6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Solid but sadly underwhelming X-Men prequel.,
This review is from: X-Men Origins: Wolverine [DVD] (2009) (DVD)
Despite being riddled with production problems (re-shoots, negative
buzz, director/producer fall-outs, leaked workprint a month before it's
release) X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a lot better than you'd think and
is a solid addition to the franchise.
The story basically builds on X-Men 2's hints towards his involvement
with Weapon X that eventually leads to the loss of his memory, as well
as his relationships with girlfriend Kayla Silverfox and
half-brother/eventual villain Victor Creed (a.k.a. Sabretooth).
The film opens with a masterful sequence of the non-ageing Logan and
Victor as soldiers going through various wars together and helping each
other out along the way. It is a brilliant start to the film that brims
with tension and it's a shame that in the overall action stakes,
nothing else tops it.
The action then swiftly moves to their participation in the Weapon X
program after being tapped by William Stryker (played by Danny Huston,
following on well from Brian Cox). However, an operation turns nasty
and Logan walks out, ruining his relationship with Victor in the
process. The Weapon X mission sequence is also a high point and there
are some new mutants who don't get near enough screen time such as
Dominic Monaghan as Chris Bradley/Bolt who brings a sympathetic charm
to the character and stand-out Ryan Reynolds who is charismatic, funny
and cool as Wade Wilson (who later becomes Deadpool). I am thrilled by
the news he is getting his own spin-off.
The performances overall are excellent, Hugh Jackman plays Wolverine
again with total commitment and in my view it's his best performance of
the series. Other deserved mentions are Lynn Collins as Kayla who is a
good emotional core for the film, Daniel Henney as Stryker's hitman David North (a.k.a. Agent Zero), Taylor Kitsch as another impossibly cool mutant Remy LeBeau (a.k.a. Gambit), Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth who gives great menace and The Black Eyed Peas Will.i.am puts in a subtle performance as teleporter John Wraith, which is light relief next to some of the more scenery chewing characters.
Now for the problems. Director Gavin Hood clearly has fun with
characters and pacing but unfortunately he struggles with story and
action; I feel the plot was too familiar and he explored areas already
covered by X2. Plot holes usually don't bother me that much but there
were too many present in this: how did Stryker know the adamantium
bullets would erase Wolverine's memory? Why didn't he give them to
super marksman Agent Zero when he was sent to hunt him down? I also had
the problem that even though interesting new mutants were introduced,
they didn't necessarily add to the story, an example of this is
Gambit's cameo; when he meets Wolverine he just seems to start a fight
with him for no reason, it almost felt like an excuse for the
filmmakers to show off his abilities (which to be fair, are pretty
smart) and then the next minute he's Logan's sidekick! I didn't understand his motivations.
Hood also struggles when it comes to action, with exception to the war
opening and the Gambit fight, the action sequences are pretty average
and the wirework sometimes really obvious. I don't understand why the
producers didn't seek a more established action director, this is after
all what is most important to the fans. I'll hand it to Hood, he has
previously done some excellent dramas, but supposedly got the gig
because Hugh Jackman is a 'fan' of his and put him forward. As
Jackman's role as producer and a lot riding on the success of this
film, I feel he should have recommended a director more accustomed to
the material and someone less risky. The same problem occurred with
Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig suggested Marc Forster who was
inexperienced with action and the film suffered because of it,
unfortunately the same applies with Origins.
Overall though, Wolverine is far better than X-Men: The Last Stand and
provides solid comic book entertainment. The running time also flies
past (The Dark Knight and Watchmen are terrific films but this is far
less bloated and stuffy than they are) and leaves the viewer wanting
more. I'm glad the leaked workprint didn't damage the box office and
another Wolverine film has been greenlit. I can't wait to see the story
move to Japan but I just hope the producers don't interfere as much
next time and it would be great to see Bryan Singer's name where it
should be: on the back of the Director's chair.