Wednesday, 6 May 2009

In the beginning...

...Wolverine was a little boy called James with a tendency to shoot bone claws out of his hands when particularly enraged or upset. He had an older brother called Victor who grew his finger nails long when the violent urge was upon him. It is said both brothers fought with animal-like ferocity and a strength inhuman. They discovered early on their limitless capacity to cheat death and regenerate their physical substances and fought in many wars. The endless killing became the consuming passion for older brother Victor and hence, the two brothers found themselves facing execution at dawn by a firing squad for the murder of a senior army officer.

Having come through this unscathed, the indestructible siblings caught the attention of a military scientist by the name of Colonel William Stryker...

So begins X-Men Origins: Wolverine, one of the better movies I have seen in the cinema in recent months, though this verdict may be slightly influenced by the fact that the last three films I saw were The Boat That Rocked (amusing, if sexist and with a plot so thin it would fit with room to spare between the testicles of a gnat), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (too long, somewhat boring, apparently shot mostly in a sepia-like colour palette for no good raisin and ultimately unsatisfying) and Marley & Me (let's not even *go* there).

I really enjoyed this film. It was perhaps a little long and at times felt unfocused, with the reveals of several plot twists coming a little thick and fast on each other towards the end. But these late additions nicely resolved various earlier sections of the film which seemed inadequately explained.

After the car crash that was X-Men 3, the motivations of this film's characters was much more realistic and considered. Although one wonders if, having made a man indestructible, the top military dudes really thought sending another mutant after him with a couple of guns was going to do the trick? It did provide a stunning action set piece for the film, but predicated on a completely ridiculous starting point. Still, don't let that stop you enjoying it.

Hugh Jackman obviously wanted this project to succeed because he's listed as one of the producers and he does work as the lynchpin of the story although Liev Schreiber's character, that of his brother, at times steals the show and could have done with a bit more elaboration. As this is the explanation of why Wolverine is as he is, it's wrong to expect the swaggering Logan we know and love, but at times he is just a little weak. And when he says he's going to kill everyone, there's not always enough weight behind the threat. There are, however, a lot of cool fights scenes and either impressively ripped/manicured/made-up men pounding seven kinds of hell out of each other at regular intervals. The final two-way fight between three people on top of a nuclear power plant stack is gripping and well-realised.

There are some nagging threads to this film. At one point Wolverine is with an elite gang of mutants working for the military. Their powers are never really explained. One guy is really, really, really good with guns and jumps about a lot. Same for another dude, but swords are more his thing. Yet another guy just punches things. HARD. When Wolverine is re-visiting them later in the film to find out what's been going on, their knowledge about the TOP SEKRIT military stuff seems is patchy and inconsistent one minute and briliantly on the money the next. Having said all that, there are some pleasing nods to the films that preceded it in the making, which helps when tying all the threads of the story together. I've never read the comics or watched the cartoon, so don't know how annoyed to be by all the non/canon and continuity stuff. All I can contribute on this level is that's amusing that a character as fey as Gambit is played by someone called Taylor Kitsch. If that really is his real name, I salute him.

Also, stay in the cinema until the end of the credits for a tease of what's to come. There are two apparently. But I missed the last one because my fellow cinemagoers were getting impatient.

I'm not one to rate things out of ten, but that's what people seem to do on this blog when reviewing films, so I give it three bananas, a bottle of fairy liquid and four chupa chup lollipops. Go see it. It's dark, fun, well-acted by a skilled ensemble cast and lots of buildings get seriously damaged. Rock on.

3 comments:

TheTelf said...

I haven't seen it, but the best review I've seen so far:

"[...] if you are a fan of sexy men walking away from exploding buildings in slow motion, this may be your Casablanca."from here.

Hanspan said...

Hehe. Call me shallow. You'd be right. Also, like I say, I've seen a run of some particularly badd'uns lately...

Little Lebamski Urban Achiever said...

Not seen The Boat That Rocked, and Marley & Me was indeed wank, but how can you think Wolverine was better than Benjamin Button? Button was certainly not flawless, but Wolverine was ultimately a film without any point to it. I'm planning to do a review of Wolverine myself soon (fingers crossed), so I'll be interested in seeing your response to what I thought of it.