Movie Review: X-Men Origins Wolverine

Being a DC kid, I was never a huge fan of Wolverine. That's not to say that I disliked the character; I do acknowledge the coolness of Wolverine with his awesome costume and sweet powers. However, that's pretty much all I know about Wolverine... his character development is buried in hundreds of comics that I never read. So it was with a relatively blank slate that I walked in the theater to watch X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

But I should say that I'm not a huge fan of the X-Men movies. I've found them all to be adequate in terms of entertainment value but largely unmemorable and unremarkable. So does this new Wolvie movie fare better? (Spoiler warning!)

The Plodding Plot
Here's a plot summary, courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes:

Hugh Jackman reprises the role that made him a superstar – as the fierce fighting machine who possesses amazing healing powers, retractable claws and a primal fury. Leading up to the events of X-Men, X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the story of Wolverine's epically violent and romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous Weapon X program. Along the way, Wolverine encounters many mutants, both familiar and new, including surprise appearances by several legends of the X-Men universe whose appearances in the film series have long been anticipated. --© 20th Century Fox
Even I'm familiar with the Weapon X storyline, which is legendary in its coolness. Surely they can't screw up a movie centered around that, right? Wrong. Wolverine's storyline is marred with heaping helpings of cheese of great profundity. It's riddled with cliches, including such favorites as "Walking Away All Cool-Like From A Gigantic Explosion" and "Villain Compares Hero To Himself Saying They Are Very Much Alike". Despite this blatant display of banality, the movie thought it was way cooler than it really was. The supposedly "cool" poses that Wolverine and Sabretooth strike throughout the movie are more comical than anything, as was Wolverine's constant teeth-gritting, neck-tendon-popping, snarl.

A particular plot element I liked, though, was the fact that Wolverine is immortal and he fought in all the major wars, from the Civil War through the Vietnam War. But I would have liked the movie to explore more about that immortality, like Highlander and Interview with a Vampire.

Character Development... Or Lack Thereof
Plenty of characters were introduced, but few were actually developed in any substantial way. Characters with plenty of potential were marginalized (Gambit), in favor of cramming in as many superheroes as possible into the movie (presumably to sell as many action figures as possible). As a result, I failed to connect with any of the characters.

There were a few memorable dudes, though. Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool was pretty cool: he was fun as Wade and creepy as Deadpool, at least in what little screen time he had. I also liked Blob and Wraith, and I would have liked to see them get more attention.

I did not feel the same way about Wolverine. Hugh Jackman totally overplayed his character in virtually every scene. Wolverine became testosterone personified, with a visage and personality that was constantly over the top (see teeth-gritting and neck-tendon-popping comment above).

Wolverine the Action Figure
Although the action was neither particularly memorable nor exciting, there were a few cool fights that made the otherwise plodding movie bearable. I liked the Wolverine vs. Blob fight; it was what movie critics would call "a fun romp". I also really liked the Deadpool fight at the end of the movie. Since Deadpool had all the powers of the mutants, his fight scene featured some pretty nifty fighting techniques and flashy special effects.

Halloween never comes to Hollywood
Unfortunately, another big negative of this movie is that there were no cool superhero costumes. Part of what makes superheroes interesting is their fun costumes.  But, as my friend Jason said, Hollywood seems terrified of actually including costumes in many of its superhero movies.  The award for the most egregious costume snuff goes to Deadpool... the movie character bears very little resemblance to the comic character.

Overall Score:
Wolverine is yet another superhero stinker.  It's a poster child for my previous rant regarding the problems with comic book movies, exhibiting every single trend that I identified and doing so blatantly.  The only thing that saved Wolverine was the action; without that, this movie would have descended to the depths of Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li.

DISCLAIMER: All items reviewed on Dork Dimension were purchased by the reviewer unless otherwise noted. The opinions expressed on Dork Dimension are solely those of the author and are presented for entertainment purposes only.