Radio 06.12.09


This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my commentary on a film now showing at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :



“X-Men Origins:  Wolverine” is one of those prequel movies that are so popular with Hollywood studios these days, because they supposedly have a ready-made audience.

OK, for those of us who are not “into” the original X-Men comic books, the story line is still somewhat comprehensible.  A couple of boys in the Canadian territory in 1845 seem to have special wolf-like powers.  After they grow up, they don’t seem to age, either, and helpfully lend themselves to fighting wars, first for the North in the American Civil War, then in World War I, World War II, Viet Nam (what happened to Korea?), and we fully expect to see Desert Storm, but something happens along the way, and this is where it gets murky.  An American colonel takes the two “talented” men and recruits them into a “special force” with other “mutants,” now doing covert ops for the U.S. government.  That wouldn’t be too different from what they’d already been doing, except now the ethical lines are murkier---instead of soldiers in uniform fighting against other soldiers in uniform , they’re now “off the books,” and harassing non-combatants.  The turning point is when they’re asked to torture, then massacre, uncooperative civilians. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) suddenly quits, and tries to retire, back to the Canadian Northwest, with a sweet wife and a homely existence as a lumberjack.  But his old partner in crime, “Sabretooth” (Liev Schreiber), is not willing to let him off the hook so easily, and neither is the corrupt colonel, who is now hunting down the scattered mutants, imprisoning them, and trying to harness all of their collective powers for his own nefarious uses (with the help of Sabretooth, who thinks he’s going to be infused with everyone else’s abilities). 


So, from almost-noble patriotic motives we have basically been reduced to lust for power, greed, and revenge.  Therefore all the slashing and CGI combat really doesn’t excite the imagination, because there’s not enough clear distinction between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”  (Rooting for a prison escape seems morally muddled, as well, especially for a comic book plot.)  The Special Effects are pretty good.  Hugh Jackman is a true star as “Wolverine.”  But that’s not enough to overcome the absence of clear plot, the viewer deception, and the utter lack of anything approaching humor, whimsy, or lightheartedness.  Isn’t this supposed to be fun?


This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93-5 KICK-FM