‘The Wolverine Unleashed: Extended Unrated Edition’ - Advance Film Review

A recurring theme I hear in conversation and read with regularity online is that fans would love to see a comic book movie that isn’t aimed at the broadest possible audience.  If you’re going to spend $200 million to make a Spider-Man movie, you have to make something that everybody is going to like.  The Blade and Punisher films, however, were smaller-budget affairs that carried R ratings, and, best of all, they weren’t intended to be wholesome fun for the entire family.  I still think Blade 2 is one of the most unnecessarily violent movies I’ve ever seen, and I say that as somebody who really likes Blade 2.  Fans want a comic book movie made specifically for grown-ups, or at least for people 17 and over.  And, it seems that fans want something more mainstream, like a live-action, R-rated version of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

One of the great things about home video is it allows filmmakers an opportunity for a do-over.  Watching movies at home on DVD or Blu-ray allows us to be able to see new takes on familiar favorites.  Probably the most well known example would be Peter Jackson’s extended versions of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but there are other cool alternatives out there.  I’ve been an advocate for a while of people watching the alternate black-and-white version of Frank Darabont’s The Mist that came out on home video.

Thanks to home video, the adult-oriented superhero movie is upon us.

On Monday night, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment hosted a screening on the Fox lot of The Wolverine Unleashed, a souped-up, unrated version of this summer’s hit, The Wolverine.   Overseen by director James Mangold and adding another 10 minutes of footage into the film, The Wolverine Unleashed is grittier and noticeably bloodier.  It’s an early Christmas present for fans who’ve wanted to see a more violent movie.

The first thing screening the film did was remind me that I enjoyed The Wolverine back in July.  I had forgotten how much I liked it.  I still think the middle of the film is a little bit flabby and could have been tightened up, but adding on to its running time hasn’t made the film feel any longer.  Logan gets to be a bit freer with F-bombs, and the action sequences are more intense with more blood being shed.  A highlight for me is an industrial size snow blower being used to bloodily dispatch ninjas in a possible homage to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  If you liked The Wolverine, I think you’ll find this new cut packs more punch.

Following the screening, director James Mangold was on hand to discuss the film.  I’m fascinated by guys like Mangold and Soderbergh who are able to make such a wide variety of films.  Previously, Mangold had made the romantic comedy Kate and Leopold, the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, and the remake of the western3:10 to Yuma.  That’s a pretty eclectic resume.

“I was jealous of filmmakers who branded themselves as certain types of filmmakers,” Mangold said of himself starting out in his career.  Now, he is glad he isn’t stuck making the same kind of movie over and over again.

Even though The Wolverine does work as a direct continuation of the events of X3, Mangold said he really wanted to re-think some things.  Wolverine’s claws were completely redesigned, and Jackman is wearing his own hair in the film and not the weird, poofy wigs he wore in the previous films.

Thematically, the film is about death, as everybody Logan cares about winds up dying.  Mangold pointed out that story is very internal.  The stakes for the characters are personal, and the villain isn’t trying to endanger millions of outsiders.

Mangold was also keen to heap praise on his star.  “There’s a reality to Hugh Jackman,” he said.  Mangold went on to talk about the stress movie stars live under.  “There is a tragic pressure on movie starts to prove their versatility,” he said.  “A lot of actors get hurt trying to reinvent themselves.”

The Wolverine Unleashed is out on digital HD and arrives on Blu-ray in two-disc and four-disc editions on December 4. The original theatrical cut of the film will be released on DVD that same day.

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