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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Variety on 'Wolverine': A Hollywood 'work for hire'

April 29, 2009 | 12:57 pm

Wolverine Not that this is exactly a shocker, but Variety just posted its review of Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which opens Friday, with a host of 12:01 a.m. theater showings. And according to the trade's Justin Chang, the much-anticipated summer tentpole is ... a snooze.

Arguing that the "dull-witted" film falls considerably short of the first two Bryan Singer-directed installments in the series (but better than the third Brett Ratner film), Chang explains: "This brawny but none-too-brainy prequel sustains interest mainly -- if only fitfully -- as a nonstop slice-and-dice vehicle for Hugh Jackman."

Chang is toughest on the script, which he views as having aimed low -- and still missed. Here's an excerpt:

"Though its as thick with exposition as any cinematic adaptation of a complex and beloved superhero mythology, the script, by David Benioff and Skip Woods, relies, to a lazy and excessive degree, on both Jackman's considerable charisma and fan awareness of Wolverine's preternatural abilities. There's little emotional modulation or sense of discovery as Logan morphs from hardened soldier to angry but principled rebel, seeking revenge on the mad scientist who engineered him.... Script also traffics in the kind of flat, shopworn comic relief that's become de rigeur for superhero fare.... Noisy and impersonal, 'Wolverine' bears all the marks of a work for hire, conceived and executed with a big budget, but little imagination."

Photo: Hugh Jackman in "Wolverine." Credit: Michael Muller / Associated Press