X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie review
Sitting down to review X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I'm caught between two lines of thought. On the one hand, I enjoyed Wolverine as an popcorn action/adventure movie. On the other hand, as someone who's a fan of the comics, I was a little disappointed in the way it treated some of the characters that I'd been keen to see finally make an appearance on the big screen. Warning: Some spoilers follow.
In summary X-Men Origins: Wolverine traces the origins of the X-Men character Wolverine. Who would have thought? The first 10 minutes of the films closely follow the events of the Wolverine Origin comic mini-series. It opens in 1845, with young James Howlett aka. Logan aka. Wolverine witnessing the murder of his father at the hands of Thomas Logan. The trauma brings out the mutation, with lil' Wolverine sprouting bone claws and killing Thomas Logan. With his dying breath Thomas Logan reveals that he is really James' father. James and his half brother, Thomas Logan's son, Victor Creed, run off leading into an uber war montage of James (who takes the name Logan) and Victor fighting side by side in the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. When Victor kills a superior officer in Vietnam, he and Logan are put to the firing squad, but due to their shared healing factor, neither men die. From there, both men are recruited into 'Team X' by William Stryker.
Team X also features Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand) aka. The Blob in the comics, John Wraith (will.i.am) aka. Kestrel in the comics, Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan) aka. no idea who he's supposed to be, Agent Zero (Daniel Henney) aka. Agent Zero and Wade Wilson aka. Deadpool in the comics. Logan turns his back on Team X and his half brother, when the teams starts to do things he doesn't agree with. A couple of years pass, and Logan has settled down with his lady friend Silver Fox and works as a lumber jack. Logan is arguably the most preened and prissy lumber jack in lumber jack history I might add. When Victor kills Silver Fox Logan is not happy, turning to Stryker to equip him with the tools to put an end to Victor aka. Sabretooth. It's here that Logan undergoes the adamantium bonding process that gave him the sharp pointy claws. He also takes the code name Wolverine.
Following the successful procedure, Wolverine over hears Stryker order Wolverine's memory to be erased. Wolverine goes all Wolverine and escapes. He's out for blood. Cue massive action sequence. Meanwhile, Stryker has also set up shop on a mysterious 'island' and has been experimenting on mutants to develop a super mutant, Weapon XI.
Cut to New Orleans where Wolverine tracks down Kestrel and the Blob, and learns of Stryker's plans. Then downtime to a bourbon bar to have a chat to Gambit, the only mutant to have escaped Strykers mysterious island hideaway. Wolverine hits the island and he's all set for revenge. Ooooh, what happens next? Well, Wolverine is basically invulnerable so you can probably guess how it plays out.
After the hype surrounding this film I was expecting a little more. The focus is obviously on Wolverine, but there also seems to have been an effort made to cram as many merry mutants into it as possible. A number of characters are under used, and under explored, Gambit and Wade Wilson in particular. I was keenly awaiting the arrival of Deadpool/Wade to the big screen, unfortunately however his whole character is screwed up. Ryan Reynolds, who plays Wade, is in the film for 10 minutes maximum, makes about three wisecracks and that's it. Then it gets worse, somewhere along the line, the producers seem to have decided that it was a good idea to combine Wilson/Deadpool's character with that of Weapon XI. What a freaking disaster. Weapon XI has a whole range of powers, for example Kestrel's teleporting ability, Cyclops' eye beam thing and swords out of the hands to compete with Wolverine's claws. Weapon XI is described as having powers "pooled" into Wade Wilson's body, hence Deadpool. He also had his mouth sewn shut so he couldn't talk. Grrr... terrible treatment.
Keen eyed Australian viewers will no doubt spot a whole heap of familiar faces from Australian TV. There's Peter O'Brien (from Flying Doctors and Underbelly 2), some guy that was on McLeods Daughters, the female detective from the second Underbelly series, and the old guy from Love My Way.
For the first 45 minutes or more Wolverine is a really good superhero movie, however there is a point in the film where it all goes pear shaped. If you've seen it, you'll probably know what I'm talking about. For me, it was when Wolverine leaves New Orleans (just so happens I need a toilet break at this point too - damn giant sized coke) and arrives at the island. From there on it's not that great.
There's an anti-climactic reveal, that is telegraphed fairly early on, then a fight scene, then a conclusion that leaves Wolverine without his memories, and ample scope for sequels. If the film had maintained the rage it showed in the first half it would have been a cracker. Unfortunately, it didn't sustain it for me, so in fairness I'd have to give it a solid 3 out of 5.