Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

In this prequel story to the prior three X-Men movies, we see the beginnings of the Wolverine character and are offered glimpses at how he became to be what he is. He develops over the years into an expert combatant, and he’s done his job faithfully until one day when he’s had enough, and on that day he leaves and tries to find his own path of peace. And of course, for a movie like this, that just can’t go well for a moment.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a fun little action/adventure ride, that offers up a few nice plot points and easter eggs for X-Men comics fans, and it is a pretty decent ride… there’s lots of nice action bits, and three pretty cool performances from Hugh Jackman in the title role, Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed/Sabretooth and Danny Huston as Major William Stryker, a prequel version of the character that Brian Cox played in the second X-Men movie. Schreiber, in particular, looks like he’s having a real good time with this. There’s some cool nods to the various comic versions of the origins of Wolverine, primarily with the series Wolverine Origin by Paul Jenkins and Weapon X by Barry Windsor-Smith. And I think it has some decent, if not obvious, effects work. I’ve heard some complaints about the effects work here, but they don’t really bother me.

It’s a fun ride for what it is and that’s a fun popcorn movie, and there’s really nothing wrong with that, that’s obviously what Fox and Marvel Entertainment are striving for in this movie and for that, it’s a good time, but it also seems like a lesser effort in comparison to last year’s Iron Man and Incredible Hulk movies, though that’s also somewhat expected considering that Marvel has full control over those and not this one. That’s not saying that someone won’t have a good time here, just an observation.

It’s fun for what it is, but considering the sources, especially one of them for me in particular, one wonders just how much more this could’ve been, had those sources been more used. What I’m speaking of is Weapon X by Barry Windsor-Smith, which is in my view anyway, the very best Wolverine story ever told, and not exactly the fodder of what a summer entertainment action movie would be, but something that had it been more used as the focus, could’ve raised the bar considerably for this film. Weapon X is a truly terrifying and horrific story that in itself would make for one hell of a movie, and here, it’s just used as a means to an end for something that’s far more generic in movie terms, and again, there’s really nothing wrong with that. This is the movie that was chosen to be made and perhaps using something like that as the sole source of the film would’ve been too much of taking a chance with this franchise, because it surely isn’t atypical for a summer action movie. But with movies like The Dark Knight and Watchmen raising the bar, I’d kinda like to see the Marvel movies do a little of that as well.

But still it is a good time and it does have those little bits that are fun ties to the X-Men movie continuity. It’s a solid action movie diversion, though in the end, it just may not be as memorable as some of the other movies are.

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DVD Review: Caprica

The long-awaited pilot for this prequel series to Battlestar Galactica is finally here, a year before the series is set to debut and this provides quite a meaty appetizer for hopefully what is to come in the full series.

Taking place about fifty years before the start of the Battlestar Galactica mini-series and before the unification of the twelve colonies, Caprica follows the lives of two men in particular, super-industrialist Daniel Graystone and lawyer Joseph Adams (Adama), the tragedy that brings these two together, and what will give way to the conflict to come and the birth of the Cylons.

This is quite a bit different than what might be expected, and at least in the pilot, doesn’t rely on some of the more crowd-pleasing aspects that Galactica did, being primarily the gung-ho action of that. But what’s here, is some really powerful drama, and a lot of great ideas that should lead to something that has the potential to be just as special as Battlestar Galactica is.

This film is directed by Jeffrey Reiner, who’s best known for his work on Friday Night Lights and apparently producers Ron Moore and David Eick have been trying to get Reiner involved in Galactica for quite awhile, with Reiner having turned them down as far as the main series goes, but having finally jumped on board by getting an opportunity to be more at the main helm (I guess along the same lines that Michael Rhymer was with Galactica) and getting to shape a new series rather than being an important cog in an existing franchise. Reiner’s a good choice here, and he certainly does bring something different to the table with a different look to this series as well as a greater emphasis on the personal drama.

Eric Stolz and Esai Morales head up this cast, respectively playing Graystone and Adama, and man, they’re both just absolutely terrific here, individually for sure, but in the scenes that they’re in together, having some real nice chemistry. They’re just great, and offer up a lot of weight, and yet they’re almost outshone by two young actresses, Alessandra Torresani and Magda Apanowicz, who play Zoe Graystone and her friend Lacy Rand, who are both just as instrumental in the future to come. Both of these young ladies are really tremendous here, and they certainly hold their own with the bigger names of the cast.

I watched this film and was just immediately taken with it, especially after a certain key moment happens, that’s basically the catalyst for what’s to come, and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest, and if this way-early release of the pilot was supposed to get you further fired up for the new show, well then, it certainly did it’s job with me, and though it might seem that knowing the ultimate end of what’s to come could hamper this for some, I’ve got enough faith in Moore and Eick, to think that they’re going to make this a hell of a ride along the way and probably nowhere near as conventional as it could be.

The DVD extras include four video blogs, a handful of deleted scenes, an episode of Ghost Hunters and a commentary track from Moore, Eick and Reiner. I’ve watched all of the extras except for the Ghost Hunters episode, which doesn’t really interest me. The blogs are basically fluff, but certainly inoffensive as well. Better though are the deleted scenes and the commentary track, and seeing the deleted scenes after watching the whole movie, I certainly can understand why they were deleted, though they are good scenes. The commentary track is excellent, and there’s a lot there talking about the behind-the-scenes, the philosophy of the new show and hints at things to come.

For Battlestar Galactica fans, this is must-viewing and I think for most it will get you fired up for the new series, even though it’s still a year away from premiering. For those that were more casual viewers, well, I still think there’s a lot of meat here, though it doesn’t have the action/adventure trappings (yet) of the prior show, but still worth you’re time if you want to watch some very smart science fiction. Caprica is the good stuff, and highly recommended.