Bryan Singer’s X-Men films are wonderful – I’m of a minority that enjoys the first more than the second, if only because there’s a point of dramatic coincidence that makes me grit my teeth in the middle of the latter. But aside from that, they really are two of the better comic adaptations, especially of those coming from the Marvel roster. A good Marvel film is very, very rare – in lieu of recent adaptations (Punisher: War Zone, The Incredible Hulk) – almost a mathematical impossibility. There’s really only these two, the second Spider-Man film, and Iron Man that come to mind.
In 2006, Brett Ratner – director of such under-appreciated cinematic cornerstones as Money Talks and Rush Hour‘s I and II, replaced Singer, and gave us – well, it was a popcorn film. A sometimes very, very badly-written (“There comes a time when all men must – oh, you get the point!” And, that was Kelsey Grammer) , though still somewhat enjoyable popcorn film that wreaked havoc with one of the major pinacles of X-Men lore.
And, now there’s this newest, X-Men Origins: Wolverine – one of the most unnecessarily expository titles I’ve ever heard for a film. When the workprint leaked a month ago, I watched it (because who didn’t, really?), and – aside from the excusable visual effects (‘claws grow here’) – I couldn’t see much that would be redeemable. And, since its’ been released, it’s turned out that I was pretty on the nose, as not much has changed, give or take a few lines of dialogue here or there.
The film hits almost every action film cliche that became old hat in the early nineties, without apology – Hugh Jackman walking away from an exploding helicopter in slow-motion played in all seriousness being the most obvious example, but only one of many. Really, someone I’d been talking to a while back hit the nail on the head – it feels like one of those Steven Segal films that he’d put out, en masse‘, spruced up with people who have Ginsu knives in their arms or can shoot laser beams from their eyes. By my count, Wolverine fell to his knees and screamed to the heavens four times.
At its’ base, there is an interesting story here – Wolverine being one of the more interesting Marvel characters, out there; but, it’s redressed in so many unneeded cameos (hey, look! There’s Gambit! And, Cyclops – for some reason! And, White Queen and, and…), basic continuity errors both by itself and in relation to the series as a whole, and scenes that bring to mind nothing so much as, “Well that’s just – stupid,” that after a while, it just becomes incoherent. Why would you treat Wolverine’s discovery of his newfound blades as a comedic moment? Why does Wolverine lose his memory after being shot in the head? Why would you cast will.i.am in anything?
The visual effects are almost as terrible as they were in the workprint – in some places, I’d venture to say they were even worse. But, this I could dedicate another post entirely to.
It’s weird to see such a shoddy film come from Gavin Hood. Tsotsi was one of the better films of 2006, and Rendition was almost as good. So, I have to wonder – what happened? Did the fate that befell Lee Tamahori take its’ toll on Hood, too?
Oh, and Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool – such perfect casting, wasted.