Monday, May 4, 2009


Watching Wolverine, you get the sense that they weren't actually using a script and just had the actors improv things as they went along. The problem with that is that someone, for example, mentions an artificially constructed mutant killer and the filmmakers all slap their heads and work furiously to quickly add a mutant killer even though it really makes no sense. That also explains why some characters you thought were dead suddenly showed up. They probably just wandered onto the set and just made up the crazy explanations as to why they were still alive.

The sin of a stupid plot is hardly unique to Wolverine. Hell, Wolverine is a Mensa candidate when you compare it to Transformers. Whatever happened in Wolverine, it doesn't compare to the movie in which powerful, noble robots crossed the galaxy to complete their sacred mission of helping Shia LeBeouf outwit his parents and nail the hottest girl in school. The question is, as always with most high concept action films, does the movie's entertainment value overcome the gross stupidity of the writing? Let's find out.

The movie opens in the 1830s where we meet young James Howlett and a boy who turns out to be his half brother, Victor Creed. In a plot twist even Shakespeare wouldn't have touched, James ends up sprouting bone claws out of his hands and killing his own father. He and Victor run off into the night and grow up to become Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber. We see them fighting in every major American war over the next 150 years thanks to a wonderful collection of mutant powers that includes the bone claws (Victor sprouts them out of his fingers), animal senses and prowess and, the big one, a mutant healing ability that takes care of their wounds and stops them from aging. It even brings them back to life when they're executed after Victor gets the brilliant idea to kill a superior who tried to stop him from committing atrocities during Vietnam.

This brings them to the attention of William Stryker, an army major who's putting together a team of mutants to do army stuff. This is where Wolverine turns into a real name dropper. Any Marvel Comics mutant you didn't see in the three X-Men films shows up here. Were you always upset that you never got to see Gambit, Kestrel, Deadpool, Silverfox or Emma Frost? Well, fret away no more. This is like one of those historical movies where all the Founding Fathers make cameo appearances. You know, the characters are at some party and they befriend Benjamin Franklin who calls to another guy across the room, "Say Jefferson, how's that Declaration of Independence thing coming along?"

Anyway, if you're thinking that a guy willing to hire people who'd received the death penalty for war crimes might himself not be a very nice guy, you'd be right. Stryker leads his team to one of those African diamond mines run by slave labor to look for the source of some mysterious metal. When the villagers say sorry, we can't tell you where it is cause it's on sacred ground, Stryker orders the village wiped out. Victor's more than happy to wipe out innocent people but James (now also known as Logan) gets all picky about it and walks off in a huff, thus setting off the classic comic book plot dynamic in which close allies become arch foes.

So far, the movie's not too bad. The plot up to this point is fairly simple and straightforward and is a good frame upon which to hang action scenes and pretty explosions and, when people do crazy stunts that should shatter their spines, it's perfectly reasonable that they can get right back up because they have super powers. The problem is that, from this point on, madness lies. A bazillion different characters show up, sometimes out of nowhere. There are double, triple and quadruple crosses. It's hard to keep track after a while of who's friends and enemies with who and why anybody is doing what they're doing. Oh, if I may give a tip to the characters, if you are in a movie where someone has the mutant ability to hypnotize through touch, YOU MIGHT WANT TO NOT LET THAT PERSON TOUCH YOU.

And thus, we are brought back to, "The question is, as always with most high concept action films, does the movie's entertainment value overcome the gross stupidity of the writing?" The answer is no, oh no, Lordy Lord no. You might be entertained by the explosions and fights and Logan jumping onto a helicopter but it offers nothing more than that and even that isn't well done even by standards of previous X-Men movies. I personally found myself wondering why I had passed up what must comparatively have been the sheer awesomeness of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, a movie that I think is the 1 millionth ripoff of A Christmas Carol, for this.

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