Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sorry Wolverine, some origins are better left untold...

First off, let me start by saying that I've always been a huge fan of the X-Men (and have about twenty or more years of comic reading to prove it), but have become increasingly disenfranchised with the X-Men movies and I have to say that maybe X-Men Origins: Wolverine is an origin story that would have been better off left untold.
X-Men Origins - Wolverine movie poster
As regular visitors will know, I'm also a huge fan of Hugh Jackman as well as the X-Men, I thought he did a wonderful job hosting this year's Oscar Ceremony, so I was really looking forward to this movie. 
X-Men Origins - Wolverine movie cast poster
Maybe being such a fan of the original source material is the main problem I have with the film and I can't watch this movie objectively, whereas with something like the recent Watchmen comic adaptation I'm less familiar and protective of the source material.
Hugh Jackman as the X-Man Wolverine
Overall I thought that the storyline seemed a bit thin to warrant a whole movie and it just felt that in the end the basic story was a repeat of X-Men 2, up against William Stryker and rescuing some trapped mutant children from a military complex.
X-Men Origins - Wolverine movie billboard
I've always preferred my Wolverine shrouded in mystery and would rather that reader, viewer and Logan alike didn't know the full extent of his memories and background. Unfortunately in recent years in the comic books his memories have been returned to Wolverine and I'm sad to say that the way his past has been presented is a bit underwhelming.
Wolverine Origins claws teaser image
The same sadly has to be said of X-Men Origins. Just how can you tell a convincing tale about a mutant outcast with three adamantium claws on each hand without showing any blood? 
X-Men Wolverine teaser image
Also the liberties taken with other characters origins to bring them to the screen are sometimes a bit of a misstep in my opinion. Making Wolverine's arch-enemy Victor Creed (or Sabretooth) his brother is not that far a departure from what has been hinted at in the past in the comics (at one stage he was even meant to be his father), he's even played convincingly by Liev Schreiber.  But you never get the full sense of how bloodthirsty or sadistic a killer his character really is.
X-Men Origins - Wolverine movie Weapon X cast
Another problem with the movie is that so much time is spent introducing the supporting characters that Wolverine's character gets a little left behind and Jackman doesn't get the chance to shine (aside from his ripped muscles). In fact Agent Zero and Deadpool get some of the most memorable action sequences in the movie.
X-Men Origins Wolverine - Hugh Jackman
Probably one of the most fundamental flaws in the movie plot is when Wolverine willingly agrees to the Weapon X procedure (even if he is tricked into doing so). In his comic book origins it's a much more harrowing tale of someone who was abducted against his will and subjected to these sadistic experiments to turn him into the ultimate killing machine, which leaves him traumatised, stripped of his humanity and provides the foundations for his character's motivation.
Hugh Jackman as the mutant Wolverine
The opening credit sequence establishes Wolverine's long life and the many wars he's fought in alongside his brother, but I was equally surprised that there is no Japanese history in there at all (unless that's all being saved for the sequel).

On the positive sides I liked seeing a young Cyclops, Emma Frost and cameo by Patrick Stewart as Professor X. I also liked the special effects used to convey Gambit's power, especially the throwing of his trademark deck of cards, plus Emma Frost's diamond form looked totally original and a great reinterpretation, and even an improvement, from the comics.
X-Men Origins - Wolverine movie billboard
Be sure to wait until the very end of the closing credits to get a final snippet from Wolverine (although it's nowhere near as good a teaser as the Iron Man and X-Men 3 endings).

The final showdown with Weapon 11 was a bit anti-climatic and the end of the movie left lots of dangling threads for a possible sequel and maybe even a Deadpool spin-off film.
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine
I'm sure fans will get a kick out of seeing other Marvel characters brought to the big screen, like Blob, Deadpool, Emma Frost and Gambit, but I wonder if they'll be left with the same feeling of disappointment after the 107 minutes of mutant mayhem are over as I was.

I give X-Men Origins - Wolverine three *** stars, only really out of loyalty to Hugh Jackman and the fact that I'd rather see these characters brought alive on screen rather than languishing in 'development hell'. Plus I know that when I see it again on DVD I'll probably enjoy it more.

Let me know if you thought Hugh Jackman tore up the screen as Wolverine or whether he was all muscle and no substance...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dude you sold big time. I also am a fan of the comics and felt that this movie only served to whore out every character that they could think of. The Blob, with an eating disorder and not only being able to be hit and knocked out? Alpha Flight but not Alpha Flight, Gambit..wait how the hell did Gambit even get in this movie? Hell they even didn't even really show his mutant ability, because I'm sure magically flying cards and being able to climb walls on some broken in half magical staff aren't in his arsenal. So pardon me if I think you're being extremely nice to a stain(really big...really brown) on the X-men franchise as a whole.

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