ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ (2009), Part Two
In our latest series of super-hero movie reviews, Chris Sims and Matt Wilson take on the films chosen by you, the readers: X-Men!
Chris Sims: Welcome back to our entirely unnecessary in-depth review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine! When we last left off, Wolverine was walking away from an explosion in slow motion, which is a pretty nice summary of the entire film.
Matt Wilson: An explosion that Wolverine caused by setting a fire with the adamantium claws he just got maybe a day or two before, no less.Chris: There was a lot in the first half of this movie that made… let’s just be charitable and call it “very little” sense, but the second half is where things go completely bug-nuts loco, and it all starts here. We cut directly from Wolverine walking away from the explosion to Stryker revealing his ultimate anti-Wolverine weapon: A gun.
Chris: I mean, admittedly, it’s a pretty big Dirty Harry gun, but still.
Matt: A gun with adamantium bullets, William Stryker’s Eastern European accented friend whose name I don’t think we ever hear is happy to tell us. So I guess the reasoning with this is that adamantium can blast through adamantium?
Chris: Which doesn’t make sense in so many ways. I mean, the first thing Wolverine does with his awful CGI claws in the Fake Kents’ bathroom is slash them against each other, so if adamantium can cut through adamantium, shouldn’t he have cut his own claws off? And if their plan is to shoot him in the head, wouldn’t he just have a big ol’ unbreakable hole in his forehead forever?
Matt: To complicate things even further, the last we heard from old Wolvie, he was threatening to kill Stryker and his own brother, Sabretooth. It’s not really a great idea to hinge a movie on a revenge plot that is certain to not work out, because we see all three characters in movies that take place decades later. You can basically guess who’s going to survive this movie, with a couple lucky exceptions, by whether of not they’ve appeared in other movies.
Chris: At one point, Stryker also mentions that the adamantium bullets will jack up Wolverine’s brain and while it’ll physically regrow, it’ll be blank. So I guess that’s what Stryker meant earlier by “erase his memories?” Just “Shoot him in the head a bunch with these insanely expensive bullets?”
Matt: Speaking of insanely expensive, Stryker is told (in a weirdly staged scene where it looks like he and a general are about to give each other clues, Pyramid-style) that it took HALF A BILLION dollars to make Wolverine’s metal skeleton. Half a billion! That makes the Six Million Dollar Man look like a big pile of used toilet paper!
Chris: Also, Stryker’s a hell of a shot considering that at the end of the movie, he manages to shoot Wolverine in the part of his brain that just stores his memories, and doesn’t manage to hit the part that houses, say, the English language, or where it is and is not appropriate to poop.
Matt: Or makes his lungs work or his heart beat. It is just pinpoint accuracy. It’s a hell of a textbook use of Chekov’s memory-erasing, special-bullet-shooting, not-killing gun.
Chris: That’s just the tip of the lunacy iceberg, though, because now this movie has Cyclops in it.
Chris: I can’t remember if that was ever mentioned in the ads, but when I was watching it last week, I can assure you it came as a pretty hilarious surprise.
Matt: Yup! He’s hanging out in his high school Spanish class, all sunglassed out, saying he has a headache. It’s hilarious that high-school Cyclops just seems like a lush.
Chris: You’d think he’d have a better excuse that would keep his teachers from telling him to take off his glasses. Like, how hard is it for him to get a note from his dad? Well, wait, his dad’s out in space being a pirate and shtupping an alien catgirl, isn’t he? You win this round, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Matt: So here’s how the timeline of this movie works. The incident at the end of this movie is supposed to be the Three Mile Island accident, right?
Matt: OK. That accident happened in March 1979. If Cyclops is, let’s be generous and say 15 here, that would make him 42 in 2006, the year of X-Men 3‘s “not too distant future.” 42!
Chris: And don’t forget that Emma Frost shows up looking younger than she did during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, as seen in First Class.
Matt: It is one seriously screwed up timeline.
Chris: I guess the question is whether it’s actually any more screwed up than Wolverine’s actual Marvel Comics timeline. Either way, we can agree that Cyclops’s glasses are f***ing amazing, right?
