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Overall Rating

Awesome: 3.95%
Worth A Look: 19.74%
Average: 17.11%
Pretty Bad: 26.32%
Total Crap32.89%

6 reviews, 40 user ratings

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine
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by Erik Childress

"Gavin Hood – You Are No Brett Ratner. And That’s Pathetic."
1 stars

Having bailed on the TV series, Heroes, this year for good I can’t say that the prospects of another X-Men film at this time was going to reignite any enthusiasm for a large group of random mutants with random powers having random adventures. Not that I wasn’t a fan once upon a time of this series. Bryan Singer’s first film was a nice, solid 90-minute entry point into this world and produced a star out of Hugh Jackman’s dead-on work as the comic’s standout character. X2: X-Men United expanded the universe but with an extra half-hour of running time wore out its welcome while the heroes spent the final half-hour trying to find their way out of a secret base. The less said about Brett Ratner’s The Last Stand the better which had a desperate nature to wrap up the trilogy, introduce a few newbies while killing off old favorites and even the biggest fans seemed content to let Ratner’s hackery end the franchise once and for all. Alas, along comes a spinoff prequel and desperation is more apparent then ever. Desperation from the studio to keep the bucks coming in and desperation on the part of director Gavin Hood and the screenwriters to link this up as the very first X-Men adventure. Only if this was first out of the box, there would have been no anticipation for a second.

Beginning in 1845, we’re introduced to a young and sickly Logan in an oddly confusing setup where his father is killed by a loud man in their home harassing his mother. Logan’s bone claws come out, he kills the man who killed his father only to find out that the man he just killed IS his father. With me? Also at home is Logan’s older brother, Victor, a scowling lad who is happy his brother has found his bloodlust even though no one lets on who the first nice man who actually looked like Hugh Jackman’s father really was. Through the opening credits we see the now grown Logan (Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) fighting in every known war, including that Civil one in the U.S. despite them being Canadian. After an attempted execution for war crimes in Vietnam, the surviving brothers are recruited by William Stryker (Danny Huston) to be a part of an elite special forces squad made up of fellow mutants. They include John Wraith (Will.i.Am) who can teleport, Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan) who can control electricity, David North (Daniel Henney) who is a crack shot, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) the master swordsman and motormouth and Frederick J. Dukes (Kevin Durand) who can stop a tank missile with his fist. If any of these characteristics are off, please blame the movie and not me because that’s how they are presented.

Victor’s appetite for destruction reaches a boiling point leading Logan to leave the group and pursue a normal life. Some years later he’s a lumberjack and he’s ok. He sleeps with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins) all night and he works all day. In Watchmen (or Heroes)-like fashion, members of the old team are being bumped off. Well, at least one of them. So Stryker tracks down Logan and hopes to bring him back into the fold. After Logan refuses, Kayla is found dead, brutalized by the hands of Victor. Seeking revenge, Logan agrees to let Stryker experiment on him to fashion his bones into an indestructible metal known as adamantium. But this is just the next step of his plan to create the ultimate mutant and Logan, not taking the prospect of having his memories wiped lightly, busts out of the compound and then spends the rest of the film trying to discover Stryker’s super secret “island” (a discovery that turns out to be both laughable and insulting), finding new mutants for the franchise and being hunted by Victor aka Sabretooth.

From here we could choose to analyze Wolverine from either the cinema viewer’s standpoint or those who have written thesis papers about the various comic incarnations. But why not both? Christopher Nolan did something ingenious with the Joker in The Dark Knight. Instead of creating a first act transformation, he played up the comic’s notion of never having a definitive backstory and had the character continually reinvent the history of his infamous scars. With Wolverine the most basic section of his history is his involvement with Weapon X and conversion to a Terminator-esque exoskeleton. Other than that he was just a superhuman agent of the Canadian government until joining up with Professor X. This was all expanded upon for the series known as Wolverine: Origins where the extremely fuzzy prologue appears to be pilfered from, but that’s where the connections end since Singer’s versions had already twisted Logan’s story into something else.

