Finally. The only interesting character in the X-Men universe has his own movie. No, I’m not referring to Cyclops (although I wouldn’t mind seeing some footage with him and Jean Grey getting down to business). I’m talking about X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the long awaited Wolverine flick that, whether good or bad, will undoubtedly breathe a breath of fresh air into the franchise (X-Men 3 – The Last Stand didn’t exactly win over fans) and provide more shots of Hugh Jackman’s ripped pecs than humanly needed.
While I’m on the subject of Jackman, I must say it is uncanny how perfectly cast he is as Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine. I’d swear Marvel had him in mind when they first drew their retractable clawed anti-hero 35 years ago.
But never mind that. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is one of those movies that can’t fail so long as it delivers fast paced action with explosions galore involving mutants with unparalleled powers. It certainly does all this, although, it most definitely could have done much more, better.
The film traces Logan’s start all the way to the beginning to when he is a young boy, where, after discovering his “talent” for shredding and stabbing things goes on the run with his older brother Victor, a.k.a. Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber). Many years pass, and he and his brother ultimately find themselves in with a band of mutants — teleporter John Wraith (will.i.am), super strong Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), electrically charged Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan), expert marksman David “Agent Zero” North (Daniel Henney) and swordsman Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) — controlled by General William Stryker (Danny Huston) to do his covert operations around the globe.
When one surgical strike goes bad, Logan takes his leave of the group and after a clumsy and prolonged homemaker chapter of the film, the sparks finally fly — literally — as he’s transformed into the adamantium-boned Wolverine we know and love. With revenge against Victor and Stryker on his mind (they colluded to kill his wife Kayla (Lynn Collins)), X-Men Origins: Wolverine finally tries to limp into overdrive, tossing everything, including the kitchen sink, at us, in hopes that the first half of the movie be forgotten. It almost works.
The CGI effects, when they’re employed, are outstanding (but how can’t they be for a summer blockbuster?). Problem is, aside from the one scene in which Wolverine is thrown from an exploding Humvee onto the helicopter that just blew his ride up, everything else is just ho-hum. Even the compulsory battle between the forces of good and evil at the end is anti-climatic and a bit on the weak side.
Same can be said about the cast of mutants. Most of them showcase their talent no more than once and are then summarily discarded like a used piece of tissue paper. Those that do happen to have the chance to show off their talents a few extra times are the ones you don’t want to see again (does the Blob really deserve any amount of air time?). And as much as I was impressed with Schreiber’s take on the dark and demented Sabretooth, I don’t think I needed to see him fight his brother half a dozen times.
Oh yeah, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic with the forced tie in to the first X-Men movie either.
Okay, so it sounds like I’m just dumping on X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That may be, but even with these miscues, I still had a good time watching it. There is simply something about the fantasy realm that transfixes and there should be no doubt — the X-Men universe is about as fantastical as it gets, even if done rather blandly. And besides, its got Wolverine in it. That alone counts for something.