Matt: I love how movie Cyclops can shield his blasts just by wearing any old sunglasses or covering his eyes up with what looks like some cardboard and electrical tape later on.
Chris: See, my theory is that these are actually thin sheets of ruby quartz that he somehow carved into a set of Ray-Ban Aviators. It is the most ballerest thing Cyclops has ever done.
Matt: Well, considering that he mostly gets beaten up or whines or dies in the other movies, yes. Elsewhere, Wolverine is off to Vegas to see a solo performance from will.i.am, who’s singing what I can only assume is some sort of spoken-word country music at a casino called Spectre (someone alert James Bond!). Weird career turn for him.
Chris: Is he singing? I thought he was just managing a boxing gym that, for some reason, was inside a casino.
Matt: You’re right. My apologies. I just can’t see will.i.am without having a musical feeling. I Got a Feeling, Chris. Mazel tov!
Chris: Wraith tells Wolverine about how everyone quit working with Stryker – well, except Maverick, Sabretooth and Deadpool – and takes him over to meet with his old pal Fred Dukes, who has gained roughly the mass and weight of a Volkswagen Minibus.
Matt: I’ll absolutely give credit where it’s due here. Some of the dialogue in this has been bad to awful, but the Blob getting his name by mishearing “bub” is pretty doggone clever.
Chris: I never thought I’d say it, but I am 100% pro-Blob in this movie. As dumb as it is, the gag with even the tattoo getting fat cracks me up, and the “Save The Whales” t-shirt is a ridiculously over-the-top kicker. It’s the first bit of sheer slapstick goofiness in the movie, right when things are at their most dour.
Matt: I don’t get how the Blob can punch Wolverine one time and be fine, then punch him again and get thrown off by the metal skeleton, but whatever. It’s a pretty fun scene. Wolverine popping his claws through a boxing glove is even pretty cool.
Chris: Wolverine drops a flying elbow off the top rope. That is all you really need to know about this scene.
Matt: There’s no real reason for the Blob to know where Sabretooth is, since he and Wraith have apparently been hanging out in the same gym for a good long while, but Wolverine gets the info from him anyway, and we’re back to Cyclops’ high school, where Sabretooth’s paying him a visit in Bart Simpson detention.
Chris: He’s writing “I will not leave this franchise for a Superman movie” a hundred times.
Matt: That chalkboard is a binding contract. Sabretooth “bags and tags” Cyclops, and Wolverine is pretty torn up to hear Sabretooth’s still working for Stryker on “The Island,” which…is it really all that surprising?
Chris: Mabe just thought he had two separate groups of people out to kill him. I mean, for Wolverine, that’s actually a pretty slow day.
Matt: There’s a line here where Wolverine works stuff out, like, “Stryker had Sabretooth kill Silver Fox so I’d let him put the adamantium in me.” That is not exactly a sentence that rolls off the tongue, and that’s not even the half of what’s really happening! So much of this is just twisty for the sake of being twisty, and yet, it also seems so straightforward and dumb. I…I think this movie might actually be kind of brilliant.
Chris: “Kind of.” As in, a very specific kind. As in, the kind that allows for the existence of Gambit.
Matt: A Gambit who lives in a New Orleans where Wolverine and Wraith think it’s cool to ride motorcycles through a swath of pedestrians on Bourbon Street. That’s just not very safe, fellas.
Chris: Again, giving credit where it’s due, I thought this movie actually did a pretty decent job with Gambit. I mean, he’s completely unnecessary to the plot, but they do a good job of emphasizing what’s cool about him (his powers and his t’ievin’ ways, cher) while glossing over what’s not (literally everything else).
Matt: He’s basically Ultimate Gambit, who was a minimally hateable version of the character. However, before we even see Gambit’s face, we also have will.i.am saying “that’s cool” when he flips some cards around. It’s as though the movie is insisting that we think Gambit is cool before we ever see him ourselves. So maybe he’s more like the ’90s cartoon version of Gambit.
