Mr. Movie

'Wolverine' nothing to howl about

The title scares me.

Does “origins” mean we have to see more films based on the creation of all of the members of the X-Men movie and comic book series? If others are planned and they’re this badly done, then one is enough. Really.

Coiffed in Eddie Munster muttonchops and hairdo and pasting a never-ending scowl on a face better built for a cover of GQ than film, beefcake Hugh Jackman reprises his X-Men Wolverine role. He teams with Liev Schreiber to play supernatural brothers born in Canada before the Civil War.

During the opening credits we watch them march through several wars and 100 years of history before landing in Vietnam. There they get the attention of a special ops guru who uses their unique powers, and those of other mutants for deeply secret military maneuvers.

When Wolverine’s brother Sabretooth goes to the dark side and becomes a psychopathic killer, he walks away from it all, moves back to Canada and falls in love. These scenes are the back-story designed to set up the conflict.

A few years later, Sabretooth murders his girlfriend and Wolverine seeks revenge. This is where he is genetically engineered and gets his metal retractable claws and armor-plated skeleton.

All of this could have been done in 20 minutes and left more time for development on a plot desperate for some personality. Comic book fans want their heroes brought to life so they can view them in multi-dimensions instead of the flat pages of comics where action happens a panel at a time.

Instead of picking one of a number of “origins” that all evolving comic book characters have, writers David Benioff (Troy) and Skip Woods (Hitman) and director Gavin Hood (Rendition) give you a hybrid based on the most mundane factoids from the varied accounts.

More exploration of the relationship with the brother — played by the always-interesting Schreiber — or on the evil deeds of the slime ball mutants in the special ops force would have helped. And in the rush to get these things done, producers always forget that when you bring a comic-book character to life, there is one vital ingredient that connects them to the intended audience and rounds out their humanity: a sense of humor.

Wolverine grinds on you. The film’s second half has brother and villains coming at him full-speed with yawn inducing, effects-laden bullets blazing, bombs bursting and helicopters hovering. Meanwhile a scowling, growling and sulking Wolverine has little to do but scowl, growl and sulk and produce and retract his metallic claws, ca-zing, ca-zing, ca-zing.

If pushed, I will admit that Jackson has the physique and face to bring Wolverine to life. But he has little else to offer. His terrible work as the host of the Oscar telecast proved he’s not much of a master of ceremony, and his dancing and singing were merely adequate.

All X-Men Origins: Wolverine does is give Jackman a shot at doing what he does best.

Bad acting.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. It opens Friday, May 1 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.