When my DVD player went on strike last year, I finally had the excuse I needed to make the jump to Blu-ray. Initially, I had trouble with the idea of replacing my rather extensive collection of DVDs. Is the quality really that much better? What about older movies? Can they really be enhanced? After much research, I replaced a few titles from my collection. I finally got around to watching some of those titles recently. So far, it seems I have made the right decision.
In rewatching the entirety of the X-Men films, I was wowed by the effects. In some ways it made me feel like I was watching these movies for the first time. After completing the original trilogy and First Class, I reluctantly threw in the red headed stepchild of the franchise, X-men Origins: Wolverine. The 2009 prequel to the above listed films has been long hated by fan boys and critics alike. Never having really been a reader of comics, or a stickler for a movie being a word for word remake of its source material, I just don’t have a lot of bile for this one.
Don’t get me wrong; like all of the other films in this series Origins is not without it’s problems. The movie opens with two big bombshells: Wolverine was born in the late 1800s, and Sabertooth is his brother. These revelations are lost in the next sequence as we see Logan and Victor(Sabertooth) fighting in several battles from the American Civil War toVietnam. These are some of the best scenes in the film. When Wolverine is forced to reveal his mutant abilities to rescue Victor they are both sentenced to death by a firing squad. After that method of dispatch proves ineffective they are recruited by William Stryker for a special operation. As part of a mutant team our heroes are doing America’s dirty work.
Stryker, played brilliantly by Danny Huston, is in search of meteor fragments that will ultimately make up the adamantium which we all know will be bonded to Wolverine’s bones. When Logan and Victor are called upon to kill innocents in pursuit of the metal, Logan refuses and walks away from the team. All of this takes place in the first 28min of film! What happens after shows Wolverine lured into the Weapon X program by Stryker with help from Victor who feels that Logan betrayed him in leaving the team. The movie glosses over the growing distance between Logan and Victor. The transition from brothers to sworn enemies, I feel, is reduced to a subplot when in reality it is the finest of the 10-plus stories this movie is trying to tell.
Victor/Sabertooth is played expertly by Liev Schreiber. Schreiber really captures the essence of a character embracing his animalistic side. His quiet sadistic delivery is one of the highlights of the film. Schreiber’s Sabertooth makes up for the poor usage of the character in the first film (played there by Tyler Mane). Sabertooth is who Wolverine could have become with only slightly different choices.
The pointless inclusion of Deadpool and Gambit make very little sense, and do nothing to advance the plot. The tie-in to the original franchise only creates more questions. Cyclops? Professor X walking? Really confusing stuff.
For a movie with “origins” in the title, this one tells little of that story. Sure, we learn about Weapon X and the amnesia. We even discover where Wolverine got his snappy jacket. It misses the mark by ignoring the origin of WHO, not WHAT Wolverine is. He is a loner uncertain of his place in the world. An outcast partially of his own making. Wolverine is a self loathing, tragic hero confused as to his own nature. The fact is we learn more of his “origin” from every other film in which he appears.