Chris: He also wears a fedora and carries a crystal-topped swagger stick, but I’ll take Mystery-esque peacocking over that godawful Jim Lee costume any day of the week. Plus, that accent works much better when you’re hearing it than when it’s written down.
Matt: It isn’t exactly Cajun as much as smooth Southern slimeball. But actor Taylor Kitsch, a.k.a. John Carter, can be excused because he spent so much of his career on Mars.
Chris: Interesting note: Lynn Collins, who plays Silver Fox, was Dejah Thoris. Well, interesting to me anyway.
Matt: Another thing that helps with Gambit: In like his second scene, Wolverine shuts him up by elbowing him in the face. If I was in a theater, I would have maybe applauded that.
Chris: Doesn’t call him “Gumbo,” though, which is a slap in the face to the True Fans. While all this Gambit action is going down, will.i.am and Liev Schrieber are duking it out in an alley. You know, like you do.
Matt: If our conversation is a little unfocused here, it’s because the movie is, too. It’s kind of just a lot of trading off of fighting partners for about five or six minutes. Sabretooth kills Wraith. Wolverine confronts Sabretooth. Gambit interrupts. Sabretooth leaves. Gambit and Wolverine fight. Wolverine gets into it with a fire escape. It goes on for quite a while.
Chris: I don’t think we’ve had an occasion to mention it yet, but I did want to point out that I like the teleporting effect they gave to Wraith. It’s one of the better-looking effects of the movie, where he fades out from the outside in so that his skeleton flashes as he teleports. It’s really cool and distinctive, and does a nice job of visually setting him apart from Nightcrawler.
Matt: Like X-Men 3, some of the effects are pretty good (Wraith, Cyclops’ blasts) and some (the CGI claws, some of that bullet-time stuff at the beginning) are just dismal, how-did-this-get-into-a-major-motion-picture quality stuff.
Chris: That’s the thing, everything in this movie’s all over the map. This is the scene where Sabretooth asks Wolverine if he knows how to kill him, and Wolverine responds with “I’m gonna cut your goddamn head off. See if that works.” That’s a really awesome, legitimately badass line. And then it is immediately followed up by Gambit spinning around his quarterstaff like a helicopter so that he can safely jump off a building.
Matt: Sabretooth also says, “Shiny.” He’s a Firefly fan!
Chris: If this movie could figure out what it wanted to do from one minute to the next, it’d probably be great.
Matt: Wolverine threatens Gambit to ensure the next place he’s going is “The Island,” and then we’re back to Stryker who gives the clearest explanation of his motivations in the movie so far. Tell me if I’m getting it right here: His son has already killed his wife and he wants to get rid of the bad mutants by synthesizing the top mutant powers into one killing machine. He wants to end the war against mutants before it starts, by creating an all-powerful super-mutant.
Chris: Specifically, one that he can control by typing hilariously specific commands into a computer, yes.
Matt: So basically he’s Lex Luthor in Superman IV? He hates the super-powered people so much that he creates an even worse version that he almost certainly can’t control. This is a very different strategy from the straight-up “kill all mutants” plan from X2.
Chris: Well, he’s obviously not thinking clearly, or he wouldn’t have started with “let me piss off this dude who has done nothing but fight in wars for the past century and then give him indestructible bones and a bunch of knives on his hands.”
Matt: “And then ‘erase his memories’ rather than just taking him to my nuclear power plant prison for mutants, where I’m keeping every other mutant I have experimented on.”
Chris: Maybe this is, like, right after his wife killed herself. He’s not really thinking things through, you know?
Matt: Just, does he hate mutants or not? Does he say Roman numerals like they’re letters (“Weapon X”) or like they’re numbers (“Weapon Eleven”)? I just want some f**king consistency here, Stryker! I won’t even ask where the other nine weapons are.
Chris: Well, Weapon One was in development over at a rival movie studio.
Matt: Stryker’s greatest enemy: Trademarks. So he kills that general guy who he’s been hanging around with with a pretty abysmal line of dialogue, and Wolverine’s back in a plane with Gambit, shakin’ in his boots.
