X-Men Origins: Wolverine Review

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Directed by: Gavin Hood
Written by: David Benioff, Skip Woods
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will.i.am, Ryan Reynolds, Dominic Monaghan, Kevin Durand, Daniel Henney, Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins

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Back when it was first announced that Fox intended to make an X-Men prequel focusing on the origin story of Wolverine, it seemed like a promising, if not particularly surprising, idea. Wolverine is easily the most popular member of the X-Men among comic book fans, and out of all the characters, he seems to have the most compelling inner struggles and back story to draw from. With acclaimed art house director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) on board, along with screenwriter David Benioff (25th Hour, The Kite Runner), the movie appeared to be shaping up as a more intimate, character-driven superhero drama.

But then as more news started to come out about the movie, it went from being a solo spin-off to another bloated action movie that shoehorned in tons of unnecessary cameos. Skip Woods (Swordfish, Hitman) was brought in to rewrite the script, and suddenly we started to hear names like Gambit, Deadpool, The Blob, Emma Frost and Cyclops in the mix as well. The movie was officially retitled X-Men Origins: Wolverine to further emphasize the supporting cast. Despite all this, there was still one thing going for the Wolverine flick: Hugh Jackman. Could the hunky Australian and his sideburns overcome the odds and put on a riveting performance? Or would X-Men Origins: Wolverine simply fall prey to Spider-Man 3 syndrome?

The movie opens during Wolverine’s childhood, where we learn that he and Victor Creed (Sabretooth) are actually brothers. When their father is killed in front of them, Wolverine’s mutant power emerges and he and Victor run away together. In Vietnam, they are recruited into a secret group of mutant soldiers who run missions for William Stryker. Logan eventually decides that he has had enough of the killing and quits, moving up to Canada to make a peaceful living as a lumberjack, but a few years later, Victor comes looking for him. Stryker offers to help by giving Logan the opportunity to participate in an experimental program that will infuse his skeleton with the indestructible metal, adamantium.

Even if you think you know how Wolverine’s origin story is supposed to play out, there are probably more than enough plot twists here to keep you interested. That said, some of the twists don’t entirely make sense, and by the end of the film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine becomes just another comic book movie that requires you to check your brain at the door. I don’t get it. It should have been pretty straightforward, but I mean, let’s face it, any movie that has to make use of amnesia as a plot device to wrap things up definitely has issues. I am also pretty sure this movie goes against a number of things that are considered to be comic book canon (don’t even ask how he gets the name Wolverine… it’s just embarrassing).

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What’s more, it doesn’t necessarily coincide with the other X-Men movies either. One big inconsistency is that the version of Sabretooth shown in this film a lot different from the one we saw in the first X-Men movie played by Tyler Mane. Liev Schreiber’s Sabretooth is much more human, and even though he is sadistic and savage, he can still be reasoned with and as a result, never feels quite as dangerous. This is a problem because the movie doesn’t really have a solid villain. In fact, a lot of characters change sides a number of times, and after a while it becomes hard to know who you’re rooting for.

I will say that Liev Schreiber turns in a great performance, and together with Hugh Jackman he anchors the film and shields it from a lot of the other goofy stuff going on around them. The relationship and rivalry at the center of it all feels real when it needs to, even if the rest of the film kind of falls flat. It’s too bad someone felt the need to surround them with so many underdeveloped supporting players.

It’s pretty obvious that characters like Gambit, John Wraith, Cyclops, and The Blob were added as an afterthought, thrown in just to ensure that comic book fans would pay to see this movie. None of them add anything to the plot though, and each of them gets just one or two chances to showcase their powers before quickly being forgotten again. There’s no other way to say it: they were simply unnecessary. Even Deadpool, who plays a slightly bigger role because of his involvement in the Weapon X program, gets the shaft in this movie. Deadpool fans are not going to be happy with how much screen time he gets and how he ends up being portrayed. You could watch this movie and forget that Ryan Reynolds was even in it.

