X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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  • Title: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Shreiber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds, Dominic Monaghan, Lynn Collins, Will.i.am, Taylor Kitsch, Daniel Henney, and Kevin Durand
  • Written by: David Benioff and Skip Woods
  • Directed by: Gavin Hood
  • Distributor: 20th Century Fox
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Release Date: May 1, 20009
  • Series: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

MENDOZAAAAAAA!!!

By Rob Vaux     April 30, 2009
Source: Mania.com


Review: X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
© Mania

Whatever my personal opinion of Wolverine, I hope it makes a mint. Karma certainly owes it after the online piracy debacle it's had to go through. The sympathy engendered by that dilemma also makes it easier to forgive the film's flaws--that and the fact that it loves and respects these characters as much as the fans do. Strictly speaking, it's a mess… but an entertaining and heartfelt mess to be sure.

It works because director Gavin Hood and star Hugh Jackman never compromise their central figures. The tale of James Howlett AKA Logan AKA Wolverine fills in the first period of his life, from his early days as a gentle child in 19th century Alberta through 135 years of violence and death accompanied by his older half-brother Victor Creed (Liev Shreiber). They're both special, of course: gifted with remarkable healing powers and eternal youth, along with bony claws and a barely suppressed rage that sends them headlong into war after war. Initially, Victor takes the lead, with Logan happy to play back-up. But as the decades roll past, the elder's bloodlust becomes overwhelming, leading the younger to start looking for other options. When they're recruited by the devious William Stryker (Danny Huston) to join a "special team," it eventually becomes the breaking point which sets them against each other.

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, Taylor Kitsch as Gambit, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth, Lynn Collins as Silver Fox in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

Hood develops their dynamic marvelously, aided by Shreiber's gift for ominous understatement and Jackman's intimate knowledge of the figure that made him a star. The best moments in Wolverine display utter devotion to their personalities: the thousand little quirks and foibles which make them so endearing. The film shows equal respect for the myriad other members of the X-Men universe, from Dominic Monaghan's sad-sack Bolt to Taylor Kitsch's insouciant Gambit. ("Are you Remy Lebeau?" Logan asks him at one point. "Do I owe you money?" is the reply.) A few shaky performances crop up here and there--Will.i.am, in particular, could use some practice--but the best of them show a depth and complexity that rarely appears in summer movies. Comic book fans always understood such shades of gray, of course--which lend darkness to the heroes and nuance to the villains--and the likes of Watchmen and The Dark Knight have made them an absolute necessity in these endeavors.

Not that Wolverine is anywhere close to those films, of course. But nevertheless, Hood adds an undeniable energy to the copious action sequences, delivering a level of raw grit and ferocity unseen in the X-Men movies before now. In that sense, his presence here is an excellent call, lending a freshness to the proceedings missing from Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand. That helps carry it through some less-than-sterling technical elements. The visual effects, in particular, leave something to be desired and tend to advertise unexpected twists with their prominence (do your best to ignore the green screen behind certain figures). Hood makes up for it with sheer enthusiasm, but it's an uphill climb sometimes.

Wolverine and Sabretooth face a firing squad in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

More distressing is the film's apparent disregard for the bigger picture. Plot holes gape as wide as the Grand Canyon, and while the film clearly wishes to fit neatly into the continuity established by the X-Men trilogy, it requires jumps in logic that may prove insurmountable to some. (I basically had to pretend that Shreiber's Creed and Tyler Mane's Sabretooth were two different people.) The climax hinges around a definitive historic event, which is neat in a passing way, but further complicates an already untenable timeline. ("Okay, if this is 1979 and Cyclops is in high school, that sets the first film's 'not-too-distant future' at several years before its actual release…?") Don't try to think this one through too hard--you'll give yourself a Grade-A headache.

Thankfully, this is a summer movie, and thought is optional. As a throwaway bit of fun, Wolverine definitely passes muster, and while hard-core X-lovers may be put out by its various lapses, the loving presentation of such wonderful characters makes it easy to forgive (if not forget). Most fans think of these figures as old friends, whether from their long-ago childhood or the latest issue which just hit stands. Spending a few hours with them remains a palpable joy, no matter how sketchy or troubled the presentation. Jackman knows this character inside and out, and though it's ostensibly a one-man show, his fellow performers work hard to match him step for step. It might not be the best film of the summer, but it's earned a look… for its undeniable merits as much as its inescapable problems.

 

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Gallery

Click the thumbnails for Mania's gallery of over 20 images from the film.

Taylor Kitsch is Gambit in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 48
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gauleyboy420 4/30/2009 11:42:04 AM

I KNEW IT!!!!

If Rob thinks it's OK, I'm really gonna dig it.

I think Wolverine is an overused overhyped character, but I like him nonetheless. And I'm looking forward to seeing this this weekend!!!

 

Rob your reviews are getting better. I like the artice format better than the Quick recap, the "The Good"  "The Bad" sections.

