STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Live Schreiber,
2009, 107 Minutes, Directed by:
Origins: Wolverine is everything one would expect from an
X-Men movie, but unfortunately it cannot
entirely escape its, er, origins as a prequel.
“I’m going to shoot Wolverine point blank
with some adamantium bullets. It won’t kill him, but he’ll forget everything
that has happened to him!” the villain snarls.
sidekick wants to know.
“Because this is a prequel, damn it!” the villain
replies. “And we all know that Wolverine suffers from memory loss and
has no idea of how he got to be Wolverine at the start of the first
X-Men movie !”
And so he does . . .
Like most prequels a feeling of
why? hangs in the air. If you had seen X-Men and
X2 then you’d more or less have an idea how things pan out towards the end.
Also, Wolverine is one of the more charismatic Marvel comic book characters and
probably doesn’t really need a back-story or origin tale when one thinks about
it. Fortunately the whiff of prequel pointlessness doesn’t distract too much
from onscreen proceedings. Wolverine remains a fun comics outing that’ll probably have you going “that was
okay” as you leave the cinema.
The movie kicks off
unexpectedly in 1854. A young Logan (Wolverine) kills a man whom he
believes to be the murderer of his father. It turns out that Logan is a mutant
who has sharp bony claws protruding from his knuckles at will. Pretty cool, plus
he is very strong, has acute animal senses and can recover from almost any
injury. Logan’s brother Victor (Sabretooth) also happens to be a mutant who has,
um, very long fingernails. That and - like the Immortals in the
Highlander movies and Tom
Cruise - they seem to be stuck in their thirties forever.
"The climax is sadly on the, um, anticlimactic side . . ."
Wanted for the man’s murder,
they flee together and do what any mutant with animalistic super-powers would
do: join the army and fight in “normal” people’s endless wars. Thus in an opening
credit sequence similar to the one in the recent
Watchmen we watch Wolverine and Sabretooth fight in countless wars: the
American Civil War, the Great War, World War II, and Vietnam. (Actually it is
kinda depressing just how many wars there have been throughout the ages. Only
the dead have seen the end of war, as Plato said.) Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is
however getting tired of all the endless bloodshed whilst his brother Sabretooth
(Liev Schreiber) is however acquiring a taste for all the senseless violence.
Following an altercation during
the Vietnam War both brothers are recruited by the government to become part of
a top secret, Black Ops squad consisting of super-powered mutants. But Wolverine
has had enough and after the squad executes some Nigerian villagers he quits.
No-one simply quits however and six years later it would seem that Sabretooth
has gone rogue and is gunning for former members of the squad and Wolverine is
next on his list of targets . . .
There is at least one eye-popping action sequence (involving
Wolverine battling a helicopter and two armored vehicles) that will leave a
silly grin on your face. An early sequence involving the mutant squad tackling a
Nigerian crime lord is also fun. South African director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi)
may not have any experience with mega-budget blockbusters, but he stages the
various action sequences well. Thankfully there are no Michael Bay-style shaky
cam editing and Hans Zimmer hammering you on the head soundtrack music.
ending is unfortunately on the anticlimactic side as Wolverine and Sabretooth
together fight a mutant with various super-powers “taken” from other mutants (a
bit like Sylar in Heroes one
supposes). The finale doesn’t quite hang together that well and also suffers
from leaps in plot logic. It’s as if the writers didn’t know what should happen next.
Wolverine boasts some neat special effects, some decent acting and, best of
all, it runs for less than two hours unlike some recent bloated, butt-numbingly
long super-hero epics (we’re looking at you here,
Spider-man 3). It is everything you’d expect, but at the back of one’s mind there is
still a nagging voice that perhaps the material would have worked better as a
standalone movie instead of a prequel. Perhaps next time. Hopefully X-Men
Origins: Wolverine won’t be a once-off and we’ll get to see Hugh Jackman in
action again in a future Wolverine installment . . .
(Stuff we’ve learned from
Wolverine: Three Mile Island isn’t a nuclear plant as we’ve all thought, but
is actually a top secret government facility for storing captured super-powered
mutants! Who could have guessed?)
(Note: This review is
based on the final print of Wolverine shown to the South African press and not
the unfinished “work print” that is floating around on the Internet as an
illegal download. You really shouldn’t download movies like Wolverine and watch
them on your small computer screen. Movies like this are meant to be seen in the
Interestingly enough all press corps members had to hand in their cell phones so
that no-one can make an illicit recording of the movie and, um, post it on the
Internet. Yes, we also believe that that is a bit like re-arranging the deck
chairs on the Titanic . . .)