Now available in the Blu-ray format, The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, $49.99) arrives in a slightly longer cut, packed with extras and enough comic book moments to warm the hearts of any X-Men sequential- art fan in the family.
Although this dynamic film is supposedly adapted from writer Chris Claremont and artist Frank Miller’s limited comic book series, appropriately titled Wolverine, from 1982, let’s interject the word “loosely” here.
Oh, sure, the skeletal remains of the comic story exist as Wolverine first hides out in Canada and ends up in Japan, protecting and falling in love with the granddaughter of an ailing corporate magnate.
He also encounters a familiar enemy and gets a lesson in mortality as his normally regenerative body inexplicably has a problem healing.
The result? Director James Mangold delivers a perfect blend of mutant exposition, emotional character development and all-out action.
Most important, it’s hard to care too much about any missed minutiae of Mr. Claremont’s original story with actor Hugh Jackman returning as the definitive Wolverine.
Don’t despair, my geeky brethren, we still get the introduction of Marvel Comics legends such as Silver Samurai (now a human exoskeleton), Wolvie’s love interest Mariko Yashida, the Ronin assassin Yukio, poison-spitting mutant Viper and plenty of loving moments with Jean Grey (the mutant Wolverine killed in “X-Men: The Last Stand” to save the world, remember?).
I’ll admit, it’s still frustrating to not see an R-rated Wolverine movie, as this hero could do some serious damage mixing his insane temper with those adamantium-covered claws.
Viewers do get to see Wolverine wreak death and destruction upon many a Ninja, but nothing too gratuitous compared with other movies these days. They also get some fantastic action sequences.
For example, a fight scene atop one of Japan’s speeding bullet trains had me grabbing the edge of my chair.
Now, perhaps one of the best nerdy moments occurs in an extra- special scene plopped into the middle of the credits (I won’t spoil it) and is a welcome foreshadowing of the 2014 mutant film X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Overall, The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition is a spectacular addition to a Blu-ray collection and has restored my faith in the X-Men movie franchise.
Best Extra: For the digitally savvy fan in the family, The Wolverine Blu-ray offers a great extra called the Second Screen.
This app for mobile devices (requiring WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity) allows viewers to watch the movie on TV and look at their hand-held devices to explore 375 pieces of extra information tied to the movie’s production that syncs to the onscreen action.
Fans will find video of costume tests, pre-visualization special effects scenes, storyboard art, set-design photos, concept art and visual effects sequences (controlled by moving a finger across the sequence).
The movie magically pauses if you want to watch a production video on your device’s screen and, with the flick of a finger, throws some of the extras onto the TV screen.
Equally impressive and not tied to the Blu-ray package is a stand- alone, interactive book available free via the Apple iBooks store, optimized beautifully for an iPad.
This second resource, titled The Wolverine, offers more than 50 pages of content including lots of text (from character analysis to story and production facts) and plenty of photos, concept art and video clips from the movie and its production broken up into such chapters as Bar Brawl and The Black Clan.
The digital book even has an interactive blueprint to get a 360- degree view of the nasty suppressor beetle that really gave Wolverine heartburn.
Read all about it: Viewers get a code in the package and register to download an app to unlock a digital comic book available for mobile devices called Wolverine: Infinite Comic.
In a story co-written by Marvel’s patriarch and co-creator of the X-Men, Stan Lee, readers learn about our mutant hero’s numerous encounter with the Silver Samurai, one from his past and present. Eighty-five panels worth of sequential art are revealed as each swipe on an iPad causes new art elements or dialogue bubbles to appear on the screen as the story progresses.
What’s more relevant to the movie is that Marvel offers for sale the entire 1982 Wolverine miniseries trade paperback in a digital format ($6.99), also through the app. It’s pure enjoyment to peruse Frank Miller’s art on the iPad.
Washington Times (DC)