Once in a while, a comic film comes along that redefines what can be done with the genre, taking a familiar character and giving a new, considered spin that transforms the way the public sees them. Showing that comic book movies can be more than a much-derided sub-genre, daring to imbue them with A-list, Oscar-worthy performances and deep, considered subtext. But enough about The Dark Knight. Seb and James have been to see Wolverine. And this is what they thought.
Seb’s Review: I suppose the foremost thought that occurs when coming out of X-Men Origins : Wolverine is… how can a film made almost ten years later than X-Men download baby mama , with the experience (and financial cachet) accumulated by the series so far, end up looking so much worse? From unconvincing CGI claws (no, seriously. Apparently the actual, tangible claws that had served the makers of the three X-films so far were apparently not good enough for Wolverine) to sparse, characterless locales and action-scene backdrops, the main thing that leaps forth from the film is a sense of lazy cheapness.
If there’s one thing that really characterises the film, though, it’s a sense of simply not knowing what it wants to do. At the same time as wisecracks are being liberally strewn across the show, there’s a po-faced seriousness to moments such as the explanation that “Weapon X” refers to Roman numerals (despite that particular gag being done in tongue-in-cheek fashion by Grant Morrison, it’s played earnestly here), or the rationale given to codenames like Deadpool and Wolverine himself. In one sense it feels like it wants to set up the early days of various X-Men characters, and yet in another it wants to shed as many of the trappings of the superhero genre as possible. It’s a film about a guy who has adamantium claws and gets into a lot of scraps, yet it’s a PG-13, so there’s barely a drop of blood – or even a notable character death – onscreen. Indeed, it makes a lead out of a character notable for his violent and often shady past, yet feels the need to turn him into a whiny goody-goody even before the handy excuse of taking away all his memories so he can be more heroic by the time the “proper” films’ timelines occur.
Batman & Robin, offensively-bad territory here), it’s just hard to see why it exists, and there isn’t enough in the way of pure, rollocking entertainment value to make it all that worthwhile.
The sense of confusion might be forgiveable if there was anything gripping about the film, but there really isn’t – every story beat is easily predictable, with the possible exception of one genuine surprise moment while Logan rests at an elderly couple’s farmhouse (and even then, I’d been thinking “How are they going to swing it so that he rides out of there on that motorbike?”); and there’s simply no character to the thing. We don’t particularly care about Logan’s “journey” – we know the ultimate destination, after all – and there’s little to no exploration of how these events actually shape him psychologically. It all just adds up to a staggering sense of pointlessness – it’s really not a dreadful film by any means (we’re not talking
James’ Review: With the character’s popularity at an all time high following exposure in the early X-Men films, and with an actor as inextricably linked with the role as Hugh Jackman, it seemed impossible to mess up a Wolverine solo film. But man, did they have a good go at it. They managed this by making a movie that wasn’t so much about Wolverine’s life as it was a soulless, dutiful catalogue of it. It touches on all the major events, from the emergence of his powers to his time in Team X, his relationship with Silver Fox, and his eventual downfall at the hands of Stryker and Weapon X. But at no point do we feel anything for the character. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the new Star Trek film manages to portray, using Spock, the inner conflict between a person’s raw nature and their controlled exterior far better than Wolverine does. That’s been the character’s gimmick for years, and now it’s done been half-inched by a space-elf. Good work, Team Wolvy!
But still, this isn’t Shakespeare. Wolverine’s appeal was always, first and foremost, that he was cool. A wise-talking, takes-no-crap, slice-first-ask-questions-later kind of guy who you’d want on your side when things turned ugly. Aside from losing most of the fights in this film, he’s also really, REALLY sullen. There’s none of the wise-cracking that typified his appearances in the X-Men films, and instead the character broods his way through a succession of slights against him, leaving all the comedic moments to his vast supporting cast, none of whom serve much function beyond “next sparring partner.”
There are a few points where the movie slips into genuine, brainless fun – the bit where he fights a helicopter, for example, is a work of demented genius – but on the whole, they’re far and few between. The film’s best moments all come in the opening credits, which point to an untold epic where Sabretooth and Wolverine fight their way through history, the former getting more bestial and violent as the latter tries to hold him back. If only they’d put some of that in the film. Instead, Logan spends 2 hours bouncing between Z-list mutant cameos in a film that’s never quite sure what it wants to be about, and ends up being about …nothing in particular.