New this week on DVD, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is Hugh Jackman’s fourth outing in the Marvel superhero role that made him a superstar, but if his claws are as sharp as ever, the rest of the movie isn’t, at least compared to the first two X-Men movies.
For comic-book and action fans devoted to the material, the prequel — covering Wolverine’s roots in the 18th-century Canadian frontier, his participation in a string of wars from the Civil War to Vietnam, and his fateful encounter with a young Gen. Stryker that will change his life — may satisfy their itch to see the circle completed.
For most viewers, though, it’s a rote exercise with few surprises and not much interest. The movie doesn’t even ponder what it’s like to remember the preindustrial world in the space age: to smell the sweat of an enemy from 50 feet away; to suffer physical trauma and great pain without fear, knowing you’ll be fine in a minute or so.
In a word, it lacks both curiosity and imagination. Skippable.
New on Blu-ray, Silverado is rip-roaring entertainment that’s about as much fun as it’s possible for a Western to be. Writer-director Lawrence Kasdan, whose screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark amounted to an anthology of everything you could ask for in a cliff-hanger adventure, takes a similar approach here, offering a whirlwind tour of just about everything you could want in a Western.
There are shoot-outs, standoffs, ambushes, jail breaks, posse pursuits, wagon convoys, saloon gunfights, outlaw hideouts, family feuds, wounded heroes, bucket-line firefighting, a cattle stampede, and much more.
The astonishing cast stars Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover and Kevin Costner, with John Cleese, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Dennehy, Rosanna Arquette and Linda Hunt among the supporting cast. Also available on standard DVD. Highly recommended.
Few directors did more for the Western than John Ford. New on DVD, Directed by John Ford offers an intriguing though incomplete documentary look at the filmmaker whose works include classics like Stagecoach, The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, as well as non-Westerns like The Quiet Man and How Green Was My Valley.
John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and many others offer what light they can on the enigmatic filmmaker, whose own interview footage is notoriously unenlightening. (“I don’t know what you’re talking about” was a typical Ford response.)
Directed by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich in 1971, the documentary was completely revised by Bogdanovich in 2006, with new material, including interviews with Ford regular Harry Carey Jr. and sequences illustrating Ford’s vision of the family and spirituality. Worthwhile.
Content advisory: X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Intense, sometimes deadly action violence; nonmarital cohabitation; fleeting rear nudity; brief profanity and some crude language. Teens and up. Silverado: Recurring, often deadly violence, including gunplay, stabbing and fisticuffs; fleeting sensuality. Teens and up. Directed by John Ford: Nothing objectionable.