The newest film to be added to the cadre of Superhero pictures so prevalent of late is the excessively titled “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and besides some controversy surrounding the early leak of a near finished work print, it has little to offer the viewer except water they’ve been duped into treading so many times before. Often when watching this film I was reminded of the McRib. That iconic sandwich is actually nothing more than a hamburger reformed into a simulacrum of short ribs, and covered over in a glossy substance, which when consumed leaves one unfulfilled and feeling disgusted. “Wolverine,” much like the McRib, is just a repackaging of something that was pretty mediocre in the first place.
Using the “Weapon X” and the “Team X” story lines of the Marvel Universe as templates “X-MOW” pieces together a story from existing mythology, and suffers from its desire to please the fanboy fan base. With too many mutants to keep track of the film devolves into a yearbook of past comic heroes that the lay viewer won’t care about in the least. From John Wraith, the Night Crawler-esque teleporter (though if you don’t blink you might spot the long-tongued one in there), to the candied up super-villain The Blob the film spends too much time worrying about which characters make an appearance to give its hero an arc that would resonate with the audience.
Everything in the picture seemed to be culled from other sources. The opening sequence is a mish-mash of war movie scenes referencing “The Red Badge of Courage,” to “Saving Private Ryan,” to “Platoon,” but with mutants, William Stryker’s introduction could have been right out of “The A-Team,” and I’m pretty sure the helpful old people just before the midpoint were supposed to be the Kents.
With action scene after action scene the 2nd Unit director, Visual Effects Coordinator, and Stunt Choreographer seemed to have wielded more power than Gavin Hood, the director, or David Benioff and Skip Woods, the writers, but to let the blame fall on any of their shoulders would be to diminish the culpability of Marvel Enterprises and Twentieth Century Fox. On such a tent pole project like this all those positions were just hands on an assembly line.
The movie falls back on plot that has been recycled many times in “Spiderman 3,” “The Incredible Hulk,” or “Iron Man” – a hero is forced to face his demons in a confrontation with a thinly veiled, slightly more powerful analog of himself, and has to draw on his other strengths to prevail. Spidey had Venom, Hulk had Abomination, Iron Man had… was that one of the Transformers? Marvel has provided some of the most interesting story lines of comic history. Why, when making their pulverizing foray into film making the last 10 years, are they a one trick dog?
Hugh Jackman seems to give it his all, though there isn’t much acting to be done. Mostly it is snarls and screams and poses. Entertainer Will.i.am, as Wraith, isn’t so entertaining, and Ryan Reynolds, as usual, seems like he’d rather be doing something else with his time. Liev Schrieber somehow manages to bring a little panache to his roll as Sabertooth, but about as much as he brought to his role in, “The Omen.”
Calling this part of a “Movie Franchise” is perfect. The term holds no illusions for the audience. They are being sold a product, processed and manufactured. It has to do the job; it isn’t required to do the job well. A McRib will take away your hunger pains, but twenty minutes later you’ll be yearning for something more. With “Wolverine” opening the Summer Movie Season it is good that there will be so many more McRibs to choose from in the coming months. Open wide, and get ready to swallow.
El Luchador Rating: (2 out of 5)
Review By: Paul S. Myers (a.k.a. El Luchador)