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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: The Rich Mahogany Edition

Director Adam McKay shot so much footage for the movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, he was actually able to cobble together an alternate second feature, titled Wake Up Ron Burgundy, incorporating a filmed-but-discarded Anchorman plot-line involving a terrorist cell calling itself the Alarm Clock.

That movie, included on the second disc of this deluxe Blu-ray package, while not as worthy as the 2004 theatrical version of Anchorman, is still pretty funny, thanks to contributions from the likes of Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Justin Long and a stark-naked Chad Everett as Burgundy's former mentor, Jess Moondragon. It's a sign that McKay, Will Ferrell and company were in some kind of all-pistons-firing zone when they made their satire of sexism in the news biz in the '70s.

McKay's style was to let his cast riff with gleeful abandon -- a strategy that worked particularly well for Steve Carell as box-of-rocks weatherman Brick Tamland. But footage of a table-read, included on Disc 2, demonstrates that many of the real laughs in the film were in the script. That extra and sometimes artless footage of the rehearsal process show that Christina Applegate could be counted upon to maintain her professional composure in a process where the humour could be pretty raw. There's also footage for the recording session for Afternoon Delight, which shows Ferrell, Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner really were singing.

The package's added fanboy value includes a set of Anchorman trading cards and Ron's "Many Months of Burgundy" diary.

This review has been written without a single paraphrase of a classic Ron Burgundy line. You're welcome. 4 stars


The Wolverine

The most admirable thing about this comic book movie is the fact it dares to drift away from the trappings of the X-Men franchise and go somewhere new.

This is a surprisingly difficult thing for superhero movies, entrenched as they are in origin stories. The vast majority of actual comic books are new adventures, but movies always tend to get stuck in the fertile but familiar mud of how any given superhero got that way.

In an adaptation of an '80s X-Men story by Frank Miller and Chris Claremont, The Wolverine actually takes the most demon-plagued X-Men character out of his sub-Arctic stomping ground to Japan. During the Second World War, we see in flashback, the indestructible and apparently immortal soldier Logan (Hugh Jackman) saved a Japanese officer from the atomic blast of Nagasaki.

That soldier, Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), becomes an industrialist and one of the most powerful men in Japan. On his high-tech death bed, he sends his sword-wielding emissary Yukio (Rila Fukushima) for Logan, exiled in the north and tormenting over his role in the death of his beloved X-person Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) as seen in X-Men 3: The Last Stand. Logan agrees to go to Tokyo, ostensibly to say goodbye.

But Yashida has another agenda, one that involves his high-tech empire and the inevitable clash that will come when he skips over his power-hungry son to bequeath it all to his lovely granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto).

This agenda will involve legions of Yakuza gangsters and ninja assassins, as well as a lovely mutant (Svetlana Khodchenkova) who, when she isn't practising medicine on the dying magnate, practises serpentine evildoing under the monicker of Viper.

Director James Mangold has done heavy drama, light comedy and action in one capacity or another, and all those facets serve here. A duel with assassins on a high-speed bullet train is an early action highlight. On the dramatic front, Logan's torment over his lost love parallels a loss of the mutant healing powers that typically allow him to shake off bullet/knife/samurai sword wounds.

Yes, that's right, The Wolverine is, on two different dramatic arcs, a story about healing.

The Blu-ray includes a longer cut of the film, an alternate ending, the making-of doc The Path of a Ronin and a behind-the-scenes tour of the set of X-Men, Days of Future Past. 3-1/2 stars

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 5, 2013 C6

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