X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009) review

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In commemoration of the upcoming and final installment of the X-Men franchise, DARK PHOENIX (2019), I’m taking a trip down memory lane to review all of the X-Men films made by 20th Century Fox. Should be fun, y’all!

  • X-MEN (2000)
  • X2: X-MEN UNITED (2003)
  • X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
  • X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011)
  • THE WOLVERINE (2013)
  • X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014)
  • X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016)
  • LOGAN (2017)

Cast: Hugh Jackman (MISSING LINK [2019], FRONT RUNNER [2018]SHOWMAN [2017], and EDDIE/EAGLE [2016]), Liev Schreiber (SPIDER-VERSE [2018], MY LITTLE PONY [2017], 5TH WAVE [2016], SPOTLIGHT [2015], and the upcoming A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK [2019]), Danny Huston (STAN & OLLIE [2018], WONDER WOMAN [2017], THE KINGDOM [2007], and the upcoming ANGEL HAS FALLEN [2019]), Lynn Collins (THE LAKE HOUSE [2006] and 13 GOING ON 30 [2004]), and Taylor Kitsch (ONLY THE BRAVE [2017], and the upcoming 17 BRIDGES [2019])

Director: Gavin Hood (EYE IN THE SKY [2016])
Writers: David Benioff (BROTHERS [2009], TROY [2004], and the upcoming GEMINI MAN [2019]) and Skip Woods (HITMAN 2 [2015])
Producer: Richard Donner (MAVERICK [1994] and FREE WILLY [1993])
Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams (THE MEG [2018], ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE [2017], LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], MARTIAN [2015], and the upcoming MULAN [2020])
Cinematographer: Donald McAlpine (DRESSMAKER [2016] and PREDATOR [1987])
Editors: Nicholas De Toth (COMMUTER [2018], HITMAN 2, and TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES [2003]) and Megan Gill (EYE IN THE SKY)

This is my honest opinion of: X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

 

(SUMMARY)

In 1845, young James Howlett (Troye Sivan) was a sickly kid who witnesses his father’s death. Developing his mutant powers, bone claws that come out of his knuckles, he murders his father’s killer and he and his older half-brother Victor Creed (Michael-James Olsen) go on the run. As they get older, James (Hugh Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) fight in the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, and eventually, in the Vietnam War. However, Victor’s blood-lust ends up killing a fellow soldier and when James steps in to help his brother, they’re both tied up for a firing squad, inevitably failing.Chained in a room, they’re approached by a mysterious figure, named Major William Stryker (Danny Huston) who offers them a spot on a special team to hunt down the source of a very strong metal. However, after the near butchering of innocent people, James quits.

Six years later, Victor goes on a killing spree of his former team. Aware of the deaths, but not who’s causing them, Stryker tracks down James living the quiet life with his girlfriend, Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins), to warn him of the attacks. However, the warning comes too late as Victor tracks down James and kills Kayla. The two fight, James loses, but Stryker offers him a way to win: volunteer for an experiment that will bond the metal, adamantium, to his bones and make him indestructible.

(REVIEW)

Oh my god… I forgot how utterly stupid this movie is. I could probably go scene by scene and point out everything wrong with this. I used to think that THE WOLVERINE was the worst of the solo Wolverine movies, but now that I revisited this dumpster fire, I might have to go back on that statement.

From the get-go, everything is wrong. We literally open on young Wolverine… being sickly. Um… why? And this never comes back into play with his character. Pointless detail. We cut to Wolverine’s father getting murdered by Victor’s father and… by God, that little kid screaming up at the ceiling while running at Creed with his bone claws out, and impaling him just looked so laughably silly. But then whatever unintended chuckle I got out of that quickly went away when it’s revealed that Creed… was his real father. Okay… what the f***, movie?! We’re, what, two bloody minutes in and, apparently, we were supposed to already be asking who the real parents were! Trying to lay down the heaviest of heavy drama by making us feel bad for James as he killed his biological father, and his mother asking, “What are you?!” But none of it is earned and none of it gets an emotional reaction… other than confusion and frustration. Then they run away and fight in wars for the next 100 years. So already, before the title cards roll up, we have a scene that was almost pointless, or complete balls in its execution. Questions were asked that we barely cared about and being answered that we definitely didn’t care about.

But it barely ends there. By the time we get to Wolverine, Sabretooth, and Stryker meeting for the first time, everything that happens between here and Wolverine leaving this group of mutants is basically another opening to the movie. We’re introduced to new characters, some big action, people get dead, we’re introduced to a rock ball that’s supposed to be adamantium, and then Wolverine leaves the group. Problems: one, Wolverine is afraid of flying? Two, I know we need to show off that the other mutants in the group aren’t useless, but all these bad guys are shooting bullets. I know Zero (Daniel Henney) is basically Asian Hawkeye with a gun, but he doesn’t have bullet immunity. Why not send Wolverine, Sabretooth, and Blob in to deal with them? Or, Zero seemed efficient later on with a sniper rifle. Give him one of those and help in that way. Practicality, folks. Practicality. In retrospect, this long-winded sequence was only meant to foreshadow the eventual metal claws. If this was the opening scene, this would be fine, but it’s not. It’s the second.

