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Posted: September 23, 2009

On DVD:” Wolverine” has lots of Hugh but not much else

Equal parts Jackman, violence and confusion

Lisa Ryckman

wolverine.jpgLet's make this perfectly clear: Any excuse to get Hugh Jackman into (or out of) an undershirt and tight jeans is OK by me.

I also admit that I adore Jackman's Wolverine, the sexy but tormented mutant bad boy who always fights for the good guys.

And let's stipulate that there's no sense comparing the story in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, just out on DVD, with the Marvel comic version; for sheer complexity and fantasy, comic book plots are rivaled only by daytime soaps.

That said, couldn't director Gavin Hood have at least made some pasing attempt to have this prequel segue with reasonable logic into the three X-Men movies already on the shelf?

Apparently not.

The end result is a film that is equal parts Jackman, confusion and nonstop violence, beginning with Wolverine's (aka Logan) first appearance as a sickly little kid, the child of a wealthy landowner in 19th-century Canada.

In the space of less than two minutes, Logan - whose real name is James (one of the few facts that actually jibes with the comic book) -- witnesses the death of the man he thought was his father, uses his mutant powers to kill the drunken groundskeeper who murdered the man he thought was his father, learns that the groundskeeper was really his father, and runs off into the woods with the groundskeeper's son - now his brother - who also happens to be a mutant.

Hoo-boy.

Fast-forward through four wars, fought by Logan and his brother, Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber), both of whom are impervious to bayonets, bullets and bombs and conveniently stop aging around 30. Logan clearly seems troubled and perpetually pissed off, but Victor - later known as Sabertooth (although his canines look more vampire than lion) - comes off as pure evil.

When they're not fighting the rebels or the Germans or the Vietnamese, Victor and Logan are usually whaling on each other; there's a good brawl about every 10 minutes or so. I kept wishing Victor looked and acted more like the Sabertooth from the earlier movies; long hair and a good roar would have made him much more fun.

The brothers grim are recruited by Col. William Stryker (Danny Huston) --  you remember him, the mutant-hating father of a mutant -- to become part of a mutant death squad that does his bidding, which involves creating Weapon X: the ultimate mutant to protect the nation from its scariest enemies (yes, that's right: mutants).

Logan finally gets fed up during a mission to Africa and saunters off into the jungle. Next thing you know, he's a lumberjack living with a schoolteacher somewhere in the Canadian Rockies. Stryker tracks him down - as does Victor - and suffice to say there are great heaping buckets of mayhem and tragedy.

At this point, I stopped trying to understand the story and focused on Hugh Jackman's pecs instead.

Logan agrees to have the metal adamantium fused onto his skeleton, the better to seek revenge against Victor, who he believes done him wrong (even if he didn't, he deserves it anyway for being bloodthirsty and crabby). Stryker murders a general, and most of Three Mile Island gets blown up after a battle with Stryker's souped-up mutant zombie.

Then Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) appears out of nowhere to rescue a bunch of mutant kids Stryker held captive, and after a bullet to the head, Logan instantly forgets everything that has happened up to this point.

We should all be so lucky.

Rating: ** (out of five) for plenty of Hugh Jackman and some fun special effects but not much else.

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Lisa Ryckman is the Associate Editor/Online at ColoradoBiz. Contact her at lryckman@cobizmag.com.

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