Sunday, May 31, 2009
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds, Will i Am
Director: Gavin Hood
Runtime: 104 min.
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Superhero
Confession. I don’t get the whole deal with Wolverine, and why he is considered so special. Or why is he loved so much, or regarded so highly in the X-Men universe. He isn’t too smart, and for a superhero all he commands is a rather bull-headed approach to matters, and an overdose of macho posturing. Magneto, the intelligent man he is, is always utterly dismissive of him and his abilities, and rightfully so. In matters as constantly endangering as the mutants constantly find themselves in, a supposedly indestructible man with only adamantium coated claws rupturing out of him feels just about as useful as an angry little termite.
But then, I never did get the logic of the whole X-Men universe either. Consider for example Mystique, who was played by the most devastatingly beautiful Rebecca Romijn Stamos, and how awesome her superpowers are, and how interesting her origin story would be. I would like to spend no less than a trilogy on her, and would want to discover how fascinating she could be. With Wolverine, on the other hand, you got an uninteresting little scenario not much different to what is presented by that other Marvel bonehead The Incredible Hulk. You got nowhere to go with these guys other than to involve in a whole lot of carnage, that in hindsight adds up to zilch.
Or maybe, there might have been an interesting way to deal with the whole origin of Logan/Wolverine, the lone and angry wolf with a certain kind of amnesia. Take a cinematic flight of imagination, reader, and think of one Leonard Shelby, used and manipulated by everyone in the world. An Australian actor played the part, Guy Pearce it was, and since Logan was once an assassin/mercenary working for the establishment, I wonder if someone down at Fox was thinking along similar lines. Since much of the earlier movies, specifically the more appreciated X-Men and X2, dealt with Logan chasing his past, could the origin story been structured as a puzzle or a mystery, where the filmmakers and directors were blessed with imaginations that would have elevated them beyond the act of merely grazing through the comic books, and instead carve an altogether new tribute for X-Men and Wolverine aficionados to hold on to. Wouldn’t it have enhanced the vulnerability of Logan, and wouldn’t his dare-in-the-face-of-Armageddon approach have endeared him to movie-goers worldwide and created a wider fanbase. I can only speculate you see, and I shall keep on doing the same as long as these movies about superheroes from Marvel have only one thing on their mind – cashing in.
But perhaps, this place here is not appropriate to discuss along such greatly interesting lines, and perhaps, we need to get along the job of more uninteresting matters such as reviewing the latest movie in the X-Men franchise. As is so explicitly mentioned in the title, it deals with the origin story of Logan, though what passes for a story here is no more than an excuse to jump from explosion to explosion. It is as enjoyable as any of the X-Men films, and it is just about as unmemorable as any of them. There’s little that one could take away from this film, there’s little by way of any stimulating thought, and after movies as complex and genre-defining as The Dark Knight and Watchmen this here feels like a minor kiddy adventure whimper. I know, dear reader, you would mock me for expecting anymore than the standard combination of explosions and kicks, but then hope as always been a good thing. Especially since the director is Gavin Hood. Never mind, as I always say.
We meet Logan in 1845, during the time he was a little kid and was called Jimmy, and watched over by his elder brother Victor. Now this Jimmy, he seems to be a weak little kid and especially susceptible to Rhinovirus. The opening scene finds him in a night when he is bed-ridden, when a petty little gunfight occurs at the household, the cause and results of which I shall leave you to discover. Jimmy and Victor run from the scene, and as they keep running through the nearby woods, the opening credits fast forwards them through every major American war. Jimmy is now Logan (Mr. Jackman), though one knows not why, he no longer catches cold, though one knows not why, and he and Victor (Mr. Schreiber) hop through life like nomads, though one knows not why. The X-Men speaks of mutants as an evolution over humans, but I suspect Logan and Victor, who eventually would grow into Wolverine and Sabretooth, actually are some sort of contradictions to that line of thought. They exhibit little thought that could be considered intelligent or civilized, but one needn’t care much about it.
One Colonel William Stryker (Mr. Huston) finds them during one of their numerous adventures, maybe during the first Gulf War, and recognizes their specialties. He recruits them, and alongwith many others, he goes deep within the land of Africa in search of something precious, which again I shall leave you to discover. This bunch of recruits, interesting guys they are. There’s one Wade Wilson, a chatter-machine and one heck of a talent with the sword. He is so good he can slice an incoming bullet fired from a Sten-gun and ricochet the two halves into trajectories that shall kill two unwitting bad guys standing behind him. He is so good that he has a whole two minutes devoted to display this while we stand appalled at the silly special effects. Such men invade the deep recesses of Africa, and once this little adventure gets over the morality line of Logan he decides to part ways. Victor, his brother, is hurt, I suspect, because there is no other reason to why he is so cross with Logan the whole film.
Logan meanwhile finds him a woman and lives in a rather lonely part of Canada, and I shall leave you to discover the rest of the film, though there’s precious little to save the utter predictability of affairs. The action sequences shall keep you engaged though they are terrible to look at. A worker print leaked online a month back, and Fox claimed that there was still a lot of work of F/X to be added. I see the completed film, and I think they have done an absolutely shoddy job. Not a single action scene displays any sense of vision or innovation. Random explosions, cuts, slices and growls rule the day. The earlier X-Men films, though not exactly benchmarks of action sequences, had some pretty cool effects agreeable to the eye. This one hurts.
What keeps you interested though, at least for the duration of the runtime, is the pretty neat pace of the film. There is even an interesting idea there somewhere, maybe even memorable, but nobody wants to risk a no-show at the box-office. There’s little character, and there’s little explanation for motives, and all our end of the bargain asks of us is to suspend every little line of thought, belief and logic. And enjoy as Mr. Jackman and Mr. Schreiber enjoy themselves. These are wonderful actors, both of them, bringing remarkable personality to so underwritten a characters. And while you’re at it dear reader, do relish that one single savage moment of pure Wolverine as he slices through an aisle of cages holding young mutants within them. I know that is why he is the heart of the franchise. But I wonder how much of it is Wolverine, and how much of it is Mr. Jackman?
Posted by Satish Naidu at 11:01 PM