Thursday, May 07, 2009

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE - works, but not as intended

Gavin Hood's addition to the fantastically popular and lucrative X-MEN franchise has attracted mixed reviews. Fans of the original Marvel comics have complained about the cavalier attitude of screen-writer, David Benioff (25th HOUR), to the source material, in particular, the transformation of mutant Logan (Hugh Jackman) into adamantium-enhanced Wolverine in the lab run by General William Stryker (Danny Huston). Logan's relationship with his some-time partner Victor Creed/Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) has also been changed. Other complaints include the fact that we never see Wolverine go berserker and that too many classic comic book characters are introduced and then given not much to do. Perhaps the most damning criticism is that the content of this movie adds precious little to the narrative arc of the original three X-MEN movies. It is, when all is said and done, a $150million irrelevance.

I can't really defend the film against these charges. Nonetheless, I did enjoy watching it. I liked the action set pieces. I liked the sarcastic humour of Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson, even if he was only on screen for 10 minutes. I liked the gallery of mutants. I was genuinely surprised by the plot twists and double-crosses. And most of all, I bought into the love affair between Logan and Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). Hugh Jackman may look ludicrously buff as Logan, but he can also look vulnerable. He sells the love story.

The upshot is that I didn't so much enjoy WOLVERINE as a standard summer blockbuster but as a thriller with some emotional heft, enlivened by the occasional technically brilliant action set-piece. And I think that if you take the movie on those terms, it works perfectly well.

WOLVERINE is on release pretty much everywhere except Japan, where it opens on August 22nd.

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