By George Rose
September 9, 2009
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
24 hours in the Athens airport were finally over and I was ready for my trip back to America! Watching three movies was great, something I missed doing from childhood. You know the days, when you'd sit on your bed all curled up and just watch, watch, watch movies until your mother threatened to not feed you if you didn't come out of your room. Well, you might not know those days, but I sure do. Feeling upbeat again after P.S. I Love You, I thought karma was back on my side and ready to reward me with a safe flight back. Would karma be kind enough to reward me with a decent on-flight movie?
No, it wouldn't. Or maybe it would. Less than an hour onto the flight the screen comes on, only to reveal X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I thought about skipping it so I could catch up on all the sleep I had missed, but decided against it so I could give Wolverine a second chance. One thing I learned about movies is that your expectations going into them have an effect on your criticism of them. Being a die-hard X-Men fan with extremely high expectations of Wolverine, it's no surprise that I didn't enjoy watching it back in May. It felt too much like a video game and not enough like an origin story about one of the X-Men's most complicated characters. The involvement of Cyclops also infuriated me, since he was supposedly the reason they wouldn't put Gambit into the X-Men trilogy. The whole movie reeked of hypocrisy and poor producing, and I swore never to watch it again.
Fast forward almost four months and here I am watching it again on the US Airways airplane. The plot is still the same as it was a full summer ago: Wolverine and Sabertooth don't age and grow up to partake in almost all of the relevant wars of the last few decades. They are brothers, war heroes and, most importantly, mutants that heal quickly and fight like animals. They are imprisoned after the army discovers they are not human, only to be released by the hands of a high ranking officer named Stryker. He is creating a group of special-ops mutants to do some of the more serious bidding of our nation. Or so we think. After Wolverine decides he doesn't want to be an animal, he breaks away from the group, moves away to become a lumberjack and falls in love with a beautiful woman. All seems to be going right for Wolverine until Stryker returns, claiming that Sabertooth is on a killing rampage, attacking all the former members of the special-ops group.
Everything up until this part of the movie is interesting and entertaining. The acting is good enough for a summer popcorn flick, the action is relevant to the story line, and the plot seems close enough to Wolverine's comic book origins that I'm willing to overlook some of the inconsistencies. But the second half completely drops the ball, swapping all that was right with the first half for mindless entertainment that only teenage parents and their action-figure buying children would care about. That's what I thought the first time around and it isn't so far off from what I thought the second time. Once Wolverine's love is killed, he vows vengeance and goes on the search for Sabertooth. In a matter of maybe 45 minutes, Wolverine encounters half a dozen mutants and gets into some of the most absurd fight sequences with them. Only this time, because I had reduced my expectations of the movie, I was able to enjoy the scenes more. Read that again: I didn't enjoy them, I enjoyed them more. Wolverine on top of a helicopter? Gambit makes an entire alley explode? Will.I.Am in a cowboy hat? Hey, at least I'm still not stuck in the Athens airport. I guess there are worse things.