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August 2nd, 2013

Movie Review - The Wolverine

The Wolverine

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, Famke Janssen, Will Yun Lee, Ken Yamamura, and more.

Directed by: James Mangold Screenplay by: Mark Bomback and Scott Frank Based on Characters from: Marvel Comics Cinematography by: Ross Emery Original Music by: Marco Beltrami

Premise: Hiding from humanity and living alone with his emotional demons, Logan is found by Yukio, a young Japanese swordswoman, who's spent the last year trying to track him down. She asks him to come with her to Japan, to visit Yashida, the Japanese soldier whose life Logan had saved during the bombing of Nagasaki during World War II. Yashida wishes to offer his old savior a boon for his kind act so long ago - he wants to give Logan the one thing he's longed for, but couldn't achieve on his own - an escape from the extended life that is a side effect of his mutation. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Hugh Jackman reprises his role as the mutant Wolverine with all the attitude and aplomb the character is so well known for. Tao Okamoto did great as Mariko, showing both amazing strength of will and empathic femininity. Svetlana Khodchenkova was a lot of fun as Viper. Kudos to Famke Janssen as Jean Grey and all the creepiness and bittersweet moments she added to Logan's nightmares.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: From Wolverine's bone claws to the exploding bomb over Nagasaki, the effects throughout the film were top notch. The bullet train sequence and its similarity to a Western topside train battle but at almost three hundred miles an hour was a 'hoot'. The effects of Viper's touch and the visuals that went with it were nicely done. The giant adamantium samurai with the flaming sword was entirely too cool.

I also totally loved Yashida's reactive bed and his body scanner. (I want them!)

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: Back in the 80's I read a ton of comics and one of my favorites were the Wolverine stories of his time in Japan. While a lot of details may have changed, in general the film stays true to a lot of the original and reimagined information about Wolverine. Just the fact they put ninjas, yakuza, and a bullet train fight and did them right was more than enough to win me over.

There were several crisscrossing underlying themes of honor, responsibility, and self worth throughout the film. Emotional clashes between love, duty, and family were also abundant. The movie was paced well, and the plot convoluted and multifaceted.

The only marring point was over the final villain. I would have been better satisfied by their choice if some explanation, other than the obvious yet 'hard to swallow' reason had been given for the actions taken - a tumor, radiation, poison - anything.  It's sad when the gaijin (the foreigner) has more honor than the samurai around him. (Though I did later get the odd feeling that perhaps a subconscious part of this last villain purposely set some things into motion to defeat his own mad desires, knowing deep down he was in the wrong - but then again, this might be wishful thinking.)

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Ninjas! Did I mention there were ninjas in the film? A ton of ninjas! It was great watching all those men in black running around in the shadows doing what they do best. The attack on the main house was fantastic. And getting to watch a ninja and yakuza showdown? Awesome! The choreography on the fighting and chase scenes was phenomenal. I especially enjoyed the fight and chase which ensued at the funeral. It was multidimensional!  

Of some note is the scene when Logan enters the village. The actions by the group of ninja and the visuals of Logan during that determined attempt to get to Mariko were very reminiscent of a similar scene with Toshiro Mifune and of the great Akira Kurosawa's works.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Though many scenes in this film were done in Australia, many others were actually filmed in Japan. This was great because as part of the chases across the country, we got to see many iconic spots of Japanese daily life - pachinko parlors, themed love hotels, bullet trains, traditional and modern Japanese architecture, and more.

Add to that the multidimensional filming, especially during the fight and chase sequence from the funeral, and the whole thing was visually delectable. The images of Logan and the guards fighting the yakuza from the ground, while from the rooftops and wires and beams over them Harada used his ninja skills and his bow to kill foes around them from a distance, made for a fantastic scene.

6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: Great job by the costuming department with regards to period clothing and of course outfitting our favorite Wolverine in his signature comic book clothes. Viper's outfits outside of work did well in giving her a snakelike overtone even before we find out more about her. Nice job too on how they carried over Yashida's scar over time.

7) Music - Total Thumbs Up: The talents of Marco Beltrami added so much to the film! I very much enjoyed the Japanese flare he introduced to several of his pieces, which added to the mystique and gave homage to this foreign land. (On a side note, Beltrami seemed to have some fun naming his song list. Included are "Logan's Run" and "The Hidden Fortress" - fun word play with the action occurring in the scenes they were used in and of films of the same name.)

Conclusion: "The Wolverine" is a fun thrill ride with the added bonus of an oriental feel. Definitely a must see if you love the character and have any interest in things Japanese. One of the better films I've seen this year!

Rating:  4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price to See Again)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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