But even on that level the screenplay by David Benioff (Troy, The Kite Runner) and Skip Woods (Swordfish, Hitman) misses all the connections. You can start with the most superficial in the acting with Danny Huston supposedly shrinking into the tinier, pudgier Brian Cox as Stryker and Liev Schreiber growing into a mute professional wrestler as Sabretooth (played by Tyler Mane in the original.) At least they found a Jackman lookalike to play the mysterious groundskeeper of the Logan cabin. (But, oh yeah, that wasn't his father.) Only there’s not one iota of consistency with either the film or print versions. The Origins story never established Wolverine and Sabretooth as brothers (full or half) even though Logan grew up with a kid known as “Dog.” In a previous storyline Sabretooth was once suspected to be Wolverine’s father, but that would only further anguish the already timeline-challenged film. At least in Highlander (the most inconsistent of all franchises) we knew that the immortals stopped aging the first time they were “killed.” If Wolverine and Sabretooth’s healing powers allowed their aging to slow why do they age from young lads to full-grown men by the time of the Civil War but are still basically the same ages a full century-plus later? And without encapsulating the full arc of their relationship, it’s reasonable to say that it changes with the frequency of slapping Faye Dunaway to get information. With all the effort the writers make to bridge the gap to Singer’s already mutated accuracy I would like to hear them explain how their final scenes together here translate to Sabretooth’s mindless hunting of his brother in the (technically) next film.

Chalk it up I guess to Liev Schreiber playing the exact same character as he just did in Edward Zwick’s Defiance; the brother who would rather kill Nazis than sit and hide like his brother, only to join another group and have a change-of-heart just when his bro needs him to lead outcasts from captivity. Only this time with fangs and claws. Action is hardly in short supply in Wolverine and while it mostly manages to avoid the ultra close-up approach to many of the fight scenes, Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, Rendition) still brings no creativity or excitement to the numerous chases and claw-a-cuffs. Take seven mutants on Stryker’s team and instead of having them combine their powers to work together, their opponents allow each of them an individual attack to show off their skills. And each of them get a turn which is so nice. The downtime between the action is rather brutal as we’re forced to listen to one cliched dialogue exchange after another. To help break it up, we’re given an aside with Logan having a boxing match (of all things) with Durand’s Dukes whose superpower has revolved into the ability to have an eating disorder. Add in Remy “Gambit” LeBeau (Taylor Kitsch) who can throw playing cards and a chick who can turn herself into a girl’s best friend and you have just another lame episode of Heroes at twice the length. By the middle of the film as Logan takes refuge in a barn, I was disengaged enough and hoping to be revived by the old farmer entering it with a shotgun and shouting, “Take that you mutated son-of-a-bitch!”

Hugh Jackman has turned in some really solid work recently in films like The Prestige and The Fountain, but there’s no denying the brand of moviestar quality that burst from the screen during his first go-round of X-Men. And that has never wavered until now where even he appears a little bored with this character who has been noticably softened in his demeanor compared to when we first met him – despite this being when he should be at his most irritated and surly. Danny Huston provides no such menace as Stryker, (whose backstory would make for a far more complex story) and gets some unintentional laughs when Wolverine’s Kryptonite is revealed to be a six-shooter with special adamantium bullets. Be sure to get him during the full moon! Those hoping for a Ryan Reynolds fix of swords, muscle and smart-ass would be better off watching any one scene from Blade: Trinity since he basically disappears after his initial onslaught.

Cashing in on the Wolverine name is not a surprise, but any movie lover worth their salt realizes that the origin story is usually the weakest element of any series. Once you’re able to get all the intro exposition out of the way is when the films really kick it into gear. Christopher Nolan certainly broke that mold with Batman Begins and recent revivals like Casino Royale and the promise of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek proved there was room to spin popular franchises around for another fresh go. X-Men Origins: Wolverine may not be the final drop in the cash bucket but its clear that whatever creative well fans wished upon for their beloved series has been officially dried up.

