"X-Men Origins: Wolverine"
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some partial nudity. 107 min. Two stars out of four.
Hugh Jackman's mutant Wolverine goes to war in a prologue for this "X-Men" prequel where the immortal mutant and his brother (Liev Schreiber) fight in all the big ones, from the Civil War to Vietnam.
The battles set a predictable tone from which director Gavin Hood rarely deviates. Hood presents one duel after another, with a brief respite for sappy romance so Wolverine can get really mad and hellbent on vengeance over his dead girlfriend (Lynn Collins).
Wolverine fights his brother, he fights other mutants, then he fights his brother some more on his way to becoming the amnesiac, metal-clawed freak of nature Jackman played in the "X-Men" trilogy.
For all the action, there's never much real sense of adventure or risk. Unlike the upcoming "Star Trek" prequel, which truly casts the starship Enterprise crew into an uncharted future, "Wolverine" is a setup for stories fans already have seen.
We know Wolverine's going to take his lumps but come out OK (though minus his memories) by the time the credits roll.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Rated PG-13 for sexual content throughout, some language and a drug reference. 100 min. One star out of four.
"Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" — You will be shocked — shocked! — to learn that Matthew McConaughey plays an arrogant womanizer who coasts on his looks and charm but eventually realizes that love does matter after all.
Call it laziness, call it finding your niche.
You've seen McConaughey in this kind of role before, usually with Kate Hudson as his co-star. (Jennifer Garner stands in as the voice of reason this time.)
You've also seen "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" before, in countless variations of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." But you won't see Dickens credited anywhere here, even though the plot finds McConaughey, as playboy photographer Connor Mead, reluctantly revisiting the myriad women he's wronged with the ghosts of girlfriends past, present and future as his guides.
Oh, no — this is a wholly creative enterprise.
You can count the jokes that work on one hand; the rest is pratfalls and predictability.
Connor is forced to attend the wedding of his younger brother Paul (Breckin Meyer). While there, the ghost of his Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), an old-school player, warns him not to waste his life without love. As he endures a litany of exes — all of whom are depicted as malleable sluts — he eventually realizes he misses childhood friend Jenny (Garner), the one who got away.