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Avril Brown Presents:








WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE NOT EXPECTING

Generally speaking, I’m a glass-half-empty kind of gal. I’m not a pessimist, per se, but I do try to not get my hopes up about many things, especially blockbuster movies starring characters I first met and loved in other forms of media. My reasoning is as follows: if I am expecting a half-empty glass and someone hands me a full one instead, bonanza! I am now sipping twice the amount of liquid-y goodness than was expected. If the glass comes to me half-empty or even completely barren it’s not that big of a disappointment given I was already mentally prepared for such a scenario.

So it is with my brilliant Zen-like philosophy on the brain I approached both ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ and ‘Star Trek.’ I am a huge X-Men fan, but after being burned by the pathetic pile of flaming CRAP that was ‘X-Men 3,’ I learned to be twice shy when approaching movies involving my beloved characters. As for ‘Star Trek,’ I grew up on Next Gen and never really explored the original Star Trek series, therefore I felt no real bond towards Captain Kirk and his crew. Yet the classics must be respected if only for the fact they came first, and when I saw all the young faces in the previews I feared Hollywood was gearing up for a more teeny-bopper type action flick, full of sexy, youthful people making out and blowing shit up.

One movie handed me a full glass, brimming forth with the sweet nectar of life, the other tossed a dry, dusty mug at my feet. Given how fast news travels nowadays, even movie news, it shouldn’t be difficult to guess which one was which.

I had already heard unsatisfactory things about ‘Wolverine’ so I tried to mentally brace myself, and added to that was my Dalai Lama approach to movie watching. The two combined softened the blow a bit…yet I was still disappointed. At first I could not put my finger on exactly why I didn’t care for the movie, especially since I saw it with my sister (who is SO not a comic nerd) and she actually liked it, which is saying a lot. There were certainly parts of it we both enjoyed: the first time Hugh Jackman appeared on screen without his shirt on we did a simultaneous head tilt and girly sigh in appreciation. Plus the special effects were well done, and Deadpool’s blades at the end were pretty damn cool. However, the more I tried to focus on what it was about the film which left an ashy taste in my mouth the more I realized focus, or the lack thereof, was the problem.

In the comics Wolverine and Sabretooth have spent over a century trying to kill/maim/emotionally scar one another in new and interesting ways. The movie opens with the manifestation of James’s (Wolverine’s given name) powers and the revelation he and Victor (Sabretooth’s given name) were blood brothers, which I thought was a nifty and believable idea. They have very similar powers, and they both have quite a body count in their history. Yet their complicated relationship was not developed enough, so what follows all seems a bit rushed, especially for comic fans. We’re still trying to wrap our lobes around the fact and Wolverine and Sabretooth are brothers and have each other’s backs no matter what when suddenly they’re estranged, then mortal enemies, then kind of not.

Then they toss in a bastardized version of the Weapon X project, one of the most significant story lines in Wolverine history. In the books Wolverine totally lost his shit after the procedure which bonded the indestructible metal known as adamantium to his skeleton, and he spent weeks in the care of a couple with the skills and willingness to help him through the shock. Even though the scene in the movie looked pretty sweet, James/Logan (they never explain when or why he started taking the name Logan) bounces back after a naked run through the woods and squatting in a barn for three minutes, downplaying one of the most traumatizing events in his life. (Though I am certainly not objecting to seeing Hugh Jackman wearing nothing but the body god and a steady workout gave him)

There were other aspects of the film which rankled as well, not the least being a rather poor use of Gambit, one the best characters ever written, as a lame-accented throw away character with no real purpose. Also, there was barely any blood to be found in the entire movie. I understand trying to adhere to the PG-13 rating by not throwing blood ‘n guts everywhere and draw in the younger crowd, but kids know when you get cut or shot, you bleed. Frankly I believe the brutal murder of sweet lil ol’ Ma and Pa Good Samaritan is a hell of a lot more disturbing than a bit of the red stuff on a blade.

I could go on with other examples, some nit-picky, fangirl shit, some not, but what it boils down to is ‘Wolverine’ was too much like ‘X3’: cool story ideas with a craptastic follow through and less-than-stellar dialogue.

‘Star Trek,’ however, was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. As stated above, I saw the previews and though impressed by the flashy effects, I couldn’t help but think: “Hey, they’ve got the dude from ‘Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement’ playing Captain Kirk. Funny.” Not that I’m hating; I actually own that slightly demented movie, but I was afraid the Powers That Be behind the movie were going for more sauce than story. However, that did not stop me from joining some of my co-workers for a showing last Friday on opening night. I went into the movie with a bemused expression on my face and left with a gleefully dorky smile instead.

What struck me the most about ‘Star Trek’ was its ability to laugh at itself without turning the whole thing into a comedy. Anyone who knows anything about Star Trek knows it is a bit campy, especially the original series, but this film paid homage to the campy-ness without letting it dominate the script. The classic lines from the series even non-Trekkies know popped up in the film, earning a chuckle or two but not slowing down the story in the slightest, and at least one revered character was tastefully given his due (the whole audience cheered when Leonard Nimoy graced the screen).

The acting was spot on across the board. Casting Simon Pegg as Scotty was pure genius, Zachary Quinto as Spock is appropriately stoic while still mustering enough emotion to charge his make-out scenes co-starring the damn fine Uhura (Zoe Saldana) with some sizzling tension (of course, that could just be due to her natural hotness), and Chris Pine makes his mark as an arrogant, horny yet heartfelt Captain James Kirk. Plus John Cho gets to wield an extend-o sword like a fencing bad-ass.

‘Star Trek’ was not without its faults and occasional plot hole (I for one would like to know what happened to Kirk’s mom, who only gets a one-line shout out after the dramatic introductory scene), yet it kept the cheese in check and managed to tell a fun, partially disturbing, well-rounded story which allowed for deviations from the original Star Trek universe in an acceptable way, and left it open for countless sequels (naturally).

So despite my attempts to emotionally limit my expectations for two majorly nerdy movies, I still ended up pouting after one and elated after the other. Just goes to show, no matter how much I try to ‘ooommmm’ myself into a neutral state of being, when it comes to nerd-centric, big screen adaptations, I will forever be anything but neutral. 

Avril Brown

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