Thursday, May 15, 2014

X-Men Retrospective: X-Men Origins - Wolverine (2009)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Director: Gavin Hood
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Taylor Kitsch,, Danny Huston, Lynn Collins, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan, Ryan Reynolds and Scott Adkins as Ryan Reynolds
Rated: PG-13

Nobody gets to kill you but me!
      ~Victor Creed

Back to back!

Prior to this retrospective, I had seen this film a total of 1 time.  And this is also the only X-Men related film that I didn't see in the theater.  This film had an absolutely horrible buzz going into it.  A workprint had leaked to the internet and many saw it well before it came out.  And yeah, I really didn't like this film when I first saw it.  I haven't even been curious to revisit it.  There was also nobody I knew who liked the film either.  It seemed to be every bit as bad as I thought it would be going in.  Was I in a bad mood that day?  Did I decide I wasn't going to like it before I watched?  I really don't know.  Before seeing it, I kinda found this whole origins thing entirely unnecessary.  A story of Wolverine in the past, okay, but his origin?  I thought they covered it quite well in X2 and it really didn't need to be covered anymore and I didn't need to "see" the events happen in real time.  They were also throwing Gambit, Deadpool and Blob into the film and it felt even more like Last Stand mutant overloading.  And Gambit was one of the first of forcing Taylor Kitsch upon audiences in big movies for a few years.
This second viewing of Wolverine wasn't near as bad as my initial one.  Its still not a very good film, but I found the first 2/3 incredibly watchable and very entertaining.  For a good chunk of the beginning of this movie it felt very much like a late 80s/early 90s Jean-Claude Van Damme/Steven Seagal film by way of Arnold Scwarzenneger's Commando.  Yes, that's one hell of a description, but that's almost exactly what this film was.  The story setup, the plotting, the fight sequences and even the dialogue.  I mean, this dialogue is full of one-liners that could have easily come from unused scripts for never filmed Dolph Lundgren movies.  I don't know how I did not recognize it in this film before.  I LOVE pure action films of the late 80s/90s.  So I can't deny I wasn't having some fun (for both intentional and unintentional reasons) with a good chunk of this movie.  Yeah, some of this stuff going on is stupid, but its an enjoyable ridiculous stupid.  
Its not enough to totally save the movie.  The ending to it is still a complete mess and almost a disaster.  There is so much unnecessary "links" and too much going on to be enjoyable.  Also, the special effects a pretty terrible for where technology was in 2009 as well.  The final battle is entirely uninteresting and just...well...the whole Deadpool thing is kinda just crap.  And lets not get started on Professor X showing up, Cyclops showing up, "Not Emma Frost" showing up and the whole Wolverine loses his memory that day stuff.  Like I said, the final act of the film flat out stinks.  I imagine when they cast Ryan Reynolds, this isn't how they imagined this whole thing turning out.  This was a troubled production and it reeks of things being changed midshoot, reshot and script changes after they had already filmed some key early moments.  Its kinda weird.  I'd like to believe there was a completely different movie they set out to make.  And its only salvaging was to tell this like a video game where Wolverine goes to each new level and fights a new boss to move on to the next.
Wanna talk about Taylor Kitsch as Gambit?  Okay.  He's merely fine.  He's not bad but not spectacular either.  And if you got character problems its not on him.  There's really just not enough of him.  There is enough Liev Schreiber and he's quite bad in an unintentionally enjoyable way.  Schreiber goes over the top in pretty much every scene and gets to deliver trashy line after trashy line.  I do think he and Jackman did share a good chemistry with each other, its just this script prevented from really taking shape.  And Deadpool, well, when his mouth isn't removed, he's pretty much every single Ryan Reynolds character you've seen on film before.
I don't think I really have much more I feel like saying about this movie.  I really don't feel like tearing it to shreds, because you can find that aplenty on the internet and don't need me to sit and rehash some of the same things.  Hating things is just too easy, lazy and tiresome (that's why I not a fan of Honest Trailers or the "Everything Wrong With" videos).  I mean, I used to be that person who would go on the prowl with criticisms like that.  Its much more rewarding and challenging to take something you didn't like and try to find some merits and appreciation for things it DOES do well. You don't always come up successful, but its worth a try and healthy to have optimism.  My focus for this piece and takeaway from this viewing for the retrospective was the movie wasn't a total failure for me on this 2nd viewing.  I found an angle on most of the first 2/3 of the movie I didn't see before and found myself getting a kick out of it for my own reasons.  And I think I've gotten that across.  The final act still blows (as well as some of the beginning), but there were some fun things done in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Next Time: Its the first time

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