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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

a film by Gavin Hood

Stan Lee, editor emeritus of Marvel Comics and one of the founding forces behind the X-Men, once awarded what he called the No-Prize. This was an acknowledgment for fans who wrote in to Marvel with mentions of continuity errors in the comics and explanations on how to remedy them. For the most part this was meant as a joke. There were no real prizes, just almost prizes. No-Prizes. Perhaps a No-Prize is just what X-Men Origins: Wolverine should be awarded. This may be a valiant, though somewhat uneventful attempt at giving fans the backstory on their favorite mutant superhero, but when all is said and done and all the CGI smoke clears, all we are left with is an almost movie. A No-Prize if you will.

Hugh Jackman does his gruff act once again, full of primeval angst and a cocksure swagger, as the titular mutant who's as old as the hills and just as ornery, but it is those who surround our reluctant hero who make and/or break this celluloid comic book legend. As an avid Marvel Comics reader in his younger days (the industry has taken a downward turn since its boom days of the nineties) I am sometimes wary of who gets cast as my childhood heroes. In this case I went into the film with many a reluctant thought about the casting of Liev Schreiber as one of my favourite comic book heroes/villains (and he has been both) Sabretooth - half brother to gruff ole Wolvie. Instead, to my great surprise Schreiber nails the character dead-on. So much so that he becomes the best thing about the movie - by far.

There are a few other pleasantries throughout, namely Ryan Reynolds as the man who would become the assassin known as Deadpool, but overall the film falters miserably. Jackman and Schreiber, and their decades and decades and decades of brotherly bickering (in this case involving attempted evisceration of said brother - perhaps they play a bit rougher than the ordinary sibling rivalry), make the film somewhat enjoyable on some level and their epic three way climactic battle with Deadpool high on the towers of Three Mile Island (who knew these roughhousing mutants caused the 1979 near-meltdown!?) is fun to watch, even in its haze and glaze of CGI-infected moviemaking. Overall though, perhaps Stan Lee needs to give out one of his aforementioned No-Prizes. [05/02/09]

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