Chris: Gambit is so amused at Wolverine being afraid of flying that he forgets he has a Southern accent for about half his dialogue. Though to be fair, Hugh Jackman does have a really funny ’bout-to-ralph face.
Matt: If Hugh Jackman opened a one-man show on Broadway called “Bout to Ralph,” I’d buy a ticket to New York yesterday.
Chris: Around the time that Gambit talks about winning his crappy sea-plane in a card game – “jacks ovah fahhhves” – I realized that the elegant solution to making Gambit not horrible was just to make him Louisiana Han Solo.
Matt: Wolverine is already a little Chewbacca-like, so it’d be an easy transition.
Chris: Wolverine just straight up walks right into the lab at the heart of this covert government installation as Stryker’s scientists are finishing up work on the mysterious Weapon XI, who draws his powers from a strange “dead pool” of mutant abilities. Groan of you must, but that’s actually no worse than the comic book origin of that name.
Matt: I don’t think we mentioned the reveal of “The Island” being Three Mile Island, which also gets the pretty strained explanation of “hiding in plain sight.” I’d say the real reason was something like, “Hey, what’s a place where a well-known disaster happened about 30 years ago?”
Chris: It surprised me that both this movie and First Class based themselves around actual historical events, but I guess they were just following in the tradition of the first X-Men movie, which was a fictionalized account of that time the Statue of Liberty almost erased everyone’s butt-crack. Anyway, Silver Fox is alive.
Matt: She explains she got a shot of heart-slowing medication to make her look dead, and to top it off Sabretooth poured some Karo syrup with food coloring in it on her. The perfect crime! Stryker, after calling Wolverine “old friend” like a dozen times because he’s got a really odd idea of what friendship is, also explains Kayla’s mutation for no good reason, because everyone knows that already, and mentions that her sister has diamond-hard skin, for no one’s benefit but the audience.
Chris: Right, because what this movie really needed was to also have Emma Frost in it. Right? I love Wolverine’s face during this entire exposition, because it’s exactly the same as my face when I was trying to figure out when this movie completely lost its mind.
Chris: “Wait, did Sabretooth say he killed Blob off-screen? And Silver Fox is Emma Frost’s sister?”
Matt: He says he had doubts about his relationship with Kayla — doubts we never saw any sign of, mind you — and turns her myth about the wolverine back on her, which makes her cry. Emotionally weaponized myth is Wolverine’s tertiary mutation!
Chris: I hope that someday I can sick burn my girlfriend by telling her “Well I guess you’re the Native American trickster spirit.” Drop the mic, I’m out.
Matt: Then Wolverine just walks right out of there. Nobody tries to stop him, though it’s almost certain none of the people in that room want him to leave. This is at least the third time this very thing has happened.
Chris: Sabretooth is literally the only person who sees that this is a bad idea, and he’s more mystified by it than anything else.
Matt: This scene also features Silver Fox and Sabretooth both telling Stryker that they had deals with him that he is now reneging on. Stryker’s war isn’t on mutants. It’s on deals.
Chris: Sabretooth’s pissed, but really, the one who should be mad is Silver Fox. She was the one who had to clean up after Wolverine’s night terrors.
Matt: Silver Fox wants her sister, who, again, is Emma Frost for some reason, to be freed. Sabretooth wants adamantium. When Stryker won’t give them either, Sabretooth decides…to kill her? Everybody’s just got such messed up priorities in this thing. You know, maybe they could team up and fight the relatively defenseless guy who clearly betrayed both of them? But that would be a silly, practical thing to do! And if it weren’t for that complete lack of basic reason, Silver Fox wouldn’t have screamed and Wolverine wouldn’t have come back to save her.
Chris: It’s impossible to figure out what anyone is thinking at any given time, but all that really matters is that Wolverine busts back in and shows up (on the opposite side of the room from the door) in the most insane courtesy ever.
Matt: Wolverine and Sabretooth have another stab-fight, and this is probably the most noticeable point in which someone gets stabbed and doesn’t bleed a drop. Wolverine plunges his claws completely through Sabretooth’s chest, and they come out like they’d just been washed in CLR.
