Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Movie review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Netflix blu-ray
Rating:  2/5

Following the success of the X-Men trilogy (well, at least the success of the first two films), X-Men Origins: Wolverine gives a more in-depth look at the life of Logan and how he became the Wolverine.  I saw this movie several months ago (at this point, probably over a year ago), so this review is going to be a bit shorter (and probably more "bullet-point" style) as it is based primarily off of the notes I made for myself at the time, and not a more recent experience.  I would go back and re-watch it to be able to give a more recent review, but honestly, I do not want to sit through this movie again.  I had heard nothing but negative reviews about this film, so I wasn't expecting much out of it.  But still, I loved the first two X-Men movies (by Bryan Singer...not the third one, by Brett Ratner), and Wolverine has always been one of my favorite comic book characters.  So, despite the negative reviews, I still really wanted to see it.  Even though Brett Ratner did what he could to destroy the X-Men franchise, I still held out hope that maybe the origin stories would help to bring the franchise back to something worth watching again.  I was foolish to hope for such things.  There were some things about Wolverine that I did enjoy, but overall it left me frustratingly underwhelmed.  By the way, there will be spoilers in this review.  So if you are thinking about seeing Wolverine, skip down to the end to read my recommendation first.  If you still want to see it, then come back to my review after you've watched it and leave some comments.  But if you don't plan on seeing it, then read on.

Wolverine started out disappointing from the very beginning.  It begins with Logan (Wolverine) and Victor (Sabretooth) as children who experience a traumatic event.  I know that it can be difficult to find good child actors, but the kids at the beginning of Wolverine are not believable as mutants...and are barely believable as kids.  Following the opening scene, there is a montage during the opening credits of Logan and Victor fighting in various battles throughout history.  I understand the use of this montage to quickly explain that Logan and Victor are both very old, and very difficult to kill.  But it doesn't really do much for the character development of either.  And it does absolutely nothing to show the reasoning for the transformation of Victor/Sabretooth from patriot to murderer, or explain why Logan/Wolverine and Victor/Sabretooth have turned out so differently after going through the same experiences.  And somewhere during that montage, Logan (who was called "James" during the opening sequence) goes from being named James to Logan...with no explanation for the change.

I like Liev Schrieber a lot, but I think that he is a little too clean-cut for Sabretooth.  Also, if they kept the same actor for Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) from the X-Men movies, then why did they change actors for Sabretooth?

I think Hugh Jackman did a good job as Wolverine in the first X-Men movies (and I am really looking forward to The Wolverine), so I'm glad that he maintained his role in this movie.  But, I don't like how his character was presented.  There are too many scenes where we should have seen Wolverine's berserker rage, but instead were presented with mild-mannered Logan (almost an emo Logan).

The movie tries too hard to force "comedy" into the scenes, but the result is not amusing.  Humorous scenes can certainly be placed into action and comic-book movies, and can be done so well when they are done in a more natural tone.  But when the "humor" is forced, it does not work out well for anyone.  The scene where Wolverine fights the Blob is absolutely dreadful.

The effects were pretty cheesy at times.  Even Wolverine's claws (which looked great in the first X-Men movies) looked comically fake at times.

If  X-Men Origins: Wolverine is supposed to be a prequel to the first three X-Men movies, then there are far too many inconsistencies.  If it is supposed to be a different line, or a reboot, then there are far too many similarities.

Two of the best characters, Gambit and Wade Wilson/Deadpool, are horribly mishandled.  Even with all of the other problems I had with the movie, if those two had been given decent screen time or had been more developed, I might have actually been ok with the movie overall.  But they try to cram so many characters into the movie that it results in the entire film feeling like it is lacking a well-developed plot or character development.

Recommendation:  Pass.  I had heard bad reviews before watching this movie, but I still held out hope.  With the characters involved, the actors playing the characters, and the foundation from the first (two) X-Men movies, I thought that X-Men Origins: Wolverine had a good bit of potential.  But sadly, nothing was done with that potential.  The acting is far below what I know the actors/actresses are capable of.  The visual effects are far worse than the original movies.  The introduction of new characters fell short, as none of them had any character development.  And there is a litany of inconsistencies (both internally, and in relation to the first three movies).  The best part of the movie for me (possible spoiler?) was that it was left open for a possible Deadpool movie.  Hopefully The Wolverine will handle this character properly, and give us a Wolverine movie that we actually want to see.

Be sure to check back soon for more reviews and recommendations.


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