There are not many actors who can play the same character for over a decade and still keep it interesting. It requires a level of talent to continually strip down the layers to reveal new and different things about who they are. When it comes to the world of superheroes it’s even more daunting.
To be honest, Wolverine was always one of my least favorite characters in the X-Men saga. While I love Hugh Jackman, I just never found the characters journey to fit in as strong an arc as say Magneto or Rogue. Plus, I thought his story arc really got wrapped up in X2, but that’s just me.
In the first true Wolverine film, we pick up after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. Wolverine is in seclusion and dealing with the death of Jean Grey. He also having nightmares and flashes back to his time in a WWII Japanese prison camp where he saved the life of a soldier, Yashida (Ken Yamamura). There was a bomb that went off and Yashida saw Wolverine’s healing powers first hand.
Wolverine wakes up startled and sees Jean Grey sleeping next to him and after a little pillow talk, suddenly Wolverine realizes he’s killed Jean Grey yet again just as he promises to never hurt anyone after what happened in X-Men: The Last Stand. A dream within a dream. When he wakes up for real, Wolverine is deep in the woods in seclusion. Being in seclusion hasn’t helped Wolverine’s disposition any. When he returns to the land of the living he confronts some hunters about killing a bear and well… Let’s just say, there’s a bit of a fight. It’s here where he meets up with Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a scarlet haired samarui warrior.
She convinces Wolverine to go with her to pay his last respects to Yashida. He agrees and they are off to Japan. Once there, he sees the now elderly Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) who wants to give Wolverine the ultimate gift… Death. He wants Wolverine’s blood to help rejuvenate him and allow him to live. After initially considering the offer, Wolverine then declines it.
This is where the fun begins.
That same night Yashida passes away and in another dream Wolverine sees and feels Yashida’s doctor Green (Svetlana Khodchenkova) do something to him. He’s not sure what, but it’s affected him physically.
Yashida’s granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okomoto) now inherits her grandfather’s company and is the target of a gang who wants to kidnap her. In a thrilling action sequence, Wolverine saves Mariko in an amazing bullet train set piece that’s seriously stunning.
After making quick work on the gang members Mariko and Wolverine head to Nagasaki to rest. It’s here that Wolverine needs help because his healing powers are now fading. It’s here where the film has it’s deepest resonance. This is a whole other side of Logan that we’ve never seen and Hugh Jackman, knowing the character inside and out, does a great job of exploring this side of Wolverine.
I also love the fact that the producers were smart enough to use this stand alone Wolverine film to help Logan get over the death of Jean Grey. Famke Janssen does a great job of at once being Jean Grey and then at other times allowing Phoenix to come out so your not really sure who Logan is seeing in the dream sequences. Plus, it was great to see Jean Grey and Famke Janssen back in an X-Men film one more time.
The video quality on blu-ray is excellent and especially in the aforementioned bullet train sequence, looks amazing. It really does bring you right into the action. Plus the details are astounding, every strand of Yuko’s red hair, the floral arrangements in the Japanese landscape all of them pop with clarity and color.
The special features include the original theatrical trailer, a short alternate ending (which they should have kept, by the way), and the X-Men: Days of Future Past Set Tour where Bryan Singer takes the viewer behind the scenes during the making of the film and the best feature The Path of a Ronin.
The Path of a Ronin featurette explores the samurai aspect of the story and the local. There are cast interviews and some behind the scenes clips as well.
Overall, I think you will really enjoy this latest stand alone X-Men film. It’s a valid and worthy entry in the superhero canon. Hugh Jackman adds new layers onto his portrayal of Wolverine and it’s a thrilling ride. I highly recommend it!
The Wolverine is out now on blu-ray!
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