Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):
1. Young man in a vengeful moment discovers that he's got bones to pick with everyone.
2. His half brother's all for clawing and scratching.
3. Regenerative benefits see them through the Civil War, the World Wars and Vietnam
4. Things get interesting when they get recruited for a select mutant group and sent to recover a valuable object.
5. Brotherly feud intensifies.
6. Young man, now named James Logan (Hugh Jackman) undergoes major surgery and becomes Wolverine.
7. Oooh, Shiny!
8. Rather convoluted story follows, involving lots of CGI, stunts and of course several (mostly underutilized) mutants.
9. Anticlimactic ending is quite unmemorable.
Hugh Jackman will forever be Wolverine, but Liev Schreiber holds his own as the scene-stealing Sabretooth. Throughout their love/hate relationship it's Sabretooth who carries the movie, and if not for Wolverine having nicer claws, it would probably be Sabretooth you'd remember.
See this one for Jackman, Schreiber and the action sequences, not for the plot. (3.5 stars)
Wolverine is one of the most beloved of comic book creations. His dark and vengeful character combined with a compassion that troubled and led to self-destructive behaviour has long been amongst the most popular characters of the genre. I know little of comic book history myself but perhaps because I know Barry Windsor-Smith the Weapon X storyline is one of the few that I have some familiarity with. With that in mind I had fairly low hopes for this film as the other X Men films have been dreadful. This one is not a terrible film but it is hardly one that will linger long in the mind.
The positives can be summed as: lots of explosions, three great characters for the ladies to enjoy, and some nice menace from the evil brother character. The negatives can be summed as: uninteresting plot, holes galore, poor quality audio and scoring, and a surprising lack of emotional involvement.
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine does a relatively good job with what he has to hand. He's in great shape and definitely scored as eye candy during his escape scene for the company I watched this with. He is believable as the gruff and tortured soul that is Wolverine, his lust for violence sated over the years in an excellent opening montage of warfare from the last century. It all begins to fall apart though come Vietnam as he and his equally violent and indestructible brother Sabretooth find themselves on the wrong side of the moral compass. This speaks as much to the massive change in western values in the last 30 years as it does these characters in particular - throughout history they would have been lauded as they were for their violence in the previous decades but now they are no longer acceptable.
Sabretooth and Wolverine have a strong bond but why it breaks so quickly and with such hostility is not entirely clear. Of the many plot holes, the collapse of this relationship is one that really stands out. Still, they fight well despite knowing that the other cannot be beaten and lots of things blow up.
A range of cameos are thrust into the film and that may be to satisfy the comic fans. They do not all work out all that well and visually some of them are not great. The Blob does not appear realistic and the fight scene featuring Deadpool late in the film looks much more like an arcade game than a film. The suspense of disbelief is difficult when the graphics and wire work are so poorly constructed.
Deadpool though is an instant hit and the apparent upcoming film featuring him looks more interesting than what goes on in Wolverine. The other of the characters that work well with the female fanbase is Gambit. Not much was made of him and in my own view the standard for great looking charming Cajuns has been upped massively by Sawyer out of Lost so the guy playing Gambit here didn't really make much of an impression.
Frustratingly the storyline does not really work. Wolverine is indestructible from the beginning and the adamantium just enhances what he already has. There is no real explanation of what difference this makes or why it had to be Wolverine. The love interest is marginally affecting but it diminishes the character to se him only out for revenge just like every other action film character all the time.
On the plus side this undemanding film delivers on the expected explosions, on the violence and stunts. Some of them are a little dated and corny and the much trailed helicopter sequence is not especially exciting. Still, go into this with low expectations and expect blasts, one-liners, and fast pace and it is not a waste of the 103 minutes. The submersion tank scenes are strong, the setting on The Island is great, the early action sequences where Wolverine and pals kill various bad guys are light hearted fun. This is no masterpiece but it is an easy way to while away a couple of hours without having to think too hard.
The Extras are pointless. The discussion with the director only adds to the feeling that this guy really has no business being in film while the one deleted scene is short and entirely out of context. Presumably more extras will happen on some kind of special/boxed edition but given the general standard of extras these days this had an empty feeling.
on 1 May 2009
Writing a review for this is terribly difficult, as the film will be hugely divisive, and there is much to both like and loathe. Truth is, it doesn't stay terribly close to its roots, being largely based, instead, on the Weapon X story arc.
Marvel - and Wolverine, in particular - have a mammoth following, and they are revered. So to see it altered must be genuinely unpleasantand, actually, I feel bad for people who care a lot about this character and wanted the film to stay true to the comics.
On the other hand, the film in and of itself is very good and people who aren't emotionally attached to the genesis of the character will be able to appreciate it fairly superficially... I think that probably makes us quite lucky. It starts in the 1800s, with a young boy sick in bed, being looked after by his slightly unsettling older brother. When the young boy's father is shot dead, spikes made of bone shoot out of his knuckles, and a young Wolverine takes his first life.
We follow him through many wars; always him and his brother, looking out for one another: from the civil war through the 2 World Wars and ending with Vietnam. And this only takes us to the end of the opening credits. They are soon enlisted by Stryker and teamed with some other mutants, including Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson, and later Deadpool (apparently). There's also The Blob, John Wraith, Bolt, Agent Zero, Kayla Silver Fox and, of course, Sabretooth, before he becomes Sabretooth. That may give the impression that this is an ensemble film - it very isn't. Much of it takes place in the middle of Wyoming or someplace with a cast of just 1, 2 or 3, and it feels really quite empty and bereft at times... to be honest, the rest of the X-Men were conspicuous in their absence.
