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How to Lose Fans and Infuriate Me

Mas cinema. This from SydneyCarton. - S.R.



Due to the continued dearth of off-season topical conversation, Sailor Ripley has entreated a few guest lecturers to contribute to The Barking Carnival. Fortunately for him, my unchecked hubris, proclivity towards wild exaggeration and generality, and immediate recognition that HenryJames is an unrepentant fairy should allow me to fit in perfectly well within the swelling ranks of Barking Carnival.

Today, probably to the complete and general disinterest of everyone on this blog, I’ll take a quick look at the art of the Summer Blockbuster as consistently and wrong-headedly interpreted by Fox Studios…in this instance illustrated by Wolverine. A few months ago, a buddy of mine who works in Hollywood sent me a copy of the original first draft of the Wolverine script by David Benioff at my request. The trailer had just been released, and I was fairly excited at the prospect of an entire movie about Wolverine without the cumbersome and weighty baggage of a faggoty Cyclops and Halle Berrie’s acting, as well as free of the pestilent douche-touch that is Brett Ratner’s directing.

brett ratner
I killed Professor X when I couldn’t get approval to re-cast him with Chris Tucker.

Now, anyone who’s had any kind of conversation with someone who has worked in Hollywood circles has probably heard someone say that Hollywood is run entirely by the bean counters. This is unquestionably true, but nowhere is this more apparent than at Fox Movies, a studio roundly mocked by pretty much everyone in hollywood. Recent masterpieces include The Day the Earth Stood Still, Street Fighter, 12 Rounds, the magnum opus Dragonball: Evolution. And this is in the past year. They consistently drop more turds than anyone this side of the A&M defense.

The Heads of Fox’s Creative Department

Now, Wolverine was by no means a terrible movie, although I’ll meander towards the specifics in a few minutes. It had some decent action shots that were well constructed, some pretty damn good acting, but more than anything, it started off with an extremely workable script. Not Hamlet, or even Lethal Weapon, mind you, but a very workable script that in the hands of a competent director (like Gavin Hood) could be a very respectable action movie that acquitted itself well to both fanboy expectations (I’m looking at you, Chris Applewhite) as well as the general public. Instead we were subjected to alternating spots of good movie and sadly expected Groan Out Loud moments and a plot that flows about as smoothly and consistently as my dead grandmother’s bowels. So how did this happen? The long answer is a combination of vapid reverie mixed with general buffoonery. The short answer is money.

I always feel like, Fox is waaaatching me!!!

Fox financial strategy is consistently to aim a film at the lowest common denominator in an attempt to widen the general audience. They want to piss off no one and try and make everyone happy, all the while making sure the movie is rated in a way to ensure anyone who wants to see it can see it. Not that that bullshit matters in regards to kids getting into movies these days anyway, but whatever, I digress on that point. The result, much like Hancock, is neither cold nor hot…so being lukewarm I shall spew it from my mouth. After reading the original script and watching the trailer, I knew we were in for trouble. Why is that? Because two of the larger draws to the movie entirely outside of Wolverine himself were the promise of Gambit, and to a lesser degree, Deadpool, were absent from the original script entirely.

Now, Deadpool has kind of a cult comic status as a bad guy and anti-hero, and X-men fans have been clamoring for Gambit to appear in the films literally since it was announced that Brian Singer was going to helm the first X-men feature. Seems like a smart move by Fox to include these popular characters. The problem, as is always the problem with Fox, is that they do it in a half-assed manner. The studio had an option on Ryan Reynolds, and they thought by sticking him in this movie they could pump an entire Deadpool movie out of him. Hardly the greatest motivation for making a complete film. And Gambit, well, shit, he’s about as present in this movie as a well executed RB screen is in the Texas offense. The two of them represent probably a combined 10 or 15 minutes of screen time, and yet their presence on the trailer implies significantly more. These guys serve NO real purpose in the film, but the downside was that they had to butcher the script in it’s original, workable form, simply to insert these half-inflated silicone implants of viable and (to nerds) cherished characters. Jesus, two characters and a story haven’t been this fucked over since George Lucas Bukkaked all over my childhood.

I’m not ChrisApplewhite, but I so think a studio should make a concerted effort to try and respect cannon and source material when adapting a comic book flick or any kind of science fiction or fantasy type book. I mean, Jesus you Hollywood Fucktards, I don’t want to read comic books either, but surely if I can spend 15 minutes looking over a Wikipedia page, you can do the same to mollify your most rabid piece of fanbase. The benefits of staying true to the material that made the original work so popular seem fairly obvious and so simple a Sooner could do it. Sure, occasionally creative license has to be taken to fit something into a runtime, but there’s no reason to, say, completely turn Deadpool into an abortion that is nothing like his history or powers in the comics. Or to trot out Taylor Kitsch as Gambit for 10 minutes of screen time that amounts to him doing Wolverine’s bidding like a mindless pussy while slipping in and out of an accent that is completely unidentifiable by me and certainly neither French nor Cajun. All you achieve here is getting to put faces in a trailer you think will score you a big opening weekend, but at the price of a solid story.

I’ll openly admit that my favorite parts of the movie were the origin pieces of the story as opposed to the action, and I don’t think there’s any coincidence at all these pieces also happen to be the parts that remained intact from the original script. Wolverine and his woman in Canada? Check. Vicious first fight between Logan and Sabertooth? Check. Wolverine’s adamantium procedure? Check. Wolverine’s motorcycle chase (minus flying up to the top of the Helicopter and the inexplicable presence of Hummers about 20 years before they were invented)? Check. It’s a shame the rest of the storyline wasn’t allowed to play out, because I can tell you that we would have exchanged a vast bulk of cheesy shit scenes that gave me The Rage with some of the best dialogue in the entire movie. Because the real victim in all of this, other than us as movie patrons, is Liev Schreiber. The guy is an extremely talented actor despite (or perhaps because of) his blood-curdling upbringing, and in the original script he had even more diabolical dialogue than all we were lucky enough to see in the final cut. He was chewing scenery in my head in a way that we sadly will never get to see him do on screen. Not in this movie, anyway. Hugh Jackman continues to be, in my minority opinion, an exceptional actor who has poorer taste in his film choices than CloseToJumping has in AIDS infested brothels in Namibia. Or Houston, for that matter.

The end result? We get a movie that is average in every way in which it could have been Very Good. Potentially another talented director who will swear off ever working with Fox Again (if he’s smart), just like this guy. And This guy. The entire pissing away of the Gambit and Deadpool plotlines (although that hasn’t stopped Fox from green lighting a Deadpool movie). A forgettable movie turd. I’m out $12. Oh, and Fox will likely make a modest profit.

Fuck you Hollywood.

P.S.: You’d better not fuck up Terminator: Salvation, which seems unlikely considering it’s Directorial Handicap.