The first self-defeating blockbuster of the summer, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the sort of big-budget mess that again demonstrates that explosions, slow-mo, and intricate set pieces can never replace pathos, pacing, and a commitment to storytelling. Awkwardly grasping for relevance in the post–Dark Knight climate of superhero seriousness, Wolverine attempts to engage with sociopolitical issues, namely the psychology and ideology of the soldier, which smack of director Gavin Hood’s previous projects—2005’s Best Foreign Film Oscar-winner Tsotsi and 2007’s Bush-era art-thriller bomb Rendition. However, the script by David Benioff and Skip Woods is too trite and unfocused to realize its loftier ambitions. Instead, Wolverine spends most of its time introducing and killing off marginal characters, obliterating dramatic development via shoot-outs and embarrassing melodrama, and bouncing from one snarky one-liner to the next.
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