Monday, April 20, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Xmen Origins: Wolverine:
Or How A Comic Book Film Can Go Completely Wrong,
But I don't learn to Love The Bomb

Its never been a hidden fact that I am a very big comic book fan, and its in that truth that I feel I must also at this time state that though I do love the characters that I love, as any good comic fan does, I am in the minority of fans who enjoy, and in some cases welcome change when a comic is adapted to the movie or television screen, I welcome the idea of improvement or change, I find it refreshing and sometimes enough to bring new life to a forgotten, obscure or not “top level” character, like how the X-Men movies made Bobby “Iceman” Drake and John “Pyro”Allerdyce seem like characters people could actually care about, instead of flat cardboard cut outs doomed to the background role of supporting cast for instance, and sometimes changing a character fails, like in X-Men: The Last Stand, when Jean Grey's Phoenix storyline was relegated to a brief hardly explained subplot that really made no sense at all and kind of made me, and a lot of others from what I gather, angry that the story that drew them into comics as a child was barely a subplot that was tossed in at the last minute believing just because the Phoenix appeared on screen, comic fans would eat it up and cheer. Instead it become an example of how sometimes, these drastic changes are just too much and push the character past re-invention, into the realm of completely mishandled shlock put on screen only to make money off the characters who appear in it, with no regard or thought given to the source material at all. Such is the case with the new film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where I am left to wonder if the writers had any clue of who they were writing or what the story was about. As I said, change in comic book properties can be good, and when they are, normally they are very good, but when they go wrong, they become very bad, and sadly, Wolverine is very bad. So bad infact I kind of wonder if it was made simply to tank the X-Men franchise before Fox Studio's contract to make movies in the series ran out, sort of theatrical sabotage if you will, because there is no logical way I can fathom anyone thinking this film's script was a good idea.

Now, the general idea for many years has been that to properly make a movie about Wolverine, you would have to split it into two films, one telling the story of his childhood in northern British Columbia Canada, and end at the end of his adult life in the logging camps in Manitoba Canada, and the next explaining how he got the metal skeleton and the entire Weapon X saga. Told separately they are both rich and detailed stories that would each bring in a great deal of money at the box office, and they would showcase the rich history of the character and those in his life. However, this new film, does not do this. Infact it really only takes about five persent of the character's history, adds in a lot of characters who were not linked at all, and somehow have changed powers from what they should, and then fills in the rest as they go. The best wording I could use to explain this script is horrible fan-fiction, and I'm talking worse then those Star Wars, Star Trek, The Smurfs, Transformers, Golden Girls, Twilight, Harry Potter, etc, ones where people write themselves or some role playing character they made up for some table top role playing game involving graph paper and 20 sided dice into the story simply so they can save the day and end up in a hot tub in the end with all the female/male characters or both depending on how the writer rolls, sort of Fan-Fiction here, like the kind you would find on the hard drive of someone thats never seen a member of the opposite sex thats not a jpeg or doesn't know of life outside their parent's basement or garage. I'm sure you get the idea now.

The film starts out where it should, in a stately old manor in upper British Columbia Canada, with no statement of how long ago it was, its supposed to be the early 1850s or so, we see a little sickly boy in bed coughing, while an older boy who is carving something with a knife sits near by, the young boy in the bed is James Hewlett, though his last name is never given, he's simply called James, James' father walks in to check on the boy and to thank Victor, the older boy for watching his son, you then hear Victor's father, a man Identified as Thomas Creed outside the door yelling, James' father looks at Victor and says “your father's come looking for you again, he sounds angry and abit on the drunk side” with a sigh, Victor looks at him and says “With all do respect sir, its not my name he's calling out.”. James' father lets out a sigh and says “you stay here with James, I shall handle this..” next you hear some yelling, and shouting, and then a gunshot. Victor looks to the door shocked as James jumps out of bed calling his father's name and then yells horrified to see that his father is shot dead on the sitting room floor. He stands over the body, looking over at his mother, and at Thomas Creed, he lets out a yell, three claws made out of bone rip from the skin of James' forearms, as he runs at Thomas Creed spearing him into the wall killing him, with his last words he tells James that he was his father, not the man he believed to be, he pulls his claws out of Thomas Creed as he dies, and looks at them in horror, his mother, on the floor near by looks at him crying, yelling “What are you? You're a monster! You are not my son, you're a monster!”, James panics, Victor comes running out, says to him that they have to leave because the police will blame them, James agrees and they go running into the woods of northern British Columbia Canada. At one point they stop, Victor tells James that after the revelation that they are brothers, it means they need to stick together, because brothers look out for each other, they both promise to always care for and look after each other, no matter what. The next scene shows them running through a field, and as the camera pans back you see them get older and it transitions into them as they fight side by side in every war there has been sense that time; The American Civil War, World War One, World War Two and The Vietnam War are shown, the first act ends with them in Vietnam decimating a village that was believed to be a hide out for Vietcong, with Victor, killing the rest of their unit after their commanding officer orders them both to stop killing the villagers, they are then put to a firing squad, they both joke about how they'll survive it and how they'll get a laugh out of seeing the faces of the people doing the shooting.

