Monday, May 11, 2009
Movie Review: X-Men Origins:Wolverine
To say I was not a fan of the X-Men movies is to make a major understatement. I essentially class them in the same way I class the 2003 abomination The Hulk by Ang Lee or The Fantastic Four:Rise of the Silver Surfer or Superman Returns.
All of these may very well be good movies but it is hard to say; they are horrible SUPER-HERO movies. There is a time and place for cerebral movies and they can be very good. But when you ignore what a franchise is about, you kind of shoot yourself in the foot. Or higher.
To be sure the X-men franchise has much to say about discrimination, tolerance, and so forth. The problem is, they forgot to appeal to much of their fan-base. A Super-Hero movie requires super action.
For example, The Dark Knight had a lot to say about what happens when good people do nothing, about testing boundaries, and about the value of reality versus perception. However, it did what a movie should do; it first entertained in ways that appealed to its fan base, then allowed the message to develop naturally out of that instead of the message coming first and entertainment being left behind.
As a result, I had very low expectations for X-Men Origins:Wolverine. There were certain signs the movie might not disappoint. Throughout the franchise he was consistently the most entertaining character and his popularity among comic book fanboys cannot be overstated. Therefore, there was at least a passing chance the movie might be more super-hero oriented and less cerebral.
The movie starts in the 1800s with the event where Logan (Hugh Jackman) first reveals his powers and learns his friend Victor (Liev Schreiber) is actually his brother.
We then run through a montage of the brothers fighting in war after war until they are made part of a secret organization doing undercover work. Certain incidents finally cause Logan to have enough and he breaks away from the group after they commit an act reminiscent of My Lai, though this one is in Africa.
We then see Logan living a happy life with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). This life is soon shattered when one of the former group shows up killing former members of the team and team lead William Stryker (Danny Huston) comes looking for Logan to help.
When he proves incapable of defeating the menace he undergoes the surgery that replaces his bone claws with adamantium, making him all but invincible. However, he then has to face Weapon XI, a mutant with all the abilities of every mutant the villain has been able to get his hands on.
I tried not to reveal too much of the twists, though to be fair I saw every one of them coming. My movie-going partners did not see one of the twists, and you might not either but you very well may.
Wolverine has everything you look for in a super-hero genre flick. There is plenty of action, a good story that moves along at a good clip, a solid resolution and it makes sense within its own universe.
For those familiar with either the X-Men comic books or even the recent movies, there are plenty of Easter Eggs to find much like the fabled Captain America references in Iron Man. The movie has a wry sense of humor and a good sense of how to appeal to action fans without dumbing down the story past the level of cave-man intelligence.
For action fans, comic book fans, and super hero fans, this movie is a must-see.