First and foremost, I want to start off this post by defending myself. Never a good place to start, I know, but I want it to be made clear that I am in no way an expert on a) films or b) the X-Men canon. That being said, I went to the midnight screening of X-Men Origins: Wolverine tonight like a good geek and walked away looking for a drink. A drink to forget, not remember, Logan (fanboys are with me on this one, right?). Despite the film having been widely released on the internet 3 weeks ago via BitTorrent sans completed VFX shots and proper score, there was still a large, rowdy crowd, pumped to get the first taste of a nerd stacked summer movie roster being rolled out by the 5 families. It’s been a long time since I was last disappointed by an X-Men film; the perfect amount of time for most filmgoers to ponder, “Wait, was X-Men: The Last Stand awesome or terrible, I can’t remember.” I’m pretty sure it was terrible, but after leaving the theater tonight, I’m also pretty sure that Origins made The Last Stand look like Godfather II. Frank language and straight talking from here on out.
Why oh why did they let Fox handle these films? My friends (who spent the better part of the hour wait time in line discussing where the best point of exit would be for the 1st HP: Deathly Hallows film) pointed something out to me that I was previously unaware of. Iron Man, last summer’s half-surprise of a hit and the basis for next summer’s movie geek fest, was independently produced by Marvel Entertainment. Sure Paramount got to slap their name on the finished product and then undersell Terrance Howard on the 2nd film causing him to leave (good one, Paramount), but Marvel was responsible for the content and overall production. And it was one hell of a film from both a comic book standpoint AND an awesome film standpoint. This is something that is not easily achieved in the world of comic book movies. Case and point, Origins.
Let it be known, I am fairly easy to please. I still watch Mighty Ducks 2 (D2 for the true fans) or Rookie of the Year at least once a month and quote the lines as if I wrote them. But Origins misses a lot of marks when it comes to the tried and true strategy of pushing a comic book film out to the masses. Rule #1: Do not betray the lure of a 40 year old comic book franchise without providing mind melting visual effects, deliciously violent action sequences, or smoking hot women/men in smoking hot sex scenes. Or in the least, offer a fight sequence with different characters! 4 out of the 6 (estimated) action/fight sequences in the film featured Wolverine and Sabertooth… which we already experienced in the first X-Men movie! Come on Fox! Teenage Cyclops’ DNA being used to create a totally unfounded super-mutant in the character Deadpool? What is this… the fabricated, absentee-squid-ending to Watchmen?!To betray the very reasons the stories became so popular in the first place is like voting for Obama and then handing out Mit Romney bumper stickers at a DMB lot. I’m going to reel it back in for a minute before I go too geek on this one and try to analyze the movie from the perspective of someone with an over-priced degree in bullshit TV and film.
The entire point of the film wasn’t even exhibitionized until an hour in. The operation sequence at Alkali Lake took place only after an hour of painfully simplistic writing, and enough Ext. Day – Alaskan/Canadian Woods scenes to sell a CAT bulldozer to San Francisco tree-hugger. Take away all the yelling and screaming and I think you could fit all of Hugh Jackman’s dialogue on to a double spaced Word doc with size 20 font. Additionally, there seemed to be no reference point for the story or actions taking place. Having betrayed the X-Men comic book lure and previous movie events alike, the film was left to wander aimlessly through a forrest of shots that somehow suggested that we accept the fact that Will.I.Am was acting, not singing, in the role of a character that got more on screen time than an original X-Man like Beast did in the last 3 films combined. Gambit was alluring and exciting, if only for the 10 minutes or less he was on screen but characters like the Blob seemed to be included in the script only to give the VFX team a little something extra to work on to justify getting paid $10 million to make a hummer explode and a blast of red light eminate from Cyclops a few times.
Sigh. I’m not saying don’t go see it. But what I am saying is that my 10 year old self would have loved this one. Alas, at age 11 I (estimated) started watching the animated series, collected a (almost complete) set of ’94 Fleer Ultra X-Men trading cards, and learned what a summer blockbuster movie is supposed to be: Bill Paxton chasing tornadoes with a rag tag group of soon to be famous actors in the plains of Oklahoma. Spoiler alert: the Twister is a metaphor for Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton’s tumultuous relationship which they conquer together. Now that’s some action and subtext I can get into!