This is the first 15 minutes of the film, its ment to represent a mix of the story “Origin” which tells of Wolverine's childhood and how he ends up with out his family, and some mashed together half mentions that are made by both Wolverine and Victor Creed in passing over the years in the comics. The problem with this is, you can't take a story like Origin, which was a very well written story with a rich cast that all had meaning, cut out half of the cast, change character's names, change the ending, and mash it all down to 7 and a half minutes, its impossible, you can't put somewhere near 300 pages of story into that little of screen time and change it that much, the changes are mostly in the concept of James' paternity, its never really stated if Thomas Logan, the man Thomas Creed is based on, really is James' father, though he is drawn to look exactly like a grown up Wolverine, only taller, and Thomas' son is never actually called Victor, he's simply called “Dog”, that is the only name he answers too, James does kill Thomas after he kills his father, but James' mother does not call her son a monster, she instead cradles Thomas' dead body and then kills herself. Dog is left with a three line scar across his face from James when he killed Thomas, this is simular to the scar sometimes drawn on the face of Victor Creed, who Dog eventually grows up to look like, though its never stated that Dog is infact Victor. After the kills James does escape and goes on to be a logger in the Canadian wilderness instead of fighting in war after war after war until the 1970s, but he leaves with the character of Rose, a redheaded girl who is his tutor and best friend, and eventually becomes his love interest, she's also ment to represent the reason why Wolverine is attracted to the character of Jean Grey in both the X-Men comics, and all the other media as well, I have no idea why she was left out of the film, personally I felt if they wanted to make this more of a “character driven movie” as they stated instead of a “standard comic book movie”, they should have made it about them and how that life ended tragically with Dog returning and killing Rose, causing James to run off into the woods alone to become a wildman or sorts with Dog chasing him, which would be a great segway into another film where they did the whole Weapon X program, where you see how James becomes Wolverine and gains the adamantium skeleton and does all the black ops stuff before his memory is scrambled.

Instead of that, the film splits completely from what we know of the history in the comics and kind of makes up its own story with minimal bits of the comic's history tossed about randomly to fill in the plotholes in this hacked together story. Act Two picks up after they've been shot for disobeying orders in Vietnam, James and Victor are in a cell when they're visited by William Stryker, who some of you might recall as the main villain in X-men 2, he tells them of how he's putting together a team of people just like them, mutants (with attitude!) and he could really use their help. The two smirk at each other, and agree to join his team of mutants (with attitude!) which is called “Team X”. The team consist of James and Victor, John Wraith; a Teleporter, Wade Wilson (deadpool), who should have a healing factor simular to James and Victor, but instead has gained the mutant power of being able to use a sword really good while not shutting up, Agent Zero, who is an asian man with the mutant power to shoot guns really good, instead of being a canadian man with the power to absorb kinetic energy and afew other neat powers like he was ment to be, with the characters of Fred “The Blob” Dukes a character who can absorb and channel any form of energy he is hit with into strength or speed, however the build up of energy leaves him looking morbidly overweight, Blob is the movie replacement of Mastodon, a character who served as the teams “muscle” before his death, and finally Chris “Bolt” Bradley, who can control electrical things with just a thought, he is the movie replacement to Silver Fox, who though in the film, is not officially a member of the team itself, instead she fills the role that Rose would have played had they went the Origin route with the film as I mentioned earlier, in the original material, Dukes and Bradley were never members of Team X, infact, Dukes has always been played as a villain, and until half way through the film is made to appear kind of tall and lanky. Bradley was a last minute script change addition when the writers realized their original casted character, Barnell “Beak” Bohusk, was an anthropomorphic bird-man, not able to control electrical things. If this mix up should have been taken as the film's first nail in the coffin I'm unsure, but I wouldn't be against anyone else stating that fact.

