A week late, but whatever.
Safe bets would be placed on the theory that this is an unfortunate result of having seen Star Trek earlier in the day, the verve and free-wheeling skills at play in J.J. Abrams’ slam dunk still fresh in the mind. Seeing anything less than slightly-above-creative would’ve felt even more so lame last night than any other one-movie-day.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Yesterday was a double feature Friday, the second film on the bill being X-Men Origins: Wolverine. A flood of negative reviews and film blogger backlash should’ve kept me at bay, but the lure of being a part of that huge blockbuster that everybody else has already seen was too pwerful to resist. So I bought my ticket, sipped on an overpriced cup full of Cherry Coke, and anticipated the worst. With the bar set so low mentally, all your boy Wolverine really had to was entertain me. Throw some cool action sequences my way, sprinkled with a few witty one-liners and keep the on-screen exposure of the WTF-miscast Will.i.am to an extreme minimum (Seriously, I cringed every time Mr. “Boom Boom Pow” entered the picture).
And, for what its worth, X-Men Origins: Wolverine did its job decent enough to not become a total disaster. Hugh Jackman and Liev Schrieber make for a strong good-versus-bad pairing, and the overcrwoded plot moves at such a hyperspeed pace that the story remains hooky even when its bogged down.
What “it” is worth, though, is a bargain compared to “it’s” problematic flipside. Way too many X-Men comic book favorites are wasted, especially Gambit (who deserves his own film, dammit!) and Ryan Reynolds’ “Wade Wilson/Deadpool,” though we’ll eventually get more of him in the just-announced spinoff. There’s a slew of contradictory mythology changes that don’t coincide with the previous X-Men films (How does Liev Schrieber’s “Sabertooth” become the much-larger, hairier, speechless Tyler Mane’s “Sabertooth” from the first flick?). The biggest follies of all, however, lay in the hands of the digital effects team. For such a huge-budget tentpole film, the visuals seen in this one range from flawless to bad-video-game—-look no further than the “surprise” cameo from Professor X at the end, an obvious ploy to set up the forthcoming X-Men: First Class spinoff. The goal was to make Patrick Stewart’s “Professor X” look years younger (Wolverine is set in the 1970s, though you’d never be able to tell from watching), but what we see is a sloppy reject from those Final Fantasy games.
“But, but, but wait it gets worse!” Sheer will power was all that kept me from laughing out loud at the corniest scene of all. After catapulting onto a zooming helicopter thanks to cheesy-looking CGI, Wolverine shreds one of the chopper’s wings with his claws and the craft crashed to the surface. Wolvie, unscathed, angrily chats with the now-battered pilot, an enemy of Wolvie’s, before sparking a fire that sends the chopper into an explosion oblivion. So far, not terrible. But then director Gavin Hood decides to piss overthinking cinema-lovers such as myself off with the laziest of shots: Wolverine walking away from the massive flames in slow motion, scowl on face. I wanted to hurl my soda cup at the screen, call Gavin Hood up and ask what the fuck happened to his Tsotsi-making self.
The odds of yours truly ever watching X-Men Origins: Wolverine again are as slim as Cassie (sorry, her glorious naked pics are still fresh in my brain). It’s the definition of a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am film, one that serves its time-killing purpose, causes me to pick apart its weaknesses for a day or two, and then only comes to mind as I pass it over on cable.
***Now, how about a round of applause for X-Men Origins: Wolverine‘s breakthrough……the fine-as-wine Lynn Collins. First caught my eye in the hugely-underrated Bug, now an official Girl I Love.