A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Wolverine is a fascinating look at the iconic X-Men character and how his past intersects with his present. It's a bleak journey that's often punctuated with violence -- the action scenes are ferocious and vicious, with weapons (guns, knives, arrows, claws, and more), explosions, and bloody hand-to-hand combat -- and some melancholy. Expect some swearing ("s--t" and one use of "f--k"), a bit of drinking, and some romance (one scene shows three underwear-clad characters kissing each other) between the unrelenting action sequences.
What's the story?
Logan, aka THE WOLVERINE (Hugh Jackman), is lost in the far reaches of the wilderness. Struggling with nightmares that plague him daily -- often starring his beloved, late Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) -- Logan wants out of his immortal, superhuman existence. But a stranger from Japan named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) won't let him be. After Logan avenges the death of a grizzly bear at the hands of a cruel hunter, Yukio finds him and spirits him to Japan at the behest of Yashida, a Japanese soldier in Nagasaki whom Logan had saved. Yashida is dying, and he longs for Logan's immortality. His death sparks a kidnapping attempt on the life of Mariko (Tao Okamoto), Yashida's granddaughter, which raises bigger questions that even Wolverine himself may not be able to answer.
Is it any good?
Director James Mangold's venture into the X-Men canon doesn't let its romantic plotline interfere with the action -- which borders on the overwhelming. (Note to filmmakers: The violence doesn't have to be unremitting for a thriller to be thrilling.) The script still sounds wooden at times. But there's enough here to make us fall in love with Wolverine all over again (past appearances in previous disappointing outings notwithstanding).
Superhero movies often use their characters' pain as catalysts for more mind-bending (and sometimes mindless) action sequences. Not so with The Wolverine. Here, Mangold informs the action with a relevant, significant look into Logan's origin story, turning the past into Wolverine's haunting -- and ultimately freeing -- present. Jackman is more than well-equipped to handle the complications. His beefy physique is in stark, affecting juxtaposition to Logan's vulnerability. And it's so nice to see an action movie in which the women aren't just window-dressing to be calmed and rescued after carnage. Fukushima and Okamoto stand shoulder to shoulder with Jackman, sometimes saving him from the brink. Stick around for the end credits, which offer a tantalizing hint of things to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the violence in this movie has more impact than that of the earlier X-Men movies. Why or why not? Does the violence serve the story?
How are Wolverine's fights different than those of characters with different powers/abilities? Is he comfortable with his strength? How does he control it?
Why is Logan so tortured by his identity as Wolverine? Are his feelings understandable?
What did you think of Viper's character? Did her outfit seem practical for a supervillain? Would she have had the same impact if she wasn't so sexualized, or does that make her seem even more evil? Why?
- In theaters: July 26, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: December 3, 2013
- Cast: Brian Tee, Famke Janssen, Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima
- Director: James Mangold
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 136 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.