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The Independent Critic

Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will i Am, Ryan Reynolds
Gavin Hood
David Benioff, Skip Woods
Rated PG-13
107 Mins.
20th Century Fox

 "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" Review 
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I am not disappointed with "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

Of course, I didn't expect much.

My hopes for "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" were increased by the presence of Oscar-winning director Gavin Hood, whose "Tsotsi" completely blew me away in 2005. Hood's follow-up, "Rendition," was inconsistent but also had "Tsotsi" like moments of brilliants.

So, maybe, I thought, "X-Men: Origins: Wolverine" would defy my expectations and also completely blow me away.

Maybe not.

"Wolverine," as I will call it now that I'm grown weary of writing the film's complete title, isn't really a bad film.

It's definitely not a good film.

It's, perhaps even more sadly, a remarkably bland film.

In case you've been living under a  rock, "Wolverine" is both a prequel and an origin story starring Hugh Jackman as the great clawed wonder. Actually, "Wolverine" picks up with young Wolvie as a boy who learns the family secrets and gains a brother, Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber).

What follows is, essentially, a series of events that will eventually pit brother against brother, good versus evil.

Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

While Gavin Hood again proves he knows how to stage an action sequence, far too much of "Wolverine" is crowded, uneven and, at times, just plain sloppy. Screenwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods overload "Wolverine" with far too many characters, far too little consistency and way too much important sounding dialogue that really isn't all that important.

Of course, it doesn't help that Jackman, who was really the best thing in the first three "X-Men" films, is wound up really tightly here as if Hood had dropped him off on the set of the aforementioned "Tsotsi." In fact, the only truly solid performance comes from Liev Schreiber, whose intense and menacing performance certainly goes against what we're used to from the actor. Danny Huston, as well, does a decent job as the shady Sgt. Stryker.

The remaining supporting players, including "Friday Night Lights" star Taylor Kitsch and singer Will.i.Am., seem overwhelmed by the material and never really come to life.

By the way, is it just me or does it seem like Ryan Reynolds finds his way into every film?


Okay, I digress.

The other problem, and it's a biggie, is that the $160 million "Wolverine" doesn't really LOOK like a $160 million film with some remarkably cheesy, unconvincing special effects. While occasionally, like the opening sequence and battle atop a nuclear reactor, the special effects have the razzle dazzle one would expect from such a film, other times it's all lamely produced green screens with stilted dialogue and nary a hint of emotion.

Donald McAlpine's cinematography is generally solid, and Harry Gregson-Williams' original score is appropriately mood setting despite the film's occasional dip into melodrama.

It may sound as if I'm completely trashing "Wolverine."

I'm not.

While I can't quite bring myself to offer up a recommendation for the film, it undoubtedly contains enough satisfying action sequences to satisfy this type of film's usual crowd.

Fanboys? Sigh. You'll probably be happy.

With only 2-3 scenes that really benefit from the big screen, the rest of you can afford to wait until "Wolverine" hits home video later this year.

By Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
Copyright 2009