Take Hugh Jackman’s shirt off and you will get a female audience. But X-Men Origins Wolverine has more to recommend it than a pumped anti-hero. It has Liev Schreiber as well.
The movie starts with two young boys on the run. The younger boy has revealed his `gift’, long bony claws erupting from his knuckles that he used to kill his father. He goes on the run with Victor Creed, his half brother, who is later to be known as Sabretooth. This plunges us into a magnificent sequence of the two fighting in every war that offers and never aging beyond spunky manhood.
Victor’s nasty habits get them both condemned to death, and director Gavin Hood has a bit of fun with the conundrum of trying to execute men who can’t die. As a result, both are recruited to Team X, run by Major William Stryker (Danny Huston) along with a few other mutants the army has discovered in its ranks. But the methods of `interrogation’ deployed sicken Wolverine.
Wolverine goes to live in the high country as a logger, with a beautiful young wife. At this point, as Wolverine looks beatifically happy beneath all that hair, you just know what’s coming, and it does.
Things really pick up for this movie when Sabretooth comes back. Liev Schreiber is probably the only actor alive that could steal a scene from Jackman’s bare chest, and he does this almost effortlessly. Bulking up for the movie was no mean feat, but it is pure acting power that makes his Sabretooth/Victor Creed such a lithe, sinuous, dangerous and magnificent beast. It’s all movement, expression and delivery, with no hairy bodysuit.
The movie explains how Wolverine’s bony appendages became indestructible metal weapons, and how he lost his memory of his past. It doesn’t explain why Sabretooth didn’t remember him in the first X-Men movie, but that’s a small matter which could be explained by Sabretooth’s nasty sense of humor. It also sets up a relationship between the two that the comics apparently never alluded to. Purists will howl, but the half brother thing works well and adds dramatic tension.
A slew of other X Men characters pop up. Dominic Monaghan has far too brief a turn as Bolt, and Taylor Kitsch is an elegant Gambit, although fans have trashed this portrayal. Tahyna Tozzi, as Emma Frost, makes a diamond shell the new lust-have bodysuit.
But for all its star power, amazing CGI and Schreiber’s acting chops, Wolverine is ultimately a movie that does not engage the emotions. It all falls a bit flat after that stunning opening sequence, and heads into cliché territory too often – the folksy farm couple with whom Wolverine seeks refuge are a case in point. But even there some nice moments result such as a very funny bathroom scene where Wolvie does some serious redecorating with his new adamantium claws.
You can’t make a very bad movie with Jackman and Schreiber. But you could make a movie that would do them more justice.
I paid for this DVD from my own funds.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Two-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy)