X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
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David Benioff, Len Wein
Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, Liev Schreiber, Dominic Monaghan, Lynn Collins, Danny Huston, Taylor Kitsch, Kevin Durand, Scott Adkins, Will i Am, James D. Dever, Christian Clark, Adrian Hughes, Alice Parkinson, Matthew Dale, Daniel Henney, Aaron Jeffery, Myles Pollard, Tahyna Tozzi, Troye Sivan, Matthew Dale, Stephen Leeder, Alison Araya, Adelaide Clemens, Alexandra Davies, Rob Flanagan, Tim Pocock
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|Movie Review by Jarrod |
May 2nd, 2009
Here is movie intended either for those who might actually care to know about Wolverine's origins, or for those who already know them, the real Marvel comic geeks. I belong to neither camp. I can appreciate a well-made action film, as this surely is; it comes from director Gavin Hood, an interesting choice; his previous work includes the Oscar-winning Tsotsi. The film got a lot of publicity about a month ago, when an early copy of it was leaked onto the Internet; this really upset Hugh Jackman, its star and producer, who stands to make millions when the flick inevitably dominates the box office this first weekend of May. I imagine he already made millions when he first signed on, to reprise the role he played in the X-Men franchise.
'Wolverine' begins in Canada, 1845. This is when he first discovers his special ability; when sufficiently enraged, claws made of bone will emerge (rather painfully) from between his knuckles. Wolverine's real name is James Logan; he finds out that his friend, Victor, is actually his brother. As adults, they come to America, and serve in four wars; the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and Vietnam.
After Vietnam, they are recruited by General Stryker (Danny Huston), into an elite mutant squad, which includes teleporter John Wraith (Will I Am from The Black Eyed Peas), talkative sword expert Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), the super-strong Blob (Kevin Durant), psychic/telepath (OK, so I guess all he really does is control and manipulate electrical devices) Chris Bradley, a.k.a Bolt (Dominic Monaghan), and gun guru Zero (Daniel Henney), who will later become Stryker's bodyguard, and chief henchman, once the squad disbands.
Wolverine quits it because he is tired of the atrocities he is forced to commit; Stryker wants to get his hands on an indestructible metal called Adamantium, which apparently arrived on Earth inside a meteor. Wolverine watches as Victor turns into a monster, and develops a taste for killing. Victor, of course, will eventually become known as Sabretooth, Wolverine's nemesis. Sabretooth and Wolverine both have regenerative abilities; so they can emerge from just about anything unscathed (they survive an execution by firing squad).
Sabretooth ruthlessly eliminates his former teammates. Of course, he will show up and disrupt Logan's new, happy life in the Canadian Rockies, where he works as a lumberjack and lives with his schoolteacher girlfriend, Kayla (Lynn Collins). Logan, consumed by grief, and thirsty for vengeance, agrees to participate in Stryker's experiment, which involves pumping adamantium into his body, making him invincible, and, giving him his trademark metal claws. Now, pardon me if I regard this as silly; Logan already possesses extraordinary regenerative powers, so what difference does adamantium make?
Stryker proudly states that Logan is unkillable, and then, well, decides to try and kill him, after he escapes from Stryker's lab facility. Zero pursues him. He finds temporary shelter in the home of a compassionate elderly couple, before continuing on his journey, and bumping into fellow mutant outcast Remy LeBeau, or Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), whom he looks to for help. Yeah, this is the guy with the Cajun accent in the animated show I liked a lot as a kid.
The only memorable action sequence is a motorcycle chase, and a somewhat impressive fight between Logan and Weapon XI, the ultra mutant built by Stryker with the specific purpose of hunting down and exterminating other mutants. The film throws in a few tie-ins to the first X-Men flick, with the unexpected appearance of another iconic character from the X-Men universe in the final scenes, and the introduction of a young Scott Summers (Tim Pocock), still struggling with those laser beams that shoot out of his eyes.
Jackman is charismatic and buff, but his performance is dull and forgettable; his cliched reaction to Kayla's death earned snickers from me. Schreiber is effective as the psychotic Sabretooth, but Huston actually makes for a better villain, and remember that he resurfaces in X-2, played by Brian Cox. I initially had difficulty understanding what motivated Victor beyond pure madness, but I think jealousy is a factor, as well.
Lynn Collins is sort of robotic in her romantic interludes with Jackman. Reynolds and Kitsch are entertaining, but underused. The main problem is that the movie lacks "wow" moments, is not able to compete with the likes of Spider-Man and The Dark Knight, especially when it comes to special effects. But, honestly, I simply wait for the backstory of a more fascinating mutant, like Magneto; other candidates could be Nightcrawler, Storm, Mystique, and Charles Xavier.
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