The first entry in a prequel series that went nowhere, X-Men Origins: Wolverine decides to fill in the blanks on Logan's already disclosed past. Working from a script by Skip Woods and Game of Thrones showrunner David Benioff, director Gavin Hood dumps us in pre-Canada Canada for an inciting incident involving powdered wigs, saucy gamekeepers, and unwelcome erections.
After some brief howling we spend the opening credits tracking through glimpses of a far more exciting film involving Wolverine and half-bro Sabretooth as they take part in every major American armed conflict. It's Nick Cave's unfilmable Gladiator 2 script with Marvel action figures, the deathless idealism of a Civil War Yankee morphing into the unrestrained bloodlust of Full Metal Jacket's 'get some!' chanting chopper gunner.
Origins is full of this kind of trickery. It proposes something great like immortal war men, or a superhero entry with the shape and hue of Mr Majestyk, then cruelly snatches it away to play with histrionic computer effects. The usual Marvel franchise break between talking scenes and action interludes is hilariously pronounced in this film. Hood and Cinematographer Donald McAlpine ground the film in location lumberjacking shot like Vilmos Zsigmond working in his 1970s heyday. Mood established, actors glowing with a sheen of grease and sweat, they hand over to at least seventeen different special effects companies that specialise in absolute fucking nonsense. Origins wants to walk tall, testing the limits of cornered masculinity. Unfortunately it has to be the latest instalment in Fox's billion dollar X-Men investment.