Part of the fun of superhero origin stories is watching how an ordinary person is changed when they’re given a super power. Think Peter Parker after he’s bitten by the radioactive spider. Or Bruce Banner, after he’s exposed to all those gamma rays. So it’s sort of a bummer when, early on in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we see that Wolverine has had claws all his life (though they’re bone, not adamantium ones), not to mention an ability to heal quickly and not age (how else to explain his ability to fight in the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Vietnam War). Then again, Wolverine is a mutant, and he was born a mutant. Thus, this movie is not so much an origin story as it is the story of how Wolverine became a super mutant. Hmmmm … Perhaps the film should have been called X-Men Beginnings instead of X-Men Origins — or perhaps I shouldn’t take it quite so literally.
Title aside, Wolverine is pretty good, not great — it’s more X-Men: The Last Stand than the other two films in that series (i.e., it’s more an action film than anything of any higher meaning). Hugh Jackman, back again in the role that made him a star, still emits cool and the film does include some decent action scenes. On the other hand, the script isn’t really top-notch, and sometimes it veers into forced, lame comedy (like in the scene just after Wolverine’s injection where he has a mishap in he bathroom thanks to his new blades). It’s good to see that director Gavin Hood (who directed the truly awful Rendition) isn’t a total hack, but I wish he had allowed the actors to have a little more fun (for example, it’s nice to see Liev Schreiber playing a bad guy, but he doesn’t look like he’s enjoying himself very much).
Wolverine is definitely not essential viewing — especially if you saw X2: X-Men United, which also included Wolverine’s origin story. But it’s not the kind of movie you’ll regret paying eight or nine bucks for, either. It’s only May. Better films are still to come. For now, this one only gets a B– from me.