Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Wolverine Movie Review!!!

Hugh Jackman is back!!! But when are we going to get a real Wolverine movie??? Intrigued? Read on to find out more!

I remember first getting into the X-Men in the 90s with the outstanding animated series, so much so that I went on to buy the entire series on DVD and started collecting the Uncanny X-Men comics.  That was around 1996 when Onslaught came and shook things up for everyone in the Marvel universe (Google it).  This was my introduction to Wolverine and like most people I became a fan. 

Given the last few shambolic X-Men movies, I was reticent about this latest installment but quietly optimistic.  Although not a mitigating disaster, it did fall short of the mark for me.

The movie starts with Logan in a Japanese POW camp in 1945.  When the Americans drop an atomic bomb, Logan manages to save a Japanese soldier by the name of Yashida from the nuclear blast.  Jump forward to present day and Logan is a wandering hobo living off the land in the Canadian outback.  He is no longer an X-Man and no longer goes by the name of Wolverine.  Haunted by images of Jean Grey whom he killed in X-Men: The Last Stand, he’s become a recluse and lonely hermit.  Thankfully he is tracked down by one of Yashida’s people and requested to go and visit the old man in Japan before he dies.  It is here that Logan is given a unique proposition.  Yashida requests Logan’s immortality and in return, Yashida’s cutting edge scientists will be able to offer Logan mortality and put an end to the prison that is a life without death.

Things don’t quite go according to plan, Logan does end up with his mortality but it is too late for Yashida.  Logan learns the hard way that mortality isn’t all it’s cut out to be.  With Yashida’s highly profitable enterprise being left to granddaughter Mariko, she becomes the target for all sorts of badness and Logan becomes the unlikely hero and possibly more.

Now, admittedly, I’m not a Wolverine expert.  I don’t know much about Omega Red or the Weapon-X stuff but I like to think I know a reasonable amount.  I know he’s a mutant with some unique super powers and a pretty shady past, that he’s a martial arts expert good enough to take down Marvel’s answer to Bruce Lee (Shang Chi), that he is a combination of martial arts discipline paired with feral wolf like instincts and senses, well versed in Japanese customs, he has instantaneous healing as one of his mutant powers, retractable adamantium claws and adamantium lined bones which would at some point be stripped off by Magneto.

Unfortunately, once again, familiarity with the source material only serves to make the movie less enjoyable.  As if often the case, foolish movie studio execs would rather make up their own lame stories than follow existing story lines from the comics which have hundreds of thousands of fans.  The result, this time, although not terrible is still not great. 

I enjoyed the Japanese setting and some of the actions set pieces, particularly the bullet train fight scene and how shockingly violent the film is given it’s PG13 rating.  Somehow they even managed to even get the F word past the censors.  Wolverine veers extremely close to being the rough and ready badass we all want him to be.

I was surprised that the filmmakers didn’t take this as an opportunity to start on a fresh clean slate with Wolverine and the entire X-Men series.  Instead they chose to acknowledge and continue on from the events in the terrible X-Men: The Last Stand.  The continual references to that turd of a film didn’t add anything to this movie and, if anything, being linked to such a disaster only added a negative skew to my whole view of things. 

I loved the fleeting glimpses we are shown of the ‘real’ Wolverine character but it just wasn’t enough.  Logan should be well versed already in Japanese customs, he was there before and in the comics had studied and mastered various martial arts.  Had his character been portrayed this way it would have served to further the mystique surrounding his background.  Instead director Mangold (really really sounds like a porn star name) opted for the more obvious fish out of water routine.  Logan still can’t do martial arts and actually I found the whole powerless Wolverine thing to be quite irritating.  If he doesn’t have his powers then he’s just some angry dude running around. 

In one rather amusing scene Mariko reminisces about how her grandfather would tell her stories about Logan saving him from the atomic bomb, how Logan was a hero.  It’s here that it dawns on you that Mariko is getting involved with a guy who is even older than her grandfather.  It just felt very wrong.

The finale serves as an adequate ending but is something of an anticlimax mostly because bad guys Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) and Harada (Will Yun Lee) are nothing more than boring caricatures with questionable motives that we really couldn’t care less about.

I imagine that the less you know about Wolverine and the X-Men series the more you will probably enjoy this movie.  It’s a decent action film but only a mediocre Wolverine film.  The Japanese elements are nice and Hugh Jackman does a great job with what he’s given but fans of the comics and cartoons will most likely be left feeling slightly short changed.  I really feel that Jackman deserves better material to work with than this.  At least this is a step in the right direction and hopefully next time Wolverine will be even better and truer to form. 

To put things into perspective, out of the summer big guns, this is better than White House Down, World War Z and Grown Ups 2, probably almost on a par with Despicable Me 2 and Man of Steel but nowhere near the heady heights of Pacific Rim.

In the mood for some bladed fury with a touch of Oriental mystique, then check it out and don’t forget to stay for the mid-credits scene.

Rating 3 out of 5.


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