Movie News & Reviews

'Wolverine' is fun, but not good

I always like beginnings and origin stories more than tales from acharacter's later life.

There's something exciting about seeing a person struggling to come togrips with the world before they became all cool and mature. That'swhy watching rookies play baseball is more fun than watching vets andwhy The Adventures of Teen Jesus is way better than the Bible.It's kind of like Badass Training for the audience: Ohhh, Wolverinegrew up fighting in every war ever instead of lying on the floorwatching Return of the King for the second time today. That'swhy he can grow better sideburns than me.

That and the general excellence of the first two X-Men moviesare what had me excited for X-Men Origins: Wolverine despitehaving seen the same trailer precisely eight jillion times in the lastcouple months and possessing only a vague familiarity with this cornerof the Marvel universe. (Wolverine's the one who looks like a bat,right?) As usual, the execution couldn't match up to the anticipation.

Born in the mid-19th century, Hugh Jackman and older brother LievSchreiber are mutants whose strength and regenerative ability makethem perfectly suited for soldiering. In Vietnam, their powers arebrought to the attention of Danny Huston, who recruits them to histeam of special ops mutants.

But Schreiber is slowly losing his grip on humanity, and Huston isdriven to complete his objectives at any cost. When a mission inNigeria turns ugly, Jackman walks away from not just the military, butalso his brother.

Six years later, Jackman's leading a quiet and isolated life. ButSchreiber has started hunting down the old team, and Huston believesJackman is the only one who can stop him.

Have you ever wondered who is mighty enough to kick a helicopter'sass? Me too! We should be friends. At our inaugural meeting of theClub of Colossal Nerds Who Never Stop Talking About Who Could BeatWhat in a Fight, we can finally put that issue to rest: the answer isWolverine. No word yet on the outcome of Picard vs. Gandalf.

Incredibly, wrangling a helicopter like an unmedicated student onlyplaces about third on Wolverine's list of outrageous actionscenes, which range somewhere between ludicrous and totally, totallysweet.

I lean towards the "totally sweet" side, but then again I'm the kindof guy who plans his Saturdays around watching all three Bourne moviesback to back and then robbing a ninja store. Director Gavin Hood's"stuff goes boom now" scenes are big enough and frequent enough tokeep things rolling.

If that doesn't cut it for you, I got some bad news: you have cancer.Also, in terms of depth, Wolverine is no X-Men orX2. "Brainless" is too harsh; it has a few funny moments, andthere's something to Jackman and Schreiber's messed-up fraternalrelationship.

The storytelling, however, leaves something to be desired. Despitecovering a lot of ground without feeling rushed, the plot is, in someways, older than Wolverine, and that dude is like 150 years old.

Maybe it's the overfamiliar twists that explain why the movie neverelevates itself above just another comic adaptation. On the otherhand, Wolvy and Gambit totally beat hell out of each other. Notso much a good movie as it is a fun movie, Wolverine is toodisposable to match the standards the franchise has by now set foritself.

Grade: C+