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    The Wolverine 3D Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Fox

    Dec 03 2013 03:05 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Previous films featuring the mutant Wolverine have provided us with backstory galore on one of the most celebrated and popular of the X-Men, but we have yet even more backstory in James Mangold’s The Wolverine, and this time it directly links to the twisty plot and ambiguous relationships which are constants throughout this inarguably darker, more disturbing chronicle in the life of the mutant named Logan.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Fox
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC, 1080P/MVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DD, English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
    • Rating: Not Rated, PG-13
    • Run Time: 2 Hrs. 6/18 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
    • Case Type: keep case with pages in a slipcover
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 12/03/2013
    • MSRP: $49.99

    The Production Rating: 3.5/5

    Logan (Hugh Jackman) is called to Japan to see Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), a man he had saved from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Yashida knows that Logan is weary from his many decades of struggling against his nature and is eager to swap his mortality for Logan’s immortality since Yashida, a technology giant, has a way the two can exchange these states. Though tempted by the possibility of joining his beloved Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) in the afterlife, Logan inevitably says no, and Yashida dies during the night with his empire passing not to his son Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada) but to his granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto). With Yakuza trying to kidnap her, Logan has his hands full since, at some point during the night, a toxic mutant named Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) has somehow infected him with a toxin which makes him vulnerable to injury. There are many surprises in store as Logan tries to sort out the good guys from the bad guys amid his bleeding wounds and some unforeseen enemies in this alien Japanese environment.

    Those expecting the flippant, cigar-chomping Wolverine of previous films in the series are in for a distinct disappointment. Though the character gets a surly quip or two here and there (allowing an enemy ten words to explain himself where the first nine aren’t counted is a great scene late in the film), most of the movie finds the character more downbeat than brusque, a world-weary presence nearing the end of his emotional rope. This, the unusual locale, and the fact that for a large portion of the movie, the character is not the Wolverine of old but one who can be injured and bleeds rather profusely make this a Wolverine film with a distinctly different vibe. Director James Mangold still pulls off some wonderful set pieces: a high energy fight on top of a bullet train reminds one of a Bond film or perhaps the first Mission Impossible, the taking down of Logan by a succession of arrows shot directly into him is a rather awe-inspiring if gruesome sight, Logan operating on himself while much activity is whizzing around him will bring back memories of Prometheus, and the climactic match-up with a giant-sized adamantium samurai warrior offers the Wolverine of old with, surprisingly, his own adamantium claws removed. The dastardly villains of the piece worked into the screenplay by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank – some obvious like the Viper (who is a truly lethal adversary) and some who one does not expect – certainly help the film retain its comic book flavor even though Wolverine’s own involvement with his loss of invulnerability and his falling in love with Mariko sometimes take the film out of the superhero realm and make it more an action drama (director Mangold prefers to think of it as an Eastern western).

    Because of the change in tone and the approach to the character, Hugh Jackman gets to act quite a few different colors of Logan this time out, and he’s as effective as always in this his sixth outing as the title character. Always a tough customer, his cool outer shell is a bit dampened this time with his confusion over the loss of his invulnerability, but his tender encounters with both Jean and Mariko are a nice change of pace from the all-action format of previous endeavors for the character. His two leading ladies – Tao Okamoto as Mariko and Rila Fukushima as her seer sister Yukio – are both hampered by their inexperience: Okamoto sometimes oozing out of scenes against sturdier actors and Fukishima sometimes swallowing her words even though she handles the action stuff well. Will Yun Lee as Harada, sworn protector of Mariko but with an agenda of his own, is always a forceful presence, and Hiroyuki Sanada as Mariko’s father likewise holds his own in scenes opposite the star. It seems as if Svetlana Khodchenkova’s vocal performance as Viper has been dubbed by another actress. One wonders if her accent might have been too thick for American ears. Nevertheless, her physical performance is creepy and highly effective.

    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: 3.5/5

    The film is offered at its theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio in a 1080p transfer using the AVC/MVC (for 3D) codec. Sharpness is very good throughout (except when Logan is semi-conscious when it’s meant to be soft focused) though color saturation levels vary, not just between the Canadian and Japanese sequences but during the bulk of the film set in Japan. Colors are often warm and densely saturated, but flesh tones can sometimes appear a bit too tan in some scenes and more natural in others. Black levels are exemplary, and shadow detail is excellent, but there’s a bit of momentary flashing in some tight line structures, and sometimes contrast seems a bit uneven. The white subtitles are easy to read. The film in both theatrical and extended cuts has been divided into 36 chapters.

