Thursday, February 11, 2016

Even Aside From The Crappy Version Of Deadpool, The First Solo Wolverine Movie Is Just No Good

When you're doing a Wolverine prequel centered on the character gaining his powers, you're stuck with the inevitable problem of the protagonist having to lose his memory that the film ever happened before the credits roll. After all, it's been previously established in these past three X-Men movies that Wolverine only has a smattering of recollections regarding where he got his adamantium laced claws, Thus, there's a good chance the entire offering may feel like a pointless venture since it'll end up having a minimal effect on our protagonist.

Now, a good screenplay would realize this obstacle and come up with a smart way to keep the entire feature emotionally engaging. Perhaps Wolverine will sacrifice his memory in order to save a loved one as a way to conclude a standalone character arc, or mayhaps him losing his memory will play into a tragedy laced climax reinforcing the characters vulnerability. Instead, X-Men Origins: Wolverine fumbles the ball spectacularly when it comes to handling this aspect of the plot, as well as pretty much any other crucial storytelling element that is unfortunate enough to cross its path.

Perhaps the single most disappointing aspect of this Wolverine movie is how little it does to uncover new facets of its titular character. Wolverine goes through an entire century in the course of this movie, yet the only turning point for him in terms of growing as a character (which is solely "I don't want to hurt nice people") occurs before the twenty minute mark. From there, all he does is smolder in the tepid romantic scenes with his wife Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins) and growl when he needs to be "pained" and "tortured". Hugh Jackman can be such a great actor, yet he's utterly wasted in a character arc that completely fails at justifying why we needed an entire movie dedicated to the backstory of Wolverine.

Surrounding Wolverine is a menagerie of various mutants, some of which are actually decently cast (Liev Schreiber is the best thing in this entire film as Sabretooth, the brother of Wolverine, while Taylor Kitsch is solid in his limited screentime as Gambit) and the rest of which register no impression in their time on-screen. And yes, one of those mutants that pops up is the films interpretation of Wade Wilson/Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds. Even putting aside how much this incarnation of this individual deviates from its comic book roots, Deadpool in this movie is a massive misfire as a character.

Wade Wilson isn't given much development at all in the opening sequences of the film meant to establish his character, and when he pops up in the climax as "Deadpool", he's just a grab-bag of various mutant powers with no discernible personality or even cool action beats to speak of. Like everything else in this turgid motion picture, Deadpool is laughably bad in his conception, and the only positive that can be gleamed from his climactic duel with Wolverine is that, once it concludes, we're all the closer to the end credits starting.

Ah, but before we're all able to leave this nightmare of a movie, the feature addresses the problem I brought up in the opening paragraph. How does X-Men Origins: Wolverine go about establishing its protagonists amnesia? Well, Wolverine is walking off into the sunset, cradling Kayla in his arms (she faked her death and betrayed him in order to save her sister, Emma Frost. I have no idea why she didn't just send her indestructible husband to get her kidnapped sister instead of engaging in all of this treachery against her lover but...OH MY GOD THIS MOVIE IS SO STUPID)...and then a hand clutching a gun pops into frame and shoots an adamantium laced bullet into the skull of Wolverine.

Then the movie ends 45 seconds later. There's no attempt to establish a sense of loss for our protagonist, they just check off "give Wolverine amnesia" off the list of things to do and hope that's good enough. Well, it's not. At all. X-Men Origins: Wolverine would have been a painful endurance test at any given time, but arriving a year after 2008 delivered superhero movie classics like Iron Man, Hellboy II: The Golden Army and The Dark Knight made it a particularly excruciating experience. After superhero movies had soared to new storytelling heights under the stewardship of filmmakers like Guillermo Del Toro and Christopher Nolan, here was a turkey to remind us all of how bad superhero films, or even just general cinema, could be.

Allow me to close this piece up with a slipshod pun; even given his invulnerability, I doubt Wolverine would be able to survive watching the 107 minute assault on the senses that is X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

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