It’s no secret that Hugh Jackman has been tops on my “guys I think are hot” list for some time. And here, we even get to see him naked. Cool.

I also happen to crave movies based on comic books and graphic novels. So, of course, I had to go see X-Men Origins: Wolverine as soon as it came out. (OK, so I didn’t catch the midnight showing, like someone I know, but I was there today…that counts.)x-men-wolv

Except for a few thin threads, I liked it. You may think, “No surprise there.”  But, mind you, I have been known to be sorely disappointed by some films, especially if I had high hopes (the last of the previous X-Men trilogy was one…darn that deserter Bryan Singer).

There are several points from some reviewers that I don’t agree with. One is that there are too many CG effects. Rubbish. If you want too much CG, go see Transformers. The effects here are well balanced and build as the film progresses. Another is that there are just too many mutants. Dude, it’s a movie about mutants.  It’s about how they stick together, from the opening scenes of two mutant brothers running for safety to the fighting team they form under Stryker, as well as about how they are at odds. It would be tough to show this without mutants. Besides, each one is present for a reason…it’s not as though Logan meets a girl who just happens to also be mutant—she was sent after him. And he sets out to find Gambit because he can point the way to The Island. ‘Nuf said.

The film moves well and tells a story in line with the cinematic X-Men lore we’ve come to know. An important point is that it’s well written. The dialogue is natural, with humor peppered throughout.  Is the humor on par with some of the verbal jousting in the X-Men trilogy?  Disappointingly, no. It’s a bit serious in that respect, yet it doesn’t descend quite deep enough into the dark side of the characters. For example, Danny Huston, fine actor that he is, is just too nice a Stryker, bless his heart.  But what’s crucial to the lore is Wolverine, and the character in this film is never as tortured as one would think his agonizing past has made him. Nor is he particularly menacing except to those who wrong him.

Sadly, I think this has to do with Jackman.  His image (except for certain irrelevant rumors—and you know what I’m talking about) is pretty squeaky.  It almost seems that someone did not want to touch that. And this hurts the film…it could have been a solid triumph if the character had fully embraced the fearsome animalism that is Wolverine.

The big surprise for me was Liev Schreiber.  I was wary about whether “likeable Liev,” known for both comic roles and fairly unsung serious roles, was the right choice to show us the beginnings of Sabertooth.  To my delight, he makes a splendid raving mutant. Let’s hear it for Schreiber’s versatility.  On the other hand, I found Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) weakly developed and a bit of a deus ex machina throwaway. And, although Logan exchanges a few quips with Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), it would have been great had than been as developed as his jabs at Cyclops in the trilogy.

The bottom line?  Wolverine is worth seeing, but I’m sorry to say that it’s no Batman Begins.  For more about this comparison and one of the smartest reviews I have read about this release, read Steven Greydanus’s column at Decent Films Guide.

And, do let me know what YOU think.