Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Drinking To Forget

He is about 175 years old, he apparently stopped changing when he reached Hugh Jackman's age, and neither he, nor we, find out how he developed such an interesting mutation.


The rest of his review is about like that. Ebert completely rejects Wolverine as a character. More to the point, his heart and mind apparently can't comprehend the X-Men. Mutants are simply mutants. We don't concern ourselves with the how and why. Their powers are revealed to them through the course of puberty. Our curiosity was not that he had claws, but that they were made of adamantium.

In any case, Wolverine is best left alone. He winds up joining the X-Men in the midst of a multiple-year amnesia bender, unaware of how he got his shiny new bones. Why anyone ever wanted to spoil that wonderful premise with an explanation, I could never figure out. Thankfully, you won't remember much of Gavin Hood's sloppy follow-up to X3, since the final act works as its own adamantium bullet to your brain.

The various bits of angst levelled at Wolverine, in direct conflict with those 13 year-olds and 13 year-olds-at-heart who seemed to genuinely enjoy the flick, are not feelings I'm able to match. It's a better film than, oh, Fantastic Four 1 & 2, Ghostrider, X-3, Spider-Man 3, Daredevil, Elektra, etc. Spider-Man 1 & 2, X-Men 1 & 2, Iron Man and The Hulk, were all, well, quite good movies. The badness of some of the other Marvel properties only underlines that.

Should Wolverine have been better? My God, yes. Still, I'm not angry, but I look forward to Holly's review. Her reaction snapped me out of a complacent stupor.

Because, folks, much of the movie is pretty bad. I got through it rolling my eyes here and there, but, not expecting much to begin with, had what fun I could.

The bad: There is dialogue and incident that resorts at every possible turn to cliche. There are many moments you will see coming from eight plot points away. For all of Ebert's fawning over Gavin Hood's previous flicks, Hood's other work is no less maudlin. Hood peppers this film with half-sketched themes of imperialism and social injustice. The script he's relying on doesn't really justify his exploration of those issues, but perhaps we can be thankful a Wolverine flick doesn't become Tsotsi with claws.

If you're expecting darkness akin to the new Batman series or the kind of humor we saw in previous X-Men or Spider-Man movies (pre third installments), get ready to be disappointed. Wolverine is portentous when it should be light and corny when it should be earnest. It wastes Gambit, and completely ruins our expectations for Deadpool. Perhaps there hasn't been enough distance between this and the previous X-Men film. A complete reboot was probably our only hope, and by that point Hugh Jackman would've aged more noticeably than Wolverine ever would.

There is good in the film, though: Will i Am has his moments. Dominic Monaghan has a nice, brief bit of screen time as an electricity manipulator. Ryan Reynolds is more enjoyable than I've ever seen him as the mutant who becomes Deadpool. Danny Huston is more reliable than the movie deserves. Some of the action scenes are fun, financial-cut-corners and cheap special effects notwithstanding.

Then there's Liev Schreiber, furious, fearsome and engaging, the whole way through. His Sabretooth is the one durable character in the film. I wanted more of him, par for the course with Schreiber characters. Jackman is fine, but he's given too much camp and too little gravitas to inhabit here. Too bad, but again, why did we even need this movie?

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