X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The X-Men movie franchise's fourth installment takes the previous films most prominent character, Wolverine, and unpacks his history. Director Gavin Hood answers some questions about the mutant known as 'Wolverine' - we discover in the opening sequence that he's nearly 200 years old, and may be effectively immortal. We discover that he has a brother, Victor (played perfectly by Liev Schrieber), a mutant with similiar mutant abilities: razor sharp claws and the ability to recover from almost any wound.
Their differences, however, are exposed brilliantly in the opening credit sequence. The brothers' wartime exploits carry them through the civil war, both world wars, and even into Vietnam. With that one sequence we can see the brother's widening character gap. Logan (who will one day become Wolverine) is dangerous, but his brother Victor has become an animal who exults in the wartime carnage.
Other questions are answered, such as how Wolverine got his name, how adamantium (an unbreakable metal) was fused to his claws and skeleton, and how he lost his memory. To add to all that coolness - Wolverine is also Canadian. Ok, so that's no so cool, his being a citizen of a country that American could conquer by rolling over in its sleep by accident, but hey, even Canada deserves a champion, right? Or not, whatever. I don't even really care, eh?
This review will be Canadian joke free from this point onwards.
The film's pacing is good, never slowing down or dragging, always keeping the action moving. It did get a bit overwrought at times. The standout moment is when Logan cuts off a helicopter's rotor blades with his claws. That cheese is then topped off with even more cheese when he faces off against the 'copter's evil mutant pilot, trapped in the wreckage. Logan causes the wreckage to explode, and flames dramatically explode all around him as he stalks off. He's mad, you see, really, really, really mad.
Also, I could do with a few less scenes of a barechested Hugh Jackman, thank you very much.
The fight scenes are kinetic and entertaining. There's a romance angle also, and we're introduced to 'Gambit', a New Orleans mutant with the ability to imbue items with kinetic (read: explosive) energy - usually playing cards, played by Taylor Kitsch. The acting in general was quite good. The roster of mutants is interesting: we have a black cowboy who can teleport around, an asian man who can fire bullets unerringly, and Ryan Reynolds (the funny guy from Blade 3, remember?) is a guy who can move swords so quickly that he can cut airborne bullets in half. And yes, he's funny in this movie too.
Wolverine tries very hard to be dramatic, but flails around. The major themes here are the same ones in the comic books -- is Logan (Wolverine) more of a man with animal-like qualities, or is he an animal with man-like qualities? So Wolverine is sort of like The Elephant Man except the titular hero has razor-sharp unbreakable claws, is immortal and is Hugh Jackman.
But not at all. I'm sorry that's a really stupid comparison.
I did wonder, however, after Wolverine had his bones replaced by that super metal (including the bones that pop out of his fists).... how did the claws get sharpened as they are? 'Movie science' must be responsible. How do you sharpen an indestructable metal? Right, moving on.
I would rate Wolverine as a good popcorn-munching summer action flick, with a better-than-average plot.