Early in the production of ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ (back when it was simply titled Wolverine), director Gavin Hood wowed fans when he
was interviewed about his upcoming project.  He talked of what makes Wolverine such a popular and fascinating character.  His
psychoanalysis was indeed encouraging and exciting.  Unfortunately, viewing the final product, very little of his vision seems to have
translated to the screen.

Perhaps the biggest issue with the first in a planned series of X-Men spin-offs is that it is too flat and by the numbers.  The screenplay
reeks of adaptation.  Screenwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods are simply jamming the comic book story into the format of a feature
length film.  As a result, character development is sacrificed in order to include as much material as possible.

Perhaps the biggest waste is Liev Schrieber as Victor Creed (aka Sabretooth).  Schrieber is a fantastic actor and his menacing presence
here stands toe to toe with Hugh Jackman.  Creed’s role is underdeveloped to say the least, and looking menacing is pretty much all he is
allowed to do here.  He could have been a truly fantastic villain.

As for Jackman, he is once again excellent as Wolverine.  He is a great anti-hero once again, serving as the badass cynic who scoffs at the
standard superhero conventions.

Unfortunately, these very superhero clichés are at the core of the film, especially as it moves towards its conclusion, which makes some
ridiculous leaps to make sure it doesn’t completely destroy the continuity of the series.

But it’s far from as bad as you may have heard from the geeks who downloaded the leaked work print version.  It isn’t a bad film; it’s just a
missed opportunity.  At worst ‘Wolverine’ is a fairly inoffensive and bland experience that is lifted somewhat by a great cast.

Director Gavin Hood does a decent enough job, and provides some solid action sequences, but the film really struggles to rise above its
mediocre screenplay.

Even the visual effects are underwhelming, with the trademarked adamantium claws looking surprisingly fake.  Add in a generic Harry
Gregson-Williams score and some very bland cinematography and ‘Wolverine’ fails to make much of an impact in any regard.

While ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ may not be an embarrassment, it’s an undeniable disappointment.  It’s a decent waste of two hours for
fans of the X-Men series.  But a waste it is, bub.

* *
(out of four)
X-MEN ORIGINS:
WOLVERINE

Directed by: Gavin Hood

Written by: David Benioff and Skip Woods

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston,
Will i Am, Lynn Collins, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan

Cinematography by: Donald McAlpine

Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams

Released: May 1, 2009; 107 Minutes