X 战警前传:金刚狼 X-Men

Origins: Wolverine

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" finally answers the burning question, left hanging after all three previous "Wolverine" movies, of the origins of Logan, whose knuckles conceal long and wicked blades. He is about 175 years old, he apparently stopped changing when he reached Hugh Jackman's age, and neither he, nor we, find out how he developed such an interesting mutation. His half-brother was Victor (Liev Schreiber). Their story starts in "1840 -- the Northwest Territories of Canada," a neat trick, since Canada was formed in 1867, and its Northwest Territories in 1870. But you didn't come here for a history lesson. Or maybe you did, if you need to know that Logan and Victor became Americans (still before they could be Canadians) and fought side by side in the Civil War, World War I, World War II and Vietnam. Why they did this, I have no idea. Maybe they just enjoyed themselves. Booted out of the Army in Vietnam, Logan/Wolverine joined a secret Black Ops unit under Gen. Stryker (Danny Huston), until finally, in Nigeria, he got fed up with atrocities. Nevertheless, he was recruited by Stryker for a super secret plan to create a Mutant of Mutants, who would incorporate all available mutant powers, including those of the kid whose eyes are like laser beams. He wears sunglasses. Lotta good they'll do him. Am I being disrespectful to this material? You bet. It is Hugh Jackman's misfortune that when they were handing out superheroes, he got Wolverine, who is for my money low on the charisma list. He never says anything witty, insightful or very intelligent; his utterances are limited to the vocalization of primitive forces: anger, hurt, vengeance, love, hate, determination. There isn't a speck of ambiguity. That Wolverine has been voted the No. 1 comic hero of all time must be the result of a stuffed ballot box. At least, you hope, he has an interesting vulnerability? I'm sure X-Men scholars can tell you what it is, although since he has the gift of instant healing, it's hard to pinpoint. When a man can leap from an exploding truck, cling to an attacking helicopter, slice the rotor blades, ride it to the ground, leap free and walk away (in that ancient cliche where there's a fiery explosion behind him but he doesn't seem to notice it), here's what I think: Why should I care about this guy? He feels no pain and nothing can kill him, so therefore he's essentially a story device for action sequences.

Oh, the film is well-made. Gavin Hood, the director, made the great film "Tsotsi" (2005) and the damned good film "Rendition" (2007) before signing on here. Fat chance "Wolverine" fans will seek out those two. Why does a gifted director make a film none of his earlier admirers would much want to see? That's how you get to be a success in Hollywood. When you make a big box-office hit for mostly fanboys, you've hit the big time. Look at Justin Lin with "Fast & Furious." Such films are assemblies of events. There is little dialogue, except for the snarling of threats, vows and laments, and the recitation of essential plot points. Nothing here about human nature. No personalities beyond those hauled in via typecasting. No lessons to learn. No joy to be experienced. Just mayhem, noise and pretty pictures. I have been powerfully impressed by film versions of Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Iron Man and the Iron Giant. I wouldn't even walk across the street to meet Wolverine. But wait! -- you say. Doesn't "X-Men Origins" at least provide a learning experience for Logan about the origins of Wolverine? Hollow laugh. Because we know that the modern Wolverine has a form of amnesia, it cannot be a spoiler for me to reveal that at the end of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," he forgets everything that has happened in the film. Lucky man.

however, since she is given some of the most amazingly stupid lines she has spoken in her lengthy career. Lead actress Anne Hathaway, making her feature debut, possesses the kind of fresh-faced perkiness that inspires irritation by the time she has smiled once too often. Like Julie Andrews, Hector Elizondo tries to "class up" the picture, and, also like her, he fails. His dialogue isn't as inane as hers, but he doesn't shine. The Princess Diaries is okay entertainment only for the target demographic (girls age 8 through 13). Everyone else will either fall asleep, run screaming from the theater, or go into sugar shock. It is possible to make a movie everyone can enjoy from a fairy tale premise (Drew Barrymore's Ever After is just one example), but you wouldn't be able to guess that based on the evidence at hand here. Next time I'm slated to see a movie directed by Garry Marshall, maybe I should consume about 15 sugar cubes in preparation.


The Princess Diaries

The Princess Diaries isn't so much a modern-day fairy tale as it is a dramatization of every little girl's chiffon dream: to be a princess. The film is from director Garry Marshall, who specializes in fantasies without consequences. As is his m.o., Marshall takes a stale plot and explores it in a thoroughly uninteresting way, reducing characters to types and heaping mounds of saccharine and false sentiment on top in a vain attempt to disguise the bland flavor. To be effective, many movies require the viewer to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief. For The Princess Diaries to work, the viewer will have to engage in a willing suspension of higher brain activity. If brevity is the soul of wit, then Marshall is witless. Not only is his latest motion picture an affront to any thinking adult (its target group is apparently pre-teen girls), but it seems to drag on forever. Marshall's motto seems to be: Never do in 80 or 90 minutes what can be done in 2 hours! And, to make things even worse, the editing appears to have been done with a hacksaw. Never can I recall seeing so many jarring cuts. As for the continuity goofs (of which there are many) - they probably would have been more obvious if the stupidity of the story hadn't camouflaged them so effectively. The Princess Diaries is essentially a re-telling of Marshall's own Pretty Woman, which, in turn, was just a lame updating of Pygmalion. One day, Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) is a normal 16 year-old girl living in San Francisco. The next, she learns that she's the granddaughter of Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews), the ruler of the small (and fictional) European country of Genovia. And, because her late father was Clarisse's only child, that makes Mia the Crown Princess. So, in preparation for her investment as heir, she has to endure Princess Training 101, with lessons in everything from speech to etiquette, all while continuing to attend school. But word leaks out of her heritage and she becomes an instant celebrity. Suddenly, she's Miss Popularity and the coolest guy in school (Terry Wayne) wants to hang out with her. But, while caught up in this giddy wave of being the center of attention, will she turn her back on her best friend, Lilly (Heather Matarazzo) and the boy who really likes her (Michael Moscovitz)? Take a guess. The best performances in The Princess Diaries border on the low side of mediocre. No one stands out, and some of the actors should be embarrassed. I give Julie Andrews credit for being able to deliver most of her dialogue with a straight face,



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