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Jackman expands 'Wolverine'

"The Wolverine" gets deeper into the psyche of Logan, aka Wolverine, the Marvel Comics superhero, thanks to an intense performance by Hugh Jackman, reprising his role as the title character, and thoughtful and compelling direction by James Mangold.

In "The Wolverine," the second movie to focus on Logan and sixth in the "X-Men" movie franchise, a man rescued by Wolverine during the World War II atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, is on his death bed and wants to say his farewell. Wolverine finds himself in the midst of a family feud to determine a successor to Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi).

Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) implants a device in Wolverine that strips him of his superpowers, especially that of wound-healing.

Jackman as Logan, aka The Wolverine, make the character believable. After all, three shiny steel spikes jutting from the knuckles is preposterous, super hero or not.

Famke Janssen (Jean Grey-Phoenix) is seen in several Wolverine dream sequences.

Tao Okamoto (Mariko), a European runway model in her feature film debut, is luminous as the Wolverine's love interest, and provides a calming presence.

Rila Fukushima (Yukio) is humorously impish, yet phenomenal when she springs into action in the martial arts conflicts. It appears Wolverine may have a new sidekick.

Mangold ("3:10 To Yuma," "Walk The Line," "Girl, Interrupted," "Cop Land") is one of America's strongest film-makers, able to master most any genre. With "The Wolverine" Mangold has made a comic book superhero movie with its feet firmly planted in Asian martial arts movies.

The screenplay by Mark Bomback ("Total Recall," "Unstoppable," "Live Free or Die Hard") and Scott Frank ("Marley & Me," "Minority Report," "Get Shorty") has a good mix of character development and plot. The action is more one-on one, rather than involving explosions and destroying cities as in many superhero genre movies.

"The Wolverine" is one of the better comic book-to-screen adaptations and should please "X-Men" fans.

"The Wolverine," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13) for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language; Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy; Run time: Two hours, six minutes; Distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Stay after the top of the "Wolverine" end credits roll for a teaser scene, possibly for "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (previewed at last month's Comic Con International in San Diego). Wolverine goes through airport security screening when Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who trained the X-Men and his nemesis Eric Lensherr-Magneto (Ian McKellen), who leads the Brotherhood, appear. Here's hoping Ororo Munroe-Storm (Halle Berry), Marie-Rogue (Anna Paquin), Raven Darkholme-Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Kitty Pryde-Shadowcat (Ellen Page) and Scott Summers-Cyclops (James Marsden) return.

Box Office, Aug. 2: "2 Guns" was No. 1, opening with $27.3 million, pushing "The Wolverine" to No. 2, $21.7 million, $95 million, two weeks; and keeping "The Smurfs 2" opening at No. 3, $18.2 weekend, $27.7 million since opening July 31;

4. "The Conjuring," $13.6 million, $108.5 million, three weeks; 5. "Despicable Me 2," $10.3 million; $326.6 million, five weeks; 6. "Grown Ups 2," $8.1 million, $116.4 million, four weeks; 7. "Turbo," $6.4 million, $69.5 million, three weeks; 8. "Red 2," $5.6 million, $45.1 million, three weeks; 9. "The Heat," $4.7 million, $149.5 million, six weeks; 10. "Pacific Rim," $4.5 million, $92.6 million, four weeks;

Unreel: Aug. 9:

"Elysium," R: Director Neill Blomkamp ("District 9") directs Matt Damon and Jodie Foster in a sci-fi thriller set in the year 2154 when the elite live on a space station called Elysium above the mayhem on earth below.

"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," PG: The second in the fantasy trilogy based on Rick Riordan's novels finds the son of Poseidon on a quest for the mythical Golden Fleece.. Logan Lerman and Alexandra Daddario star.

"Planes," PG: It's "Cars" with wings in the Disney-Pixar animated family comedy with character voices by Val Kilmer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Priyanka Chopra, Larry the Cable Guy, Cedric the Entertainer, Sinbad, Gabriel Iglesias, Teri Hatcher, Dane Cook, Anthony Edwards and Stacy Keach. Yes. there are a lot of planes in this race. But who's "com-plane-ing"?.

"We're the Millers," R: A marijuana drug dealer creates a fake family to bring a big shipmen from Mexico to the United States. This screenplay was obviously written before the U.S. Congress-approved stepped-up border security. Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Jason Sudeikis and Ed Helms star in the comedy.

Read Paul Willistein's movie reviews at the Lehigh Valley Press web site, lehighvalleypress. com; the Times-News web site, tnonline.com; and hear them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6 - 6:30 p.m. Mondays, WDIY 88.1 FM, wdiy.org. Email Paul Willistein: pwillistein@ tnonline.com.