Movie Reviews: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "9"
Yeah, that subtitle is kinda wordy.
I was prepared to hate this movie, because it involved one of what I considered the stupidest retcons in the world (the fact that Wolverine was a 19th century farmboy and his claws were part of his mutant power somehow). And the opening scene where he kills his father to avenge his not-father had all the emotional impact of being slapped with a mackerel, because it was seriously over in about 100 seconds. I can't really care about father or not-father, when I hardly know who the hell they are. But I was prepared to forgive both of these things after viewing the opening montage, which is in my mind the best part of the whole movie: Logan and Victor, fighting their way through just about every war in the past 150 years (well, up to Vietnam). It was pretty sweet, especially with the freeze-framing and scene shifts they did.
After that, we got a little more coolness from Stryker's band of killer mutant soldiers (which reminds me, somebody needs to make a Team 7 movie). And then it went seriously downhill.
1.) Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson was pretty cool, until they decided to kill him off and make "Deadpool" utterly unlike Deadpool from the comics. I mean, ridiculously bad. The famous "Merc with a Mouth" has no fucking mouth? What? And adamantium katanas that come out of his forearms? Where the fuck did they hide when they were retracted? Do they fold? Does he walk around with his arms unbending all the time? And he has Cyclops's eye beams? Seriously, the "Weapon XI" thing was totally fucking stupid. Interestingly, the wiki entry I read for the movie states that when Reynolds reprises the role in a "Deadpool" solo movie, they are going to pretend the character in "X-Men: Origins" never happened. This is a good thing, but it's hilarious to me.
2.) So Wolverine falls in love, and we're supposed to care about his ladyfriend (again, pretty quickly) so we can be all broken-hearted when she dies. Way to be sexist assholes, and introduce a chick just so you can kill her off for dramatic effect. But wait, she's not dead! Oh, yeah, she totally is...how could Logan be all tortured and angsty if she wasn't?
Incidentally, I'd never even heard of Kayla Silverfox (comics-wise). But a quick look at the wiki entry reveals some more fail: they turn her from a badass assassin who can heal like Logan, to a mind-controller (because wimminz are all manipulative, right?). And they whitewash her (she's supposed to be Native American). Way to go, guys.
3.) Bechdel test...do 2 female characters ever talk to each other in this movie? I don't even think Kayla and her sister really talk, aside from Kayla telling her to get everybody out. So yeah, pretty solid fail.
4.) While we're on that subject, what is up with Kayla's sister? The wiki article indicated she's supposed to be "Emma Frost". Um...wasn't Emma Frost (aka The White Queen, from the Hellfire Club) supposed to be a psion?
A quick look at the wiki entry reveals that yes, at some point comic writers gave her the "turn into diamond" ability...but that is not the classic power that most fans are probably familiar with, it's not one that she (canon-wise) had as a teenager, and her real power (psi, and lots of it) is nowhere in evidence. Also, I don't believe she was Kayla Silverfox's sister.
If they wanted a diamond-hard chick, why not Diamond Lil from Alpha Flight? Would have made mroe sense.
5.) Gambit was utterly retarded. This is coming from somebody who actually likes the Gambit character. He wasn't even cajun!
6.) As aforementioned, they felt the need to slip any possible mutant they could think of in here. I'm kinda surprised Storm and Magneto didn't show up.
7.) It was nice to see Dom Monaghan, even for a cameo.
8.) What the fuck is up with not killing evil people, just because "killing is, like, wrong, man"? Logan refuses to kill Victor (for probably a host of reasons, many of them psychological)...but refusing to kill him because it would make him an animal or some shit like that is retarded. By not killing him, you are literally sentencing other innocent people to death...because Victor is going to tear the shit out of lots of people in his lifetime. Ditto for Kayla/Stryker...make him pull the fucking trigger! Do you have any idea the misery this man is going to cause in the future? You should, because you've seen the misery he caused in the past!
In general, I give this movie about 1.5 stars. I will say the effects were pretty well done (with the exception of Gambit, which just made me roll my eyes).
What can I say about 9? Well, the animation was pretty decent.
It was fun enough to watch for a while, but I got tired about halfway through when I realized that a.) there really wasn't any kind of story going on here, and b.) they weren't even going to touch on any of the interesting facets of the story in any real way. Things like "why do they have numbers instead of names" or "how do they work" or "if the machines killed all the people, why was the master machine lying dormant at the start of the movie" or etc etc.
The characterization was incredibly simplistic, the plot twists (such as they were) were predictable, and the emotional investment in characters who barely interact with each other in any real sense is pretty minimal. For instance, did anyone feel any dramatic tension when 6 sacrificed himself? I felt more for 1, and 1 was a complete douchebag.
And what was the story or theme? What am I supposed to take away from this? "The human soul is good, and machines are bad". Oh, and "military warmongers are responsible for everything that goes wrong". You can write that down. I didn't get a straight-out luddite vibe, but it was pretty close.
Also, I find it kind of annoying that even when dealing with biologically asexual dolls, they felt the need to make most of the characters "male" (male voices, and mostly male characterization) and to give the impression of "romance" (pretty subtle; nothing like Wall-E and Eve, for instance) between 9 and 7. And c'mon...since 7 is a badass warrior, was it necessary for her to be captured by the snake-monster and rescued by 9? Or for her to talk about how much they need 9 (I'm not even sure why)?
Even though 7's badassery is well-demonstrated, I still got a "passive" vibe off her. She didn't really drive the story; she didn't make decisions, or have ideas, or even argue much about what they should be doing. She killed stuff, then got kidnapped at a key moment, pulled a few nifty tricks, and fell in love with the hero. Hell, Princess Leia did better.
The weird thing is, because of the very nature of the dolls, the filmmakers missed a golden opportunity here...they could have changed the voice acting/gender characterization of the characters and left the rest of the movie the way it was. And the movie would have been recognizably better...if only because it would have avoided gender-stereotyping and male defaults. A good breakdown might have been:
Male: 4, 5, 6, and 8.
Female: 1, 2, 3, 7, and 9
Think about how the movie might have felt a little different with those ratios. I tried replaying it in my head, and the interactions actually read differently. Try it.
I give it 2 stars; it's probably worth seeing just for the animation. I just feel like it had good potential, and then completely wasted it.