It is no surprise that 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' debuted in the number one box office spot this past weekend. What is surprising is that it is a really good movie - even if it didn't have special effects galore it could stand on its own as. In comparison to the nihilistic adventures of the 'Watchmen,' the early war scenes in 'Wolverine' seem almost Ewok cute. Probably the toughest selling point of this film is the fact that it is a prequel and that the fans of the 'X-Men' franchise already know how part of the story turns out. Further, in 'X2' a component of the storyline was based on Wolverine's past...yes, and I do know that the fact I know as much makes me sound as if I'm the biggest nerd on the planet then so be it. Yet 'Wolverine,' through the plot and with an impressive ensemble of actors, is able to take an established film franchise and redirect into another direction while allowing space for other films to be developed in the tradition of the original. Nifty trick and snaps of appreciation to screenwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods; both of whom I hope will be writing the sequel to the Wolverine character that according to rumor has already been green lighted.
Although I outed myself as a nerd earlier, I suppose my Ewok reference didn't help, I don't read comics thus I don't know how much of the material was taken from the books and how much of the storyline is owed to the writers, producers, and director Gavin Hood (whose previous big screen effort was 'Rendition' which bombed despite having Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal in starring roles - movies involving the Patriot Act might don't draw audiences). All I can testify is that I found the story excellent and feel that the script left room for future exploration of various characters.
Who would have predicted that the man playing Logan/Wolverine in the first 'X-Men' movie in 2000 would prove such a multitalented individual? 'X-Men' was the first role that really introduced Hugh Jackman to American audiences. From super stud Logan, Jackman has gone on to appear on Broadway (with a great singing voice) to then taking on one of the most difficult jobs in entertainment, hosting the Oscars (which he furthered distinguished himself by being funny and accommodating). Quite frankly, I don't care about the rumors, sign me up as another enchanted fan. Get this, he is also one of the producers of the 'Wolverine' which makes me want to swoon...Hugh catch me!
As any self respecting fan of the X-Men series knows, Logan/Wolverine can't remember his initial past ergo he doesn't even really know how old he is. 'Wolverine' answers these questions from the beginning while leaving some information open for reexamination, such as what was the relationship between Logan's 'father' and his father? How did Wolverine end up with his famous iconic dog tags? With whom did this gorgeous hunk of man flesh not have had a serious romance in his past life? Hint, out of the three previous questions only two are answered.
As one can imagine, there are some serious family issues amongst members of Logan's mutant clan. Liv Schreiber plays Wolverine's older brother, Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth, who was a character in the original 'X-Men' played by Tyler Mane. Unlike Mane's incarnation, Schreiber isn't just a more wicket version of the Cowardly Lion. He has a love hate relationship with his brother based on commonality and competition. In fact, the opening scenes show them fighting through the different eras of wars which clearly lays out the differences in their personas. Where Sabretooth is more of an ideal mercenary soldier; Wolverine has more humanity and thus is actually capable and worthy of love despite the violence in their lives.
There are cameos and more than one origin story, plus a decent tale of love (Lynn Collins plays Wolverine's girl and she in 'True Love' where she played the murdered waitress) and lots and lots of action. The special effects are fun. I suppose I don't need to add that Hugh Jackman was hot, hot, hot. In fact, he is much hotter in this film then he has been in the last three X-Men because someone made the wise decision to tone down the hungry like a wolf/aging Elvis on a bad hair day look so in 'Wolverine he resembles more of a rugged romantic leading mutant than a most wanted poster for stranger danger.
This film would be a good family film for a family that likes action movies and has older kids (it is rated PG-13) and it would make a good date movie for the right sort of couple. If you are fan of action or special effects then I would recommend seeing 'Wolverine' in the theater because it is the type of flick that should be experienced with a big tub of popcorn and medium drink in a dark theater with a bunch of strangers.
Overall, 'X-men Origins: Wolverine' is a wonderful beginning of the summer blockbuster season!
Westerfield © 2009