Thursday, October 8, 2009

X-Men Origins Wolverine: Like A Videogame, But You Don't Have To Play

Hugh Jackman,Wolverine,movie poster

I have to preface this post with a tiny fact that may or may not be slightly embarrassing: I'm a long-time comic book fan. I read X-Men first, so it always has this weirdly special place in my entertainment lexicon. So of course I was pretty geeked out and nerdily overjoyed when the original X-Men trilogy came out. Of course, Wolverine came out of that the clear favorite (and was actually designed to do so, based on the amount of screen time and plot attention he was given in the first three movies), and was ranted his own movie, focusing entirely on him running around in tank tops and snarling, cutting things up and generally being feral and apparently highly appealing. According to the Lady, at least. How distressing! But understandable?

In case someone may have been living in a cave or under a rock or in a coma or something, Wolverine is a movie spin-off from the popular X-Men movie trilogy released in the early to mid Oughties, starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Liev Schrieber as Sabretooth, Danny Houston as William Stryker, as John Wraith, Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson, Lynn Collins as Kayla Silverfox, Taylor Kitsch as Remy LeBeau, Kevin Durand as Fred Dukes, Dominic Monaghan as some random technopath, plus a bunch of other semi-familiar faces in different forms, like a young Cyclops, Emma Frost, and a few other mystery mutants in a crazy mutant jail. In general, it's pretty much a crazy mix of some great characters, some disappointments, some oddities, but is generally entertaining and action-packed.

ryan reynolds,taylor kitch,hugh jackman,liev schreiber,lynn collins,x-men origins: wolverine

There's probably a lot of spoilers in a general plot outline, but I'll try to keep it informative and spoiler free. Basically, the film explores the origins and youth of Wolverine, one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, and arguably the character given the most attention in the original X-men trilogy. We see a lot of the reasons why Wolverine is the way he is, what happened to his memory, what happened with Weapon X, why he and Sabretooth hate each other, and why he has claws. In the mid 19th century, young James Howlett is a sick young man, who is close friends with the groundskeeper's son Victor. After an altercation, James is traumatized by witnessing his father's death, wherein sharp claws of bone pop from his hands, and he kills the groundskeeper. James and Victor run away, using their feral mutant powers in every major American war starting with the Civil War, going all the way to Vietnam. Their healing factors make them age very slowly (or basically stop aging once they get to young middle age). They're recruited by Stryker, who builds a small army of mutants. James leaves after it takes a turn he doesn't like, he quits. Six years later, James is living a quiet life in Canada, when his old life catches up to him. His old friends in the military group come back into his life, and he meets some new mutants (like Gambit and a young Cyclops).

The Weapon X program uses his rage against him to perform experiments, and he's forced to face his own brother, except for when he doesn't. In the end, he must face their ultimate weapon, and Stryker himself, which works out the only way that it can.

hugh jackman,liev schreiber,x-men origins: wolverine

I'm probably going to rate this with one star higher than it really deserves, just because I'm such a giant comic book nerd, but I think it'll be forgiven. Won't it?! Yeah, it will.

I like these kinds of movies, pretty much in spite of their many, many flaws. Cinematically, it was average, and basically as best as they get for action movies. It was directed by Gavin Hood, who has directed some (seemingly) decent movies, though I haven't seen them (Rendition, Tsotsi). It was written by some guys, too, I guess, and also based on a long and storied history, which they ignored about 65% of for this movie. Certain characters were just plain wrong (like Deadpool, though Reynolds's Wade Wilson was basically spot on). Certain people's powers were wrong, seemingly: Cyclops looked like he had heat vision (parts of the buildings he destroyed with his optic blast thingies were on fire), and Emma Frost just had diamond skin (a relatively new power for her character; she's primarily been a telepath). Anyway, that's all nerd-trap nitpicky crap. The fight scenes were pretty awesome, and certain characters were basically perfect. Gambit seemed pretty spot on, and surprisingly, the show-stealer was Kevin Durand as Fred Dukes, who was never one of my favorite characters, but holy crap did he make the Blob incredibly entertaining. I was even surprised at how not-terrible was as Stryker, considering this is his first movie. It's also an interesting choice for a famous musician like that; I like to see that some celebrities are comic book nerds, too.

One of the things that I simultaneously love and hate about the influx of comic book movies in the last decade is how popular these characters are becoming. For some strange reason, nerds are pretty protective of their nerdy obsessions. It's the same thing with video games. It almost seems unfair, like they haven't "earned the right" to be interested in these kinds of things. Seriously, though? It's good for the comics industry in general, and I'm glad to see that they're doing so well. When I was in high school, Marvel was bankrupt, and now they've bounced back with Marvel Entertainment, and were recently bought by Disney, which should open a lot of new doors.

I kind of hope they make a second Wolverine movie, if only because they can start including some characters that haven't been included as of yet. It's almost ironic that a film featuring the entire cast of the X-Men wouldn't feature major interesting characters, and they have to be introduced elsewhere. I'll have to compile a list of characters I'd love to see in a movie. Or at least characters to be treated correctly; it sounds nitpicky, but there's a lot of canon (yes, canon) that has ben established with these characters, so to see stuff ignored and misrepresented is pretty annoying.

In general, I would recommend this film to at least rent. I even bought Daredevil because I'm such a comic book nerd, so that might say something about why I bought X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I give it three half-naked and sometimes completely naked feral Hugh Jackmans running around out of five, or three strange and sometimes completely insane brotherly relationships between super-powered animalistic warrior maniacs out of five.

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