The director and producer of the film were on hand to discuss the film and present the new Live LookUp feature
The world of home video is rapidly changing, like many an industry, and at the forefront of that industry is the almighty Blu-ray, the high-definition format that brings picture and sound quality that you would get in the theater right in your living room. Aside from the crisp picture resolution and sound qualities, BD discs have been also coveted for their much-larger disc-space capacity and Internet connectivity, which is something that every studio's home entertainment division is trying to find new ways to utilize. Fox Home Entertainment is taking a new step forward in BD technology with the release of Live LookUp, which will be made available for the first time on the X-Men Origins: Wolverine Blu-ray, which hits the shelves on September 15, along with the standard DVD and two-disc Special Edition DVD. I took a trip down to the Fox lot to check out a presentation of this new technology and we also were able to speak with the film's director, Gavin Hood and producer Lauren Shuler-Donner as well.
After watching a few select clips from not only the film but a nice little compilation of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine throughout the film series, we were shown a few special feature clips from the Blu-ray, like a clip of a larger conversation between X-Men creator Stan Lee and Len Wein, who created the Wolverine character. We also heard from Shuler-Donner and Hood before the Q&A session and Hood revealed that he was particularly impressed with not only this BD disc, but the nature of BD as a whole.
"You work incredibly hard when you're making a movie to shoot it as well as you can and to preserve the quality of the images as best you can and to get the best sound that you can," Hood said. "And so often, the only time you see your work the way you intended it is at your preview screenings where you have the best prints and the best picture and the best sound and it's fantastic. Then you go down to a local cinema and drop in and go, 'Is that my movie?' The print has been through an IP and it's a fourth-generation and there's a speaker missing in the back row. What's great about Blu-ray is it really comes the closest to that pristine first screening and with a scene like the helicopter action chase, where there's so much going on and the cuts are so fast, when the quality falls in lesser formats, it's harder to see what's going on, but with Blu-ray you do."
We also watched a special feature clip that showed Hugh Jackman's amazing training regiment and diet to get into such incredible shape for the film and we also were shown a deleted scene that was really an alternate scene and quite a pivotal one towards the end that I don't really want to spoil if you haven't seen the film. It was clear, though, that this scene did cause quite a debate on the set, s they were trying to decide which way to go, either the way that was shown in the film or the way in the deleted scenes. If you're seen the film, I'm sure you can figure it out and make sure to check out this alternate take on the scene on the DVD or BD.
After the clips were shown, we got into the special features of the disc and most notably the new Live LookUp feature that was introduced on this disc. Live LookUp is a very cool new feature that allows viewers to actor's filmography information right on the BD player, which is powered by the Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB). This will come in really handy for those "Where have I seen him/her before?" moments because you can look up their IMDB filmography right from this player. There is a function where you can either see just the actors that appear in the scene that is currently playing, or you can toggle through every actor in the film as well. They have each actor's credits separated into four categories - actor credits, self appearances, producer credits and a section that has all their credits including video games and you can also search by actor or character name as well. The really cool thing about this feature is that the program self-updates every time you put the disc in the player. So, lets say you watch this six months from now and Hugh Jackman has signed on to a new Wolverine film, that info will be automatically updated each time the disc is put in the player. Of course, you need a BD player that is BD-Live enabled and connected to the Internet, but this certainly looks like a handy little feature that lets you browse an actors whole career right on the same screen as the movie you're watching them in. While this X-Men Origins: Wolverine Blu-ray is the first to feature this Live LookUp feature, don't be surprised to see this new feature on many more Fox discs in the near future.
After that nifty little BD demo, we were joined once again by director Gavin Hood and producer Lauren Shuler Donner who graciously answered our questions about the film and this new BD disc. Here's what they had to say.
Director Gavin Hood and Producer Lauren Shuler Donner
With the IMDB feature that was just shown, was that something that you guys were pushing for, or did you have an idea they would include that while you were making the movie?
Gavin Hood: I certainly didn't. I think there are some very smart guys here who don't get enough credit. We certainly made the movie and we did our commentaries and did all that stuff, but the idea of this IMDB thing, I can't take credit for it.
