‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’

Director: Gavin Hood
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, Liev Schreiber

Not Bad For A Spin-Off, But Not Great Either.
Spun off from the trilogy started by Bryan Singer, the plot ‘X-Men Origins’ is all in the title; how ‘Wolverine’ became to be.
Having heard of the production of this film in its early stages, I started taking more of an interest in the comic book world. I’m not a reader of comic books, so used Wikipedia to familiarise myself with the mythos of numerous comic book characters, both DC and Marvel, heroes and villains. ‘Wolverine’ was one of them, and I was pleasantly surprised to a degree that the writers toyed with his existing continuity.

The trailer for this film showed some definite promise, lots and lots of action. Despite the films phlegmatic opening build, that was really all this film portrayed. The character of ‘Wolverine’ is based upon a certain level of aggression and complex emotional conflicts which lead to a level of apathy, cynicism and quick wit. These are some of the key components to the character which make him so popular, and are ones amicably displayed within the previous ‘X-Men’ trilogy.
However, in the case of ‘X-Men Origins’ the reasons for these aspects are well described, yet they never show a suitable form of impact upon the character of ‘Logan’. This led to a somewhat disappointing performance from Jackman; whilst he seems to be a fairly love/hate actor amongst many people (often irrationally); he is a good actor despite any personal feelings towards him. Playing the character ‘Wolverine’ for a fourth time, you’d expect him to be familiar with the character inside out to the point where reactions and actions would, to a degree, come naturally to him as an actor, but he just didn’t feel on form. His performance wasn’t as great as it has been before. It was still a great performance nonetheless, just lacking something; this could possibly be down to the fact Jackman has to put the character in a less damaged and basic mindset which is out of the normal for the character, but could equally be down to director Gavin Hood possibly looking for something different in a character Jackman knows well.

Another factor for this is the script, written by Skip Woods and David Benioff, which was actually relatively empty. As mentioned, the film focuses more on the action than anything else, and made for most dialogue based scenes to be quite tedious once the film gets going, though there were a few good lines and exchanges, accumulatively most of it felt lost. This is quite surprising, considering both Woods and Benioff have written screenplays with great success.
While it is senseless to seek such depth within a film such as this, the depth should really be there considering modernised criteria for the ‘Superhero Movie’, as well as the existing character depiction of ‘Wolverine’ within the comic world and previous ‘X-Men’ films.

This film seems to be trying to do two things at once; giving a chance to many non-familiar cast members as important bit part characters, whilst simultaneously trying to add more to the existing ‘X-Men’ trilogy (greedily cashing in on popularity is negligible, as it’s to be expected). This is pretty clever, as there isn’t really any risk involved with doing such a thing; with Jackman on board playing a much loved and recognised character for another run, this film was destined to get funded and shoved into the mainstream box office, regardless of quality, as well as the previous trilogy providing another safety net for this film.
Even ‘Black Eyed Peas’ member Will i Am was given a chance to display acting talents, who actually wasn’t as horrendously bad as I had anticipated.
However, most of these bit parts and granted chances were a bit pointless as there was never really enough time to assess acting talent aside from the main cast, but then again, that doesn’t really matter within the mainstream box office; if you can get someone on board and say “They were in the last ‘X-Men’ film which was very successful” during your pitch, then you’ve probably won yourself an investor. Some of these bit parts might get a career boost from this; I for one will be keeping an eye out, and give them a good chance to prove their talents in the future.

Liev Schreiber gave a great performance too, playing ‘Sabretooth’. Many fans were disappointed that they didn’t get Tyler Mane who played this character in the first ‘X-Men’ film (just for the sake of continuity), but seeing Schreiber in various non-action based roles before, it was nice to see him expand his talents into the action genre and actually come across very well. Unfortunately, a fair few of his character motions were not executed with much grace; certain acts of wire-aided running and wall-scaling came across as relatively laughable, but thankfully it didn’t hinder the character too much. Along with Jackman, these were the two best performances.

Regardless of all these points, this is still only a film designed to entertain, it does this, but through nothing other than visual stimulation. This made the slow, drawn out, opening pointless and hindered the film severely; as well as actually managing to take something out of the action.
This isn’t a great film, and doesn’t match up to the previous ‘X-Men’ trilogy (particularly the first two movies). As far as entertainment goes, this is acceptable, and worth seeing if you are a fan of ‘Wolverine’. Hardcore comic fans will be disappointed that it isn’t faithful to the existing mythos depicted within the comic books (especially that of ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Weapon XI’), but if you enjoy writers incorporating their creativity and experimenting with existing continuities, then it can be interesting to a certain degree.
Visual stimulation, some unintentionally humorous moments, small doses of ‘cheese’, and perhaps a little try hard (or not hard enough?); 6 out of 10


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May 2009
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