X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Boom!

wolverine_image4I’m a big believer in maintaining realistic expectations about movies. I remember when Spider-Man 3 came out, and people were complaining that the story was silly. But, I mean, dude, it’s Spider-Man 3. You shouldn’t be going for the story. You should be going to see the CGI and to marvel at the hilarity that is Tobey Maguire dancing.

So what are you going to see Wolverine for? Well, I guess you could be going because you think Hugh Jackman and/or Liev Schreiber will turn out fantastic performances, in which case you will indeed be satisfied. Or you could be going because you’re already very familiar with Wolverine’s origin story via the original X-Men comics or other sources and you want to complain about how Gavin Hood butchered it, in which case I suspect you would also be satisfied. Or, if you’re like me, you’re going because you liked the humor in the first three X-Men movies, and you also really liked that moment in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers when Legolas snowboarded down the wall of Helm’s Deep, and you think Wolverine will contain many such similarly awesome moments. In which case you will perhaps be over-satisfied.

But you shouldn’t go in to Wolverine expecting a cinematic masterpiece, is what I’m saying. If you do that and you come out disappointed, you have only yourself to blame. After all, this is a movie whose basic premise is that having retractable metal claws in your hands would be really cool.

The movie and Hugh Jackman really do keep trying to make you care about Wolverine – excuse me, Logan – as a character, and more power to them. But I’m not buying into this as a tragedy when the supposedly heart-wrenching self-sacrifice scene is followed immediately by a boxing sequence that plays as a ten-minute fat joke. Nor do I care about Wolverine’s romantic entanglements that don’t involve Jean Gray.  The dude’s immortal; any girlfriend he has is just going to wind up getting screwed, like in that one Twilight Zone episode.  I did, however, find the relationship between Wolverine and his brother engrossing, but that was mostly because the actors sold it so well. And there was one scene, which I won’t spoil, that I found wolverine_image1genuinely moving.

Poor Hugh Jackman can act, he really can, but to get attention he’s forced to run around naked in subpar movies and sing awful lyrics on stage at the Oscars with Beyoncé and Zefron.  And it’s clear that he worked out really, really hard in preparation for this movie, so much so that you can’t help feeling bad for him when you’re staring at close-ups of those grotesquely rippling muscles and you remember that they totally could have achieved the same effect with digital enhancements. He was just that dedicated to this role, which is not worth that level of commitment. Hugh, I saw The Prestige, I know you can bring it. Stop acting so desperate, you’re embarrassing us both. (Also, it’s worth noting that I initially wrote this review on my iPhone, which kept correcting my spelling of “Jackman” to “Hackman.” Perhaps Steve Jobs is trying to tell us something.)

Also, going in to Wolverine, you’re expected to know at least the basics of the X-Men universe. I’ve seen the first three movies, so I could mostly make sense of it, but I suspect there was a lot I missed about the story by not knowing more than that. One expects movies like this to be a richer experience for those who have read the comic books and seen the previous adaptations, but the best comic book movies – Iron Man, Spider-Man, Batman Begins, etc. – strive to make sure newbies don’t feel lost or overwhelmed. With Wolverine, you’re supposed to know from minute one that, for example, these characters have healing powers that make them essentially indestructible, but we’re never actually told that. So the movie’s awesome opening-credits sequence will probably make quite a few of the uninitiated give up on trying to follow the story before the movie even gets going.

wolverine_image2But nevertheless, the action sequences are, of course, superbly executed, and that’s what really matters with this kind of movie. The aforementioned opening credits, which follow Wolverine and Sabretooth (I refuse to call them by their namby-pamby non-superhero names, even though Gavin Hood wants me to) through a bunch of different wars is amazing, and I’m going to have to look that up on YouTube and watch it a dozen more times or so. But there reaches a point where you’ve seen so many awesome action sequences in a row that they stop seeming awesome and start seeming, well, kind of repetitive, and I don’t want to say “boring,” but … actually I kind of do. By the time we reach the big climactic fight scene between Wolverine, Sabretooth, and a particularly nasty supervillian, though, the movie has regained its stride. It’s one of those times where you sit straight up in your seat watching without making a sound because you’re terrified you’ll miss something, because the scene’s execution is just so cool in every possible way.

Other highlights of the movie include Taylor Kitsch, who plays Gambit, who was quite good on those three episodes of Friday Night Lights that I saw and who has a sort of young Christian Slater look about him (well, to be fair, he’s a former Abercrombie model). Also, since I was once a very major fan of Dominic Monaghan, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that he did very well in his role as a short guy who flutters his eyelids a lot, and that his appearances were mercifully brief.

And on a final note: If you’re considering staying until the end of the credits to see if there’s a cool tag scene, think about whether you really care that much. Apparently there are multiple versions of these post-credits scenes being shown in different theaters, but the one I saw was so lame people in my audience actually booed. Including me. Come on, Gavin, we just watched ten minutes of scrolling text listing all the stunt guys and makeup artists, we deserve better.

Check out Tanya’s review here!

See Inisia’s review here!

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