Science fiction and fantasy                                            

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

directed by Gavin Hood

X-Men Origins: 
Wolverine poster  
Most of the characters in X-Men are outsiders due to their mutations. But few are more alienated than Logan, aka Wolverine. This prequel to the X-Men trilogy sets out to explain how he became the character he is, and how he lost his memory in the process.

The story starts in 1845, with Jimmy Logan a sickly child. Fortunately he has Victor to look out for him, a young man who turns out to be his brother. It's an inauspicious start for Logan, and things only look worse when Victor's drunken father turns up looking for a fight. One murderous rampage later, and Jimmy discovers that he's actually a mutant.

The story skips forward through Logan's life as a soldier in a brief montage of war images. Logan (Hugh Jackman) plays a part in many of the main conflicts of the next century or more. He's always fighting, and Victor (Liev Schreiber) is always by his side. The uniforms and equipment may change, but Logan and Victor don't. They're like werewolves. Not only do they have retractable claws and an uncanny ability to heal, but also a barely-contained animal side.

In the latter part of the 20th century Logan and Victor find themselves part of a government-funded team of special operatives, led by William Stryker (Danny Huston). This ultra-hard group of people work on the kind of missions that involve flashy gunfights, spinning swords, undercover work and a whole lot of posing. They're backed up by Bolt (Dominic Monaghan), a mutant who can control electronics with his mind. He's the token geek amongst this collection of over-macho death machines.

However Victor seems to get carried away with his work, and he lets his bloodlust get the better of him all too often. Disgusted, Logan leaves the team. He tries to settle down to a quiet life in the Canadian Rockies, where he works as a lumberjack and meets his girlfriend Kayla (Lynn Collins).

Yet all too soon Logan's past life catches up with him. He discovers that mutants, including former members of his team, are being hunted down. Logan decides he has no choice but to discover who is behind the killings, and put a stop to them.

The title suggest that this movie tells Wolverine's story, but it really does the bare minimum on that score. What we have here barely scratches the surface of the source material in the graphic novels. The scenes of his early childhood tend to raise more questions than they answer. For instance, we don't learn about his mother, or what provoked Victor's father into a rage, or why such a strong mutant was so ill as a child. It's inevitable that some things have to be missed out in order to fit everything in to a feature-length movie. But X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a mess of incomplete fragments.

What's clear is that the film-makers wanted to get Wolverine pumped full of adamantium as soon as possible, so he could take up his characteristic fighting stance and squeeze in a glut of action without any delay. The film looks good, that's for sure. Hugh Jackman looks even more pumped than in the previous X-Men movies, and there's a slew of new mutants with photogenic powers, including Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) and Weapon XI (Scott Adkins). A few familiar mutant characters even put in brief appearances.

One blip in this visual tour de force is the character of Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), aka The Blob, who gains a lot of weight. He looks ridiculous, behaves absurdly for one so large, and he's nowhere near as funny or convincing as he's no doubt meant to be. Dukes' fat suit is the least convincing effect in this movie.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is typical of the X-Men franchise for its bombardment of breathless action whilst leaving us with little to chew on in terms of themes and story. This is disposable and insubstantial cinema. It might be entertaining to watch once, but it's forgettable.

Film Details

Year: 2009

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 12

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X-Men 2 cover    

X-Men 2 by Bryan Singer
Nightcrawler, Lady Deathstrike, Wolverine's hair. Who will save the world this time?

3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson