Archive for May 3, 2009

Wolverine Review

Posted: May 3, 2009 in Review
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Wolverine Review

Rule number one of interesting cinematic characters: never ever, ever explain their backstory. It ruined the mighty Hannibal Lecter, crushed the faceless Michael Myers and broke the back of the mythical Norman Bates. Now it’s Hugh Jackman’s turn to bury his most famous character in the film he starred in and produced, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The film begins in 1845, with a young James Logan and brother Victor deciding to go on the run after the death of their fake father and Logan’s murder of their real father. The scene then shifts to a mesmerising montage of images during the opening credits as Victor (now grown up into Liev Schreiber) and Logan (Jackman) take part in every major war from the American Civil War to Vietnam. It is here that Victor’s love of death and mayhem overcomes him and the two immortal mutants are charged with milling a senior officer.

Of course, that doesn’t do the job and so a young William Stryker (the always excellent Danny Huston) pays them a visit, offering to put them on his special forces team. Naturally, this team consists entirely of mutants – teleporting John Wraith (rapper Will.I.Am), a not-yet-blobby Blob (Lost’s Kevin Durand), Katana-wielding Deadpool (the underused Ryan Reynolds), psychic Bolt (Lost’s Dominic Monaghan) and crackshot Agent Zero (Daniel Henney – star of several Korean films).

The superhero team go off to Africa, to try and hunt down the source of adamantium, a rare metal that landed in meteorite form. It is here that Logan decides to split from the group and live his life how he wants to.

Six years later and Logan is living with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins) as a lumberjack in Canada. All this changes, however, when Stryker reappears to warn Logan that Victor has murdered Bolt and is coming for the old team. Logan ignores the warning and so when Victor savagely murders Kayla, Logan goes out for blood – becoming Weapon X in the process.

It might seem like the entire film has been spoiled for you, but it hasn’t. The summary above is just the first thirty minutes alone, and failure to follow it will lead to you missing most of the film.

It’s frustratingly predictable and completely un-heroic. This is an action movie that throws a handful of mutants in right at the end. Taylor Kitsch’s Gambit is horribly wasted, appearing for fifteen minutes, with Kitsch not even bothering to put on the Cajun accent. Emma Frost makes her long-awaited screen appearance… for all of five minutes. Deadpool is finally activated… for an awful climax that takes up excruciatingly little time.

There are plot holes all over the place. Stryker decides not to erase Wolverine’s memories before making him indestructible. The properties of an adamantium bullet range wildly, without warning, from being able to kill Wolverine to just erasing his memories. Agent Zero is the crackshot trooper, yet is not given the adamantium weapons. A huge deal is made of Deadpool’s failure to bond properly before activation, but nothing happens about it.

It seems that most of the budget for the film went into filming incredible locations, which would explain the occasional shoddiness of the CGI – and when your action movie is mostly fuelled by CGI, you want it to look good.

But what’s most surprising is how much CGI is wasted. Emma Frost’s diamond skin is unnecessary screen time. Cyclops rips through buildings twice… with no consequence. Time and money is even spent on animating mutant children, like Toad, Quicksilver, but nothing is done with their powers.

All in all, that’s what this is: a waste. An origin story that seems to have ignored all the cool parts of Wolverine’s past. Does anyone honestly care where his biker jacket came from? Or what happened the first time he popped his metal claws?

It’s a real shame that so much time and money has been put into this film when it doesn’t achieve anything. By the end, the only thing you know is that Liev Schreiber is a much better Sabertooth than Taylor Mane, and that maybe, just maybe, Wolverine would be a far cooler superhero if we still knew as much as he does of his past.