Marvel Movie Madness! Part 14: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Another shaky outing for Wolvy.

Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.


Part 14: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009, 37% @ 246 reviews)
Directed by Gavin Hood, starring Hugh Jackman, Liev Schrieber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds

Alex:Hey, brainy directors making comic book movies: Learn the lesson of Gavin Hood and don't approach the genre like you're doing fanboys a favor. You're actually just doing yourself a disservice. Hood, an obviously smart guy with movies like Rendition and Tsotsi, ditches his strengths, takes every opportunity to try to be awesome and instead comes off as pandering and desperate. Obviously excited by the idea of having a special effects budget to tell a bigger story yet having no idea how to put it effectively on screen, Hood gives us stuff that looks OK if ridiculous (twirling mutant laser beam destroys a cooling tower), really bad (bullets hit the ground, obviously digitized dirt burst up), and downright horrible (Wolverine's adamantium claws). Seriously, what was up with the claws? Lawnmower Man quality.


Matt: I'm not sure who this movie was made for. It's certainly not made for people who like good movies. Sure, there are a couple of pretty good action pieces at the beginning of the film, but the the script is so ham-fisted about telling us how to feel (Why is the moon sad? Because she had to watch this movie). We're told that there's tension between Sabretooth and Wolverine, but we don't really find out why, and worse yet, we don't really care. Wolverine is mostly pretty mopey here, and not the bundle of rage we know and love. I will say that Liev Schrieber is nicely menacing here, but this performance belongs in a better movie.

This movie isn't really made for comic fans either. Playing it a little loose with the characters was OK in the first two X-Men movies because that liberty allowed for tight storytelling. The story here gets so far away from the source material, it seems like the writers just started dropping mutants in just because we'd recognize them (the same way the Epic Movie clowns write jokes - mere recognition is enough to be funny, right?). From a comic fan's perspective, I don't see any reason to include some of the characters that show up, and the biggest insult to comic fans has to be the inclusion of Deadpool. Deadpool's popularity comes mainly from his abject insanity, and silencing him in this film really shows how little the filmmakers think of comic book fans. I defy even the fanboys out there to defend what is far and away the weakest of the X-Men movies.


Alex: It's been a few weeks since I first wrote what I said about Wolverine and I've way lightened up since. That was all before I saw X-Men: The Last Stand and that movie is one sour, ugly, soul-sucking experience. The greatest thing X-Men Origins: Wolverine is guilty of is being tacky or source unfaithful. Though my initial reaction was similarly vehemently negative, I think the critics took certain relish dogpiling Wolverine. Sheer franchise fatigue had set in. Good thing X-Men: First Class brought it back.

More Marvel Movie Madness:

Comments

rottenb

Ben Jones

Agreed. This movie was not for X-Men fans that's for sure. Oh, First

Jun 8 - 11:42 AM

Racer Z

Shannon Potratz

When I first saw X-men Origins: Wolverine, my initial thought was, "well, it was better than The Last Stand." On reflection though, and having watched it again recently, I have to agree that this is far and away the weakest of all the X-men movies. Last Stand included. While over-crowded with way too many characters with nothing to do, at least X3 had a reason to have all those characters. Wolverine had a bunch of characters essentially standing around doing nothing.

If you're going to do a Wolverine origin story, wouldn't have made more sense to tone it down and simply adapt Weapon X? Make it a small movie and let it build up to something bigger with the next one or two.

Jun 8 - 11:57 AM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

Ok, what is the point of this series of RT columns? When they first announced that they were doing this Marvel Madness series, I was excited. I love RT and I love Marvel. However, all these columns are doing is reiterating what we already knew/heard about each of these movies. In case anyone is curious how the RT writers feel about the rest of the Marvel movies, let me ssave you having to wait weeks to find out:

Ghost Rider: They hate Ghost Rider. Some good attempts at thing, but mostly cheesy acting/story/spiritual concepts. And the ending falls apart.

