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X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Single-Disc Edition)
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Hugh Jackman reprises the role that made him a superstar - as the fierce fighting machine who possesses amazing healing powers, retractable claws and a primal fury. Leading up to the events of X-Men, X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the story of Wolverine's epically violent and romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous Weapon X program. Along the way, Wolverine encounters many mutants, both familiar and new, including surprise appearances by several legends of the X-Men universe whose appearances in the film series have long been anticipated.
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If you're a hardcore fan like me and know you'll collect all the films just because, then this movie is for you. If that doesn't apply and you'll only spend money on films of at least decent quality, just buy The Wolverine and the other X-Men titles. You won't miss much here, really. Honestly, giving this movie three stars seems a bit generous for me (I'd give it two and a half if I could).
Of the five X-Men films to date, however, I confess I enjoyed this film the least for its sometimes excessive violence, particularly by Wolverine's older brother, Sabertooth. Hugh Jackman is brilliant -- as you expect -- but the writing is just not quite as solid as it is with the original trilogy nor with X-Men First Class. It's simply just a bit too much of a violent blockbuster and not quite enough heart to it. I was especially disappointed in the treatment of Scott Summers (Cyclops) as Cyclops has always been one of my favorite characters.
There was also a continuity goof with the film with regards to the very brief appearance of Professor Charles Xavier who is shown STANDING on his own two legs, even though his scene is set fairly close to the present -- long after Xavier was paralyzed. While this could be explained by his appearance being a psychic illusion (which Xavier is readily capable of), the X-Men franchise has typically done a very good job at making the distinction between reality and what Professor Xavier projects telepathically. Without such a flash to reality, his appearance makes very little sense.
Probably the best part of this film comes through the appearance and use of Gambit (Remy LeBeau) who in many ways steals the show. In a film largely absent of fan favorite mutants, Gambit is the one face those of us who have seen the other films (and animated series before that) can relate to.
One of the great things about this film is that virtually no screen time is spent on background character development. Like with last year's Incredible Hulk, the opening credits serve as a cool update and feeder for a basic origin. Even the newer characters that are introduced get very little time devoted to their past and it all works quite well. People in general are smart and can read between the lines, thus negating the necessity for cumbersome background information. Apparently the director figured this out and doesn't "talk down" to his audience even though it's an action film. The pace flows smoothly, with hardly a stutter along the way to break up the story or the action. That's the key. As good as X2 was, Wolverine simply has better action without sacrificing the heart or character development or the emotion that made this franchise the juggernaut that it has turned out to be.
This movie stands on its own, as its own Wolverine. People who've never seen any of the other movies can go and see it and enjoy it. I saw it with two people that have never seen any X-Men stuff and they loved it. One of the year's best. It's A complete movie that flows so very well.
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