Chris: Gotta get that PG-13, son. They were already toeing the line with their Brief Nudity, Violence, and Bizarre Hair Situations.
Matt: Don’t forget the extreme needle regulation. Wolverine opts not to kill his brother, and instead just punches him out, because apparently someone can do that to him now. Wolverine and Kayla head off to save Emma, who is being held with a bunch of other mutants in a big room guarded by exactly no one.
Chris: In cells that are close enough together that Wolverine can just run down the aisle with his claws out and cut off all the locks. Which is nice, because if he had to make two trips, it wouldn’t be as heroic. I do think it’s worth noting that Wolverine pretty much rescues Cyclops from a death camp, and even though Cyclops is blindfolded, you’d think someone would tell him “hey, some dude with weird hair and metal claws just saved us all, you should probably not be a massive dick to him in 20 to 30 years.”
Matt: Also of note: Quicksilver is in one of those cells, being restrained in a big bungee-swing kind of thing. Cutting his lock open isn’t exactly going to free him, “old friend.”
Chris: Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. They all end up leaving well enough, until a door opens dramatically and we finally see Weapon XI. And guys? Every single thing about Movie Deadpool is ridiculous.
Matt: Let’s see. He doesn’t have a mouth anymore, because Stryker hated him talking so much. He’s got swords where Wolverine has claws. He’s got concussive eye blasts. He can teleport. The one thing he surprisingly can’t do is control minds, even though Stryker says his son, whose whole deal is that he creates fictional worlds for people to live in, was the first building block in the process of making him.
Chris: I assumed that was the key to Stryker controlling Deadpool, but that doesn’t really hold up because – in the single most hilarious thing about this guy – Stryker controls him by typing things like “ENGAGE” into a computer. Apparently one of Deadpool’s mutant powers is f***ing WiFi.
Matt: And wouldn’t it give Deadpool the power of suggestion instead of making him open to it? Unless they’re dosing him with that neck-goo, I guess. And then hooking that up to an Apple II.
Chris: I was 100% sure that Wolverine was going to slash open his gross mouth-flap and we’d actually get Ryan Reynolds wisecracking and maybe breaking free of Stryker’s control, but that didn’t happen. Instead… I kept thinking every new thing we learn about Deadpool was going to be the dumbest. Like, the swords are actually longer than his arms, then the part where he does a Cyclops blast and it burns his skin to make his face look like his comic book counterpart’s mask. But no, the dumbest is when Stryker types the word “DECAPITATE” into his mind-control Macintosh, and Deadpool’s head software recognizes this as a valid command.
Chris: Pretty nice HD streaming video from Deadpool’s eyes on that widescreen monitor back in 1979, huh?
Matt: Nuclear power plants got the best tech back then. Meanwhile, we find out the one reason Emma Frost is in this movie: They needed someone who could deflect bullets for one scene so Cyclops could hear a Mysterious Voice tell everyone to turn left in a corridor.
Chris: Okay, so let’s get this straight: Some of these mutants have been here for, at the bare minimum, several weeks. Emma’s locked up in order to get Silver Fox to go shack up with Wolverine, and she’s with him long enough that she has a job teaching school. Assuming that Cyclops is the last person to be abducted, he’s been there long enough that Stryker was able to take his DNA, synthesize out the Optic Blast mutation, and put it into Deadpool. That had to take a while, right? So what the hell is Professor X doing showing up now?!
Matt: We’ll get to that in more detail soon. For now, Wolverine is climbing to the top of cooling tower to fight Deadpool…I’m not sure why? He thought it would look cool?
Chris: That’s as good a reason as any, and while it does raise the question of why Deadpool hasn’t been using his teleporting powers more often, that pales in comparison to trying to figure out why Sabretooth saves Wolverine and then goes right into a team-up with him.
Matt: Back to back!
Chris: I will say, the part where Deadpool uses Cyclops powers, and inexplicably starts blasting directly at Wolverine’s penis?
Chris: That’s definitely something Deadpool would do.
