Monday, July 29, 2013

Review 192: "The Wolverine"

"A lot of people have tried to kill me...
and I'm still here."

Not an Origin Story

      I think we can all agree that X-Men Origins: Wolverine was not the best representation of the Wolverine movie that we've always wanted. Mostly because it's an awful mess and it changed a lot of great stuff about the comics and previous films, but hey, the filmmakers seem to be ignoring it, so so should we. So, yes, The Wolverine is a second attempt to give Wolverine a good solo movie, something that should be that hard. And thankfully, doesn't seem to be. Directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line) and written by Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard) and Scott Frank (Minority Report), the film follows Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), as he is brought to Japan by fellow mutant Yukio (Rila Fukushima) in order to visit his old friend Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), who claims he can cure Wolverine of his immortality. Wolverine declines, but when Yashida's granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) is brought under attack and Wolverine's healing powers suddenly vanish, Wolverine must face off against the dangerous mutant Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) and the mysterious Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada) in order to get his powers back and save the day.

The second Yaeger program faced major
budget cuts.
Superhero Noir

      The Wolverine seems to be doing a lot better out of the gate simply because the people here seem to actually care of the character's comic book heritage. The Wolverine is basically a noir film with Wolverine playing detective in a foreign country. There are no mega-super-powered mutants here to fight. Instead, Wolverine finds himself digging through a family's secrets in order to save the day. That's a pretty cool concept, especially with Wolverine, a character who can easily make the concept work. And it does, mostly. Sure, the film is a little simplistic, with a twist that is a fair bit predictable and a story that never actually gets to be all that complex, but it works and lays the groundwork for a damn fun movie. The actors are all good, though they are all here just to give room for Jackman's still spot-on portrayal of Wolverine. As long as he stays in the role, I'll still watch whatever movie Wolverine's in.

Camera Action

      But what really makes The Wolverine more than just good enough is how much fun it actually allows Wolverine to have. Mangold makes a very nice movie with a good amount of style to make it enjoyable. Couple that with some great action scenes and the movie is the fun Wolverine movie people have always wanted. Even the fight on the bullet train, which looked terrible in the trailers, is here pretty damn awesome, with Wolverine actually delivering some surprisingly punishing blows and an honest sense of speed. Though, on the flip side of that, the final fight with the robotic Silver Samurai does fall a little flat. In fact, for the most part, the villains just aren't very good or compelling, making the climax a bit dull and mostly just keeping us from the awesome post-credits scene. But still, the villains are fine enough and the story works fine. It's just, I wish that things we're still a little bit more than just... fine. There isn't even any real mutant stuff in this movie. Sure, Wolverine's got his claws, which thankfully are actually good looking in this movie, but other than that, there's only two other mutants. And one doesn't even have visible powers. It just doesn't feel like X-Men with mutant problems.

That can't be healthy.
The Verdict

      The Wolverine still has it's flaws, but after it's awful predecessor, a few flaws are nothing. The film is just plain fun, with some great action scenes and Hugh Jackman proving he's still a bad-ass. Yes, the story isn't great and is a little simpler than it thinks it is. And the villains aren't all that threatening and the mutants are downplayed, but the film is a better time in theaters than some of superhero movies and that's all we can really ask for. Overall, it;s just a lot of fun. The Wolverine gets 5 stars out of 6.

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