By Dave Campbell | May 1, 2009
Director: Gavin Hood
Writer(s): David Benioff, Skip Woods
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will i Am, Lynn Collins, Ryan Reynolds, Dominic Monaghan
X-Men Origins: Wolverine begins in 1845 in the room of a young sickly boy named James Logan with his father Thomas and friend Victor Creed near by. James soon discovers his unique and regenerative abilities after his father is shot during a confrontation with neighbor (and Victor’s father) Zebadiah Creed. James Logan erupts from his bed to find his father in a pool of blood – sickly no more and with the emergence of bony claws from his fists Zebadiah becomes the first victim of berserker rage, only to mutter the true family secret to James as he takes his last breaths. As no surprise to Victor, he explains, “We’re brothers, we stick together no matter what. Now keep running and don’t look back.”
Enter the now adult Victor (Liev Schreiber) and Logan (Hugh Jackman) as we are treated to a war montage through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam where the brothers are teamed in brutal combat side-by-side for over a century. After Vietnam they are approached by William Stryker (Danny Huston) who is putting together a special team (Team X) and wants them to join. With Victor “now Sabretooth” and Logan in the unit we are introduced to Team X members John Wraith (Will i Am), Frederick J. Dukes/The Blob (Kevin Durand), Chris Bradley/Bolt (Dominic Monaghan), David North/Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), and Wade Wilson/Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and the film begins it’s long path of character crowded-ness.
Logan reaches a breaking point with all the killing while Sabretooth can’t seem to get enough, causing Logan to leave this lifestyle for a modest home in the Canadian Rockies and new occupation as a lumberjack. Logan’s new life also brings love in the form of his beautiful girlfriend Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). All is well for Logan until he is visited by Stryker, who explains that someone is taking out members of the now disbanded Team X. Twists, turns, and backstabbing ensue all leading Logan to volunteering for Stryker’s Weapon X program which entails Logan having adamantium metal transfused and bonded to every bone (claws included) in his body – thus the birth of the indestructible Wolverine.
Very little time is spent on the Weapon X process which is very surprising to me since this is such a pivotal moment in the existence of the Wolverine character in the comic book storyline. The film rushes through these scenes in only a few minutes, missing a great opportunity to bring substance and care to this cherished Marvel property. Wolverine escapes the reach of Stryker and is now out for revenge to bring down anyone who wronged he and his love while gaining clues to the real agenda behind the Weapon X program. This is where the cliché extravaganza really begins…the old couple with a farm house that help him out, and the ascending aerial camera pull back as he looks to the sky screaming with rage, to the very slow motion walk away as an explosion ignites behind him that he indeed caused. And what the **** is with the “crane stance” from Karate Kid Wolverine pulls in that one fight scene? All I could do is laugh even though it wasn’t meant to be funny.
Once again we are introduced to several more characters as Wolverine’s path takes him to New Orleans when he seeks the assistance of Remy LeBeau also known as Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) and we come across a young Emma Frost and Scott Summers also known as Cyclops.The title of the movie reads X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but after viewing it maybe they should have called it X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Sabretooth, Silverfox, Wraith, the Blob, Bolt, Agent Zero, Gambit, Emma Frost, Cyclops and Deadpool. Unlike the Spider-Man series and latest two Batman films, Wolverine doesn’t explore the deep rooted events and close knit relationships that define who he is to an extent that merits it’s own movie with “origin” in the title. Instead of really diving down into the psyche of Logan (aka Wolverine) we are given a superficial version of this with limited care given to the dynamic personality that the character deserves.
So much time was spent setting up and including other characters that you lose the connection you once had with Wolverine in previous X-Men films. It seemed as if just when the film was about to give us the dramatic character development we wanted it just continued down a path similar to X-Men: The Last Stand, which was more interested in adding as many mutant cameos, and action sequences as possible. The acting is mostly fine or average from the entire cast but the plot points in the script and direction are executed in an unmotivated and abrupt nature. This along with the poorly managed special effects and CG work really cause an artificial distraction throughout most of the film’s second and third acts. My disappointment with X-Men Origins: Wolverine leaves me with a cliché of my own…it’s time to stick a fork in X-Men, ’cause it’s done!