Iron Man: Loved it. Not since Spider-Man 2 has a Marvel film really shown excitement and fresh story-telling. Perfect lead casting, and amazing directing.

Iron Man 2: The writers didn't like it. Eveything that Iron Man did right, 2 unspools. Though the bird didn't help his character much, it also didn't help that Mickey sounded like he learned his Russian accent by watching Rocky & Bullwinkle. Also, Stark's character arc made the movie feel like the middle chapter of a story - and with IM3 not coming up soon, it made it hard to really stay interested in the film as a stand-alone piece.

Spider-Man: The writers loved it. It had the perfect combination of heart, wit, and action. Easily one of the best superhero movies made.

Spider-Man 2: As amazing as the first one was, the RT writers loved this one more. It built off of what the first one did right, and the stars aligned to make THE best superhero movie (until Dark Knight, as the writers will remind you).

Spider-Man 3: The writers hated it. Too many villians, Peter's emo story was lame. Just too over-blown.

Punisher: Promising without completely delivering on its promise. It uses a comic book character as a lead of an ordinary revenge movie.

Punisher War Zone: Horrible. Just simply horrible. The writers will say that this takes the bad elements of the first one and adds more of the same, while throwing aside any of the redeeming factors of the Thomas Jane film. It also doesn't help that the movie came out the same year as Dark Knight - so the main villian seems too similar in the insane category.

Dare Devil: It depends on which version the RT writers see. If they see the theatrical, they will hate it. They will say that it tries too hard to be like Spider-Man 1, and Ben was miscast in the lead, Colin was a cheesy bad guy with bad puns (and by "puns", I mean saying "bullseye" over and over). If they see the Director's Cut, they will be bummed that version wasn't the one shown in theaters. While it's far from perfect, they'll point out that the Director's Cut shows a lot more promise and individuality. It also shows a movie that tries to be more than just a comic book movie - something that isn't perfected until Dark Knight.

Elektra: They hated it. Expect this to get dumped on. Kinda like they did with Wolverine.

And so on...

So I know I'm coming off as snarking (or even troll-ish) towards the RT writers. I'm not meaning to. My point is just that I feel all they've done is repeat what was initially said (by reviewers and bloggers) when the movies FIRST came out. Sometimes it just sounds like they didn't see the movie and only go to the movie's RT page, reading off what critics said. With the exception of Tim in his X3 comments, no one has really veered from what was already said about these movies.

What I was HOPING the awesome RT staff would do was point out things they noticed this time around. Maybe the amazing movie they saw when it first came out now has some glaring flaws that no one talks about. Things they didn't notice the first time. Or vice versa - maybe a craptastic movie like War Zone (ugh!) has a few positive things going for it.

It seems like if I want anything of that caliber, I have to read the comments by RT readers. Hey RT writers, go back and read what Justin D. wrote in his comments to X2. THAT'S the kind of brilliant stuff this series should be about!

Take for example Spider-Man 3. While I enjoyed it for the most part, I personally hated the cooking scene with Harry and MJ, and didn't like Peter's lame dancing to make MJ jealous. However, those are more personal preference on my part. What YOU (RT writers) should help me notice is the glaring mistake of Brock as Venom calling SM/Peter "Tiger". Nowhere in the movie is Brock ever around MJ and Peter when she's called him that, so how would he know to say it?

Either way, I want (and expected) so much more than just rehashing stuff in the past. Hopefully you see this post as a wake-up plea and not just some ramble rouser trying to take crap.

Jun 8 - 11:58 AM

Justin D.

Justin D.

I am surprised and flattered that you positively mention my comments on X2. Thank you.

Jun 8 - 12:06 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

I'm glad you were flattered, though I don't know why you are SURPRISED. ARTaylor and you always seem to make articulate points in your comments. Whether I agree with them or not, I can always see where you are coming from.

Jun 9 - 12:54 PM

Ryan N.

Ryan Nolan

I think the point of this series IS to rehash and remember what was good/bad about these past movies in the style of a few guys talking back and forth about it. No big deal man, just something to help hype up the summer movie season.

