One has to wonder if, had things worked out differently, Harrison Ford would have made a Han Solo prequel in the mid-1980s. I mean, he did reprise Bob Falfa. While the X-Men movies did make Hugh Jackman a star, they didn’t really make him the biggest star in the world. But X-Men Origins: Wolverine does offer something else–it’s gives Jackman a chance to be charming and athletic–it’s got to be the only franchise where the target audiences are teenage boys and women of the age of reason.
The film doesn’t feature Jackman’s best performance by far, but it does reveal exactly why he’s such a singularity. He’s a movie star, one who can make this silly action movie (which is, to be fair, pretty darn violent for a PG-13) seem like a real movie. It doesn’t hurt he’s got Liev Schreiber as his nemesis. The movie could have been–should have been–framed in a long fight scene between the two of them, flashbacks playing through. Schreiber somehow manages to turn in a textured performance and gnaw through the scenery.
There are some bright spots in the supporting cast–Will.i.am is surprisingly good and Danny Huston can make his atrocious dialogue sound all right–and no one’s terrible. There’s not enough personality in the script for the actors to do any better.
The direction’s good, if a little bland. It’s PG-13 gritty.
The special effects are bad. They bring it down.