Do You Ever Shut Up? – X-Men Origins: Wolverine

22 10 2015

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Everyone loves an origin story…..right? Well even if you don’t; origins stories are still pretty interesting things as they tell the story of how people came to be who they are. These could happen through moments of inspiration, or life changing events. In the world of comics, Origin stories are told rather frequently as it tells the audience how iconic characters they have come to love came to be in the first place, with characters ranging from people like Batman and as we will see here, Wolverine.

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Released in 2009 by 20th Century Fox, Directed by Gavin Hood and Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner; X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the 4th film in the X-Men film series and the first spin-off. As the title suggests, it looks at the origin story of Wolverine, looking back far in the past to when he first discovered his abilities, attained his iconic Adamantium steel claws and how he lost his memory. The film also features several legends from the X-Men comics. Despite the great potential this film had however, it is a very disappointing film (I suppose I could’ve just finished the review here).

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In 1845, young James Howlett witnesses his father being killed by the groundskeeper claiming to be the boy’s real father. The trauma caused from this causes bone claws to come out of James’s hands before he kills the groundskeeper. He runs away but is found by his friend, and real life half-brother Victor Creed, who is also a mutant. They both go on the run, with the opening credits showing them growing up and fighting in the American Civil War, World War 1, World War 2 and Vietnam. While in Vietnam, Creed (Liev Schreiber) kills a senior officer, which James (Hugh Jackman) defends, for which they are both sentenced to death by firing squad. Having survived the shooting and now being kept in a cell, both James and Victor are approached by Colonel William Stryker (Danny Huston) who offers them an opportunity to join his team of Mutants, which includes; Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), John Wraith (Will.i.am), Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand) and Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan). Using their abilities, the team manage to steal a comet from a Nigerian crime lord, but due to their disregard for human life, including the slaughter of innocent people, James decides to leave.

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Six years later, James, now going by the name Logan, lives in the Canadian Rockies with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). Logan now works as a lumberjack, but one day is approached by Stryker and Zero who report that Wade and Bradley have been killed, and thinks someone is targeting the team’s members. Logan refuses, but after finding Kayla dead, he thinks Victor is responsible for it. Logan finds him and the two fight outside a bar. Logan loses the fight, but Stryker tells him that he can equip Logan with the tools needed to fight a now rogue Victor. Logan undergoes an experimental bonding experiment, where-in a metal called Adamantium, (which was processed from the rock they found in Nigeria) is bonded to Logan’s Skeleton. At first it appears that Logan died in the experiment, but then comes back to life. Stryker though has other plans, and wants to use Logan’s DNA on another project. Upon hearing what Stryker has said, Logan escapes, running into a nearby farm barn. He is taken in by a kind elderly couple who give him some clothes to wear. They are however shot by Agent Zero who has tracked Logan down. Logan goes after and kills Agent Zero by blowing up Zero’s helicopter.

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Logan finds John who now runs a boxing club, and is trying to help Fred (who has gained a considerable amount of weight) get in shape again. Logan fights Fred for information; who in turn reveals that Stryker and Victor are working together, and that Stryker is experimenting on mutants at a secret lab called “The Island”. Fred then tells Logan about a mutant who escaped from “The Island”, called Remy LeBeau (Taylor Kitsch), also known as Gambit. Upon finding him in Las Vegas, Victor shows up and kills John, before Logan fights him too. Logan talks to Remy, and agrees to let the other mutants go, if Remy takes him there. Using his plane, (which he won in a card game), Remy takes Logan to Three Mile Island, and drops him in the sea. Upon reaching the island, and gaining access to the base, Logan discovers that Kayla is actually alive. Kayla, whose ability is to manipulate people’s minds, was coerced into helping Stryker keep tabs on Logan for the safety of her sister, who is locked up on the island. Feeling betrayed by everyone around him, Logan leaves. Kayla asks to see her sister, and Victor wants the Adamantium, but Stryker denies both their promises. Kayla tries to attack Stryker, but Victor gets in the way. Logan returns to rescue her, subdues Victor and releases the captured Mutants. While trying to escape, Stryker activates a mutant under his control to stop Logan and the others. Known as Weapon XI, but called Deadpool by Stryker, it is the remains of Wade Wilson with the powers of several mutants, including Logan’s.

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The escaped mutants look for another way out, while Logan fights Deadpool. Deadpool gets the upper hand over Logan, but Victor shows up saying the only person who gets to kill Logan is him. Together they fight Deadpool and are able to win by decapitating him. The plant around them begins to collapse and the escaped mutants are rescued by Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Logan however, gets shot with several Adamantium Bullets by Stryker who then tries to shoot an already wounded Kayla, who however manipulates him enough to make him drop the gun, and walk away. Logan recovers from the shooting, but when found by Gambit, has no idea who or where he is.

