I saw "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" on Friday night, and though it wasn't the worst summer movie I've seen, it was the worst comic-book movie I've seen. I've been a big Wolverine fan since I started reading comics, but this movie made me forget what I liked so much about his character.
He's a guy with claws that can cut through anything, he's older than dirt but still looks like a ripped 40-year old, and he can never die. Somehow this movie managed to make all of that seem really boring. Part of that might have been because in the first part of the movie, when he's teamed up with his brother, Victor (aka Sabretooth, played by a genuinely menacing Liev Schrieber) and a bunch of other mutants, Wolverine is easily the most useless member of the team. He's got frickin' BONE claws. What's a guy going to do with those? Stab a guy? Isn't a guy with two big knives instantly as qualified as Logan to be a death-dealer?
Wolverine never gets too much cooler than a fairly ineffectual guy with 6 jagged compound fractures. Hugh Jackman does what he can to keep the character he originated interesting (and by the way Wolverine was 10 times cooler in his first scene in "X-Men" then he is in this whole movie), but isn't helped by a muddled, goofy script by David Benioff and Skip Woods. But if you're a motivated director, you can make a shite script look really cool if you know how to shoot action scenes and understand how special effects work. Unfortunately, Director Gavin Woods is so-so to not-very-good on action, but absolutely clueless with special effects. I think there's a whole reel in this movie that could serve as a clinic in how NOT to do green screen work.
"Wolverine" suffers from the same guiding philosophy as last year's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull": CG makes everything better. The result was lots of fakey effects and glaringly bad green screen work. But bad as "Crystal Skull" was on this score, "Wolverine" makes "Crystal Skull" seem like "Aguierre: The Wrath of God." People want to see real people doing real things in real places, but there's precious little of that in "Wolverine." Even Logan's CLAWS are digital -- worse, they look like digital claws. And because the special effects are so bad, a $140 million dollar movie looks like it cost half that much.
I think Gavin Hood, like a lot of non-comic-reading folks, doesn't "get" Wolverine, and, I suspect, never cared about doing a "Wolverine" movie right. The results, sadly, speak for themselves.
But since it made $87 million over the weekend, Fox will wrongly view Hood's film as a success, (just as they will wrongly view Snyder's "Watchmen" a failure), Hood will get to direct/ruin another big-budget studio film, and Fox will likely foist more sub-par "X-Men Origins" movies on filmgoers. If many more of these disappointing comic-book films are released, I suspect the current trend of comic-book-to-film adaptations will fizzle out before some of the great properties have been translated to the silver screen.