Notes from the back row 

Summer starting early

And so it begins, Summer Blockbuster Movie Season, an excuse to go to the Village 8 at least once a week just so you'll have something else to talk about at the beach other than the depression, how bad your landlord is reaming you, and the upcoming clusterf*ck that is the Olympics.

This summer kicks off with X-Men Origins: Wolverine which hits theatres this Friday. Due perhaps to the fact that an unfinished working print was available online almost a month ago (and no one knows how that will affect the box office on the reportedly $130 million flick) most critics are being very gentle to this one. Personally, I was hoping for more.

Wolverine is a decent comic book movie, with some killer action sequences, strong acting across the board and some woo-hoo CGI effects, but the script is weak. Corny dialogue and too-easy plotting harm what should be a brooding badass take on one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe.

If you don't know, Wolverine is a mutant with healing powers and the ability to poke razor sharp claws out the backs of his hands and carve things up. He's always been a rough, tough, no-nonsense ass kicker with a mysterious past - until now.

The first half of the flick is the best. After introducing Logan/Wolverine and his brother Victor/Sabretooth the film sets things up nicely by following the boys as they fight in four major wars spanning over a hundred years. It's the best sequence of the movie in that it looks amazing and reveals the differences in character at the same time. Then we get a bit of love, some action, betrayal, a scene of cool laboratory stuff, more action, a slew of other Marvel universe superheroes, some more action and a flaccid end fight and conclusion that definitely leaves you wanting more - but not in a good way.

Hugh Jackman does very well in the title role (with what he was given) and director Gavin Hood ( Tsotsi) has made a good superhero film but not a great one. Put into perspective, Wolverine is a bit worse than Iron Man but way, way better than Spider-Man 3 . It's PG-13 (comic movies usually are) but considering how Wolverine is supposed to be one of the grittiest, most bloodthirsty heroes going I was disappointed. The flick is a bit declawed - lots of spectacle but not dark enough to even come close to The Dark Knight . Comic fans who didn't like The Watchmen will be stoked on this though, as it's the exact opposite.

Not too many people will be stoked on The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past , also opening Friday, because it's yet another Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy where he acts slick and then learns his lesson. McConaughey plays Connor Mead, a Scrooge-like character. But instead of Christmas he hates marriage (and can you blame him? The guy is nailing supermodels so often he has to dump them three at a time via conference call).

At his little brother's wedding Mead is visited by a ghost, his womanizing uncle played by Michael Douglas, who warns him that three more ghosts (girlfriends past, present and future) will visit him throughout the night to show him how he transformed from a lovesick kid into a total douche. Thankfully, with the exception of a wedding cake scene, most of the attempted comedy is dialogue driven and if you aren't looking for anything but light entertainment at it's most mediocre, well here you go. Worth mentioning is Emma Stone as the first girlfriend ghost. Emma's a real rising star.

Star Trek , a reboot directed by JJ Abrams, comes out next week. Dorks rejoice! It's summer!!! 

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