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Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - B

PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some partial nudity, 107 minutes

"Wolverine" kicks off the summer movie season with loads of intense fun, action

The new fantasy adventure film X-Men Origins: Wolverine literally kicks off the summer movie season in high style, with loads of intense fun and action geared toward the comic book set. Even if you don’t fall into that group, there’s still plenty of things to enjoy Wolverine, though the story is unoriginal and the first act unloads lots of unnecessary backstory and characters. Wolverine is peppered with some colorful visuals, a few stellar action sequences and a game, extremely buffed-up Hugh Jackman in the title role.

Wolverine is a prequel to the X-Men trilogy of films, set approximately 15 years before those films, dealing with the violent past of James Logan, aka Wolverine (Jackman), before he met Charles Xavier and those mutants you’re familiar with. Logan and his brother Victor Creed (who will later become Sabretooth, played with zest by Liev Schreiber) run away together as children in 1845 after Logan kills their biological father who had murdered Logan’s adoptive father.

After serving together in the military in many wars they are recruited by William Stryker (Danny Huston) to serve in a special unit made up of mutants. After wiping out an African village, Logan quits the unit and goes off to live a life of peace in Canada with his girlfriend Silverfox (Lynn Collins). However, Creed commits some acts of betrayal and murder against Logan, and wanting revenge against Creed, Logan is recruited by Stryker and covered with an indestructible metal. Now on a search and destroy mission, the ultimate battle is set between Wolverine, Sabretooth and Stryker to see who’ll emerge standing.

Wolverine is an exciting, enjoyable fantasy action-adventure that starts out the summer movie season with a load of adrenaline. If you enjoyed the other X-Men movies or enjoy superhero movies, you’ll get the most of Wolverine, though some of it lacks the heart and originality of the earlier X-Men films. The action is the best thing about Wolverine, though its detailed story slows things down considerably in the first 30 minutes, when it attempts to pack too much in. Those not attune with the first X-Men movies may get lost, but even with its script flaws there’s still much to enjoy about Wolverine.

Gavin Hood (Rendition) fills the palette with many sumptous visuals (it’s fun seeing Wolverine get all pumped up with metal) yet the most memorable parts of Wolverine are the superbly handled action sequences. One breathless sequence involves a helicopter, then another exciting fight between Gambit (Friday Night Lights’ Taylor Kitsch) and of course the extended final showdown between Wolverine, Sabretooth and Stryker on some deadly nuclear reactors.

A huge, muscled Jackman is a game, energetic Wolverine, and he ably carries the movie on his shoulders, but he couldn’t have done it without a sterling supporting cast. A snarling Schreiber comes close to walking off with the movie, and he has tremendous fun with the role of the snarky Sabretooth; Kitsch is also quite good as Gambit, but it’s a smallish role that will seemingly be developed in future films. Huston is terrific as the slimeball double-crossing Stryker, though Ryan Reynolds (yes, that Ryan Reynolds) and Lost’s Dominic Monaghan don’t have much impact in brief roles seen only in the film’s first act.

There were some things that should’ve been developed more - like Wolverine’s relationship with Silverfox, or more about Silverfox’s sister Emma Frost, whose skin can change into diamonds, and as much as Wolverine attempts to pack in, it’ll still leave you wanting more, and some may carp that Wolverine’s revenge isn’t fully realized. Aside from these story flaws, Wolverine is an exciting ride, and as fully expected, the ending leaves it wide open for more installments.

Wolverine is a satisfying, action-adventure film worth your time that will please X-Men enthusiasts and non-fans alike. It’s not a perfect film that sometimes tries too hard but is an entertaining escape from a recessionary real world.

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