X-Men Origins: Wolverine was an opportunity for something special that was lost yet again by a comic book adaptation, just like the blunder that encompassed the first act of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. The main character’s adolescence is completely skipped over in lieu of his present day incarnation. If the viewer had read Origins, they know that this was extensive oversight and an absurd decision. We have already seen the current version of Wolverine (Hugh Jackmen) so showing the version that preceded that or flashing back and forwards between the young Wolverine and the present day version would have been what differentiated this film from the others.
I was far more entertained and satisfied by X-Men Origins: Wolverine than X-Men: The Last Stand. To be fair, the only reasonable direction from that franchise’s descent was up. I knew going in or assumed, that Wolverine’s early life would be skipped over, condensed, et cetera. I knew that but God damn it would have been great if the pedantic, opening montage mold had been broken. I would have loved to have seen an extended D-Day scene like this:
The boat pulls up to the shore. Wolverine and Sabertooth (Liev Schreiber) are three rows back. The door comes down and the Germans open fire. The first row goes down. Sabertooth sees what is happening and ducks as the person in front of him gets hit three times. As that person is falling dead, Sabertooth grabs his body and uses it as a shield in front of himself, running forward yelling: “Jimmy, come on!” Sabertooth is Wolverine’s older brother and thus he strives to protect him when he can. Sabertooth runs onto the shore with the human shield taking multiple hits. Wolverine is running behind him with his M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle, the same rifle Clint Eastwood brandished with flourish in Gran Torino, and with what is left of the soldiers from the landing boat behind him. As Sabertooth draws fire, Wolverine, like Hawkeye covering Great Serpent at the end of The Last of the Mohicans, fires at the German positions in front of him. Once enough in land, Sabertooth discards the now bloody corpse and gallops on all fours towards the nearest German position in front of him. Instead of showing this from the side, the camera is in front as Sabertooth gallops. Wolverine and the others soldiers cover his approach. Sabertooth gets over the sand wall cuts through a German bunker in the same fashion as the T-1000 in The Good Wound episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Wolverine and the men take cover against the sand wall ala Saving Private Ryan until Sabertooth yells over it: “Jimmy its safe. Bring the men.”
I am not that familiar with Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) but I had heard about his proclivity to talk before seeing this film. I liked the way that was portrayed in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and how they mixed his code name, Deadpool, with Weapon 11 but his purest fans are most-likely not happy and unamused. If I were on them, I would feel the same way.
Aspects of the final confrontation in X-Men Origins: Wolverine made absolutely no sense. The Star Wars: The Phantom Menace moment were the protagonists are approaching the door, it opens to reveal the antagonist, 99% of the protagonist go a different way while the main protagonist and antagonist fight. Writers David Benioff and Skip Woods most have unconsciously had The Phantom Menace on the brain for that scene. The similarities are too numerous to be coincidence. And the fact that Wolverine always fights someone with a healing factor, already pointed out by Roger Ebert’s X2: X-Men United film review, is getting repetitive, though, unlike in X-Men: The Last Stand, was abundantly entertaining in the third act of this film.
Another dubious moment in the film was when Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins) gets shot, is laying dying, has her hand on Styker’s leg and tells him to walk away. This may be one of the all time most idiotic screenplay decisions of all time. Silverfox is dying from a single gun shot wound and instead of telling Stryker, a soldier and scientist, to extract the bullet, plug the hole, and save her life, she tells him to walk away. Instead of telling Stryker to pick her up and carry her inside to be saved by the doctors that worked on Weapon 11, she tells him to walk away. An intelligent auteur like James Cameron would never have let stupidity like this slid through the script editing process intact. I do not think this would have been seen on screen if Bryan Singer and his writing team were at the controls either. Look how cleaner the logic is in X2: X-Men United is in comparison to this film. There might be holes but they are pin-points not nuclear explosions like in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Why didn’t Silverfox just tell Stryker to plant her an apple orchard instead. “Stryker, I’m bleeding out. I think I’m dying. Don’t help me or stabilize my condition. Don’t call the docs from the lab or 911. No. I want you to plant me an orchard. An apple orchard. Get going. Move!”
There was also something I never quite understood. If Wolverine has no memories, no past dictating his conduct, no moral center, what tells him how to act and how to conduct himself? Why is he good? His conscience and everything that built it (his childhood) has been erased. He is a blank slate with a berserk rage streak. Wouldn’t that make him a bad person, even more so than his brother Victor? What makes him act in a moral why? I imagine this is explored at length in the comic book. We will never see this explained on film since there is no action, CGI component to be explored or new mutants to exploit within it.
Like X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine has instances of horrendously bad CGI: Wolverine and his claws in the old folks’ bathroom, Wolverine jumping off of the waterfall (which they zoomed in on to let you know something was going to happen with it beforehand), Agent Zero (Daniel Henney) jumping back into the helicopter, et cetera. The CGI adamantium claws in the first X-Men film were better realized than in this film, far better. Using real stunt men instead of CGI ones would have benefitted X-Men Origins: Wolverine as well. And why wasn’t Sabertooth’s chest (I know he has a healing factor) and clothing burned, charred, and set on fire after being struck by Weapon 11’s hot optic blast multiple times? Does his clothing have special fabric healing abilities as well? How does Wolverine claws stop Weapon 11’s optic blast from getting through each individual claw? Those swords that Weapon 11 sports, they are too lengthy to actually fit within his forearms as shown in the film. Also, there is no continuity between this film and X-Men 1 or 2. The room where Wolverine’s bones are bonded with adamantium is completely different from the one in his nightmares in X-Men and from the final fight in X2: X-Men United. Minor details like these are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things or so Fox executives think.
Renny LeBeau/Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), his past escape from The Island, and his Texas Hold em sub-plot were completely unnecessary and underused as was the inclusion of Fred J. Duke (Kevin Durand), though he was funny in his later, Blob incarnation: “Blob? Did you call me Blob?” Like X-Men: The Last Stand, new mutants are introduced with little or no development. They were included in X-Men Origins: Wolverine to show off their abilities on screen, nothing more, nothing less. Keeping this in mind, a potential advertisement for the film: We’ve got new mutants to show you. Come see X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine is another in an increasing long line of comic book films that ultimately disappoints on multiple levels, no matter how snazzy its special effects (lack there of) and fight scenes are. Hood should have striven for continuity with the previous Singer films instead of recreating certain circumstances and environments e.g. the lab where Wolverine was created and Sabertooth’s character being recast. Tyler Mane played him in X-Men. In the realistic age comic book age of The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and segments of The Incredible Hulk, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a film of the past.