This is turning out to be a really bad summer movie season. Of the three big potential blockbusters Hollywood has rolled out only one so far is actually fun or at all recommendable. And even it had massive script problems that point to a rushed-before-the-cameras-too-soon pedigree. Let’s take them in order.
WOLVERINE- I’m not going to bother with full title here as it’s dumb. Here we have a movie that had potential but squanders it completely. The film starts off being very interesting with a pre-credits sequence showing us the boyhood trauma that would define Wolverine over his life. It takes place in the mid-1850s and does a good job of setting up the sibling relationship between Logan and Sabertooth. Then the excellent credit sequence takes the two of them through every major war from the American Civil War to Vietnam brilliantly showing us that they are gifted with either eternal life or just very long ones because of their mutant healing abilities. After an attempted military execution for killing a superior officer doesn’t quite work out they are recruited into a special government group of mutants run by Stryker. But once Logan rebels and leaves the group because of Stryker’s nasty methods the film goes downhill fast and never recovers. The last half is a muddled mess of tricks and hidden agendas that get very silly and ultimately pointless. But the movie’s worst failure is that it has far too many characters. For a movie that is supposed to tell the story of Wolverine there is way too much time spent showing us other mutants all to little effect. When I realized that Gambit had no real function in the story at all it became clear that 20th Century Fox must have mandated the inclusion of as many action figure ready characters as possible. It’s a shame. A crappy script can’t be saved by the strong performances from Jackman and Liev Schreiber. Their efforts are like farts in the wind and that is what this really is- a gassy waste of time.
STAR TREK – A lot has been written about how fun and good this film is and I agree- up to a point. This is smart reboot of the classic characters and moves like a speeding bullet but it is also unfortunately pretty dumb. It has the feel of having been put into production before the screenplay was really finished. There are giant plot holes, stupid contrivances and dumb moments that should have never been filmed. BUT--- I still enjoyed it. It has a real energy and the positive vibe that the old series used to have in spades. The cast is uniformly great with Bruce Greenwood and Karl Urban being the real stand outs for me. It’s the best Trek film since THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY leaving this old fan pretty happy to have seen it. Let’s hope that the next one has a MUCH better script that doesn’t have such a wasted part for the bad guy. Seriously- if you’re going to hire Eric Bana give him something to do! Oh- and try shooting the action scenes so that we can understand what is happening. That bar fight was incomprehensible.
TERMINATOR SALVATION- Damn what a mess. This has to be the worst script of the season yet. Remember how the original two Terminator movies sucked you in and made you care about the people onscreen? Remember how tense the action scenes were? Remember how much you cared about how the story ended each time? This film marks a departure from those movies because you won’t give a tinker’s damn about anything that happens from beginning to end. At about the 45 minute mark I turned to the friend I was watching the film with and said “I could leave now and never care what happens next.” His reply was “Yeah. Me too.” But I had paid my money so I stuck it out. I could have gotten more excitement from a nap. There is almost no plot in this movie. Hell- there is barely any story! It could be summed up as this- “Guy gets turned into a terminator. Shit blows up. Guy dies.” There is only one section when TERMINATOR SALVATION actually has a pulse and that’s because they pull Arnold (or his image) out of a hat and throw him at you. That was interesting. The rest of it was basically playing ‘spot the scene/image stolen from another film in an attempt to hide the threadbare nature of this crap’. It is the worst thing I can call an action film- boring. I was willing to cut director McG some slack despite his poor past work but now he just needs to go back to music videos. A storyteller he is not and explosions do not a good movie make.