A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

July 17, 2010

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

With the X-Men trilogy over Marvel and Fox had to decide how they were going to wring some more money out of the franchise. Rather than continue to make bigger and more extravagant movies to follow up the third one what they chose was to attempt to start a new series. The X-Men Origin series. I’m pretty sure that this was intended to be the first of several origin stories, each concentrating on a different member of the X-Men team. What’s not clear to me is why there hasn’t been talk about any more. They very wisely chose to center this story on Wolverine (and Hugh Jackson.)

This was a smart move for several reasons. For one, and the most obvious reason, both Wolverine and Hugh are extremely bankable. He was the best part of the trilogy and a runaway star. (We’ll just forget for now about Van Helsing… that’s a review for another day.) Besides – there’s such fertile ground here. So many unanswered questions about Wolverine’s past. Who was he before he became Weapon X? Where did he come from? What’s lost in all those memories of his that he doesn’t have any more? Another advantage to using Wolverine is that since he is pretty much ageless they could use the same actor from the other movies and place this one in just about any time period they liked.

Unfortunately this is also the movie’s biggest problem. Since none of the other characters in the movie are played by the people who played them in the original trilogy (except for a brief cameo at the very end) and since some of the story told here doesn’t mesh perfectly with the other movies this movie feels like it’s not really in the same universe exactly as those other movies. And yet there’s Hugh playing the same old Wolverine, so it’s a little odd. Still, there’s so much contradiction and so many alternate universes in the X-Men comic books that it doesn’t really faze me any. It’s nowhere near as awful as the constant flaws in the Star Wars prequels, for example.

The movie begins way back in olden days (here depicted as a time of doublets and hurricane lamps) with sickly young Jack Logan and his half-brother Victor Creed. The two of them flee together as boys when their father is killed by Logan in a rage and, through a very cool montage during the opening credits, the two of them fight together in every major war that the US has taken part in. The Civil War, WWI and II, and Vietnam. Ultimately they are recruited by a young William Stryker into his band of badass Mutant commandos and they gallivant around the world doing whatever to secret Mutant commandos do. When during one mission Stryker starts slaughtering innocent villagers in search of a source of adamantium Logan refuses to have any part in it and goes renegade. He tries to leave his past behind him and settle down for a sort of simple domestic life in rural Canada.

Inevitably his past (in the form of Victor and Stryker) catches up to him. To avenge the death of his girlfriend he agrees to undergo the adamantium bonding procedure, but then quickly escapes from the government facility where the procedure was done (here the facility is not at the foot of a big dam but at the top of a big waterfall) and decides to hunt down and kill Victor and Stryker. It’s a very straight forward plot, especially after the last two X-Men movies, but it works well. It presents an opportunity to introduce some more mutants to the movie universe and it has some stupidly over-the-top action scenes.

It’s a fun movie, if not a brilliant one, and in spite of the fact that it doesn’t fit too well with the other X-Men movies I enjoy it. Hugh does a lot of grimacing and posing with his claws out and no shirt. (No clothes at all for a little while even.) There’s plenty of explosions and, yes, I enjoyed seeing Gambit, Blob and all the other new additions being put through their paces. And I think the movie did reasonably well when it was released. So it was a success and achieved everything it set out to do, but even so there’s been no indication that X-Men Origins: Storm or X-Men Origins: Beast are in the works. Perhaps the concept only actually works with Wolverine. With any other character they’d need to re-cast the lead roles, which would kind of dissociate the spin-offs from the rest of the franchise. Besides – there are so many other Marvel characters that can be used to line the pockets of the studio. Why keep milking X-Men when you have Ryan Reynolds (who here plays Wade Wilson and Deadpool) appearing in a big budget Green Lantern movie next summer? And you’ve got Captain America, Thor, The Avengers and Nick Fury too. So many properties, so little time! (Still waiting for the official announcement of the Runaways movie.)

July 17, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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