In the end, I did enjoy some of the action and special effects, but at times the backdrops felt a bit too digital and fake, not to mention Wolverine’s CG claws, which didn’t always line up with his hand. (I can only imagine what the leaked workprint version looks like.) Sadly the movie wears its PG-13 rating on its sleeves, and there are way too many fights with blades that leave no traces of blood anywhere.

I can easily say that this is the weakest of the X-Men movies to date, which is unfortunate because there’s no reason why it couldn’t have been great. If you’re just excited for the first blockbuster extravaganza of the season, you may get a brief adrenaline fix from this flick, but if you’re hoping for any sort of serious storytelling, stay far, far away. Unless of course, you plan on shooting yourself in the head with an adamantium bullet afterward. — Sean

SCORE: 2 stars



Recommended If You Like: First Blood, X2: X-Men United, Blade, Underworld

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  • “Also, if none of the cameos were in the movie, it would be 40 minutes long.”

    The script should have been completely rewritten so that wouldn’t be the problem. The entire film was an endless barrage of pointless cameos.

    And how did Wolvie’s claws end up looking bad–worse than the X1? Can’t imagine how bad the workprint must have been…

  • The filmmakers would have done better to think of Wolvie as “Rambo with claws”. Seriously! Just give Wolvie claws and turn the Sheriffs into Stryker’s agents and we would’ve had a good Wolvie indeed.

  • Wolverine comic fan

    Sin City began as an amazing written story and was faithfully reproduced into an excellent movie representation.
    Wolverine began as an amazing written story and was raped by a movie that decided to basically tell it’s own story.
    Granted Wolverine is an “ok” movie and will please people who aren’t die hard wolverine comic fans, why not be faithful to its source material, as that’s what made the character so popular in the first place.
    Just like Joey posted, read any of those comics – Weapon X, Wolverine 1 – 200 for character reference, or simply just follow Wolverine Origins, the movie then would have actually engaged the watcher. Its actually pathetic that a comic book has a deeper story than a full length movie.

    In my opinion, no x-men movie has fully captured Wolverine properly. Wolverine’s healing factor has been butchered each time as it’s been completely inconsistent throughout every movie. His healing factor is used to fit plot devices – example this wound will heal instantly onscreen while this same other wound will cause him to be unconscious for hours because we need him to pass out at this point in the moive. This isn’t diehard star trekkie fan nitpicking details, this is creating and grounding a character, so at least he has some sort of realism. His animal senses are almost ignored altogether or extremely inconsistant throughout all the movies. These powers are characteristics that defined Wolverine. If audience members had some sort of idea how quickly Wolverine could heal, as in some sort of set healing rate, this might actually create suspense it parts of the movie, where maybe he has to avoid taking too much damage at once. Yes, mutants have powers, but they’re not Indianna Jones invinceable.
    Deadpool’s initial action scene IMHO was just retarded. Is his power super speed? or Amazing deflecto all bullets from all directions with swords? Like common… put some thought and realism into an action scene!! Otherwise you’re left with a character like Superman where kriptonite doesn’t exist Same thing happened with Zero dispatching all those guys earlier…
    The movie tried to show scenes of vulnerability with Wolverine but failed miserably. His conflict with beserker rage was a joke. Imagine if he had killed an innocent while in beserker rage, or his rage lead to the death of a loved one, instantly, introduction of at least some form of conflict, but no…. nothing in the movie
    Just too much wrong with the movie…

  • Dee Dee

    For what it was, it was entertaining. I’m not a diehard fangirl, I remember watching the cartoon series as a kid, so I’m unfamiliar with his true origin story but I can understand the frustration of the fans. I saw my beloved Dragonball raped, cut, hung, and burned after being taken hostage by the snooks at Fox Studios, so I can relate to a movie featuring your favorite characters being a monumental disappointment. That being said, even NOT knowing his origin story, the chinks in this movie’s armor were not hard to point out and dissect.

    Firstly, it was too short. I can imagine with how long the comics have been around that Wolvie has a long and interesting history before he meets up with the X-men. I can’t fantom a movie being able to go into so much depth as a 200+ issue comic series in a just under 2 hour movie. And it was obvious that they chose the route of just watering down one story arc, keeping the main characters and conflicts but never go into too much detail. Then they realized the movie would be entirely too short for a summer blockbuster and decided to add cameos and use pointless fight scenes to make up for the rest instead of just revamping the script. Seriously, haven’t movie-goers proved with Watchmen, Titanic, The Dark Knight, and others that we don’t all have ADD and can sit through a movie for longer than 90 minutes?

