X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 12 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

As a former reader of comic books, I’ve become increasingly delighted at how many of my favorite superheroes have now become mainstream movies. Like a lot of other people, X-Men ranked as my favorite of the titles I read and I’ve enjoyed the three X-Men movies immensely. Naturally when you’re talking X-Men it’s synonymous with Wolverine, undoubtedly the most popular of the X-Men. But, every character has an origin and we’ve only been given certain glimpses as to his mysterious past (namely in “X-Men 2: X-Men United”). If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m referring to then you need to stop reading this review right now and go and watch all of the “X-Men” movies; they’re good – you’ll like them. Now it’s been about twenty years since I’ve last picked up a comic book and I know things have changed. Wolverine’s origin has been told, but now it’s time to bring it to the screen. And the X-Men have always been more of a team. Can a “X-Men” movie work with only one person or not?

Assuming you abided by my earlier request, you’ve now seen all three “X-Men” movies. Good for you. Let’s proceed. We learn, in a “Watchmen” style, through the opening credits that Logan (aka “Wolverine”) has a brother by the name of Victor (Liev Schreiber). Victor also possesses the same healing powers that make Logan unique and the two manage to fight in every major battle up until Vietnam. Unlike Logan, Victor has more of a passion for killing and it takes Logan’s interference to stop him from killing many more. After the two are supposedly shot and killed, they’re recruited by William Stryker (Danny Huston) to be part of an elite team responsible for capturing mutants. This team consists of Fred Dukes (aka “The Blob”), Chris Bradley (aka “Bolt”), David North (aka “Agent Zero”) and Wade Wilson (aka “Deathpool”). Business is good for a while but all good things must end. Before long Logan is on the run with his love Kayla (Lynn Collins) only to lose her at the hand of Stryker. After he undergoes an experiment in which his bones are laced with adamantium (the strongest metal known to man…in the comic book world) they’ve created a killing machine. Will Logan be able to escape Stryker and live the most normal life he can or will he end up at the hands of a madman and hunted by Victor?

For the true “Wolverine” fans out there, this should have been a 107 minute pleasure cruise. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the “X-Men” films but something was lacking here. Ever hear of “too much of a good thing?” Well, here it is. Wolverine was perfect in the previous three movies, but this is just a little too much of him. Part of what made the “X-Men” movies so enjoyable is that we had the chance to see the different powers and abilities of all the mutants and while that is somewhat true here, we all know what Wolverine can do. Yes, it’s nice to finally know where he came from and there’s certainly more to his past as well. I think I echo other critics when I say that this was an enjoyable film, though it could have been much better. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is set to get his own “Origin” film as of this writing so we’ll see if that one will offer a bit more entertainment than this one did. Fans of “X-Men” will most likely pick this up no matter what I say, but I’d suggest a rental before suggesting a purchase.

Video: How does it look?

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is arguably one of Fox’s marquee titles for the year and they did the transfer right. The 2.40:1 AVC HD image is sharp, vibrant and colorful throughout. There’s a bit of grain in some of the outdoor sequences, but by and large it’s not very noticeable. The veins in Jackman’s shoulders is a p rime example of how crisp this picture is with fine detail delineation helping to make the image jump off the screen. As with most effects-driven movies, the explosions seem a bit on the fake side, but we’re talking about a guy who has claws come out of his hand, so take it with a grain of salt. This isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty close and I doubt anyone will be disappointed with how this looks on Blu-ray.

Audio: How does it sound?

What it lacks in its video presentation the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack more than makes up for it. There’s plenty of action, gunfire, explosions and fight scenes to fill the 107 minute running time and I’d by lying if I said I didn’t have to turn it down a notch or two (neighbors, you know). Dialogue is crisp and clean and the surround speakers never seem to run out of things to hum about. One thing that really impressed me were the LFE which gave the soundtrack an extra bit of “oomph” (not like it needed it). A good reference quality scene is when Wolverine takes down a helicopter. My room literally shook when it hit the ground and this is what HD sound is all about. Sit back and enjoy this soundtrack.

Supplements: What are the extras?

As mentioned before, this is a very high-profile title for Fox and they’ve done a fine job with their supplemental package. This is a two disc set, though the second disc is a digital copy and the supplements are relegated to the first disc. That said, the first commentary track with director Gavin Hood is somewhat bland. Yes, he does a fine job at narrating what’s happening, but we don’t really get a lot of detail or insight. More interesting is the second track with narration from producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter, granted two people on a track is better than one and while not as technical as I’d have liked, it’s the superior track. Moving on we have a couple of featurettes starting with “The Roots of Wolverine” as we see Marvel head honcho (or maybe not any more) Stan Lee and Len Wein. Stan gives his take on when he created the X-Men saying it was a cop out because he didn’t have to explain why someone got super powers (like Spider-Man or the Hulk) he created mutants simply as an easy way to say they were just “born that way.” Interesting. Next up is more of a fluff piece entitled “Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins Featurette” in which we get a look at Hugh Jackman and his tireless work ethic, some behind the scenes shots and interviews with the cast and crew. Four deleted scenes are shown and I’d have really liked to see them in the movie, the scene with the young Storm alone would have added a bit of depth to the story. These can be viewed with or without commentary from Hood. The most interesting featurete, to me anyway, is “Weapon X Mutant Files” in which you can explore essentially mutant that appeared in the movie and read all about them, their powers and even some get comments from the actor that played them. Running at nearly an hour, this is worth the watch. Lastly, two other featurettes are shown, “The Thrill of the Chase: The Helicopter Sequence” gives a deconstruction of, you guessed it, the helicopter sequence and how it worked. Rounding out the features is a World Premiere with shots from Arizona where it took place. Nothing too special here, but better to have than have not I suppose.

Moving on to the Blu-ray exclusives, Fox has done this title right. There’s really only one segment, but it’s divided into four different parts and each has something to offer. The first option is “X-Connect” in which you can see director Gavin Hood and producer Lauren Shuler Donner as they pop on screen to give their insight on what’s happening at that particular time. They also compare and contrast this and the other “X-Men” films. The second option is “The Director’s Chair” which has director Gavin Hood as he explains some of the tricks of the trade for some scenes in the film. I didn’t enjoy this option as much. Next up is “Pre-Visualization” as we get some storyboards and some very rudimentary CGI footage. I’ve seen this on some of the Pixar movies as well and it does show how much good CGI adds to a movie. Lastly we have “X-Facts” and it’s a feature that’s been around as we have a pop-up trivia as it pertains to certain scenes in the movie. If you want to garner as much knowledge about this film as humanly possible, start here. Possibly the coolest thing about the Blu-ray exclusive section is the “Live Lookup” in which you can look at pretty much any person in the movie and get their information pulled directly from IMDB (Internet Movie Database). I can’t tell you how many DVD’s I have have had “selected filmographies” and are now so dated. Lastly we have the obligatory promos for other Fox Blu-ray titles including the “X-Men” trilogy.

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