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Video Game: Jackman loses his voice

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Jackman loses his voice
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
(Raven Software)
www.uncaged.com

Hugh Jackman has earned major props for his Oscar-hosting acumen and his onscreen portrayal of Marvel Comics' most-overexposed mutant. Last week's release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine gives us the perfect opportunity to revisit the real measure of Jackman's talent: His video-game voice-acting.

Jackman's movie characters have been represented in all sorts of video games, from the sub-par Devil May Cry 3 knockoff Van Helsing to cartoon-mouse antics in Flushed Away. But he's only lent his actual dulcet growl to two games --— which also gives him the distinction of fronting both ends of the quality spectrum of games based on the X-Men movies.

You get a pass — actually a huge pat on the back — if you managed to miss X-Men: The Official Game, one of the worst games of 2006. Reprising his role as Wolvie, Jackman's gravelly acting is one of the better things about an utterly unforgettable franchise cash-in.

From a line-reading standpoint, the video-game version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine doesn't give Jackman much in the way of opportunities to stretch his voice-acting chops. Video-game Logan's not as silent as God of War's Kratos, who'd rather lop off his own arm than launch a clever quip after decapitating a medusa, but he's not exactly all Spider-Man with the banter, either. Outside of the occasional "See you in hell, bub" after he's hurled a hapless solider over a cliff, he's happy to impale skulls and unleash rivers of globby blood in feral silence. When he wakes in a mud puddle to find Sabretooth's offed his main squeeze, Kayla Silverfox — without spilling so much as a drop of blood — he can't even be bothered to replicate the primal scream he lets rip in the movie. That's just lazy, man.

All right, all right. It's an action game based on a movie franchise. We're here for the spinning-claw moves and the amazing 100-yard lunge kills, not the Shakespearean line readings. On that count, XMO delivers in blood-soaked spades — even if Jackman's voice work doesn't.

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