The campaign for this film has been a confusing one. Early trailers suggested something gritty and darker than the X-Men movie from whence it came. A half-decent writer attached who seems to know what he’s on about, and a strong director capable of both getting across grim violence and more than capable of conveying those more tender moments of human drama.
But then juxtaposed to this is the poster campaign which seemed to be a contest of “Spot the Pretty Face.”
Now I know the X-Men has assorted characters on their posters all pouting or frowning out at the passer by, but surely they should have had the cajones to represent this as Jackman’s movie.
Instead we get a Scream/I know what you did last summer horror poster routine of models all standing behind either side of the lead actor? Which raises questions of if it’s appealing to a younger audience… then what do us adults have to look forward to in the way of threat, carnage and drama?
And here it is. We are given a pre-credits scene to set up a bit of background (That Wolverine kills his own father and is the half brother of Victor Creed). Both of these facts clash with the whole Wolverine history/mythology that may or may not angry the hardcore audience.
The credits sequence then gloriously leaps to adulthood to show the grown men fighting their way through war after war (each getting more violent and culminating in the both of them about to be executed).
There is no doubt that Creed is an animal that is having trouble harnessing his temper, yet Logan is (being the protagonist) slightly more reserved (It seems although he is a warrior, he isn’t quite the brute we are used to seeing him as, yet).
Enter a curious William Striker who puts the boys into a small crew of mercenaries (of which Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson is a real standout). More battles and violence later and Logan calls it quits, much to the anger of his big bad brother.
From here on it the film’s tempo is severely toyed with. After all the action we of course get some settled and calm drama, before the storm hits again. But even there it is very up and down and up and down.
There are also some notes of comedy that strike the wrong tone in this film (Logan slicing a sink in half by accident is a joke that seems very out of place, as is his fight with Blob later on).
Having a balance of humour and dramatic set-pieces is very important in film-making, but here it perhaps went a little bit too much on the ‘dumb’ side of things.
Audiences were promised a more heavy X-Men film, and whilst it undoubtedly has some very good actors playing some very interesting roles, this is still far from being a dark film and far from being R or 18 (or even 15) rated for that matter.
The blood is almost non-existent and the body count is mainly left to Sabretooth. With the story being told you’d think a little bit more of a grown ups cut, minus the childish humour, would have been more effective.
There are more fan-boy surprises in the second half of the film, where we are introduced to the rather good turn from Taylor Kitsch as Gambit, and a few other characters that I won’t mention here. But is an ending almost like LOTR that has so many characters to tie up that it takes a while even after the action has passed it’s peak.
Ultimately it is a solid enough film for the start of the summer. There is enough going on to make it worthwhile. You just wished they had pushed a few boundaries a little bit further and not been so tame. So if you suspect as much from the “Beautiful people” poster campaign then you’d be right.
NOTE: Fan-Boys – Stay to the end of the credits.
Wolverine opens in the UK tomorrow.