Title: The Wolverine
HTS Overall Score:
Wolverine is back again (some wondered if the movie would ever get green lit after the debacle that was “Wolverine: Origins”). With ups and downs, reshoots and delays it was a rocky battle. “The Wolverine” seems to have taken some notes from more recent superhero movies, such as “Man of Steel” and Nolan’s Batman trilogy, giving a moody and dark tone to the film that fans of the previous showings may tend to notice. Gone is the cigar chomping, smart mouthed Wolverine we’ve known, and instead shows him a decade in the future, after the events of X-3 still trying to find his soul. Now, while this may seem a bit jarring in tone to the previous films, it must be laid out on the table that Wolverine has always been a character prone to introspection and a bit of a moody character. Here we see the norm turned on its head and the goofier aspects of “Origins” gone, which is kind of a welcome thing after how poorly “Origins” turned out to be.
Logan (Hugh Jackman) is tortured by his past, haunted by Jean (Famke Janssen) in his dreams and is living as a wanderer in the wilds. A strange turn of events happens when a young Japanese mutant by the name of Yukio (Rila Fukishima) comes with a strange message. It appears that a “friend” from the past wants to meet him and give him a gift. Back in the days of World War II Logan once saved a Japanese soldier from the atomic explosion in the last days of the war. That young soldier grew up and founded a technology empire. Nearing the end of his days he wishes to thank Logan. Returning with Yukio to Japan, Logan meets Mr. Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) and learns that Yashida has learned a way to strip Logan of his healing abilities, thus giving him the gift of mortality. A gift that Logan has yearned for over his life. The ability to grow old and die, instead of continuing on living a life of immortality, but a life devoid of true peace. Logan, as much as he doesn’t want to live, is still afraid of giving up his powers. Staying the night at the Yashida residence he falls prey to Viper, a mutant with strange toxins and poisonous resistance and serving as Mr. Yashida’s doctor. At the same time Yashida passes away, leaving the family in turmoil.
Set upon by different factions of the Yashida household, Logan protects Mariko (Tao Okamoto), Yashida’s grand daughter from the bloody power struggle and finds that the doctor has minimized his healing abilities. Struggling to keep his head above water with his powers on the fritz, Logan and Mariko hide out as best they can, figuring out how to deal with this situation. Mariko finally is able to give Logan something he has always desired, someone to love again. Falling for each other the pair begin to heal each other’s wounds and start fresh. However, with such power struggles, peace can’t last forever and Mariko is kidnapped, sending Logan into a fury. With the aid of Yukio he has to track down Mariko, and face not only his own demons, but a monstrosity that can strip away from him what makes him strongest of all.
This new take on Wolverine has both its ups and its downs. The darker tone to the film is most definitely a nice change of pace, giving Wolverine the dark edge that he’s always had in the comics. I’ve always felt that Wolverine has been a bit too kiddy in the previous films and that the only time when you saw the real Wolverine was during the attack on Xavier’s mansion in X2. Here Wolverine shows his more brutal side and seriously goes to town on the baddies. Even though the movie isn’t wall to wall action (there’s only 3 major action set pieces) the film still feels like it’s got enough action to cover the bases without alienating the action junkies and there’s much more character study in the film for those wanting to delve deeper into Wolverine’s psyche. The Silver Samurai storyline has always been a favorite of mine, and while it isn’t a picture perfect adaptation of the comic arc, it does a pretty good job at getting it on screen.
My main gripe with the story was twofold. For one, I felt that it went a bit tooooooooo mopey at times, following in the steps of Nolan a bit too much for my own tastes. It seems that today “Dark” basically is interpreted as moody and self-loathing. Wolverine has always been an introspective character, one who’s had to analyze the life he leads and dig deep to find out who he truly is, however he’s not the character to e all mopey and emo, which seems to be the rage. My last complaint had to do with the Silver Samurai ending. With such a great off beat take on Wolverine I was a bit disappointed that they went with a clichéd super hero ending instead of following along with the tone of the first 2 acts a bit more.
