X-Men Origins: Wolverine came out this past weekend, and I just had to go and see how the story of Weapon X would unfold on the big screen. I wish I had waited.
Instead of the typical five or six paragraphs explaining our thoughts on the movie adaptations of our favorite comics, we go through the major players involved one by one, detailing what we liked and didn’t like about their contributions to the final product. So here are our thoughts on X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Gavin Hood (director) and Donald M. McAlpine (cinematographer)
I liked how Hood handled Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber. The two actors performed well, but whether or not it was the Entourage effect (when one actor, Jeremy Piven, stands out because the rest of the cast is rather ordinary) or due to the direction of Hood is debateable. Hood’s handling of the pre-Weapon X storyline was pretty good as well. McAlpine’s eye for the small moment was decent. The action set pieces were shot well enough I suppose, but thanks to some pretty bad fight choreography, most of the time it was unclear just what was happening when characters were throwing down.
After watching the entire movie, and not just walking out after the first 45 minutes of solid entertainment, I can see why there were reshoots late into the film’s production. The second half of the film struggles to keep the same consistency of the first half, and the camera work takes a nosedive into SyFy “Movie of the Week” territory. Honestly, I’m shocked they didn’t try to cram in more “character walking away from an explosion” or “character screaming at the camera in the sky” shots because it seemed like there was one of those two shots at least every ten minutes. Would more capable hands, other than the guy who directed a drama (Rendition) and the guy who shot Parenthood, have helped? I can’t say for certain, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt.
David Benioff/Skip Woods (screenwriters)
When putting together the team that would write one of the most recognizable and marketable characters in their stable of characters, you would think that the guy who wrote Swordfish would be at the very bottom of the list of writers to hire right next to the guy who wrote Battlefield Earth. Instead, Fox tapped Woods to write the film with Benioff, the man who started strong with 25th Hour, but was also responsible for Troy. I’m very conflicted about the screenplay. Yes, they more or less told Wolverine’s origin, but they didn’t bother to put any dialogue in the film to give character’s substance. Seriously, you can only say “I’m going to kill you,” so many different ways. What’s even more peculiar is how the first half of the movie, where so little is reliant on action, is actually pretty enjoyable. How two guys who’ve written major action sequences can’t deliver during what is supposed to be an action packed second-half baffles me. These guys had a chance to really make a mark in the comic movie world by delivering, and they dropped the ball big time.
Don’t even get me started on those stupid bullets.
Hugh Jackman (Wolverine)
What’s not to enjoy about Jackman’s Wolverine? The man clearly knows what he’s doing, and even working with a subpar script is able to turn in another solid performance of the clawed Canuck. It’s not his fault the lines are so bad. It’s not his fault the fight scenes are the least entertaining of all the X-films. He’s just supposed to show up and be Wolverine, and he does a damn good job of it.
Having said that, Jackman’s performance in this film is nowhere near on par with what he gave moviegoers in the first two X-Men movies. When we were first getting a glimpse at just what kind of Wolverine this guy could give us in X-Men, any and all expectations were met and subsequently blown away. This time around, he’s not quite phoning it in, but the edge and rawness is gone. He’s still a great fit for this character, but if there’s ever another film, I hope he brings us more than his C+ game.
Liev Schreiber (Sabretooth)
Gone is Tyler Mane, onto roles better suited a hulking behemoth who doesn’t speak (Michael Myers), and in comes Liev Schreiber who many of us grew up watching in the Scream film series. You know, I kind of like him in this movie. He’s not given a lot to work with (which seems to be a theme), but he clearly seems to be having fun playing a character like Sabretooth. He plays off Jackman well, and I think given some proper materials, he could really do something great with the character.
Again, I don’t know whether or not to blame the choreography or the camera work, but many of the fights between Jackman and Schreiber are muddled and hard to follow (even if it is just stuntmen). The one problem I had was there just wasn’t enough of Schreiber outside of action sequences. I would have liked the film to be more about the parallels between the two of them rather than a revenge flick. That’s not really Liev’s fault though.
Lynn Collins (Silverfox)
To say that Lynn Collins gave a memorable performance wouldn’t be entirely truthful. She’s a perfectly fine actress… for a television series… as long as she’s not a main character. Look, I’m sure Ms. Collins is good at her craft, but in a film like this with a role like the one she has, whatever talents she has are overshadowed by the fact that she’s simply a plot device. Again, it all comes back to the scripting, and whether or not that script creates characters that the audience will care about, or whether or not that script moves from scene to scene in an effort to jam as many useless action scenes in as possible.
Danny Huston (Stryker)
The man is no Bryan Cox, that’s for sure. Huston does a really good emotionless military man, but I’m not entirely convinced that he was acting. Probably the biggest obstacle Huston had to overcome was filling the shoes of the aforementioned Mr. Cox, as he’s an extremely talented actor who was working off a much better script (there it is again). This version of Stryker does what he can with what he’s given, but still manages to fall short of a truly menacing antagonist. I get that it’s real easy for me to sit here and throw stones or whatever, but these people are paid to perform, and quite frankly Huston’s is a performance that would go over big with some Northern Jersey/Off-Broadway production, but in a movie of this scale, his performance was extremely lacking.
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Wasted. Absolutely wasted potential. Please, do all the fans of Deadpool a huge favor and hire Ryan Reynolds to play him to get all of our collective hopes up, and then give him as much dialogue as you would if he was starring in a commercial and not the movie to start off summer film season. It’s a damn shame.
Taylor Kitsch (Gambit)
Dude, you’re the man on Friday Night Lights, but here… complete and utter fan service that falls totally flat. Especially when you couldn’t even be bothered to keep your Cajun accent the entire time you were on screen. There was no reason to waste such a popular character on such a bit role. The same could be said for Deadpool. Maybe Taylor and Ryan have deals putting them into other films, but here their value is squandered.
The Rest of the Weapon X Team
Will. I. Am. (Wraith) was surprisingly decent. Of course, he was only in the film because I guess they felt the need to include a teleporter for some reason. Kevin Durand was fine as the Blob. Look, the guy gets a break for being such a bad dude in everything else. Dominic Monaghan (Bolt) was in and out of the movie so fast I didn’t even notice. Thank God. Daniel Henney (Agent Zero) was just fine I guess. All he did was shoot shit in a completely over the top way, so good wire work.
Had this movie taken a different turn post-adamantium surgery, I might have enjoyed it a bit more. I consider myself a pretty forgiving comic fan when it comes to the movie adaptations, but that doesn’t mean I forgive lazy script writing and clichéd cinematography. While I highly doubt that this will be the last time we see any of these characters on the big screen, it’s a shame that this is the comic book movie that followed Watchmen. Not because I expected it to be as good, but because that makes two less than well-received comic films back to back, and could mark the beginning of a bad trend. I’m extremely optimistic that there’ll be a rebound, but without another major superhero release on the schedule, this movie’s bad taste is going to linger for a while.
Oh, and a CGI Patrick Stewart?! Really? WHAT. THE. FUCK?