18th Nov2013

‘The Wolverine: Extended Edition’ Blu-ray Review

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, Will Yun Lee, Famke Janssen | Written by Mark Bomback, Scott Frank | Directed by James Mangold


In case you hadn’t noticed, there was another Wolverine film out this summer. Hugh Jackman took his cigar-smoking, brow-furrowing, claw-snikt-ing anti-hero to Japan in what was his sixth outing as Logan.

The last solo outing for the mutton-chopped one was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a film that was bad enough for me to turn off halfway through and seemingly nixed any future ‘Origins’ spin offs, most prominently the mooted Magneto movie. Still, audience affection for the Canadian crime fighter, as well as an ever-game Jackman prompted the production of this outing, with Walk the Line director James Mangold at the helm.

Cards on the table, the length of films is a massive bugbear of mine (alongside umbrellas and the incorrect use of apostrophe’s (I’m even quite pained to leave this grammatical joke in)). I believe that any story worth telling in the medium of film can be told in ninety minutes with few exceptions and if you need more than two hours to tell your story, do it the justice you clearly feel it deserves and make a mini-series. For the record, I’m aware that the film industry doesn’t work quite as simply as this but I hope you take my meaning. It’s for this reason that I’m a fan of slick, stripped down horrors and am highly unlikely to be found watching any Lord of the Hobbits film of my own accord.

I didn’t catch the theatrical cut of The Wolverine, but the DVD/Blu-Ray release has an extra six minutes stuck in somewhere, making it a meaty 132 minute feature in total. Do we really need near two and a quarter hours to have Wolverine mope about in Japan for a bit and slice up some ninjas? Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed The Wolverine and some of its indulgent dreamscape noodlings were amongst its stronger elements. I also liked its strong opening, which sees Wolverine save the life of a Japanese soldier as the US drops Fat Man on Nagasaki, but then I’m a sucker for all things Manhattan Project.

Though Logan is supposed to be ageless, Jackman arguably suits the role even better now than when he first gelled up his hair and upped his protein intake 13 years ago. Looking a little more careworn helps add to Logan’s world-weariness and lends credence to the film’s exploration of Wolverine’s mortality, or lack thereof. The plot throws a spanner in the works here; the film’s other gimmick after location is the removal of our hero’s rapid healing factor after the first act. This element is somewhat fudged though: the healing isn’t removed entirely, just really slowed down, which is a bit having your cake and eating it. Wolverine is made weak, but you’re never truly afraid for his life. And if we allow ourselves to go along with comic book movie logic, shouldn’t Logan’s knuckles be a bloody mess with all the retractable claw action on display? I was also under the impression that the healing factor was necessary for Wolverine to basically function with his adamantium-clad skeleton, but apparently not.

The film would also have done well to further indulge its slightly bonkers streak. There’s a couple of OTT set-pieces that are really outlandishly excellent and make you wish the film would cut loose a little, quit the shoe-gazing introspection and have at it, but they’re sadly a little too finely spread throughout the picture.

Still, it’s far from a bad film, though it’s almost entirely carried by the innate coolness of the character and Jackman’s seemingly endlessly regenerating charisma factor. We’ll be seeing more of Logan in the forthcoming and exciting-looking X-Men: Days of Future Past and apparently another solo outing also looks likely. Mangold, whose direction is fairly workman-like here seems probable to continue call the shots, but it’d nice if a more exciting combination of director and story were able to accompany this apparently infinitely watchable character.

The Wolverine: Extended Edition is out now on Blu-ray.


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