X-Men Origins: Wolverine: The Declawing of the X-Men Series

Note to start: I neither saw the illegal bootleg workprint, nor read any details about it beforehand.

The X-Men series has been the most consistent comic book franchise to date. The first film was flawed at the end, but had a fantastic beginning and a great cast, especially in the key role of Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman. X2: X-Men United is in my opinion the best comic book superhero film of all time– it is virtually flawless, full of great characters and unbelievable action (the opening sequence with Nightcrawler is easily the most outstanding beginning to any film in the past decade). X-Men 3: The Last Stand had the impossible task of living up to X2, and it tried admirably, but didn’t have as much soul as the first two– it was still packed with impressive action sequences and special effects. Now, we come to Wolverine, a film that not only is the worst of the series, but comes painfully close to sweeping the legs out from under the future of the franchise.

We begin with young versions of Wolverine and Sabretooth, who are brothers (a fact not mentioned in the original X-Men movie, where Sabretooth looks and acts nothing like the one in this film– oh well!). There are two quick deaths and some atrocious child acting, including a kid looking to the sky yelling, “Noooo!!” as the camera pulls back–photo of this embarassing scene follows this paragraph. The film quickly tries to earn our respect back with a terrific credits sequence, and a cool action sequence where we see Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) working for William Stryker (played in X2 by Brian Cox, here by Danny Huston) alongside several other mutant assassins. Among them is sword specialist Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), teleporting John Wraith (Will.I.Am), immovable Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), and electricity-controller Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan). Wolverine quits the group when the murder and mayhem becomes too much for him and goes to live in Canada with a beautiful woman (Lynn Collins). When Sabretooth comes and kills her– not a spoiler in the least, I assure you– Wolverine sets out for revenge.

The plot gets more complicated than that. In fact, there’s far too much plot, to the point where it’s upsetting how other potentially interesting characters are getting the short end of the straw. I could also spoil the whole thing for you and you wouldn’t be that upset, since nothing very surprising happens in the film. It got to the point where my girlfriend would lean over and predict the line of dialogue that would come next, and she’d be right– and she doesn’t see a lot of action films. The script is working on that level of mediocrity. In a fun action film, a bunch of outstanding action sequences can save a clunky script. Unfortunately, many of these sequences are shot in the dark (to cover lousy CGI work, no doubt) and edited to smithereens. There are only two legitimately neat action scenes in the whole film that held any sort of suspense, but none are on the level of anything from the first three films. The CGI work is wildly inconsistent during the film– some special effects are terrific (Wraith’s teleportation, Wilson’s swords deflecting bullets, a young Scott Summers’ optic blast), while other shots look godawful. A scene where Wolverine examines his metal claws made me notice how fake they looked, something I never had a problem with in the previous films. How can a seemingly easy special effect look so phony? I suppose it was because it was one of the few not shot in the dark and chopped into half-second shots.

Poor Hugh Jackman. He was incredibly optimistic while making this film, and was an advocate of making it a return to form for Wolverine as a gritty badass character. However, he spends so much time mooning over his girlfriend and shows such an aversion to death and destruction from the get-go that when he has lines like, “You told me to embrace the animal within. You’ve got it,” you don’t REALLY believe him. He’s a charming, good-looking leading actor, with a long career ahead of it in many genres including action. This film did not deliver on pretty much every element he’s discussed wanting in the film. In fact, it endangers the future of the series. You know certain characters won’t die since you see them later (which kills some suspense throughout the whole film, it’s the problem of prequels on the whole), and other interesting likable characters do die before you get to know what you want from them. Characters like Wade Wilson and Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) are cast well and portrayed well, but they have such limited screen time and are given such hollow characterizations it’s hard to imagine investing an entire movie budget around them. It seems that 20th Century Fox has found a way to make another franchise with limitless potential look completely out of steam. This film is perfectly cast and could’ve given an X-Men 4 several fantastic elements to work with, had they not killed them off and/or disregarded any semblance of continuity with the other films in the series.

Final note: most bad superhero films involve characters who can leap enormous distances with little difficulty– I guess it’s an easy special effect to achieve. However, is this a mutant power, to jump from building to building like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or can everyone in this world do it? When a government agent jumped a tall chain link fence and stuck the landing, I felt the X-Men movie series jumping the shark at the same time.

~ by russellhainline on May 1, 2009.

8 Responses to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine: The Declawing of the X-Men Series”

  1. Isn’t he presented as having amnesia in all of the previous movies? Does this movie at least explain why he has amnesia and what important things he forgot?

  2. Yes. It does explain it in a pretty enormously stupid wau.

  3. Russel, the amnesia plotline came from the comic books. I can understand why you wouldn’t like parts of the movie (I personally loved it), but some of what you are hatin’ on had nothing to do with the movie itself.

  4. Yo, I linked this review in my most recent blog post to save myself time of writing my own review that would have raised the same issues, hope you don’t mind!

  5. Whysharksmatter, the amnesia plotline is from the books… but the sudden introduction of adamantium bullets is silly. So does this mean that he has gaps in his adamantium skeleton on his skull? Why don’t all of Wolverine’s enemies know about this obvious weakness? And what hate did I do that had nothing to do with the film?

    And thanks for the good look, Becky! 🙂

  6. I thought the film was awesome. It’s all about the comic book silliness, not the rampant overanalysation on all these blogs. Just enjoy comic book films for what they are. Speaking of which, I am massively looking forward to these: http://movies.sky.com/comic-book-movies-coming-soon

  7. […] X-Men Origins: Wolverine- Overall a giant bomb, this is really only worth watching if looking for Losties as superheroes. Check out Kevin Durand, […]

  8. Young Girlfriend Passwords 2009 – http://www.younggirlfriend.com/?t=108608,1,43,0

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