Director: Gavin Hood
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Lynn Collins, Will.I.Am, Taylor Kitsch, Dominic Monaghan, Ryan Reynolds
Sorry for the long hiatus. I actually had stuff to watch and review, but it just didn't work out. Anyways, I'm back to kick start the summer movie season, with none other than my favourite comicbook character's first solo adventure. I'm sure you guys have heard about this film being leaked online a few weeks before its intended release. I'm not quite sure how that will affect ticket sales as time goes by, though.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is basically a prequel of the X-Men trilogy, focusing on the franchise's most popular hero. Long before the X-Men, long before the day Wolverine and Rogue crossed paths with Professor X and his students, there was a young boy called James. He witnesses his father's death, learns the truth about his parents and his own uncanny ability all on the same night. It is this night that he and his half brother Victor run away from home and stick together, through the wars spanning a hundred years before they finally meet William Stryker.
Stryker is a military man who handles a team made up of special individuals like Victor and James, who now calls himself Logan. Together they carry out numerous covert operations, until one day Logan decides he's had enough of killing people and walks away. He spends the next six years in Canada being a lumberjack while living with his lover, Kayla. Stryker shows up one day and warns Logan that someone is out to kill his former teammates and he could be next. Logan ignores it, until Kayla winds up dead the next day, apparently at the hands of Victor.
Stryker offers to help Logan get his revenge, and the latter agrees. This is where Logan gets his adamantium skeleton courtesy of an experiment Stryker carries out. However, Logan soon learns the truth about Stryker's real intentions and plans on some payback.
I walked into the theatre with some high expectations, considering that this is my literary hero's major adventure on the big screen. And I got some of those expectations fulfilled. Gavin Hood, who directed Rendition, scores in giving the audience a thrill ride through Logan's past. You'll see plenty of action sequences, some of which may look way too cool to believe, but these guys are mutants so suspend your disbelief for a while and enjoy yourselves.
Hugh Jackman had impressed me since the first time he took on the Wolverine character in X-Men, and he hasn't let me down yet. Jackman gives Logan the ruggedness, anger and brute animal instinct he requires, and it is a joy to watch. Liev Schreiber is excellent as Victor, who appears intimidating for the most part, but has enough villainous charm to not get dull at all. It's good to see Schreiber lighten up for once. Danny Huston fits the role of Stryker perfectly, a man with ulterior motives.
However, Will.I.Am. and Lynn Collins fail to deliver in their roles as teammate John Wraith and Logan's girlfriend Kayla respectively. Their acting comes off very wooden, especially Will. He ought to just stick to singing. Ryan Reynolds and Dominic Monaghan, who play teammates Wade Wilson and Bradley respectively, are wasted with limited screen time. And yes, Gambit fans. You finally get to see this guy on screen. Whoopee. You know, I still don't get why this guy is so popular. So popular that when he didn't appear in X3, Marvel had to consider putting him in this film. So how did Taylor Kitsch do? Not bad actually. The French Cajun accent is inconsistent, but at least he looks the part, and Hood made him look cool enough in the action scenes. If anyone thinks he got too little time here, well then, you're just a Gambit lover, and you've forgotten whose film this is.
Speaking of which, this is a Wolverine story after all, so why are there other characters not closely associated with Logan in this film? Who you say? I won't name them, don't wanna ruin it for you. But that's not the only thing wrong. Personally I thought that Hood rushed this thing a little bit. The action comes hard and fast, there's almost no time for contemplation or elaboration. Everything moves real quick, and though they are super awesome to watch, it dents the impact of the story. If they spent an extra 15 minutes on the runtime, Wolverine might be just as good as Iron Man. But it just came close to that. A real pity, because I'd pick a Wolverine comicbook over an Iron Man comicbook any day.
Overall, it's a fun ride that doesn't quite equal some of Marvel's other more memorable films, but it's a perfect way to start the season. Now, bring on Star Trek. (4/5)
P.S.: Stay till the end credits finish rolling.