X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Movie Review

>> 16 Mei 2009

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was meant to bring the story of the mutants full circle by returning to the one character who (arguably) made everyone stick together, and who was, at the same time, clearly one of the most beloved mutants ever created. The prequel should have explained how Wolverine controls his berserker rage, and how he grows into the dangerous X-Man with remarkable leader skills that we see in the successful trilogy. In all fairness, when Logan / Wolverine / Hugh Jackman lets rage take over him, the picture is not pretty – but that’s not to say the film itself manages to rise above the level of familiar competence, movie critics argue.

Understandably, X-Men and Wolverine fans will love this film, simply because it brings back on the big screen not one, but several beloved characters, including the all-powerful villain, now-silent but former-heartthrob Deadpool. Those who are not so easily sucked in by the mythology will notice from the first second that, if anything, “Wolverine” is just a mild attempt on Fox’s behalf to squeeze even the last drop of juice still remaining in the franchise – while also promising countless other sequels, spinoffs and whatnot. It’s a hurried movie that bits off more than it can chew, and the only things that hold it together are Hugh Jackman’s admirable efforts and performance.

Of course, that’s not to say that “Wolverine” is bad from start to finish, but it does imply that Fox should have thought twice before rushing into making such a film if it did not feel ready for it – just like fans were saying it would a while back. Comparisons with the leaked version are to be avoided when speaking of it, as hard as it may seem, but, even so, the film still appears like an unfinished version of a production we’ll never see. It’s either because the script tried to include more stories than it was feasible, or because director Gavin Hood fell a victim to his own well-learned vocabulary of special effects, but “Wolverine” comes short of that certain something, that je ne sais quoi that could have turned it into both a blockbuster at the box-office and a quality film, critics say.

Rewind to 1845. Logan is James, a sickly boy who accidentally murders his father, a man he did not even know that well, and who, this way, finds out about the existence of a half elder brother, Victor Creed aka Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber). The two run off together and, once their super-abilities are discovered and properly mastered, enlist their services with the army and fight other people’s battles. Even from the start, it becomes obvious that Logan, unlike Victor, is not the violent type: he may flex and howl and pack the meanest punch, but, deep down inside, all he wants to do is help others. Oppositely, Victor just wants to kill, cause bloodshed and basically beat to a pulp anyone weaker than him, which means just about everyone who crosses his path.

Hugh Jackman as the ripped, angry and ultimately endearing Logan / Wolverine
Enlarge picture
There is, of course, a devious army officer who schemes and plots, and orchestrates things to suit his agenda. Colonel Stryker (Danny Huston) deceives Logan into believing he’ll help him – but only after making him think he had taken something very precious from him –, and offers to make him indestructible. When the Frankenstein-like Wolverine emerges from the steaming bathtub, muscles ripped and dripping in the water necessary for the adamantium to be injected and cooled, he’s a man out for revenge. And revenge he’ll get, because he has to fight not one, but at least three villains – which is precisely why fans and critics alike were disappointed by the twisted, too complicated plotline.

The action scenes are, as expected, impressive but not because there really is some novelty to them or they carry any relevance to the main character, but rather because they’re used as dust in the eyes of the viewers, critics say. Since chances of Wolverine or Sabretooth being killed are slim to none, for instance, their confrontations become redundant since they lack finality and a specific sense of purpose, failing to show the evolution of the characters. The same goes for the other action sequences, which seem either too far-fetched – since the last “X-Men” movie, Wolverine has acquired a new ability, that of jumping really high in the air and tearing helicopter blades with his adamantium claws – or downright useless, with the mutants showing off their skills in a very blatant manner, when they could easily attack in “stealth” mode and be just as efficient.

Nevertheless, as noted above, none of this is the cast’s fault, all of the actors struggling to really make this heavy, unstructured material work. Jackman, as far as he’s concerned, seems to be the only thing keeping “Wolverine” from falling into the abyss where comic book-inspired movies go to die (where “Daredevil” is also to be found), as they say. Ryan Reynolds does his bit as well as Wade Wilson, a terribly charming and annoying skilled soldier who only lacks discipline.

Liev makes for a brilliant villain, having a certain sense of delightful menace about him that initially stuns his victims into not knowing whether they should run in fear or welcome him with open arms. Swift and insinuating, as well as extremely good-looking, Taylor Kitsch as Remy LeBeau aka Gambit also puts on a great show, as do the other mutants. Should anyone think Fox killed “Wolverine,” they should at least know for a fact that it wasn’t because it hadn’t wonderful actors to work with – and an equally awesome story to match.

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” runs 107 minutes, minus the Easter eggs at the end of the final credits. It opened in Argentina, Germany and France at the end of April, reached the US, Romania and Sweden on May 1, and will conclude its theatrical run in Japan, on August 22.

The Good

Fans of the comics should go to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” at least to see their favorite heroes and villains again, if not for the movie itself. Backed up by a strong and determined cast, as well as by certain fun and highly entertaining moments, “Wolverine” makes for a light way of passing almost two hours, but offers no guarantee as to it being a memorable experience as well.

The Bad

“Wolverine” falls short in many respects but the one that pains fans the most, critics argue, is the fact that it promised the world and delivered, well… nothing. Its complicated plotline, obvious use of special effects to mask shortcomings in the story, and the abundance of useless trivia make it one unsuccessful effort on behalf of Fox to continue cashing in on the mutant milk cow.

The Truth

The truth about “Wolverine,” it is being said, is that it should have not been made – or, at the very least, that it should have gone into more competent hands than those of director Hood and Fox high-ups. Without being downright painful to watch, “Wolverine” offers little to redeem itself in the eyes of the fans, with Jackman’s performance being among those few things. Fans will certainly see it, but whether they’ll also like it is a different matter altogether.

Source Softpedia


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