The Wolverine Movie Review
Well, Wolverine has always been one of my favorite Marvel characters and certainly my favorite of the X-Men. So it was to my huge disappointment that ‘X-Men Origins’ was pretty awful. Hugh Jackman was great as Wolverine himself, but the film sucked. So I have to say, my expectations were pretty low here.
Jackman of course returns as our hero, but the rest of the cast are all new, as this film is set after the events of X-Men: Last Stand, with Logan living in a cave, spending his days as a wanderer with no reason to exist, and dreaming of his dead love Jean Grae. Of course, things don’t stay quiet for long, as a man he saved from the nuclear attack on Japan years ago during the war requests his presence as he lay on his death bed. Logan wants no part, and wants to continue living his quiet new life, but hs decision to go begins a sequence of events that will force him to resume his heroic lifestyle.
Well, with low expectations going in, there was certainly the opportunity to be surprised here, and fortunately The Wolverine was able to do that. From the jump though, I was a little worried. The beginning was solid enough, showing as a flashback that would prove to be key to the films plot. But with a cliche filled few minutes following this, our hero having given up on life and living as a loner before being recruited out of it by a strange woman. Been there done that. But fortunately, from here on out, things get much more interesting.
To touch on the acting first, we had a bit of a mixed bag, which did hurt to proceedings. Jackman was great as Wolverine of course, and he still remains one of the most perfectly cast Marvel heroes, alongside Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. He was also absolutely ripped for this film, even more so than last time around. The supporting cast was a mixed bag though. I would say that having no familiar faces return was a fantastic thing for the franchise, as they were becoming stale, but some of the folks that came in were questionable. His young female sidekick, played by Rila Fukushima was just okay, and I wasn’t impressed by many of the others either.
This leads me onto another flaw in the film, which I felt was the lack of a strong villain. We have a very convoluted cast here, which isn’t a terrible thing, but it means we really have no villain to focus on. That’s okay, but it makes it difficult to really hate anybody. Svetlana Khodchenkova tries her hardest as Viper, but because she is not really developed at all, it becomes a situation where it looks like she’s trying too hard. It becomes far too cliche and melodramatic. She is forced to verbalize how evil she is, rather than show us, due to a lack of screen time.
Honestly though, that is about where the negatives stop. The film is an action film before all else, and it really didn’t let us down at all here. The fight scenes were done really well, with Logan taking on large numbers of the Japanese mob, and in thrilling fashion. There was a lot of variety as well, with numerous characters bringing different things to the table. A lot of originality, and great special effects made it all work. In particular, a highlight was a fight/chase scene on top of a Japanese bullet train, a scene that always runs the risk of being absolutely laughable if done poorly or with bad special effects. But to their credit, the scene was absolutely fantastic, the effects held up, and it was a really unique and original take on what could be considered a cliche fight scene. Well done.
In terms of plot, it was fairly strong for the most part. I think that the film being set after ‘Last Stand’ made for the perfect dynamic, where we get flashbacks and dreams of Logan speaking with Jean, and we are watching his attempts to move on. The plot was deeper than expected, and while this meant the pace of the film had to be somewhat slower, it actually improved it as we get something that resembles a meaningful story line. Now, things did get a little convoluted at times, and there were almost too many villains really, but if you focus on Logan and his new love interest, Mariko (Tao Okamoto) it is a really interesting plot. Compared to ‘Origins’ it’s Citizen Kane.
The film certainly had flaws, and I’m not sure it finished with a bang, but it was entertaining throughout and a great addition to the X-Men franchise really. A pleasant surprise, and certainly worth the price of admission. Don’t be afraid to check it out.