Monday, June 20, 2011

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

The Claws Are Out
In This Average Superhero Flick

- If you were unable to figure it out on your own, X-Men Origins: Wolverine traces the roots of Marvel superhero Wolverine before he joined the X-Men. A big action-packed mutant-filled tale, Wolverine's first live-action silver-screen solo act ends up an average superhero romp.

As simple as the idea of Wolverine's origins may sound, the film becomes plenty convoluted with every extra superhero and villain shoved into the story. Wolverine, Sabretooth, William Stryker, John Wraith, Kayla Silverfox, The Blob, Bolt, Gambit, Agent Zero, Deadpool, Weapon XI, Scott Summers....

WHOA! Too many characters! I thought the film was supposed to be about- Oh.... I dunno.... Wolverine?

Because of the large number of other characters that populate the film, the focus on Wolverine is often lost and the development of the character suffers as a result.

The many instances of clichéd dialogue and moments that link the film together do not make Wolverine any more entertaining or interesting either. How many times have we seen a hero arch his head back and scream "NOOOO!!" for a good 30 seconds or decide not to kill a bad guy because, if they did, the hero will "be no better than them"? Seriously, we have seen these movie clichés an uncountable amount of times.... Why put these types of scenes into movies anymore?

The individual characterizations of the characters throughout the film vary from poor to great and do not make up for any of the film's storytelling woes. As Wolverine (or Logan, the character's actual name) Hugh Jackman has never wowed me as much of an actor; he is not a completely bad actor but he usually does not offer up anything particularly special. However, some of Jackman's best performances have been his portrayals of Logan/Wolverine in the X-Men films and he does not disappoint in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Jackman actually gives what I would say is his best performance of Logan/Wolverine in this film since he, as the film's lead, has more screentime in which to develop the character than he had in previous X-Men films, where he was only a supporting actor.

However, stealing the film away every time he roars into a scene is Liev Schreiber with an impressive performance as monstrous super villain Victor Creed (AKA: Sabretooth). Schreiber does what any good performer does in a mediocre-to-bad film - making the clichéd dialogue he is forced to say work and haunting the film with his presence as a formidable and likable villain character - and the film by and large owes its successful moments to him.

Where good performances exist in the film (Jackman, Schreiber; as well as Dominic Monaghan in a small role as Bolt) there are also the many bad performances among them: Danny Huston (Stryker) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) are irritating, Lynn Collins gives a weak performance as Silverfox, and Taylor Kitsch (Gambit) and Daniel Henney (Agent Zero) overact their parts to death.  A film supposedly about one guy but populated with so many extra characters that are not particularly interesting nor portrayed well does not exactly hold much of a recipe for success.

But I know what you are thinking: "Who cares if the story and performances are not perfect? The action is going to be awesome!" Well, think again because the special effects are a great let-down. Sometimes the action works (the opening scenes are especially well done) but, unlike the 2008 Marvel film Iron Man or 2009 summer hit Star Trek where the effects blend perfectly into the rest of the film, the usage of green screens or CGI (computer generated imagery) creations are all-too obvious and this takes the viewer out of the film.

It seems as if director Gavin Hood's answer to everything is this kind of lackluster green screen and CGI. Need a sequence with a chopper and a copter? Make Jackman "drive" behind a green screen and CGI the rest of the scene! Creed needs to run like an animal? CGI the bad boy! Patrick Stewart makes a cameo appearance? CGI his face to look younger! The CGI never ends and, instead of real stunts, the film uses this fake-looking CGI and green screen technique in almost every frame.

Overall, I can see how X-Men Origins: Wolverine could be viewed as a marginally entertaining film. After all, Jackman was born to play Wolverine, Schreiber is a fantastic villain, and comic-book violence abounds. However, by not offering much more than your average superhero film and not operating at high enough level, Wolverine was more of a tiresome movie experience for yours truly.

CBC Rating: 5/10

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