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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Marvel Knights - Wolverine: Origin
Marvel Knights - Wolverine: Origin
Shout Factory // Unrated // July 9, 2013
List Price: $14.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Nick Hartel | posted August 14, 2013 | E-mail the Author
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THE PROGRAM

Not surprisingly, the Marvel Knights line of motion comics adaptations of previously successful graphic novels, would find a reason to capitalize on the release of "The Wolverine" with their latest incarnation in the increasingly mediocre in quality line, with "Wolverine: Origin." The roughly 65-minute "film" adapts the 6-issue miniseries of the same name from writers Bill Jemas, Paul Jenkins and Joe Quesada. Right out the gate, the motion comic style is an obvious ill-fit for Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove's artwork, taking a very stylized printed image and trying to bring it to life with little success. When traditional camera movements are added to the mix, most notably zooms, the art loses detail and the production quality is more reminiscent of lower resolution image overly zoomed-in on. To make matters worse the 66-minute (to be precise) runtime includes a set of opening and closing credits for each of the feature's chapters; if I had to estimate, I'd argue if you subtracted these sequences, the actual amount of storytelling time is more in the ballpark of 50-minutes tops.

Even more disappointing than the sub-par motion comics translation of the art is the abysmal quality of the narrative source material itself, which is to be frank, insulting to the rich history of the character. Having read the comic personally back in the mid 2000s, it failed to live up to the hype of offering readers a satisfying true origin for the character of Wolverine. However, once you take an already disappointing story, butcher the artwork and slap on a generally lifeless voice cast to bring characters to life, the final product can only be somewhere in the ballpark of insufferable. Those who watched the live-action "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" have already seen the best this feature has to offer, namely the events leading up to Logan's first manifestation of mutant powers. While that played out nicely in five minutes on the big screen, here it takes about a third of the runtime that's padded with tired clichés of (minor) class warfare, alcoholism, and abuse. From there the iconic character's name is further dragged through the mud and devolved into a simpering, pitiful excuse for a hero who not so cleverly is obsessed with a red-haired cousin (Wolverine fans, have we not already encountered a relationship with a red-haired character before?) and has a hazy recollection of a traumatic event from the past.

There are a few brief moments of enjoyment to be had from "Wolverine: Origin," namely the final chapter, which is still on the whole, crafted from cliché, but does tantalize viewers with the notion of a possible origin for Sabertooth (yes, truth be told, one writer says it wasn't supposed to be intentional, but Marvel has played with the idea since) as well as the eventual emergence of the Wolverine we know and love: the stubborn hardass, who deep down, in his own way will take a hit for a friend or loved one. These flashes of quality would have had greater impact to the audience had the voice cast turned in anything beyond flat performances with the occasional, necessary accent. No matter how you try and spin it, the underlying problem is "Wolverine: Origin" was not a quality offering on the printed page and when it comes to the motion comic format, lacked an art style that would adequately transfer. When you ignore two huge red flags of that nature, the only possible outcome is what viewers are offered here: a poor excuse for entertainment and an insult to an iconic character.







THE DVD

The Video

The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer captures the animation reasonably enough and accurately compared to the source material, down to the drab color choices. Likely a result of the motion comic process, there aren't a lot of smooth lines to be found and shockingly some compression artifacts are noticeable, despite the brief running time.

The Audio

The Dolby Digital English stereo audio track is a decent enough presentation given the stilted nature of many of the vocal performances. The mix itself doesn't feel fluid nor natural, but isn't terribly distracting given the mediocre animation quality to begin with providing little visual stimulation.

The Extras

An interview segment with the creative team behind the comic is the lone extra.

Final Thoughts

Thoroughly disappointing from an entertainment standpoint and marginal in technical merit, "Wolverine: Origin" is a huge step-back for the already shaky motion comic format. At this point in comic history, the "true" origin of Wolverine should have remained forbidden ground, because what stands here as likely "canon" would be laughable if it weren't so sad. Skip It.

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