Action Movie Fanatix Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Witness The Origin.

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Live Schreiber, Danny Huston, Dominic Monaghan, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Durand, Daniel Henney,, Taylor Kitsch, Scott Adkins

Director: Gavin Hood

2009  |  107 Minutes  |  PG-13

“I’m not afraid of you, Victor.  I’m not afraid to die.”  Chris Bradley
“How do you know, you’ve never tried it before?” – Victor Creed

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a movie that is almost universally hated by fanboys.  Mostly because the fanboys aren’t happy with the way that many of their favorite characters are portrayed.  They certainly have good points and have a right to hate on a movie all they want but I think if they could just accept it for what it is, they might find a little enjoyment in it.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine, as you might have guessed, tells the origin of the X-Men character Wolverine.  It starts when Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is a child and explains the history he has with Victor Creed/Sabretooth (Live Schreiber).  At this point in his journey Logan has not yet been implanted with the Adamantium to make his skeleton & claws unbreakable.  He just has the bone claws and his amazing healing factor.  Logan & Victor are part of Team X, an elite mutant military squad, alongside Wade Wilson/Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), Fred Dukes/The Blob (Kevin Durand), John Wraith ( & Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan).  Logan leaves Team X and tries to lead a normal life but is hunted down by Victor who has already killed Wade Wilson, Chris Bradley and now Logan’s girlfriend Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins).  Stryker offers Logan a chance to get even by joining the Weapon-X program and getting Adamantium implanted into his body to cover his bones and claws in the indestructible metal.  When the procedure is almost finished Stryker orders Logan’s memory to be erased which causes Logan to go berserk.  Logan escapes and encounters Remy LeBeaux aka Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) who had escaped from Stryker’s new laboratory and will lead Logan to him.

The intro is very cool to see Logan & Victor fighting side by side through all of the major wars of the past few hundred years.  Reminds me of what I loved about the Highlander television series.  This is one of the highlights of the entire film for me.

I am somewhat against Marvel & Fox explaining Wolverine’s backstory so much.  A big part of what made this character great was that even he didn’t know his own history.  From what I understand though, Fox didn’t stray too far from what Marvel had already revealed to be Wolverine’s backstory.  I have a hard time blaming Fox for Marvel’s bad decisions on this one.

So what can I blame Fox for?  There are two major issues I had with X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  #1 is the presentation of characters that I have grown up watching on cartoons and reading about in comics (yes, I am one of those fanboys that I previously talked about).  #2 is the action.  There is some good action and some very, very bad action.

I will talk about the action first.  The action is either really cheesy with impossible flips and Ryan Reynolds swinging swords around as if he has superspeed or it is actually pretty darn cool.  The fights between Logan and Victor are quite good and I think I actually cheered the first time I saw the helicopter/motorcycle scene.

Hugh Jackman does as well as he has ever done in the Wolverine role showing a little more emotion to the character than had been shown in the X-Men movies.  My only complaint here is that his claws are very noticeably CGI in some parts.  How hard would it have been to create something so that they didn’t have to use CGI.  I don’t remember this being a problem in previous movies but I suppose I haven’t seen them in a while.

Liev Schreiber looks and acts the part of Sabretooth/Victor Creed.  He is naturally an imposing figure so adding the massive facial hair, claws and bad attitude makes him that much more menacing.

Now this is where it starts to get bad.  Deadpool actually starts off very good.  Ryan Reynolds fits the role of the merc with the mouth and obviously bulked up for the role but by the end of the movie Deadpool is completely transformed from what he was at the beginning of the movie and from what he is in the comic books.  At the end of the movie Deadpool is actually portrayed by Action Movie Fanatix favorite Scott Adkins but the only evidence of that is his martial arts skills.  You don’t ever see Adkins face or hear his voice.  Get this, the merc with a mouth has his mouth sown shut for the last scene.  One of the character’s trademarks is completely taken away.  Plus they grafted swords onto his arms and gave him Cyclops laser eyes as well… Why!?!

Agent Zero is ok but all of his action sequences are overdone with flips & completely unrealistic gunfire that it actually takes away from how cool he really is.  Had he been more realistically presented it would have been that much more impressive that he was pulling off these incredible sharp shooter type shots.  If it was so important for him to go flipping through the air for those couple scenes why not have the much larger & stronger Sabretooth or Blob throw him?  It would achieve the same effect but not make his action scenes seem so absurd.

Gambit is presented fairly accurately but he still ends up looking like a pansy with poorly grown facial hair.  X-Men fans waited so long to see Gambit on film and when we finally get him he is given inaccurate powers (he can’t make cards fly, just charges them with energy so they explode) and someone who doesn’t have the attitude (or accent) that he should.  He is supposed to be a cocky ladies man not just a manly lady.  Oh, and instead of his trademark bo staff, Remy uses a pimp cane.

Dominic Monaghan’s character is actually very fun in a Super 8 kind of way.  He is more about the fascination of the powers than the scary killers that made up the rest of  Team X.  He seemed perfectly content to work a circus game booth for dollar bills prior to Victor showing up on his doorstep.  His character was never very important in the comic book universe (to my knowledge) so I really couldn’t care less how accurate he is to the comics.  He’s just an interesting character for the few minutes that he is actually on the screen.

The overall feel of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is slightly grittier than the previous X-Men movies.  An R-Rated, blood flowing version would have been nice but is probably unrealistic to expect from a Marvel feature release like this.  They are trying to make as much money possible and getting the kiddies in the theater plays a big role in how much money Fox/Marvel makes off a movie like this.

For all its faults I still enjoy X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  I think as fanboys we need to just accept that the movie X-Universe is completely screwed and that the continuity makes absolutely no sense.  We need to hope for a reboot and/or just accept each movie for what they are…entertainment.