X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, $39.99) is a 107 minute romp that is breathtakingly fun.
But then I am an X-Men fan. The first X-Men comic I purchased was Number 1, signed by that Marvel of comic creations Stan Lee.
Worth the wait for technology to springboard them from the comic page to plausible live action life, I have adored the X-Men films. And I cheered with the kids whenever Logan would “rage out” in the X-Men films.
Wolverine is my favorite X-Men.
I like the character because he is an outsider to the original mutant band – stepping onto their hallowed turf with a bad boy swagger and attitude aplenty. He brings sex appeal aplenty to a movie that has things blowing up.
And as our feral bad boy Hugh Jackman is perfect. He brings the character to life and looks really, really good doing it. I will go out on a pretty sturdy limb and say he may be the most perfect man alive.
There I said it. Hugh Jackman is perfect.
And reason enough – as he cavorts around in nothing more than the skin he was born in -to watch the film. And really enjoy it.
But wait. There’s more.
Wolverine Origins is also a great action flick with all the earmarks of a great edge of your seat popcorn movie and enough emotional pathos to make you care.
The die-hard fans that have preconceived ideas of who and what Logan is, picked this and that apart but I found plenty to like.
And if the back story may not exactly mirror that which creators Len Wein , John Romita Sr., and artist Herb Trimpe first envisioned, it played well against their story of a seemingly immortal mutant born in the 1880.
As mutants go, Wolverine is as anarchic as he could be. Multiple lifetimes filled with the violence of wars – portrayed through a series of flash back scenes running under the credits – catapults our hero with lamb chop sideburns convincingly into the present day.
He doesn’t play well with other testosterone-laden men. His brother, Victor Creed (Liev Schrieber) suffers from fairly intense sibling rivalry (hey it would be hard for anyone to have Logan as a brother) and they have some memorable battles.
His relationship with power hungry, and mad as a hatter, Colonial William Stryker (Danny Huston) – first as a member of his covert Team X group of mercenaries and later as the experiment and would be pawn of the sadistic Frankenstein like mutant-hater that, in his attempts to create the ultimate soldier, bonds adamantium to Wolverine’s skeletal structure.
Of course this take the fast, strong and able to quickly heal mutant and makes him basically indestructible.
Only, contrary to the Colonial’s plans, Logan is more man than beast, carrying about quite a conscious and consciousness of his previous actions.
And he has a bit of a temper.
He becomes really angry whenever innocents are killed around him. And unfortunately that happens more often than not.
But Logan is also a lover. Origins brings in a plausible love story as Logan leaves the Team X mercenaries to live as a lumberjack in the timber wilds of Canada with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins).
Of course, that ends disastrously and with more than a few tears shed on screen and off. But she tells a beautiful story of Luna, the moon, and her lover the wolverine and the coyote trickster.
And it all ends with a very large bang leading to horrific loss and setting the stage for the story that follows in X-Men, X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand.
The Origin film franchise is reported to be continuing, heading to Japan where Wolverine acquires training in Eastern philosophy and fighting styles based on the Silver Samurai story arch introduced by writer Chris Clairmont.
And while the fan boys may take offense at the film version, I am pretty sure I will like it. I mean what’s not to like…
The goods: The boys of Origins. Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds (as Wade Wilson) and a delightful appearance by Taylor Kitsch who brings the character of Remy Le Beau, aka Gambit, into the film franchise. Kitsch’s interpretation of the bold, self-assured Gambit was pure fun.
The bads: Other than the Stan Lee and Len Wein colorful discussion in extras, where is any art from the Wolverine comic book world. The character is so rich and dense with a 35-year history, I can not believe the Blu-ray developers could not put together examples of the wide range of artist who illustrated our feral friend or offer comparisons of film to comic anywhere on the disk.
The mandatory extras: Forget the pair of optional commentary tracks with director Gavin Hood and the producers along with an assortment of promotional featurettes and let’s appreciate two legends of the comic book industry talking about the movie’s hero.
Len Wein, co-creator of Wolverine, and Stan Lee, venerable co-creator of the X-Men, offer 15 minutes of memories not to be missed by a sequential art fan.
Mr. Lee, 86-year old patriarch of Marvel Comics, still displays a youthful exuberance for his characters and easily out talks Mr. Wein, who often acts as simply an interviewer. Mr. Wein’s memorable moments include a funny story about how Chris Claremont ended up writing the X-men comic books and the origins of adamantium.
In general, the pair discusses the X-Men comics and Wolverine’s convoluted genesis, so confusing in fact, that Mr. Wein has to explain it to Stan The Man.
Now let’s look at no less than four picture in picture options called the Ultimate X-Mode available to play during the film. They include Director Gavin Hood’s mug appearing in the corner of the screen; producer Lauren Schuler Donner and Mr. Hood in X-Connect further dissecting and offering insight between the three X-men movies and Origin (most interesting by far with clips from the older movies included); a track devoted to previsualization comparisons to the final movie (both static and animated storyboards); and a useless fact pop up track.
And, although I appreciate the Weapon X Mutant Files bonus with a live action look at ten of the principles (from Emma Frost to the Blob), it’s too film centric and self serving for its own good (I don’t care about what Ryan Reynolds thought about playing Deadpool but I would like to know a bit about the colorful history of the mercenary) and, most egregious, it never offers any context to a character’s comic book roots.
Above and beyond: Those able to experience BD Live functionality get to watch the film with limited access to resources culled from Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) in the feature called Live Lookup.
Specifically, a navigation overlay pops up with the film in the corner of the screen and head shots of the actors, pertaining to what’s currently happening, scrolling at the bottom. Click on a head and see a list of the actor’s credits.
Of course this has a long way to go before offering as entertaining of an experience as seen in DVD/PC interactivity from IVEX software from years ago, remember New Line Home Entertainment’s ability to watch a film while following along with the final script, reading biographies, viewing concept art and other production nuggets simultaneously.
Anyway, it’s a Blu-ray feature that has potential and adds more than a pretty picture to the high def format.