Published Apr 30, 2009There is something to be said for taking risks in genre filmmaking, as even if it fails there is at least some sense of vitality and energy in the film, rather than the dull sense of familiarity and broad appeal demonstrated in Wolverine's moody origin story. The summer tent-pole release is not necessarily bad but it isn't in any way good, feeling marketed, cleaned up and commercialized in a meek, milquetoast and occasionally laughable manner, aside from an unexpected, and inappropriately amusing, death at the midway point.
Starting out in the 19th century with Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) as a sickly child, some tragic back-story reveals how he and brother Victor (Liev Schreiber) came to be parentless and eventually court marshalled and executed, only to be recruited for an elite task force by Colonel Stryker (Danny Huston). Increasingly unseemly, the work proves too much for Wolverine, who retreats to Canada, working as a logger (because what else do Canadians do?) and getting cuddly with a kind-hearted schoolteacher (Lynn Collins).
Inevitably things go awry, as Stryker and Victor show up, using manipulation and violence as a means of exploiting the martyred Wolverine, developing the reluctant hero's implicit, conflicted nature.
Strangely enough, these plot devices and the aforementioned violence do their darnedest to adhere to the aesthetics and format of the original trilogy, proving mainly that filmmaking styles evolve rapidly, as do the demands of complicated set pieces. The battles are boring and visually unremarkable, leaving only the blasé "story" to drive the movie forward.
If interpreted through the original "homosexual allegory" subtext perfected by Bryan Singer, before Brett Ratner took a big steaming crap on it, this new entry proves almost hilarious and even a little offensive, as this subtext clearly wasn't considered. Sadly, little else seems to have been pondered either, aside from merchandising possibilities and a strict adherence to mainstream conventions. (Fox)