Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine


Review by Paul Edwards

Last summer, Marvel opened the season with the box office and critical hit, Iron Man. It enjoyed a long box office run that ended past the $300 million mark. This year, Marvel is teaming with Fox to try and replicate that runaway success.  Both films star talented lead actors; Hugh Jackman, who hosted the Oscars this year and Robert Downey Jr. who reclaimed his image with films like Tropic Thunder and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This year, Marvel even had the advantage of having a universally recognized character. However, unlike Iron Man, Wolverine shades more on the side of average in terms of results on the big screen. 

Hugh Jackman brings back Wolverine, a character he got into the mainstream appeal with the X-Men series, with his own origin story.  In the story, a boy named James (who would grow into the man named Logan) winds up killing what he thought was his brother’s stepfather, but in a twist seen miles away, it ended up being his own father. Queue camera pan out as our protagonist screams in shock and anger!  (Yeah, we’ve never seen that before).

But it does get much better. The opening credits are on par with Watchmen as some of the best out there. We witnesses Logan and his half-brother Victor Creed as they fight through World War I, World War II, and Vietnam. The shots are really marvelous. They are like slowly moving photographs. And then the film starts, and it all goes downhill.

Wolverine joins a Canadian Strike Force team led by a man named Col. William Stryker. Unfortunately, the mutants involved are some of the weakest cardboard cutouts there aer. There is even one mutant whose special power is shooting a gun really well.  No, really.  Even the Black Eyed Peas’ is a mutant whose powers are really basic and he doesn’t even add anything to the story. Also, needless to say, when Logan eventually grows a conscience and leaves the Strike Force, we fast-forward to several years later when Logan is living with his sweetie and working as a lumberjack, the cringe factor goes up to a higher level. My goodness, the way Wolverine gets his name is so corny, you would think you were watching Days Of Our Lives, not a special- effects-laden popcorn blockbuster starting the summer season.

Anyway, this film was carried on Hugh Jackman’s back, both in his performance and in his pocketbook, but it relies on too much cheese, too much corn, and too much cliché to pass along the story. Also, two of the best supporting characters, Gambit and Deadpool, don’t get nearly enough screen time as they deserve, and we are left with a guy in a fat suit and an otherwise respectable actor running around on all fours. It is neither sexy nor cool. If I had a choice at the box office I would pass on Wolverine and hope that something better comes along later in the summer.

1 ½ / 5 stars


Review By Don Hill

Snikt. This is the sound that Wolverine's claws make when they extend out of his forearms.   Bam. This is the sound Wolverine's fist makes when punching Sabretooth in the face.  Sigh. This is the sound that I when watching another mediocre comic movie.

The movie was good, it was a great popcorn movie, and it certainly was a decent comic book movie… but it could have been great. Instead, it hovers around the mediocre level and occasionally rises to respectability. It never completely plunges to Ghost Rider or Electra levels, but, sadly, it doesn't go anywhere near Iron Man or The Dark Knight in terms of comic movie excellence. Wolverine is the not-quite-varsity player on the team that gets promises to be on the team next year. Wolverine is the king's third son that gets no land or money when the king dies. Have I given enough analogies yet?

In this movie we are treated to the story of the origin of the future X-Men member Wolverine, starting with a scene from his boyhood, where young James Howlett sports tiny claws made of bone.  We also find out that his arch-nemesis Sabretooth is actually

James’ older brother Victor.  One of the great scenes in the movie is the opening credits, which feature James and Victor taking part in various wars, from the Civil War up through Vietnam. (Due to their mutant healing ability, they apparently age at a much slower rate than normal humans.)

I don't think I need to go into much detail of the movie, except that this is the origin of Wolverine and how he came to be involved in the Weapon X, how he was implanted with an unbreakable metal skeleton and claws, and why he has no memory of his early life.

The actors involved do a good job with the limited screen time for anybody not named Wolverine or Sabretooth. Ryan Reynolds plays a character named Wade Wilson, affectionately known as Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth. Sadly, he gets roughly three minutes of screen time in which he squeezes 90% of the movies comedic lines into his small role. That is a shame, as Deadpool is one of the more interesting characters in the entire Marvel univerise.. Look for a follow-up movie in the next few years.

As a straight action movie, Wolverine succeeds, although there are instances where the comic violence strays into almost Looney Toons territory. (I wouldn't have been surprised to see Sabretooth drop an anvil on Wolvie's head.)

Though this seems like a very negative review, it actually isn't, quite. Any review I give about a comic movie must be tempered by the reader with the fact that I am a huge comic geek. I have been reading comics for over 25 years now and if they mess anything up, I know it. The other fact is that I only objected to a few scenes and while watching the movie I enjoyed myself. It was only in that dark corner of my brain that I began analyzing parts of the film and finding the holes. If you aren't a comic reader and merely want to see a hairy guy with claws cutting things up then this is the movie for you.

3 / 5 stars

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