Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    BLURAY EXPERIENCE: ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Hugh Jackman as WOLVERINE
    Liev Schreiber as SABRETOOTH
    Danny Huston as COLONEL STRYKER
    Ryan Reynolds as DEADPOOL
    Lynn Collins as KYLA SILVERFOX

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: 20th Century Fox

    Directed by: Gavin Hood

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The origin of X-Men superhero Wolverine is laid out in this early summer action flick from 2009. James Howlett is a boy who grew up sickly in the 1800s but soon discovered he had incredible healing powers. James (Hugh Jackman) grows up with his brother Victor, another mutant later known as Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber), using their invulnerability to fight in the wars of the ages.

After Victor takes a dark turn and James leaves their elite military team of mutants, Stryker hunts him down and uses the death of his girlfriend to convince James to improve his already near-indestructible status. After James is injected with a special metal to bond with his skeleton, he becomes Wolverine and begins his life on the run from Stryker.

I’ve been a fan of the modern superhero films since the first “X-Men” hit the screens in 2000. I even take a lot of flack from critic and fanboy friends for liking Brett Ratner’s third installment, “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Wolverine has been a favorite of mine and fans for years, so it was nice to see where he came from, even if the story has been filtered from its original comic book beginnings.

Likewise, I have been a fan of Hugh Jackman since he first took on the role of Wolverine, and I give the guy a lot of credit for sticking with the character through the entire franchise. He has embodied Wovlerine for the bulk of a decade, and he continues to deliver with his screen presence.

The movie “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” isn’t the best of the “X-Men” series, but it delivers on your basic superhero elements: action, special effects and a badass hero. Even though I never read the “X-Men” series in comic book form, it’s nice to see some old characters make it to the screen, like the Blob, Wraith, Gambit and even Deadpool (although many comic fans are still bitter that he was “ruined” in this film).

As a movie that marked the opening of the summer movie season, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” had plenty of cool action sequences and a healthy dose of mutants on screen. It wasn’t fine art, but it was fun enough while it lasted.

I will admit there were some pretty substantial wrinkles in the story, plot and characters of this film. Hugh Jackman delivered a good Wolverine, and Liev Schreiber was formidable as Sabretooth (although not entirely consistent with the first couple films). The rest of the cast was decent enough for the roles they played, including Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool and Will.i.am as Wraith. However, the dialogue was rough and often not any better than the cheesy Stan Lee comic book lines from the 60s.

And while the effects were cool sometimes, they did break down in particular scenes. I’m not exactly sure why Wolverine’s claws looked wicked-cool at times, rubbery at others and like they belongs in an early Pixar short in yet other moments.

This may have been one of the cheapest “X-Men” films made, and it shows in the script work and special effects. Gavin Hood, who gave us the very artistic “Tsotsi,” is definitely slumming it in this film. This is not to say that “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is terrible. It’s still a fun film, but not as good as the other three.

The double-disc Blu-ray is pretty impressive. Along with the Blu-ray disc, there’s a digital copy of the film for portable media devices.

The Blu-ray comes with a pretty healthy assortment of special features that cover the field of bonus material. The film comes with two commentary tracks, one with Gavin Hook and the other with producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter. Other standard features include a Fox Movie Channel look at the world premiere, plus deleted and alternate scenes with Hood’s commentary.

Featuerttes include “The Roots of Wolverine” which is a conversation with Stan Lee and Len Wein. There’s also “Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins” featurette as well as a spotlight on the helicopter chase scene with “The Thrill of the Chase” featurette.

The Ultimate X-Mode BonusView includes picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes information about Hood’s direction, the pre-visualization work and an X-Facts trivia track.

Finally, the BD-Live feature allows the viewer to access “Live Lookup,” which connects to IMDb for actor profile information that runs along with the film.

Die-hard “X-Men” fans and anyone who likes to see Hugh Jackman’s arm muscles.

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