September 23, 2009


There are certain moments that essentially cause such a disconnect, you can longer walk with whatever the film you are watching. Be it a totally disingenuous moment of proclaimed love or hate that has no hidden agendas, there are just some things that have to work for a film to progress. For me the make or break happened in the first reel of Wolverine. My review after the jump.


The movie starts with Wolverine as a child. Sickly, he rushes out of his bedroom and kills the man who killed his father. But his father was not his father, and the man he murdered impregnated his mother. After that he’s on the run with the younger version of Sabertooth, and eventually the boys end up fighting in the major wars, and grow up to be Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Sabertooth/Victor Creed (Liev Schrieber) proper. They get recruited by a Colonel Stryker (Danny Huston) to join a mutant all-stars team, which includes Ryan Reynolds, Will. I. Am, and at least one hobbit. After one successful outing – where Wolverine and Sabertooth do nothing – they’re on to their next assignment, which seems to involve killing innocent children. Logan balks, and says he can’t do this. Sabertooth says to him “You know we can’t just let you leave…” And then, do you know what happens? Wolverine just leaves. He doesn’t even say “try it” or they try and hurt him, or anything. It cuts to six years later. Why did Sabertooth say that if they weren’t going to do anything? Why would the next section of film feature no real malice, nor Wolverine all that freaked out about things? When Stryker shows up in his next of the woods, he could care less. Yes, he’s pretty close to invulnerable, but still. Should he care about that threat?

x-men_origins_wolverine_movie_image_hugh_jackman.jpgThe hell. This though is the problem with the origin story. Nothing progresses naturally because there’s so much backfill. Instead the film jumps from the thing to thing to get Wolverine into position for the later film, and because Wolverine doesn’t talk or remember any of this, they have to explain away why he doesn’t. The narrative isn’t about telling a story, so much as collecting events that lead up to the moment the first film starts. Directed by Gavin Hood, the film is not about the immediate, it’s about setting up the machinations of the series entire, and so time and purpose have little relevance. This isn’t about the story you’re watching, but about not muddling with continuity too much, while still delivering action. Such is why Logan can get married, have a wife, and then lose her when it’s called for by the plot. Logan then goes to a government facility to get his adamantium injected, but when they suggest a memory wipe he freaks out and jumps off a waterfall. But it seems Stryker and Creed have been bullying Logan to get him to do what they want, or maybe not. Victor’s role in the film is nonsensical. He acts against Logan, and then sides with him, and not much makes sense.  Stryker’s rounding up mutants to build a supermutant who will eventually become Deadpool, and so Logan teams up with Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) to make it to Stryker’s facility.

x-men_origins_wolverine_movie_image_hugh_jackman_and_liev_schreiber_1.jpgAgain, the plot has Logan ricocheting around, and nothing builds on each other, so much as each scene is ostensibly about laying the groundwork for the next three films, which means you’re leading up to a conclusion that is self-evident. And if X-Men 3 was The Last Crusade, then this is definitely the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull of the series. There’s a ton of mutant cameos, but few leave much of an impression, and the idea of creating characters is not essential. Ryan Reynolds shows up, says charming things, and then disappears from the film. The whole men-on-a-mission thing probably should have been half the movie, or at least a little longer. But it’s as if the film couldn’t decide what to be – or quite possibly how expensive it should be. The claw effects are – at times – embarrassing, and though the film builds to a large conclusion, the action set pieces feel a bit stagnant. Not only are you dealing with a character who doesn’t really get hurt, you’re also dealing with a character in a prologue. This isn’t a film, per se, so much as a collection of moments that you’re supposed to find kick-ass or amusing, or something. But there’s nothing behind them, there’s no weight, and that means it’s all garbage. On that level, the film offers a couple of CGI-enhanced kicks, with some okay moments of bravado. But just mostly on an intellectual level.

x-men_origins_wolverine_movie_image_victor_creed_liev_schreiber_logan_hugh_jackman_01.jpg20th Century Fox’s Blu-ray is stacked, and loaded for bear. Not only is there are digital copy, but there’s an additional internet-only trivia track that allows you to access the IMDb on screen during the course of the movie. This featured called live lookup, and supposedly if you put the disc in in 2012, it will include the actor’s bios up to that point. So it’ll always be good as long as your player’s hooked up to the internet. The film comes with six commentaries, also. There’s one by Gavin Hood, another by producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter, three PIP tracks called X Connect (about the connections between the four films), A hood-centric “The Director’s Chair” and “Pre-Visualizing Wolverine.” There’s also a text commentary track called “X Facts.”

As if that wasn’t enough entertainment, there’s a conversation between Stan Lee and Len Wein about the film and the character’s origins (16 min.), a making of called “Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins”, a Mutant Files sections (54 min.) with featurettes on Sabertooth, Stryker, John Wraith, Kayla Silverfox, Blob, Bradley, Gambit, Agent Zero, Deadpool, and Emma Frost. There’s a piece on the helicopter sequence (6 min.), four deleted/alternate scenes with commentary by Gavin Hood (11 min.) with an alternate ending, and alternate post-credit sting among them. And then there’s a TV promo for the world premiere (6 min.), and bonus trailers. There’s literally enough material here to keep a person busy all the hours they’re awake if need be.

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