Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

All right!  Let’s get the summer of 2009 started with the much anticipated blockbuster from 20th Century Fox, ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’!  I’m a comic book guy from way back so what could more enjoyable than watching one of my favorite books brought to life one more time again, and though the first three X-Men movies were, you now, okay… This one here baby… Man this one here was… okay.

Our film opens somewhere in Canada in the year of our Lord of 1845.  That’s a long time ago.  There’s a sickly boy in a bed being cared for by his father while some slightly older mean kid is looking on… oh, and the kid has fangs.  Some stuff goes down, somebody dies, the fanged kid tells the sick kid that they are actually brothers and that they need to stick together and now the sick kid and the fanged kid are on the run because they are freaks for real.  It is ‘Montage Time’ as we watch the growth over years of James Logan (Hugh Jackman) his older brother Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber) as they romp through world history kicking ass in the only venue which allows a dude with a set of retractable bone claws and another cat with fangs and the most vicious set of Lee Press-On nails that one would ever want to see to kick ass, and this would be the venue of war.

Another situation happens in which our brutal brothers get caught up with the law, but the good thing is that they have a benefactor in Col. William Stryker (Danny Huston).  Remember him?  Stryker has assembled a team of mutant mercenaries and has the brothers join up for some murdering mayhem all in the name of freedom, but one gig in particular makes Logan’s blood run cold forcing him to leave the team and his increasingly violent brother behind for good.  Or so he had hoped.

Years later Logan lives the simple life back in Canada doing his lumber jack thing with his pretty girlfriend Kayla (Lynn Collins), and sure he wakes up screaming like a girl from various nightmares with his claws extended, like every freaking night, but his woman loves him to death even though she gets accidentally sliced up on occasion. Now I’m down with love and all but you got one time to cut me in your sleep before we got some serious issues me and you. Anyway, we all know you just can’t leave the game that easy and when Stryker shows up out of the blue, Logan has a bad feeling. Then when he gets of whiff of his brother in the vicinity that feeling gets even worse. Now we can’t spoil it for you but now Logan needs to find Victor and he has some bad intentions in mind. Thing is Logan can’t handle Victor. At least not like he is. Hello Adamantium! We are sure you’ve always wondered how that super strong space metal was grafted to Logan’s bones, well you will find out. You will also find out why Logan chooses to call himself Wolverine… though it is a bit lame. You will also find out that somebody is running the okey-doke on old man Logan and my man doesn’t like to be okey-doked and somebody, everybody is going to pay for their deception.

This movie is based somewhat on the ‘Origin’ series of comics, a mini set of books released back in 2001 and a set of books I was completely unaware of since I let comics go sometime around the late 80’s. The good thing for me is that the group I watched the movie with consisted of an Elise, and I suggest you get you an Elise because she’ll be able to break down all the subtle nuances that the producers left out the movie because this added story and subtext would’ve taken away from explosions and helicopter crashes, and lord knows we can’t have that. As far as the movie itself goes it is a good summertime popcorn munching flick. There’s plenty of action to be had, such as in all of the afore mentioned explosions and fight scenes and kung fu kicking and collapsing buildings and whatnot. There plenty of mutants to point out, as some old timers will recognize those such as The Blob, Sabertooth and Cyclops to name a few, and other mutants that current readers will be able to point out as well. There's almost a ‘name that mutant’ mini-game going on. The movie rarely slows down so those with ADD won’t have to worry much and it has a tight competent cast of actors getting the job done.

But to truly enjoy this movie I do suggest one stick with the gloss of it all because there is not a lot of substance underneath the shine. I know it’s just a comic book movie but you know, comic books do have some depth to them, and this movie goes just deep enough to keep things moving and to bridge the various action set pieces and special effects. You may ask yourself why do our mutant Mercs need to shoot up all these Africans to get some wayward rock when all they needed to do was ask my man for the rock? Well, because it looked way cool watching actor Daniel Henney as Agent Zero flip around and shoot stuff and looking at Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool twirl those swords, that’s why. We won’t get into Elise’s problems with the Wade Wilson / Deadpool character. I just know when I played ‘Marvel Ultimate Alliance’ Deadpool was damn near useless. The story as it is told is wildly inconsistent and this combined with some of the nonsensical plot elements, even taking in consideration that this is a movie based on fantasy, made for a movie watching experience that was less than immersive. And one would think that after getting impaled repeatedly with a set of six super sharp blades that perhaps a bit of blood would drip here and there but I guess we got to keep this thing PG-13.

Danny Huston made for a completely slimy Major Stryker, even better than Bryan Cox, Liev Schreiber was quite menacing and out of control as the villain who will become Sabertooth but Hugh Jackman… Now I think Mr. Jackman is a fine actor and what I wouldn’t do to have his physique because I would go to work every day with my shirt off, and while he has always given Wolverine the humanity that the character needs, he’s never been able to completely give the character ‘Rage’. It’s never been there. Irritable Wolverine? Tortured Wolverine? Somewhat upset Wolverine? Sure. But animalistic, out of control, completely enraged Wolverine? That’s not what Hugh does.

Enough already. It’s a comic book movie and it’s an entertaining comic book movie to a degree. It does come up short in trying to service way too many characters in far too little time and some of what we see doesn’t make sense a lot of the time, but it is the start of the summer movie season and we’re not looking at Macbeth over here. Enjoy it for what is and just don’t expect too much more than that.

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