Sunday, May 10, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review

Quick Take: This movie is a prequel to the current X-Men trilogy of films. It highlights the origins of Wolverine, Sabertooth and of William Stryker (main villain of X2: X-Men United) and how they get to/show up in the X-films. The film introduces many new characters from the X-Men/Marvel Universe to the big screen. Overall, the film had many issues with continuity, character development and plot. If you're a big fan of the X-Men/Wolverine or the trilogy, you may want to see this in the theaters but I would recommend to most to wait for DVD or when it comes to cable.

*** Warning: Major Spoilers Below***

Synopsis: The movie starts with a flashback to the 1800's as a boy, James, lies in bed ill and is being cared for by his father and his friend, Victor, then all hell breaks loose. The Caretaker barges in drunk, rambling and attacks James' mother and kills his father. Bone Claws pop out of young James' hands and he kills The Caretaker (Ed. Note- we are never given the name of the Caretaker in the movie, but his name is Logan from the Origin mini-series), finds out The Caretaker is his biological dad and that Victor is is half-brother. They run off. If you didn't get it by now James is none other than Logan aka Wolverine and Victor is Sabertooth.

Cue Credits......Sabertooth and Wolverine fighting in the Civil War, WW1, WW2, Korean War and then Vietnam. Sabertooth is becoming more and more bloodthirsty and starts taking out his fellow soldiers which leads him and Logan in jail (after getting shot up by a firing squad). They get an offer from Stryker to join his mutant version of "the dirty dozen" or to stay in jail. They agree.

The team consists of various Marvel characters notably Deadpool, Agent Zero and The Blob. Eventually, Wolverine quits the group after a mission in Africa goes wrong and Sabertooth and Stryker threaten to slaughter a whole village if they don't get the information they want (it's for the location of a meteorite that will be used to make adamantium- plot point!). Logan returns home to Canada and becomes a lumberjack. Cue Monty Python......wait for it.......Now:

He's got his little cabin in the woods and a frequently nude lady by his side (Kayla Silverfox). All is good in the world, but all isn't good for long as Sabertooth has gone rogue and is killing his former teammates (including Dominic Monaghan's character). Sabertooth kills Kayla and this puts Wolverine in a rage. Wanting revenge, Wolverine re-joins with Stryker and allows Stryker to bond his skeleton to adamantium, which would allow Logan to be able to kill Sabertooth.

There's just one problem.......this has been all a ruse. Kayla's not dead and Sabertooth is not a rogue agent. They're all working for Stryker for their own reasons and this was all just a set up to see if a person like Wolverine could survive the bonding process. Stryker is trying to create the ultimate mutant killing machine in order to wipe all mutants off the planet. Wolverine goes semi-berzerker and escapes.

I'm going to cut out most of the remaing plot're not missing much.
Wolverine recruits Gambit to show him where Stryker's headquarters is located. Wolverine and Sabertooth team up to kill Stryker but have to fight Deadpool, who has been augmented with various powers (like Cyclops' eye blasts), adamantium and is being controlled by Stryker. They kill Deadpool and Sabertooth leaves. Kayla is killed by adamantium bullets fired by Stryker and Logan loses his memory by being shot in the head twice by same said bullets.

Cue end credits.........bonus after end credits, Deadpool isn't dead after all (even though he was decapitated by Wolverine).
Review time: Good, Bad and Ugly style.

The Good
- I did like the homage to classic Marvel/Wolverine stories presented in the movie. Origin, Weapon X, and the classic "Happy Birthday" issue of Wolverine (vol. 2, issue #10) that explains why Wolverine and Sabertooth hate each other (the death of SilverFox).
(Eat this piece of need more fiber!!!)

- Liev Schreiber's performance as Sabertooth. Sabertooth is a smart, cunning, vicious, bloodthirsty serial killer/assassin and Schreiber plays this to a tee. Honestly, his performance is the major highlight of the film. I also found that Sabertooth is Wolverine's brother was an interesting spin. That has yet to be confirmed in the comics as far as I'm aware (I haven't read an issue of Wolverine in about 2 years or more).

- I liked the Gambit cameo (played by Friday Night Lights' Taylor Kitsch). I thought this was one of the few moments when the FX actually looked good (when he throws the playing cards at Wolverine). I did notice that his cajun accent disappeared part of the way through the performance however.

