Awfully Good: X-Men Origins: Wolverine +The Meteor Man (video)
Excited for DEADPOOL? Let's just be thankful he got a second chance after his first appearance...
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Director: Gavin Hood
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds
90 more minutes of Wolverine's flashbacks from X2: X-MEN UNITED. Yay!
The WOLVERINE spinoff movie seemed like a sure thing. After three blockbuster films, Hugh Jackman owned the role of Logan and audiences couldn't get enough. 25TH HOUR scribe David Benioff wrote an R-rated script he called "dark and brutal." And the producers hired a great up-and-coming director in Gavin Hood, who had recently won an Oscar for the South African crime drama TSOTSI. And as the first few minutes unfolded—a brief look at Logan's tragic childhood and a stylized montage showing the future X-Man and Sabretooth fighting side by side through every major war of the last century—the outlook was hopeful. But then things went downhill monumentally fast.
Extra Tidbit: It's written in Hugh Jackman's contract that he be allowed to start every day on set like this.
Instead, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (the actual, unfortunate title) became a lesson in not making a tentpole blockbuster without a functional script, an idea Hollywood still struggles with. Benioff (who would go on to run Game of Thrones for HBO) saw his script butchered in hopes of making it more family-friendly. And since Fox president Tom Rothman wasn't in the business of making good decisions, they brought in the guy that wrote SWORDFISH and LIVE FREE AND DIE HARD to retool it. And then someone else. And then someone else again. This process is not unique to how Hollywood works, but director Hood even admitted the direction of the film was constantly changing so fast they would get script pages faxed from the studio the night before shooting and had to try and piece together some semblance of a film. Eventually things got so heated between Hood and Rothman that SUPERMAN director Richard Donner was brought in to play on-set therapist.
Ways to make REAL STEEL more exciting.
You can feel the rushed production and on-set struggle in every frame of WOLVERINE. It barely even feels like a movie. There's a story that hardly qualifies as a plot, effects that look like they never made it out of pre-viz, and a cast of cameos masquerading as characters. There are easily a dozen comic characters shoved in to this film solely for name recognition, not because they fit or bring anything of substance to the story. Most are relegated to two to three minutes of overall screentime, hardly enough to make a real impression. Does anyone even remember that Gambit, Blob, Cyclops and Emma Frost were in this movie?
The moment you realize someone peed in the adamantium pool.
After the misleadingly promising introduction, Wolverine and Sabretooth are recruited to join a mutant mercenary team led by William Stryker that includes Ryan Reynolds as an annoying version of Deadpool, will.i.am from The Black Eyed Peas as a teleporter who wears a cowboy hat, and Charlie from Lost. The film does a terrible job explaining exactly what this group was supposed to be doing for Stryker, how long they've been together, and other basic pieces of information, but as soon as they go to Africa and threaten a village, Wolverine is like "Peace out, freaks. I'm moving to Canada to be a lumberjack and shack up with a schoolteacher." Lynn Collins, who was awesome in JOHN CARTER, is wasted here as said schoolteacher, who is there to quickly tell Logan a love story about the moon and a wolverine, before dying as a plot point to drive Logan on to the rest of the movie. (And please don't get me started on the inanity of her stupid twist.)
Still a better love story than TWILIGHT.
And so our title character wanders aimlessly to various pre-planned set pieces in his quest for love-driven revenge. He gets metal bonded to his skeletal structure. He bonds with an elderly couple after exposing himself to them. He gets in to a fight with a comically obese guy. And then he goes to N'awlins to hook up with a card player named Remy LeBeau. The inclusion of Gambit here feels like one big unnecessary, studio-mandated decision. He shows up to throw a few cards, swing his staff, and play chauffeur to Wolverine before disappearing again. Oddly enough, the movie gives him one of those big heroic surprise rescues at the end, returning out-of-nowhere to save Wolverine and his friends—even though he's been in the film for 5 minutes and barely knows him. It's one of many emotionally unearned moments.
It was then that Logan realized he had woken up in Toontown.
The action is pretty limp, especially for a $150 million movie about a guy with adamantium claws. There's a yawn-worthy motorcycle-helicopter chase. There's an Asian guy wielding two guns in such over-the-top ways it would make John Woo roll his eyes. And who knew you could block bullets from multiple machine guns by swinging swords really fast? (Thanks Deadpool!) Even less believable is the terrible CGI, which is notable given the budget and the year. When Wolverine first checks out his metal claws in the mirror, they look like cartoon animation, and when he later slices up a fire escape ladder, it's so poorly executed it gives physics a headache. Even the final showdown between Wolverine, Sabretooth and Sort-Of Deadpool (Weapon XI)set atop a nuclear reactor is some of the least convincing green screen work since the Statue of Liberty finale in the original X-MEN movie.
Also, let's not forget that there's a part in this film where Hugh Jackman walks away from an explosion as a guitar wails and a wolverine growls. C'mon, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, you're better than this. (Er...maybe not.)
So that's what happens when you fart with an adamantium butthole.
But what about Wolverine himself? You have to feel bad for Hugh Jackman as this whole thing amounts to a pointless exercise for both character and actor. The questions the film attempts to answer for Logan—how he got adamantium, what is his relationship with Sabretooth, why he lost his memory—were all covered or could be easily inferred by the previous X-MEN movies. There's nothing here we really needed to see and none of the big reveals are in any way satisfying. In fact, the script goes on to explain things no one cared about. Like that Wolverine got his name from a Native American folk story about the moon. Or that he got his signature jacket from a kindly old couple who taught him that he doesn't have to be a killer. And this is all made doubly useless by the fact that Logan loses his memory at the end (by an inexplicably magic bullet from Stryker, who somehow knows that shooting Wolverine in the head will give him amnesia). As the credits roll and Wolverine walks away from all the death and destruction, there's a wave of nauseating futility knowing that he won't remember any of it and none of it will impact his character.
Okay great, so why did I just waste two hours of my life on this?
And while you're at it, don't remind Hugh Jackman about VAN HELSING either.
Wolverine's angriest lines, Deadpool's funniest lines and more.
Bad special effects, unbelievable action sequences and Hugh Jackman's naked escape.
Squint and you can catch Hugh Jackman's adamantium-enhanced rear end.
Take a shot or drink every time:
- Wolverine screams dramatically
- Sabretooth growls
- Sabretooth runs like an animal
- Wolverine calls someone, "Bub"
- A mutant is killed
Double shot if:
- Wolverine is naked
Hold up there, superhero fan! We've got one more dose of Awfully Goodness for you with this week's video column featuring none other than Robert Townsend's THE METEOR MAN! You may have forgotten about this one and with good reason, but host Jesse Shade is here to take you back and walk you through the caped craziness. Enjoy!
Thanks to Russ and John for suggesting this week's movie!
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