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The Wolverine - Now in Theaters

The Wolverine – Now in Theaters

Before I delve into my thoughts on The Wolverine, I want to let you know I really was not expecting much from this film. The X-Men started fairly well, but each movie was a little bit worse than the one before it. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a particularly low point for the franchise. On the other hand, X-Men: First Class was quite good, so really, I felt like the newest addition to the series could have gone either way. To protect myself, I kept my expectations low. While that may have contributed to my enjoyment of this film, I feel I would have been pleased with the film even if I hadn’t approached it in that way.

The Wolverine is primarily set after the events of X-Men: Last Stand, although there are some flashbacks to World War II. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is tormented by the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), and has secluded himself from the world. However, nothing is ever easy for the world’s most popular mutant, and events conspire to draw him back out into the open. In this case, that draw is Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a young Japanese woman who has been searching for Logan for some time. Yukio works for Master Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), a man Logan saved during World War II, and the former Japanese officer is dying. After some convincing, Yukio and Logan head back to Japan to fulfill Yashida’s dying wish, allowing the old man to thank Logan one last time before he dies.

I know, we all know this. We saw it in the previews after all. I am only recapitulating it because it underscores one of the important themes of the movie. Logan is a soldier who fights for causes, and his actions affect the world on a level he sometimes fails to grasp. Being immortal, Logan takes on more causes than the average man, and that weighs heavily on him. It is not the kind of burden I envy, that is for sure. Sometimes things work out well, and sometimes… Well, sometimes you have to stab Jean Grey to stop her from destroying the world.

Master Yashida: “Eternity can be a curse. The losses you have had to suffer… a man can run out of things to care for, lose his purpose.”

The Wolverine hangs it’s hat on Logan’s emotional turmoil, and that is perhaps the strongest aspect of this film. Even within the confines of such a short time, the writers managed to develop interesting relationships not only between Logan and his new love interest Mariko (Tao Okamoto), but also between Logan and Yukio (who I really hope we will be seeing in future X-Men films). These new relationships are balanced against his love for Jean Grey, and his anguish over having to kill her. The poor guy can’t even get a good night sleep without her ghost haunting him, and you really start to feel bad for him. This all makes for a great story, which is laced in between some of the most action packed mutant fight scenes we have seen to date.

Where the movie suffers though, is a combination of a script that could have used a few more passes, a few characters who were downright disappointing, and the occasional “meh” bits and pieces.

While Mark Bomback (writer) and Scott Frank (writer) captured the emotional drama of Logan’s life quite well, and James Mangold (director) filmed some great fight sequences, the plot that links all of these moments together seems flimsy. It even feels downright forced at times, and out of place with the rest of the movie. Sometimes, things happen off-screen, and the audience is never told why. We’re left to decipher events out for ourselves. I call this the DVD syndrome. There is a scene there, or a line, that sets up the next scene. For whatever reason, these bits are cut from the theatrical release, and we just have to wait for the DVD to see them.

Kenuichio Harada: “What are you?”
Viper: “A chemist, a nihilist, a capitalist… a viper.”

As for individual characters, while some were fleshed out well like Yukio and Mariko, others needed some work.

Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) is a feeble villain whose most graphic power, the ability to molt her skin, is only used during the worst possible time, the climax of the film. Don’t ask me why she decided to molt then, I don’t know. It doesn’t really make sense to me. Other than that she is immune to toxins, and can synthesize toxins which she delivers through her saliva. I had some really bad flashbacks to Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin. Viper even sported several funky hairstyles to make the similarities even more disturbing.

Harada (Will Yun Lee) is an idiot, or at least he was accidentally written that way. As the leader of a centuries old ninja clan, this did not sit well with me. The film needed a face for the clan, and he filled that role well, but then he was also shoehorned in as a former sweetheart of Mariko (when they were less than teens). The addition to the story wasn’t needed, and it added pitiful aspects to a character who otherwise would have worked quite well.

Then there were the “meh” parts of the film. Ninjas are awesome, but they played such a small role in this film I was disappointed. Even at times when you knew they were there (we saw them), they didn’t come out of hiding to do the one thing they existed to do, protect Master Yashida’s family. For an elite fighting force, who existed for a sole purpose, they really sucked at doing that job. They helped Logan look cool, which I guess is something to note.

Overall, I enjoyed the film because it delivered in ways I had not expected. Compared to the previous Wolverine flick, this one is much, much better and most of the movie was entertaining and enjoyable.

