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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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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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