“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, A Surprise on Two Fronts

wolverine-poster-500x740 I’ll start out by saying that I never watched the leaked “work print” of the movie that came out several weeks ago, which seems to be the source of most of the trash talk, since it was only released four days ago (from posting this).  After hearing all the negativity, I had pretty low expectations about the movie, but I thought, even if the movie around him is bad, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine would still be fun.

By the way, I’ll keep try and keep this as spoiler-free as any trailer you’ve already seen. 

This movie ended up being somewhere around the first X-Men movie, not quite to X-Men 2 level, but far better than the third movie.  Like I thought, Hugh Jackman was good, but some of the story around him was equally good.  There is MUCH creative license with his origin. Had this been Spider-Man they were dinking with, I probably would have been more critical.  However, with Wolverine’s past, so much of it has been muddled with false memories, amnesia, his healing factor “healing” his brain from painful memories, brainwashing and so forth, that it’s hard to definitively nail down his past, even IN the comics.

It pretty action-packed, with a few slowdown parts to show that Wolverine has a heart.  That may be another sticking point with die-hards.  He seems to be VERY sympathetic in this movie (and the following ones).  From what I’ve read in the comics through the 80’s and 90’s, Wolverine was more apathetic and self-centered than this, but I understand that you’ve got to care about the guy.  Otherwise, why would some of your audience watch the movie?

The weakest part, as I’ve discussed with some other people familiar with the source material, is the expendability of some of the complimentary characters.  From what I’d read, Gambit was an afterthought added by the writers after realizing that they’ve skipped him in three movies already, and the fans wanted to see him.  But unless there’s some director’s cut, he’s SEVERELY underused, using his kinetic power MAYBE twice, never his hypnosis, and otherwise just being really good at fighting with a staff.

The weakest part of the entire storyline, and what I’m betting is the most upsetting to the fans, is what they do with Deadpool.  It’s very weak, and I wish they’d just created a new character to do what he does, but instead, I suppose for name recognition, they pulled in Deadpool.  The only positive of that is that it doesn’t take up much time in the story.

Overall, I think the movie was as fun to watch as its predecessors, and don’t understand all the bad press it’s getting.

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Now, the second, bigger surprise was the game of the same name.  This game is incredible.  It’s not the same as many other movie tie-in titles, rushed out the door to make sure it’s there for kids to buy as soon as they leave the theater.  This game is a Wolverine game, that just happens to have some ties to the movie. 

In an interview with Major Nelson, Don Vondrak with Raven Software’s explained that after doing Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, they wanted to make a mature Wolverine game, and it wasn’t until a way into development that they were approached for movie tie-in themes.  The game, which was already very violent, could have some tweaks made to the plot, and they could continue making the game they wanted to make.

Then, in another bit of rare game development, Vondrak said the game had been wrapped up in December of 2007, but after the movie was delayed, they were given an extra 12 months of development time, which they used to polish it into exactly the game they wanted.

I’ve played several hours into it, and I’m TOTALLY impressed.  There are already several story lines that have nothing to do with the film, so I feel like I’m really forging new ground with Wolverine. 

Also, the game maintained the hyper-violence most suited for the character, instead of being watered down to match the tone of the movie.  So you get a better sense of the Wolverine in the comics, that you’re actually leading down this cool path of his broken memories.

Another amazing feature of the game is this incredible physics engine they use to destroy and rebuild Wolverine’s body as he takes damage.  His body can be stripped of skin, then muscle, then down to just bone.  Then, it will slowly rebuild itself as you watch.  It’s REALLY fun to experiment with.  At one point, I had taken a shotgun blast to the head.  Half of Wolverine’s face was gone, and just his metal skeleton showed through, but slowly, muscle tissue regenerated over it, then skin, then hair.  It was WILD.

I really liked both, so it was a good weekend for geekery.