The season of comic book movies is off to a very poor start. I went off to see Wolverine with low expectations — I read Ebert’s review ahead of time — but even so, it failed to rise even to the basement of my presumption.
The problem was that comic book movies should be fun, and they should explore the unique and peculiar character at the center. Think about Spiderman, with the kid discovering his superpowers and bouncing off of walls trying them out, or Iron Man and its playboy tycoon finding out that he has a conscience. You set aside the silliness of the premise to enjoy the thrill of the characters, and also revel by proxy in the superhero. It’s not deep stuff, and it’s why these movies are popular escapist events.
Wolverine doesn’t get it. It answers nothing about the character and simply plods through a linear series of events.
Spoilers below, if a movie that is nothing but kill-kill-kill, then kill big bad guy, can have spoilers.
It starts in 1845, with our hero as a sick kid. He and his brother hear a gunshot downstairs, they run down and see some guy dead on the floor (who?), and the young Wolverine kills the killer (who?) who is apparently his father (why?) and the two brothers run away (why?). Next thing we see is a montage as these two spend the next century (how?) fighting in war after war (why? Was there nothing better to do?), and then suddenly, somewhere in Viet Nam, Wolverine gets a conscience (after over a hundred years of slaughter?).
Then he gets recruited by some guy, Stryker, running a super-secret combat team of mutants. Stryker has some convoluted plan for creating a super-mutant with multiple powers because his son was a mutant who killed his wife (I know…it made absolutely no sense).
It was basically a boring sequential series of encounters in which the ‘hero’ fights and kills people. It was like a one-dimensional video game in which you have no control — deadly dull.
Hugh Jackman was amiable in the role of a guy with built-in knives who slashes people to death, but then Jackman seems to be on the road to be the kind of actor who is described as amiable in everything. Shouldn’t Wolverine be a bit more, you know, intense?
Skip this one.
Oh, and by the way, when you’ve got a pointless plot and an unexciting central character, the biological absurdity of the whole X-Men franchise is free to shine through, which doesn’t help. The whole mangling of the idea of mutation is annoying, and then to give the characters super-powers that are nonsensically impossible from the point of view of either their physics or their biology simply grates. Somebody ought to write a ‘biology of super-heroes’ book and give X-Men an “F” as one of the worst, from the perspective of getting their science right.