    Second, the writer was extremely lazy. The dialogue wasn’t horrible but some of the one-liners were wince-inducingly mediocre. The plot twists, made the weak story somewhat tastier but still couldn’t make up for the lack of real substance.I actually didn’t mind the whole brothers turned enemies premise (cliche as it was) but the script refused to delve any deeper than your average low-budget “final fight” film. The character is the goody two shoes, his brother is the raging bull. Big bro beats the tar out of him, he goes after him and has to get stronger and fight his way through enemies then at the end, Big bro has a little change of heart and soft spot for his little bro. Nothing extraordinary at all. All they did was give them superpowers.

    And third, the characters. I’m actually a person who enjoys those cool little brief encounters with characters in the same ‘universe’. I love Gambit, was tickled at the Cyclops tie-in and thought SilverFox, Emma Frost and the others were cool to see but it contributed absolutely NOTHING to the plot. If you want to have them included in the movie then INCLUDE them. Make their characters seem like they’re actually supposed to be there. I swear I wanted to beat my head against the wall when Gambit suddenly decided to attack Wolverine when his real enemy, Sabretooth, is about to be done in by him. WTF? It made absolutely NO sense! ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’, sounds like a code a guy like Gambit would go by… not THIS Gambit though.Then the whole mutant breakout sequence was just distraction from the anti-climatic final battle. This whole movie seemed like just another X-men movie with Wolverine as the fore-runner (which was all of them, actually).

    But still, I saw it with my family and enjoyed it. For all the flaws, it had a lot of action and cool cameos (oh, the cameos) so it’s like another Transformers to me. Plenty of eye candy to sastify you at the theater but no real meat to stick to your system hours later.

    I’d give it a 7/10: Only because it was better than all three of the X-men movies but considering how bland those were, that’s not saying much. And despite the flaws in character devolpment and writing, the cast did very well (especially loved Reynolds as Deadpool and Emma Frost was a total babe), and the actions sequences (though loud and dumb) were still impressive.

  • Alex Crossley

    Never seen any of them and never will – How ignorant is that! Nuff said :-)
    alexjcrossley@yahoo.co.uk

  • So… with his enhanced senses Wolverine is capable of “smelling” if someone is lying, but somehow he failed to notice that his girlfriend was still alive, not injured in any way, and covered with someone (or something) else’s blood?

    And failing to notice that she was still alive he left her “corpse” in the middle of the woods?

    ooooooooooooooooooook.

    This movie SUCKED. It was embarassing. Why in the hell can’t these people just FOLLOW THE DAMN COMIC BOOK! There is a reason millions of people read these books, it’s because THEY LIKE THEM. Why mess with that? Why? You have a built in fanbase that just wants to see these characters come to life and you take a foul, disgusting, slimy crap all over them! I just don’t get it…

    It’s so depressing.

    Is making a movie really that hard? I mean, really?

  • I gotta say that this is my favorite X-Men movie next to X3. My favorite character was the star of the movie, Hugh Jackman did a good job playing him as usual. I always wondered about how Wolverine became…WOLVERINE. It answered all my questions. It had a nice new group of mutants, and an engaging plot with loads of nice action scenes. I do wish that they got Tyler Mane to come back to play Sabretooth. He played Sabretooth back in the original X-Men movie. But the new guy did a good job too. I also wish Ryan Reynolds’ character had more screen time before he became all weird and robotish towards the end. Overall, this movie was freaking awesome! I don’t care what anyone says, X3 is the best X-men movie overall.

    Fun fact: Hugh Jackman and Christopher Reeve are the only two actors to play a comic book character in four consecutive movies.

    Jackman= X-Men, X2:X-Men United, X3:The Last Stand, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine

    Reeve= Superman The Movie, Superman II, Superman III, and Superman IV:The Quest For Peace

  • joe

    an okay film