Jun 8 - 12:49 PM

rt-ryan

Ryan Fujitani

Just you wait, friend. Most of the movies we've done so far have established a bit of a consensus in the office, but some of the more contentious titles are yet to come, and I expect I'll catch some heat for some of my opinions.

Jun 8 - 02:11 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

Ok, cool. Thanks for the good news. And again, I hope you read my comment not as confrontational/snarky, and more like a cry for help and/or intervention.

Jun 9 - 12:59 PM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

With the F4 ones they actually had me rewatching them.
On first watch I hated Chris Evans but after their review I actually liked him better than the rest of the trainwreck.
But what I do like of these is the input by the community. I wish they did it with many more movies/genres. It'd be awesome.

Jun 8 - 05:26 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

You should check out the series they did leading up to the reboot of Nightmare on Elm Street. It was fantastic. I also know they did one for Friday the 13th, but I can't find the link anywhere.

One of the things they did differently for the Elm Street series was (if I remember correctly) only one person watched and wrote about each movie. Part of me wonders if that is an issue with this series. Maybe if only one or two writers were involved, they'd have more room to dig deeper - instead of sticking with the cliff notes and short sound bytes.

Jun 9 - 01:02 PM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

Yeah I remember the Nightmare on Elm street ones, I had to rewatch new nightmare because I remembered it completely different and actually liked it a lot years later. Not because of the review, but I had changed from when I had seen it originally and didn't like it.

Jun 9 - 05:46 PM

Jason B.

Jason B

I really really don't want to defend SM3, but the symbiote suit as some telepathic/empathic/somethingpathic link to it's host and can communicate what it knows/sees/hears, this is how Brock even knows Peter is Spidey, so it's certainly not far-fetched that the suit heard a pet-name while bonded to Peter.

Jun 8 - 08:59 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

"I really really don't want to defend SM3"

That cracked me up.

Anyways...I see your point. You are completely right about how in the comics the suit can do that. However, let me counter with this: That fact was not addressed in the MOVIE.

I learned a long time ago to treat the world created in the movie differently than the comics. If I expected the movies to follow what happened in the SM comics, I wouldnt have made it past the first half of Spider-Man 1 - what with webs coming out of his body, and Green Goblin's costume designed like it was inspired by a Power Rangers villian.

Jun 9 - 01:11 PM

Jason B.

Jason B

The thing I really dislike about "organic webbing" is that it takes an important trait from Peter, his intellect. Which has arguably saved his ass as many times as his spiderpowers. I really like that everything wasn't just handed to him, he created something to "finish the set" as it were and it really showcases that he's not just some cliche hardluck kid that comes in to something good. He himself brings something to the table beyond the trite "deserving because he's a good person" schtick. I love all the things that make Peter Spider-Man and don't get why they took away showcasing his intellect for the sake of organic webbing when it would a. Have been the exact same movie otherwise and b. To me, makes him kind of creepy. Just my opinion.

Jun 10 - 09:59 PM

Not L.

Not Likely

You have WAAAAAAY too much time on your hands

Go outside, enjoy the sun

Jun 9 - 08:36 AM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

I absolutely LOATHE comments like this. You bring nothing to the table - instead you try and tear others down, thus making you feel superior.

What is so wrong with me discussing an industry that I know, love, and am professionally involved in? So many people nowadays over-simplify things by saying it "sucks" or "kicks ass". What I am trying to do is issue my complaint in an articulate and constructive way. I'm not here to knock someone down a peg, but to express how I feel they could better themselves.

It's commenters such as yourself who will read an entire article (and/or the comments below) only to issue statements like "I could care less about this crappy movie/TV show". Do they not see the irony of clicking on the news stories and reading things they (supposedly) don't care about?

So I will ask you this: Who is the bigger time-waster? Is it me - who took the time to explain my frustrations with these columns, and how I feel they could be done better? Or is it you - who read the long column and my entire post which you could CLEARLY see was lengthy? I care, you don't - so since you read this whole long thing without having any interest in it, let's look at YOUR time management.

