One of the few somber moments in X-Men Origins: Wolverine comes as Hugh Jackman (playing the title character) sits in a broken down barn speaking to an older couple who took him in. The old man speaks to Wolverine about revenge, and in an instant, the screen lights up with pyrotechnics as a chase to capture Wolverine ensues.
That sequence is the perfect example of what goes wrong with Origins. Wolverine’s story, his journey from mutant to super powered mutant, is put on screen to move from one action sequence to the next. A better title might have been Wolverine Versus, since aside from being adamantium-filled, the only thing the audience learns about this X-Men hero is that he fights a lot.
Despite being about Wolverine, his screen time isn’t that different from the X-Men trilogy. The script is overloaded with other mutants, almost all of them underdeveloped in a fast-moving script that doesn’t deliver details, only action.
That previously mentioned action sequence in the barn brings up a number a questions. Wolverine has escaped the facility which granted him the trademark adamantium powers, and is shot numerous times while fleeing. His super-healing ability ensures he stays in one piece, and one of the doctor’s even states “He’s invulnerable.”
Why then are helicopters sent to destroy Wolverine with bullets? The barn explosion had no effect, yet an eight-minute chase ensues where the only logical outcome is that Wolverine will succeed. The whole point of an action sequence like this is that the hero is in danger, yet given the prior sequence, that’s not the case. Wolverine’s powers are established, the audience knows what he’s capable of, and by that point, helicopters are child’s play.
Other mutants include the Blob, Sabertooth, Deadpool, Cyclops, Agent Zero, and Bolt. There are more, yet many of their names are never even spoken. The origins of Wolverine don’t even seem to be a concern of the script. It’s more important that he ends up in heated combat with as many of the above characters before the brief runtime is over.
Long-awaited X-Men favorite Gambit is finally given his chance, played with mild flair by Taylor Kitsch. Like the rest of the story, the role is here and gone without any afterthought, at least until the inexplicable save during the finale. Someone not familiar with the character will be baffled as to why the character can make playing cards explode. In this script, he just does.
Then again, maybe that sets up another Origins film so people will have to pay $10 to find out how that character came to be. Wolverine feels like it’s introducing characters purely for that purpose, and the audience learns nothing of Wolverine that wasn’t known previously from the trilogy. But hey, at least a lot stuff is destroyed, right?
Fox delivers a sharp, bright, and saturated AVC encode that mostly impresses. High fidelity detail is notable throughout, bringing out incredibly rich facial textures. Deep blacks are impressive in establishing depth, and fine film grain exists throughout.
Aside from the credits sequence, only a spattering of shots contain noise (particularly those with Wolverine’s obvious CG claws). This is otherwise clean. Flesh tones appear slightly red, and some softness creeps in at times. The worst offender is a shot of Lynn Collins around the 29-minute marker.
Some mid-range shots look slightly processed, although not offensively so. Most will find this transfer pleasing and strong, especially considering the immense levels of detail in numerous shots.
A powerful DTS-HD mix is impressive from the start. The opening credits, following Logan and Victor through multiple wars, is wonderful in terms of how well it envelopes the viewer. Subdued sound effects aside, the powerful score and hails of bullets are still impressive.
That stays true for much of the film. Characters are tossed around the screen, captured in all channels as they bounce off objects. Punches are suitably powerful in the low end, and bullets likewise hit the subwoofer as they’re fired. The collapse of a cooling tower in the end is fantastic, although the barn explosion is oddly subdued.
Due to Fox not sending the site a review unit, this based on the company’s new “rental exclusive” policy, which means only trailers reside on the disc. The second digital copy disc is not included, nor are any real extras. As such, we are withholding a score for the extras until a full retail copy is secured. [No Score]