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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

BLU-RAY TRIPLE EDITION: Commentary by Director Gavin Hood; Commentary by Producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter; The Roots of Wolverine: A Conversation with X-Men creators Stan Lee and Len Wein; Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins; Wolverine Weapon X Mutant Files Featurette: 10 Character Chronicles; The Thrill of the Chase: The Helicopter Chase Sequence” featurette; Ultimate X-Mode – Four interactive tracks: 1) The Director’s Chair (PIP commentary with director Gavin Hood, 2) Pre-Visualizing Wolverine (PIP storyboards and other design elements), 3) X-Connect (PIP providing character connections to other X-Men movies), 4) X-Facts Trivia Track; Deleted Scenes with Intro by Gavin Hood: Young Storm, Alternate Memory Erase, Victor at the Boxing Ring; Alternate Tag Scene: Japan; Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere; IMDB BD-Live technology; Disc Two: Main Feature; Digital Copy.

X-MEN Origins: Wolverine has had one of the most difficult journeys to the big screen of any recent summer blockbuster given the anticipation surrounding it among fans, and the furore and fall-out caused by the internet leak of early, unfinished footage.

Now that it’s finally arrived in cinemas, Gavid Hood’s prequel turns out to be a disappointing experience that largely squanders most of its potential. It’s not without its moments, and the central character remains as enigmatic as ever, but Wolverine ultimately feels much less than the sum of its parts.

The plot, as its title suggests, explores the origins of the Wolverine character (once again played by Hugh Jackman), from his ongoing battle against Team X and its ruthless leader William Stryker (played by Danny Huston) to his fractured relationship with brother Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber) and ill-fated romance with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins).

In doing so, it also introduces a new band of mutants to the X-Men universe, including sword specialist Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), teleporter Wraith (, and card specialist Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) – the latter of whom makes his long-awaited franchise debut.

But given the quality of its cast and the innumerable possibilities offered by its premise, it’s all the more disappointing to find that Wolverine seems to have so much trouble doing justice to them all.

The first half of the film is fine, wasting no time in establishing the dynamic between brothers Logan and Victor Creed and zipping through the years and various war campaigns (from American Civil War to Vietnam) that led them both to the path of William Stryker.

It then proceeds to offer thrilling introductions to various other X-Men characters, with Reynolds’ wise-cracking, sword-wielding Wade Wilson looking set to be of particular merit.

Logan’s ill-fated romance with Kayla is nicely handled, as is his decision to take part in the formation of Weapon X and so become Wolverine, while a helicopter versus motorcycle chase sequence suggests that Hood – whose previous work includes South African Oscar-winner Tsotsi and political potboiler Rendition – has what it takes to deliver the required big screen spectacle.

But things tend to fall apart from that point onwards. Character development plays second fiddle to repetitive fight sequences, thereby wasting the talents of its strong cast and discarding some of the more intelligent aspects of Bryan Singer’s first two movies.

The arrival of Gambit feels like a massive anti-climax, while the decision to virtually discard Wade/Deadpool feels like a waste not only of Reynolds’ talents but also of a really promising new character.

The emotional potential offered by placing two brothers against each other is also lost amid the film’s relentless need to have them continually fight first, and then ask questions later, while even Huston’s Stryker feels short-changed by a script that affords very little opportunity to really bring any complexity to his character (unlike Brian Cox’s depiction of the same character in X2).

The effects-heavy finale is also pretty underwhelming, even though Hood manages to feed events – and some surprise cameos – into subsequent X-Men events quite nicely.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is by no means a terrible movie, merely an average entry into the comic book genre that pales by comparison to both the first two X-Men films and the far better likes of Iron Man and The Dark Knight.

Jackman emerges unscathed, as does Schreiber, but you can’t help but feel a little short-changed by the direction the film eventually takes. It should be interesting to see what becomes of the proposed Magneto prequel if it gets greenlit after this.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 108mins
UK DVD & blu-ray Release Date: October 19, 2009