X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Declawed, CGI style

Leading up to the events in the first X-Men film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the story of James Howlett, and how he became Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), as well as his mysterious past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber), and the ominous Weapon X program, as well as why he can't remember his past.

Wolverine is the best known X-Men character to this day, a true fan favourite, and an origin story for him was highly anticipated for the Canadian amnesiac, as it is very expected to be the personification of the word bad-ass. Sadly, the origin story fails to meet such expectations, and we are merely straddled with a below than average origin story.

The script is pretty cliche ridden and filled with plot holes (Why'd it take six years for Sabertooth to strike? How did those blades fit in Weapon XI's arms?) that are easily noticed, unless you're of a child-like mind. I did like how the Wolverine name held more of an emotional attachment to Logan, but I didn't care for the Kuekuatshu story Kayla spoke about. There was also quite the number of useless scenes put into the film which added very little, seeming to only be there to pad the film out, with the most obvious example being the boxing match against The Blob. There's also a moment where Wolverine rests up on an old couple's farm and it feels out of place from the rest of the movie, like they're trying to lighten up the film by giving us some unneeded "comedy", and the old couple may as well have the word "cannon fodder" tattooed on their forehead.

As for the acting in this film, well Hugh Jackman continues to be the best actor in the film, proving once more that no matter how good or bad the film he stars in is, he will assuringly pull of a great performance. Liev Schrieber's casting as Sabertooth was met with controversy when it was announced (what comic book casting isn't?), but he manages to be utterly menacing as Sabertooth, much more than Tyler Mane's near-mute performance was.

Ryan Reynolds surprisingly plays the role of Wade Wilson (better known to fans as Deadpool), perfectly embodying the character without going too overboard, handling the Merc with the Mouth much better than he did the Green Lantern. Seeing his performance will make you want Fox Studios to get on with making the Deadpool movie. Taylor Kitch does a brilliantly cool performance as Gambit, portraying the fan-favourite better than I expected.


As a love interest for Wolverine, Lynn Collins merely plays her role, she isn't bad as Kayla Silverfox, but she's also nothing special . Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am acts exactly as you'd expect him to, making you hope he won't follow in Will Smith's steps and make a career change from music to acting. Danny Huston's performance comes across as nothing special and a bit one-note, but it's far from the worst performance of the film, while Kevin Durand managed to ham it up as Fred Dukes, both in and out of the fat suit.

The movie characters are pretty much a mixed bag, with Team X pretty much serving no purpose but the opening scene, adding very little to the actual film. Close to the end, the film manages to give us a large number of cameos of mutants that fans will be able to identify. These cameos try to tie this film in to the original trilogy much neater, but to be honest, when you notice which characters make the cameos, it seems to be trying too hard to tie the films together. And not only that, a number of the characters who appear cause continuity headaches as their age does not match the characters appearances in the other films. The mutants which appear seem to only be there to try and give the fans something to have a geek-gasm over, and it would've been a much better film if they did not make an appearance. While Taylor Kitch did a great job as Gambit, his fight with Wolverine and his later appearance feel forced, just to give the character more screentime despite being illogical. I'd rather he just got a spin-off movie. And don't even get me started on what they did to Wade Wilson, it would've been better to just have kept him written out off-screen.

The effects in this movie are okay to look at, nothing spectacular, but the effects used for Wolverine's claws are some of the most glaringly obvious CGI ever used in film. When Wolverine examines his claws in the bathroom, it's very glaringly obvious how computer generated they are, and this is quite a come down from the realistic looking claws that were used in the first X-Men movie. It's sad that a movie's effects for one object are more dated and worse than the effects used for the same object 8 years before. The fights are enjoyable to watch, but it feels like the movie tries a bit too hard in making us excited and a few times went overboard, particularly the helicopter chase scene.

As an origin story for the fan-favourite, bad-ass Canadian from the X-Men films, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a disappointingly subdued tale that feels very distant from the other X-Men movies despite the many attempts to key it into the same continuity, and this weakens the film. If you want to avoid the continuity headaches that are caused by this film, take my advice and don't count this film as being in the same continuity as the X-Men Trilogy and X-Men First Class.


Tom_Film_Master said…
I must say I have never been a fan of X-men, and I dont think I ever will be. Fantastic and well-written review James!
Anonymous said…
Tom: Shame, the series is quite fantastic, despite this low point and the weak third film. Oh well, different tastes
AdamMoody said…
Nice review man, this is kinda a guilty pleasure for me, but I would also give it a 2.5/5
HarleyQuinn said…
I have a soft spot for this movie, I know it is extremely flawed but this is one of the instances where I don't really care. Plus, I don't care about Deadpool so his "butchering" is irrelevant to my enjoying of the movie. great review!
James Rodrigues said…
@Harley that's where we differ, Deadpools one of my all time favourite characters, so I took his butchering personally