X-Men Origins: Wolverine (12A)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Lynn Collins, Will i Am, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch, Tim Pocock, Tahyna, Tozzi, Ryan Reynolds, Scott Adkins, Daniel Negreanu
Director: Gavin Hood
Running time: 107 minutes
Being a big X-Men fan from a young age, I was thrilled to hear that there would be films coming out of this franchise. And, being a massive Logan fan also helps one to get rather excited about this sort of thing. They mucked around with the story and characters quite a lot with the X-Men films, so I was anticipating something similar with this one. But, after Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand (the third installment of the trilogy) left us all rather disappointed with superheroes in general, I was uneasy that Wolverine was going to pull us all back in wanting more. Nonetheless, I was still excited.
One can usually predict the success of a film based on its internet hype, but when a film is leaked before it’s finally finished it does leave you wondering why it happened. Were studio bosses afraid that we were going to be angry if they had let us down? You’re too damn right, we would. And, so that would be my guess as to why they did it — to pre-empt any backlash for the film not living up to its hype, leaving people angry for refunds. Given that they had all the money in the world, some great actors to their disposal, not to mention some fantastic locations, what happened?
The reason we all love Logan is that he doesn’t take any rubbish from anyone. Countered with a delicately soft interior that cares for women (Jubilee, Jean Grey, Rogue, to name but a few) in such a way that makes you want to kidnap him and make him your own — well, I’d quite like to take him home, in essence. I don’t think his creators would have anticipated such a phenomenal character when they first put him to paper, back in 1974. Take that and couple it with Hugh Jackman, who plays Wolverine exceedingly well, and you have a match made in heaven. His film story begins in Canada in 1840, with an action-movie montage of Sabretooth/Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber) and his half-brother Wolverine/James Logan (Hugh Jackman) fighting in the American Civil War, the Vietnam War and Dunkirk before we see they are to be executed. At some point in between they realise their paths are inexplicably always going to cross and this sets the tone for the rest of the film.
General Stryker (Danny Houston) rescues them before execution and they are recruited for Team X, as part of a covert ops unit, who are now being flown to Nigeria to look for a certain rock-like substance. On board the plane they come across the likes of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), The Blob (Kevin Durand) and Bolt (Dominic Monaghan), where they exchange a few boyish quips and threaten each other with their various weapons/strength. They are told to kill anyone who comes in their way to find said rock, but the mutilation of innocents doesn’t bode well with Logan’s morals (who only really kills others in self-defense with his Wolverine claws) and he decides to leave the team and make his own way.
He spends the next few years living out in the Canadian Rockies, with his beautiful teacher-girlfriend Kayla (Lynn Collins). Until Sabretooth catches up with them and ends up killing Kayla — setting the rest of the movie up for its revenge storyline. I won’t go into too much more detail, otherwise I’ll end up spoiling the rest of the film for you, but you can typically see where this film is headed before it does so.
Despite Hugh Jackman being so very good at playing Wolverine generally, there is one thing missing here; his true inner struggle with his abilities and strength never seem to surface. And, by the time they’re supposed and allowed to… the film is over. The original comic story is shifted around a bit and displayed in a different order for the Hollywood screen, but most of it rings true. There is nobody that really steals the show (aside from Jackman, given that the movie is about Wolverine). Many of the characters make very short appearances and you tend not to care about any of them. A lot of the action scenes are a hell of a lot of fun and do keep you entertained throughout — apart from one particular clunky fist-fight scene between Wolverine and Stryker that is so well-rehearsed that it’s far from believable.
I was disappointed with this film on many levels. One doesn’t have to really go into the shoddy script or glamour that Hollywood has added to Wolverine’s really gritty and, actually, very dark original story. Despite them geekily sticking to the original (this word seems redundant now) title Origins, they really could have done more with this. I have to admit, I did really enjoy the addition of Gambit and the poker playing — very fondly noticing a personal hero of mine, Daniel Negreanu (professional poker player), sitting at the table as the camera panned. Needless to say, I screamed his name out – and as usual, everyone looked at me wondering what I was on about. Sometimes it really doesn’t pay to be too geeky. Nonetheless, I was happy. I feel as if Gambit should have been written into the story a lot more, but hey ho. It was, however, refreshing to see a young Emma Frost (Tahyna Tazzi) and a young Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tim Pocock).
Unfortunately, even all the sexy men in the movie couldn’t make it any better. And before I leave… ladies, you get to see The Jackman Derriere. Hmmm.
Wolverine receives a two out of five.