Act Two follows Team X around, as you see them doing all sorts of super secret Black Ops work for the United States Government, though which branch is never actually stated in the film, though assuming they haven't changed it from the comics its a branch of the CIA. The centerpiece of the second act is the team acquiring an asteroid that looks to be made of a silver like metal for Stryker, who seems intent on getting it. The scene is pretty neat as far as action scenes go, though its really just ment to introduce you to each character and show off their powers. I'll admit with the exception of Agent Zero and Wade Wilson's made up abilities and Duke's being skinny they did get the others pretty much right, finally getting Victor Creed's movements which are similar to that of a large wild feline correct, something no other version of the character on film of tv has been able to do, instead going with the sheer size and mental instability of Creed, both of which also are part of the character's personality as well, which I found to be a good touch. After the second act finishes with them in the village where the asteroid that Stryker was looking for is, it shows them terrorizing the village, the act ends with James, now for some unexplained reason being called “Logan”, stops Victor from killing someone who has information on where the villagers hid the Asteroid, he looks around while still holding Victor's hand back from killing the man and decides he's had enough of what they were doing, he then quits the team and leaves them in the jungle.

Act Three begins some time later, James is living in the pacific north west, logging and living with a school teacher, an Indian named Kayla Silver Fox, who is ment to represent the Team X member Silver Fox, who was once in love with Wolverine, its this part of the story where you see how James takes the name Wolverine, its from an old Indian story Silver Fox tells him, which I kind of like better then the real story of how he got the name, being compared to the actual animal. You see James being happy, living a nice solitary life, though he's plagued by nightmares, he wakes up screaming most nights, even popping his claws out and shredding bedsheets. Silver Fox seems to be unscared by these things and infact she encourages him to talk bout what torments him. Next you cut to a carnival in the southern united states, where you see Chris Bradley working as a side show act, apparently this is what he did after eventually following James' lead and leaving Team X. He makes an alright living, and spends his night alone in his trailer, which is completely full of electronic things, which he keeps powered just as a way of using his powers, he hears a knock on the door, he answers it, and its Victor. Bradley knows why he's there, and snarks “I always figured it would be Wade or Zero..” implying he knows that Victor is there to kill him, which he does. Next we jump back to James, who's working at his job as a logger, when he stops and notices two scents he remembers, William Stryker and Agent Zero, who show up to tell James of Bradley's death, and tell him that Victor killed him, and that they believe Victor is going after all of their former team mates, they ask James to come back with them and fight back against Victor, but he refuses. Stryker pleads with him to return, but he refuses, driving off, leaving them behind as he goes back to his work. Hours later he stops dead and starts to sniff the air, he recognizes the scents in the air, he knows that Victor is near by, as is Silver Fox, who is on her way to pick him up, James realizes what this means and runs off into the woods following their scents. You see a short scene where Victor comes out of the woods, cuts the front of Silver Fox's car all to bits and then you see James in the woods as he finds what appears to me her bloody murdered body.

This leads James to track down Victor, who is sitting at a local bar, in a sense waiting for him to find him. This leads to the big fight scene between the two characters, because, well there has to be atleast one. In typical action fight scene fashion with the brutality and the trash talking, Victor, in true villain style says how they both live for the violence and how they aren't that different, you know the standard issue trash talk, nothing all that new, some great moves, but thats about it, in the end Victor says “you can't beat me” and buries James under some logs, then stomping down on James' bone claws breaking them. James next wakes up in hospital operating room as they're about to give time of death, he wakes up in a fury and starts to yell about how he needs to find Victor. The camera pans to the right and you see William Stryker standing there, as he states that he can help James become strong enough to defeat Victor, who Stryker believe has gone completely insane. After a boring and contrived argument, James agrees to go with Stryker, who takes him back to his lab and dubs James “Weapon X” and explains that they're taking part in a program of the same name, he then explains that the asteroid they found earlier in the film allowed them to make a metal called Adamantium, which is stronger then anything on the planet, and then explains that he believes with James' healing ability they believe the metal will bond to his skeleton if pumped into his body.... this is the point of the movie I started to finally realize just how little these writers knew of the characters that they were writing about, and started to wish for the end to come, but it got worse.

