Hugh Jackman is a very good actor. He is also buff. But to focus on one (muscles) more than the other (talent), especially during an installment of the X-Men franchise, seems a bit shameful.
The beginning credits sequence is one of the best I have ever seen. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and his brother, Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber), charge the British in the late 1700’s, battle the enemy in World War I, storm the beaches of Normandy in World War II, and gun down innocent civilians from a helicopter in Vietnam. Sabretooth then attempts to rape a Vietnamese woman. He is stopped by his more level-headed brother, but in the process Sabretooth kills a superior officer. They are both sentenced to death by firing squad. After the sentence is carried out, Wolverine claims to military scientist Colonel William Stryker (Danny Huston from 30 Days of Night) that the procedure “tickled.” How are these things possible? Wolverine and Sabretooth are mutants, and part of their powers consist of living for a very long time.
Although this introduction to the main characters is impressive, the movie lacks an effective execution of storyline. The backstory of Wolverine, a story that all X-Men fans are in love with, is polluted with bad casting choices and one-liners that make the whole thing seem a bit tacky.
The acting, overall, is mediocre. However, two actors shine through in my eyes. Danny Huston plays the role of Colonel William Stryker, a man whose obsession with mutant destruction may cost him his life, very convincingly. And the most impressive character rendition comes from Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth, a bloodthirsty, black-coated mutant who will stop at nothing to prove he is more powerful than his younger brother.
It is too bad these two solid performances, as well as a good showing by Hugh Jackman, are mixed in and contaminated with performances like that of Ryan Reynolds, who echoes his same run-of-the-mill hey-I’m-a-smart-ass-but-girls-want-me routine.
The special effects really tear this movie down from four-out-of-five-star potential. Wolverine’s claws look like digital blades that cut out like an old computer screen. The blasts that come from the eyes of Cyclops and Deadpool look like cheap lasers from a 1970’s Sci-Fi special. With a multi-million dollar budget, you would think the special effects team could do a lot more.
And the director spends too much camera time on Wolverine’s muscles. We get it; the guy is an action star. He is on a high protein diet. We understand. The director is too concerned with Wolverine’s muscles during the adamantium experiment that he forgets to cover the character in blood. But yes, I forgot, someone could definitely go through a procedure that consists of having dozens of blades pierce their body and emerge with absolutely no blood on them. Yep, muscles are much more important.
Cameos from mutant favorites like Professor Xavier and Gambit will feed the X-Men faithful. The delivery of Remy LeBeau, or Gambit (played by Taylor Kitsch), is nowhere near satisfying. And Charles Stewart’s (Professor Xavier) cameo is not important enough to matter.
A lot of disappointment. A lot of excitement. The X-Men fan will get both with this movie. If you can handle your comic book heart being pulled at the strings, or maybe stabbed with adamantium claws, by all means, rent it, bub.