Matt: Not even so much out of malice as much as just curiosity. He’d want to know how long it takes to grow back.
Chris: Eventually, Wolverine cuts Deadpool’s head off and kicks him into the cooling tower. How he does this even though Deadpool clearly has adamantium bones, your guess is as good as mine.
Matt: I figure it’s supposed to be because Wolverine’s claws have been heated up to the point of glowing by the blasts? The heat affects it somehow? It’s the same adamantium bullet problem.
Chris: Sabretooth then says “hey, we’re brothers, see you in 20 years after I’ve grown a foot and look like a completely different dude.” Then, just as Wolverine is about to be crushed by falling debris, Gambit shows up and blows it apart. You’re all clear, kid, now let’s blow this thing so we can all go home!
Matt: This is after, we should note, that Deadpool’s decapitated head destroys the tower by slicing through it with the blasts it’s still shooting. Cyclops didn’t get to keep shooting blasts when he died. That guy just got ripped off in every way.
Chris: Wolverine goes to talk to Kayla, who wandered outside was mortally wounded in a missing scene. It’s very sad, but before we have a chance to feel an emotion, Stryker shows up and shoots Wolverine in the head with his magic Anti-Wolverine bullets.
Matt: Again, this shot erases his memory but has no effect on his ability to read or speak. These bullets are really specific bullets.
Chris: It makes every bit as much sense as if Stryker had said “these bullets have little tiny dudes that go into your brain and whisper things that confuse you so much you forget who you are, and then they crawl out of your nose while you’re asleep.” Which is both the explanation I’m going with, and also my greatest fear.
Matt: Midichlorian bullets. Stryker next considers shooting Kayla with his hyper-expensive bullets, even though I’m pretty sure she’d die from any old regular bullet, but she stops him by using her powers to make him walk, I can only guess, into the Susquehanna River. And yet he lives on many years later.
Chris: She says that she’d kill him but then she wouldn’t be any better than he is, which is a bit of moralizing that comes directly out of f***ing nowhere.
Matt: She might as well have said, “I’d kill you if you weren’t in another movie that takes place after this.”
Chris: For real. Then Gambit shows up and tells Wolverine that his name is Logan and that they’re best friends and Wolverine is his sidekick and also that Gambit way more popular and can definitely support his own ongoing series.
Matt: But not before a quite literal Professor X Machina.
Chris: P-Stew in the house!
Matt: Patrick Stewart shows up in a helicopter with his Brett Ratner youth filter on and he saves Scott and the gang.
Chris: And they all go off to the X-Mansion, which is why that first movie had Cyclops, Emma Frost, Quicksilver and some weird lizard kid as the original X-Men. That happened, right?
Matt: That kid is supposed to be Toad, which may explain that effortless banter he had with Storm. They’re old schoolmates!
Chris: You’d think he’d be a little more reluctant about teaming up with Sabretooth later on, then.
Matt: He didn’t recognize him. He grew out his hair and got all that work done.
Chris: His hair, and the rest of his body. A forgetful Wolverine sees Silver Fox’s dead body (for really really real this time) but can’t remember who she is, and then when Gambit, who has a plane, tells him they need to leave, he responds with “I’ll make my own way.” Off an island. Without a boat or plane. Or memories.
Matt: And then the camera zooms out and that’s the end. Kind of a bummer ending there!
Chris: Oh-ho, but we do get some post-credits action! For one, which I assume was written by former He-Man scribe J. Michael Straczynski, we rejoin Stryker on his walk across America! He gets stopped by some military bros – again, driving a car that is definitely from 30 years after this movie is set – who haul him in for questioning for the death of that general he killed. I’d say the indication was that he was going to be punished for his crime, but he’s definitely in charge of a bunch of soldiers in X-Men 2, so whatever.
Matt: In X2, there is a scene where he talks directly to the president. So despite this movie making sure he was alive by the end, it sure doesn’t take any caution in ensuring he’s not a convicted murderer that would almost certainly be kicked out of the military.
Chris: I guess they brought him back in when the mutants became a threat. You know, like Rambo. Or Black Dynamite. Or Guy Pearce in Lockout.
