Monday, May 18, 2009

Origins Sin: A Review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Review #6)


X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

The first two X-Men films are among the greatest comic book adaptations ever made (The Dark Knight be damned). They were entertaining and intelligent with great action scenes. You knew the characters and motivations: Magneto's hatred for humans and Professor X's hope for human/mutant coexistence. None of them were perfect, and that's what made them believable. You could relate to them.

Now we have X-Mens Origins: Wolverine, which purports to tell how our angry mutant came to be. How it all ties with the X-Men films is a little beyond me, and moreover, which watching it, I could only think one thing: I was unaware that Wolverine is older than Magneto. True enough, it may be accurate in terms of what the comics say. However, it just didn't make sense to me, and that is just one of the problems the film couldn't overcome.

We start in 1840s Canada, where our hero Wolverine aka Logan (Hugh Jackman) discovers his mutation in a moment of fury (there's a shocker). Joined by his brother (also a mutant) Sabertooth (Liev Schreiber), they run away...all the way to the American Civil War, the First World War, the Second World War, and Vietnam (it is true: Korea IS the Forgotten War). They are recruited by General Stryker (Danny Huston) to join an elite team (more killing). It was one mission too many, for after a massacre of innocent villagers Logan (aka James) walks away from them and heads back to Canada. He finds a beautiful woman to love, but then someone starts killing members of his former team, and after his beloved is killed he vows revenge. As part of his revenge, his metal claws are bestowed upon him. From there, he goes after his man.


The main problem is that this ISN'T an origin story in the same way Batman Begins or Iron Man are. It's just a routine action film, right down to the clichés.

When the elite team is heading up in an elevator to assassinate someone while listening to Muzak--cliché.
When Logan finds his girlfriend's body and he screams out while the camera pans up and away--cliché.
When he walks away slowly from an exploding helicopter--you guessed it: cliché.

I kept saying, "cliché, cliché, cliché" while watching the film.

If anything, Wolverine is following in the sorry steps of X-Men: The Last Stand. You have characters introduced and then killed with no real reason. I figure that with this film, The Lord of the Rings, and Lost, Dominic Monaghan is assuring his career at Comic-Con-style conventions. He reminded me of James Marsden's Cyclops (a character who also appears in the movie for no discernable reason except script padding) in X3--he's killed off before being allowed to do anything. Taylor Kitsch's Gambit (always one of my favorites from the animated show) is on screen for approximately eight to ten minutes and added nothing to the plot except name recognition.
Liev Schreiber obviously had fun playing Sabertooth (whom I was unaware was Wolverine's brother, though I'm still confused if they're full or half). My friend Fidel Gomez & I disagree about him: I think he's a competent actor while he insists he's wooden in every performance he's given. In fact, he was not looking forward to Wolverine precisely because of him. However, his performance showed he was in on the joke, not bringing anything to his role of Sabertooth except the..wait for it...clichéd villain. Hugh Jackman looks great (and makes all of us under 40, or 30, or 20, feel bad about not going to the gym), and while he was all right he didn't have that fury mixed with sorrow that he had in the first two X-Men.

Only Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool brought any sense of fun and action to the film, though I question whether being a master swordsman is a true mutation.  However, the decision to silence a character best known for his acerbic wit is yet another bad, bad decision.

Of course, there are fights a plenty: three between Sabertooth and Wolverine alone. Wolverine fights Stryker. Wolverine fights Deadpool. Wolverine fights (fill in the blank). When he does fight, it looks fake. In fact, everything looks fake. The effects looked cheap and unconvincing. For example, when he first examines his new claws, they looked animated onto the screen. When he walks away from the exploding helicopter, it looks like his body is superimposed on the screen. Even Patrick Stewart in a cameo looked...odd.
Ultimately, this movie failed to tell an interesting backstory to one of the most memorable characters from the X-Men comic book series. Instead, it was mindless action. You just think how much better it would have been if instead of putting so much emphasis on the explosions (or Jackman's physique) they would have tightened the story to where A.) you end with him where you first found him in X-Men (even if you had to get Anna Paquin back for a quick cameo), and B.) the other mutants actually had SOMETHING to do with the story.

If there are to be more Origins stories, I'd prefer Gambit or Deadpool (though for the latter, it should end when he joins Stryker's team). Now that I think of it, Deadpool reminds me of Darth Maul: the best character in the film killed off by the end when a movie about HIM would have been better/more interesting.

I conclude with this thought. In X-Men, they told Magneto's backstory in less than five minutes. In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, they couldn't tell his in close to two hours.

DECISION: F

3 comments:

  1. After I saw it...I wasn't overwhelmed it seemed like it was missing something, I did like the action parts in it although some of the effects did look obvious. I have to say it was ok but it wasn't the greatest thing I've ever seen. I would rate it a D and just rent it when it comes out on blue ray and DVD. Thank you

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  2. Yoiu have to read the comics to know, if you dont'know, you dont know and won't understand the Wolverine sage

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  3. I cannot judge a movie based on its source material. I can only judge a pre/sequel from the films that came before and thus I have to work from that. A good film will work apart from the source (Gone With the Wind, Psycho, Oliver!, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). A bad film adaptation (Troy, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) or one where you NEED to know the story beforehand (Watchmen, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), won't.

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