Sunday, May 03, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

A bunch of us caught a Saturday matinee of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I was actually looking forward to this movie more than I thought I would. The trailers looked good and even though I grew out of my Wolverine fanboy stage a long time ago, I still have much love for the scrappy little Canadian.

Like all comic book adaptations of late (minus maybe Watchmen,) the movie does not follow the comic very closely. However, the movie did maintain many of the broad strokes as well as tying in with the other X-Men movies. Leading up the cast, as he should be, was Hugh Jackman. Jackman surprised me in the first X-Men movie as Wolverine, but ever since then I'd be hard pressed to imagine anyone else playing the runt in a live-action movie. However, because I think it'd be funny to see the difference between the live-action characters and their four-color counterparts, I'm going to give you a before/after of each one.

Liev Schreiber plays Wolvie's brother, Victor (the future Sabretooth.) This is one of those partings from the comics that the broad strokes don't cover. It's fine, though. I suppose if I were more of an anal-retentive nerd, I could be offended by the departure from the comics. However, what is true in the comics one day will most likely be ret-conned the next. So, who cares?
As different as these two are, I kinda enjoyed Schreiber's Sabretooth

William Stryker was recast, just as Sabretooth. This time, he's played by Danny Huston. Huston does a fine job. Stryker's not a hard character to understand. Sure, he's tormented a little bit, but other than that, he's your standard devious genocidal maniac.
Stryker the priest, meet Stryker the military man

The Blob has always been a favorite villain of mine. He's never really struck me as all that threatening. Sure, nothing can move the Blob, but he always seems to be taken out quickly by the good guys. It doesn't take Wolverine much time to take out the Blob in the movie either, but Kevin Durand is pretty durn entertaining to watch through the whole thing.
I think they gave the movie version bigger man-tits. Classy.

To the contrary, I have never been fond of Gambit. One of Wolverine's most famous lines is, "I'm the best at what I do, and what I do ain't pretty." Wolvie even gets to feed that line to his girl in the movie. What they don't explain is exactly what that is. Jon often jokes, and I agree with him, that what Wolverine does best is get his butt handed to him by Gambit. And it ain't pretty. Throughout the comics, Wolverine gets thoroughly trounced by the limber-wristed cajun, often while Gambit is vomiting forth "creole wisdom" about why Wolverine keeps losing. Gambit is one of those characters that we're supposed to think is a bad ass simply because we're told he's a bad ass. Gambit is the perfect example of The Wesley for me. Thankfully, he only kicks Wolvie's butt for a little while in the movie and has a relatively small part. Even so, I will probably never like Taylor Kitsch in light of his involvement with the character.
D-bag 1, meet D-bag 2

Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool in the comics. In the movie? Well, I'll just let you watch it yourself and tell me. Reynolds is the perfect choice for W.W. The comic book Deadpool spouts off more quips and one-liners than Spider-man and Reynolds excels at such work. Unfortunately, he has relatively few lines in the movie. There is some confusion as to whether the climactic battle involves Reynold's character or not. You may find the answer to it by watching the short scene in the middle of the credits when you see the movie. You may not, though, since there are two such scenes and only one will play at any showing. Anyone here going to see it more than once to catch the other scene, if you're lucky? Marvel sure hopes so. I'm willing to bet you'll just do like I did and google it.
Ah Wade, we barely knew ye.

Baby Cyclops and Baby Emma Frost had short, but vital roles in the movie. They never meet in such a way in the comics, but like I said, who cares? I dug Tim Pocock Scott Summers. He did a good job and the character was used well. Tahyna Tozzi playing Emma Frost, not so much. She had weird lips and a weirder power. While in the comics, her main mutation is telepathy, her secondary mutation (discovered much later in continuity, again, who cares?) is diamond skin. We get to see that here, but it was an odd choice of implementation. Her skin transforms into a layer of faceted diamonds. Why faceted diamonds? It doesn't make much sense. Uncut diamonds, maybe. I believe in the comic, her entire body transforms into a diamond crystal, which is pretty badass. The faceted diamond look is pretty lame.

Yeah, I would rather have seen the one on the left, too, but that just wasn't in the cards this time.

That did it for the characters I recognized. The rest of the cast was rounded out with lesser known (to me) characters from the books. Some fell in line relatively close with their comic book counterparts, others not so much. John Wraith, played by Will i Am (of Moto Moto fame, natch,) was one such character. Apparently they got the power right, even his history. Ethnicity? Nah. Still, there'd be very little ethnic diversity in this movie if they had stuck with the originals.

Then we have Dominic Monaghan as Bolt. Bolt? Bolt. I never knew the character. After reading up on him online, I don't really care. I'm just glad they didn't go with Beak like I had originally heard. Beak sucks. Bolt was a'ight.

Agent Zero, played by David North, I am a little more familiar with. I never really got into the character, though. I certainly didn't have a problem with North's portrayal. I guess he had the power of shooting really good? I don't know.

Lastly, there was Silver Fox. Oops! I mean, Kayla Silverfox, played by Lynn Collins. I hadn't realized as I watched the movie that Silver Fox in the comics was romantically linked to Wolverine, as Kayla Silverfox is in the movie. She's even involved with him in the same misleading way we see in the movie. It was a nice touch, even if they got her powers and family relationships completely mixed up. I'll say it one last time, though, who cares?
Apparently, Silver Fox joined Hydra. Kayla Silverfox? Not so much.

Now that I've spent the last hour or so whipping up those side-by-sides, I'm going to dutifully gloss over the rest of the movie. The storyline was good. Better than I thought it would be. It had some great doses of clever misdirection and revelations. There was some poignancy, humor, pathos, and excellent action (Wolvie vs. Helicopter, FTW). The why's of Stryker's missions lead into the climactic battle on 3 Mile Island in NY. It was a good touch tying together the historical catastrophe and the events of the movie. Some of the dialog was a bit overly dramatic and forced, such as when Wolverine wedges in his "Best at what I do" speech with his girl.

Worst yet was the special effects gaffs. Sabretooth's wall-crawling and Emma's transformation being among the worst. The other being every character's unexplained acrobatic prowess. Some of the leaps and jumps characters performed, which are wholly unexplained by their powers, were just super-human in an unbelievable way. This is especially bad considering the real-world controversy surrounding this movie. For those of you that don't know (which should be very few, if any, reading this site, so I'll make this quick,) the movie was leaked online a month before release, sans most of the special effects. Many people saw it in its unfinished form. The movie studio freaked out, engaging the FBI to track down the culprit and crying about how much their profits would be hurt. I'm of the opinion that the profits were not affected much, but I won't get into that here. However, in order to entice those early viewers into the theater, the powers-that-be tacked on two different scenes at the end of the movie. The tricky thing was that only one ending would be shown per viewing. I'm not sure how well that worked. I would have rather them spent the budget on better special effects than bringing talent back out, setting up locations, and shooting new scenes. Ah well, the effects weren't all bad. Summer's eye blasts, Wolverine's fights, ::sigh:: even Gambit's telekinetic tricks were pretty.

While I dwelt a little bit on my complaints of the movie, they were minor compared to my enjoyment of the movie. I liked X-Men Origins: Wolverine and I think that if you enjoy superhero action movies, you'll like it, too.

I give X-Men Origins: Wolverine twenty-seven out of thirty-two snikts on a scale I just made up that doesn't mean anything.

P.S. Why you gotta take out the Hudsons like chumps, tho?