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May 05, 2009 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-05-05

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

9

'Wolverine' Woes

Oberst's latest a
true team effort

The latest chapter
in the X-Men saga
disappoints with
lackluster effects
BY ANDREW LAPIN
Daily Film Editor
Even by superhero movie stan-
dards - hell, even by "X-Men"
movie standards
- "X-Men Ori- '
gins: Wolverine"
looks remark- X-Men
ably fake. Take Origins:
aside the screen
saver-quality Wolverine
backgrounds for 20th
a minute and Century Fax
just focus on the Ctury Fo
claws. Logan, andShowcase
a.k.a. ol' Wolvie
(Hugh Jackman,
"Australia"), gazes at his claws
in wonderment numerous times
throughout the film, but there's
never any sense thatthree stainless
blades are actually protruding from
his knuckles. Instead, it just looks
like there are three animated lines
that the special-effects guys shined
up by pressing a button.
Believing that Wolverine's claws
are real should be a major factor in
audience enjoyment of a film based
entirely around his character; after
all, they're on the freaking promo
poster. But the fact that they're eas-
ily discernible in any given shot as
cartoonish computer effects is akin
to surgically removing the part of
a young man's brain that enjoys
comic books. Yes, of course they're
fake. But for the price of a movie
ticket, is it too much to ask for 107
minutes of being convinced they're
real? Apparently so.
The origins of Wolverine include
him discovering his mutation at an
early age, and the film's (admit-
tedly cool) opening credits show
him fighting in every major war
of the past century alongside his
brother, Victor (Liev Schreiber,
"Defiance"). The two of them plow
through unaged and unharmed
because of the healing powers that
come free with their mutations;
Victor's is similar to Logan's, only
with fast-growing nails instead
of claws. They are approached
by Lt. William Striker (Danny
Huston, "30 Days of Night"), who

By JEFF SANFORD
Senior Arts Editor
It looks like Conor Oberst,
the former Bright Eyes heart-
wrencher, has
finally loosened
up for good.
Outer South COnor
is the second O
album from Oberst and
Oberst since the Mystic
the ostensible Valley Band
dissolution of
the Bright Eyes Outer South
moniker, and Merge
like his epony-
mous debut,
it works through a medium of
jammy border-rock that barely
resembles the precocious emo-
folk that defined his past.
But unlike 2008's Conor
Oberst, his newest effort is more
egalitarian, with "and the Mystic
Valley Band" now accompanying
"Conor Oberst" in your iTunes
library. And the album's cover
art features each musician's stoic
mug while Oberst stands in the
not-quite-center, unbalanced
and blindfolded. Could this be
some form of cryptic symbol-
ism?
Probably not. If anything,
it signifies Oberst handing the

wheel over to his backing band
- at least for a few miles. More
than any other Oberst record,
songwriting has become a com-
iunal effort. On Oberst, where
the Mystic Valley Band was more
of an incognito backing band,
Mr. Oberst wrote all but one
song. But now, the band mem-
bers are writing their own, and
even singing them, too. There
are six songs written by some-
one other than Oberst, and even
though the Oberst-penned and
-sung tunes are often the stron-
gest cuts here, tracks like drum-
mer Jason Boesel's "Difference
Is Time" and "Eagle On a Pole"
show off considerable songwrit-
ing talent themselves.
Retreating from
the emo-folk of
Bright Eyes.
The constant shifting of
lead singers can be distract-
ing, but it also lends the album
a pieced together, collage-type
feel that contributes to the
See OBERST, Page 10

"Prepare to be mauled by my drumsticks!"
recruits them into a secret legion
of mutants doing misdeeds for a
mysterious higher purpose. Logan
disapproves of these actions and
leaves the group and his brother
behind.
The rest of the story focuses on
Logan's attempts to seek revenge
on his brother for attacking his
lover, which leads him back into the
hands of Stryker. An experiment is
performed on him to channel his
animal instincts and make him an
unstoppable killing machine. The
experiment is a rousing success,
but Stryker still decides he wants
Wolverine dead, which seems like
an awful waste of time and energy
on his part. It makes one wonder
exactly what Stryker was hoping to
accomplish with the experiment in
the first place.
Although we may not be able to
predict exactly where the story is
going, the film is obvious enough
about its twists that anyone pay-
ing the slightest attention can read
several scenes ahead at any given
moment. This is a problem for a
film that's far too dependent on plot
already. It's tough to rest emotion
on Wolverine's plight when we can
predict exactly where, under what
circumstances and whom he'll be
fighting in ten minutes.
Some diversion comes from
playing guess-that-mutant: Rec-
ognizable characters like Cyclops
and Wraith pop in for some effects

shots, then retreat before they can
contribute anything useful. All
of this only adds to the idea of a
mostly empty movie presented in
not-shiny-enough plastic wrap-
ping. It appears the filmmakers
couldn't put in the effort to create
an engaging, slightly unpredict-
able story with characters that
stick around. Everyone here's just
going through the superhero-mov-
ie motions.
There's still some fun to be
had, though. There's an engag-
ing, climactic showdown between
Wolverine and Weapon XI (Scott
Adkins, "The Bourne Ultimatum"),
a hybrid mutant with all the cool
powers implanted from every-
one else - he's like a bag of Chex
Mix that can kill people. The spe-
cial effects here still have a cheap,
glossy look to them, and there's
absolutely no substance to what's
happening, but by this point it's
quite clear the movie isn't going to
be the next "Iron Man," or even the
next "X-Men: The Last Stand," for
that matter. With mid-level expec-
tations dashed, all that's left is to
enjoy this one decently assembled
action scene.
With all due respect to Hugh
Jackman (who's still a fantastic
snarler and well worthy of anchor-
ing a decent action-movie fran-
chise), here's hopingthe guydoesn't
have to stare at his computerized
claws again in the near future.

rpI p: i\IYSr-TI
I FYI -.1 I)

Drugged, blindfolded and taken to grandma's living room.

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