X-Men Origins: Wolverine carves up a pack of action

First, I was there. I bought the first Uncanny X-Men comic book when it was first published, and continued with the newer X-Men of the ’70s, and I know and understand its mutant universe. I guess that makes me a fan.

So I appreciate X-Men Origins: Wolverine, new on DVD Tuesday from Fox, for those reasons. It is largely faithful to the visions of such creators as Stan Lee and Chris Claremont, and Hugh Jackman remains ideally cast to play the gruff, growling (albeit taller) Logan, aka Wolverine, the man with quick-healing powers and nasty claws, who’s caught here in a covert federal mutant-exploiting program when all he wants is to be left alone.

Director Gavin Hood’s new film is also smashingly well produced, from scenic location work to CG flashiness to the solid cast, which also includes Ryan Reynolds, Dominic Monaghan and Liev Schreiber — with a nice cameo by Patrick Stewart as Professor X.

But that said, this origin tale, while well told, is a lot like many action movies: the plot and the characters aren’t as important as the action. That is, much of the mayhem is action for action’s sake, so much so that you almost forget what they’re fighting about. And revenge as a motive? I think that’s been done before.

It’s spectacular action — don’t get me wrong — but sometimes I long for more quiet or reflective moments, or offsetting humor, or flashes of heart. Hey, this isn’t a touchy-feely character, I know, I know. But early on, Wolvie does fall in love, so there.

At any rate, Wolverine is great fun as a violent thrill ride, and hey, there is some comic relief, come to think of it. When Wolvie blows up a grounded chopper and walks slowly away from it,  THE BIGGEST CLICHE in action movies triggered a laugh in me, as I recalled the MTV Movie Awards parody by Andy Samberg and company called “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions.” Wolvie, like all the rest, over and over again, is just too cool to look.

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