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Ok, before I talk in more detail why, first thing I want to say about this film is that; it’s bad. It’s really bad, I find it hard to think of another film I think that is worse than it. The film does have some good points which I will highlight quickly, but the rest of it is just bad. On the film’s more positive side (well, only as far as I can find), it does contain some good and interesting characters. I like how the film has gone to lengths to introduce several of the comic’s series legends, however few of these actually work. While she may not be on-screen for very long, the character of Kayla is a good character. She is compassionate, friendly but also mysterious and introduces the films only relevant plot twist in her being alive, plus the idea she might not have actually been interested in Logan in the first place. She is played really well by Lynn Collins and is a very enjoyable character for such a disappointing film. I do however think she could have had more screen time.

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Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth on the other hand is an interesting cast choice. This is by no means Sabretooth’s first entry in the series. Previously he was in the first X-Men film played by Taylor Mane. The role in that film was a more physical one than a vocal one and so they sort of booked an actor to take on that kind of role. This time however the role is very different as it carries more of a vocal/personal role than a physical one. Liev Schreiber provides for this role rather well on both parts. He has a brilliant, sinister style and dark voice, but he has the size and physical stance to remain physically imposing for the part. His relationship/friendship and rivalry with Wolverine provides a backstory as well as building animosity between the two; while Wolverine is more compassionate, Creed is greedier and believes that what he wants he can have. Creed’s mutation does change him as this film goes on and while he is (plot speaking) not the main villain of the film, for every other reason and situation, he is. Later on he sort of redeems himself enough to help Logan; however it is more through his imposing, sinister, villainous side that he really stands out in this film. And while he is more a vocal character; his animalistic side is still present, and fearsome to watch, with scenes making him look like a roaring tiger or lion, a real animal (although I can’t help if some of that is provided through CGI). Schreiber’s performance in this film is fantastic, enjoyable from start to finish, so much fun to watch. I do however think that his rogue story side could have been done better, but more on that later.

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While he may not be a major character, Gambit is still one of the best. I remember when I first heard about him being in this film, I was so happy and excited that my favourite X-Men character was going to be in it. I was not disappointed. Gambit is played magnificently by Taylor Kitsch, an amazing performance that portrays the character correctly and to his comic book counterpart and origins. He carries the style, talk, cockiness, and the powers so well. Gambit to me is the main character highlight of this film. Not just for simply being in it, but for actually being the Gambit from the comics and cartoons.

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Hugh Jackman is always good quality, even in a bad film. The film focuses on Wolverine’s origins, and for the part of Wolverine provides just that. The story goes as far back as Wolverine can and his character really does grow as the film goes on, but he stays the same too. While he does have an animal side which is associated with a wild upbringing, there is a more human side to him too. He has compassion and love for those he cares for, but also knows the difference between right and wrong. He genuinely has love for Kayla, even if it turns out he was played, and while he does leave her, he comes back for her even asking her to come with him. His caring also for what happens on the island shows more to him than just a wild animalistic persona. Hugh Jackman really does deliver when playing Wolverine in every film he has been in, and while there are numerous plot issues and things forgotten, not included or just generally avoided, every scene he is in he plays a good character…………………….Now, on to the bad stuff.

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William Stryker was a good role in X2, played magnificently by Brian Cox. In this though, he’s terrible. He turns up with a sinister face and constantly carries a scowl all the way through the film. It is so obvious from the start of the film that this guy cannot be trusted, and you just can’t feel, or accept the guy at all. How am I as an audience member supposed to like him at all, when he just doesn’t look friendly or trustworthy. The rest of his Mutant team also seem wasteful. Yes there are some legends of X-Men in them, but some of the actors and things they do are just unnecessary. Bradley is not on-screen long enough to care about him enough when Creed kills him. In fact, up till that point he just feels like a minor hired hand villain, and so I just don’t know what the point in that exchange with Creed was. I don’t understand why Will.I.Am is in this film. In the later part yes, he has a friendship with Logan and redeems himself a little. But for the rest of the time he is nowhere to be found. He is not as bad as the rest of the crew I will say that, but still, why is he in this film? What’s the point of his character? Same goes for Fred Dukes, A.K.A. Blob. I didn’t really consider Blob a fat character, more just an imposing large person in all directions. While we do get a showing of his powers in dealing with the tank early on, I can’t help but think he is put in this film for the sake of a laugh, particularly when he is big and fat. I don’t really know what to think about Agent Zero. Before I started writing this I was wondering where Maverick was in this, only to then discover that Maverick is also Agent Zero. Zero is by no means pleasant or friendly, he is rather annoying actually (yeah let’s go with that). He’s just there, and takes over a role that Deadpool should be doing by talking a lot. He is this constant running commentary of what is going on in the scene, pointing out the obvious. His fight with Logan which ultimately leads to his Death is a good scene to which we can then see him as something other than what he currently is. Back when this film came out I didn’t really know all that much about Maverick, but since finding out, I kind of want to see more of him, either in comics or other forms of media. As another mutant in the Weapon X Program, it would have been interesting to have seen him turn and what that would have done to him, but in this film, he is just annoying. The film does have other mutants on show too, mostly with Stryker’s test subjects, but some of these just seem pointless and there for no other reason than to just make points or annotations towards the earlier films plus popular mutants. The one that does this the most of course is obviously Cyclops (Tim Pocock). There are some good extra characters in here as well, including both like Stryker’s scientist (Asher Keddie), and Emma Frost (Tahyna Tozzi) While I do like the character of Charles Xavier, I think he being in this film is rather pointless, as it achieves the same thing as Cyclops being in this film. Xavier didn’t even need to talk in this film, we could have just seen his face and instantly know who it was. I think the film could have improved a little bit if it was just either the back of his head, suggesting Xavier, or just to see his face. We then know what happens to them instead of repeating something that was in X-Men 1.

