WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Rather than going to the well for another X-Men sequel Hugh Jackman’s mutant Wolverine has been spun off into an uneven prequel that tries to explain the character’s origins but somehow misses what we liked about him in the first place. X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens with a flashback to 150 years ago which unveils the relationship between Logan and Victor mutant half-brothers who are forced to run away from home after Logan murders their biological father. After several scenes depicting the brothers’ service in various wars the story settles in around the 1970s where both Victor and Logan are recruited by the devious William Stryker to serve in a mutant army. But Logan spurns Stryker after taking part in a massacre in East Africa and chooses instead to settle down with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox in the Canadian Rockies. Six years later Victor now Sabretooth shows up and kills her. Logan now Wolverine seeks revenge reluctantly making a deal with Stryker in order to become indestructible. Unfortunately he is double-crossed and uncovers a Stryker/Sabretooth plot to kidnap mutants and use them for no good. He escapes and the chase is on as he tries to stop them — and anyone else in his way — before his memory is erased.
WHO’S IN IT?
It’s the buffed-up Jackman’s show all the way as Wolverine graduates to star status — and that’s exactly the problem. It turns out a little of this guy goes a long way especially when he’s presented in as humorless and unimaginative a manner as the deadly serious approach taken by Hugh (who also co-produced). Jackman acquits himself nicely in the numerous action scenes but fails to make a lasting human connection for Wolverine and the audience. Liev Schreiber is good as Sabretooth but plays it mostly on one note. His three fight scenes opposite Jackman are well-choreographed but become tiring. Danny Huston makes a fine heavy as the evil Stryker while Lynn Collins is lovely as Silverfox adding a nice touch of emotion to this mostly stoic CGI-fest. A promising new group of mutants are also introduced but unfortunately aren't given much to do. Standouts are Ryan Reynolds as the smart-talking Wade Wilson aka Deadpool; rapper will.i.am as John Wraith; and Kevin Durand as the humungous Fred J. Dukes aka The Blob. Durand is especially impressive in a boxing gym scene. Conversely Lost’s Dominic Monaghan receives too little screen time in the role of Bradley.
Wolverine’s CGI effects are predictably top-notch and a couple of big action set pieces are visually arresting including a motorcycle/helicopter chase that may lack credibility but is at least fun to watch.
Lighten up Wolvie. Jackman and everyone else seem to be taking this stuff way too seriously. The humanity that was a hallmark of the previous X-Men films also is largely AWOL and the picture takes a long time to get going. We’re at the 40-minute mark before the claws really start to come out and the psychological mumbo-jumbo stops.
In the lab Stryker promises to make a revenge-seeking Wolverine indestructible but his double-crossing antics only serve to unleash severe rage inspiring great balls of mutant fury as the furious mutant makes his great escape — sans clothing.
WHY YOU SHOULD SIT THROUGH SEVEN MINUTES OF END CREDITS?
For those who think the movie effectively ends when the credits roll here is a “heads up” to hang around.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Since reportedly about 100 000 people downloaded a rough cut when Wolverine was illegally pirated a few weeks ago why not help out poor 20th Century Fox and see it the legal way on the big screen? It’s a big improvement over your iMac.
Top Story: Grammy Performance Angers American Indians
American Indian groups across the country were offended by OutKast's Grammy performance of their hit song "Hey Ya!" Sunday, The Associated Press reports, in which singer Andre "3000" Benjamin wore Indian feathers and war paint, while women danced around a giant green teepee. The San Francisco-based Native American Cultural Center is calling for a boycott of OutKast, which won three Grammys at the show; Arista, their record company; the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization that sponsors the Grammys; and CBS, the network that aired the show, AP reports. Indianz.com has also launched an online petition calling for an apology from Benjamin. "I don't think you meant to offend, but you hurt us," wrote a petition signer named Megan Jones. "Please acknowledge our feelings and apologize." AP reports CBS issued an apology on its Web site that stopped short of saying Benjamin's performance was insulting to the 2.3 million American Indians in the country. Benjamin and Antoine "Big Boi" Patton, the other half of OutKast, have not yet commented.
