Rare is the movie that I come to with no expectations. As any of the Witt-Folk will tell you, I'm a fiend for movie spoilers. I'm one of those rare jerks that like knowing the ending before anyone else, and will use the utmost of his Google-fu to find out.
However, this entire Summer movie season, I've been ambivalent. Normally, as in years past, I'd be making my "Summer Movie Geekdom Roundup" post, but this year...the whole slate is "blah". Star Trek? The whole reboot looks trite and miserable. I didn't even see the first Transformers movie, so I have no interest in the second, particularly with Shia "The Beef" LeBoeuf at the mainstay. And Harry Potter 6? No, thank you. I refuse to even read the books.
The only real film of any interest to me for this blockbuster season was this weekend's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, to which I entered the theater of this past Sunday....and left with a resounding "Meh."
As you can imagine, the film revolves around the ORIGIN of the iconic X-Man WOLVERINE as he proceeds through the Weapon X storyline, getting a shiny new skeleton and a pile of enemies to boot.
This is now the 4th X-Men film that Hugh Jackman has been a part of, playing (yet again) the titular fuzzy Canucklehead. He comes at the role with non-chalance that says more "been there, done that" than actual interest. The film begins with a montage of himself and Victor Creed (better known as Sabertooth, and played here by Liev Schrieber) fighting their way through the last century and a half, as near-indestructible eternal warriors are wont to do.
The film proper, though, begins with the pair joining up with William Stryker, a conniving little Army major who leads a mutant-based black-ops force into various world "hot spots". Not the least of these places is the Congo, where we find Stryker's team pumping the locals for a rare mineral...adamantium, perhaps?
Ironically enough, the strength of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not Jackman or Schrieber, though Schrieber does a much fuller job as Sabertooth than his predecessor, Tyler Mane. The supporting cast of the movie shines brighter than its stars, though time and again the scripting and plot hang them out to dry. Ryan Reynolds (of Blade: Trinity noteriety) and Taylor Kitsch (of Friday Night Lights) both deliver as much as they can as fan favorites Deadpool and Gambit, respectively, but they get so little screen time, and are so inconsequential to the plot that they might as well not be in the movie at all. Gambit serves to be little more than a plot device, while Deadpool maybe has 2 lines in the entire movie--so much for "The Merc with the Mouth". Similarly, this movie's 'Agent Zero', serves well as the stoic, gun-for-hire, working for Stryker...but is offed shortly after the Weapon X experiment, leaving the plot without his menace. (And, oh yeah...don't forget your adamantium bullets, Agent Zero--too late, you're dead.) Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas provides a refreshing character, in the teleporting Wraith, but again...he doesn't last throught the majority of the movie.
Therein lies the problem: the scripting. The dialogue of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is laughably bad. As Jackman and Schrieber trade banter before one of their numerous throw-downs, it becomes hard to take the pair seriously, as one tries to out-macho the other. Similarly, random appearences by Cyclops and Emma Frost seem tacked on so badly that, despite her appearance in trailer after trailer, I'm not sure that the actress who played Emma Frost had a single line. They have no point in being a Wolverine movie aside from one niggling detail: fans like them.
The fundamental problem with X-Men Origins: Wolverine lies with the fans. This movie was written by one, and it shows--scriptwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods crammed so many homages and pastiches to comic book minutia into this movie, that it comes out looking like a piece of bad fan-fiction, with a B-list cast. The special effects look cheesy and stilted, particularly through the final portion of the film, as Wolverine fights off 'Weapon XI' at the top of a nuclear reactor cooling tower. Plot holes big enough to drive a truck through permeate this movie.
For example, Gambit drops Wolverine off at "The Island", leaving him to fight on alone...only to return for no reason, just as all the action is ending. Agent Zero, as mentioned, goes to confront the newly-chromed Wolverine with his normal arsenal...while Stryker sits back at base, loading a gun with adamantine bullets, which Zero doesn't have.
In the world of geekdom, Ben "Yahtzee" Crowshaw (of Zero Punctuation fame) has it right. Fans are "clingy, complaining dipshits" that will never be thankful for what you give them. The X-Men movies had a good run, which ended on a mediocre note with The Last Stand. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is nothing more than a new bullet in a dead dog's corpse--pointless, and full of wasted effort.