Posted by: Dr P | May 25, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Before I cut loose on this film, I will preface it by saying that my number 1 film review fan Kate is possibly the world’s biggest Hugh Jackman lover. So I suspect she may have a few comments to add, although they may lean towards the pornographic in nature!!

Personally I always had a thing for Robin Jackman, South-African born England cricketer who caused some controversy in the 80s over his selection for … but you don’t want to know about that do you?

OK, focus. Oh my god, Hugh Jackman is lush! He rules this film from the opening moments right til the bitter end. The story of one of the X-Men’s most endearing – and enigmatic – characters is told in an imaginative and gripping manner. Well I say gripping – it’s hard to be gripped when you’re sat on your own in a block of about 50 seats at a late night showing! The last time I went to the cinema on my own I had just stabbed myself in the foot with a dart (see We Own the Night review), but this time my prep was a week of a dicky tummy. Still, I am not sure which was worse – the potential tummy or the smell from some bloke’s aftershave which he must have bathed in – it was completely overpowering and I had to move seat to escape – which in itself is fairly embarrassing when you appear to randomly move form one completey empty bank of seats to another!!

Fortunately I didn’t get a moment to think about it as we were plunged straight into the story. No waste here! In fact there was even less fat in the film than on Mr Jackman’s ludicrously ripped abs (calm down, Kate)!

OK we’re immediately introduced to the film’s two main characters – Logan (the future Wolverine) and his brother (later to become Sabre Tooth) are brothers whose family is ripped apart (if you’ll pardon the pun) when Logan accidentally kills his father. Well, technically, it’s not an accident, Logan is actually seeking to avenge the death of the man he *thinks* is his father, but it’s not, and the man who’s killed his father is *actually* his father. See, I pay attention, me! Complex stuff.

The boys both clearly have remarkable strength and healing powers and are used in a series of government and army programmes over the years – we see flashbacks of them in both World Wars, and also in Vietnam – it’s by this time that we see that Sabre Tooth has become less of an asset and more of a total killing freak who doesn’t care who he rips apart, friend or foe. The pair eventually split apart when they’re on a Government mission involving several mutant soldiers in Africa – led on by the slightly weird Striker (an army officer, not a goal-toting forward player), Sabre Tooth starts killing indiscriminately and Wolverine has had enough … he is told that “no-one walks away” but he throws away his dog tags and that’s that!!

We next see Hugh chopping down trees somewhere in the American wilds – because of course that’s what you do when you are near-indestructible and have remarkable strength – you pop on a lumberjack shirt and join the boys in a spot of tree-felling. I know I would. Mind you, I suspect I’d err more on the Monty Python side of jumping around and going to the lavatory, (although not the wearing of high heels etc), as opposed to slugging out the life of a logger. Which begs the question – if a tree is cut down in an empty forest by a maniacal claw-wielding freak, does anyone hear it fall?

Our man has got himself a wife by now, despite nights where he has violent dreams about his past and starts shredding the bedclothes. The local branch of Bensons for Beds must have loved him!

Anyway to cut a long story short (or rather to stop me going off on one), Sabre Tooth and the army chap are now performing experiments on mutants for some grand plan, and Sabre Tooth has become a foe to the mutant order – he’s capturing or killing his former colleagues and sending them to a secret island for testing! It’s alla bit like Jurassic Park – or at least it would be if a Brontosaurus suddenly developed mad laser eye powers!

They end up killing Logan’s wife and rather than doing what any sane bloke would and checking the life insurance policies to check if he’s covered for “mutant massacre”, Logan immediately seeks vengeance. He mistakenly teams up with Striker, believing that he is also an enemy of Sabre Tooth, and the government guy tricks him into letting him be subjected to an experiment to fuse “adamantium” (something slightly harder than Manny Pacquiano) into his skeleton, and thus make him near-indestructible. Of course this backfires as the army chap thinks Logan might die, but oh no, our guy is made of sterner stuff, despite managing to have his heart rate at over 300 beats per minute (which is what Kate was possibly experiencing, given that Hugh was naked throughout this part).

Logan discovers that Striker and Sabre Tooth are in cahoots, and after escaping near death at the testing facility and being hunted repeatedly, decides to do something about it. He finally comes to realise that Striker is undertaking even more experiments in a secret island location and that a man named Gambitt has escaped from the island and thus should know how to find it. Sorry if I didn’t explain that very well, but if you’re that bothered, go and see the bloody film!

I couldn’t help but wonder at this point that if you’re going to make someone completely indestructible, wouldn’t it be safer to do it on someone stable i.e. whose wife hasn’t just been massacred and who doesn’t hold old grudges against you from past years? Just me then.

Logan tracks down Gambitt – as you’d imagine, the nickname derives from the man’s talent with cards (although in addition to being able to shuffle rather extravagantly (and who can’t?), he can propel them with weapon-like force). Quite the trick if you’re facing a large poker pot and only have queen high … anyway, after some initial misunderstanding involving Logan’s attitude and a nattily-thrown 4 of clubs, the pair agree to team up to take on their common enemy. I’m so desperate to get in lines like “Gambitt played his joker …” but I don’t even know if his deck of cards had one!

ANYWAY, we’re now transported back to the final location. Gambitt gets Wolverine to the secret testing facility, which just happens to be on Three Mile Island – hey,. if you’re playing with unstable mutant forces which could go loose at any minute, where better to do it than a nuclear facility? This has to rank up in stupidity with employing a chain smoker to run a firework shop, or being a fan of Bolton Wanderers.

I won’t spoil the ending, but there’s some mighty fine action scenes in the final part of the film, and a couple of surprising twists, as characters shift allegiances, and the mutant captives try and escape to freedom. It’s corking stuff.

Sabre Tooth makes a fine villain of this piece, although I’m not sure why no-one thought of maybe rubbing a bit of butter on his hands or possibly throwing him a ball of string to play with … hmm.

Lynz had told me (several times in the past week) to stay until the end of the credits, but this proved near-impossible thanks to the over-zealous scallies who had come in to clean out the trodden-in popcorn and any late night snoggers (I obviously fell into neither, but I doubt anyone asks them to go in and remove the cinema buff who’s had a tip off about an end scene and thus needs to sit through 10 minutes of words telling you who the “best boy” is – in this film it could only have been Hugh!). Even Aftershave Boy hadn’t stayed – mind you any potential snogging partners wouldn’t have been able to get near him anyway for the whiff!

A corking night’s entertainment, and another highly recommended blockbuster!!


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