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.
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.