Review for X-Men Origins: Wolverine
I am so glad that I’ve never got into the MCU, as despite harsh lessons learnt from Robocop 3 and Beverly Hills Cop 3, I am still a completist. I just appreciate the comfort of knowing that there are no gaps in my collection. The rate that they churn out films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe would drive me batty, the interconnectedness and cross-referencing triggering my OCD about this in a bad way. It’s bad enough with the X-Men universe, although for a long time, I was happy with just the first two X-Men movies. Then I saw First Class, about the time I got a Blu-ray player, and the double dip frenzy began. I got the trilogy boxset for the X-Men movies, and once you’ve lowered your standards for The Last Stand, you can pretty much tolerate anything. As it is, I still left X-Men Origins: Wolverine for last, a film notoriously bad. At least I can take solace that Deadpool 2 will be out on Blu-ray sometime soon.
Victor Creed and James Howlett, mutant brothers, survived together through the ages, fighting in wars across the world from the American Civil War to Vietnam. James, by this time known as Logan had become jaded and haunted by his experiences in combat especially those memories of Victor who had become more and more bloodthirsty. Logan walked away from the special mutant unit he was a part of under Colonel Stryker, and he walked away from his brother as well, sowing the seeds of future resentment and animosity.
Six years later, Logan had found peace in Canada, as well as a woman to love in Kayla. When Victor resurfaces, first by attacking former members of that special unit, and then by making things personal with Logan, Stryker offers Logan the chance at revenge, only it will mean being part of a dangerous experiment. But Stryker’s plans are markedly different from Logan’s.
You get a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p presentation on this disc, and the image is clear and sharp, there’s no sign of compression or aliasing, and the film looks as good as it can probably get on Blu-ray. It’s colour graded in the way that all action movies are these days, and the blend of live action and CGI effects is pretty seamless for the most part, although it does get pretty over the top for the film’s climax, a whole heap of bloodless stabbings, and another uncanny valley moment of digital youthification. In terms of audio you have the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English, DTS 5.1 French, DD 5.1 Spanish and Portuguese with English Audio Descriptive. You have subtitles in these languages plus Cantonese and Mandarin. The dialogue is clear, and the surrounds come to life for the action sequences and overall immersion. On my home cinema, I had to dial in a 20ms delay to get things synced up however.
You have one disc in a BD Amaray which boots to an animated menu. Alas, this is one disc that doesn’t hold its place in player memory.
You aren’t starved for extras, although the Live Lookup IMDB link doesn’t work anymore. They did revamp the website after this disc was released which might explain it.
You have two commentaries on this disc, one from director Gavin Hood, and one from producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter. Both are subtitled in English, so you could conceivably save time by simultaneously listening to one and reading the other.
The Roots of Wolverine: A Conversation with Stan Lee & Len Wein lasts 16:18 1080i, and in it they discuss the character and the comic book.
Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins lasts 12:05 1080i, and offers a behind the scenes look at the movie with interviews.
Weapon X Mutant Files of which there are 10, offers 53:57 (1080i) of character profiles, with in-character introductions for some, and behind the scenes footage and interviews for all.
The Thrill of the Chase: The Helicopter Sequence offers more behind the scenes goodies lasting 5:53 1080i.
The Ultimate X-Mode is this disc’s Picture-in-Picture java nonsense that you have to change your player settings to access, X Connect, The Director’s Chair, Pre Visualising Wolverine, and X Facts offer the whole pop-up experience while watching the movie. If you haven’t time to set your audio to PCM instead of Bitstream, there are subtitles so you can read instead of listen. I never enjoy this format of extras as I’m always distracted by the movie.
There are 9:32 (1080p) of Deleted and Alternate scenes with optional director’s commentary, again subtitled.
Fox Movie Channel Presents World Premiere lasts 6:22 and is in 480i.
Finally there are trailers for the X-Men Trilogy and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is better than I expected, certainly it’s better than The Last Stand, although it must be recognised that as the first in a series of X-Men Origins movies, it was also the last. Wolverine is really the only X-Men character that gets bums on seats, and if this origin movie couldn’t succeed, who’d tune in for a Cyclops movie, or a Toad movie? But it did lead to two more Wolverine movies, and they got better and better as they went along, the trilogy culminating in the sublime Logan.
The problem was that X2 had already spoiled the key moment in this film with its Alkali Lake flashback sequence, and this movie’s job was to fill in the blanks to that point. It’s the same deal as the Star Wars prequels, where you know the ending, and the challenge is to make the story to that point interesting. Wolverine does a better job of it than Star Wars, but it’s still disappointing.
Yet there are moments in this movie that I do enjoy, it’s got some great action set pieces, and some of the characterisations are really appealing. Of course the travesty of Deadpool would hang like a stink until Ryan Reynolds had a second shot at the character, but he’s not bad as Wade Wilson in the first half of the film. And I really do like how they developed Sabertooth in this movie. If you recall the dumb oaf in the first X-Men feature, Liev Schreiber’s take on the character here is far smarter and more interesting. If Deadpool is one travesty in this film, Gambit is another. I really like the character, and his portrayal in this film works well. It’s just that he’s wasted on the lacklustre script, and the fact that this is his only movie appearance to date really does rankle.
You have the poor story, the kind that just has you scratching your head at its inanities and plot holes, and for every Wade Wilson, Gambit and Sabertooth, there is a Blob, Deadpool and Stryker (not a patch on Brian Cox’s version in X2), and there’s the freaky CGI Xavier leading the children to the promised land at the end of the movie. There is so much about this film that I ought to dislike, but it’s become something of a guilty pleasure. The action sequences work very well, and the character interactions have an energy and effervescence to them. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a bad movie that’s fun to watch.