Ross Did Time in Connecticut
After being sentenced to two days in jail on a drunken driving conviction, Diana Ross apparently fulfilled her obligation, serving the time in upscale Greenwich, Conn., where the singer lives, AP reports. The details about when and for how long she stayed at the Greenwich Police Department were not available. It also wasn't known specifically how she was housed, AP reports.
ABC Picked Up Simpson, Stamos Pilots
ABC has picked up six comedy pilots, including untitled shows starring MTV's happy Newlywed Jessica Simpson and TV's Full House star John Stamos. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Simpson will play Jessica Sampson, a fictional version of herself. The pilot revolves around a hardworking female producer of a primetime newsmagazine show whose world turns upside down when Sampson signs on to do part-time work as an on-air reporter. The Stamos project revolves around a guy on a date, with the show's entire season taking place over the course of the day's events.
Seacrest Gets Dees' Old Spot
American Idol's Ryan Seacrest is taking over the radio airwaves in Los Angeles, replacing longtime L.A. morning radio personality Rick Dees, AP reports. Seacrest will host the KIIS-FM radio show from the same Hollywood studio he uses for his new syndicated live TV talk show, On-Air with Ryan Seacrest, which will also be the name of the radio show. Seacrest recently replaced Casey Kasem on the syndicated "American Top 40" radio countdown.
Anthony's Paternity Claim Disputed
The attorney for Elizabeth Leyva--a Miami woman who claims singer Marc Anthony is the father of her two-month old child--believes Anthony may have cheated on a paternity test. Reuters reports Anthony's lawyers say the test has cleared their client of any paternal claims, but Leyva's attorney said that Anthony submitted his DNA sample to the lab rather than have it drawn there. Anthony's wife, Dayonara Torres, filed for divorce last month, demanding alimony and child support for the couple's two young sons. Leyva has said she only wants Anthony to "recognize that's his baby."
Dixie Chick Adds Another to the Nest
Dixie Chick Natalie Maines is expecting her second child with her husband, actor Adrian Pasdar, AP reports. The couple, who were married in 2000, have a 2-year-old son, Jackson Slade Pasdar. Maines didn't announce a due date but did speculate going on tour with the Grammy-winning country trio. "Can you imagine the next tour for us? Five kids (or more) backstage? Oh, the thought is just exhausting," a statement on the group's Web site said. Martie Maguire, the fiddle and mandolin player in the group, announced in November she is expecting twins. The third Chick, Emily Robison, has a 1-year-old son.
Eminem's Ex-Wife in More Trouble
Eminem's ex-wife, Kimberly Mathers, was sentenced to serve at least a month in jail Thursday for using cocaine while on probation, AP reports. Mathers, who's been the target of some of the rapper's songs, admitted a week ago to her probation agent that she was using cocaine, the Michigan Department of Corrections told AP. Mathers was sentenced Jan. 21 to two years' probation after pleading guilty to charges of possessing 25 grams or less of cocaine and failing to give adequate space to an emergency vehicle. The charges came from a June, 2003 traffic stop in Michigan.
NBC To Air Diana's Secret Tapes
Audio and videotapes that the late Princess Diana secretly recorded during her ill-fated marriage to Prince Charles--and were the basis of Andrew Morton's 1992 tell-all bestseller Diana: Her True Story--will get their first public airing next month on NBC, the network announced on Thursday. The two-hour documentary, Princess Diana: The Secret Tapes, will also feature interviews with some of Diana's closest friends and confidants, Reuters reports. The special two-part broadcast is set for Mar. 4 and Mar. 11.
Emmy-Winning Producer Colesberry Dies
Robert Colesberry, best known for co-creating and executive producing HBO's The Wire as well as producing films Mississippi Burning and The Natural, died Monday in New York from heart surgery complications. He was 57.