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originally posted: 05/01/09 14:00:00
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User Comments

5/07/19 I Hate FF Wolverine's trilogy movies has been very bad. 1 stars
9/02/14 Jeff pure shit 1 stars
3/08/11 The GLC interesting story line with female co-star, great cinematography, lots of unexpected. 5 stars
6/28/10 Charles Tatum By-the-numbers; did anyone really need this to be made? 3 stars
2/28/10 daveyt you know what you're going to get, I enjoyed it... so there! 4 stars
10/14/09 Nick So shitty it was probably written by crayon. 1 stars
9/28/09 Drake Samson has nothing to do with wolvies actual story,horrid script,terrible raping of characters 1 stars
9/25/09 george webster simply put,Pure Disappointment! 2 stars
6/29/09 damalc perfect example of more being less. underwhelming. 2 stars
6/08/09 mr.mike Good but does not demand to be seen on the big screen. 4 stars
6/02/09 Pokejedservo Not the best X-Men movie but it surprisingly wasn't that bad to me at all. 4 stars
5/22/09 Rouge THE MOVIE WAS THE BEST NOT ONLY THAT BUT ALL OF THE X-MEN MOVIES WERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/20/09 Vindicator No James & Heather Hudson. No Alpha Flight. Adapted not with a scalple, but a chainsaw. 1 stars
5/16/09 james obrien why did this come off so bad 2 stars
5/13/09 Ming I enjoy watching this film...lots of great actions 4 stars
5/09/09 duffy Terrible movie is there actually a person stupid enough to enjoy this film? 1 stars
5/09/09 shawn terrible script a complete let down for hardcore x-men fans. Sabertoota and Logan bros WTF? 1 stars
5/08/09 Bud Too many cameos cluttered it, but honestly was about what I expected for my money. 3 stars
5/08/09 David Terrible script, effects, and campy direction. Seriously almost no redeeming qualities. 1 stars
5/07/09 gc Lots if cool actions scenes with no depth to any character and no plot at all. 2 stars
5/07/09 Ray The reviewer expressed thoughts better then I could have 2 stars
5/06/09 RadAd This reviewer has it spot on. Jimmy? Come on. 2 stars
5/06/09 ES Entertaining 4 stars
5/05/09 matt i changed my mind. no amount of action could have saved this disaster. the script kills it 1 stars
5/05/09 Bambi Didn't care what happened to any of the characters one way or the other. 2 stars
5/05/09 GutterBall Good God. How can you have The Merc With The Mouth...without a mouth?? WTF? 1 stars
5/05/09 French adamantium bullets?? When I saw that I threw up my arms and said "I'm done, bitches!" 2 stars
5/05/09 Nick Miletta Not good at all 1 stars
5/04/09 M Enjoy it for what it is an ACTION movie. 4 stars
5/04/09 belike What were they thinking? 1 stars
5/04/09 action movie fan experment gone wrong-wolvering is unstoppable-best x-men yet fun to watch 4 stars
5/04/09 caiphn Meh. Laughable at times with some neat action sequences. 3 stars
5/03/09 Dan Generally good acting, good action, some good lines- but no real plot. 3 stars
5/02/09 matt Horribly paced, written, acted, and just awkward. good action scenes though 3 stars
5/02/09 Raul Valdez Jr yes use your anger movie watches then your path to the darkside will be complete 4 stars
5/02/09 Darkstar They fucked up Deadpool!!! Fuck you Hugh Jackman!!!! 1 stars
5/02/09 Toni For what it was I liked it (Look it's not War & Peace and never was going to be) 4 stars
5/02/09 Dk Slightly better than average, largely thanks to Liev Schreiber and Jackman 3 stars
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  01-May-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Sep-2009


  DVD: 15-Sep-2009

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