Friday, May 15, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Snikt!

*** Contains Spoilers ***

I hate reviewing films like this, where there's so much good in it and in an equal measure on the flip-side there's so much wrong with the bloody thing that they cancel each other out. I hate to use the Iron Man benchmark here because this movie would never be anywhere in Shellhead's league, but the movies are similar in which they draw upon source material from Marvel Comics to create original origins for movie characters. In the case of Iron Man, this was done properly, it was unique to the movie, but faithful to the characters and original plot elements from 40 years of history. In the case of Wolverine it was in some part accurate but a butchered mess in equal measure.

This is a character driven movie as opposed to the borderline sci-fi FX-heavy X-Men trilogy so it's more important to have the characters believable [as much a mutant immortal can be] and somewhat faithful to the way they've already been presented - this is not an alternate reality - this should be the origin of characters we've seen already, but some 17? years earlier than the X-Men trilogy.

On the plus side we have Hugh Jackman, beefed up, all feral and already established as the Wolverine / James / Logan character from the X-Men movies to the effect that we can't imagine anyone else in the role, he really is great to watch and his star-power is obvious. The problems I have with the movie all stem from the rest of the cast.

Yeah I can be a fan-boy, but I'm prepared to ignore differences between the movie and the comic book, like Logan being a half-brother of Victor, Logan being old enough to have fought in the American Civil War, Agent Zero being Korean and not German etc., hell the comic book's own histories and origins vary so wildly out of control I can't blame them for tweaking it but you can't make such radical character changes between here and the three films of it's own main franchise...

- We have Liev Schreiber, who always impresses me and I think it's a shame that he's not given great roles [this year's Defiance, being an exception] but despite putting in some awesome gym-time for the part; this attempt at Victor / Sabretooth, Wolverine's arch-nemesis is not it. Why give Victor any such meat to his role when he had already been established by pro-wrestler Tyler Mane as a barbarian vegetable. Sure, have them trading machismo quips but Sabretooth should dwarf Wolverine period. Were there no wrestler-wannabe-actors available? Schreiber would have served better as Col. Stryker, a role which he originally negotiated for.

- Danny Huston, again an excellent actor with good roles recently in How To Loose Friends and Alienate People and 30 Days Of Night. Unfortunately he delivers nowhere near the performance of Brian Cox as Colonel Stryker, I know they couldn't de-ageify Cox because if they couldn't do it properly for 10 seconds with Paddy Stewart as Prof. X at the end of this movie, what hope could they have with Cox? But there was just too much lacking in Huston's somewhat controlled and subdued performance. The sad thing is Cox wanted to do it! Who says no to Brian Cox?
-It was chronologically essential that they cast a much younger actor for Scott / Cyclops, but there was no reason for inexplicably changing his power from his trademark concussive blast to heat vision like fuckin' Superman!
-Another plus to this movie was having Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, the wisecracking "Merc with a mouth," - until they take his mouth away! [this travesty automatically took one star from the movie because it was so fuckin' dumb-ass]. It's been confirmed Reynolds will have his own Deadpool movie in the future and hopefully they'll ignore most of this shit origin for him - oh he's alive because a "stinger" scene after the credits shows him putting his head back on... WTF???!!!
-At least Taylor Kitsch's Gambit was pretty good, although I never really followed/liked the character but maybe he'll get his own movie too?

There are some good aspects to the movie; the fight scenes and the action were well done and I can't fault them for being as good as any other example of the best movies of this genre. The Weapon X [I'll have to get used to saying "Weapon Ten" now in speech] sequences were not as "bloody" as Wolverine's flashbacks in the X-Men movies, but were done adequately [this is objected to by Vaughan who ranted for 10 minutes about why Logan should have been naked in the tank and have tubes attached to his orifices and one of the scientists screaming something about there being semen in the tube - I honestly don't know what the fuck type of movie he was expecting]. Harry Gregson-Williams produced a quality musical score in a style with which he usually scores his action movies and is therefore going on my iPod.

There is just one ultimate question I have about this movie, no it's not where did Scott Sommers get those glasses for his sight before he met Prof. X? How did the "endgame" Deadpool bend his arms if he was concealing two full length katana blades in them? Where did a Humvee and all those LCD & Plasma screens come from if the movie is set at most in the early 1980's? INo none of those, my real question is: What is the point of this movie? The Wolverine / Sabretooth relationship was never carried over into the trilogy other than some grunted animosity when they met but there was no recognition from either of them - was Sabretooth's memory wiped too? How? When? We know from X2 that Stryker had a hand in what was done to Wolverine but we didn't know what exactly or why. In the end it just wasn't that important to the audience with many I'm sure preferring the mystery of Wolverine's origin to this somewhat bland rendition and even causes the effect of making the character less interesting.

Final Verdict: Great action, excellent performance from Jackman, but Schreiber and Huston were miscast. Ultimately unnecessary tale which could easily have been shoehorned into the first 30 minutes or so of a better story with half the amount of characters. Stay home from the cinema but see it on DVD if you must.

Colonel Creedon Rating: **1/2

A sequel to Wolverine has been confirmed and according to early speculation it will focus on Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's account of Wolverine's time in Japan with The Silver Samurai and Lady Deathstrike which sounds far more exciting than this.


Bruce Russell said...

I saw it this afternoon, and I totally agree.

vaughan said...

I was expecting....a good movie..Colonel you know full well I was giving out about the actual fact Wolverine had boxer shorts on during a hazardous medical procedure...and the original Weapon X story managed through dialog show painful the transfusion of Admantium is...but then again this is a film that has a magical admantium bullet that can erase memories not kill and of course the plot line of the villian making the Hero Indestructible than trying to kill him?!?!???!