Does the success of the first films afford you greater opportunities to take liberties with the character, or does it put more pressure on you to maintain certain truths to the source material?
Lauren Shuler Donner: We certainly are fully aware of the fan base and try, in every way possible, to stay close to the source material. I think in Wolverine it was a little bit different because there were a lot of different legends in Victor Creed's relationships to Logan and his background, so there were some choices we had to make. Certainly in the Wolverine 2 saga, the Japanese saga, we will stay very close to the source material.
Gavin Hood: I think it's a great question and it's obviously one that troubled me and I sense there's a lot more beneath the question than you're letting on. The truth is, what freaked me out a little when I was doing research, was I was looking for the definitive origin story of Wolverine. Anyone who really knows the comics, knows that doesn't really exist because this guy had been written about for 40 years by many different writers and different illustrators. Wolverine has been drawn wearing yellow spandex more than the leather jacket so, right there, depending on your particular fan, the fans who want to see Wolverine in yellow spandex will be disappointed because there is no yellow spandex in this movie, but, of course, he could be. If this franchise is popular and there's a version that is made like that, I'd certainly think it's great. It is the tricky question I get asked a lot: 'Why isn't he in yellow spandex?' or 'Why did you choose the bone claws?' The truth is that all of those versions are from source material. The origin story of the bone claws happen and the hint that Victor Creed might be his half-brother, which has been debated by fans, we had to choose. Why did we choose to have him the half-brother? Because in the original draft when he wasn't the half-brother, there wasn't enough emotional connection between the hero and the villain. So I'm going to pick the one that's the most dramatically powerful for this particular story, which is, there is a lot more tension when you're at war with your half-brother, than if you're at war with just a bad guy. Yes, we had seen him (Sabretooth) before in the other movies, but he had never been fully fleshed out. So, we made those choices and we took the source material we felt was best for this. That doesn't mean there aren't other options that other writers haven't written up. I just preferred to do a movie about a mutant in a leather jacket rather than yellow spandex.
I saw on one of the other deleted scenes there was a younger version of Storm, so I was wondering if there were any other characters that were kicked around, doing little glimpses of other characters here?
Gavin Hood: Other than Storm, I don't think so. Storm was the only one that was kicked around that didn't make the movie because, you know, there are only so many characters you can fit in without it feeling a little tight. The problem with Storm was that she appeared but there was nowhere for her to go. Lauren always made the point, I think rightly, that unfortunately, in the other movies, Storm never gave any hint of meeting Logan and that's why, I think I say so on the commentary, that she didn't survive. But there was a moment in time where it was like, 'Can we get Storm into this movie?' Lauren felt really strongly about that and I think she was right.
In X2, Bryan Cox plays Stryker, so did you try to get him back to reprise his role like Patrick Stewart did here?
Gavin Hood: Well, Patrick was easier because it was a very short scene and the aging makeup was something we could do. Trying to do Bryan, making him 30 years younger, with no offense to Bryan, was a little bit trickier. It was really hard.
Lauren Shuler Donner: Because this was younger Stryker, it was financially difficult. The way we made Patrick younger was a visual effects called Lola, which is extremely costly, but, as Gavin said, for 60 seconds, OK, but for a two-hour movie...
Gavin Hood: It also severely limits what the actor can do, expressively, because they're working and you're aging them backwards. It's fine for a brief moment in time, but it became so prohibitive and costly, even on a movie this big.
With that, we were out of time and my day at the Fox lot had come to a close. We got a glimpse at some awesome new technology and even got some insight into the making of the film from director Gavin Hood and producer Lauren Shuler Donner. Then when it was all over, we had sandwiches and cookies, and you can't ask for anything more than awesome cookies on a studio lot. Anyway, you can take a look at Live LookUp and all these new special features for yourself on the X-Men Origins: Wolverine Blu-ray which will be available along with the DVD on September 15. That's about all from my day down at the Fox lot, folks. Peace in. Gallagher out!