When I first watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I didn’t think it was nearly as bad as some reviews claimed it to be. Predictable… yes. Somewhat campy… sure. But it was a highly produced movie that was fun enough to watch on the big screen. In fact, I would recommend viewers considering getting the home release, strongly look at the Blu-ray edition, which is what I watched for this review. Whether you enjoyed the film immensely or not, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was made for the Blu-rat format. Crystal-clear picture, snapping audio, and enough bonus features and technology for two blockbuster disc releases. You must also keep in mind that other recent comic-based films didn’t help Wolverine much. The quality of films like The Dark Knight, Iron Man and even Watchmen on some levels, made a decent action adventure seem like much less in the overall comic book movie lexicon.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was Marvel’s first in a series of developing X-Men origin stories – the next possibly being X-Men Origins: Magneto (that is, if it Wolverine 2 doesn’t hit theaters first). ‘Wolverine’ follows events that lead up to Bryan Singer’s first X-Men film, beginning in 1845, when the eponymous hero is a young boy in Canada. James Howlett (Logan’s real name) unexpectedly sprouts claws made of his own bone, when he’s thrown into a rage, prompted by the killing of the man he thought was his father, who is murdered by his real father. After unwittingly taking revenge on his real dad using his new appendages, James runs off with his half-brother Victor Creed. After the two grow up taking part in years of human conflict ranging from the Civil War through Vietnam, they ultimately face a military tribunal and firing squad for war crimes, which are actually precipitated by Victor’s (Liev Schreiber) animal instincts. However, their special abilities help them both survive.
Major William Stryker (Danny Huston) takes notice of their talents and recruits them into his Team X mutant paramilitary unit, which also gives us some exciting first glimpses of other early mutants including John Wraith (Will.i.am), David North/Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), Chris Bradley/Bolt (Dominic Monaghan), Wade Wilson/Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Fred Dukes/Blob (Kevin Duran). After an unexpected tragedy in an African village occurs, the unit loses its luster and Logan splits for Canada, where he falls in love with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins) and attempts to start a simple life in the mountains.
Predictably, his plans are cut short when Victor savagely murders Kayla, and Logan, out for revenge, agrees to become a test subject for Stryker’s brand new experimental weapon’s program, called Weapon X. We then learn how Logan gets marinated with indestructible adamantium, and changes his dog tags to the name Wolverine. On his journey to find his brother and seek his revenge, Wolverine seeks the help of some of his former Team X partners, along with a sly mutant called Gambit (Taylor Kitsch). We are also subjected to some clearly foreseeable double-crosses and staged dramatic set pieces.
Overall, there are some really solid performances in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, particularly from Jackman and Schreiber, all culminating in a watchable and entertaining, however predictable and safe, film.
- An informative and thorough Commentary by director Gavin Hood starts off the hefty set of special features.
- Next is a second Commentary from producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter.
- The Roots of Wolverine: A Conversation with X-Men creators Stan Lee and Len Wein, features Marvel legend Stan Lee and X-Men co-creator Len Wein interviewing each other about the origins of the rogue superhero group, with a focus on Wolverine’s character. (presented in HD)
- Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins is a featurette that begins with producer Lauren Schuler Donner discussing how they initially intended to tell Wolverine’s Japan story arc for this film, and how Fox insisted that they give audiences the origin story first (Logan is likely headed to Japan for Wolverine 2). Then there’s a brief introduction to the film’s production. (presented in HD)
- Wolverine Weapon X Mutant Files Featurette: 10 Character Chronicles The nine main mutants in the film, along with William Stryker, are each explored in this entertaining featurette. Each character’s segment begins with a monologue, before a series of on-set clips and interviews with the actors playing them, director Gavin Hood, stunt coordinator J.J. Perry, producer Lauren Shuler Donner, and visual effects supervisors Patrick McClung and Craig Lyn. (presented in HD)
- The Thrill of the Chase: The Helicopter Sequence is a featurette that looks in-depth at the helicopter action sequence, which apparently took about nine weeks to shoot. Definitely worth watching for you adrenalin junkies. (presented in HD)
- Ultimate X-Mode BONUSVIEW Ultimate X-Mode offers three optional picture-in-picture settings and a trivia track. With the feature turned on, director Gavin Hood and producer Lauren Shuler Donner appear periodically in the lower right corner of the screen, each revealing connections between the three previous X-Men films and ‘Wolverine‘. The Director’s Chair, hosted by Hood, reveals the collaborative, behind-the-scenes work that went into making the film, along discussions regarding the characters and storyline. Pre-Visualization includes storyboards and CGI animations, and X-Facts Trivia injects multiple facts throughout the show.
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes contains four deleted scenes, as well as an alternate memory erase sequence and tag scene in Japan, all with optional commentary by director Gavin Hood. (presented in HD)
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere Tempe, Arizona won the contest to host the world premiere of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and this featurette showcases clips from the fan-frenzied event. (the only bonus feature presented in Standard Definition)
- There are also HD trailers for the first three X-Men films and Night at the Museum. (presented in HD)
- IMDB BD-Live is a BD-Live feature where you can access dynamically updated actor filmographies and other info related to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, all on the the Internet Movie Database. Within each chapter, there are screen icons of all the cast members appearing in that sequence, and you have the option to click on them to read bios and see a filmography on the subject.
- A Digital Copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is on this disc for download to your PC, iPhone or other PDA device.
The X-Men Origins: Wolverine BD is presented in widescreen on a 50GB dual-layer disc authored in BD-J with AVC (MPEG 4) compression with English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio and French, Spanish 5.1 DTS along with English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Director: Gavin Hood
Writers: David Benioff, Skip Woods
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will i Am, Lynn Collins, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch, Daniel Henney, Ryan Reynolds, Tim Pocock, Julia Blake
Original Release Date: May 1, 2009
Blu-ray Release Date: September 15, 2009