Unleashed in the East: ‘The Wolverine’ (2013).

6 Aug

The Wolverine poster2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine was universally panned and is (rightfully) considered an absolute disaster. A joyless production full of exposition and a noticeable lack of fun, the quicker we forget about its existence the better. Unfortunately, like spilled wine or, more accurately, a stroke, there were lasting implications: Wolverine as a character really needed a revamp. While The Wolverine may not quite rid the air of the putrid stench caused by Logan’s previous endeavour, it does manage to freshen things up.

Directed by James Mangold (the enigmatic man behind Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma), The Wolverine is based on the popular 1980’s comic miniseries in which our troubled hero goes to Japan. We learn that Logan saved a solider’s life during the American bombing of Nagasaki, and in doing so fostered a lasting sense of admiration in his indebted friend. Decades later, and quite out of the blue, his almost-dead comrade contacts Wolverine to speak with him one last time. However things quickly turn sour as everyone betrays each other and reveals their nefarious intentions.

Hugh Jackman reprises his role as Wolverine for the sixth time now; he officially holds the record for playing the same superhero the most amount of times in film history. This time he’s one hundred percent committed, and he’s not alone; joined by first-time actress Rila Fukushima in the form of fellow badass Yukio, the pair combined kick untold amounts of ninja, samurai and robot ass. This is an impressive début for the young actress and I look forward to seeing her in later roles.

At times this film felt like it had a checklist of ‘Cool Japanese Stuff’ and would not rest before ticking off every box: there’s a bullet train, ninjas, a love hotel, samurai, honour suicides, katanas, and virtually everyone wears a kimono at some stage. While this fevered collecting of Japanese references isn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ thing, it does start to get a little bit silly after a while. I kept waiting for a jujitsu dojo or a trip to the fabled Pokémon Centre.

Jackman is cool, but this movie hits you over the head with Japan references.

Jackman is cool, but this movie hits you over the head with Japan references.

Two problems: the ending gets very cartoony very fast. While any film set in the Marvel universe will unavoidably contain elements of escapism and certain breaks from reality, this movie goes cuckoo-bananas in the last act without any real rhyme or reason. In a similar vain, the lack of gore in The Wolverine further undermines any sort of alleged dabbling in ‘realism’. I’m sorry, but if a superhero’s foremost characteristics are these metallic claws that shoot out of his knuckles… Maybe there should be a little more blood.

The Wolverine doesn’t quite manage to knock the original X-Men off the Marvel mutant pedestal of greatness, but it comes damn close. Featuring some of the series’ most spectacular moments, this movie is leagues better than that horrible film from 2009.

Simon says: hit and miss, but this is the best representation of Wolverine on film to date.

Simon says: 

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