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Wolverine, The (3D Blu-ray Review)

12 Dec, 2013 By: John Latchem

Box Office $132.56 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $49.99 3D BD
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.
Stars Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Famke Janssen.

Among the many films to feature James Bond, You Only Live Twice stands out in its own way as “the one where he went to Japan,” given how much of the story centered on the country and its culture.

The Wolverine is easy enough to categorize along similar lines and is likely to be remembered as “the Japanese one” for its franchise. The film is radically different in style and tone from the other films in the “X-Men” series and is so much the better for it.

This is probably the best film of the six aside from X2, which admittedly isn’t saying much, although a case could be made for X-Men: First Class. It certainly goes a long way to cleansing the foul taste 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine left behind.

The story draws heavily from one of the more popular Wolverine comic book arcs and finds Logan (Hugh Jackman) summoned to Japan as the dying request of a Japanese business tycoon, Yashida, whom Logan saved from the atomic destruction of Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Logan has been having trouble coping with the aftermath of X-Men: The Last Stand, which left several of his friends dead, and has retreated into isolation, vowing never to unleash the rage the Wolverine represents. Yashida offers a chance to end his suffering by taking away his healing factor. But as Logan considers the offer, he is drawn into a plot of corporate espionage involving Yakuza gangs and Yashida’s granddaughter, Mariko, whom Logan vows to protect, in the process coming to understand that a man who doesn’t age can have a destiny.

After six films, Jackman completely owns the role of Wolverine and is fantastic in the part, emoting both the character’s outer rage and internal struggle to control himself. It’s now impossible to imagine how anyone else could have originated the part way back in 2000’s X-Men.

But another strength of the film, as director James Mangold discusses in his commentary on the extended version, is the way Logan becomes the only familiar element in a film with a foreign setting and unknown supporting cast. This magnifies the spotlight on Logan, and Jackman is more than up to the task of pulling it off.

The extended cut is 12 minutes longer than the theatrical version, mostly adding character interactions and longer and grittier action sequences, especially during one of the final fights. This is probably the better version of the film to watch at home, although the 3D version of the theatrical cut has its moments. The 3D conversion gives some of the quieter scenes such effective depth that it builds expectation for really drawing in the audience to the action scenes, but the 3D effect is less pronounced there and doesn’t do much to enhance the thrills.

The Blu-ray also includes an alternate ending that isn’t that different from the real one, but adds a spot of mystery; a documentary about Wolverine’s character journey; a set of standard-fare behind-the-scenes featurettes; and a brief tour of the set of 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, which turns out to be less revealing than the film’s recently released trailer.

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