Much as I went into The Fellowship of the Ring caring more about Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen than I ever could about JRR Tolkien, my interest in X-Men Origins: Wolverine stems from the involvement of Gavin Hood and Hugh Jackman, and not from the legacy of X-Men comic books. ”

what_did_you_think_of_the_film-440x293Having said that, I rather liked Singer’s X-Men, loved X2 and probably thought more of The Last Stand than most people, so I do have a context in which I have invested in Wolverine-slash-Logan before. Have Gavin Hood and his collaborators fashioned a film that can make me invest again, or dare I hope it, even make me invest more? The opening scene kept me guessing as to how successful the film would ultimately be. It serves as a super-quick introduction to Logan’s rage and guilt, which are given as some kind of inner drive for him and visualised in the form of a howling motif we will see again and again. In the sequence, we see James Logan as a young child in the 19th Century, sharing a bedroom with his brother, later to become Vincent Creed and be played by Liev Schreiber (the separate surnames issue is not entirely clear, but I’m sure you will make an educated guess as to how it might be resolved). A man who appears to be their father rouses the children before another man arrives and violence erupts.

The events of this brief, fairly well presented and mostly exciting sequence are designed to provide some depth and motivation to the characters, and particularly in respect of the two brothers’ relationship, but it could honestly have benefited from running longer, opening out more and allowing a more meaningful relationship to form between the children and the adults. Nonetheless, what the scene does achieve would be greatly missed had the scene been skipped. On the subject of the cast, I think it is worth noting that Schreiber and Danny Huston offer more in terms of a general cool factor and credibility than on a scene by scene basis with their performances – the film isn’t really structured in such a way that they have to do any heavy lifting with their characters. Subsequent to this comes another sequence that strives very sincerely to establish the complexities of the film’s central sibling rivalry. Set into the titles, and stylized to play half like a flowing motion picture, half like a set of title cards, this sequence is a montage of wars, with the chronological presentation of Logan and Creed fighting, growing, changing and interrelating through a string of historic conflicts. There is likely to be some comparison made between this sequence and the opening titles of Watchmen. Both skip through time, both provide tone, context and some establishing character information and both are pretty successful – though this is likely to receive less enduring love from fans, devoid as it is of pop music, pop iconography or popping stylization. Indeed, by this point, the film seems to be building quickly towards and ever elaborate drama between the two brothers. It’s an arc that continues to sweep through most of the film, only occasionally getting knotted or falling off desperately. It wouldn’t be hard to have issues with how the brothers’ relationship changes through the last act – but, as you’ll see, it isn’t hard to have any number of issues with the last act in any way. A better structure would have allowed the first half of the film to expand and become more elaborate until it took up at least 85% of the narrative. This is where the most interesting stuff lies, and the stuff that could stand to be fleshed out considerably. The further past the halfway mark we go, while there are still many things to enjoy and appreciate, the higher the stack of problems rises.