The only reason I am writing this is because I hope this will help you see the folly of your ways. Hopefully you will learn to bring something constructive and positive to the table. Or in the least, this will turn on the lightbulb in your head to stop posting a comment judging others for wasting their time reading something that you wasted YOUR time reading. You'll still be a hypocrite - but at least only YOU will know that.

By the way, yesterday I spent three hours doing my daily cardio on the beach boardwalk next to the Pacific Ocean; and I've already done 2 hours of that today. How did YOU enjoy outside yesterday.

In conclusion, I will do a magic trick: Go outside and look in your stable. As you can see - while I was writing this response - I magically transformed your high horse into a miniature pony.

Jun 9 - 01:38 PM

Alexson Philip

Alexson Philipiah

lol....

Jun 9 - 04:00 PM

Justin D.

Justin D.

That was the best lengthy snap back to a troll I've read in a long while. I wouldn't have even dignified him w/ half that response. It looked like it was going a little wordy but that last bit about changing the horse to a pony made it all worthwhile. Thumbs up good sir.

Jun 9 - 08:07 PM

Justin D.

Justin D.

I am surprised and flattered that you positively mention my comments on X2. Thank you.

Jun 8 - 12:06 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

I'm glad you were flattered, though I don't know why you are SURPRISED. ARTaylor and you always seem to make articulate points in your comments. Whether I agree with them or not, I can always see where you are coming from.

Jun 9 - 12:54 PM

Ken W.

Ken Wolfson

I'm probably going to take a lot of flack for this, but I loved this movie. I don't have a problem with the effects or anything, the only thing is that the story is a bit uneven. Yes, its not faithful but I'm not a diehard XMen nut and thats probably why. 9/10; outstanding.

Jun 8 - 12:19 PM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

Are you absolutely sure you are talking about the live action one and not one of the infinitely better cartoon ones?

Jun 8 - 05:15 PM

Ken W.

Ken Wolfson

yes, yes I am

Jun 8 - 05:55 PM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

I'm mildly curious; WHAT was outstanding about it? Also, do you mean 'outstanding' as far as this franchise or as a movie in general? To each his own, but this is one of those movies that I found so piss-poor that it actually angered me; when a studio spends THIS much money and a film crew is given THIS much liberty to do what it wants, to produce THIS result is obscene.
Don't take this as a rip, by the way. I honestly tend to envy anyone who likes movies I hate because it means they got some enjoyment out of something that I'm not able to. ..having said that, I'm *amazed* that anyone could praise this. And Alex: RIGHT ON about the claws! I mean, for fuck's sake, his claws looked better NINE YEARS AGO in the original X-Men! His claws here looked like the tires on Benny the Cab in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' for chris'sakes!

Jun 9 - 06:20 AM

Joe M.

Joe Moriss

without knowing a single thing about "true" Marvel continuity, I thought that this film was really fun, and relatively well-made. some parts didn't make sense, especially bearing in the mind the main trilogy. I actually really liked the start and the special team thing... but the "real" Deadpool sounds awesome. pity the director apparently wasn't loyal to that.
As for the comments above me, I mostly agree with Ken W

Jun 8 - 12:26 PM

Confounded

Matthew Bertram

I agree with Alex. Origins may have been a "worse" film than X3, but for sheer hubris, X3 takes the cake. It seems like Ratner based his irreverence out of pure arrogance ("I'm awesome, so they'll like anything I do.") And Hood was just plain ignorant. But neither of them cared to look past their own nose to see that their final products were a slap in the face to actual fans. Like Matt said, continuity and character differences from the comics to film were OK in the first 2 (and, in my opinion, First Class), because they strove to respect the source even if they had to tweak it. X3 and Origins just turned into BOOM! BAM! Cool guys don't look at explosions!

Jun 8 - 12:26 PM

Phillip K.