Matt: Or Snake Plissken!
Chris: In the second post-credits scene, Deadpool opens his eyes and says “shhhhhh.” That’s it. You keep waiting for it to turn into “–iiiiiit. That hurt.” But it doesn’t. This movie is full of disappointments.
Matt: You know late-movie Deadpool is not even Ryan Reynolds, right?
Chris: Isn’t it? I mean, that makes sense since he’s all covered up and has to do all that stunt work, but you’d think they’d at least try to give people the promised Ryan Reynolds Is Wade Wilson stuff for more than one scene.
Matt: It’s Reynolds in close-ups, but 90 percent of the time it’s a stunt guy named Scott Adkins.
Chris: And that brings us to the end of the movie we started watching so long ago.
Matt: Despite having a character who changes his mind about stuff on a dime and for no good reason, Liev Schreiber does a really nice job as Sabretooth. He’s menacing without really chewing scenery. A huge step up from the previous version we saw in the first X-Men.
Chris: Schrieber really is solid. There are a lot of good action set pieces, too. Nothing comes close to being as solid as Wolverine vs. Helicopter, but even the dumb ones (Gambit helicoptering down in an alley and Wolverine chopping up a fire escape for some reason) tend to be interesting.
Matt: Yeah, the action sequences are often inexplicable and disobey every law of physics, but they’re never boring, which is more than I can say for the last X-Men movie we reviewed. And they’re varied. Wolverine chopping up that fire escape is different from the bar fight, which is different from the boxing match with the Blob.
Chris: Blob was ridiculously entertaining for the amount of screen time he had. It really sucks that he dies off-camera, but I’m choosing to write that off as Sabretooth lying. Also, since we haven’t really mentioned it, it’s worth noting that once again, Jackman does a fantastic job with Wolverine. He really does own the part, and he’s good enough at it to save all but the absolute worst writing.
Matt: He just owns that character. He gets that “I’m the best there is” line out in the least discomforting way possible. He deserves an award for that, probably.As for the rest of the cast, Danny Huston certainly isn’t bad as Stryker, given what he has to work with. Reynolds is a fun Deadpool for the time he’s there. Lynn Collins is good as Silver Fox.
Chris: The worst thing you can say about Huston as Stryker is that he’s not as fun to watch as Brian Cox, and that’s a pretty high bar. Our opinions on Cox are well-established at this point. We love Cox. We wish Cox could be in everything. Matt is particularly fond of Cox, I believe.
Matt: It’s a workmanlike performance, but it’s really all you can do with the material. At least, the Stryker material. There’s other stuff in here that’s really cleverly done. Gambit is fairly well-handled, for instance.
Chris: And that’s a hell of an achievement.
Chris: Hoo boy. Where to begin? This movie is ridiculously inconsistent. It has no idea of what it’s doing from one scene to the next. Unless you’re Wolverine, character motivations are impossible to understand, particularly Stryker and Sabretooth.
Matt: Yeah, even with long speeches to explain why he’s doing what he’s doing, Stryker’s plans and the reasons behind them make no sense. And speaking of inconsistent, like we said, for a movie with “origins” in the title, this one only seems to fixate on the stories behind certain things. Wolverine’s childhood is all of four minutes, but we get about 100 about how he got his metal skeleton, was given his jacket and lost his memory.
Chris: It’s also ridiculously overloaded, a problem it shares with X-Men 3. I get that the X-Men are a pretty huge franchise, but why are Gambit, Emma Frost and Cyclops in this movie? What exactly do they add to the plot?
Matt: It seems to be straining for some connection to the other movies, even though the first X-Men is full of Wolverine meeting and seeing all those people and places for the first time.
Chris: It didn’t break the movie for me, but I can definitely see how Deadpool fans would be ticked off. Ryan Reynolds gets, what, two scenes to do his thing, and then vanishes for a while before showing up as the single most ridiculous thing in the entire film.
Matt: And in every way Not Deadpool. He can’t even talk!
