A good number of people (thousands) have already seen the X-Men Origins: Wolverine workprint and the news has gotten out that, save for a couple of secret endings, (highlight to read) one including the character Deadpool, the two versions are practically identical, save for the finalized special effects and sound work.
So now that Wolverine‘s out, how does it measure up against recent comic book movies like Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Watchmen, or The Dark Knight? Click the pic for my full review!
First, a little soapboxing.
You know, a certain uncool website went on record pretty much bashing anyone who downloaded the workprint, then proceeded to, a week before the film came out, tell everyone that it was practically identical to the final version, almost promoting downloading it, before going on to say how mad they were mad that they actually had to (gasp!) pay to see it because they weren’t invited to preview screenings. As can be expected, now that they have their Hugh Jackman and cast interviews and all their behind the scenes goodies, they’re bashing the hell out of the film. Ugh. I can’t stand it. Seems hypocritical to me. Then again, they did something similar with Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
We did say that we weren’t going to review the workprint, but not out of any moral obligation. I like Hugh Jackman. I’ve got no qualms about downloading crap. But I did think that reviewing a pirated version of a film was probably in poor taste. It happened with Hostel 2 and Halloween, and Wolverine is bigger than either one of those. In all cases of the pirated films, even if I did download them first (heh), I paid to see them in the theaters. I kinda regretted that on Halloween, but, out of the three, that was the one with the most changes.
Forget the bashing that you read about everywhere. If you liked the X-Men films, you’re more than likely going to like Wolverine. Me? I thought it was a hell of a lot of fun. It’s far from perfect, and some of it is downright bad (the ending really is kind of lame), but I think, for the most part, it’s an enjoyable film that really has a lot going for it.
I’ll start off my saying (sacrilege!) that I think the X-Men films are overrated. I LIKE X-Men 3: The Last Stand. I like the second one. I really kind of didn’t like the first one. I don’t think Bryan Singer can film action effectively and, having seen Superman Returns and Valkyrie, I still kind of stand by my assessment. He’s a suspense film director, but his style doesn’t work so much for a superhero flick. Gavin Hood doesn’t have a lot to his filmmaking resume and from what I hear, Richard Donner had to come on set and kind of help him out, but overall he makes a competent attempt at it. It fits the visual style of the X-Men films, but with a bit more added sheen. Sure, there are some extra-cliche shots, where we see Logan screaming out into the sky for vengeance and such, but the acting is so good you kind of forgive the cheesiness.
The film belongs to Hugh Jackman. I can’t imagine anyone else as Wolverine at this point, that’s how well he personifies the role. I keep hearing about how he’s not the fun, wise cracking Wolverine we’re used to. I didn’t really imagine that he would be in his Weapon X days. I’d imagine that’s the bitter old man he’d become after years and years of searching for clues as to who he was and never finding out. His attitude in this film fits, and Jackman really gave it his all. Liev Schreiber is a much better Sabretooth than I would have ever given him credit for. I was never a big fan of Tyler Mane in the role (did he ever come back for the sequels? How the hell did they just write him out like that?) even though he had the right look. Still, I fault that more on the story/directing, seeing as how Sabretooth in X-Men only had to grunt and look mean. In here you have to understand why Logan would be his best friend, and you really do, based on Schreiber and Jackman’s chemistry. They work well together, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them duke it out in a sequel. Ryan Reynolds does a good job as Deadpool for what little screen time he has, and even Will.I.Am kind of does a really good job as Wraith. I wasn’t a bit fan of Taylor Kitsch as Remy LeBeau/Gambit, though. I felt his acting was a little forced.
Again, the film isn’t perfect. The special effects are rushed, a sad norm in summer blockbusters these last few years. Continuity is shockingly ignored, despite all attempts to fit it in with the previous X-movies. Why doesn’t anyone remember Wolverine at the Xavier Institute years later (it’s no spoiler that Cyclops is in this movie)? What about Sabretooth? How does he not know Logan in X-Men? If he does, why doesn’t he ever address him as such? Current word is that they’re going to kind of “reboot” the X-Men franchise with First Class, featuring a younger X-Men team … my thinking is that, eventually, the older X-Men films will kind of be written out of continuity. Just sayin’.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is like a superhero-movie version of Rambo. Wolverine goes through a lot, then turns against the country that made him the monster he is. They jam a hell of a lot into the film, probably more than they should have (if you think about it, there are scenes that seem to JUST be made for the fans, rather than actually service the story), but, if you’re a fan of the character and a fan of the X-Men, you’ll have a good time. This film was an attempt to make fans happy, and it really takes A LOT from the comics. Despite some efforts that fall short this is a relatively accurate adaptation of Wolverine’s origin and feels like the Wolverine comics we know and love, unlike some films that you can just tell that they took existing characters and changed everything to suit their own means. It has some actual heart behind it, and I feel comfortable supporting a film like that, even if it’s not perfect.
Ignore the naysayers. Wolverine kicks butt. It’s not Iron Man or The Dark Knight, but it’s at least as good as The Incredible Hulk, and it’s a worthy follow-up/prequel to the X-Men movies. Catch it on the big screen before Star Trek comes out!
Paul’s Awesomeness Score – 8 out of 10!