Phillip Kissell

I honestly liked this movie when I first saw it.
Than when I watched it a second (and unfortunately 3rd time) I found it painful to sit through.

Jun 8 - 12:32 PM

Justin D.

Justin D.

Revisiting this picture I still can't find much right with it. Hugh Jackman gives it his all, that's something. You can really tell he loves the character we had four chances to see the origin of (even if three of those chances were supposed to be about the team). Liev Schrieber also tries to add some gravitas to the picture. I feel so bad for them because the movie they brought these performances to was just a generic action movie.

I think that's why people hate this movie so much. This isn't a Wolverine movie as much as it's every generic action movie trope sprinkled w/ a dash of X-Men lore. The hero w/ the troubled past looking for peace and quiet, the return of the sadistic rival who used to be friends w/ said hero, the zealous general w/ no moral compass...it's like every one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's early films except this one stars Hugh Jackman. I mean it's bad enough that Wolverine gets yet another movie to focus on him, but to make matters worse, the screenwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods couldn't even come up w/ a decent story. Then again, I guess I can't expect much from the guy (Woods) who wrote the script for "Hitman" and "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra."

Now I'm no fan of Wolverine, but even I'll admit that he deserved a little bit more than a paint-by-numbers action movie. I was almost interested in the sequel/reboot when they announced Darren Aronovsky would be helming, but now that he's dropped from the project I'm back to having no interest in any Wolverine oriented X-Men projects.

Jun 8 - 12:46 PM

Adam T.

Adam Talbott

They should make the next wolverine movie rated-R

Jun 8 - 05:07 PM

Adam T.

Adam Talbott

I liked the idea of wolverine being alive for 150 years but they picked the wrong parts to write about lol

Jun 8 - 05:08 PM

Ryan N.

Ryan Nolan

I think the point of this series IS to rehash and remember what was good/bad about these past movies in the style of a few guys talking back and forth about it. No big deal man, just something to help hype up the summer movie season.

Jun 8 - 12:49 PM

dj Mark

Mark Marquis

I really believe the studio and creative team believed they could coast along on this one because of the popularity of Wolverine. Oh how wrong they were.

Jun 8 - 12:51 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

As soon as I saw the trailer for this movie, I knew it would be bad. I remember the first forty or so reviews for it were all fresh, though, so my hope had risen that it might be good, and then the rest of the reviews poured in and it dropped fast on the T-meter. Horrible movie.

Jun 8 - 01:38 PM

rt-ryan

Ryan Fujitani

Just you wait, friend. Most of the movies we've done so far have established a bit of a consensus in the office, but some of the more contentious titles are yet to come, and I expect I'll catch some heat for some of my opinions.

Jun 8 - 02:11 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

Ok, cool. Thanks for the good news. And again, I hope you read my comment not as confrontational/snarky, and more like a cry for help and/or intervention.

Jun 9 - 12:59 PM

waggaga1

noel noel

I saw this movie the day it came out. Never saw it again.

Jun 8 - 03:24 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

I saw the unfinished version that was leaked - it sucked. I thought that for sure they would fix it up a bit, nope, saw it in theatres and hated it even more on account of having to sit through that POS again. Worst XMen movie, and after Last Stand, that's saying a hell of a lot.

Jun 8 - 04:16 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

I actually kinda liked the first half of this movie, then it all fell apart.

Jun 8 - 04:28 PM

Alexson Philip

Alexson Philipiah

I actually found this to be a fun action packed flick, and definitly better then the 3rd one. idk i was never an xmen fan and didn't know much about this universe. I gave it a 70% for being solid popcorn fun.

Jun 8 - 05:02 PM

THEREWOLF

Markus Arbutina

Gambit was cool, other than that it was pretty much garbage.

Jun 8 - 05:06 PM

Matanuki

Matanuki .

Gambit, sir, was not cool. lol

Jun 10 - 10:20 AM

Adam T.

Adam Talbott

They should make the next wolverine movie rated-R

Jun 8 - 05:07 PM

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