X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE Review (Mania.com)

By:Robert T. Trate
Review Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Source: Mania

It was the first summer blockbuster of 2008. It was also the first summer movie that divided us all. Many feel as if the focus wasn’t actually on Wolverine but that X-Men Origins: Wolverine was just another X-Men movie. There are those that feel as if this was a kick ass adventure that finally introduced Gambit and Deadpool to movie audiences. The one thing we can all agree on is that Deadpool’s appearance at the end of the film wasn’t all it could have been. Whatever camp you fall into the Blu-ray has arrived and it is packed with special features and insights into the film. There are times when many of these “special features” are just tacked on to fill up space. “Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere” hosted by Tava Smiley is a prime example of this. Without a doubt someone will also use the term “roller coaster ride” in these features as well. There are a few like “Wolverine Weapon X Mutant Files Featurette: 10 Character Chronicles” that are actually worth watching. When it all comes down to it are these special features worthy of a Wolverine movie?

The film has its faults and is far from perfect. Often one can look to the film’s documentary for answers as to why the film wasn’t a grand slam home run. Producer Lauren Shuler Donner is quick to mention in “Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins” that the story they wanted to tell was that of Wolverine’s journey in Japan. It was Fox Studios which felt that story should be the follow up film. They wanted to set the roots of his origins right away in its own film. Apparently nobody at Fox had read an X-Men comic to realize that it took Marvel over twenty seven years to do this. Nor had they realized that was part of Wolverine’s appeal. The mystery surrounding the character is what lured in fans and kept them reading. Fox can now boast they did the origin in nine years. Hopefully we will get that Japanese story next now that Fox has been satisfied. There are a lot of great gems in this special feature too. Learning that Jackman and Schreiber created a rivalry off screen to keep their on screen rivalry going is both fun a great tribute to their acting abilities.

“Wolverine Weapon X Mutant Files Featurette: 10 Character Chronicles” is by far the best special on the disc. It is an interesting blend of character profiles, a monologue done by the actor in character, cast and crew interviews about said character and behind the scenes footage. The monologues are incredible yet not every major player has one though some of the smaller ones do. Liev Schreiber is the best as he spouts “I am an animal that dreamed he was a man, but now the beast is awake”. Anyone can clearly see his grasp and respect for the character of Victor Creed. Though many fans will love watching Hugh Jackman go on about the presence Will i Am brought to the character, John Wraith. What really adds to Wraith’s profile is how Will i Am did research for the character. He Googled bad asses on the internet. Fred Dukes’ make-up creation and reason for his inclusion in the story makes the Blob’s a must see as well.

Deleted scenes and alternate takes can often be a mixed bag of either close calls or missed opportunities. The young Storm scene is a perfect example of a proper cut. Whereas Wolverine’s scene in the Japanese bar is perfect prelude to, hopefully, what happens next in the story. The total minutes for all of these deleted and alternate takes are 9:32. A quick watch but only the last one was worth it.

“The Roots of Wolverine: A Conversation with X-Men creators Stan Lee and Len Wein” reveals the true origins of the character. Len Wein and Stan “the Man” Lee discuss everything from how the character originated, Chris Claremont’s 17 year run on the book and discredits a few blog stories how Wolverine was connected to the High Evolutionary. Lee is quick to give credit to the late great Jack Kirby for many of the X-Men’s early days. Whereas Wein is quick to point out that the less you know about Wolverine’s origin the more inciting the character is. This one on one interview with these two great comic authors is fun but it rattles on a little too long at times.

Outside of the two different commentary tracks, none of which feature producer and star Hugh Jackman, there are three different pop up featurettes. These have become a staple of Blu-ray discs yet many companies have yet to realize their full potential. The “Director’s Chair” feature allows us to look behind the camera and see Gavin Hood’s direction of the film. Hood also comments in a sit down interview about acknowledging the difference between what happened in X2 at Alkali Lake and here in his movie. His reasoning is usually that his film is bigger. “X-Facts” shows little or no thought to the die hard fan and is probably more for the occasional moviegoer. Facts such as Wolverine’s first appearance in the comics and Hugh Jackman’s personal history with the character pop up on screen. Facts such Will i Am attending fashion school are better left unsaid.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine on Blu-ray 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. It looks and sounds great. The movie was filmed with all the latest technology and is less than a year old so it’s quality isn’t an issue. What is really lacking on this disc is a retrospective on the character from the comic and a deep look at his cultural significance. Several years ago Wolverine was trapped in the world of comic books and Saturday morning cartoons. Now everyone knows who he is thanks to the movies and more importantly Hugh Jackman. There is little here in appreciation of Wolverine’s journey from comic book icon to movie star.



Mania Grade: C+
Title: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Blu-Ray)
Mania Movie Grade: B-
Rated: PG-13
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Danny Huston, Will i Am, Lynn Collins, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch
Written By: David Benioff, Skip Woods
Directed By: Gavin Hood
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Original Year of release: 2009
Extras: Commentary by Director Gavin Hood, Commentary by Producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter, The Roots of Wolverine: A Conversation with X-Men creators Stan Lee and Len Wein, Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins, “Wolverine Weapon X Mutant Files” Featurette: 10 Character Chronicles, “The Thrill of the Chase: The Helicopter Chase Sequence” featurette, “X Connect and On Set With Gavin Hood” featurette, X-Facts: Trivia Track, Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Gavin Hood, Alternate Memory Erase Sequence, Alternate Tag Scene: Japan, Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere, BD-Live, Digital Copy
Series: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men Origins: Wolverine