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MOVIE INFO

Director:
James Mangold
Cast:
Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada
Writing Credits:
Mark Bomback, Scott Frank

Synopsis:
When Wolverine is summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, he is embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.

Box Office:
Budget
$120 million.
Opening Weekend
$53,113,752 on 3,924 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$132,556,852.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13/Unrated

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Portuguese

Runtime: 126 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 3/12/2013

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director James Mangold
• “The Path of a Ronin” Documentary
X-Men: Days of Future Past Set Tour
• Alternate Ending
• Trailer
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Wolverine [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 20, 2017)

Back in 2009, we got the first X-Men spinoff movie via X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That title implied it’d be one in a series of character prequels, but as of 2017, it stands as the only X-Men Origins movie.

I suspect the lackluster reception accorded to Origins had something to do with it. The movie did decent business, but fans seemed disenchanted by it and it fell short of both creative and financial expectations.

Even though the theme went kaput – or was channeled into the broader focus of 2011’s “prequel” X-Men: First Class - Fox did go ahead with another Wolverine movie. Simply titled The Wolverine, this 2013 film earned better reviews than its predecessor and made more money worldwide.

I was among those who found the 2009 film to be lackluster, but I remained eager to see where the series would go. The Wolverine opens with a prologue circa 1945 in which Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) saves a Japanese soldier named Yashida (Ken Yamamura) from an atomic bomb.

From there the film picks up after the events of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Haunted by the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Logan goes into isolation. Although he places himself in the middle of nowhere, the mysterious Yukio (Rila Fukushima) eventually finds him.

Yukio does so as the emissary for an elderly, dying Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi). Ostensibly Yashida wants Logan to come to Japan to pay his debt of gratitude, but in truth, the former Japanese soldier wants to steal Logan’s power of immortality from him.

On the surface, this doesn’t sound like a bad idea, as Logan has grown weary of his existence. Nonetheless, he declines and Yashida dies – maybe.

When the Yakuza attempt to kidnap Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto), Logan intervenes but he finds that his wounds don’t heal as they normally do. We follow Logan’s attempts to keep Mariko safe and get to the bottom of his situation.

Back in 1982, Chris Claremont and Frank Miller created a successful four-issue Wolverine comic book miniseries, and this film comes loosely based on that material. Funny – I wasn’t wild about those magazines, but as brought to the screen here, the story works well.

Best known for dramatic fare such as Walk the Line and Cop Land, director James Mangold seemed like an odd choice for The Wolverine. However, he did make a Western with the 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma and he went into the action genre – unsuccessfully, in my opinion – with 2010’s Knight and Day.

Because of Mangold’s background with drama, it comes as a surprise that the movie’s character scenes tend to fare the worst. This becomes a particular drag in the film’s second act, as we spend a lot of time with Logan and Mariko as they get to know each other. While these scenes add some character dimensionality, they tend to plod.

I think part of the problem comes from the lack of chemistry between Jackman and Okamoto. While lovely, she exhibits little personality, so her scenes feel stagnant, and Jackman can’t bring out much zest in her.

The sequences between Logan and Yukio work much better – so much better that I couldn’t help but wish Logan would romance brash, intriguing Yukio instead of dull Mariko. Granted, this wouldn’t make a ton of sense in story terms, mainly because Yukio doesn’t seem like someone who needs protection – she can handle herself. Still, the movie comes to life when Yukio appears, and that makes the blandness of the Mariko sequences more glaring.

Despite these, The Wolverine works pretty well, largely due to a combination of Jackman’s talents and some solid action. Again, it comes as a surprise that Mangold handles the fights and other exciting bits so well, as that’s not a strong aspect of his résumé. As I mentioned, Mangold embraced the genre with Knight and Day, but he showed no affinity for it.

Happily, it appears Mangold learned some lessons between movies, as the action parts of The Wolverine zing. A fight on a bullet train feels completely absurd, but it’s a delight anyway, and a battle in a snowstorm proves to be elegant and dynamic at the same time.

13 years into his run as Logan/Wolverine, Jackman continued to bring range and depth to the role. One would imagine Jackman would be sick of his signature character, but he still seems to enjoy the part. He seems invigorated by the stronger than usual script and creates one of his better turns as Wolverine.

Due to the logy scenes between Logan and Mariko, The Wolverine occasionally drags, but its many strengths compensate for these segments. The film gives us a compelling and exciting investigation of its title character.

Footnote: a mid-credits sequence shows up that acts as a direct bridge toward 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

The Wolverine appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, this was an appealing transfer.

Sharpness always looked strong. No signs of softness marred the presentation, as it gave us a tight, well-defined image. Jagged edges and moiré effects remained absent, while edge haloes and digital noise reduction also failed to appear. Print flaws stayed absent as well.

Like most modern films of this sort, Wolverine went with teal and orange. These tones seemed predictable, but they worked fine within the movie’s design parameters and showed good delineation. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows usually showed nice clarity and smoothness. I felt this was a consistently strong image.

I also felt pleased with the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack. With a fair amount of action on display, the mix used the channels in an involving manner throughout the majority of the film.

This meant vehicles, gunfire and other mayhem all around the room, and the elements connected in a concise, smooth manner. Add to that music as a bold partner and the soundscape turned into an aggressive partner.

Audio quality always satisfied. Music was dynamic and full, and effects followed suit; those components came across as accurate and wel-developed. Speech seemed distinctive and crisp, without edginess or other issues. Everything impressed in this strong soundtrack.

We get a documentary called The Path of a Ronin. In this 53-minute, 44-second piece, we hear from Mangold, producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker, co-writer Mark Bomback, comic book writer Chris Claremont, Wolverine creator Len Wein, director of photography Ross Emery, second unit director David M. Leitch, production designer Francois Audouy, supervising art director Ian Gracie, costume designer Isis Mussenden, stunt coordinators Alan Poppleton and Kyle Gardiner, armorer John Bowring, and actors Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Fanke Janssen, and Hiroyuki Sanada.

“Path” examines story/character areas and the tale’s origins, Mangold’s approach to the material and influences, sets, locations and visual design, action and stunts, props and effects, cast and performances, and related domains.

With “Path”, we get a nice overview of the production. The documentary touches on a good variety of topics and does so with pretty positive clarity. The piece moves well and becomes a useful take on the film.

An Alternate Ending runs one minute, 36 seconds. It shows a little bit that extends the theatrical cut’s finale. I like this little tease and think it should’ve made the cut.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find an X-Men: Days of Future Past Set Tour. It lasts two minutes, 47 seconds as Past director Bryan Singer takes us around the set. It’s essentially a teaser, but it’s fun.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of theatrical version of The Wolverine. It includes none of the Blu-ray’s extras.

After a lackluster solo debut in 2009, 2013’s The Wolverine gave the character the cinematic platform he deserved. Gritty, exciting and dramatic, the movie does well for itself. The Blu-ray brings us excellent picture and audio as well as a decent array of supplements. The Wolverine becomes one of the better superhero efforts.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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