X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I’m a big comic book movie fan and really enjoyed the first 2 X-Men movies (sorry but the 3rd one kind of sucked in different ways). So I went into this film with high hopes and was once again disappointed in the same way (and for most of the same reasons) as I was with the new Star Trek.

Warning – this review does contain some spoliers, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to stop reading this now…

One of the main problems I have is that the film speeds through the early parts of the backstory and goes from Wolverine as a child to him as an adult pretty quickly. We never get to see what his teenage years were like, much like the jump in the Star Trek timeline with James Kirk. Another aspect to this is that they introduce his claws really quickly in a way that really seems unrealistic and a bit too convenient. He’s in a traumatic situation with his parents and all of a sudden his claws spring out of his hands. Now, if you had claws that suddenly shot out of your hands, wouldn’t you take a moment and go “what the hell?!”. Not Wolverine, he (as a child, mind you) just kind of looks at them and puts them to work right away. After the event, he and his brother run away and the titles start with them fighting various wars together. They never sit down and question why he has claws and why he (and his brother) both appear to be immortal.

Another problem I have with this is something Roger Ebert mentioned in his review – it’s hard to build sympathy for someone who’s constantly pissed off. Since there’s no backstory, you don’t really get a sense of why he’s so pissed and why he is always fighting. There are a few moments in the film where you get to see Logan’s softer side such as when he’s with his love interest (by the way, Logan is a name he’s suddenly called but again is never explained why as his childhood name is actually Jimmy). Other than that, he’s just kind off pissed most of the film.

There are plenty of cliche’s laced throughout with the typical Wolverine poses and angles, which is to be expected but gets a bit overdone. One big cliche’ that just comes off cheesy (when I think it was supposed to be clever but didn’t play that way) was the location of the final battle. During the film, there are references to a mysterious “island” that turns out to be 3-Mile Island, which is apparently functioning but doesn’t seem to have any employees working there. The revealing of TMI is supposed to be this ironic/clever kind of moment, but just comes off as cheesy and kind of stupid.

One thing I don’t get lately is why action films are being so poorly written – big holes in the plotline, unrealistic reactions to events, overdone cliche’s and little substance. I’m working on my own screenplay at the moment, so seeing a film like this is a real eye-opener from a writing standpoint of what not to do…

On the upside – the action and effects sequences are well done. There are times where the CG is really evident to the point where it’s hard to suspend dis-belief, but overall, they’re decent.

The acting is also pretty good for the most part – Liev Schrieber as Victor/Sabertooth (Wolverine’s brother) was an excellent choice. He’s an actor you just don’t see enough of. And the very talented Hugh Jackman does a great Wolverine as usual.

It was also nice to see some characters from the comic book series emerge such as Blob, Gambit, Deadpool and the introduction of Cyclops.

If you’re into popcorn flicks with little substance, you might want try to catch this on the big screen if you can. Otherwise – you might want to just wait until it’s on DVD or HBO.

reviewed by Sean McKnight