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Friday, May 1, 2009

Review: X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE


Well it's not Iron Man, but this movie definitely delivers more punch (or claw... sorry cheesy I know, but I couldn't resist) than X-3.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine naturally tells the story of everyone's favorite piece of man, Logan aka Wolverine, and his rise to the hero we know him as in the first X-Men. For the purpose of satisfying the three specific categories of audience members let me break this down in three parts from this point.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Single-Disc Edition)



The Comic Fan

Fear not comrades! Gavin Hood and his writing team of David Benioff and Skip Woods actually deliver on a exceptionally faithful adaptation of the comic story. Starting with young James and the death of his father back in 1841 (done properly to my great satisfaction!), we get to follow him and Victor through four outrageously cool scenes - the American wars - and the duos subsequent submission to the beast within. At the same time Hood takes the opportunity to demonstrate the chasm in behavior and character that develops between the two which is so integral to our favorite rivalry later on. Trust me guys, Hood gets down with this story, and when he lets everything hit the fan, it HITS the fan. More details in a bit.

Next up:
The Average Dude (who thinks Wolverine is a badass but knows little about the comics and frankly doesn't care as long as the fighting is out of control)

Your monthly fix of testosterone my friend is guaranteed right off the bat in the first major sequence, as Wolverine and Sabretooth literally rip their way through the Civil War, WWI, WWII and then Korea. Not enough? Give the film a little time to establish a story and then you get to see a 10 minute fight scene that (without giving away much) produces the deaths of at least 50 armed men in spectacular fashion involving outrageous gun fights far beyond the scope of Wanted, swordsmanship that makes Jet Li look like an amateur and a tank getting punched to death...literally. Keep in mind that this is just the first 20 minutes. I think you'll be satisfied.

And lastly:
The Girlfriend (who is getting dragged to see this movie because you made your boyfriend go with you to see He's Just Not That Into You)

Ask yourself, what would you do to see Hugh Jackman naked? Chances are the limits most of you would go for such an opportunity are much more painful and unpleasant than a 2 hour nerdgasm for your boyfriend, so I suggest you just sit down and shut it. Who knows, you may even enjoy the finer parts of the story and end up, uh oh, liking a super hero movie.

Alright, so now that I've gotten that out of the way...

I was torn at the end of this movie about the dialogue. There are some predictably cheesy moments, moments that a great movie could have lived without. But there are some really interesting and excellent pieces too, particularly the interactions between Jackman and Wolverine's lover Kayla Frost (or Silverfox if you want to get picky) played by relative new comer Lynn Collins. Keep an ear out for some lines that seem shallow at first but if you play them over in your head fans, you'll find some deep connections to other films and comic material. A couple are shiver-lines for sure.

In fact, I would venture to say that even though the dialogue is underperforming, Wolverine gets really close to the depth of Logan as a character, depicting his constant struggle to decide whether his powers are a gift or a curse, and even deeper, whether he is a man or a beast at heart. This is the stuff that makes Wolverine the man, and Hood isn't too far off the marker. I predict that critics will target the dialogue and miss the significance of many of the scenes entirely.

I loved the casting. Some people are sure to hate on Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, although I thought he was pretty spot on (and badass no question). Hardcore fans will probably find issues with his appearance after his transformation from Wade to Deadpool, and the ladies CERTAINLY will, but its far from bad and the character itself is great. Theres a couple moments early on where you feel like you're watching Smokin' Aces again and all you're missing is a cracked out Jeremy Piven. My biggest issue was a weak Danny Huston as Stryker. Not only is Huston's character a far cry from Brian Cox (who wasn't amazing himself in X-2 and X-3) but he lacks chemistry with the other actors and doesn't have the cojones to really convince you. Your buddies may bring up a point like mine did - can someone please explain how Huston's Stryker ends up like Cox's? The fellow they cast as Gambit (Taylor Kirsch of Snakes on a Plane) isn't too shabby either. He actually grew on me as the film progressed, but I still maintain that Josh Holloway was the only acceptable choice.

And of course, Jackman was outstanding as Logan. Yeah, there was a lot of rippling muscles that no real people have, but I could take it when it was heavily mixed with admantium claws slicing through helicopters and blocking laser beams. Interesting enough though, I think Liev Schrieber as Sabretooth/Victor Creed stole this show. Menace and power in hefty doses seem to effortlessly surround every scene he's in, and even the cheesiest dialogue palpatates with beastlyness. Marv from Sin City would be impressed.

I think a small mention of Donald McAlpine's cinematography (Romeo + Juliet, The Time Machine and Moulin Rouge) is in order. I really loved his style here, a great blend of contemporary action shots and unorthodox tracking. And you can see his hand heavily influenced the editing as well.

I think you'll find it hard to not enjoy Wolverine because let's be honest, you're really just expecting to be blown away with awesome and I'll give you a guarantee. Comic fans can be upset with the leisure the filmmakers took with Beak's and Gambit's powers, or maybe even one or two story tweaks, but you'll love it too. And the ladies have Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schrieber, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch, Will.i.am and David Henney to look at for eye candy.

2 comments:

Wilder Shaw said...

"You can return a gift"

Best line.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with your idea of how the average Joe would enjoy the movie, however, the comic book fan, like myself, would hate the film. It does not follow any of the origins laid out in the comics. First off Sabortooth is not his brother (in some comics he is portrayed as Logan's father and in others just a foe from the civil war). Also in the comics, Silverfox dies (none of that "oh I tricked you into thinking i'm dead but i'm really not" crap). Deadpool doesn't have all those special powers that the directors gave him, all he had was wolverine's healing power.
Overall the special effects sucked (especially the bathroom scene), Alkali Lake is in a different place than in the original x-men films, and lastly never in the other x-men films does Logan every mention Sabortooth as his brother. Stryker also would not have been left in such a high military position if the murder and explosion of the island had occurred in the X-men film series. Overall the movie sucked. I was expecting better, especially because the X-men films were so good. I hope Origins:Magnito doesn't suck as bad.

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