MOVIE REVIEW :: BY CARRIE ROLLWAGEN
In times of war and economic difficulty, fantasy has historically proven popular, and maybe we’re getting a taste of that with X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Star Trek. It’s easy to write this off as escapism, but I don’t think that’s accurate.
Science fiction and fantasy are important, whether they come to us through movies, comic books, or novels, because they give us a unique perspective on the problems we face every day, whether they be personal, national, or global.
I was skeptical about Wolverine, since much of Logan’s backstory is explored in the first three X-Men movies, but this film’s plot divulges more about Logan’s natural powers and his relationship with Sabretooth.
I enjoyed the storyline and the action, although the more emotional scenes didn’t really move me, particularly those between Logan and Kayla. The introduction of different mutants (Gambit, Sabretooth, and the rest of Stryker’s team) resonated much better. I really loved how they honored Gambit’s New Orleans roots and gave life to his sometimes confusing powers. And it was fun to see a young Cyclops.
Star Trek was a lot more fun than I’d expected, and the parallel universe angle was a great way to keep us guessing about characters whose fates we’d already know otherwise. The inside jokes further the plot and deepen character development, so you don’t have to be a hardcore Trekkie to enjoy them. Besides, Kirk and Spock are such an established part of pop culture that the jokes work whether you’ve seen the old series or not.
It’s tempting to write off Sci Fi and Fantasy (and comic books and graphic novels) as silly, and they can certainly have elements of the absurd. But the genre as a whole goes deeper than that, and so do these films.
X-Men encourages us to question the ethics of war, what (if anything) merits preemptive military action, whether the end justifies the means, and what impact genetic testing has on society and the individual. Wolverine also explores the concept of brotherhood: Is it defined by family (like between Jimmy Logan and Victor Creed) or race/ genetics (like between all mutants)? Or, is brotherhood determined by choice, through a commitment to a common cause (like the X-Men themselves)?
I don’t think the themes in Star Trek run quite as deep (at least in this part of the story), but we’re still confronted with the impact of altering environments, how far is too far when it comes to revenge, and what part friendship plays in our character and our decisions.
Are Wolverine and Star Trek escapism? Sure. But they’re more than that, too. Plus, you can’t really go wrong with time travel, superpowers, and a bunch of hot guys in tight outfits.
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