A film with a tortured upbringing, X-Men Origins: Wolverine has endured much on its way to cinemas. Worth the wait? Whets the appetite for the
touted Origins: Magneto? Will Vinnie Jones’ Juggernaut get a film of his own? Answers: Sort of. Yes, definitely. In his dreams.
Gavin Hood’s blockbuster bow begins as Wolverine (Hugh Jackman; hairy, roars a lot) and Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber; less hairy, snarls a lot) are sent on covert ops by Team X’s Col William Stryker (Danny Huston).
Disgusted when a raid turns nasty, Wolverine backs out. Stryker, though, is obsessed with harnessing mutant power and years of hide and seek follow…
Origins is an accomplished slice of comic-book entertainment, full of fights and action set-pieces impressive for a director touching big budget for the first time.
A motorbike vs chopper fight is the standout, but throughout Hood handles the legacy with poise: the opening sequence of Wolverine winning wars like a clothed Dr Manhattan, brims with comic-book verve.
But such action can’t disguise the fact that Origins rarely feels original, hampered by focusing on Wolverine woes already touched upon in Bryan Singer’s two stillfresh franchise kick-offs.
By marginalising the war footage and reducing an 1845 backstory to the precredits, Hood’s film too often feels like an unnecessary retread, one that sadly substitutes the bold ethnic cleansing subplot of the first three for a hackneyed Hulkstyle story of the military wanting better weapons.
In fact, a lot of the interest in Origins: Wolverine ironically comes from watching other mutants given tantalising cameos. Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool – sarky, cocky, cool – is top of the list for a film all his own, while a late hello from an old favourite makes it clear that mileage can be found in setting Origins stories in years further removed from Singer’s originals than Jackman is here. Magneto’s WWII adventures will do.
Good blockbuster fare. Origins lacks the magic of the previous films, but Hood does well with a franchise whose shelflife depends on which mutants are next.