Saturday, May 2, 2009

Review - X-Men Origins: Wolverine

The origin story for James Logan aka Wolverine, develops his early years prior to joining the X-Men. Logan and his brother Victor Creed after being held captive are introduced to William Stryker, who is putting together a special unit made up of mutants and later intends to put Logan through the Weapon X program. After being betrayed by Stryker and Creed, Wolverine must align himself with other mutants so that he may hunt down and take revenge on Stryker's program.

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is much thinner on substance and definition than the first two X-Men films, but still delivers one hell of a fun and action-filled punch. The story written by David Benioff and Skip Woods is ultimately very patchy, spanning from the early 1800's into the Vietnam Era before the opening credits have even finished, however the film moves a steady pace keeping a constant mix of action and humor throughout. The special effects leave something to be desired. Most of the green screen work is highly evident and seems subpar with today's technological abilities, that said, the shotty effects go overlooked based on how much I enjoyed the entire experience.

Director Gavin Hood made a decision to make "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" a lighter take than X-Men fans may have been use to from the previous films, but I for one, still enjoyed the hell out of it. All of the mutants were really cool, despite a few of them having different ethnicities or different origins. Namely Agent Zero or Maverick, who in the comics was German and here in "Origins," is Asian. I liked that the film does a solid job of setting up Xavier's Institute for Higher Learning and what could be a possible tie-in to the planned "X-Men: First Class." Hood utilized mutants previously seen and also not seen in X-Men films alike and the result was alot of fun so much so, it had the viewer saying, "there's Quickstrike and Scarlett Witch!" or "look Toad!" Hood also did a decent job of using what was previously setup in the X-Men films and flushing out those stories. For instance, showing us Stryker's son, who was featured in X2: X-Men United.

The acting in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is very good considering most of the dialogue is subpar and mainly tongue and cheek humor. Hugh Jackman is the perfect embodiment of Wolverine and once again, shows us just how badass he is playing him. The downside of Jackman's performance is Hood never allows for Logan to show anything other than animal instincts. It would have been nice to see Logan have a bit more to do then routinely growl and say campy one-liner's one after another. Liev Schreiber was fantastic as Victor Creed/ Sabretooth. I actually prefered Schreiber's performance over Tyler Mane's from the original Bryan Singer X-Men film. Schreiber was flawless and did not disappoint here in "Origins" when compared to Mane's stiff performance from X-Men.

The supporting cast throughout "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" also adds to the overall enjoyment of the comic film. Taylor Kitsch for being a relative unknown, did a convincing job as one of the bigger and more popular X-Men characters Gambit. Ryan Reynolds was perfect as Wade Wilson/ Deadpool and really added some early laughs. I especially liked his line, "okay...people are dead," after taking out a room filled with trained gunmen. Kevin Durand (The Blob), Dominic Monaghan (Bolt), Tim Pocock (Cyclops), Lynn Collins (Silverfox) and even Will I Am (Wraith), all pulled off quality performances in their brief roles.

It has become customary to hold comic book films up on a pedastool as if each one needs to be dark and serious. I completely disagree with this notion and still hold a special place in my heart for the more lighter-fare of comic book films. Not every comic property has to be The Dark Knight or Watchmen. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is a popcorn summer movie, one that is to be enjoyed and not meant to make you think. It is an action-packed thrill ride and never tries to break new ground, which is fine by me. More so, I welcomed it and enjoyed sitting back and just having a good time instead of over-thinking the film.