Movie Review: The Wolverine

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It goes without saying that Wolverines first solo film was kind of a disaster in the eyes of many people. It created a gargantuan amount of continuity problems, it butchered the already well done Weapon X story in X2, got rid of Deadpools mouth and was generally a bad film with  few redeeming qualities so people are understandably apprehensive about this new solo outing, especially after its very long and troubled production.But like another troubled film that came out earlier this year and pleasantly surprised me, The Wolverine is a fantastic Wolverine film and its the second best X-Men film thus far (behind X2).

The film begins with Logan in 1945 where hes being held in a prison camp near Nagasaki on the day the atom bomb was dropped, there he saves a young Japanese soldier called Yashida and some 60 years later, Yashida has become the leader of Japan’s most powerful corporation and he wants to thank Logan by taking away his healing factor. 

At the same time we see that Logan has spent years wandering the wilderness in self imposed exile after the events of X3. Hes still haunted by the events of that film, hes sick of his immortality and he wants to finally die and find peace but his trip to Tokyo and him re-uniting with the dying Yashida gets him tangled up in a plot involving ninjas, corporate espionage, the Yakuza and people who want to take his healing factor from him by any means necessary.

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The biggest advantage this film has over its rivals (The Avengers, Man of Steel, Iron Man 3) is how human and down to earth it is. The film plays out like a drama exploring a tortured man whose been alive for almost 200 years, hes fought in half a dozen wars, hes murder countless people and everyone hes ever loved have died just for being near him. The film really explores whats it like to be a man like Logan, what are the advantages, what are the disadvantages and can you really find purpose in a life that can never truly end?

Comic book films that are character studies of their titular hero are always my favorite and The Wolverine is a perfect example of this. For the first time ever in an X-Men film I can really relate to Logan and his situation. All of us at some point or another wonder what it would feel like to be immortal, sure it might seem amazing at first but when you really think about it, it can be a curse that will destroy you if you let it.

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This down to earth mentality also translates to the action. Don’t expect to see big explosions, cities being leveled or anything resembling the comic book movies of the past couple of years. The action is very personal, pretty brutal and the fighting choreography is phenomenal. The train scene and Logan’s duel with Harada are the stand out fights and they look absolutely spectacular, due in no small part to the fantastic way the film is shoot (minus a pretty bad shaky cam scene).

I was also really surprised at how bloody this film was. When Wolverine starts doing what he does best it was actually pretty damn brutal and there were at least a dozen times where I went “Oooohhhhh” or “Hhhholllyyyy shit I cant believe they got away with that”. Needless to say after seeing how much they got away with the PG-13 version, I cant wait for the R-rated cut when the Blu-Ray hits.

Hugh Jackman IS Wolverine in this film. This is hands down his best performance as the character and he feels like comic book Wolverine here more than in any of his other appearances. He looks appropriately threatening when he needs to and he has some really damn funny lines and he completely became the character of Wolverine. The rest of the cast is equally strong, especially the actress who played Yukio, at first I really didn’t like her from what I saw in the trailers but she was pretty badass in her own right and I really liked her by the end.

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But like all films The Wolverine does have its problems. There are some small character actions or lines that don’t make sense and they seem like they came out of nowhere or made no sense. The romance while a LOT better than in the comic this is loosely based on still had the cliché of the two characters constantly glancing at each other and they felt really cheesy and kind of forced.

The films last battle will also divide people, mostly because its really comic booky yet the rest of the film is really grounded, this didn’t bother me because this is a comic book movie when every things said and done, just one that takes itself seriously but other people will dislike the final fight so it needs to be mentioned. I myself really enjoyed it as Wolverine was truly vulnerable there even with his full power, which is a rarity these days but some will feel it completely breaks the tone of the film.

Is this the best comic book movie of the year? No but its close second to MoS for me, its the Wolverine movie we have been waiting for and it shows that while the franchise did have some pretty bad entries, this film continues what First Class started and that’s to prove to us that while the X-Men film franchise seemed kind of fucked for a while, great films can still be made for it and The Wolverine is a prime example of this.


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