Thursday, June 2, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men Origins: Wolverine

I've touched on this film briefly before on this blog, but I wanted to do a more thorough review as part of the marathon.

My feelings on this movie are very mixed. I think it's a solid action film with some great performances. On the other hand, as a supposed prequel to the X-men film universe, it mucks everything up and doesn't make much sense. It tries to tie itself to X2 but fails in making any true connection. As a stand alone film, it's much stronger. In terms of how it differs from the comics, there is one huge glaring mistake, but otherwise it's not so bad.

The movie opens with a very brief scene that is an adaptation of the Wolverine: Origin limited series. When that series first came out, there was no immediate way to tell which of the characters in the book was actually meant to be Wolverine. It was a sort of tease, as there was this more savage kid that you thought was going to be Wolverine, but in reality he was the more sickly kid. For the movie they took that savage kid and made him Sabretooth, which I think works really well. For awhile in the comics, it was suggested that Sabretooth was Wolverine's father, so having him as his brother isn't too far of a stretch. I really like the credits sequence of the film that shows them fighting through the various wars. It does a great job of both showing the passage of time and developing their personalities.

Wolverine's time with Weapon X is not something I've read a whole lot of issues on. Most of it was shown before my time reading the comics, so I'm not always 100% on the accuracies of some of these things in the movie. However I do know that everyone shown working with Stryker actually was a part of the Weapon X project, with the exception of Chris Bradley. However, it still semi-makes sense to include him, as both he and the character referred to as Zero in the film both took the name of Maverick at one time. Wade Wilson/Deadpool never actually worked with Wolverine but was experimented on just like the others.

Let's talk about Deadpool right up front. That wise cracking talented fighter you see at the beginning of the film is Deadpool to a T in terms of personality. The main difference is that he also has a healing factor and is horribly disfigured so that you pretty much always see him covered in his costume from head to toe. He's also known for breaking the fourth wall constantly, making pop culture references, and being completely aware of the fact that he exists within a comic book. So while I think it makes sense the way they built it into the movie ("You'd be the perfect soldier if I could just shut your mouth"), I can also perfectly understand why hardcore fans of the character were angered by the changes made to him in the film. Hopefully they will eventually make his movie that will portray him as he is really meant to be.

Taken completely by itself, I think the story works as a legitimate origin for Wolverine and why he went through the adamantium procedure. It's also a decent adaptation of the comics, basically taking some of the key players and building a storyline out of it. The actual story is so muddled, with writers constantly coming behind each other to change things and claim the previous story was a false memory, that you could not and should not do a straight up adaptation.

There is a bit of silliness - the fable Silver Fox tells Wolverine would make more sense if it was a wolf, and we definitely didn't need an explanation of how he got his jacket. Special effects wise, some of the early appearances of his claws are really fake looking. The movie was subjected to reshoots, and if you pay enough attention you can tell exactly where - looking this time I noticed Kayla's hair is dramatically different in the middle of one scene. Having watched the alternate clip in the bonus features, I think they made the change for the better, even if Logan being shot in the head to erase his memory doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

When the movie came out the one thing I was looking forward to more than anything was to finally see Gambit on the big screen. They had been teasing possibly adding him to all the main X-films and it never happened. Josh Holloway was supposed to perform the role but turned it down because it was too much like Sawyer and he didn't want to be typecast. I can understand that, but man, he has the perfect look for the role. As it is, I think Taylor Kitsch is a good substitute, and it's probably best he ended up here rather than in the main X-films - because an adult Gambit and a teenage Rogue just wouldn't be right.

His accent is wrong. That isn't surprising, of course, and it's only bothersome as a Southern La native. I'm also pretty sure you can't ride motorcycles down Bourbon Street. Anyway, once you get past that, I think they did a great job with Gambit. While I would have liked to see his cards glow a little more noticeably, I love all the scenes we see of him with his bo staff in action. His uneasy relationship with Wolverine is also great. It's just a shame we couldn't see more of him.

Has anyone else ever noticed that when Logan says "I know who you are, Gambit" it sounds like he has a frog in his throat? Why don't they take the time to reshoot these things?

It was also nice to see the cameos of various mutants return for this film. Beyond the more obvious Cyclops and Emma Frost (whose diamond form looks absolutely terrible), I also saw Toad, Quicksilver, Riptide, the Monet twins, and I think the girl with fog all around her was supposed to be Storm. There was another more obvious cameo of Storm in an earlier scene, but it was really out of place and weird, so it's a good thing they cut it.

So, overall, it's not a great film, but I think it is an enjoyable one. It seems like they took a lot of the feedback they received on this one seriously, and if The Wolverine ever gets out of development hell, we should hopefully get a decent followup about Logan's time in Japan.

I plan to see First Class as soon as I can, so expect my review up by tomorrow afternoon!


  1. +JMJ+

    Oh, man. Despite this being the newest of the "old" ones, I have such a hazy memory of it. My brother let me watch his DVD with him, but I kept walking out to go to the bathroom, get a snack, stretch a little, etc. (Not really a vote of confidence for the movie, aye? =P) I remember thinking that they put more thought and effort into the CGI and atmosphere than into the story.

    I also recall being on the fence about Gambit--noticing, despite not being from the American South at all (Heh-heh) that he just didn't sound right, and arguing with myself about whether he looked right. And I was just about to decide I didn't like him when my mother said over my shoulder, "That guy is really cute!" And that's got to count for something, right? Doesn't Gambit have that "power" over women? ;-)

  2. I can understand that. While I wouldn't rate it as low as X3 in terms of action over story, it certainly doesn't compare to the first two films.

    I actually have a comic card that claims that one of Gambit's mutant powers is his charm, which I always found ridiculous. Couldn't he just be a charming person in general? I think that's a large part of the reason I wanted Josh Holloway in the role.. I can't help but sigh almost every time I look at that man. :)


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