    The 3D conversion has been skillfully accomplished without producing any real “wow” effects that make the film’s 3D version the must-see, go-to version of the movie. Added depth is fine (but not overly revelatory), but the most effective use of the medium comes with the involving way objects on different planes in the frame give so much visual interest to a scene. There are only two moments late in the film where objects (an arrow and a samurai sword) threaten to project beyond the frame, but those moments are fleeting. One regrets in a film with so many sharp, pointed objects on hand that more couldn’t have been done with forward projection. Blessedly, there is no crosstalk to mar the viewing experience.

    Audio Rating: 5/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix becomes more and more effusive the longer the film runs inevitably offering the kind of über-surround experience one expects in action films of this type. Marco Beltrami’s driving music does not strictly adhere to Japanese schematics but rather offers a rich, varied score which has been beautifully channeled into the entire soundfield. There’s a bit of directionalized dialogue though most of the speech has been placed in the center channel.

    Special Features: 3/5

    The 3D disc contains no bonus material of any kind, not the film’s 3D trailer or 3D trailers for any of Fox’s other releases.

    There are two Blu-ray discs containing various versions of the film with their own bonus features. On the theatrical cut disc are the following extras:

    The Path of a Ronin (53:44, HD): the making-of documentary for the film featuring cast and crew commenting on the production process from inception through various phases of production. Major focus is placed on the Japanese location shooting, the elaborate production design and costumes, the stunts, the three leading actresses of the piece, and the star, of course. The five sections of the documentary can also be watched individually.

    Theatrical Trailer (2:28, HD)

    Alternate Ending (1:36, HD) the ending seen in the film with a brief, few seconds-long capper.

    X-Men: Days of Future Past Set Tour (2:47, HD): the film’s director Bryan Singer offers a brief tour of some of the studio sets for the next X-Men film coming in 2014.

    Second Screen: download the app to watch the film with interactive material.

    The other Blu-ray disc contains the extended, unrated version of the movie which runs 2:18:05. It also contains:

    Audio Commentary: director James Mangold offers a thorough discussion of locations and set-related anecdotes in his audio commentary. When scenes not in the theatrical cut come up, he always mentions their deletion with the reasons why.

    DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed along with a code for a digital comic.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5

    The Wolverine offers a nice change-of-pace from the last Wolverine film though one must expect a different tone in this one which may impress some with its freshness and disappoint others with its lack of wall-to-all action and special effects. The 3D conversion does not lift the film into another level of excitement or involvement. Those wanting that 3D experience might want to wait for a more reasonable price.

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
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    3 Comments

    Thanks for the great review, Matt.

     

    I watched some of the 3D edition myself, but concentrated on the longer Blu-ray 2D cut.   I was a big fan of the 1982 comic book limited series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, and of the 2 issues of Uncanny X-Men (172, 173) that concluded the story.   For me, the best moments of the movie come from the source material.   I'm happy that in the featurettes and commentary, they openly acknowledge that debt.

     

    The point of the 1982 series was to have Logan prove himself as a man rather than a berserker.  Setting the whole thing in Japan was a beautiful way of creating a metaphor for his soul.  I wish the movie could have focused on that idea and not gotten lost in the machinations of the Viper material.  (Viper was never a part of the 1982 series, although she did pop up as a villainess in the 2 issues of X-Men)  I also thought the whole thing ran on a bit long.  And I wouldn't have minded going with the Logan voiceover as written up for the 1982 series.   I enjoyed this new iteration of Yukio, but she's a far cry from the free spirit who practically danced off the pages of the book.  (Some of her qualities were actually given to the Harada character)

     

    I'm hoping that for the next Wolverine movie (and they are developing a new one as we speak) that they put Claremont and Miller in a room and see what they come up with for a Wolverine story that can work within the framework they've set up.

      • Matt Hough likes this

    Thanks, Kevin, for that very informative background on the original comics and their inspiration for the filmmakers. Not being a comics reader, I had no idea how successful or unsuccessful they were in adapting this Japan story for the screen. This film seems to have provoked a big split in acceptance or revulsion between fans of the franchise. The film did OK at the box-office,  but I'll be interested to see what path they take with the next one after next year's X-Men film.

    Nice review.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film when I saw it theatrically.  My Blu-ray should arrive tomorrow.