Stryker asks James what name he'd like on his new dog tags, James just says “have them say Wolverine.”, and thus the character is named. Next you see the tossed together attempt at explaining how Wolverine's metal skeleton came to be, he almost dies in the tank, but survives and pops out of the tank all naked and roaring with his new metal claws out. I was kind of hoping they'd do some of the actual Weapon X story, and maybe we'd see the classic Weapon X shot of Wolverine wearing that info helmet and stuff thats so iconicly linked to the story of Weapon X and Wolverine himself, you know to maybe save this gamma sized bomb even if just alittle bit by means of giving a little fan pander scene or two, but no, that didn't happen and this bomb couldn't be saved. Oh well...

Next you see Victor, in a high school tracking down a young boy who happens to be Scott Summers, the mutant known as Cyclops, the eye beam shooting leader of The X-Men, he chases Scott down and tranquilizes him, he then radios Stryker saying he's gotten the boy, revealing that the whole thing to get James back into the group was a rouse by both men. Next you see James in Las Vegas where he meets up with now retired John Wraith, who tells him that Team X broke apart not long after he left, he then tells him what they were doing after James left, they went from special ops, to rounding up, and in some cases killing, mutants “They made us hunt and kill our own kind..” Wraith says, he then says that Victor never really recovered from James leaving, and grew more and more unstable, and eventually caused everyone to leave except Agent Zero and Wade Wilson. Wraith then says he doesn't know where they were holding the mutants they were capturing, but he said that Fred Dukes knew, because he was transferred there for a short time, he then states that “retirement wasn't easy on Fred.. he's different”, this is when we first see Fred Dukes as he's known in the comics, very tall and morbidly fat, but fast and strong as anyone. After a pretty funny boxing match in which James calls him “Bub” which Dukes misreads as “Blob” a name he hates being called, Dukes goes into a frenzy and after seeing no matter how hard he hits James, he can't put him down, and a final headbutt with his new metal skull, Dukes tells James where to find the only person to ever escape the holding location, a man named Gambit, and says he will need to help them get inside, given that all Dukes did was supervise transports, with blacked out windows he had no idea where the actual location was.

James and Wraith set off to New Orleans, where they find Remy Lebeau, the man better known as Gambit. Who apparently was able to escape from this holding location because he won his freedom in a card game with the guards. I remember yelling outloud to myself “Gambit's power isn't to be good at poker, thats not a damn power at all”, I guess if I was going to get anything out of this film that was of any worth I'd have to make it myself, You actually meet Gambit in a poker room in New Orleans, where he's playing cards with some guy thats a world poker champion, I can't remember his name cuz well, I could care less about world poker champions, James sits down at the table and after a deep theoretical anti hero to anti hero talk, James explains that he's there, Remy believing he's there to take him back attacks him, apparently not only has he gained the mutant power to play poker really well, but he can also control cards and make them fly in slow motion at people, oh and also his charging things to energy to make them explode powers are there, this ofcourse means they superhero-fu fight now. While this is happening, you see Wraith outside the poker hall in the alley waiting for James, out of the shadows comes Victor who after Wraith holds him off pretty well, is killed by Victor literally holding out his hand where Wraith materializes, which anyone that knows their comic book science nows, that will kill a person, but, just for added effect, and i'd assume so he's not walking around with a dead body on his arm, Victor rips his hand out of Wraith's body, which now slumps to the ground.

James soon gets knocked through a wall into the same alley, and while he's trying to explain to Remy that he needs his help getting inside the location where all the mutants are held, remember that, that was the whole point of this scene right? Just as he's gotten him to believe him, Remy looks up to see Victor, he then believes its a set up again, until he seems James fighting him off, after James and Remy fight off Victor, Remy agrees to take him to the location where all the mutants are being held. The next scene is this kind of stupid wedged in buddy picture scene that falls just shy of a “whats the matter, the fall will probably kill ya..” to fully rip off just about every hallmark from that genre. After going over their plan, where James infiltrates the building, and Remy lands his plane then meets him inside, James then jumps out of Remy's plane, which he apparently won in a poker game, skipping on the water till he hits the shoreline outside the compound, and guess what? SURPRISE!!! Its famed nuclear meltdown site Three Mile Island! Because you know, where else are you going to play Maniac Manson with mutants other then a nuclear reactor thats been dormant sense it had a meltdown. I'm at this point wondering why a super top secret uber black ops holding location doesn't have good enough security to not only notice a small leer jet coming in toward it, and landing on its grounds, but also why it can't detect a lone person literally walking up to his side gate and walking right in almost completely unnoticed, you'd think there would be security or something right? Guess no one thought of that.

