May 1 is officially in the Springtime but this movie was supposed to be jump-start on the great Summer movies of 2009. Well fortunately for the timing of this year, this film (despite any success in the coming weeks) fits in a category I call a ‘Spring Fling’ (a film you watch on a whim and is easily forgotten) rather than being a ‘Summer Blockbuster’ (you know, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Transformers, etc.). I’ll simply say that I was disappointed with this film. It just never grabbed my full attention like the other X-Men films did. I even started to doze off but I’ll get into more detail below.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine looked to give audiences answers and complete some of the sordid and gap filled history of Logan/Wolverine, one of Marvel’s most popular super-heroes. The film chronicles Logan’s early years, his relationship to his half-brother Victor/Sabertooth, fills in the blanks never fully explained by the comics, details his inclusion in the Weapon X program and ultimately the possible lead up to the first X-Men film. Logan’s troubles in the world are largely due to the fact that he’s a mutant and the only people he can attempt to connect with are other mutants…for as long as he can tolerate them.
In the strong and favorable tradition of keeping the same actor in the titular r0le from sequel to sequel (and even a prequel or two), Jackman’s reprisal of Logan automatically wins points and get high marks with fans across the boards. Hugh loves the character, fans love him in character and he has said from day one he was doing this for the fans and tried hard to do Wolverine right. He is a solid performer who, albeit was a little unknown at the time of Singer’s first X-Men, nailed the role and won fans around the world with a spot on performance that seemed to leap from the pages of the comics. Again, Hugh did no less than continue his great portrayal of Logan. Also his interaction with Liev and Ryan had such an intangible chemistry that I believe it saved much of the dialogue from (had it been delivered by other actors) would have gotten groans like a TBS sit-com. I personally liked scenes like his immersion in the tank for his adamantium grafting. They were done well, and seemed to capture the intriguing familiarity (but mostly fan service) as they related to when they were shown in the first 2 X-Men films. So I give some continuity points there. The role of Gambit was played very close to his character in the comics and he was kind of a punk so I believe it all played out well. Also his “card charge” scenes were very well done (although I think he deserves a knock since since his “gym class PE peg board” escape was a little goofy and laughable).
I’m sorry to say that there were a lot of lows in this film. In 3 words I can name my biggest problems: Blob, Deadpool, Stryker. Although these were great additions to the film (and Stryker was an absolute necessity) they just seemed very 2 dimensional and took away from the gravity of the story instead of adding to it. Maybe it was the casting, or their delivery, but it felt weak and possibly came down to just too many cooks in the kitchen. I also really didn’t like how primal they made Sabertooth. This is just me, but thinking in terms of how this film could play up to the first X-Men film, its almost the first steps in a complete regression to some lumbering goon, and scenes like the Cyclops school chase help to serve my point. I did like Victor/Sabertooth and Leiv’s performance was impressive in this film, but with regards to the storyline, of how he and Logan were reluctantly (in flashbacks) buddy/buddy in the early Wolverine comic books, I think the film should have spent more time with them alone and not other side characters – but that’s just what I wanted to see.
Also I found the action scenes too over the top, which for a comic book film you can kind of expect. But one thing I’ve written about before, is how well a comic film can work when the antics of the comic frame are muted to a level where the audience finds the action on the screen somewhat believable. Scenes like the “I’m going to use my claws to make this motorcycle do a 180 spin and then attack the helicopter” was a little laughable. But it was probably the “At World’s End-esque” battle on top of the nuclear silo which finally took me out of the movie and don’t even get me statred on how Logan got his memory erased. I know you have to check your brain at the door to a comic book movie, but the X-Men films were successful because they gave some plausibility to the action scenes, and not bombard you with over the top “comic” action. Lastly, (and again) I just felt the acting was weak, as there wasn’t an across the board talented ensemble suited to play the across the board “all-star” mutant line up. Some of the characters in this film were iconic and did not get the acting muscle they needed to deliver a good performance. OK, to be fair, Anna Paquin and Halle Berry weren’t great additions to the X-Men films but there was enough supplemental talent to carry the missteps made by their casting.
This film, although not trash, was just a let down. For all its attempts at an A-list (comic characters, not actors) cast, supped up CGI effects, internet/studio hype for all these months, plus the fact that this is supposed to lead up to the successful X-Men films, I found this film slightly more entertaining than a Smallville episode (but with a bigger budget), so I was just disappointed. I could have accepted this film if it was on TV as it just wasn’t theater quality nor do I think it gave fans what they were looking for. If they do a second film, which has been hinted at and eluded to, I hope they have a better script and direction…and maybe more people who can actually act.
G-S-T Ruling: 2/5
G-S-T Seal of Approval: DENIED