X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Lynn Collins
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Interviews, FEaturettes, Trivia Facts, and more

Going back to the beginning of the franchise, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is giving the X-Men an new lease on life with their prequel approach. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"is the first of what could potentially become a series of movies detailing how some of the X-Men superheroes evolved. Available now on Blu-Ray Disc, clearly we had to check the film out for you.

At a young age, James Howlett (Hugh Jackman) watches as his father is killed by Thomas Logan, who then goes on to reveal that in fact he is his real father. The trauma causes James to mutate and grow boney claws from his hands, and lead by his mutant brother Victor (Liev Schreiber) the two spend the next two centuries they use their mutant powers to help fight wars, purging themselves of their violent urges. While Victor is taking ever growing pleasure from the killing, James begins to abhor it and leaves his bloody past behind.

Living as a logger in Canada, he finds the piece he was looking for but when news reaches him that someone is killing off his former mutant fellows, he becomes wary but it is only when he learns that the mutant killer is in fact his brother Victor that he realizes the scope of the danger. Sadly for him by then it is too late because in order to get Logan's attention, Victor has already killed his girlfriend. The thirst for revenge is boiling in Logan and he sets out on a mission to find and kill Victor, though little does he know that nothing is as it first seems.

I am not a comic book reader and I am not familiar with the details of the X-Men franchise and the plot developments or history of its 45 years of superherodom. when I watch a film like "Wolverine," I watch it strictly from the perspective of how it lives up as a movie in its own right. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the film as I found it a good notch above the last X-Men movie. The plot holds enough surprises to keep viewers interested and is paced so furiously that it is always engaging. It is somewhat over the top, I found, trying to hard to be "super" but at the same time, it struck an enjoyable balance between a gripping storyline and adding franchise backstory.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has prepared a top notch high definition transfer for the film, giving it the sparkling look that you would expect from a brand spanking new special effects action flick. The image is free and revels in detail and definition, playing the high definition every bit as well as Wolverine does on the screen. Colors are vibrant and rich, bathing the image in the hues of the beautified world, while black levels give the picture solid visual depth.

A DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track complements the video presentation, giving the film a brutally aggressive sound mix that perfectly matches the superhero antics. Filled with low ends that give your woofer a good rumble, while also offering a crystal clear high end, the audio track is engaging with its active split surrounds throughout. Dialogues are well integrated and never drowned out and the film's score is presented in a nice wide mix that takes in the entire sound stage.

The release is filled with bonus materials, most of them being offered in the form of featurettes. Ranging from interviews with Stan Lee and Len Wein on the subject of their comic books, all the way to a look behind the scenes and special effects featurettes, you will find virtually anything covered by the bonus materials on the disc. Deleted and alternate scenes are also included, as well as footage from the World Premiere and Trivia Facts, plus a commentary track by the director.

On a second disc you can also find a digital copy of the movie for playback on portable media players.

"Wolverine" was more enjoyable than expected. The top notch quality of the Blu-Ray Disc certainly helped, but overall I found the story of "Wolverine" a gripping one that was not bogged down by the need to support plot lines for 10 or more original characters. Logan and Victor are at the core of the story and everything else surrounding them becomes staffage. For a mindless popcorn action experience, this film served me very well and left me with a better impression of the "X-Men" franchise than before.