Review: THE WOLVERINE (2013)
Ever since Hugh Jackman stepped onto the screen in his first scene in 2000’s X-Men fans have been pining away for a solo movie that would showcase Marvel’s mutant hero in a more accurate fashion, aka something along the lines of an R-rated adventure where blood can be shed. Realistically speaking I think most fans know we’ll never get that movie for even if there had been a chance before now that Disney owns Marvel it’s a pretty safe bet that kind of Quentin Tarantino-ish carnage flick will never ever happen these days.
In the meantime we finally got that solo adventure in 2009, but as predicted (though we all hoped it wouldn’t be) the movie pretty much sucked. Reasons for are many, but I don’t want to dissect that movie any more than I have to so I’ll leave it at the “pretty much sucked” point.
When rumors finally began to swirl around the internet that Jackman was going to make another go at a solo Wolverine flick I’m sure expectations were extremely low, but then we began to hear they wanted to do a proper depiction of the mutant. The title for this more “accurate” version became “The Wolverine.” No connection to any X-Men at all. Well, that’s certainly a good start.
In the end even though we still didn’t get that “Tarantino version” we all wanted the PG-13 version of The Wolverine certainly delivered a more personal tale of what the graphic novel of his Japan adventure was all about. Everything is all switched around but at least Logan isn’t tapped with saving the world like every superhero flick is about these days.
The timeline for this movie is certainly and obviously occurring in the wake of the tragic events of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) where Logan was the one who put an end to Jean Grey’s madness with one swift strike of his adamantium claws. Keep in mind this was a fellow mutant he cared for, but was left with no other alternative since her madness prevented her from seeing the wrong of what she was doing.
In The Wolverine Logan is living in the woods, hair and beard having been left to grow unfettered by anything remotely resembling caring. He wants to be left alone, but for a man who has lived as long as he has and built up such a vast history of misery and pain even in sleep he cannot find solace. Jean is there haunting him and making him feel even worse for what he had to do to her. Sometimes cruelly accusing other times just being.
But a mutant like Logan cannot stay out of life’s way for long. A bear that he has made a tenuous peace with is hunted down and not properly killed, leaving him once again to do the dirty work. He visits the hunters in a local bar intent on making them pay with their lives when a Japanese chick by the name of Yukio shows up and prevents him from carrying out what was gearing up to be a mass murder.
She tells Logan she’s in the employ of a man named, Yashida, and that she’s spent the last year tracking him down. Logan knows Yashida. In a couple of flashback sequences Logan was a WW2 POW in Nagasaki and saved this lone officer who was not prepared to commit ritual suicide when the bombers flew in to make the area unlivable.
All this dying Yashida wants now it is to thank Logan. Sounds simple enough. He allows Yukio to take him to Japan but once he gets there things get complicated. He meets the man’s granddaughter, Mariko, her father, Shingen and the man she is supposed to marry, Noburo Mori. Yashida tells Logan he can make him “human” again; take away is healing ability so he can live a normal life. Whether he likes it or not, this happens to him anyway. But his ability isn’t really “taken away,” just suppressed.
Logan is to play a big part in Yashida’s grand scheme to cheat death and lessening his natural urge to regenerate was supposed to make him more manageable, easier to take down. They were wrong. Even at human levels of healing this movie shows us you still don’t want to fuck with the Wolverine. He gets shot and stabbed more so than in any other movie his character has been in and still manages to kill a hell of a lot Yakuza and ninja adversaries.
Being PG-13 all the kills are bloodless, but no less impressive.
I have never read the graphic novel this movie is based on. Marvel Anime’s 12-part Wolverine series is the closest I’ve gotten to that but even that storyline was altered to a degree. I can say the ending is not as grim as the source materal/anime series, and that the Silver Samurai has been reimagined into mecha. Obviously all the changes that were made for the sake of the movie won’t settle well with die hard Marvel fans, but I personally didn’t have a problem with them.
As we got closer to the release of the DVD and Blu-ray news broke via twitter that director, James Mangold was putting together an “extended cut” of the movie that runs 11-13 minutes longer ( I can’t recall what the precise runtime was in that tweet). I was not able to get that version to review, but from what I’ve been hearing is that there is blood in that version, and that it qualifies as an R-rated flick, not on any kind of Tarantino level, but enough to satisfy most fans I hear. And not just the restored violence but I understand there is restored footage that expands on the characters as well.
Despite not seeing this much desired “extended cut” I can say without a doubt this new Wolverine movie, PG-13 version and all, is much better than his first solo outing. And of this writing there is news that Jackman and Mangold will be returning for a third solo movie. Keeping my fingers crossed that they decide to make the next one even edgier, though I’m not going to count on it. Disney/Marvel doesn’t make those kinds of movies. As long as it’s similar to this one where the Wolverine carnage was filmed and then edited down to PG-13 levels I’ll be fine with that. Equally important though will be story and plotting. If they don’t live up to what was done in this movie, all that R-rated Wolverine carnage won’t be worth a damn.
20th Century Fox unleashes The Wolverine in three versions: the standalone DVD, the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy and the Extended Edition (3D Blu-ray/2D Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy). This review is for the 2D blu-ray from the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.40:1 high definition anamorphic widescreen—English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, English Dolby Digital, English (Descriptive Audio) 5.1, Spanish and French both Dolby Digital 5.1—English and Spanish subtitles.
The following extras are available on both the blu and the DVD and they are . . .
Alternate Ending (1:36)—This has been making the rounds on the internet but it’s basically the same ending except here Logan opens that box Yukio brought on board and we see pieces of his iconic
yellow and black uniform I mostly identify with him when he’s with the X-Men.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past Set Tour (2:47)—Bryan Singer takes the viewer on a quick tour of the sets from next summers X-Men 4 sequel.
The Path Of The Ronin consists of five featurettes that can be played all at once or separately:
• Inspiration: A Ronin’s Journey (11:26): Covers the source material the movie was based on and how it translated to this movie. Chris Claremont is interviewed and he seems to like what this Jackman fella is doing with the character.
• Design: Mastering The Arc (15:42): Covers the creation of the Japan sets and how stylized they wanted them. Portions of the movie were actually filmed in Japan but not all of it.
• Execution: A Killer Team (19:04): Covers/interviews some of the actors, mainly Jackman and the two actresses who play Yukio and Mariko; director, James Mangold is dissected to a degree; characters in the film are dissected; the action; guns/swords used; the various claws Jackman uses.
• Hugh Jackman: The Man Behind The Mutant (6:19): Covers a little bit of his training for the movie and how good he is at remembering the stunt choreography.
• Reflections: The Evolution Of Wolverine (1:55): This is basically a quick fluff piece. Something you might see on HBO.
• Theatrical Trailer