X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
***1/2 (out of 5)
May 1, 2009
Hugh Jackman as WOLVERINE
Liev Schreiber as SABRETOOTH
Danny Huston as COLONEL STRYKER
Ryan Reynolds as DEADPOOL
Lynn Collins as KYLA SILVERFOX
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Gavin Hood
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Anyone who regularly reads my reviews knows that I am an apologist for many things… a lot of the Disney media, anything “Star Wars” and most big budget summer blockbusters.
With rare exceptions like “The Dark Knight,” these summer movies are the cinematic equivalent of fast food. They’re almost always flashy. They speak to a very mainstream audience. They’re not that deep in terms of plot and character. But they are often a whole hell of a lot of fun.
This is how I approached the inaugural film of the 2009 summer movie season, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”
The film does exactly what its title implies. It tells the story of one of the most popular X-Men heroes. Before he became Logan the wandering mutant, Wolverine was James Howlett, a boy who grew up sickly in the 1800s but soon discovered he had incredible healing powers. James (Hugh Jackman) grows up with his brother Victor, another mutant later known as Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber), using their invulnerability to fight in the wars of the ages.
After Victor takes a dark turn and James leaves their elite military team of mutants, Stryker hunts him down and uses the death of his girlfriend to convince James to improve his already near-indestructible status. After James is injected with a special metal to bond with his skeleton, he becomes Wolverine and begins his life on the run from Stryker.
Not having read the comics in my younger days, I didn’t care all of the baggage of original source material with me to this movie. I know that some liberties have been taken with the story, and I’ve heard a lot of rumbling disapproval from comic book fans with the film’s treatment of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds). However, coming into the movie as an ignorant fool, I didn’t know the difference.
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” isn’t as good as the previous three “X-Men” movies. However, with a smaller cast and lower-rent special effects, it doesn’t have the same amount of ground to cover to make back its budget (which is considerably smaller than the rumored $210 million for “X-Men: The Last Stand”).
The story is simpler, basically setting itself up as a revenge piece, and it only really follows the title character. There are some appearances of new-to-the-screen mutants like the Blob, Gambit and Bolt… plus a few nice young mutant character cameos like a high school version of Scott Summers, aka Cyclops.
For the most part, Jackman and Schreiber carry the story and hold their own by chewing through the sometimes cringe-worthy dialogue. The guys do play well off each other, and the audience is treated to several nice fight scenes between them. And that’s why people are going to see this movie, aren’t they?
This is where I become an apologist for the film. Sure, the character foundations are shaky. Sure, the plot could have used a little more work. Sure, the special effects are inconsistent with some being only so-so while others are pretty spectacular. But this is what big, dumb popcorn movies are all about. Is anyone expecting anything else from “Transformers: Rise of the Fallen” or any other summer blockbuster?
Plus, if guys want to get out of seeing “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” with their wives or girlfriends, they can always convince the ladies to go to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” by reminding them that Hugh Jackman spends much of the film in various stages of undress.
Ultimately, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is like a Big Mac… not really good for you but decadently enjoyable.