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X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Blu-ray)
Fox Home Entertainment / 2009 / 107 Minutes / Unrated
Street Date: September 15, 2009
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Reviewed by Aaron Peck
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Fox has found an entirely new way to milk the ‘X-Men’ movie franchise to death, by putting out as many origin stories for the characters as they can. The first character to get the ‘Origin’ treatment is Wolverine.
Apprehension set in before watching ‘Wolverine,’ since the catastrophe of 'The Last Stand' was still fresh in my mind. While not as bad as the third X-Men feature, ‘Wolverine’ isn’t nearly as fun or as exciting as the first two films in the series.
The opening credits are reminiscent of those found in ‘Watchmen,’ showing half-brothers Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) fighting in every major war throughout history . While not as artistically pleasing as the 'Watchmen' sequence, it does set up the story rather well for the evolution of Logan and Victor’s relationship. We quickly learn that Victor is blood-thirsty, killing for the fun of it, while Logan on the other hand has a good streak in him, something that keeps him from senselessly killing.
After Logan and Victor fail to die during a firing squad incident in Vietnam, they are recruited by an Army officer named Striker, who knows of their special abilities. Striker soon forms a team of individuals with mutant abilities, but after Logan realizes Striker is merely using the team to further his own interests, he leaves and finds a new life in Canada.
Some of the backstory about Logan becoming Wolverine is pretty interesting, but the movie often skirts those issues for the most part in order to dazzle us with special effect-laden action scenes. Some are quite cool, others are pretty corny. For the amount of special effects used in this movie, it’s astonishing to see some of the poor quality that made it into the film -- When Logan first gets his new metallic claws and looks at them in a mirror, they look so utterly fake it’s hard to believe that after three ‘X-Men’ movies they didn’t just make them look the way they have for the past three films.
Another hindrance is the film's determination to showcase so many other characters, complete with their varied mutant abilities. Every character has his own special scene in which to show us what he can do. It gets tiresome. We want to get in depth information on what makes one of our favorite characters tick, but the film is so wrapped up in showing us what other people can do, that the main story suffers.
For a pure popcorn flick, ‘Wolverine’ is fairly worthy. No thinking is required here, just stick the disc in and turn the brain off, but if you’re looking for something with a bit of substance, you're unlikely to find it here. In the end, learning more about Logan’s past life is fascinating, but the movie is so bogged down, that all the interesting material gets diluted.
‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ is an AVC-encoded transfer framed beautifully in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation is, for the most part, consistently stunning. The movie retains its thin layer of cinematic grain, but it never hampers the picture or distracts the eye. It gives it a great looking cinema feel. The color palette jumps off the screen, as colors are given a vibrant feel here. Blacks seem to have a bit of trouble during the dark shots at the beginning, but otherwise stay consistent throughout. The HD treatment does give plenty of extra clarity to the movie, but it also aids in making some of the special effects appear even more fake. As mentioned above, when Wolverine first sees his metallic claws in a mirror and grinds them together to make sparks, they just look like cruddy 2nd rate animation. The animation isn’t the transfer’s fault, but the precision of the transfer only helps in pointing out the bad effects.
Overall though, this is a fine transfer, not perfect but great enough to warrant showing it off to your friends. Just don’t show them that stupid claw scene.
Well, if the video presentation was near perfect, this 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack IS perfect. It’s one of the most engaging soundtracks I’ve listened to on Blu-ray. Every channel is engaged throughout the film. LFE rumbles from the sub. Directionality is spot on. Dialogue is clear. Panning effects work smoothly as helicopters fly by the screen. Explosions rock the room. Yet even the tiniest sounds, like birds chirping or wind blowing, can also be heard clearly through the surround channels. The surrounds also harbor a lot of the film’s music, which adds to the ambience and that engulfing feel Blu-ray watchers crave.
- Audio Commentary - ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ has two audio commentaries. The first is from director Gavin Hood, who doesn’t do much other than explain what’s happening on the
screen and give a few details on shooting. The other commentary is from producers Lauren Shuler Donner
and Ralph Winter who provide a bit more of a personable approach to the commentary than Hood does. It always
helps to have two people commenting instead of one, because conversations and banter can be had between them.
While this commentary is slightly more interesting that Hood’s, it still lacks a bit in trying to keep your
- The Roots of Wolverine (HD, 16 min) - Stan Lee and comic executive Len Wein talk about
how the character of Wolverine has evolved over the years, and how difficult it is to keep up with producing
quality material from such an old and storied character.
- Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins Featurette (HD, 12 min) - This featurette comes
across as more promotional fluff than anything else. It features most of the cast and crew discussing in short
interviews what it was like working on the film and how difficult it was focusing on just one character.
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes (HD, 9 min) - Four fairly lengthy deleted or alternate
scenes are presented here. One even features a young Storm that walks into view as Logan leaves the village in
Africa, it garners some unintentional laughter and was wisely cut. Each of the scenes can be viewed with
commentary from director Gavin Hood.
- Weapon X Mutant Files (HD, 54 min) - Here you can explore the ins and outs of pretty much
each mutant featured in the movie. There are also discussions with the actors and what they thought about playing their
characters. Ryan Reynolds explaining what it was like to play Wade/Deadpool, is pretty funny. You learn
that most of the dialogue that comes out of his mouth in the movie is improvised. Each of these episodes can be
watched separately or you can select play all. The 54 minute runtime applies if you play them all back to back.
- The Thrill of the Chase: The Helicopter Sequence (HD, 6 min) - I’m sure you can figure out
what this one is about. The famous helicopter sequence in the movie is glossed over here. How they did it, and
the steps it took to film it. Can’t really get much in 6 minutes, but what’s here is fairly interesting.
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere (HD, 6 min) - This is a short featurette that
shows what it was like for the world premiere of the movie that was held in Tempe, Arizona. Crazed fans, and
beautiful movie stars waving to them. That’s about it.
- Ultimate X-Mode - This feature allows you to pick from four different U-Control PiP
features to play along with the movie. "X-Connect" allows you to see director Gavin Hood and producer Lauren
Shuler Donner appear occasionally offering insight into the correlations between this movie and the three other
“X-Men” movies. "The Director's Chair" features Gavin Hood explaining at length the different techniques that
were used to make the various scenes in the film. It also offers an extensive amount of behind-the-scenes
footage. "Pre-Visualization" provides the audience with some crude CGI animation and storyboards of the special
effects sequences that were later rendered in post-production. It gives a good idea of what goes into creating
effects for the movie. "X-Facts" provides trivia throughout the film.
- Live Lookup - Did you just spot someone in the movie that you recognize, but can’t quite
put your finger on it? Well, as discussed earlier this week, via BD-Live, Live Lookup allows you, to look up actors and their IMDB.com
references. It’s broken up by chapter with a picture of each character featured in that chapter. Simply click
on their picture and the IMDB.com information will be provided.
- Fox on Blu-Ray (HD, 3 min) - Only a few HD trailers are included here. One for the ‘X-Men’
trilogy and another for ‘Night at the Museum.’
No easter eggs reported for 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' yet. Found an egg? Please use our tips form to let us know, and we'll credit you with the find.
For all the scathing reviews ‘Wolverine’ got, I didn’t think it was half bad. It doesn’t stand up to the first two ‘X-Men’ movies, but it does outdo ‘The Last Stand’ in every way. It’s exciting enough for a casual movie night, but if you’re looking for a more in depth story, you’ll probably be disappointed. Too much focus on the dozens of other mutants in the movie hampers the overall story of Wolverine’s origin. This Blu-ray, however, boasts strong audio and visual presentations that will truly wow HD enthusiasts.
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