenes like that. It has a shot of Wolverine walking into the camera as a huge explosion goes off behind him. There’s a character who is clearly established as being a mass murderer, but then the film suddenly decides that being a mass murderer isn’t that big a deal. Not to mention that this is the first time I’ve ever seen a movie that literally stops to explain its own ending 15 minutes before it actually happens.

All that said, this isn’t a bad film. The action sequences are all pretty good, the acting is better than you usually get for this sort of thing and while the story is kind of a mess, it makes enough sense that you’re not left sitting in the theater thinking that every character in the movie is an idiot.

In fact, this is the rare action movie where the acting is probably the best thing about it. Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Durand are legitimately funny as mutants Deadpool and The Blob. Hugh Jackman is brilliant as usual. Danny Huston as William Stryker and Liev Schreiber and Sabretooth give probably the best performances of the film. It’s not always easy to play a younger version of a character already portrayed by a fine actor, but Huston makes Stryker just similar enough to the man from X-Men 2 and is able to give him a little more depth. Schreiber brings real emotion and a sense of legitimacy his furry mutant. His Sabretooth isn’t just a prop for Wolverine’s story, but a living, breathing character in his own right.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells a story that was never meant to be told. It doesn’t do it very well, but that it can do it at all without being a total disaster is something of an achievement. This movie doesn’t have a personal element that ever rises above the cliché and it has none of the broader moral or societal points that were found in the X-trilogy itself. This is just a big, dumb, fun “summer movie” and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

6 out of 10 stars

……………………………….

Advertisements

Ender’s Game (2013) – Movie Review

I read this book for the first time as a teenager in high school and found it to be a world of unknown limitations, where rational thought intelligent decisions, and carefully calculated emotions ruled the day guided by a genius mind. The images conveyed in every page of detailed descriptive writing, from the desperation of Valentine losing a 6 year old Ender, to the anguish of Ender, knowing he killed Bonzo, every major emotion was exploited and bared before the reader. The book was too short for what the readers wanted, and left us craving more, both in the continuing back stories such as Ender’s Shadow as well as the deeper philosophical aspects of Xenophobia and those books which followed.

This movie, however, left those of us who eagerly awaited the transition of the novel to the big screen appalled and eager for the lights to come up so we could hastily exit the theater, shaking our heads in utter disappointment at the epic failure that is Ender’s Game: the movie. From the lack of voice-over (the only proper way to explain the large portion of the book told through Ender’s thoughts) to the stilted acting, to the condensation of close to a decade of learning to less than a year, each minute was painful to watch, and even more difficult to swallow. The only thing that could have made this movie more of a disappointment in my book, would have been if it had been not only poorly written and acted, but also lacking in the visual graphics.

I will say, the movie is beautiful to watch, though incorrect according to the descriptions in the book, but at least there’s something nice on the screen that can ease the sting of the tattered shreds of a great story that’s being crammed down your throat…

3 out of 10 stars

 

………………………………………………