Hugh Jackman dons the adamantium once more for this X-Men prequel. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the film doesn’t stay there too long, which is a pity because it’s fun seeing James Logan and Victor Creed grow apart as they fight side by side through various wars. From that point on it’s basically a fancy role call as we meet one mutant after another – some old faces from the original films and some new.
At their worst, the character introductions are as bad as those in the Star Wars prequels. If you remember Star Wars fans scratching their heads in bemusement when they learnt that Anakin Skywalker built C-3PO, then you have a fair idea of some of the narrative’s weaker points. For some reason writers David Benioff and Skip Woods feel the need to have characters cross paths prior to meeting in X-Men, which means they then need to come up with a reason for the characters to ‘forget’ that initial meeting. It’s all a bit silly, and does nothing to expand upon the mutants’ personal histories.
Jackman puts in his least compelling Wolverine performance, mainly cos this is before he became a grumpy loner who didn’t give a shit about anyone. Schreiber is great as Victor Creed, though the film seems to ignore the fact that he’ll be played by a blonde wrestler in future instalments. Danny Huston is probably the most impressive at delivering the less-than-impressive dialogue as William Stryker, and Ryan Reynolds has the most fun even if he’s only onscreen for a few moments. For many Marvel fans, the appearance of Gambit is potentially the most exciting aspect of this flick, though Taylor Kitsch is pretty forgetful in a role that could have really stood out.
The visual style of the film is very similar to the original trilogy, which is both good and bad – good for purposes of continuity, but bad because it feels like the franchise needs to branch out in newer and fresher directions.
Wolverine is enjoyable enough if you switch your brain off, though I can’t imagine anyone rushing out to see it a second time. It’s hard to feel for any of the characters – we just seem to be moving from one trailer grab to the next. It may be a better film than The Last Stand, but you can forget about the prospect of this film actually having something significant to say – there’s nothing underneath the glossy surface. The most interesting part is that there is not only a post-credit sequence, but that there are actually two different ones – I’d be interested to know if both prints made it to Australian screens.Rating: