Yes, can you smell the popcorn? It’s the beginning of the yearly summer movie season. And this year we have X-Men Origins: Wolverine kicking it off in big budget mutant movie fashion. It has everything you might want in a summer blockbuster – action, violence, romance, and revenge. And it’s supposedly already made more than $80 million in its opening weekend.
So why didn’t I really like this movie? I wanted to. But every time I thought I was getting some traction, they’d throw something else at me to derail my enjoyment.
To summarize the movie (Warning: A Few Spoilers Ahead), this is the origin story of Wolverine, the iconic adamantium-claws-wielding, quick healing, intolerant hero from the X-Men series of comic books and big movies. He didn’t always have those metal claws, but it appears that he once remembered his past, whereas in the X-Men movies he was always trying to piece together his history.
Born in the mid-1800s in Canada, James Howlett (Troye Sivan) was not yet known as Wolverine. He was a sickly child who witnessed his father’s murder a the hands of Victor Creed’s (Michael-James Olsen) father. James goes berserk and sees bone claws erupt from his knuckles, killing Creed. Creed reveals in his last breath that he was in fact James’ father as well as Victor’s. Terrified by the events that unfolded before her, James’ mother screams and both James and Victor run away.
Victor (now Liev Schrieber) and James (now Hugh Jackman) both have mutant healing abilities, which keep them alive and almost ageless. Victor has bony fingernails that can grow like James’ bone claws. And both have extraordinary strength and agility. These abilities, merged with the rage that boils inside of each of them, enables them to stay alive and fight together for the next 100+ years.
In the opening credits, we see them run through their time in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and finally the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, they are enlisted by William Stryker (Danny Huston), a military scientist, into an elite group of mutants working as problem solvers. James and Victor work with Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), John Wraith (will.i.am), Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan), Agent Zero (Daniel henney) and Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynlods). Stryker has his own agenda however, which eventually leads the team to Nigeria where James decides he has had enough of the killing and walks away.
Six years later, we see James working as a lumberjack in the Canadian Rockies with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). When Stryker and Victor eventually track him down, Victor kills Silverfox and defeats his brother in an unfair fight. Stryker tells James he has a way to even the odds and revenge makes him take him up on the offer.
When James is given the adamantium skeleton, he changes his name to Logan and gains the alias “Wolverine” based on a tale told by Silverfox of two spirits in love, the Moon and a Wolverine. When it’s suggested by the Trickster that the Wolverine should pick flowers for the Moon, he forgets that once you leave the spirit world you can never go back. After Silverfox’s death, James takes the Wolverine name to heart.
From then on, the chase begins. Wolverine hunts down Victor Creed (also known as Sabretooth) and learns that Stryker and Victor are working together on a project where they’ve been kidnapping mutants for the last few years. During the chase, Wolverine looks up some old friends (John Wraith and Fred Dukes, now The Blob) and gains some new ones (Taylor Kitsch as Gambit in New Orleans). And the movie leads to a huge battle at Three Mile Island.
Sorry if I spoiled anything there, I just tried to hit the high points.
My problems with the movie begin very early on.
- Something seemed off about Troye Sivan playing a young Wolverine. According to IMDB this is his first movie, and even for the short time he was on screen he didn’t do anything for me.
- There were some bad blue screen scenes during the motorcycle chase after he escapes from Stryker’s lab.
- And the motorcyle itself must have been coated in adamantium, otherwise it would have blown up several times during the chase. .50 caliber bullets fired from helicopters or guns mounted on humvees don’t bounce off.
- Whenever Sabretooth did his animal-like running leaps, I got completely yanked out of the moment. Everywhere that particular special effect appeared it looked horrible.
- Since when is there no blood when people are shot or stabbed?
- And the Deadpool “thing” at the end of the movie. First of all, they ruined the character by gluing his mouth shut. Second, when you chop off somebody’s head, typically the eyes shooting laser beams would stop firing. Third, that wasn’t really Deadpool for me. The wise-cracking Ryan Reynolds character earlier in the movie worked much better for that.
But there are some good things too…
- The war scenes during the first part of the movie were amazing. Moving fluidly from the Civil War to World War I to World War II and the beaches of Normandy was awesome. And there was Wolverine, chewing on the end of a cigar through it all.
- The relationships between James and Victor were well done in the non-combat parts of the movie, as was the relationship between James and Silverfox.
- Ryan Reynolds’ one scene as Wade Wilson was awesome as he used his swords through a room full of Nigerian criminals sorting blood diamonds. I could have stood to see much more of him, since I heard there were extensive reshoots before the film was completed. Where were the extra scenes?
- And Taylor Kitsch as Gambit was a lot of fun. His New Orleans accent was horrible, but he had the look and the moves down. I could stand to see more of him too, and I heard there’s talk of a Gambit spin-off movie, which would be cool if done well.
If you must see it, wait for it to come to DVD. Wait for Star Trek to open next week. Early buzz about that movie has been impressive. Sorry Hugh, X-Men Origins: Wolverine didn’t do much for me. I only give it 2 out of 4 stars.
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