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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

X-Men Origins: Wolverine [Blu-ray]


(Gavin Hood, 2009)



Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Video: 20th Century Fox



Region: ALL (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:47:21.393

Disc Size: 44,272,324,026 bytes

Feature Size: 29,926,477,824 bytes

Average Bitrate: 22.06 Mbps

Chapters: 28

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 15th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video






DTS-HD Master Audio English 3892 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3892 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core:
5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
DTS Express English 96 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 96 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Express English 96 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 96 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Express English 96 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 96 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), English, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Spanish, none



• Audio Commentary by Director Gavin Hood
• Audio Commentary by Producers Lauren Shuler Donner & Ralph Winter
• A Conversation with Stan Lee & Len Wein – in HD (16:18)
• Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins Featurette – in HD (12:05)
• Weapon X Mutant Files – in HD (53:57)
• The Thrill of the Chase – in HD (5:53)
• Deleted & Alternate Scenes with Optional Director's Commentary
• Bonus View: X-Connect
• Bonus View: Director's Chair
• Bonus View: Pre-Visualizing Wolverine
• Bonus View: X-Facts
• Digital Copy
• BD-Live



Comment: 5

On September 15, Fox will have unleashed the first in what promises – or threatens, depending on how you feel this installment augers for the future – to be a series of backstories about the mutants characters. Magneto has been announced for 2011. For now, it's the tightlipped and very sour Wolverine, whom we first meet as a sickly boy in 1841. His older brother, Victor, has a similar problem with his fingernails, but both are miserable kids with good reason to be in a constant state of rage.

Their very differentness from everyone else sets them apart, and it is not a difference that makes them feel any better about themselves. Even their remarkable ability to regenerate tissue, making them more or less immortal, offers them no solace, no respite fro their pain. On the contrary, while they slice and dice their way through every war the U.S has engaged in from our own Civil War to Iraq, they have problems with authority disproportionate to their ability to withstand punishment, even in front of a firing squad. Victor (Lief Schreiber) feels it most. His rage is boundless, his eagerness to kill is little more than an excuse to murder, even in war.



Enter Colonel Stryker (Danny Huston) who recognizes the brothers' special talents and who offers them a place in his team of mutant weapons, each with his unique talent. Before long, Victor's murderous inclinations, and Stryker's apparent willingness to overlook them, are too much for Logan (Hugh Jackman) and he quits the force and retires to a remote rock in the Canadian Rockies. He acquires a certain patina of respectability as a logger and a sympathetic Native American girlfriend, Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Colins), who tells him the story of Kuekuatsu (Wolverine). The reappearance of both Stryker and Victor have expected consequences for all concerned.

I grant that the idea of Origins stories for the X-Men is ripe with possibilities. We can only hope that future scripts (this one by David Benioff and Skip Woods) will speak with more subtlety than "Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in." With few moments excepted everything about this movie lacks subtlety, even the fight sequences, which are staged with remarkable consistency – I guess, to reinforce the lack of same in the title character. This was a mistake, though, mercifully, it is not one that goes on for hours but less than two.


Image: 8/8  NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.  The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.


This is one of those movies on video about which, in the relative absence of artifacts, noise, DNR, enhancements and blemishes, that we take the pumped up contrast, saturation, grain, and crushing blacks to be intentional. It's not always pretty picture, but surely it doesn't intend to be otherwise.


















Audio & Music : 9/7

Considering how pumped up the image, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of subtle ambience cues, such as the sounds of action going on well outside the prison cell where Logan and Victor are first interviewed by Stryker, and the differently realized acoustic for the actors depending on their location. This is something that many audio mixes either get wrong or pay little attention to. The carnival was nicely rendered, too. The timbre of the calliope, a mere passing image, was nailed perfectly. All the big action bits are almost too noisesome to comment on intelligently; suffice to say that they offer plenty of heft and clang but do not deafen.

Operations: 6
The disc is fairly fast-loading, previews can be bypassed with one click of the remote. The menu hides the extra feature contents, but not as singularly as some. As for Bonus View, the following advisory: Do not adjust your set, these programs can be awhile into the feature before they get under way. Unlike Universal's U-Control, there are no "Instructions' on board the disc as to how to what makes these special or how to use them, nor does there appear to be any way to move from one to the other without re-booting the movie via the main menu. It's not like having to re-load the disc, but it can be a nuisance.



Extras: 9
Whatever we night think of the movie, the X-tra features should please the fans. There are two feature length commentaries, one with the director, Gavin Hood (who seems a well intentioned chap – actor turned director, to wit: Tsotsi and Rendition); the other by the two producers, Lauren Shuler Donner (wife of Superman director, and X-Men co-exec-producer, Richard) & Ralph Winter (who have been with us since the first X-Men movie in 2000).


The featurettes include: Wolverine Unleashed, which gets into the backstory of how the Origins movie came to be; The Thrill of the Chase, which offers a closer look at the helicopter chase; A Conversation with Stan Lee (the comic book originator of X-Men) where Stan talks about the Origins idea; and several deleted and alternate scenes wit optional director's commentary. My favorite for content and production is Weapon X Mutant Files where several of the mutants used as weapons by Stryker are showcased. Each one, plus Stryker, introduces him or herself in a slickly produced quasi-advertisement. All of these featurettes are in easy on the eyes HD. Kudos, Fox.

The Bonus View features (see more in Operations) are all PIP. First up is X-Connect where the connections of the characters and plot to the later X-Men movies are elucidated. The Director's Chair, as expected, is hosted by Gavin Hood, who gets into the nuts and bolts of production, casting, character and story. Pre-Visualizing Wolverine storyboards the occasional scene for extended periods of time (pretty good, this one – it helps that the drawings are clearly presented). X-Facts pop up from time to time to offer – hmmm, let's see – X-facts. Works for me.



Recommendation : 6

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not a bad movie, it's just not especially creative or engaging. The image is probably as intended, though as dark as Logan's chops; the audio is very good, and the extra features cover the material in depth and in HD.

Leonard Norwitz
September 17th, 2009



About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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