George Lucas has a lot to answer for. Thanks to his ‘prequel’ idea of ‘The Phantom Menace’ and its ilk, we, the cinema-going public have had to put up with a host of mediocre, ‘been there done that’ dull-fests. ‘Hannibal Rising’, ‘Underworld: Rise Of The Lychans’, the aforementioned ‘Phantom Menace’ (to see just how contrary I am, look at me praise prequels here).
You see the problem with prequels is that if you know what’s going to happen to each of the characters later on in the series there is fuck all surprise in store. In fact ‘Wolverine’ is just an excuse to see where he got his jacket and bad temper from. Oh wait, we know where he got his bad temper from in ‘X-Men 2’. So this whole film is about seeing where he got his jacket.
So the story, as it were, starts with Wolverine (and the audience) discovering some pretty dodgy ancestry during a messed-up childhood. Then Wolfie (Hugh Jackman) ages to the age that Hugh Jackman is now (and stops aging) and fights for the military in The American Civil War, WWII and Vietnam and dies!
No, he doesn’t because a) The story is about Wolverine and this chapter finishes after 10 minutes, thus would make a very short film and b) He’s alive in ‘X-Men’. Instead he goes to live a life of solitude where he spends the rest of his days happy as a clam. Except he doesn’t because as we know in ‘X-Men’… You get the point.
To be fair to the filmmakers this kind of nitpicking over the first act is more than a little futile as ‘stuff must happen’ to make a story. But it’s when the film starts to kick off for real with Stryker’s experiment (Oh no! Wolverine is flatlining, Will He Die!?) and Sabretooth (an impressively Bastardish Liev Schreiber) fighting Wolverine over and over again with no possible victor, that the tension is really non-existent.
Being stuck in the confines of the trilogy before means ‘X-Men Origins’ has nothing original to add. It messes the balance of the story being about Weapon X himself and the bigger ‘X-Men’ arc of ‘mutants as minorities’ by not being a story about either. The set pieces are competent but never memorable. Same goes for the new mutants. Which is particularly disappointing considering this is the first time we meet fan favourite Gambit.
Perhaps the most surprising let-down of all is Huge himself. Before, Jackman was charismatic, droll and ready to kick ass and the driving force behind Wolverine being such a hit. Sadly he seems to have decided he only needs to act with two faces. One which he wears for most of the film is scowly, then for when he’s really, really angry its heavily, heavily constipated. All red face and veins. Kinda like the film as a whole.