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X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – DVD Review

X-Men Origins: Wolverine single-disc DVD cover art


Written by: David Benioff & Skip Woods, based on the character created by Len Wein, John Romita Sr., and Herb Trimpe
Directed by: Gavin Hood
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins


  • “Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins” featurette

Released by: Fox
Region: 1
Rating: PG-13
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Wait for cable.

James Howlett (Troye Sivan as a kid, Jackman as an adult) had family issues and one really, really bad day. On that really, really bad day, he lost his father, gained his father, lost his father, lost his mother, gained a half-brother…oh, and popped “bone claws” out of his hands. He then spent a lot of time fighting wars until he came across William Stryker (Huston), who offered him and his half-brother (Schreiber) a home and a mission. However, times change, people change, hair styles change, interest rates fluctuate and thus Howlett (now Logan) walks away from it all…unfortunately, it’s not going to walk away from him. At least not very easily.

[ad#longpost]I’ll give Fox this: of all their comic-to-movie ideas, this one seemed like the no-brainiest of them all. Take what is arguably Marvel‘s most popular character apart from Spider-Man and what is not arguably the strongest performance to come out of a horribly weakened X-Franchise–and stick that character in his own solo movie. Nothing but strength on strength, really. But like most things, however, this was great in theory, terrible in practice.

I was willing to accept the opening sequence, the introduction of Stryker and his team…hell, I was even willing to go with the bone claws, despite finding them, at least in the realm of comics, one of the stupidest character ideas to come along in recent memory. I was willing to accept all this because it looked like the movie might be just brainless fun: fighting, Wolverine acting the badass, and shit blowing up. But it just couldn’t leave well enough alone.

Those who have been around my reviews for a while know the basic fact that I’m fine with mindless action flicks. I kinda like giving my brain the opportunity to nap. But when it wakes up halfway through a film–it’s cranky.

The problem with this film is that it piles plot holes on top of unexplained conveniences and then makes characters do things that they wouldn’t do…and you’ve only known them twenty minutes. Case in point–and I’m not trying to spoil anything here–Logan quits and the whole team disbands? What was that about?

Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth from X-Men Origins: Wolverine

On the other hand, the quality of characterization and story in this movie were about on par with a lot of Marvel titles I’ve read recently, so I’m not sure how pissed I should be here. Oh wait, they pulled a Hulk and just like they tried to seemingly turn Bruce Banner’s dad into Absorbing Man, here they tried to turn another character into Mimic when…you know…when it would have been even easier to just, I don’t know, use Mimic. (It reminds me of the Spider-Man movie draft where they had been compelled to combine Kingpin with Electro.) The story gets too silly even for a dude running around with metal claws popping out of his knuckles–and that’s pretty damn silly. And that happens long before a creepy refugee from Madame Tussauds shows up at the end of the film to save some mutants. I shudder. And I’m not saying this as a comic book geek…honestly, I couldn’t pick John Wraith and Agent Zero out of a comic book lineup, and I never did read Deadpool’s comic although I’m familiar with the character. So.

But here’s the really terrible part: Hugh Jackman is brilliant. He nails this character like nobody’s business. (And he’s the reason the film still managed to get a single cup.) The featurette included on the DVD goes into his commitment to the role and, well, I mean–Jesus, just look at the guy:

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

That is Wolverine. It’s just Wolverine in need of a better movie. Also wasted is Ryan Reynolds as Wade, Taylor Kitsch as a very leapy Gambit (who’s there no doubt to start the ideas flowing for another spinoff) and, surprisingly, I especially appreciated Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. I mean, when you’re going from Tyler Mane to Liev Schreiber, that’s a helluva leap to make–but he sold his wicked ways well and, also surprisingly, his motives made the most sense consistently throughout the film.

The single-disc version of the DVD also comes with a tacked-on anti-smoking PSA, no doubt because Logan is seen–horrors!–with a cigar. Hokay.

Alas, the single-disc version is all I have to go on, and I would say this: rent it or get it from Netflix or whatever, watch the action sequences, then walk away. And for God’s sake, don’t ask any questions. Because that way lies madness.

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