Laremy Legel May 1, 2009
The playbook has been established. The Dark Knight is the final leg of comic book ambition, finally taking the genre into high art. The Incredible Hulk shows what you can do with CGI, anger, and ‘roids, while Iron Man emphasized the laughs and joy that can come from being clever, rich, and all powerful. The original X-Men started the trend at the beginning of the decade, and it’s now possible to make an entertaining pulp film for general audiences. Avoid the sanctimony of Superman Returns or the silliness of Spider-Man 3 and you’re home free. X-Men Origins: Wolverine does just that. It works because it crams in the action, sidesteps downtime, and presents enough logic for varying levels of intelligence to connect with the movie. It also presents a worthy prequel to the X-Men series and pays enough homage to the original comic mythology to make most of the fanboys happy. I call that a win.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine, as the title would indicate, is all about the creation of Wolverine. The opening credits are handled stylishly by director Gavin Hood; Marvel has cornered the market on opening your film with aplomb. The Incredible Hulk did a ton of good work in the first five minutes too, so clearly this is a franchise thing. Hugh Jackman‘s portrayal of Wolverine will never be as insane as I’d like — he still has too much rom-com sensibility for my taste — but he’s also extremely easy to like as an actor. Liev Schreiber is also working on a very high level, proof positive that great actors can bring depth to any character.
The only flaws I feel compelled to harp on are tonal ones. Jackman goes to the “screaming at the camera” well a little too often, and the movie never hits the high notes of last year’s banner crop. There’s also a bit of forced emotion, much too soon, before we’ve really had time to pick sides. However, this is not a flaw that’s confined to this genre, so it’s hard to get too bent out of shape about it. I’d have liked more Ryan Reynolds, more Gambit, and maybe a few more interesting music choices, but these are small grievances, not enough to growl at (while screaming at the camera).
The summer movie season starts right about now and X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a decent opening volley. You won’t be upset you saw it, you’ll have some fun, you’ll see Wolvie beat the living hell out of a helicopter. These are good things, and it’s why studios are provided huge budgets to play with in the first place. Enjoy!
Categories: ReviewsTags: Hugh jackman, Liev schreiber, Movie reviews, X-men origins: wolverine