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Now: Deadpool. Deadpool is rather a disappointment. While it can be said that he is definitely chatty, the fact that in the comics the character can’t stop speaking seems to be completely out the window in this film. He does stop talking, and when his mouth is glued up it’s a sort of joke, but, in this film he was just chatty. Also, he’s completely wrong. Deadpool, while being an experimented candidate in the Weapon X Project, does not gain all those powers he has. While he can heal and regrow limbs, he does not have spike shooting out of his arms, nor lasers beaming out of his eyes, nor teleportation. He is completely his own man, and is not controlled in that fashion either. He just looks like someone who was put in here to act as a big bad monster to defeat in the end, sort of like Kelly Hu in X2. But it’s annoying that such a popular character these days, has been messed around in such a fashion. His look is so off-putting too, it’s like he came from a Horror film. I am surprised that the certificate didn’t go up upon his first appearance on-screen. The mutilated eyes and body, he just looks like something that should be in a different film altogether, not this one.

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One thing that is disappointing with this film, is that it carried so much opportunity and potential. Wolverine’s origins are an interesting story to tell and go into because of how mysterious his character is. He went through so much pain, but we don’t know how or why until those events are explained. Here there was an opportunity to explore them. The film is very quick going from one scene to the other and desperate just to get to the action sequences. When Logan is offered the steel claws, it looks like something from a Bond Film, being given a gadget to help in his vital mission to bring down Victor Creed. It just doesn’t seem right. Then there is Creed who is being this ‘rogue’ like predator, killing people off, but the film just jumps to it. Why couldn’t it have been built up, why is Creed already revealed into being the person doing this. Why couldn’t it have been a surprise, with Bradley seeing a mysterious, yet familiar being at the door, but you don’t see who it is? You could have had this idea that something, big, bad thing was making its way to Logan. A big black shadow, who then reveals it to be Creed. We could have had tasters as it built up, and also more time for Logan and Kayla’s relationship to grow more. Instead it’s just: “Yep, it’s Creed. He killed him. We all saw it”. Then, as we get past the metal bonding to Wolverine, who takes it in nice and easy really, no pain or regret as to who he has become, and who has pretty much forgotten about Kayla, no remorse as to her death. Once all that is past, we get a rather silly bit that makes me think of the basketball scene from Escape from L.A. where in this time Wolverine needs to get information out of Fred Dukes, and so has a boxing match with him. It just seems pointless, was it added to increase the film’s length (which is quite short)? And the bit with the claws coming out of the glove just looked ridiculous and silly. The film picks up a little after this, but ends with the shoddy fight and ending. I like the idea of “The Island”, it’s an interesting story idea that could have been explored more, because well, it’s the only real mention of the Weapon X Project in this film (which strangely is what this film is really about). There should have been more talk about that, and look into the successes of the project and failure’s, but it only concentrated on Wolverine and manipulated everything else around it instead of exploring it.

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The film’s special effects are a bit hindered too. There is one scene where Logan tries out his new steel claws, and they don’t look as polished as they do in previous films, they look lack lustre as in someone at the special effects department said; “People know what they look like, I am going out for coffee”. The scenes with Emma’s and Cyclops’s abilities, plus ones used by Deadpool are actually quite good, but there’s nothing else much in it. There are some good set pieces too like “The Island” for one, but much like the promise that the film had, the special effects did not deliver. Then we come round to the film’s soundtrack (composed by Harry Gregson Williams). I find it hard to talk about the soundtrack, as though while it’s there, and has some moments…..I think – it just doesn’t have the outstanding quality that the 3 previous films did.

Alltogether, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a very disappointing film (sorry to keep going on about it, don’t worry this is the final paragraph). It had promise and opportunity behind it, opportunity to explore the origins or Logan for the big screen. It had the opportunity of quality thanks to the previous 3 films, it had opportunity to showcase new characters for potential use later on. It hard so much promise, but did not deliver. It had some good characters, but mostly bad ones. It had some interesting moments, but rather silly ones too (such as where Logan releases the imprisoned mutants) and did not do much else after that. It has few reasons to be watched, and I will say that Liev Schreiber, Lynn Collins, Taylor Kitsch and Hugh Jackman are worth it to a point. I suppose we can consider ourselves lucky that no film since has referenced this film………and that the next 3 films, are all Fantastic.

GENEPOOL

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