During the opening ceremony for this year’s Oscars, lovely Hugh Jackman did a sterling performance culminating in a loud proclamation that he was Wolverine. Having played the widely popular character for four films now, it’s no doubt that Jackman is right, the man embodying everything about the character – the guttural growl of fury, the veined muscular arms, the copious hair. Lovely Hugh was the highlight of the three X-Men films, so it’s no wonder they were quick to spin off a prequel.
Origins does exactly what it says on the tin, showing us Wolvy from little ankle-biter to adulthood and with the whole “not dying” thing, his adulthood spans a century or so. Skipping over these bits with an opening titles montage, the film settles on the period where Wolverine meets Stryker, filling in the blanks from X-2 and showing just how Wolvy gets his metal claws, and why he has no memory of it.
The main antagonist is Wolverine’s brother, a fanged and clawed Liev Schreiber, whose dangerous lust for chaos and the kill is marred by some dodgy wire-work and him looking slightly silly. The plot trundles along, throwing up some new mutants for the effects folk to show off (including some cool sword work), a sound of music moment with nice gratuitous topless shot of lovely Hugh, and some good old-fashioned redemption.
Lovely Hugh really puts some welly into it, doing an ace job of super angry Wolverine, grunting his way through fights and flinging himself at helicopters in the stand-out motorbike chase sequence. His co-stars are a mixed bag, either little sparks that are cruelly underused – Ryan Reynolds as a snappy-talking swordsman, and a rather handsome Taylor Kitsch as Gambit – or a bit of a waste of time – Daniel Henney as the blando Agent Zero, and Will I Am popping up in a cowboy hat for no reason at all.
Despite Lovely Hugh’s outstanding portrayal of an ace character, Wolverine doesn’t have the wow-impact it promised, more the impact of a flan hitting a pavement. That is, a thick thud that makes some sort of impression but one that can be easily washed away. It was definitely enjoyable, particularly Lovely Hugh’s naked run through the forest, but worthy of no more than a recommended CF0. I never say no to flan, after all.