For the “wait through the credits crowd,” there is a great stinger, which starts approximately one minute into the credits. It ties the end of The Wolverine into the upcoming 2014 film, X-Men: Days of Future Past. I highly recommend sticking around to watch it.

Unearthed Arcana

A premium reprint of the original book by Gary Gygax

Wizards of the Coast really is rolling out the red carpet when it comes to supporting older editions of Dungeons & Dragons. Yesterday premium reprints of Unearthed Arcana 1st Edition hit the streets and those of us who didn’t have ragged old copies sitting on our shelves were finally able to get our hands on this classic product. To be honest anyone who has played D&D with older gamers knows our beloved grognards have a love and hate relationship with this book. Some love it as the best thing to ever happened to D&D. Some hate it, well, as much as a grognard can hate just about anything. Sorry grognards, you know I love you and you’ll always be OGs to me.

None can deny it advanced the game in interesting ways and the changes it introduced have echoed through every edition since. These premium reprints are bound like WOTC’s premium reprints of the three core books (so they look nice together on your game shelf). At $49.95 I only recommend this product for the avid collector or those who really can’t get their hands on it anywhere else. is selling it for just over $30 which is a much more reasonable price.

New Pathfinder Flip-Mat & Map Pack

Pathfinder Watch Station

Retail Price $12.99

This month’s addition to my collection of maps come from Paizo’s newly rebranded line of Pathfinder Flip-Mats and Map Packs (formerly known as the Gamemastery products). These products are great tools which allow game masters to quickly deploy incredible looking terrain at the game table for their players to explore.

The Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Watch Station is a 24″ by 30″ (1″ squares) mat detailing the upper and lower (dungeon) level of a watch station (prison, bastille, asylum or however you want to skin it). Like all flip-mats this one has a special coating allowing game masters to customize the map with dry, wet or even permanent marker ink which can easily be removed.

The Pathfinder Map Pack: Sewer System consists of eighteen 5″ by 8″ (1″ squares) map tiles which can be arranged in any way the Game Master sees fit or used in tandem with other map packs and flip-mats for an even greater number of combinations.

Pathfinder Sewer System

Retail Price $13.99

Call the guards! Whether your players are on the right side of the law or under arrest, no Game Master wants to spend time drawing interrogation rooms and holding cells.
– Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Watch Station

Adventures are at their grossest when they descend into the reeking cesspools and disgusting tunnels winding beneath the largest cities, sewers of such size and complexity as to be dungeons in their own rights. Whether your heroes are chasing thieves or clearing out sewer-stalkers, no Game Master wants to spend time drawing drainage ditches and filthy channels.
-Pathfinder Map Pack: Sewer System

Both products rated 5 out of 5.

Life is Good in Vegas

I am now a resident of Las Vegas, the Entertainment Capital of the World, Lost Wages, Glitter Gulch and Sin City. When I left Vegas in 2006 I never thought I would come back but that is how life works I guess. I have a roof over my head, a new car and a good job. It works for me.

Along with all the usual concerns I have been exploring the local gaming scene to see what I can find. A lot has changed since I left but I am happy to report I have at least found a regular Pathfinder Society game to play in, I will be attending my first Vegas Game Day (a monthly event) this weekend and I am keeping my eyes open for other gaming opportunities. The Little Shop of Magic has been around for a long time but back in 2006 I lived on the wrong side of town to make regular trips. Living in the Summerlin area it has become the crux of my gaming experiences this time around and I have been nothing less than impressed with the store and its staff.

Today is the start of Teach Your Kids to Game Week. DriveThruRPG is offering all sorts of goodies for very low prices which I encourage you to check out. Even if you don’t want to spend any cash before the holidays the important part is you spend some quality time with your little ones playing games. Do your part to foster the next generation of great gamers.

Cool Links

  • Towers of Midnight Audiobook Sweepstakes – Sign up for a chance to win a free copy of Towers of Midnight (audiobook).
  • The Lazy Dungeon Master – Michael E. Shea, also known as Sly Flourish, has released his latest book for dungeon masters who like to run their games on the fly. This book is available in several formats for the very low price of $5.99

Wow, August going into September has been a busy time for me. Besides my usual articles, reviews and the ongoing job hunt I am also working on three submissions for gaming related products. The first two are adventures for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (going to two different companies) and the third is a short story which I hope will be picked up for a fiction anthology for an indie game. I have a lot on my plate at the moment. Alas, such is the way of life. I just keep slamming back the [drink of choice] and pounding away at the keyboard.

