Yesterday, a working print of Fox’s X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE leaked onto the internet which is probably a disaster for them, since people like me found it with ease, watched it and will now review it. The print I watched has several special effects that have not been properly rendered yet. During one scene, the high wires worn by Hugh Jackman had not been digitally deleted. Some ADR dialogue hasn’t been inserted yet, though the lines appeared on the screen as subtitles. So if you were thinking about watching the leaked print and want to see this film with its completed polish, avoid watching this print and wait until May 1st.
The last time we left Logan a.k.a “Wolverine” (Hugh Jackman) he was combating Phoenix’ mighty temper tantrum that was producing so much energy that Wolvie’s shirt got torn off which allowed us to see his rockin’ pecs and abs. X-Men 3 was a major letdown after two great installments from director Bryan Singer. Singer left the project to go helm the equally disappointing SUPERMAN RETURNS, and he was replaced with anti-Christ suspect Brett Ratner. The first two X-MEN films were fascinating not only for their tremendous action, but because they created a world of injustice for their heroes to inhabit. It wasn’t that characters like Wolverine, Cyclops and Rogue were all that interesting. What drove the first two films was the hardships the heroes faced as freaks in a society they could never assimilate into. In reality, they were people trying to live normal lives but couldn’t escape the discrimination and fear they were met with by people who didn’t share their extraordinary powers. With the exception of a few, their powers were largely viewed as shameful rather than sources of pride. The variety of their powers served as a way of exploring different aspects of these conflicts. Rogue couldn’t experience human touch. Wolverine was full of rage. Cyclops could never experience looking a loved one in the eye. At least without incinerating them.
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE is a prequel to the first two films. Perhaps the general public doesn’t know about mutants yet, but the world set up by the first two films is nonexistent. Wolverine and Sabertooth (Liev Schreiber) are part of an elite military unit of mutants who perform special missions for the government. Wolvie gets tired of killing, and decides to live the quiet life. This is when relations with Sabertooth turn sour. Schreiber does a nice job of making Sabertooth menacing and scary, and Danny Houston also turns in a nice performance as Stryker, the man pulling the strings behind the scenes.
WOLVERINE suffers from having no heart and no brain. I can’t understand what the point of it was other than to get some of the old gang back together for some action scenes and to make a bunch of money. Is it about the nature of revenge? The dynamic of brothers in conflict? I think it throws a couple of those slimy pickles up against the window to see which one can stick but neither do. The action scenes don’t carry much weight either, since it’s hard to build suspense when we know from the start that Wolverine is indestructible.
There are certain movie cliches that should be buried forever. Certain tricks that have been done so exhaustively that they either fall flat or elicit laughter. The scene where a character loses a loved one and then looks up to the heavens and cries out “NOOOO!” as a birds-eye shot pans upward. The scene where a character lights a fire that follows a perfect trail of gasoline causing a massive explosion that the character pays no attention to, deciding instead to walk away from it in slow motion and revel in their awesomeness. The scene were Will.I.Am shows up as a soldier wearing a cowboy hat. WOLVERINE contains each of these scenes. It represents a profound laziness and drought of ideas. I half expected to find a scene in which Wolverine fishes and catches a boot. This was a film made for box office receipts, not the joy of storytelling. Certain characters in the film exist only to conveniently show up when they are needed to perform a task for which there is no motive simply because the plot couldn’t continue if they didn’t. Sadly, the long awaited appearance of Gambit fills this role. There is no attempt to explain Gambit, or to explain why Gambit does the things he does. He’s there when he needs to be, gone when he needs to be and does things in the nick of time for no other reason than it was in the nick of time. What a waste. Another character is an enemy of Wolverine, then a helping hand, then an enemy again. The film doesn’t bother much with an explanation.
I could go on about how they recycled the Fat Bastard suit from AUSTIN POWERS for The Blob or how every move that’s made in the film is telegraphed 5 minutes before it happens or how many of the cameos are distracting but what’s the point? Fox deserved what it got with this leak because they made a film that is lazy and contrived. Comic book films are at their best when they are made with a filmmaker who recognizes the heart of the story. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE is dead on arrival.