Thursday, 25 February 2016

TBT - X Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

I've read a lot of mixed criticism about Deadpool since I watched it last weekend. It's upsetting because, whilst it does have its flaws, it was a refreshing addition to the comic book genre. Yes, it's not going to change anything and, unless it comes up with a few stronger ideas, it won't become Fox's new big franchise. However, it should be said that it definitely made up for Deadpool's first cinematic appearance. It's been 7 years since the unrecognisable version of the character appeared in Wolverine's origin story but the hurt still runs as deep as ever. Ryan Reynolds knew he had to get this movie made to apologise to fans like him for allowing Fox to fuck up such an iconic and loved character. If you ask me, he more than did... and, considering how much ground he had to make up, that's a fucking huge achievement.

After all the of the success of the first two X-Men films it was Hugh Jackman's Wolverine who stood out most for fans. Audiences loved Jackman's portrayal of the straight-talking Canadian so it made sense, from a financial point of view, to make a standalone Logan film. Although, I question why we needed to revisit his origin story when we'd already seen that in X2. It's a story we've been shown from the first film so it seems redundant to go over this ground again.

Still, it does give us a fantastic opening scene where we see Logan fighting in multiple wars, jumping through the years. It's a stunning, if incredibly hard-to-follow, sequence that shows the sheer breadth of his life. Then we stop in a more recent year to revisit a story we already know. Although, this time Logan's not alone. This time he's joined by a half-brother in misguided and desperate attempt to utilise some of the previous films' characters. Going against the canon already set by Fox and the comic books, turns out Logan is related to Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth. Yeah, it doesn't make sense to me either but what the fuck can we do about it now.

Now during their many years of military service, Logan and Victor see a lot of death. Victor gets a taste for blood and the pair end up in front of a firing squad. As both have healing abilities, they are imprisoned and taken under the wing of William Stryker for his secret team. They are joined by a few fellow mutants (mostly forgettable and underdeveloped) and a wisecracking mercenary, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). They do a few jobs for Stryker before Logan sees the light and leaves. Opting out of professional killing and living in the middle of nowhere with his lady love, Kayla (Lynn Colins).

Although, it's no big surprise to anyone that his perfect life goes tits up and Stryker pulls him back in for a mission of revenge. Along the way he undergoes the all too familiar experiment that bonds metal to his skeleton and meets a few new faces. Unfortunately, there is nothing in Origins that isn't just a massive comic book cliché. It's all just too familiar and, frankly, really fucking boring. None of the new characters are given any real introduction or depth. All of the returning ones are just floundering.

Even Logan, when you set him apart from the rest of the X-Men, doesn't necessarily scream main man. He needs the rest of the team to bounce off. What made him so good in the first two was the way he argued with do-gooder Scott, flirted with Jean, and saw through Xavier's slightly pompous image. When he's leading the show he wears a little thin and the whole escapade just seems like its missing something. Not that Hugh Jackman doesn't play the part well, it's just that the character is too much of a side-kick to be able to handle a full-narrative.

This film makes so many mistakes that it's just outrageous. Bryan Singer's films were so successful because they revived the camp superhero genre into a serious and noteworthy affair. After The Last Stand undid most of that works, Origins almost destroys any credibility the franchise had left. The fight sequences are shot in the most absurd manner that means its almost impossible to follow, the CGI is more than a bit dodgy and the script is so cringe worthy you should probably watch with the sound off. No matter how hard Hugh Jackman tries to keep it together, Origins is just X-2's tired, bloated and embarrassing older brother.

To paraphrase the man himself, Wolverine may be the best there is at what he does" but, as Origins more than proves, what he does best isn't very nice.

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