Monday, May 04, 2009

An Insiders View of Wolverine Origins

As someone who been puttering around the comics industry since 1989 and been following Wolverine since Uncanny X-Men #98, (circa 1975), I wanted to share my thoughts on the latest X-Men franchise movie, Origins: Wolverine.

I went into the theatre with a bit of trepidation due to the two disappointing reviews I read in the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle. The thing was, I really understood what the reviewers were bothered by and based upon the trailers I saw I could understand how what they thought could indeed be true (not enough character development, story paper thin and with little explanation, special effects lacking).

But I'm here to say that even though I walked into the theater looking for these flaws, I did not agree with them. Now that may be because I'm pretty versed on Wolverine's (and X-Men) history, but my daughter who watched it with me is not...and she had no problem following the storyline or making sense of the characters and their abilities.

Hugh Jackman's Wolverine was sufficiently agonized, gruff and when circumstances called for it...a bit sarcastic and funny. It wasn't necessary for him to carry most scenes because there were so many other interesting characters with very diverse personalities. This allowed Jackman to maintain Wolvies penchant for being a bit brooding and moody.

Liev Schreiber was sufficiently dark and blood thirsty for Sabertooth, though I would have liked to see someone with a more massive body style, ala the size of Sabertooth from the first X-Men movie. I thought his habit of falling back to charging someone on all fours, like a wild animal, was a nice touch to establish the feral nature of his character.

Ryan Reynolds was at his wise cracking best as Wade (Deadpool), reminiscent of his character in the Blade Trinity movie. The only problem was, there wasn't enough of him! (spoiler warning) I thought Wolvie's explanation of why he wasn't talking late in the movie was very clever, but I would have rather had them trade some witty repartee! (end spoiler warning).

Though I thought the scene with the Blob (played by: Kevin Durand) a bit gratuitous and out of pace with the rest of the movie, I still enjoyed it non the less because of the accurate way they portrayed the character and his abilities.

And last but not least, Gambit was a joy. Watching Taylor Kitsch (Friday night lights) playing him, I couldn't help but picture Johnny Depp in that role! But Kitsch did a good job illustrating gambits attitude and abilities (which never have translated well in print, in my opinion), even though they spent almost no time establishing his background. One of the strongest battle scenes of the movie involved the Gambit, Wolvie and Sabertooth in kind of a free for all.

The negatives?
I thought the prediction of Wolverine's pending memory loss was a bit hokey (what experience or data did Styker have to possibly make that kind of hypothesis)? Just dropping that whole line of dialog and letting it happen naturally would have had much better shock value, where as this way they telegraphed it from a country mile for the audience.

I am a purist where my comic book based movies are concerned. For decades comic book movies basically bombed for one simple reason. Hollywood refused to follow the successful character designs and story lines of the comics and chose to "hollywood-ize" them. With the release of the first X-Men movie, a trend began of not only some incredibly successful movies, but also some of the most loyal to the source material. These type of movies were now being created by directors and producers who were familiar and respected the source material and it showed in the quality and the bottom line. The characters as written have been loved for years (in some cased decades) don't mess with what works!

I read a quote by the director (Gavin Hood) for Wolverine, who said that the first writer working on the screenplay wrote a script till the point where he was unwilling to do any further revisions. (paraphrasing) "The difference between that movie and the one we made, was that I didn't want to make the comic book into a movie." He stated he had no problem if his vision differed from the history of the character, as long as it made "his movie" work better. (Spoiler warning) Thus you get things like Wolvie and Sabertooth being brothers and the powers of Deadpool (End Spoiler Warning).

And finally, I would have liked a bit more of Logan/James' formative years (you know, the story we've come to know as Wolverine: Origins...the comic mini-series). As it was you get about 3 minutes of it and then they move on.
But when it's all said and done, the story was very enjoyable. The action sequences with the exception of one were all very thrilling and easy to follow. Special notch. The movie does nothing to diminish this franchise, nor the career of Hugh Jackman and I'm already to watch it a second time just thinking about it...always a good sign.

I rate it a B+...but it could be too of intense for kids under 12.

R.J. Luedke


bobbo said...

Oh...for those of you who've yet to see the movie (or even those who aleady have), make sure you stick around for the credits because there's not one but two short scenes. One pretty early and the second after the entire credits have rolled (and that's the best one)!

Nomad said...

some parts were OK, like anything with Liev Schreiber or Ryan Reynold... but everything else was sooo cheesy; i wondered sometimes (like during any of the explosion scenes) if they were trying to make fun of the entire super hero genre

R. Luedke said...

Nomad...Someone had told me they felt like they were watching a "Marvel verses Mortal Combat" video game during the climatic battle. Cracked me up!