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Ghost Canyon

'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'
(Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2009 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: Wolverine, fan favorite of the X-Men universe in both comic books and film, gets his own movie vehicle with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a tale that reaches way, way back into the hairy mutant's story. Somewhere in the wilds of northwest Canada in the early 1800s, two boys grow up amid violence: half-brothers with very special powers. Eventually they will become the near-indestructible warriors (and victims of a super-secret government program) known as Wolverine and Sabretooth, played respectively by Hugh Jackman (returning to his role) and Liev Schreiber (new to the scene).

DVD Verdict: 'X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE' begins in 1845 when young James Howlett kills a man for killing his father, only to discover that the man he's killed is actually his biological dad. On the run with his half-brother Victor Creed, the pair bound through history, both mutants with the ability to self heal and age slowly. Their killing abilities are utilized in all wars, but it is Victor who seems to enjoy it while James merely sticks with his brother.

Fast forward to the Vietnam War with Victor (Liv Schreiber) and James (Hugh Jackman) facing a firing squad only to survive. In prison, they are recruited by General Stryker (Danny Huston) for a unique squad that will covertly take care of problems for the U.S. Composed of various other mutants, the team often rustles each other's feathers, but do the wet work their job requires of them. The killing begins to get to James, now known as Logan, and he quits the team.

The scene changes to several years later and Logan is now living happily in Canada as a lumberjack with a woman he loves, Kayla (Lynn Collins). Stryker arrives to tell Logan that someone is killing the ex-members of the team and to be careful. The warning is too late and we are there to see Victor meet up with Kayla. When Logan finds her body, he tracks down Stryker to be a part of his secret project, Weapon X, in an attempt to turn Logan into an indestructible killer. When asked what his dog tags should read, he says Wolverine, a reference to a story Kayla had told him.

The procedure nearly kills Wolverine as the scientists inject molten adamantium, the strongest metal known to man, to his skeletal system. Where he once had bones, he now has adamantium. And where skeletal claws once popped from his fists, now shining blades appear. As the process is completed, Wolverine overhears the group planning on killing him. In a rage, he leaps from the lab's tank and takes out anyone in his way, escaping to a nearby farm.

But the welcome an elderly couple there provides is short lived as Stryker's assassins kill them both and try to get Wolverine. Once more in a rage, Wolverine takes out the team. But before Agent Zero (Daniel Henney) dies, he lets Wolverine know that Stryker has been behind it all.

Wolverine seeks out the rest of the team to find out where Stryker has gone to ground. With the help of two he is sent to New Orleans to meet a mutant named Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), the only mutant to escape from "the island", a secret location of Stryker's where he is experimenting on mutants, like Scott Summers and Emma Frost (two main characters from the comics). Out for blood, Wolverine convinces Gambit to take him there and attempts to put an end to Stryker's experiments and Victor for killing the woman he loved.

The film is action packed from beginning to end. The scenes and set ups bring to mind numerous images from comics past as well as characters that have become legends at Marvel comics. One is even on fast track to have his own film, Deadpool played by Ryan Reynolds. He becomes a major force in the film, though to reveal why would ruin the surprise.

The effects are amazing here. Any and every possible effect is used for maximum advantage and it shows. Streets blow up, buildings come down a brick at a time and powers shoot from eyes and playing cards. Not to mention the adamantium claws fans are so familiar with.

The acting is better than most would think, with Jackman now comfortable in the lead role. But Schreiber as Victor Creed is amazing. His feline like qualities from his stance to his bloodlust comes off as realistic. And Reynolds as the smart aleck Deadpool deserves his own film. [MT] This is a Widescreen presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

“Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins” featurette
Anti-Smoking PSA: Bubbles