Copyright ©2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. The last movie based on the Marvel comic series "X-Men" was called "The Last Stand." But the "X-Men" movies have made more than $1 billion at the box office, so it was a given that there'd be another stand. And today, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," opens in theaters around the country.

Bob Mondello says the film tells you everything that you'll ever need to know about Hugh Jackman's character and then some.

BOB MONDELLO: We meet Wolverine when he's just a cub, way back in 1845. He's a sickly kid who discovers a way to get better when his dad gets in a scuffle with a neighbor.

(Soundbite of film, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine")

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As character) Stay where you are, James.

Mr. TROYE SIVAN (Actor): (As James) Father.

(Soundbite of people shouting)

MONDELLO: Little James runs downstairs, finds his dad lying in a pool of blood, and suddenly he's seething and not sickly.

(Soundbite of film, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine")

Unidentified Woman #1 (Actor): (As character) James, go back upstairs.

MONDELLO: Huge claws sprout from his knuckles, much to the surprise of everyone but his best friend, Victor, who helps him run away after James kills the guy who killed his dad.

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (As Victor) We're brothers, Jim. We stick together no matter what. Keep on running, and don't look back.

MONDELLO: And run they do, right out of childhood and into matching sideburns and a big war montage: The Civil War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam. Both of them stay perpetually angry for a century and a half, though you would think they'd be delighted to have stopped aging in their mid-30s.

Sometime after Vietnam, a government dude named Stryker gets involved, and James establishes that he wants to be Mr. Mild by moving to Canada and shacking up with a beautiful girlfriend who tells him bedtime stories about wolverines. Naturally, that can't last, and after some unmotivated carnage, James says yes to a transfusion of adamantium.

Sad to say, this does not turn him into rock star Adam Ant. Instead, it bonds metal to his bones in a way that Stryker says will make him indestructible.

(Soundbite of film, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine")

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. DANNY HUSTON (Actor): (As Stryker) Join me, and you will have your revenge.

MONDELLO: Not with his old military dog tags, says James.

(Soundbite of film, "X-Men Origins: Wolverines")

Mr. HUGH JACKMAN (Actor): (As Wolverine) No one knows.

Mr. HUSTON: (As Stryker) What do you want them to say?

Mr. JACKMAN: (As Wolverine) Wolverine.

MONDELLO: Naturally, it's only after he is indestructible that it occurs to anyone that James is not the most manageable guy around, and the rest of the movie is an attempt to neutralize him while citing every comic book origin cliche in the Marvel playbook.

When he escapes Stryker's lab, for instance, he holes up with dead ringers for Spider-Man's Aunt May and Uncle Ben. And when his friends get hurt, he does that head back howling thing that superheroes always do as the camera ascends above them.

(Soundbite of film, "Wolverine")

(Soundbite of scream)

MONDELLO: James is now howling enough to have earned the name Wolverine and to meet what I started thinking of as mutationally challenged mutants, like one who's just fat, another who does card tricks. Happily, they're mere way stations on the road to an isolated spot where Wolverine and a bunch of bad guys can hurl digital effects at each other.

(Soundbite of music)

MONDELLO: You know all those movies where people get sent to an island somewhere and then discover that everybody's clones, or there's a nuclear reactor melting down, or crazed killers are loose? Well, imagine all of that happening at once but with everybody indestructible because they all have to make more movies. That's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

The most terrifying thing about the film, really, is that plural in the title: origins. So many mutants, so much time. But leave that for another summer.

I'm Bob Mondello.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: