Review: The Wolverine
- Starring: Hugh Jackman (X-Men), Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada and more.
- Directed by: James Mangold (Walk The LIne)
- Synopsis: “Based on the celebrated comic book arc, this epic action-adventure takes Wolverine, the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before.”
- Rating: Rated PG-13 for language, violence, intense fighting and some sexuality.
- Must-Watch Trailer:
Prior to this film, we’ve seen Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine in five films (yes, that includes his cameo appearance in X-Men: First Class) and this, his sixth time in the iconic role, finally provides a character-centric look at the loner X-Man known as “The Wolverine” that X-Men Origins: Wolverine so woefully and pitifully failed to do (and X-Men 3 for that matter). Hit the jump to see my thoughts on this latest look at the ageless Wolverine.
Ignoring X-Men Origins: Wolverine is immediately the smartest decision that makers of The Wolverine could have ever made. This film, giving a great perspective on Logan’s history and his constant struggle on two fronts (inter-personally and externally), is the next chapter of the 3-clawed one’s saga and pits our anti-hero not only against multiple enemies, but also against the Silver Samurai, who comic fans may recognize as one of Wolverine’s greatest foes.
The Wolverine begins in a great fashion that shows plenty of promise mixing intriguing story with amazing fights, graphics and special effects. That promise, slowly waned from reaching fulfillment as the film continues with intermittent amounts of excitement among multiple seemingly meaningless flashbacks and a multitude of misunderstood enemies and motives. Those looking for a non-stop action flick full of Wolverine just slicin’ and dicin’ may see a slight disappoint as the film attempts to balance itself between the dramatic and the dangerous.
Don’t get me wrong. The Wolverine contains several action scenes, as expected; and when they are on the screen, they are rather impressive. Ironically, it is not the “mindless action” that brings the film down as much as the pensive storytelling (love story, reflection, mystery and more) and slow pacing.
That aside. I liked The Wolverine, but it didn’t measure up to any expectations other than to just be better than Origins. As I have mentioned in earlier reviews, one of the major problems with superhero films is that there never really is any ultimate danger. We all know that the hero triumphs. What The Wolverine does, however, is take the danger to some different limits with different surprising outcomes that will undoubtedly play a part in future X-Men films.
Those with GREAT expectations for The Silver Samurai, well, keep your expectations at bay as some may find his inclusion to be nothing greater than the Destroyer in Thor, Galactus in The Fantastic Four 2 and The Phoenix in X-Men 3. This main villain (one of many) offers Wolverine a big challenge and leaves his mark, but will get lost in the mix of villains and does not amount to the same level of threat as, say, Marvel’s favorite bad boy of late, Loki.
A mixture of several story lines, characters and looks back, The Wolverine serves more as a stepping stone for future X-Men films and gives a better foundation for the character of The Wolverine, which, if that’s what you are hoping for, then it serves its purpose. It is a must-watch for continuity of understanding in the future of the characters’ universe, but is not much in terms of a standalone film however. The Wolverine seems to reflect my feelings on the character himself: great in a supporting role, but not in a lead role.
Is it bad for me to tell you that my favorite part of the entire movie was the after-credits scene? Well, that is the case. The character Wolverine is quite the complex conundrum, and so is this movie about him. It has no real plot surprises and ultimately, feels as if it goes almost nowhere until that after-credits scene that, once it shows up, causes fans to just look forward to “the future” and forget the movie overall.
I’m not trying to be tough on this film, but I am calling it as I saw it. You know I always do. The Wolverine was not bad, but it could have been better. As a comic book movie, it blends action and story, just not as successfully as other films or the comics on which it is based. I wonder how it would have turned out had Darren Aronofsky or Guillermo del Toro actually directed it as were early preliminary plans prior to James Mangold being chosen from a list of 8 other possible directors.
Go see it as a fan and lover of the character. It’s always fun to hear Hugh Jackman yell as Wolverine. (I’m sure he would yell at my score…sorry, Hugh).
(Remember, to read this review of mine and over 250 more, check out THE ARCHIVE of movies I have reviewed anytime. Know before you go…or rent…or buy!)
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer