Wednesday, 29 April 2009

X Men Origins: Wolverine - Movie Review

X Men Origins: Wolverine - Movie Review

Rating: 4/10
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds
Director: Gavin Hood
Origins films are notoriously difficult.
Their writers are saddled with two options when it comes to a back story they either completely ignore whats been set on the celluloid screen before them and take it off on a new tangent (and risk alienating the fan base) or they embrace 100% whats been created before and stick rigidly to the characters, creating no real room for character growth or expansion.
It's even worse when the character in question is an iconic comic book hero - in this case, Wolverine.
When we met Wolverine in the first X Men film, Logan aka buffed up Hugh Jackman was desperate to find out more about his past and in the subsequent films, Wolverine's back story was a little more fleshed out and his involvement in the Weapon X project and with General Stryker was dealt with.
So it's curious to think that in X Men: Origins: Wolverine, you wouldnt expect too many new revelations.
Basically, in this film, we get to see just a little bit more of Wolverine's past (and a heck of a lot of shirtless Hugh Jackman who's once again spent some serious gym time building those pecs).
Shrouded in mystery (until the recent Origins comic and some of the recent X Men films) Origins saddles Logan with a past in the 1840s, a troublesome half brother Victor (played with menacing relish by Liev Schreiber) and a mercenary past working for General Stryker and his team of mutants who choose to wreak havoc for no real reason other than because the general tells them to.
However, with his moral compass acting up, Wolverine leaves the team and goes to Canada to follow the life of a lumberjack and set up little house on the prarie with a local school teacher.
But when Stryker returns with the news former comrades of the crack elite are being picked off, Wolverine's forced to make a choice about re-embracing his violent past or facing a tormented destructive future -at a lethal personal cost.
X Men Origins Wolverine is, to be frank, a disappointment - while Jackman comfortably embraces the role of Logan (and adds a bit more depth and humanity to him this time round as well as bringing yet more glowering), the rest of the film's a bit of a muddle.
The opening titles which show both Logan and Victor's involvement in various wars since the American Civil War are stunningly created and morph effortlessly from one combat to the next.
Sure, comic book films aren't exactly Shakespearean works even if their themes are tragedy, redemption and betrayal (which date back to way before old Will's time) but some of the dialogue in this is clunky beyond belief.
Granted, some of the humour comes from those moments when Wolverine's claws get him into trouble in a bathroom amuse - but the endless scenes of Liev Schreiber's Sabretooth character running at Jackman's Wolverine simply seem lazy.
Some of the fight scenes are impressive but they quickly fall into this repetitive mould and for a film which sees a lot of people impaled, picked off by guns and swords, there's a remarkable lack of blood.
Perhaps the heart and humanity of Wolverine's been ignored - a couple of particularly senseless deaths halfway through the film sharply bring into focus the tragedy in Wolverine's life and those around him - but those poignant scenes are shattered with yet more slow mo-explosions.
The end fight scenes (which I won't spoil for the X fans) go someway to retrieving the X Men mojo as they're impressive in scale - and there's a crowd pleasing cameo very near the end but too much of X Men Origins Wolverine feels like a misfire (don't even get me started on a fat suit reminiscent of Austin Powers and various scenes of Jackman growling and howling in anger).

There's already talk of a sequel and a Magneto origins film is in the works as a fan, I'd ask them to ease up and maybe go back to basics and actually concentrate on the characters before the whole X Men genre becomes a parody and I forget why I enjoyed the first films so much.

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