With the latest in the ongoing saga of Marvel’s metal clawed bad-ass superhero having just opened in cinemas I thought, before I got to that, I’d go back and give his first ‘solo’ outing another go.
When it came out its safe to say the cumbersomely titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine didn’t set the world on fire and as essentially the fourth film in a by then diminishing franchise I guess that isn’t surprising and, even now, its clear to see why this film was pretty much roundly regarded as causing the franchise to need a (sort of) reboot.
The film aims to tell the origin story of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) by combining ideas from a couple of series of comic books including the Origins thread that deals with Logan’s youth and Weapon X which looks at how he got his adamantium claws and skeleton. Added to that we get a plot about the military, in the form of comics and movies regular bad guy General Stryker, trying to create a super-mutant to kill other mutants and generally being not too nice mutants in the process.
From the start its pretty clear that this film wouldn’t work as a standalone picture, anyone coming to this without prior knowledge of the three original X-Men movies would be pretty lost, but the opening montage which takes us from Canada in the 1800s up to a non-specific 1970s (certainly a time post Vietnam) is one of the movies most satisfying sequences and it does a decent job of setting up the relationship between Logan and Victor (aka Sabretooth as played by Liev Schreiber).
From there though things become a fairly repetitive mess of fights between the two in different locales (from northern Canada to New Orleans) with a distinctive lack of peril due to the fact that, not only do we know these two guys appear in films set later in the same series, but also that both are essentially invulnerable and, once Wolvie gets his adamantium, is essentially invincible.
Possibly to get around this we are introduced to a bunch of other mutants including Blob, Gambit, Kestrel and others who, while vulnerable, are generally so throw away as to not really gives us any more involvement with the story.
Even for a movie about superpowered mutants the film has a major lack of its own internal logic, most notably in the creation of Deadpool (the aforementioned super mutant) but also just in terms of why anyone really does anything and this is reflected in its odd tonally confused nature as it at once seems to want to be as light as The Avengers and as ‘dark’ as The Dark Knight but in trying to have moments of both fails to provide either leaving it feel generally confused.
While the final fight scene between Wolverine, Sabretooth and Deadpool has a few nice touches it also suffers from the three characters apparent invulnerabilities, but it at least looks visually decent – unfortunately the same cannot be said of much of the rest of the movie where Logan’s CGI claws often look like something from a pre-vis version and many of Sabretooth’s movements lack any sense of weight as he runs and leaps, half animal like, around for reason that seem entirely unclear other than to give justification to his nickname (which is actually never used in this movie).
Another niggling factor which makes the film hard to stomach is it seems to share a sense of geography comparable to A Good Day To Die Hard as Canada, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Three Mile Island are flitted between seemingly in moments which just hints at some of the problems with the editing of the film that don’t help it make any more sense.
In the end X-Men Origins: Wolverine is an interesting idea for a comic book that just isn’t well translated onto the screen and ends up being at best disposable and at worst nonsensical and boring and even Hugh Jackman doesn’t seem to be giving his all in the role as much as he has elsewhere.