The Bad
-One of the things that makes me so mad about this film is the use of the talent. Dominic Monaghan is a good actor. You've probably seen what he can do by either watching his performance as Merry in Lord of the Rings or as Charlie in Lost. In Wolverine he basically does this: looks bored, puts his finger to his head and closes his eyes, gets killed. You can say just about the same for Ryan Reynolds who has such a bit role as Deadpool. Reynolds was made to be the "Merc with a Mouth" (just watch Blade: Trinity), but again he only has about 5-10 minutes tops of screen time. And rumor has it that there is a Deadpool spin-off movie in the works. I'm not sure who'd want to see it since nobody (outside of fanboy comic fans) got to see what Deadpool is about and what drives the character.

- FX was weak in many spots. Some of Wolverine's CGI claws looked terrible (note: in particular look at the scenes when he's at the farm house). Make up was equally bad. That scene with Prof. Xavier at the end was just horrible.....

- Way too many cameos. Did we really need Cyclops in the film? Out side of another bad/weak FX scene with optic blasts, it wasn't necessary. I also didn't like the Xavier cameo. Also, why in the hell was Emma Frost in this film and why is she Silverfox's sister? Add that the FX for Frost's "diamond coated skin" was again horrible.

-Wolverine is an anti-hero. There were a few scenes in Wolverine where Wolverine would have killed people. In this film he didn't. He never became the "animal" in the Weapon X sequence....he just seemed a little miffed. Jackman is still Wolverine to me, but there was something in this movie that was lacking compared to that of when he was in the X-Men trilogy.

The Ugly
X-Men Origins: Wolverine had the potential to be a great film. Jackman was returning as Wolverine/Logan, the cast seemed to be very talented and 20th Century Fox invested $150 million (now being the standard investment of blockbuster action films and comic book films) into this movie. The problem is that the plot was weak, the special effects were very hit and miss and the film focused more on cameos than on the the central characters hoping to land a future spin-off film. If you're a Hugh Jackman fan or a major X-men fan, then you may want to check this out.......but I'd save your money and wait until it comes out on DVD or on cable. I really don't think you're missing much.

Final Grade: C-


Anonymous said...

Sadly, you didn't see the same movie I saw. And, just a reminder, it's called X-Men Origins: Wolverine! When Deadpool and Gambit or any of the other characters get their origins movie there will be cameos and small parts for other characters (maybe even Wolverine). I, for one didn't go in expecting anyone except Liev Schreiber and Danny Houston to have a big amount of screen time because it's Wolverine's story. And since when was Kayla "frequently naked"? I'm seeing it again this week so I'll have to check that one out, but I think it's a misleading comment. The professor X cameo was a terrific surprise for all the people in the theater when I saw it. And the look of him was like in the X3 flashback scene. Having him & the young mutants sets up the X-Men First Class movie that's in development. Your review is misleading and the reason why I generally don't bother reading reviews anymore. There are far too many people who think that owning a computer makes them a movie reviewer. It doesn't!

Walking Deadman said...

Thanks for reading my review.

Sorry you didn't like it, but I'm glad you liked the movie.
I didn't and I wished I had because I enjoyed Jackman's Wolverine in the X-Men Trilogy, but this movie was just flat.

Now to address your points:

1. When you go back and watch the movie again, you will notice that during the cabin scenes Kayla is almost always in a towel or naked in the bed with Logan. You don't see clothes on her until she goes to get "killed".

2. The Prof. X cameo was a surprise but a disappointing one. 1st, the make up used to make Xavier appear younger was horrid. He looked like a Humpty Dumpty egg head not a younger Charles Xavier. 2nd, had Xavier known about the island why hadn't he done anything about it? Also, since he knows about the island, then I'd guess he knows what happened (ie. Wolverine bringing it down) so why would Xavier fail to help give Logan any insight in X2 about his past?

3. With the cameos, it was overkill!!!
Did we need Cyclops, Emma Frost or The Blob in this film? Out side of somebody trying to pad their FX budget, no. And since Deadpool was supposed to be such an intergral part of the movie (and get his own spin off film) it would have been nice to know what is Deadpool about? Why would he survive adamantium and not Sabertooth? Matter of fact, nobody even mentioned what his mutant abilities were

Also, you know why Wolverine got his own movie? Because in X-men, Jackman shined as the character. The movie goers had a chance to know the character....this didn't happen with Deadpool or any other cameo mutants that would be in X-Men: First Class. Do we care about Emma Frost? No.

4.On you final comment about bloggers and movie reviews, clearly I'm not the only one who had problems with this film.

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 37% rating (ie bad grade).
(this is from pro and non-pro critics)

and Ain't it Cool News' Harry Knowles didn't like it either.

If I came on IIWII and said "oh this film sucks, don't watch it" and didn't explain why I didn't like the film, then I would agree with you. But, I put both positives and negatives on this film and explained why I didn't like said film. You may not agree with my views but I put reason in why I didn't like the film.

Again, thanks for reading and I hope you'll read my next review on Star Trek

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