‘Wolverine’: Nothing but claws and effects

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The calendar may not agree, but it is now summer. If a glance at the thermometer isn’t enough to convince you, today’s release of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” the first event movie of the season, makes it official. Unfortunately, the film lives up to the stereotypes of summer movies as well. We get an hour and 45 minutes of bad special effects, forgettable acting and violence (bloodless though! This is a PG-13 film).

The popular mutant Wolverine, a.k.a Logan, a.k.a. James Howlett (Hugh Jackman) sheds his fellow X-Men for the opportunity to take center stage and explore his life before we met him in the first X-Men movie, as well as his relationship with Sabretooth/Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber).

In between the explosions, cliches and attempts to cram in as many random mutants as possible, we learn about Wolverine’s 150-year life. We find out how he came to possess his unbreakable skeleton, claws that can cut through anything and extremely spotty memory.As part of a government backed black-ops squad, Wolverine finally sees too much violence and leaves the group for a quieter life in the Canadian Rockies. Like all action heroes, a peaceful existence is not in the cards for him. He is eventually pulled out of retirement on a quest for vengeance. From then on it’s all violence, things blowing up and not much sense.

No one outside of Wolverine is given any sort of serious characterization. Friends and enemies alike are mere silhouettes, barely notable, nevermind memorable. Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am, former hobbit Dominic Monaghan, “Snakes on a Plane” co-star Taylor Kitsch and others are all just talking scenery. Person after person parades into and then out of the events, with the writers apparently mistaking quantity for quality. The sole exception being Ryan Reynolds’ all-too-brief appearance as fellow soldier Wade Wilson. He’s the only one who really seems interested in playing his role. Interestingly enough, this makes two different characters Reynolds has played in two separate Marvel movie franchises (Hannibal King in “Blade: Trinity” being the other).

In the end, this movie falls flat even when judged by the lower standards of summer movies. Jackman/Wolverine may be enough to sell tickets, but they can’t carry the film on their own, try as he might. Logan may be able to recover from any wound, but a bad script is fatal no matter how impressive a healing factor he may have. The best I can say is that at least it was better than the last X-Men movie, which is a backhanded compliment indeed.

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