X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Twentieth Century Fox, PG-13)

film_wolverine_sm.jpgThe movie is a series of effects-driven fights, chase sequences and explosions that never really reveals anything new about the character.








The main problem in X-Men Origins: Wolverine is that it came out after The Dark Knight and Watchmen redefined the possibilities and responsibilities of the "comic book movie" genre. Had Wolverine been made several years ago when comic book adaptations were still trying to find the balance of the fantastic and the realistic, it would have been one of the better movies to come out. Now, however, it merely fades into the cacophony of other adaptations which are being churned out at roughly one per month.

The title of the movie says it all: Wolverine tells the story of how Logan (Hugh Jackman) becomes Wolverine. He is a mutant with incredible strength and the ability to rejuvenate immediately after being injured. He also has claws made of bone which extend from the back of his hands (this is a major departure from the comic book, but more on that later).

Logan is recruited by William Stryker (Danny Huston) to take part in a secret military project that is trying to create the perfect soldier. Logan undergoes a procedure that coats his entire skeleton in adamantium, an indestructible metal, which offers Logan a way to kill his half-brother, Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber), who murdered his girlfriend. Creed, known to comic book fans as Sabretooth, has abilities similar to Logan: tremendous strength, ability to rejuvenate, and claws that can grow at will.

The movie is a series of effects-driven fights, chase sequences and explosions that never really reveals anything new about the character. Wolverine has always been a favorite among comic book fans and Jackman is again excellent in the role, giving Logan both the anger and humanity that the character requires. Unfortunately, the movie is more focused on action sequences than any type of character study. Director Gavin Hood, whose Tsotsi is by far one of the best films in the last decade, has fun capturing the action on camera, but seems in over his head with the special effects. Too often it is clear that the actors are in front of a green screen, which only distances the audience from the story. A film like Watchmen integrates effects and reality so seamlessly that the average viewer will be hard pressed to find where one stops and the other begins.

The fanboys are certainly going to be disappointed by the liberties the filmmakers took with Wolverine’s back story. Originally, his claws were a part of the project that made him Wolverine; he wasn’t born with them. Also, much of Wolverine’s experiences took place in Japan, which would have lent itself well to a more reflective, deeper examination of where Wolverine came from. (The filmmakers can’t be totally faulted with this, as it would most likely be quite similar to Batman Begins.) Creed and Logan are also not brothers, and Sabretooth looks more like an animal than a human. Personally, I liked making the two brothers since they have always had a natural hatred for one another. Making them brothers adds more realism to why they are constantly at war.

The movie is entertaining and satisfying in many ways. Even for people who aren’t fans of the comics, there is plenty of humor and action to keep their attention and the movie moves at a quick pace and never drags. What the movie lacks is the heart and depth that have made people love Wolverine for over half a century. | Matthew F. Newlin

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