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"X-Men Origins: Wolverine"

Directed by Gavin Hood ("Tsotsi").
Written by David Benioff and Skip Woods.  Based on the comic books.
Starring Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston and Lynn Collins.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  5/1/09


I said this after I watched the first "X-Men" movie nine years ago (trust me, it's in the review): they would have been better off calling that first film "X-Men: Wolverine", because that was a better title for a movie that starred Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman) and featured a number of other people with names, but no background stories.  Why it took the people at Marvel nine years to figure out a way to make a movie solely concerning Wolverine is beyond me, but now that it is here, the franchise followed up the not-so-good-but-full-of-death "X-Men: The Last Stand" with a prequel in terms of story, but sequel in terms of action.

That's because "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (an awful title; why not just call it "Wolverine"??) is about two things--looking at Jackman all man-like in his Ike t-shirts, and nearly continuous action sequences.  Sure, we get some of the story behind Logan's birth in the mid-1800s and his growth to become a roughly 30-something freak, nearly indestructible and one of America's top soldiers along with his brother Victor (Liev Schreiber), who both have, well, "powers."  Then, after getting thrown in military prison following an incident during the Vietnam War, they meet Stryker (played here by Danny Huston...he was played by Brian Cox in "X2"), who offers the two brothers a chance at some black ops work with some other mutants, like a ninja named Wade (Ryan Reynolds), a gun specialist called Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), and a guy that has superhuman strength named Dukes (Kevin Durand).  Things go wrong, some other stuff happens, Logan meets a hottie (Lynn Collins) after moving to Canada, and Stryker comes after Logan with a special offer: becoming indestructible.

The film covers much of this story in a way that is almost a separate action all moves fast (loved the opening credits), we get only the pertinent facts, and then Wolverine goes back to whooping ass or blowing shit up.  He also breaks out those signature claws every three minutes in case you forget he can do that.  We get a taste of all the other mutant's powers; we get a taste of what other movies could offer in said mutant powers; then Wolverine fights somebody else and ends the sequence with the retracting claws sound effect.

Add that to my bad-ass crowd for the midnight showing I caught tonight, and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is probably a little stronger in my mind than it really is artistically...but, hey, it's the start of the summer movie season, so you ride the wave.  My biggest worry is that they'll make the next "Origins" movie about someone I don't care about, like Storm or Sabretooth...this franchise only makes sense to me as an endless series of Wolverine movies, and something tells me the suits at the studio have already had initial discussions with Jackman about paying him a shitload of dough to do it all over again.

Not perfect, but fun.  See it this weekend with a big crowd and you'll probably have a blast.  (Note: I don't read comics, so I don't know how you comic nerds will do watching this.)

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 05/01/09