I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine today, and overall, I enjoyed it. But then, I didn’t have very high expectations. As I jokingly Twittered, I got to see naked Hugh butt, so my time was well-spent.
I was a bit surprised that it was so much a straightforward action movie, without much of the humor and characterization that makes a film more attractive outside the core young male target audience. The action set pieces were well-done, but after a while, they almost became boring because there wasn’t enough other stuff to balance it.
To talk about it in more depth requires spoilers, after the break.
For instance, the history of Logan and Victor is all about “and then they fought in this war”. Didn’t they ever do anything else? There have been peaceful times in the world, right? Hugh did look terrific as a WWII grunt, though. And with so much experience, why did they always stay regular soldiers? Didn’t want the job of leadership?
About 45 minutes or more into the movie, I suddenly realized that we hadn’t seen any major character who didn’t have some kind of superpower. (With Stryker (Danny Huston), I rationalized that although he didn’t have powers, he was so much an evil mastermind that he fit right in.) So there wasn’t much balance with the lives of “normal” people. It made the characters more remote.
Similarly, there were only three women with lines (and only one at a time) until very near the end. I took that as another sign it was intended as a boy’s movie. I missed the more meaty female roles from the X-Men movies proper.
My friends had to tell me to stop giggling during the supposedly serious bits, but some of them… when Stryker tries to tell Logan to come back, and he responds with something about “you wanted the animal, now you’ve got him” and vows to come after him, it was straight out of a Rambo-esque 80s action thriller. Plus, it amused me that there were a few too many loving shots of the claws slowly extending. Symbolism much?
Given mutations, how can you have similar abilities run in a family? And I really didn’t need to see the mid-1850s “James Howlett” origin — it looked even dumber on-screen than it did on paper.
I liked seeing Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), but his presence was too often plot convenient instead of logical.
I found myself wondering about the mutants I’d never heard of before. John Wraith? Bolt? Was the Blob’s origin similar in the comics? Although I really liked Daniel Henney’s portrayal, I thought Agent Zero was the same as Deadpool. (I’d also really like to see Ryan Reynolds return in that role.) Oh, and was the kid with multi-color eyes anyone special?
Wolverine’s leather jacket got its own origin story, which was pretty unnecessary, but since they made such a big deal out of it … how does he get it back at the end, when he’s forgotten it ever existed?
I thought Hugh Jackman did a very decent job bringing some subtlety to the points where he’s doing more than being grumpy (most of the character as written). Every time Liev Schreiber (Sabretooth) was on-screen, I hated him, which suggests he was also doing his job well.
Afterwards, I went home and watched the first X-Men movie again, and it’s hard buying Wolverine as a small-town Alaska brawler after seeing him take down a nuclear plant tower. The scale of the films, having to be bigger and better as each movie comes out, doesn’t match the chronological order of the events within.