Reviews and a Blog entry on Flames Rising DOT com.

Articles and Reviews on Examiner DOT com.

Wow, that is a lot of articles. I need to stay on top of those.

Stay frosty my fellow geeks and gamers!

Gen Con 2012

Gen Con 2012

Steampunk folk music? Heck yeah!

Gen Con 2012 was pleasantly exhausting. Three days later and I am still recovering from the flurry of activity but I still have a big smile on my face. It was a great year. I got to play a lot of my favorite games while also trying out some new ones as well. I probably spent way too much in the exhibitor hall but what the heck, it’s Gen Con baby!

Wizards of the Coast impressed me with the new spread for the Dungeons & Dragons Experience. While I will lament the move away from Baldman’s con in Fort Wayne I think the new setup does a better job of highlighting D&D and bringing it to the fans, old and new alike. Now Baldman can expand his convention beyond D&D and WOTC can spread the love for their game. This is a win-win for everyone.

The crafting seminars were moved deep into the Crowne Plaza this year which was very strange. It felt like we were somewhere else besides Gen Con and with the constant string of trains passing over interrupting workshop instructors it was bothersome. Although I still managed to complete a cool chainmail dice bag before my class ended so I am happy about that.

Foam weapons will be a permanent part of my Gen Con experience. The whole family loved it.

Gen Con 2012 was awesome. Check out my article on

Gen Con 2012 is coming

Gen Con 2012

“The Best Four Days in Gaming!”

“No Game Left Behind!”

While technically Gen Con does not start until Aug. 16 there is already a lot going on in the city of Indianapolis right now. Gaming industry insiders are having meetings, making deals, working on projects and all that good stuff they do behind the scenes. There is even some gaming going on here and there which is awesome.

I love this week of the year because Indianapolis really comes alive for the gamers. This is an especially important convention because we are celebrating 45 years of Gen Con. Gen Con LLC and the Indiana Convention Center (and surrounding hotels) are really rolling out the red carpet. I will be going downtown tomorrow to start taking photos (another hobby I geek).

I feel like a kid the night before Christmas!

While exploring the interwebs I recently stumbled across an interesting website, Each week the website provides a new fantasy adventure with statistics for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. These adventures can be played in their unique world which is being revealed piece by piece as each module is published each week. Or game masters can easily adapt the adventures to be played in any fantasy setting they desire. These adventures can be run straight from the website using unique features (like embedded audio) or you can download a PDF of the adventure.

For free users can gain limited access to the website to check out the service. Two adventures are available to try out which can be downloaded one-time only. For a monthly subscription of $9.99 users gain access to every adventure on the website and you can download two adventures a month. An annual subscription for $99 (a savings of $19.98 over the monthly sub) user gain access to everyone on the website, bonus materials and unlimited PDF download. They also offer a PDF purchase option for individual adventures.

For gamers still playing D&D 3.5 of fans of the Pathfinder RPG this is a great website because the non-stop stream of adventure modules is more than enough material to keep most gaming groups busy having fun. A quickly growing community has formed on the website as well.

Not too long ago started organizing the Community Dungeon Build #1 on the forums. Jonathon Nelson produced a dungeon map with 30 rooms. Members of the community choose which room they want to develop into a deadly chamber worthy of being called old school. Submissions are still being worked on and there are still several rooms to be selected.

Gamers looking for a great resource with a growing community should check out this website. I geek and I think you will too.

The Expanded Shaman

New Paths 2: The Expanded Shaman from Kobold Press

The fine folks at Kobold Press sent me a copy of their newest release, New Paths 2: The Expanded Shaman for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The Shaman first appeared in Kobold Quarterly, issue 21, and KP has added new material to the class including three new archetypes as well as new powers and feats.

I won’t keep you in suspense. I gave The Expanded Shaman five out of five stars. Check out the full review at


A science fantasy roleplaying game set in a post-apocalyptic future.

When Monte Cook left Wizards of the Coast due to creative differences he hinted immediately that he was already working on a new project. For several months now we have been hearing whispers about this secret project and just in time for Gen Con he has finally revealed his next creation, Numenera. Numenera is a science fantasy roleplaying game set in a far future post-apocalyptic world (approximately one billion years).

Yesterday Monte launched Numenera: A new roleplaying game from Monte Cook on kickstarter to fund the production of this game. In less than twenty four hours the project has more than doubled its initial funding goals in pledges. The project has already passed its first stretch goal and is moving on towards its next one.

Check out the full article on