X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Movie Review

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[SPOLIER ALERT: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT ELEMENTS THAT MAY RUIN THE FILM FOR SOME. DO NOT READ IF YOU WILL GET MAD ABOUT FINDING THINGS OUT BEFORE YOU SEE THE MOVIE.]

Hype and expectations. Hype and expectations. These two words are used a lot when it comes to two movie-going seasons: summer, and Oscar time (late-November, early December; where The Soloist should be!). Summer contains the most anticipated movies, which are seen by thousands more than most Oscar nominated films of late. This primarily has to do with two things already mentioned: hype and expectations.

With a film like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, both are in play. Hype over Hugh Jackman returning to the role that put him on the blockbuster map; and expectations of a kick-ass action movie that gives insights into who this comic book anti-hero, Wolverine, is.

So, did X-Men Origins: Wolverine achieve these things?

Hype was definitely in play over its opening weekend, garnering a solid box office of $158 million worldwide for the 20th Century Fox film. It’s the first official movie of the upcoming summer movie season that includes Terminator: Salvation, Star Trek, Angels & Demons, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. You have to open the summer with a bang, and thanks to the previous X-Men films and Hugh Jackman’s involvement (he also produced), the results were stellar.

What people were expecting versus what they saw is another matter. I’m from the side of the spectrum of people who didn’t follow the comics, so I had no real ability to make a comparison between the two. At the same time, I felt that there were elements missing in this “origin” story that I would have liked to have seen and had clarified.

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I know, I know. It’s a comic book movie. I should lighten up, relax, take a chill pill. But stay with me on this. Here are a few questions I came away with after watching the film, maybe those in the know can help me:

• In 1845, a young Logan discovers he can shoot bone claws from his hands, which have the ability to kill. Was this his first experience with this happening? Is this why he was ill? Are Wolverine and Sabretooth brothers in the comic books?

• If Logan was like 8 in 1845, how did he age and stop aging by the time the Civil War came around in the 1860s? Is there an explanation of this phenomena in the comics?

• How far off is the plot of the movie from the actual “origin” of Wolverine? How much latitude did the screenwriters/director take in adapting the story for the screen?

• What year did Stryker transform Logan into Wolverine? Seems like all that action takes place in present day, while in X2, it appear to take place in the distant past.

Personally, I wanted to see more of young Logan dealing with his “special ability.” To take us from that moment to a montage of war sequences with Jackman and Schreiber seemed to cheapen the overall origin experience for me. While I understand that he does not fully become the Wolverine that we all know and love until after Stryker injects him with the adamantium, it still would have been nice to see a little more of adolescence with young Logan.

There was a lot of negative criticism out there about how bad the special effect were in the movie. As a fan of action movies, I felt that for the genre the effects were decent. Were they top-notch and awe-inspiring? No. But if you go into a film like this and expect that level of sophisticated special effects, you’re in the wrong movie. The special effects get the job done. There are plenty of them to scrutinize. Some are more effective than others, but they all work to drive the story, and debris, forward.

If you’ve seen the trailer for the film, you’ve heard most of the “best” lines in the movie. I hate when movies do that. I hate it more when a movie trailer summarizes the entire movie and I lose any interest in seeing it (Funny People – Adam Sandler is funny, he has cancer, almost dies, gets better, gets with Leslie Mann, and two guys heckle Seth Rogen. I have now seen this movie). Don’t expect really great dialogue and you’ll be fine.

Jackman kicks ass and gives a killer performance as Logan/Wolverine, but after a while his primal screams at the sky become the stuff drinking games are made of once a film hits DVD. I think he did a fine job and there’s a reason he was cast in the role; I can’t think of anyone better.

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The rest of the cast does their best, but something feels off about most of the characters. Maybe it’s the fact that Ryan Reynolds played a similar character in Blade 3. Maybe it’s the fat suit work by the guy who plays the Blob. Maybe it’s because the Blob and Bolt are played by recurring characters from Lost (Kevin Durand and Dominic Monaghan, respectively).

Or it could have been that the guy who plays the young Colonel Stryker in this film looks nothing like Brian Cox who portrays him in X2: X-Men United. I wish Cox would have come back and reprised his role. They could have de-aged him. Hell, they did it to Patrick Stewart when he was a young Professor X! Look for him in this movie.

What it all boils down to is, is this worth seeing in theatres? I would say yes. It has solid action, which is always worth seeing on the big screen. While it’s not on the same level as Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, or Iron Man, it’s also not on the same plane as Daredevil, Batman & Robin, or Catwoman.

Here’s the video review from David Rodriguez (star of Star Trek, out May 8, 2009!):

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