I’m not a hater of X-Men Origins: Wolverine; I thought it was stupid fun. I am in the minority, though, so along came The Wolverine, a new attempt to take Hugh Jackman’s Logan into a freestanding franchise.
Directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma), The Wolverine goes in a darker, more-serious direction, although the film still includes some fine action scenes. (The opening scene in Nagasaki and a fight above a bullet train are both incredible.) Jackman, who has a lot more veins popping than he did last time, again has a blast in the title role.
The plot involves an old friend of Logan looking for the key to eternal life—a key which Wolverine actually has, making him a mutant of extra purpose and value. Most of the action takes place in Japan, and Wolverine loses his powers for a stretch, so we get the odd sight of him bleeding and getting lethargic.
Mangold and his crew deserve credit for filming two of the world’s most beautiful women: Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima. The also-remarkable-looking Famke Janssen makes some dream appearances as Jean Grey—and stay through the credits to get what some might consider to be the film’s best scene.
While I didn’t hate X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I acknowledge this effort is a better movie. Next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past looks like the stuff of a comic-book-lover’s wet dream, and is sure to give Mr. Jackman another wondrous showcase for those sideburns.
Special Features: The extended edition comes on its own disc and features about 12 more minutes, as well as a commentary by Mangold. You also get the theatrical version, with a nearly one-hour documentary on the film’s making, and an alternate ending. There’s also a short preview for X-Men: Days of Future Past.