Comfortable and Furious


X-Men Origins: Wolverine is fucking atrocious. I have no problem admitting that I enjoy well-made comic book movies. Comic book superheroes are part of the American cultural fabric. If the guy who made Raise the Red Lantern can retain his artistic credibility while making movies about flying Kung Fu masters who fuck Zhang Ziyi without ever letting us see her tits, then Hollywood directors can churn out a few superhero movies without everyone getting shards of glass in the folds of their labia. At least white people don’t really believe Batman walks the earth, whereas Chinese people all have a great uncle who used to float around and flick bullets through foreheads.

The two most common criticisms leveled against comic book movies are 1) that they are strictly for nerds, and 2) that they are nothing but excuses for elaborate action scenes. The first criticism falls apart after a quick examination of box office receipts, and the second is only a problem for people with a stick up their ass. From Achilles and Ajax to Gilgamesh and Enkidu to D’Artagnan and his buddies to John Matrix, humans, or at least men, have always enjoyed tales of great warriors killing the shit out of a bunch of other warriors and/or monsters. The superhero movie just continues that tradition, and if the filmmakers want to tell us that Superman is a Christ figure and Magneto is Malcolm X, well, I’m all right with that as long as things don’t get out of hand and there isn’t some Frenchman walking in and delivering five-minute lectures on causality before 2 men who have never had sex try to write a scene that centers around a female orgasm. As long as the filmmakers keep that kind of shit to a minimum, the superhero movie is an improvement on the more conventional action movie, since there is at least some explanation for why the characters are able to outfight scores of men without someone just shooting them in the face.

I thought the first X-Men movie was pretty good. That speech at the beginning that tried to link humans spontaneously developing telekinetic powers and the ability to shoot lasers out of their eyeballs to Darwinian evolution was retarded, but the film’s plot was refreshingly low-key and logical– the villain’s plan and motivations for carrying it out actually kind of made sense, his objective was reasonable, and the film’s climactic scene only had like 7 mutants battling it out. It was nice to see Captain Picard again, and Hugh Jackman was a great find. Things quickly fell apart in the second film, though (IF HE THINKS TOO HARD, HE WILL KILL EVERYONE ON THE PLANET), and the third movie somehow managed to poochify things even further when Wolverine, Frasier Crane, and fucking Juno managed to kill like 200 mutants by themselves before Wolverine stabbed a suddenly ugly Famke Janssen to stop her from, once again, killing everyone on the planet because she was super-evil or something.

I was hoping that the series would recover with the solo Wolverine movie. Jackman’s wisecracks always helped me feel less embarrassed during the other films, and presumably the whole fucking planet wouldn’t be in grave danger this time, so I hoped this would be more like the first X-Men movie. However, Wolverine’s wife gets clawed to death like fifteen minutes into the movie, and that comes on the heels of a terrible child actor murdering his father, a Vietnamese woman about to get raped by Wolverine’s mutant half-brother, Sabretooth (played by Liev Schrieber), and some innocent civilians getting slaughtered on a soundstage that is supposed to be the forests of Nigeria, so humor is out of the question for awhile. When Logan starts trying to crack jokes again it is just out of place. Also, his straight man is fucking

To their credit, the writers do come up with a much more reasonable broad story outline than the last two X-Men movies, but the more detailed writing is so fucking bad in every scene that watching the film just makes me feel awkward, like I feel listening to deaf people try to speak. Danny Huston and his Asian valet come to ask Wolverine to re-join his elite mutant strike force, and when Logan’s wife asks why they want him, he explains, “because I’m the best at what I do.” It’s a pretty standard action-movie cliché, except the writers seem to have forgotten that before he makes this pronouncement, Wolverine has done nothing except skulk while watching Ryan Reynolds, Liev Schrieber, the aforementioned Asian valet, and one of the fucking hobbits kill a bunch of African mercenaries. They also seem to have forgotten that Sabretooth beats the shit out of Wolverine like ten minutes later, so really he isn’t the best at anything, that is, until he gets all the metal grafted to his bones.

After Wolverine gets the surgery from Danny Huston, he breaks out of the military compound and jumps down a waterfall. He knows that he is being tracked by an elite team of military agents who are fucking pissed, so naturally he decides to hide out like 20 miles downriver in some farmhouse where this old couple adopts him as their son after like 2 days. Wolverine is so grateful to the old couple that he stays in their house for a completely unreasonable period of time, ensuring that they will both get shot through the chest when the army team catches up with him.

Wolverine is super-pissed that his new dad got shot, even though it is his fault since he was basically using him as a human shield, so he gets to take him to a soundstage that is supposed to be New Orleans because Gambit is waiting there, and Gambit knows where Danny Huston’s super-secret lair is. Gambit doesn’t trust Wolverine and suspects him of being in league with Sabretooth. 5 minutes later, Gambit comes upon Wolverine stabbing the fuck out of Sabretooth in an alley, but for some reason, that’s not proof enough that Wolverine is on his side, so he fucks everything up by fighting Wolverine and Sabretooth gets away. Then Gambit decides to take Wolverine to the secret island fortress which is on… Three Mile Island. For some reason, Gambit had to fly Wolverine there instead of just telling him, “hey, the base is on Three Mile Island,” because otherwise Wolverine would never have found it. Wolverine discovers like 50 teenage superheroes who are somehow being successfully held in a base with like 5 guards because they are in cages made out of chicken wire. Then for some reason, Wolverine’s wife isn’t really dead, she had some kind of deal with Danny Huston and Sabretooth, but then they betray her, which makes one wonder why they didn’t just kill her for real, and then… fuck it, you get the point. This movie fucking blows.