Have you ever watched a movie and, despite the fact that you are watching it for the first time, you feel as if you’ve seen it already?
The highly anticipated “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” falls prey to the forces of deja vu.
It seems odd that the movie’s purpose is to fill in the blanks that its central character cannot. So the audience learns what Wolverine never will.
Surprisingly, learning his backstory explains little about his character in the preceding films. The movie has plenty of action sequences to satiate thrill-seekers but tampers with the X-Men canon for no discernible reason, in small ways that may upset die-hard fans.
The additional information proved to be interesting. More is learned about Colonel Stryker’s experiments that created Wolverine (who was the tenth experiment, hence Wolverine’s title of Weapon X), and that the violation of the mutants’ rights for research existed long before the original movie series.
Victor/Sabertooth is depicted as Wolverine’s brother (though some X-Men aficionados debate this), and is represented as the corporeal manifestation of Logan/Wolverine’s animal identification given free reign.
The film follows a rather predictable story arc from which it deviates just momentarily before it reverts back to the series’ usual pattern. The denouements of these detours do nothing in the long run but disavow the audience of the belief that something unexpected will come along.
For instance, Wolverine’s love interest is marked for death as surely as Wolverine will survive the film. She symbolizes his freedom from his “animal” nature and the government-sponsored mutant task-force Team X from which he absconds in the film’s prologue.
The photography and editing do manage to manufacture suspense in action sequences that, logically, should have little of it since it is Wolverine who is in mortal peril in most of these scenes.
Little about the movie sticks in the memory afterwards, except for disappointment of the meager expectations of its all-around execution. You can read the ending a mile away if you’ve seen the other films. As if this weren’t enough, the special effects fail to convince, particularly in the thematically important scenes where Wolverine first utilizes his newly transformed metal claws.
The writers end up relying on the unknown quantity of seeing a film for the first time to keep its interest. In other words, there is little to compel a repeat viewing.
For those anxiously awaiting the big-screen debut of Gambit, I warn you that his role comprised about 10 minutes worth of screen time. In an admittedly selfish expectation, Ryan Reynolds appears only at the beginning and doesn’t take his shirt off until his transformation into Deadpool, at which point I no longer desired such a sight.
True, Hugh Jackman is reliable as always, but the role of Wolverine as written for this prequel offers him little with which to work.
Liev Schreiber does reasonably well with Sabertooth, though with perhaps too much emphasis on leering toothy smiles.
So unless anyone has a great desire to see the film, by virtue of an intense fascination with X-Men lore, I suggest you wait to watch this one on the big screen at home.