I think you express yourself more clearly, and  give a better review.

 

Can't wait to see this Flick,

LET SUMMER BEGIN!!!!!

hanso 4/30/2009 11:52:13 AM

"The film shows equal respect for the myriad other members of the X-Men universe, from Dominic Monaghan's sad-sack Bolt to Taylor Kitsch's insouciant Gambit. "

What?  Outside of Wolverine, Sabretooth and Stryker all the characters are glorified cameos sprinkled in by Fox to get more people into the theatre.  How is that giving the characters respect?  Did the additonal footage expand upon those characters?

And what does the leak have to do with the film flaws?

TayDor 4/30/2009 1:11:13 PM

Watch it Gauley.  That's my main man yer trash talkin'.  Don't make me have to throw down on you, son.  ;)

Hehe..yah, he is a bit overexposed these days.  I stopped collecting comics around '92.  But I've kept in the looop, browsing comics at the local comic shop here and there.  I had a good long laugh at how scared everyone in the Marvel universe is acting now that Wolvie remembers everything and is looking for paypack.  Don't get me wrong, I love the little hairy guy, but I never thouight of him being someone the government and SHIELD would be freaking out over.  The Hulk is more of a threat than Wolverine, on a global scale.

Someday, they'll figure out how to gimme retractable claws.  Until then, Make mine Marvel.

DarthDuck 4/30/2009 1:36:58 PM

big sigh of relief on my part.  this movie has actually been getting pretty solid reviews all around.  CBR and USAToday both gave it good reviews.  No one is expecting a masterpiece, at least they shouldn't be.  As a hardcore Marvel zombie I actually find myself willing to embrace the 'movie version' of the characters I know so well and just enjoy them as a tribute to the original but still their own characters and universe.  (With the obvious awful exception of X3, moving on....)  As for the 'glorified cameos' I say 'bring it on'.  It's nice to see more of the universe, even in small amounts.  Deadpool baby!

Looking forward to seeing it tomorrow. 

hanso 4/30/2009 2:22:28 PM

You guys should get the Papa JOhns Wolverine Pizza.  Mmmmmmmmm, tasty.

Predator29_home 4/30/2009 2:24:21 PM

Hanso i hope your wrong (for once, anyother time i totally agree with you) but i hope that they at least give Gambit the respect he deserves.  He was my favorite X-men character so i hope hes not just a glorified cameo.  All that aside i'm taking my nephew to see this one this weekend, and i hope its good enough for me to go back and see it again next weekend after i see Star Trek

 

coming soon to a theater near you "HOW PREDATORS SAVED THE UNIVERSE!!!!!!!!!!!"

Wiseguy 4/30/2009 2:43:04 PM

gauley is right. Wolverine is way overused and hyped, waaaayyyyy toooooo much. That's Marvel's fault. He's an X-Man in San Francisco and a homeless renegade Avenger in New Avengers in NY and still has time to wander the world in his other solo series, too damn much Wolverine. He's a great character though

Anyway, happy to see Rob liked it. A couple of thieving friends and cousins of mine saw the bootleg and liked it as well, so my enthusiasm is still intact.

Like a comic book cameos are glorified to get people to buy the book. How many covers do you see with such and such and agains whoever, buy the book and findout they barely looked at each other and the guess character has a minor role. Sounds to me like there's no difference here. These guys deal with mutants and such as part of their lives so why wouldn't we see them. Why the eff do you need every character that appears on screen to have his character developed and expanded on, it's a damn cameo. Which is why I never had that big a problem with X-3. Those characters are part of this universe so it's good that they appear even if it's just for a glance. Their characters will get developed if/when the storiy is more about them.

lazerman 4/30/2009 3:12:08 PM

One thing I kept hearing about the "Leaked Footage" was how AWFUL the dialogue is.

 

Now one could defend it and say "What did you expect? This is a Comic Book Film!"


Then there is the counter point "Well they had awesome and defining dialogue in TDK, just look at the Joker . ."

 

With all its "Flash Bang", this film WILL Rake in the cashola, but I do not know if it DESERVES the cashola.  I will be seeing it on Saturday, and I hesitate to say if I will be seeing it mutiple times, like I did TDK or IRONMAN.

 

Besides, got to save up my cashola for multiple viewings of STAR TREK!  

 

 

hanso 4/30/2009 4:42:57 PM

You should also use your cashola for a tasty Wolverine pizza.

akiraakobus 4/30/2009 5:17:00 PM

Well the theater I worked at had a screening for employees last night, and I can honestly say the film is pretty good, not great but pretty good, my main complaints were that the movie was to short (giving some characters little screen time), and that some of the special effects could have been done better but overrall for me it was very enjoyable and I would probably give it a B rating.

I doubt the film will win over anyone who hated X-Men 1-3 just because of the various changes from the comics, but those who enjoyed the first 3 X-Men films as I did will probably love this one as well, as it ties into the others, (especially X2) pretty well.

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