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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

01/06/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy X-Men Origins: Wolverine in the USA - or Buy X-Men Origins: Wolverine in the UK

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region 2 DVD: pub: 20th Century Fox 3860211000. 1 DVD 102 minute film with extras. Price: about GBP 4.00 (UK) if you know where to look) stars: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston and Taylor Kitsch

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In the comicbooks, it took nearly a couple decades before Wolverine’s origin started to unravel. For the movies, it is less than three years since ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’. In some respects, in both versions I’ve always felt it might have been more effective and unusual had the writers had an idea what happened but didn’t go there and left it to the readers to speculate. I mean, every super-hero and super-villain has an origin story so having one that wasn’t disclosed would give a bit more flexibility in bringing out people from the past.

Although I’m not that familiar with the latest version given in the comicbook, what I know of the original tends to indicate that this is a blend of them both. Two youngsters in the 18th century, after a literal fall-out with their father, discover that apart from a thirst for battle are, for all intents and purposes, can take any punishment and then be restored to the way they were. One of them can extend his nails into talons, the other can project claws through the backs of his hands. Victor Creed (actor Liev Schreiber) never gets his moniker of Sabre-Tooth in this story and it is a while before Jimmy or Logan chooses the name Wolverine (actor Hugh Jackman), even if it is never explained how he decided upon it.

Before that happens, after surviving many wars in the past couple centuries, both brothers are recruited into a team of super-humans formed by Colonel Stryker (actor Danny Huston) who attack and kill other super-humans. Creed gets off on the violence but it is Logan who finally calls it a day and walks away. Fifteen years later and happily married in Canada working as a lumberjack, Logan is visited by Stryker telling him someone is killing off the old team and he could be next. It takes an attack by Creed and the death of his wife for Logan to volunteer for an operation by Stryker’s people to have adamantium bonded to his bones to make him truly indestructible and his more famous code-name. It also makes him a little mad and breaking free, he is taken in by a farming couple. Things aren’t helped by Stryker’s people coming in firing and he takes on all opposition and enlists Gambit (actor Taylor Kitsch) to help him find where Stryker’s island is and has a few surprises. In to this mix there are many cameos, including a young Scott Summers, although none have their more familiar code-names. There’s a good argument for super-hero costumes to tell the characters apart. Even so, many of the mutants are just ciphers for battle without really caring who they are so ultimately are cannon-fodder.

In many respects this movie is a roller-coaster and I suspect that the non-comicbook fan won’t recognise the more subtle acknowledgements to different characters that appear in cameo. Nothing is held back in aspects of violence but having people who can withstand all kinds of physical abuse and some who can’t is hardly a fair battlefield. I’m not altogether sure the reason for Wolverine’s memory loss entirely makes sense even with a couple adamantium bullets lodged in his brain. After all, we do know that brain activity when damaged will switch to another part of the brain and Wolverine’s physiology must surely allow that to happen. If it was that effective, why didn’t Stryker do his brain lobotomy as Wolverine was having the admantium bonded than risk a loose cannon?

This doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bad film to watch and it certainly held my attention. It’s a shame the divergence from the comicbooks means we aren’t likely to see members of Alpha Flight or at least Jimmy Hudson if they choose to do a sequel.

It’s a shame that there are only a couple extras with this DVD and not even an audio commentary. The ten minutes behind the scenes does show the amount of work involved in production, not to mention Hugh Jackman’s protein diet and exercise to look the part. I would certainly have had a feature pointing out who the various other characters were and the connection to the comicbook versions.

GF Willmetts

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