She Said: Wolverine
By Caroline Thibodeaux
May 4, 2009
The 2009 summer movie season officially began last Friday with the arrival of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The third sequel to 2000's X-Men, Hugh Jackman stars again as the inimitable Logan/Wolverine – the quick-healing, adamantium-fortified mutant hero who is the best at what he does, but what he does isn't very nice. The film is directed by Gavin Hood (Rendition, Best Foreign Film Oscar-winning Tsotsi) and co-stars Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed/Sabretooth, Danny Huston as Colonel William Stryker and Lynn Collins (True Blood, The Merchant of Venice) as Kayla Silverfox.
I've been looking forward to this movie since the release date was first announced. I wouldn't exactly call myself a comic book geek but I do maintain a passing interest in the form. For the most part, I've enjoyed a lot of the recent comic superhero-to-film adaptations. I possess a great admiration for Jackman and the first two X-Men films, but I was cognizant that the series needed a shot to the arm (and a swift kick in the pants) after the regrettable X-Men: The Last Stand. Going back to where it all started for the individual team members seemed as good an idea as any and it made perfect sense to begin with Wolverine. Of all the X-Men characters, Logan remains the most enigmatic and fascinating, as well as the most popular. So I circled May 1st on my calendar, thought some more about Hugh's muscles, fell asleep smiling and fervently hoped the film would just Bring It.
But a lot happened between then and last Friday. First, the producer (Lauren Shuler-Donner) brought in her husband to "consult" during the post-production process. I loved what Richard Donner did with Superman, but Hood's responsibilities in post should have remained his responsibilities in concert with the editors. Not a good sign at all. And then, one month before the movie's release it was reported that a "working print" of the film had been stolen from Fox and the print was then pirated onto the Innernets. I tried (somewhat in vain) to ignore the mutterings and assessments of people who have no qualms with watching illegal DVDs and downloads (stealing). But the word was getting out steadily enough that the film was anywhere from bad to just so-so. I tried avoiding spoilers at all costs, but I began to get the sinking feeling that another Van Helsing was getting ready to stink up the cineplex. And if that's bad news for me, it's certainly worse news for Fox.
It turns out there's both good news and bad news. The good news is that Jackman retains all of the gruff charm of his original portrayal. His steely-eyed gaze and pointed sense of humor are welcome yet again in his reprising of the role. Schreiber seems to be cherishing the further exploration of his new badass persona (most recently on display in last winter's Defiance), Collins supplies exquisite simplicity and fortunately, Will i Am (Wraith) has only one real fight scene. (It's laughably bad, but at least it's short.) There's more to like in the movie, plenty actually, but (and here comes the bad news) the good points are all consistently undermined by a sub par script by David Benioff and Skip Woods and a nagging inattention to pacing and movement by director Hood. And in all honesty, some of the green screen/special effects are looking a little sketchy too.