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7.25 out of 10
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8.75 out of 10
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8.25 out of 10

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Wolverine



8.25 out of 10 | MOVIE OR DVD

Rated: PG-13 Language, intense Sci-fi action, sexuality and violence
Release Date: July 26, 2013
Runtime: 2 hours 06 minutes

Director: James Mangold
Writers: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Will Yun Lee, Famke Janssen

SYNOPSIS: Summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, Wolverine becomes embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.

REVIEW: 3:10 to Yuma director James Mangold reunites with his Kate and Leopold star Hugh Jackman as the man who is the best at what he does. Mark Bomback (Unstoppable) and Scott Frank (The Lookout) collaborate to bring the Wolverine back from the fray and into a modern Japan steeped in tradition and secrets.

After the man known as the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables) recovers from his actions in X-Men: The Last Stand, Logan hides himself in the wild away from human contact. When a young woman Yukio (Rila Fukushima) finds him, Logan is asked to travel to Tokyo, Japan to say goodbye to a man he saved in World War II. Yashida (Hal Yamaouchi) tells Logan that he has the ability to take away his immortal suffering by making him mortal. But when Yashida dies, Logan is confronted with assassins and kidnappers after yashida's granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto). After the attempted kidnapping of Mariko, they hide out to figure out the reasons for the attempted abduction. While trying to keep Mariko safe Logan discovers that his own healing factor has been suppressed by parties unknown and that the kidnapping was only part of a larger conspiracy.

Taking place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine finds himself battling nightmares of the woman he loved and killed, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). He hides himself away, vowing to never take another life. A natural progression from the third X-Men movie, and pulling story points from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the story focuses on Logan's time in Japan. While the comic story arc focused on Logan learning to control his killer and baser instincts, The Wolverine take the opposite approach by giving Logan a reason to start fighting again.

Comic book followers of the Wolverine will enjoy the take that director Mangold displays on screen, while others may find the inclusion of ninjas, samurai, and the backdrop of Tokyo Japan to be little too comic-y. The story does include a version of the Silver Samurai, Logan's connection to Mariko, and a little bit more of Logan historical backstory.

Hugh Jackman, as unlikely choice back in the original X-Men movie, continues to do the character proud with a uber ripped physique, signature hairdo, and a couple utterances of "Bub". I do not remember seeing any cigars in this outing, but the writers and directors do manage to add in a cinematic version of Logan with a multitude of arrows sticking out of his back. Tao Okamoto is far better than how Amy Adams was written to play Lois Lane in this summer's Man of Steel. Will Yun Lee (Fast and Furious 6) gives up some of his hand-to-hand fighting in favor of archers bow while not sacrificing a good performance as Harada. Yamanouchi, as Yashida, does a good job of filling the total truth from Logan throughout. And a classic comic villain from the Wolverines rogue gallery, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), also is given a more realistic portrayal in addition to her classic comic costume interpretation toward the end of the film.

The story is smart and relatively faithful to all the films that Wolverine has appeared in, plus the story arcs of The Wolverine in graphic format of the comics. With the PG-13 rating, Wolverine's claws are somewhat hampered. Even though we see a couple SNIKTs of the claws into Mariko's enemies, the lack of blood takes away some of the visceral quality of the character. The red painted on the comic panel may not be as impactful, but leaving the film bloodless does not do Wolverine justice.

The Wolverine returns, focusing on a man still trying to find his place in the world. Haunted by nightmares of the actions he's taking Logan constantly fights against humanity, against his own humanity, and what purpose he has to live. When you take away the Wolverine's healing factor he is in as much physical pain as he is in emotional and mental agony.

If you want a smartly made comic book adaptation, The Wolverine delivers. It may be a little sanitized and clean by "the best at what he does" standards, but it does cut clean through.

NOTE: Stay for the middle of the end credits for a easter egg for the upcoming X-Men: Days of Futures Past.

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