Some of the action scenes, especially the bullet train, were a bit over the top, but the film still carried a lot of fun and carried a new twist to the storyline. NOW… the release for “The Wolverine” is a bit dicey. There’s an extended cut which adds 12 minutes of footage to the film, but the kicker is that it’s ONLY available on a 2D disc in the 3D combo pack. Meaning that the regular version doesn’t have that extended cut. In my opinion the extended cut is the clear winner here. The battle with the ninjas is VERY much fleshed out and there’s quite a few added scenes that make the movie flow smoother and explains several things that the theatrical cut didn’t really explain. The extended fight scene with the ninjas is worth the price of admission alone and even if you don’t want the 3D disc I can say for a fact that it helps the final battle greatly and that the extended cut is probably your best bet. I’m rather disappointed that Fox decided to keep the extended cut on the 3D combo pack and not on the 2D combo pack. I can understand packing a few more extras on the 3D set, or something like that, but leaving another cut ONLY available on the 3D combo pack is a bit frustrating, especially since the extended cut is the more desirable of the two.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language
“The Wolverine” is presented in a nearly flawless 2.40:1 AVC transfer. Literally brimming with color it pops with great aplomb. The neon lights of Japan’s large sprawling cities is contrasted with cool blues and greens in the native wilderness creating a sort of surreal effect. Everything is so clearly detailed that it’s a near revelation watching the film. Every movement, every crease in Logans face, even the individual inconsistencies where the razor cut too close or not enough on his shave that morning. There is a little softness in one or two scenes, but it’s EXTREMELY minimal. The blacks are deep and inky, giving a rich level of detail even in the most black of scenes. The picture is night flawless, without any marring with digital artifacting or use of DNR to artificially sharpen the film. Completely beautiful it is going to be a demo disc for many, and certainly one that I’ll be spinning to show off my home theater’s capabilities.
While the video encode was just shy of perfection, the audio track, on the other hand, is flawless to my ears. The powerful 7.1 DTS-HD MA track is bombastic and incredibly detailed. Starting the film off with a flashback to the World War II era Logan we are greeted with a beautifully robust track that ensnares the listener with its incredible ear for detail. I was expecting a little more low end at the beginning, and even the explosion of the atomic bomb didn’t wow me like I thought it would, until I paid closer attention to the sheer amount of sonic detail present in the scene. However, as the track progress the LFE channel unleashes a powerful bombardment upon the viewer shaking him or her to their core. The end battle with the Silver Samurai sends shock waves throughout the LFE channel as well as unleashes the surrounds in a truly engrossing way. Auditory detail is through the roof with individual little ambient noises all working together to create a fantastic audio track. The dialogue was crisp and clean as you would expect and the dynamic range strode throughout all octaves of the sound spectrum. Truly demo worthy.
• The Path of a Ronin
• Theatrical Trailer
• Alternate Ending
• "X-Men: Days of Future Past" Set Tour
• Second Screen App
“The Wolverine” is not the perfect Wolverine movie we’ve all been hoping for, but it’s definitely a SOLID step above “X3” and “Origins” by a good margin. The Wolverine smart mouthed Wolverine from the past has darkened a bit and is now, for better or worse, a grittier and mature character. It leads to me to wonder if this film is just a teaser for things to come with “X-men : Days of Future Past” coming out next summer and if all goes well, we can see a blend of the X-men of the past and this new, and darker character. With stunning audio and fantastic video scores I have to recommend this as a must check out, for all you comic book fans.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao, Okamoto, Rila, Fukishima
Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Mark Bomback
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, English: DD 2.0, Spanish, French, Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 126 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: Dec 3rd, 2013
Buy The Wolverine 3D combo pack (with Extended cut) Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy The Wolverine 2D combo pack Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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