I once speculated around Oscars season that the fans’ perception of Wolverine’s manliness might be in jeopardy when Hugh Jackman hosted this year’s Academy Awards in true song-and-dance fashion (which he did quite skillfully, I will note). Further threatening potential box-office glory as the release date approached was that the entire film (albeit an unfinished version) was leaked online for all to view for free. And now there’s yet another possible obstacle: this crazy new swine flu scare. Will audiences pack moviehouses and make this film the first summer blockbuster triumph of the year?
The truth is, Jackman worked hard for this role and he is plenty ferocious, so be prepared for a non-stop, action-packed romp featuring one of audiences’ favorite comic book heroes. All critics don’t necessarily agree. Says Robert Wilonsky of the The Village Voice, “Without fail, the dullest installment in any superhero movie franchise is the origin story, during which audiences anxiously awaiting The Big Bad Guy have to suffer through, yaaaawn, scenes of childhood trauma, romantic tragedy, and other expository effluvia, by which point the closing credits are fast approaching.” Keep in mind, however, that the “Iron Man” franchise kicked-off with what was essentially a superhero origin story, and the Batman franchise re-established itself when Christian Bale first filled the suit in “Batman Begins” a few summers ago. Roger Ebert felt this way: “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.” On the other hand, Claudia Puig of the USA Today feels that, “Although it’s a quintessential popcorn movie, ‘Wolverine’ is not mindless. (Director) Gavin Hood and Jackman bring depth to a comic-book tale of anti-heroes with anger issues.”
I get the impression that most critics now believe that every comic book movie should be of the same level of complexity as last year’s mega-hit, “The Dark Knight.” But let’s be honest, summertime fun is about getting away from it all. So if you like cool-looking, big-time action, get yer blockbuster on with your old pal Wolverine.