The last act, as i'm sure you can guess is the whole big climatic fight, James finds out that Silver Fox is alive, and she was keeping him in check for Stryker until he felt he needed him again, you have another big fight with Victor, and you find out that Silver Fox is only helping Stryker because he's got her young sister, an unnamed mutant who has one of the powers of “The White Queen” Emma Frost (and is billed as her apparently), you find out why Stryker's been playing mutant pokemon (gotta catch'um all!), its to build the perfect mutant. And that mutant is made out of Wade Wilson, the only member of Team X you haven't seen sense the first part of the movie, but now his mouth is sealed shut, this leads to the sarcastic yet horribly timed statement “I guess someone finally shut you up Wade...” (ugh!), also I'm not aware of how the full length sword that comes out of Wade's arm is even possible, I mean its a full size sword, how could it actually fit up his arm? It would need to fit the whole length and that would mean there isn't a bend in it, but he can clearly bend his arm... Thankfully this horrible shlockfest of a movie is almost over, I can't take much more of this, not even Fast and The Furious was this big of a stankbomb. As this fight happens you find out that Stryker's implanted Wade with all of the powers of all the mutants they've come across through the entire film, James' healing, Victor's agility, Wraith's teleportation, Wade's apparent skill to use a sword good, and the eye beams of Scott Summers, who they captured earlier, they don't really show anyone else's powers in the fight. Half way through the fight they end up on time of the big smoke stack on top of Three Mile Island, James falls in, but is grabbed by Victor, who's apparently showed up out of no where, and delivers that horribly bad line that I knew was coming “No one kills you but me..... brother.” I cringed at this, I really did. Following this, they team up and fight the supermutant that used to be Wade Wilson, apparently metal claws can deflect eye beams that are powerful enough to cut through a building as they do earlier in the film, thats some amazing metal, seriously. They end the fight by cutting off Wade's head, and apparently the future plans for Marvel Studios to make that movie about Wade they been talking about for years, oh well, that was 10 years of talk down the drain. As the building is falling around them, Victor looks at James and says “this changes nothing between us, brother.” and runs off.

Next you see Silver Fox freeing the mutants held here, including her sister, who may or may not be a young Emma Frost, among the children that are escaping, comic book fans will recognize Banshee, Quicksilver, Storm, Mastermind, and afew others, non-comic book fans will recognize no one, because they are not comic book fans and wouldn't know who any of those people are. Next you see Stryker, who's frantically packing things so get out of the compound because he knows that James is coming for him, he loads a gun with bullets that are the same metal thats in Wolverine's skeleton, and when told they won't kill him, Stryker says “Its ok, I have a magic bullet, and all I need to do is shoot him in the head and he'll forget everything he's ever known” how this was proven I've got no idea, its never explained. James finally catches up with Stryker outside near the way out of the compound, they have another villain to hero monologue, as you cut between this and the kids getting away, which leads them to the same place where James and Stryker are apparently, this leads to Silver Fox being mortally shot, and James shot down trying to get to her, two shots to the head, and apparently he loses his memory. I still don't know how that works, but i'm kind of wishing I could lose my memory at this point honestly. The children run off after Silver Fox is shot, and end up outside the grounds where Charles Xavier, also known as professor Charles Xavier, found of the X-Men saves them, unknown to anyone else, the movie then cuts back to Gambit coming to get Wolverine, claiming they need to leave before the police get there, Wolverine looks at him and yells “who am I? I don't remember who I am”, Gambit says “your name is logan, and you're a good man..”, they start to run away, Wolverine sees Silver Fox's body, and goes over to her, claiming a vague remembering of the face, but can't recall anything of her, and thats where the film ends.

Now, as I'm sure you can tell that I'm not really a big fan of this film, and I guess maybe my knowledge of comics got in the way, I don't really know, but I can say this, if you are a comic book fan, or were a comic book fan at any time, you'll probably hate the film, even though the action scenes are pretty cool, even the one where Wolverine kills Zero, which was kind of a bland unneeded to be mentioned part of the film, but I guess if you aren't a comic book fan, you could enjoy the film, but otherwise, I'd avoid it, like I said at the start, reinvention is fine, but this just changes everyone so much that its almost as if you're watching a bad attempt at a direct to video action film, and not one of those good ones either, like a seriously bad one. So I guess watch at your own risk, if you're up for watching this.



1 comment:

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