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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Wolverine

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Hugh Jackman stars in a scene from the movie "The Wolverine."
Does the idea of a giant suit of samurai armor made out of an indestructible -- but, alas, fictional -- alloy called adamantium strike you as the coolest thing ever? If so, then the macho superhero adventure "The Wolverine" (Fox) might just be the movie for you.

Viewers addicted neither to outsized gadgetry nor to the Marvel Comics X-Men mythos of which this is an extension, however, may find director James Mangold's action picture a heavy lift. That's largely due to the physical and emotional angst endured by the titular character (Hugh Jackman) who also goes by the more casual handle Logan.

Ostensibly, Logan would seem to have a lot going for him. Not only can he sprout tougher-than-steel (i.e., also adamantium) claws from his hands at a moment's notice, but his body has miraculous powers of self-healing too.

Ay, but there's the rub: Logan's invulnerability has resulted in virtual immortality. And, after more than a century of hanging around, he's as bored, blase and downright world-weary as any 1950s French philosopher. Then there's the fact that, along the way, he accidentally killed his true love. Darn!

Perhaps a trip to exotic Japan might alleviate the blues? To justify the jaunt, we open on flashbacks of World War II that find Logan a POW sweating it out in a heavily reinforced hot box that happens to be located across the bay from the doomed city of Nagasaki. As the mushroom cloud looms, Logan saves the life of one of his captors, an officer named Yashida (Ken Yamamura).

Flash forward to the present, and the aged but eternally grateful Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), now a fabulously wealthy industrialist (what else?), is facing death. He summons his old friend for a final visit.

Naturally, Yashida has a fetching granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), whose position as his heir makes her a target for bad guys. How many tattooed Yakuza types can Logan's built-in Ginsu knives slice and dice? Um, quite a lot.

Fortunately, the relentless combat involves only moderate gore, and occasional flashes of wit offer some relief from the fog of testosterone.

Less welcome is the fact that Logan and Mariko not only fall for each other, but fall into bed together as well. They do so despite the obvious detail that Logan's mark-of-Cain lifestyle does not exactly lend itself to long-term commitments.

Additionally, a scene where the otherwise conventionally heroic Logan almost murders one of the principal villains (played by Brian Tee) in cold blood -- Logan averts the guilt of killing him only by accident -- will not sit well with morally mature audience members.

The film contains constant action violence with some blood, ritual suicides, a nonmarital bedroom scene, rear nudity, mature references, at least one use of the F-word and occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.





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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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