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WOLVERINE, THE (3D)

SYNOPSIS:
In modern Japan, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is out of his depth in an unknown world as he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before.

Review by Louise Keller:
Immortality, justice and integrity are the themes of this high energy 3D action fantasy effectively set on a Japanese backdrop, in which Hugh Jackman's buffer-than-buff Wolverine is both heroic and vulnerable. The stunts are as massive as Jackman's impressive pecs, and there is a sense of sophistication about the film, thanks to Mark Bomback and Scott Frank's inventive screenplay and James Mangold's sharp direction, making the action pieces edge-of-seat experiences. The injection of elements of the traditional Japanese culture adds substantially to the mix, enveloping the action in ornately visual, dramatic settings.

It is in the early scenes establishing Logan's (Jackman) self-imposed exile and the struggle with his inner demons that we understand how he is haunted by the past, feeling like a samurai without a master or any reason to live. Immortality does not seem to be all it's cracked up to be. By the time he flies to Japan to meet with the wealthy, dying industrialist Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), who offers to end Logan's torment and make him mortal, in flashback we have seen sequences describing the circumstances at Nagasaki during WWII in which the mutant had saved his life.

The three other key characters are women and they are striking. There's Rila Fukushima as Yukio, the pouty, electric red-head with superior knife skills and an ability to foresee the future, Tao Okamoto as Mariko, the delicate heiress who is the target of an assassination plot and sultry, blonde Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper, who has the ability to inflict unusual horrors through her fiery kiss of death. There is collaboration, conflict and romance in equal doses. Additionally, the ghost of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Logan's mutant love interest from an earlier film, pops up at unexpected moments to lure him to join her in the after-life. Her appearance, wearing an ivory silk nightie during a pillow talk moment is especially disconcerting.

Highlights include a heart-stopping acrobatic fight scene on the roof of a speeding bullet train, a spectacular archery display on a snowy backdrop and a bizarre scene in which exhilarating martial arts and deadly swordplay takes place while Wolverine rearranges his internal organs. The thrilling climactic scene in which Logan battles against a gargantuan man-driven robot and Wolverine's trademark adamantium claws are jeopardised is both exciting and cringe-making. Jackman has fun with the role and easily carries the film on his broad shoulders. Mostly shot at Sydney's Fox Studios, it is a very different - and superior movie - to that of the 2009 X-Men branded film, and is sure to satisfy all expectations from the punters.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Expectations are high for Hugh Jackman's extra large selfie (can hardly call it a vanity project) and most of them are met, thanks to a gold class team of creatives. Much of the interest comes from the setting: Japan. The opening sequence is an ambitious affair, establishing how the Wolverine aka Logan saves the life of young Japanese soldier Yashida, from the atom blast in Nagasaki in 1945, who in modern Japan seeks to thank him by exchanging his mortal humanity for Wolverine's immortality.

Back to the present, and Logan is sought out by a cute young Japanese swordswoman with striking red hair, to whisk him over to Japan for a tÍte a tÍte with her adoptive grandpa - the now dying Yashida (Hal Yamanouchie), who wants to thank him, after all these years, with a historic Japanese sword (which she has carried with her but takes back for Yashida to gift...hmmm).

Evil doctors, corrupt politicians and endangered biological grand daughters make up the character list, and vigorous action scenes are blasted into various locations, with stun-gun effect. All the technical work is superb, but there is a sense of story-stretch as the plot elongates without adding substance. But for the fans, this will be a bonus, as there are some cool gizmos to see, including a giant robot suit that would make Iron Man swoon with jealousy.

But seriously ... well, not too seriously, the film sticks to the rules and provides plenty of thrills, such as a striking fight atop a bullet train. (Filmmakers are duelling with ever more jaw dropping train top fights - see The Lone Ranger for example.)

Elements of Superman-style challenges for Wolverine and double crosses that turn around make the plot quite busy, and much of the combat is shot up close, making the length of the film feel a bit like a marathon. Hugh Jackman is understandably exhausted by the time he takes a seat on a private Yashida jet at the end of his Japan trip - which turns out to be rather more eventful than a death bed farewell.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

WOLVERINE, THE 3D (M)
(US, 2013)

CAST: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Rila Fukushima, Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto

PRODUCER: Hugh Jackman, John Palermo, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shulerr Donner

DIRECTOR: James Mangold

SCRIPT: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ross Emery

EDITOR: Michael McCusker

MUSIC: Marco Beltrami

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Francois Audouy

RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 25, 2013







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