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X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
(workprint review)

Movie Review by:
"Sweet" Dan Sweet
Directed by:
Gavin Hood
Written by:
Skip Woods, Scott Silver, David Benioff
Starring:
Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, Dominic Monaghan
Running time:
97 minutes
Released:
05/01/09
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some partial nudity
"Overall I think this movie ranks above the first X-Men film, but after numbers 2, and 3, I am of course basing that on an unfinished product, so Iím bound to end up writing a retraction once Fox figures out they can re-cut and re-edit it into a nice new little package."
So by now everyoneís heard the ruckus over the illegally leaked copy of the as yet unfinished Wolverine film due in theaters on May 1st. The FBI and the MPAA have expressed great dissatisfaction concerning the ordeal, and one Fox News correspondent has already lost his job over his review of the film he posted on a blog site. Well, never fear fan boys, everyoneís favorite critic (me!) has viewed a copy of this UNFINISHED WORKPRINT (no, I didn't actually download it), and I have to say I was more than surprised at how it (almost) turned out.

Iíve never been convinced that Wolverine is the guy Marvel comics needs to ride to box office success. Sure heís the quintessential bad-ass that darn near EVERY one knows whether they read funny books or not. Sure heís a little over a hundred-some years old with enough stories to tell a thousand movies. Sure heís a member of the X-Men, Avengers, and a new Fantastic Four (a guy can dream canít he?), and every other superhero team this side of the Secret Defenders (oh waitÖ), but with characters as well loved (as well as maligned) as Wolverine thereís too much canon that Hollywood tries to absorb into one project, but Iíll get back to that.

First of all, the copy is spot on. It looks as crisp and clear as is it was available for rent at your local Video store. There are plenty of effects missing, and lots of the blue screen work is rough at best, but it gives you enough to know whatís going on, and anyone that reads comics is more than adept at using their imagination to fill in whatever blanks you may be left with, so I didnít find it too annoying.

As far as the movie itself is concerned, like I said before, I was more than surprised at the adaptation directed by Gavin Hood. The opening sequence plays right out of the pages of ĎOriginí by Paul Jenkins and Andy Kubert, and moves the through the hundred-so years quickly during the opening credits, arriving at almost-present day when James Howlett decides to take part in an experiment to bond the space-metal (yeah, I said space-metal) adamantium to his skeleton so he can take down Sabretooth, a renegade mutant killing members of Wolverineís former Weapon X team (which I donít think is called Weapon X).

There was a lot of buzz surrounding the supporting cast, which I think has been drastically overdone considering the screen time most of them receive, and there are more cameos in this movie than I think all three X-films had together (which isnít necessarily a good thing). Yeah, I know everyone is more than anxious to see their favorite mutant on screen, and yeah, I know for the most part thereís no way to do one of these movies without stuffing it to the gills with superfluous characters destined for normalcy as opposed to greatness.

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool was a solid casting decision, however, the inclusion of Deadpool (for whatever reason) and restricting his role as much as they did was the worst thing they could do for a character deemed worthy of spin-off films. Maverick, John Wraith, the Blob, and some guy credits listed as Bolt played by Dom Monaghan (itís really unclear in the movie just who heís supposed to be, but he seems able to control technology with his mind) are all second-tier bench riders. Live Schreiber is AWESOME as Sabretooth, so much so that I wish they would have cast him in the first X-Men movie all along.

Schreiber is so damn cool in his role he more than makes up for the dud they misfired with Gambit. Danny Huston delivers a solid performance very much in the vein of Ryan Cox as a younger William Stryker, a role Schreiber was originally rumored to be in the running for. His performance brings a whole new depth to the character that I donít feel Cox achieved, I really hated Hustonís Stryker, and he succeeded in making the character a dirt-bag. Cameos include, Banshee, Storm, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Toad, Quicksilver, as well one more at the end that was a huge surprise, but makes logical sense.

The ending of the movie, the inevitable throw-down between Wolverine and Sabretooth (and a surprising third party), is virtually unwatchable, requiring so many effects that werenít in this cut of the film you really have to wait for the final version to know whatís going on. Thereís a couple scenes that run during the credits (this one had the credits for X3), one about half-way through and then one all the way at the end, neither of which add any new dimension to the movie (except the potential possibility of Wolverine 2: Big Trouble in Little Tokyo).

Overall I think this movie ranks above the first X-Men film, but after numbers 2, and 3, I am of course basing that on an unfinished product, so Iím bound to end up writing a retraction once Fox figures out they can re-cut and re-edit it into a nice new little package. I am positive that if I had shelled out more than $20 bucks for me and my girlfriend to check it out at the theater I would have been absolutely mortified, but I had no real plans to see this other than when it was available for rent (and still donít). I think there is going to be lots of fan backlash over the way more than a few of the characters have been stylized and manipulated to fit certain genre roles, but Iím sure the fan reaction to Live Schreiber is going to be positive. It may not hit Heath/Joker status, but heíll definitely get a nod from the collective fan-boy population for not ruining a favorite.

Yes, there is a wrongness surrounding the illegally pirating of material onto and off of the internet (the viewing of said material third hand is questionable). I think an equal amount of criticism should also be leveled at the movie studios we count on to deliver quality films as opposed to bland, summer-time, shoot-em-up drek year after year. I think the increase of people viewing material like this on the internet, as opposed to making the trip out to see films the way we used to is a combination of the slumping economy, and the lack of any real desire to be spoon-fed poop on a mass scale anymore will ultimately find a balance to this whole situation.
 

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE © 20th Century Fox
All Rights Reserved

Review © 2009 Alternate Reality, Inc.

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