“ Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Fantasy / Theatrical Release: 2009 / Suitable for 12 years and over / Actors: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber ... / Blu-ray released 2009-10-19 at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment / Features of the Blu-ray: Anamorphic, PAL „
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Wolverine has justifiably become more of a household name since the first X Men was released. Wolverine himself is a much loved and respected character from the Marvel Universe and is a formidable member of the X Men in his own right, so for Marvel to release a film telling his background story is a mighty undertaking that shows a strong belief in the character itself. Played by Hugh Jackman, who now appears in his fourth film as Wolverine, the story tells the origins of the character and how he became the person that we first saw in the first X Men film.
The story starts off in 1845 with the young Logan discovering through anger that he is a mutant with the bone like knives protruding through the space in between the knuckles on his hands; unfortunately in this case a death occurs which causes Logan to run away with the son of the man he has just killed, a man called Victor Creed. The story moves on as both men join the Army fighting in the Civil War and we see them both fight for their country. Logan and Creed are "volunteered" for membership to an exclusive military operation, with Logan becoming an experiment where his bones are covered with a metal called Adamantium. This turns the mutant into something far stronger with unbreakable claws and the ability to self heal. Becoming part of a special covert team Wolverine now takes part in operations as part of the special team whose powers combined are an unstoppable force for the Government to utilise at will. After one mission where the team go against orders Wolverine walks away in the jungle disgusted with what he has become. He has now become the hunted rather than the hunter and this leads to what can be effectively called a manhunt for Logan.
Hugh Jackman is Wolverine, looking far more muscular and buff than he did in the previous X Men film wearing his trademark leather jacket and jeans, the appearance of the character is unmistakable as you know exactly who he is and what he can do. Jackman is comfortable in the role and looks very relaxed in the part. He does excel in the film when he is required to use his skills and this can easily be considered a highlight of the film, although as a fan of the hero, there is always more action that is required.
Live Schrieber plays Victor Creed, once a close friend of Logan and also his half brother as its discovered in the opening sequence. In the X Men films the character is called Sabretooth and was seen in the first film again played by another character who looks completely different. However Schrieber fleshes out the character with far more grace and panache as well as a deep confusion for what he should do and for the viewer to realise that this is a character that works on both sides of the fence. He is dangerous and also very unpredictable and with Schrieber's deep voice and big build, the character is multi dimensional to say the last. His has appearances throughout the film and each time the character appears you aren't sure what his intentions are, you just know that he is menacing Logan with the potential outcome that someone will suffer.
Originally played by Brian Cox in X Men 2, the character of William Stryker is played here by Danny Houston. Houston is good in the role, but its stretching continuity when you see him compared to Brain Cox on looks. Houston plays the part with a vile distaste for mutants that changes throughout depending on his stance and what he needs them to do.
Backing up the remainder of the cast are some well known names, Will.i.am fro the Black Eyed Peas makes his acting debut, Ryan Reynolds and Dominic Monaghan, as well as Lynn Collins who plays the love interest of Logan and who is a main catalyst in the story with her powers of persuasion. It's not a bad cast at all, the problems happen with the script. Due to the fact that Logan's aging is at a slower rate than normal people, the story is taken across a vast expanse of time, somewhere in the region of 150 years or so and therefore the film starts off as a period peace with a montage of the historical events that Logan and Creed get involved in, in fact there is far to much of that and the story does become dragged down with the references made. The position of Wolverine as a player in various actions as part of Team X only magnifies the issues of the script as it is rather dull in nature and in the middle part is Wolverine just going from town to town and scene to scene until the hunters find him. The locations need to reflect the period of the film and in places they are stunning to see without the use of computer graphics being invited in at all and this is refreshing to see, although there are parts of the film that are computer heavy with effects to show something.
As this is an origin story the parallel sub-plots are always going to be utilised with the characters of the previous films even though this is effectively a prequel story and this is true in this film anyway. You get to see a number of pre X Men as the film goes on, as Cyclops is seen at school and with his powers that can only mean devastation. Oh and there is a certain bald Professor making a cameo appearance, which I thought was a nice touch to add but unnecessary as the focus for the story should have been Wolverine and not much else. The action sequences are top notch, especially the methods used by Wolverine to take down a helicopter, and the scenarios that these are introduced is interesting to say the least as the climax takes place at Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant, however it's a case of whatever the main hero and certain characters go through you know that they aren't going to die or get killed off as they have already appeared in the series as older characters so some of the suspense has already been diluted. What I mean is that the reset button can be pressed as an option, but they cannot come to any major harm in the story and I think this is something that had given the script its limits as the film doesn't really tread any new ground with regards to impact and suspense and the whole film plays out more like a soap opera or any episode of Lost rather than an epic film that this deserves to be. I think flat is the word that would best describing the film as a whole. I need to point out that the introduction of a lot of sub characters that turn out to be future X Men characters is a little bit of a cheap shot as they are there and I can understand that they are trying to close a story loop, but they are just used as convenient fillers and this means that their screen time is limited without the chance of actually seeing them add anything meaningful to the story - wasted.
So with the film X Men- First Class being released this whole film and the what it goes out to achieve has been made somewhat redundant and effectively has become useless with its intention as the continuity hasn't been upheld at all as another round of new cast members have been gathered.
Extras wise, the two disc Blu-ray set does contain a lot more than the single disc DVD. Included on the two disc set are deleted scenes and a number of documentaries that cast members recount the production of the film. Although glossy in nature they are little more than featurettes in length and so can be considered rather self satisfying as an advertisement rather than factual. As with most Marvel films there is a end scene and this one, unlike Iron Man, doesn't add much to the story at all and once you've watched the film you really aren't that bothered about these anyway!
Overall, this won't be setting the sky alight and will more likely be remembered as a missed opportunity, this seems to have been a good idea on paper and had a lot of potential but the problem is that its rather dull and lifeless and boring. Its not often that I yawn in a middle of a film but watching this on DVD I nearly fell asleep. In reality the writers were working at a disadvantage with the material they had and even though they have tried to produce an origin story that could have equalled something along the lines of Spider Man or even Batman at a push, they have delivered it too late seeing as the bigger picture of the X Men movies had already delivered a far better and higher quality of story. As an introduction film to the Marvel hero it would be okay and just average if it wasn't for the previous three X Men films, however this is a failed attempt at trying to launch a new franchise of the back of another far more successful franchise, consider this a milking exercise. Some things should be left alone, that is what I said about this film when I started watching it and I said it even louder after the credits had rolled, my advice is don't buy this until you've seem it on TV first. In this case its better to taste to see if you like it rather than buy and feel cheated as I did.