X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a dumb, stupid film that is the result of a studio trying to cash in on the popularity of a character and a genre
, 2 years too late. If the superhero genre dies - and if the appalling Watchmen
didn't give you a hint, this one is surely a smack in the face of fans - Wolverine will surely be bandied about as a prime example of the downfall.
How stupid is this movie? The film begins with Wolverine as a child, James Howlett, and his father looks exactly like Hugh Jackman - then you find out a minute later that he is not his father. What follows is the best part of the film. You follow two brothers through various wars through history, growing up together, fighting together. What counts as the prologue of the film are the best 20 minutes of it, well-shot and paced generally quite decently.
Then it starts to show its brain-numbingness. Before he gets the Wolverine moniker, people start referring to him as Logan - despite the fact that he does not tell them that is what he calls himself now. Logan meets a rag-tag bunch of mutants shortly and gets a skeleton of super-indestructible metal adamantium transplanted, post which he escapes from the military base. The military sends Agent Zero, whose mutant power is shooting guns really well. Of course, our hero blows him to kingdom come - at the same time we see the military people talk about special adamantium bullets that they can use to kill Wolverine.
Which were right there with them. Which they did not give to the guy whose power is shooting guns really well. Yeah, it's that stupid. Oh, also, evidently along with an indestructible skeleton, he also steals an indestructible leather jacket, because it never gets so much as a smear.
The film is set sometime in the late '70s / early '80s, though you couldn't tell by looking at it. This is the least convincing depiction of a period since Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
. Actually you could tell the time of the film by the special effects. I am the last person to diss a film because the effects were not well done - but when the raison d'Ãªtre
of a film is displaying increasingly big action setpieces and whiz bang effects, you can't help but complain.
The effects are so bad, at times it looks like they never paid the full licensing fees of the trial version software they used to do the post-production on. You will routinely see mountains or claws look like they were slapped together on a Pentium 2 by a 10-year-old. It doesn't look horrible all the time, of course - a few come close to videogame levels, and almost the entire film is composed of cool-looking shots of Wolverine in comic-book-cover-inspired poses.
There are some decent action sequences here and there, but what really should propel these are real characters, which the film's script forgot to put in. Instead, we have fan service by way of Wraith (Will i Am), Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds, trying hard, but hardly there), Gambit (Taylor Kitsch, displaying more screen presence than the entire cast) and Blob (Kevin Durand, quite entertaining) thrown in and sent off as the makers please.
The main conflict between the two brothers is also never quite explored. For a large part of the film, Victor (Liev Schreiber) is angry at Logan because he went and got himself a girlfriend. The entire point that they both are animals trying to deal with their instincts differently could have been very interesting, but the script is too busy showing them running towards each other and bloodlessly fighting, or showing Wolverine beat the snot out of other characters.
At least Liev Schreiber is trying hard not to embarrass himself. Hugh Jackman is so completely over the top, it isn't even ironic. Of course, he is still is charismatic and solidly dependable as a presence, but the film is such a damp hollow exploration of anything related to character, that you kinda wish he wasn't.
I wish I could have liked this film more. I wish I could say good things about a film which features one of my favourite characters, and who is more contemporarily relevant than the entire DC catalogue. I wish I could tell you that it is a good film with lots of impressive spectacle. I can't in honesty do any of those things, though. This is a wasted opportunity that may yet signal the end of superheroes on film. Fans should stay away, while those simply curious will have plenty to watch given that the films have started coming back to the screens.