Do wolverines howl at the moon? No. No, they don't. ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Do wolverines howl at the moon? No. No, they don't.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
My rating:

At one point in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, someone tells a supposed old myth about the moon and her lover the wolverine. I say 'supposed', because whoever wrote that myth obviously confused the wolverine with the other animal whose name starts with the same 5 letters and howls at the moon. That's right - the screenwriters thought wolverines are wolves. Aiyoo, movie, what laa??

This movie is full of this kind of stupidity, all throughout its plot and (what passes for) characterization. And yet, I honestly found myself thinking, "Hey, this is better than I expected" - at least during the first 1/2 hour. There's that legitimately cool montage of Logan and Victor Creed fighting in various wars over the course of a hundred years, leading to their recruitment by Colonel Stryker into an elite commando team of superpowered mutants. Then Logan quits that team under less-than-amicable circumstances, we segue to 6 years later when he's living a quiet life with a cute girlfriend - and all this sets up an appropriately epic tone to this story of an unaging, undying immortal who must face the demons of his past.

Of course, all this is only the first 1/2 hour. The story doesn't only get stupid, it also loses momentum real fast with a few simply boring scenes. At one point, a frightened and hunted Logan is taken in by a kindly old couple - which, if I recall my comic-reading days correctly, was part of Wolverine's origin story. But in the comics, the couple slowly helped him recover his humanity, whereas in the movie they're only around long enough to - well, let's just say they take up way too much screen time for way too little consequence.

It's a shame they couldn't have maintained the pace of that first half-hour throughout the movie. A hundred years condensed into a single credits montage, Logan's entire career with Stryker's team condensed into 2 crucial missions, cross-fade to 6 years later - that's economical storytelling, folks. More of that, please.

Still, a large part of what's still enjoyable about the movie is Hugh Jackman. He's simply a joy to watch in the role that made him a star - at no point does his charisma or likeability ever falter, even as the plot occasionally takes him to places that stretch his acting chops a leeetle too far. Liev Schrieber is surprisingly good as Victor Creed, bringing just the right amount of scenery-chewing to his comicbook-villain role. Taylor Kitsch as Gambit wasn't bad either - although I can't quite see him getting his own movie yet, I'd certainly shell out to see more of him. And Danny Huston as Stryker - well, he does what he can with a poorly-written role.

And it's the poor writing that really sinks this movie. The whole tortured relationship between Creed and Logan is just never well-defined - what exactly are they so pissed off at each other about? Stryker's evil plan to mess with our hero has Idiot Plot written all over it - the kind of storyline that simply wouldn't work unless the characters behave like idiots. Speaking of which, characterization isn't this movie's strong point either. First these fellas fight, then they become friends, then they fight again - for no other reason than the script demands it. They're treated not as people, but as puppets to the plot.

At least there's some decent action scenes to satisfy your jones. The Wolverine vs. helicopter scene that's been all over the trailers is pretty cool, as is the climactic fight scene. But y'know what I miss? Remember Hong Kong kungfu movies that ended with a climactic fight scene that could go on for up to 10 minutes? Those were movies that knew exactly what audiences come for, and gave it to them in abundance. We watch comicbook superhero movies for the same reason, man! We want to see big superpowered fight scenes ! We want to see 2 or more fellas hurling their superpowers against each other every which way! We want to see tactics! And we want lots of it!

That's why the best superhero movie ever is still Pixar's The Incredibles. Bar none, fellas.

One last thing I wanted to mention - there were times when the special effects were shoddy. Even simple things like bullets hitting the ground during a chase scene, there were times where it was stupidly obvious that they used CGI for that. It's just one more small thing that adds up to a movie that just isn't as cool as it tries to be. Too many lousy parts distract from the cool parts, and the end result is a movie that's just... okay-lah.

NEXT REVIEW: Bohsia - Jangan Pilih Jalan Hitam
Anticipation level: *cringe*


fern said...

LOL, i look forward to Bohsia - Jangan Pilih Jalan Hitam's review


TMBF said...

It's up now. Sorry it took so long. :P