Monday, May 04, 2009

A mangy, flea-bitten Wolverine.

Like many other people, I managed to see the "leaked" version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Despite that, I went to see it in a theater with some friends. Instead of a full-fledged movie, it looks like the Lifetime Women's Movie of the Month. Call it Poor Little Logan: Happy at Last.

Basically, the movie tells us little about Wolverine that we didn't know. One item that's hardly a spoiler; his full name is James Logan. Not too surprising for a Canadian. Most comic fans also know he's incredibly long-lived, and the long title sequence showing him fighting in the American Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam don't do much. Although the costume and prop department must have had a field day working on that sequence.

The reason I call it a Lifetime movie is that it's full of romantic heartbreak. Logan loses nearly every normal human that approaches him, through the baddy-baddy's that are chasing him. About the only point of all the bloodshed and action sequences is to find out who organized this fatwah. Anyone who saw X-Men 2: X-Men United can guess it's an evil military person.

Note: in the comic book origin, the evil military person was with a Canadian program. That had at least some real-world significance. Canada has always felt threatened by the Lower 48, and it made great sense for a paranoid military strategist to capture and utilize mutants in order for Canada to feel safe. Putting an American in charge of the operation - that is set at Alkali Lake, clearly in Canada - was utterly stupid.

In fact, "utterly stupid" is the best description for the plot. About the only good things in the movie are little snippets of various mutants from the comics. The movie did a good job on The Blob, the impossibly fat and unmovable mutant, which I guess was a combination of costume and CGI. And the long-time Cajun character Gambit conducted himself well, with the cockiness and sleazy charm of the comics.

And, of course, Hugh Jackman looks great with his shirt off, and copes well with the stupidities of the plot. The biggest stupidity being that, whenever he and his brother Sabertooth face off, they charge directly at each other at high speed, claws and fingernails out. It looks like something that would be done in bad comedy anime. If anything in this film would be worth parodying, it would be that.

But in all honesty, this film will not do very well. It doesn't deserve to do well. It was a lame attempt of Marvel to squeeze out a quick film for the summer, without the kind of forethought and care that Iron Man or Fantastic Four received. If there are to be any more X-Men Origins films, which I kind of doubt now, they had better do some honest work. Especially, they should find a reason we should care about whoever they are featuring.

The most drama this film will produce is whether senior executives at Fox will be canned for the bad handling of the bootleg situation. Not just letting the bootleg leak, but their bad attempt to provide positive spin afterwards.