Category Archives: Wolverine

Xmen Origins: Wolverine Review

Wolverine is cool, Hugh Jackman is cool (or hot, depending on your gender), so a film featuring both focusing on both should be a no-brainer, right? This was clearly the thought of Marvel bosses when they decided to launch into the Xmen Origins film series, currently at least two films, the second being focused on Ian McKellan‘s sublime Magneto.

As it turns out, the film reaches expectations, but goes little further. Wolverine is joined by a cast of fan favourites to make it more than just a one man show, notably Deadpool/Weapon XI (who’s already been given the green light for his own spinoff) and Gambit.

X2‘s evil-nasty-man William Striker returns, this time embodied by Danny Huston, as Wolverine and big brother Sabretooth’s (an excellent Liev Schreiber) way out of an exceptionally long military career. You do stop for a moment to wonder why no one seems to notice these recruits enlist for every major conflict in US history and never move up the ranks…

Confusing continuity aside, the brothers are soon among an elite group of mutants, a word muttered under-breath throughout the film, which serves to outline how early in mutant history we are here, there aren’t going to be evil plots to mutate world leaders for some decades.

The prequel nature of the story lets us see some of the later mutants in their earlier years, such as a young Scott Summers (a.k.a. Cyclops) and a brief cameo from an even-more-digitally-de-aged Patrick Stewart as Professor X. This is all well and good, but does slightly distract from the general story.

The other supporting players in the story perform well overall. Gambit seems tragically underused, tacked on as a means to an end for our protagonist, and despite being very cool and quick to get back at the big bad Wolf after he’s knocked out with a casual elbow to the face, you still feel like the story wouldn’t have missed him.

Ryan Reynolds (NOT Ben Affleck as I stupidly assumed at first) put on an impressive turn as Wade Wilson, combining some excellent comic lines with some devastating katana moves in the opening act , and eventually being transformed into the Sylar equivalent of the Xmen universe: Deadpool. There’s confusion here since in the comic books Weapon XI and Deadpool were too very different characters, but in the film the two have been combined.

Jackman has maintained countless times in interviews the fact that this film should take the character to a place where he could walk off-screen at the end and walk into the bar where we meet him at the beginning of Xmen.

This is unlikely to remain however, since the teasing out-scenes, now an expectation of the Xmen movies, show Logan drinking in Japan trying to remember who he is. The tragedy of amnesia is that it almost makes the entire film pointless, as everything he’s learned, suffered and sacrificed are lost along with his memories, but from a storytelling perspective it’s very handy, since it neatly explains why he doesn’t recognise Sabretooth as his brother in Xmen 1, for example.

The film overall is a healthy blend of action, emotion, mystery and some more action thrown in. It’s a worthy beginning to Wolverine’s tale, and sets itself up nicely for a sequel which could bring to life Sin City scribe Frank Miller’s stories of Wolverine in Japan.

In terms of the ‘Origins’ aspect, it doesn’t take away from the endearing mystery of Wolverine as a character to know what happened in his past that he can’t remember, but the adamantium process, frequently flash-backed in the first two X films, seemed a lacklustre affair compared to the scenes of Jackman covered in blood, desperately trying to escape Alkali Lake amid primal screams.

If you compare this film to the trilogy it bobs around about the same standard as the franchise’s debut, with X2 sailing in front and poorly subtitled The Last Stand trailing, aptly, in third. The effort put into the film, but that and its fairly predictable story are let down by a few jarring visual effects, which at times seem set to appeal the videogame generation.

Definitely worth checking out for fans of the series and the genre as a whole, but lacking in enough substance to draw in new viewers who aren’t already trapped by the invincible Adamantium claws.

Feel Good Hits Of The Summer: May’s Blockbusters

Summer has always been a big release time for film, with films released July 4 weekend smashing records on an almost yearly basis, but does this years crop of films look to stand up to the pedigree of past years.

Last year was dominated by the superhero, as Iron Man and The Dark Knight stole the world’s attention, and putting in yet-another case for why comic book films are a serious business.

May is the big month this year, with almost all the big name releases being thrown at us relentlessly amid the (hopeful) sunshine.

Wolverine is the first big contender, or Xmen Origins: Wolverine, to give it its full, overblown title. Originally planned for release May 1, the date was rushed forward after a massively hyped piracy scandal, which saw the film leak prematurely on the internet, to which Hugh Jackman was reportedly very disappointed, since the version which got out wasn’t 100% done, and obviously you don’t get the full affect of all the nifty special effects.

Jackman is big in terms of star quality and he’s a very talented actor, so the film stands to do well merely rested on his shoulders (though Baz Luhrmann may disagree with this logic…), but if you add to that the vast fanbase of the Xmen franchise, both film and comic book, then you’ve got a massive potential audience before a metal clawed punch has been thrown.

