Home > Uncategorized > FILM REVIEW – “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” -or- “The Wolverine Variety Show Starring Wolverine”

FILM REVIEW – “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” -or- “The Wolverine Variety Show Starring Wolverine”


Directed by:  Gavin Hood
Starring:  Hugh Jackman, Liev Schrieber, Ryan Reynolds, and about 634 other actors playing ancilliatory characters.
Rating:  ** (out of *****)
Normally it’s hard for me to hate a movie that made me laugh as hard as "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" did, but that certainly wasn’t their intention.
"Wolverine" – which is how I’ll refer to it since the full title is a bit unwieldy and far too geeky for my tastes – had a lot going for it.  Hugh Jackman brought a charismatic approach to the Wolverine character in the trilogy of X-Men films, and in this he also doubled as a producer.  Liev Schreiber should also be commended for his turn as Sabretooth, if only because he was able to deliver some of the film’s atrocious dialogue without making me laugh at him derisively.  Plus the film had Gavin Hood at the helm, who is heralded by many as one of the best new directors out there and the guy who was responsible for one of my favorite movies of the last five years (2005’s "Tsotsi").  With such high effort coming from some of the best talent in Hollywood both in front of and behind the camera, how did a film focusing on Marvel Comics’ most popular and bankable character go so terribly wrong?
Apparently Hugh Jackman is the only actor not completely ashamed of being in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine":

First things first: the script.  Beyond the fact that they foolishly attempted to recreate Wolverine’s confusing and convoluted past (much of which tends to contradict itself in the comics), the dialogue and character interaction was treated with all the respect you would expect from a Hollywood insider to treat a comic book franchise when their only exposure to comic books was the ’60s camp television version of "Batman."  But with so many people involved that had such great respect for the character and source material, including many folks from Marvel itself, I can’t really say that was the case here.  I suppose I’ll just chalk it up to the fact that David Benioff and Skip Woods are terrible, hacky screenwriters.  As a quick sidenote, if you need to bring in a script doctor, why the dude who penned "Swordfish"?
The second problem were the special effects, which were so distractingly bad that at one point I wondered if they had mistakenly put in a reel of the leaked unfinished version of the film that was passed around a few weeks ago on the internet.  The CGI was amateurish, with Wolverine’s claws in particular looking anywhere from cartoonish to downright terrible depending on the scene.  The fact that they seemed to change in color, thickness, and length throughout the film certainly didn’t help matters.  Even more traditional effects, especially those employed during the various fight scenes strewn throughout the film with no regard to context or pacing, were barely on par with low-budget Hong Kong fare.
The film’s aesthetic problems would be forgivable, but the fact of the matter is that nothing was going to overcome a terrible story (if you can even identify one in "Wolverine").  The movie doesn’t attempt to tell the origin of Wolverine so much as fit in every single suggestion that pathetic fanboy shut-ins would make on a message board thread with the topic of "what would you like to see in a Wolverine film?"  Various characters from the X-Men franchise appear and disappear with little to no explanation or reasoning.  The crowded house approach may please fanboys who demand that C-list characters such as Maverick make an appearance in the film but it doesn’t do much for the casual fan, the movie-goer with no prior exposure to the character other than that of the recent "X-Men" trilogy, or comic book fans like myself who also happen to like their entertainment – whether it’s books, film, television, or comics – to actually be good and entertaining.
So what lessons can be learned from Wolverine?  For one, don’t listen to fans on the internet.  There’s a reason that they’re fans rather than writers.  The second lesson, which also ties in to the first, is that you don’t always have to (and in fact shouldn’t) try to be faithful to over thirty years of continuity that directly contradicts itself and is often disregarded in the source material’s original medium.  The third lesson would be not to rely so heavily on references to superior installments of a franchise to carry a film.  The fourth and final lesson?  Don’t have a dying character say the words "I’m so cold."  Seriously, that actually happened.
Frustrating, confusing, dumb, and depressing.  "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" sure is faithful to the character’s history, and that’s not a good thing.
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