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  X-Men Origins: Wolverine Starting The Healing Process
Year: 2009
Director: Gavin Hood
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will.I.am, Lynn Collins, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch, Daniel Henney, Ryan Reynolds, Tim Pocock, Julia Blake, Max Cullen, Troye Sivan, Michael-James Olsen, Patrick Stewart, Scott Adkins
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: During the mid-nineteenth century there were two brothers living in a country house out in the Canadian forests, and one night as they sat in a bedroom, one sick and the other unimpressed with his sibling's weakness, their father entered to see how the younger brother was. He was interrupted by a ruckus downstairs and rushed out to investigate, but when the little boy leapt from his bed he was horrified to see him shot dead in the hallway and ran down the stairs to attack his father's murderer - but he did so with a set of bone claws that shot out of his knuckles, killing the man. This was when he was told the man he had murdered was his real father, but before he had time to process that information, his brother was taking him away urgently...

There follows a title sequence depicting Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman and his brother Sabretooth, played by Liev Schreiber, participating in various wars down the decades, from the American Civil War to the conflict in Vietnam with a couple of World Wars in between, all to underline their ability and willingness to do battle. After X-Men: The Last Stand met with an unimpressed reaction which had not matched the acclaim the initial two efforts in the Marvel franchise had enjoyed, it was clear a change in direction was needed, and they planned a series of movies that concentrated on single X-person characters; Wolverine was the most popular, so he was first.

Alas, Origins received a similarly mixed reception, especially from those hardest to please, the comic book fans who did not like what this did to some of their favourite heroes, though it was clear in the final cut that there had been plenty of turmoil and confusion behind the scenes, with stories of this basically being made up as it went along not helping to craft a product with a clear vision. Jackman, being a serious actor as well as an action star and nice guy heartthrob, wanted more to get his thespian teeth into, and this was built up as a character piece that happened to have people with amazing powers in it, Wolverine's strength and healing his main assets, except it was apparent Marvel got cold feet and emphasised the action setpieces instead.

They tried to remedy this with the sequel, but that did not satisfy either, and it took third time lucky with what Jackman claimed was his final go round with Wolverine in grown-up superhero effort Logan to really get to grips with what the fans liked about the superhero: stronger violence and self-pity, more or less. There were hints of those here, but it remained a superficial effort in spite of the endeavours to keep things as high stakes and sincere as possible, though the gimmick was more to see where Wolverine hailed from before he became that X-Man, taking the origin story so beloved of comic book movie producers and applying it where it was not really needed; sure, it had been delivered over years of comics, but it was not really all that necessary in a movie medium where the mystery had been a part of what made him tick.

He did lose his memory at the end, however. Before that, Origins was the first of the X-Men series to go back in time and set their tale there, the nineteen-seventies to be exact, a trend that would continue in the next few instalments - so there was something Marvel and 20th Century Fox liked about this after all. Not that they went all out to recreate the period, in fact if you were not aware it was located at that time you may not have noticed, but that was far from the most controversial element. What the biggest complaints about were not the inclusion of non-actor Will.I.am or Gambit's treatment, but how Deadpool was handled: Ryan Reynolds lobbied for and won the role only for it to be fumbled in the journey to the screen, so that it took some years before he had a chance to do it right. Seriously, that big battle at the end was a telling example of a superhero movie designed by committee, as indeed the rest of this was, hamstrung by fan service and trying to broaden the appeal among those who had seen one of the previous X-Men movies. The third one, on this evidence. Music by Harry Gregson-Williams.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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