Another film which has a huge, perhaps even epic, potential fanbase, is the latest incarnation of Star Trek directed by JJ “Help I’m LOST” Abrams on May 8. Those who haven’t heard of the starship Enterprise by now have surely been hiding under an astoriod, since the plight of the Galactic Federation of Planets has been played out in (at least) five series and nine previous films over the last 40 years.

With veteran Leonard Nimoy back for a cameo as the cooly logical poity-eared Vulcan Spock, hardcore Trekkies will already be unable to resist, while big budget sci-fi has been off the table long enough for it to make a comeback at the cinema.

This leads us inevitably on to Christian “husky voice” Bale in Terminator Salvation on May 21. Not technically a sequel, but a “re-boot” – to translate this industry jargon, it basically it means the last film didn’t do quite so well, so they wanted to distance themselves from it and start afresh (see also Hulk, Casino Royale and Batman Begins).

Judgement day has finally come for John Connor and those of humanity who’ve decided to fight back against evil supercomputer software Skynet and its company: all-round robitics-controlling-nasty Cyberdyne Systems.

Last in May is Disney Pixar animated tale Up, about a…I’m not sure, is it a floating house with a small child an old man going for a walk? Anyway it’s set up as being the most impressive Pixar spectacle yet, and since they keep raising the bar with every film (except perhaps Cars, but we’ll ignore that – talking cars? That’s madness!), we can expect some great things from the team.

In terms of vocal talent the film includes Christopher Plummer of A Beautiful Mind and as OAP with altitude Charles Muntz, along with newcomer SyrianaJordan Nagai as Russell. Family films often tend to do well, since they appeal to a wide audience by their very nature, and Pixar have proved their pedigree numerous times over the years, meaning young’uns will be clamouring for this latest story.

Crashing out of May and into June is Michael Bay’s Transformers sequel Revenge of the Fallen, but perhaps we’ll look into that a little more another time. Essentially all you need to know to appear up on the latest social trends is that is has Shia LeBouf, Megan Fox and giant transforming robots, simple!

Potential big hitters are Angels & Demons, an adaptation of another book from The Da Vinci Codes Dan Brown, and Drag Me To Hell, a horror flick directed by Sam Raimi, who helmed the Spiderman trilogy.

So, if you decide to see a film this May then you should have a bit more of an idea what to expect, chances are you’ve already decided what you like the look of and don’t but if you choose not to take the big names at face value, who knows?, you might be presently surprised.

Looking past Christmas madness to 2009

Why is it that whenever Christmas time comes around people all go a little bit strange. Is it the mass consumption of alcoholic beverages? Or being forced to listen to your eccentric Uncle tell one more embarrassing story about your dad?

Whatever it is, it’s premature. Screaming pop rockers Slade always insist their classic Merry Xmas Everybody! is played earlier and earlier every year, when really it’s a song meant to be played as you unwrap your presents (or in this year’s case, credit crunch friendly lumps of coal) on that blissful morning.

No doubt I am as guilty as the masses for writing this now, not even a week into December, but I think people can get too carried away, especially when there’s work still to be done.

The sick days pile higher and you suddenly remember you’ve inexplicably forgotten presents for a cherished love one, quickly logging onto HMV and hoping they deliver before the big day.

Nowhere is the Christmas season more exaggerated than on the high street. Shops begin pushing their seasonal deals as early as the end of October, especially this year when the financial troubles are expected to take their toll, though it’s not as bad as you might think.

The trouble with it is that it’s so fleeting, with New Years signs going up on Christmas Eve, and Easter treats already out in shops, we never stand still to appreciate those precious, argument-filled days.

In many ways, why would we want to, there are an incredible number of things to look forward to in 2009, here’s my top 10:

1) Graduating from University – as much fun as I’ve had, it’s time to move on
2) X-men Origins: WolverineHugh Jackman returns as Woverine in a film that explains how he became the animal we met in the first X-men
3) Terminator SalvationChristian Bale re-energises the Terminator franchise with support from newcomer Sam Worthington, who’s also set to star in sci-fi flick Avatar.
4) Bad Religion‘s new album – The vintage punk rockers return for more operatic choruses and political lyrics, American punk at its best.
5) Resident Evil 5 (Xbox) – After the colossal success of 4 and the ultimately enjoyable Umbrella Chronicles the action moves to Africa where we begin to learn where the T-virus came from
6) ValkyrieTom Cruise stars in a based-on-truth thriller detailing the plot to assassinate Hitler during World War Two directed by Usual Suspects supremo Bryan Singer.
7) Muse‘s new album – The best British rock band around, both live and on record, will return for an epic new album, hopefully with piano solos.
8) Public EnemiesHeat and Collateral director Michael Mann returns with a 1930s gangster piece starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.
9) Mass Effect 2 (Xbox) – The sage of Shepard continues with the sequel to one of my favourite RPGs of all time.
10) Green Day‘s new album – The California trio have a lot to prove after the colossal American Idiot, will they come back to their old sound to please fans, or sell out in a pit of pop/punk horror?

So there’s mine, what about yours?