The Cynical Optimist Vs. Wolverine


Directed by Gavin Hood, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is Marvel’s latest stab at the ever-expanding comic book genre. It’s a prequel film, which takes place before the events of Bryan Singer’s 1999 hit “X-Men.”

1845. Northwest Territories. A sickly kid named James Howlett witnesses his father’s death at the hands of Thomas Logan, his friend Victor’s father. In an act of rage and vengeance, Howlett kills the elder Logan using a set of bone claws that protrude from his hands.

With his dying breath, Logan tells James that he is, in fact, his son. James and Victor, now half-brothers, run away. Whew, that was confusing wasn’t it? Within the first five minutes of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” the audience is rushed through a sequence in which two fathers are murdered and two mutant half-brothers flee into the woods.

Cut to an opening credits sequence showing the now-adult brothers James (Hugh Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) fighting throughout history. The two hack and slash their way through the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, and even Vietnam, as their regenerative abilities have kept them from being killed on the battlefield.

The idea of a prequel film is that it typically reveals the origins or beginnings of a character. It would ideally elaborate on a character’s motivations, but in this case it serves as an excuse to have a couple of over-the-top action sequences complete with cliché one-liners and uninspired storytelling.

Honestly, after three “X-Men” films, there isn’t much about Wolverine’s origins that we need to know. Logan was the victim of mutant experimentation at the hands of William Stryker (played brilliantly by Brian Cox in “X2”). His skeleton was covered in an indestructible metal called Adamantium and as a result of this horrific incident Logan suffered extreme amnesia and has no memory of his past.

Lucky for him. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” shows a younger William Stryker (Danny Huston) who approaches Wolverine and half-brother Sabretooth and offers them membership in his black-ops squad of mutants.

The team consists of completely unnecessary cameos such as Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), who later becomes The Blob, John Wraith (, who can teleport, Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan), who can control machines, expert marksman Agent Zero (Daniel Henney) and mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds).

I will say Ryan Reynolds was an excellent choice for Wade Wilson, who goes on to become Deadpool (we’ll get to that here in a bit). I’d also like to highlight Dominic Monaghan who does a stellar job as Bolt, the mutant equivalent to R2-D2.

Anyway, the brothers join Stryker’s team and go out on their first mission: Invade a diamond traffic operation to retrieve a fragment of meteorite. Why is this blasted rock so important? Well, it’s filled with Adamantium – that’s why!

After retrieving the meteorite, Stryker sends the team to Lagos, Nigeria to investigate if there are any other meteorites. Logan is disgusted by the murders committed by his teammates and abandons the group.

Cut to a few years later where Logan is living as a sad old lumberjack in Canada with his girlfriend Kayla. Logan’s bloodthirsty brother Sabretooth has began hunting down members of the old squad and killing them off. Eventually Sabretooth and Stryker come-a-knockin’ for wolverine and kill his blushing beauty instead.

Uh-oh. You’ve just unleashed the animal. Now Wolverine is pissed off, and he’s going to cut your goddamn head off. Somewhere in between the explosions and choreographed fight sequences, fan favorite Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) shows up.

Gambit, much like Venom in “Spider-Man 3” or Juggernaut in “X-Men: The Last Stand” is completely wasted and robbed of everything that makes him such a favorite with comic book lovers. A complete disaster is turned into a cinematic train wreck when Taylor Kitsch tries to bring this character to life.

No respect is given to the characters in this film. They are all treated as tools to push the plot along and achieve certain goals. The Blob is fat because he has an eating problem, Gambit is a two-bit gambler doing card tricks in a New Orleans nightclub, and Deadpool is turned into a combination of Darth maul and Mortal Kombat’s Baraka who takes orders via computer command.

Did I mention teenage Cyclops and Emma Frost show up? Yeah, sure, that makes sense. What’s that? You want to see more X-Men characters? YOU GOT IT! Lets throw in Patrick Stewart as a young, computer-generated Charles Xavier.

It is 2009. We’ve seen great movies that have shown the true potential of this genre – films like “The Dark Knight,” “Watchmen” and “Spider-Man.” And yet, 10 years after the release of the original “X-Men” movie we’re given a pathetic, poorly executed waste of time.

Just because a film is based on a comic book or has impossible, science fiction/fantasy elements doesn’t make nonsensical, lazy writing acceptable. There are too many atrocities to detail in this review – I won’t even get into the boxing match sequence or the final battle, which looks like a scene straight out of “Spy Kids 3D.”

All I will say is, I will never watch this movie again. I have no need to ever revisit this waste of time. If anything, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” has shown us all that Brett Ratner’s “X-Men: The Last Stand” isn’t that bad. At least that movie was about something.

In the end, Wolverine loses his memory with the help of two Adamantium bullets to the head. That’s right, the procedure doesn’t steal his memory – being shot in the head with a bullet does. Wolverine gets to go the rest of his life without remembering what just happened. If only we could be so lucky.

And now, a brief rant on the idiocy of this movie:

Deadpool’s forearm sword-claws are longer than his actual forearms, so when they are retracted how does he bend his arms?

Wolverine’s heightened sense of smell is unable to detect chemicals and fake blood on a woman he believes to be dead? Would he not be able to discern that she was, in fact, still alive?

Wolverine has gnarly bone claws as a child, but after his Weapon X experiment, they’re replaced with Ginsu-sharp knives.

Sabretooth declaring, “Nobody kills you but me” as he dangles Wolverine over the edge of a nuclear reactor. THEN FUCKING DROP HIM! WHY WOULDN’T YOU!? Isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for the entire time?

Instead, the two brothers fight side-by-side to defeat Weapon XI ( I refuse to call that terrible excuse for a character Deadpool). Afterward, Wolverine states, “This doesn’t change anything between us!” Except it does, because you’re helping Sabretooth up and you no longer want to kill him… which has been exactly what you’ve wanted to do this entire god-forsaken movie.

Gambit, the only mutant to escape Stryker’s island, sure is keeping a low profile by sitting in a fucking nightclub doing stupid mutant magic tricks in front of EVERYONE.

Fucking lame. Any person who has watched the previous “X-Men” films and has an IQ of 45 could have come up with a better story. Adamantium bullets… Jesus Christ on a crutch, are you serious Fox?

Please, save your money – do not support this garbage. By paying money to see this, you’re telling studios that you want to see dumb, half-assed projects with no respect or passion for what they’re doing.

Save your money for “Star Trek.”