I expected Reynolds's Wade to be the highlight and, yes, his delivery is funny and, doubtless, ad libbed (am possibly biased, though, as a bit of a fan of his) however Wade - as Wade - is only in a few scenes and all within the first 15 minutes. So, as it turns out, the star of the show is Gambit who *finally* comes out to play. Why they neglected to include him in the trilogy is still a mystery, and it's a real joy seeing him come to life, even though the character is a little under-used. They've somewhat shoe-horned him in as opposed to making him integral, however what there is of him is excellent and it will finally dispel the false idea that Gambit is the "lamest" of all the X-Men.
The twist at the end is a little unnecessary, as what you're really waiting for is the battle with "Deadpool" and while it delivers visually, they've *totally* changed who he is and turned him into "Weapon 11" (?); he is horrifically realised, but he certainly isn't Deadpool. This was the biggest disappointment of the film. Another issue for me was Stryker - they've done themselves a great disservice in changing actors as this one just didn't work... there was something almost camp (lots of exaggerated curved, raised eyebrows and pantomime smiles) about him, and given Stryker is meant to be a cold, heartless barsteward, it really didn't work, at all.
The 3rd installment of the X-Men trilogy was a dreadful, dreadful disappointment, and "Wolverine" goes some way to undoing some of the damage. But, again, I'm not sure hardcore fans will be pleased. A couple of other points of note: there is some swearing in there, and there is a little Jackman nudity so that'll keep some people happy. It's interesting seeing a teenaged Cyclops, and there's a wonderful, *wonderful* cameo at the end... an old friend whose very presence will make you smile. It's a lovely surprise.
All in all, it really is an entertaining film, but its dismissal of the Wolverine mythology is an undeniable issue and, somehow, the more I think about it, the less enthused I become. Ultimately, it doesn't deserve 5 stars. That alone would indicate something's gone a little wrong as, by rights, a film about Wolverine ought to be spit-on-yer-neck perfect.
After three movies of amnesia and claw-slashing, Wolverine is actually getting his own movie, all for his own. Sure, some familiar characters appear, but the stage is for him alone.
And it's neither a horrendous movie nor a good one -- just a popcorn collection of explosions and Matrixian fight scenes, linked together by a rather loosely-strung plot that doesn't have any twists or unexpected events. Hugh Jackman does a simply stellar job as the beclawed titular character and it has some funny moments, but the part of the movie that galvanized me the most was the trailer for "District 9."
After a century of fighting, James Logan (Jackman) and his savage half-brother Victor (Liev Schreiber) are recruited by a mysterious army officer, William Stryker (Danny Huston), to join his elite mutant squad. Logan is sick of killing, so he tries to have the quiet life with his girlfriend Kayla (Lynn Collins) as a humble logger... until Victor reappears and murders Kayla, as part of a vendetta against his old teammates. Intent on revenge, Logan accepts the offer Stryker gives him -- he will accept a horrible and painful procedure that will make him invincible, so he can kill Victor.
With an adamantium skeleton and an instantly-healing body, the newly-renamed Wolverine is invincible -- but he soon finds himself on the run not only from his older brother, but from Stryker's ruthless military forces. Now he must uncover a mysterious "island" that only one mutant has ever escaped from... except there are some other nasty surprises waiting for him there, courtesy of Stryker's experiments.
By all rights, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" should have been a far better movie than it is. But the story itself is only so-so -- it's rather straightforward in its narrative without many twists, and the Sabretooth/Wolverine backstory is handled pretty confusingly. It's only in the last quarter that the movie really acquires that epic comic-book feeling -- up until then, it's a rather bland you-killed-my-master/relative/truelove-REVENGE! tale.
So with a bland plot, they slather on the action -- it feels like at least 75% of the movie was written to allow maximum explosions, motorcycle chases, Matrixian wire-fu, and endless claw fights. In fact, the movie is at its best when it has either some really tightly-wound fight scenes (such as the boxing match with The Blob), or a sense of humour (Wolverine accidentally destroys a nice little elderly couple's bathroom, and walks out repentantly holding their sink).
And then there's Wolverine himself -- he can heal from anything, and his metal skeleton means he can't even be chopped up. In other words, he's indestructible. It's really hard to worry about the guy physically, and "Origins" never gets around to making us fear that he'll lose anything else.
So it's a credit to Jackman's talent that he actually makes us care about Wolverine -- roaring, confused, grief-stricken, and slowly being hardened by all the betrayals and lies. And Schreiber does an excellent job as well, especially considering that Sabretooth is as likable as an ingrown nail -- he actually almost makes us feel sorry for his character now and then. Too bad we never, uh, really figure out why he wants to kill his brother.
And there's a lot of great lesser roles as well -- Collins does a decent job considering her total lack of chemistry with Jackman, while the coldly contemptuous Daniel Henney, kindly will.i.am, charming gambler Kitsch and puckish Dominic Monaghan all do great jobs with their smaller-scale roles. Huston is okay, but he never quite seems scary or fanatical enough.
"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" has enough explosions, stunts and elaborate aerial fight scenes to shame most blockbusters, but it's lacking heart and plot. The only thing that makes it worth watching: the actors.