Now, it’s six months later and we’re introduced to Silverfox, who is officially the reason why I’m not in utter hatred of “the girlfriend” characters, who exist primarily to wait for the hero to come home and run into his arms when he does. Okay, so she’s not quite that hollow a character, but she might as well be. She has little to no personality, other than obviously be the girl who dies to motivate the hero. Wait… “fridging.” I’m pretty sure this applies here! Ugh…

Not only can you argue that this movie is horribly structured, as I’m pretty sure the first half hour or so could be considered one long “act one,” but this movie is awfully written. Sabretooth literally has a “look what the cat dragged in” line. I wish I was kidding. After being told that Wolverine can’t kill Sabretooth, his immediate line is, “I’m gonna find him and I’m gonna kill him,” but in a way like the line beforehand wasn’t supposed to be “you can’t kill him.” So it just comes off like a combination of bad directing and acting.

From the moment we’re introduced to the elderly Hudson couple, everything goes to shit. After watching a nude Wolverine run into their barn, Heather (Julia Blake) remarks that there “might be a man in the barn,” even though both of them, as well as the audience, saw him go in. Yes, please hold my hand movie, and take me to the nearest Koala Kare to change out my diaper. Catch yourself on! Or when Wolverine is having problems with his claws and starts tearing up the bathroom? Since the hell when did he start having problems with where he was swinging those things around? Okay, sure, maybe the adamantium gives him an extra hundred pounds to get used to, but one would think he’d be hyper-conscious about them too. Or how the Hudsons just keep giving away their son’s stuff to him. Honestly, this got a laugh or two out of me because we don’t actually know if he’s dead or not. For all we know, this dude is out having a one night stand with some hicktown hoe-bag, only to come home to a blown up barn, his vintage motorcycle, and half his clothes just gone. Oh, and his parents dead too. Just saying, some context would have made this less hilarious. Speaking of dead parents, why does Zero lie to Stryker about Wolverine killing the Hudsons? I don’t think Stryker cares about subtlety and innocent lives, especially after literally blowing up the barn.

And as cool as the Gambit scenes are, I have to ask a huge question here. Wolverine knocks him out, so he can have a fight scene with Sabretooth. How in Zeus’ butt-crack did Gambit wake up and get on a rooftop that quickly? And more importantly, why the f*** did he come back to pick a fight that he seriously didn’t need to pick?! However he managed, he could have easily escaped while Wolverine and Sabretooth fought. For a dude like him, and for low-key powers that he has, he could easily go into hiding and be years before someone picks up his scent. But no… bad writing brings him back and barely uses him again.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

 

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***

 

Now here’s a question that’s been haunting me. Why kill the team? I was under the impression that Sabretooth’s job was to round up the mutants that would best suit Weapon XI’s powers. There didn’t seem to be any reason to kill Bolt (Dominic Monaghan). He was living an uneventful life in a God-damned circus in the middle of what looks like a podunk town. What kind of threat could he have possibly posed? Even if he talked to anyone, who was going to believe him, or do anything about it? He might as well have been dead. The idea of making it literal seemed way too excessive and pointless.

 

Or how about this one. If the goal was to give Sabretooth the adamantium skeleton, why test it on Wolverine? If he dies, it’s not going to work on Sabretooth. If he lives, you just made him indestructible to the point where killing him isn’t in the cards. It’s even revealed that the adamantium bullets wouldn’t kill him. Just give him amnesia. Which, how would he know that? People have survived getting shot in the head in the past with their memories just fine. Not that I’m an expert on the brain, but the consensus is that the brain is complex, so automatically knowing that it’ll take away his memory is a bit… presumptuous, don’t you think? In any case, this movie even acknowledges that they have no real means of killing him. Yet they keep saying the phrase. Also, why wouldn’t the adamantium process work on Sabretooth?! No, if anything, he’s tougher than Wolverine. He bested him in one fight already.

 

How do those katanas coming out of Weapon XI’s arms even anatomically work? With Wolverine’s claws, I’m pretty sure they just chill out in his forearms when they’re “sheathed.” But those katana blades are much longer than his forearms, so where the hell are they resting when they’re not out and swinging? Honestly, and here’s a thought, it would have made more sense if Weapon XI was Omega Red and not a silenced Deadpool. Sure, neither outcome of a totally underutilized and beloved character would have been ideal, but at least you can imagine Omega Red’s tentacle whip things wrapping around his skeleton when not in use. But Deadpool’s katanas in his arms, a la Baraka from Mortal Kombat? Piss off.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

There’s only a handful of credit that I can give this movie. One, it’s cool to see Wolverine and Sabretooth fighting in all of the major wars. Two, I enjoyed Wade Wilson’s line “…it’s probably not as intimidating as having a gun, or bone-claws, or the fingernails of a bag-lady…” I admit to laughing at that line. Even though we’d seen Jackman give his animalistic scream three times in this damned movie (or… once from the kid), it’s still awesome when he wakes up from the procedure and starts slashing away at everyone and shrugging off bullet wounds to his head. Speaking of clichés, only Hugh Jackman can walk away in slow-mo with an explosion in the background and make it work. And I know the guy is considered box office poison these days, which I’d like to think it completely unfair, but I think for all this movie’s flaws, Taylor Kitsch isn’t a bad Gambit. I think his powers are a bit underwhelming compared to the big explosion-y stuff I’m used to, but he wasn’t bad. <<<SPOILERS>>> [ Actually, Sabretooth grabbing Wraith’s (Will.i.am) spine in mid teleport was pretty freakin’ cool. As well as the climactic fight scene against Weapon XI was pretty harrowing. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>

Overall, this was a painful sit and I’m staggered that I don’t remember how bad this movie was. If it wasn’t bring cringeworthy, it was being unintentionally hilarious. But no matter what it was being, it was being an absolutely awful film, which hurts because this should have been so cool. But it wasn’t. Maybe there’s some delicious sprinkles on this shit pile, but it’s still a shit pile.

My honest rating for X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE: 2/5

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