Chris: He doesn’t make much sense as a villain, and makes even less as Deadpool. Again: Why bother with using the name? You know what would’ve actually made more sense, and kinda fit the flashback thing? Mimic.
Matt: Or The Taskmaster, who has basically the same deal. Speaking of that old team, I would like to mention that will.i.am is terrible in this. I know we made fun of the Black Eyed Peas and had some laughs about it, but his line deliveries are just real bad.
Chris: I didn’t think he was all that bad. I mean, he wasn’t great, but he didn’t distract me from the fact that I was watching a major Hollywood motion picture that actually had Maverick in it. Also, about it being a flashback, this movie could not have been a more half-assed period piece. Even though they’re vague about it, the Three Mile Island stuff firmly sets it in 1979, but people have ultramodern computers and cars. Nobody really dresses any differently, although I guess jeans are pretty timeless.
Matt: It’s this weird mix of old timey farms with nice old couples and ultra-modern helicopters.
Chris: It’s like finding period-appropriate cars and helicopters would’ve been more expensive or difficult, so they just said f*** it. There are more anachronisms in this movie than there are mutants, and there are way too many mutants.
Matt: There are also, as we said, some distractingly bad special effects, that also seem to be casualties of the paltry $150 million budget more than anything else.
Chris: Yeah. I’m willing to forgive Blob for wearing a sub-Klumps fat suit because he’s hilarious, but, like, the #1 thing a Wolverine movie should do right is claws. It’s up on the list right above “weird hair,” and they drop the ball pretty hard.
Chris: As problematic as this movie is – and brother, it goes off the rails with an intensity that you almost have to admire – I still don’t hate it. Even going through it the second and third time for this review, there’s a charm to it that I ended up liking.
Matt: Yeah, we’ve been pointing out stuff that doesn’t make sense and bad characterization like it’s our job — because it is — but unlike X-Men 3, where a badly characterized Magneto, among other things, sank that whole ship, this movie just has a forward momentum to it that almost dares you to even care about its various and sundry nonsense.
Chris: It kind of has that feeling that, like, Cannonball Run had. Like Hugh Jackman, Liev Schrieber will.i.am and the rest of the cast were just buddies that decided to make a goofy-ass action movie one weekend. But, you know. With $150,000,000 and a mutant death camp.
Matt: Yeah, there’s this real B-movie feel to it, which really works to its advantage. The trouble with X-Men 3, I think is that that series had this sort of brainy weightiness to it. It’s allegorical and has political and social stuff in with its butt crack removal. This is just a bunch of lumberjack and military sh**kickers going and blowin’ up a nuclear plant YEEHAW!
Chris: I think that B-Movie feel is exactly what I’m trying to get it. And part of the reason it works is because there are a ton of Wolverine comics from the ’80s that have that same feel, right down to being overstuffed convoluted nonsense.
Matt: It feels like a Wolverine comic to a degree, but it’s missing some of the elements you’d think would be front-of-mind for a fan. Like, Wolverine and Sabretooth fight in All the Wars, but Wolverine never goes off into the wilderness alone to brood or head off to Japan to learn some things about himself. The element it’s missing is Wolverine character development. If anything, it un-develops his character.
Chris: If they’d given this thing a late-’70s classic rock soundtrack, it would be about a thousand times better. Like if that barn explodes and Wolverine flies out on his motorcycle to “Mississippi Queen” or “Smoke on the Water.” How much better would the introduction of Team X been under “Bad Company?”
Matt: For a movie mostly set in the 70s, there is very little barn-burning rock, and a whole lot of Harry Gregson-Williams pseudo-military suspense gurgling.
Chris: I think we can agree that you could’ve bumped up the number of stars this movie received with every George Thorogood song you dropped on the soundtrack. But with that, our evaluation comes to a close.
Matt: X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Less 70s rock and origins than you’d expect, but still pretty fun, in spite of itself.
Chris: Next, we dial the clock back even further (and break the continuity even more) as we take on X-Men: First Class! More Kevin Bacon and lingerie than all the other X-Men films combined, though not necessarily together!
ComicsAlliance Reviews the X-Men Films: