Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Wolverine

It's been awhile since I've seen any of the X-Men trilogy or X-Men: Origins - Wolverine. And it's been even longer since I've seen the '90s X-Men cartoon that has Logan actually wearing that bright yellow and black suit of his. While I remember enjoying the first film when I saw it (on VHS, no less) and I liked the second film when I saw it one of those dozens of times it was being replayed on FX, I can honestly say that I didn't care for X Men: The Last Stand. I like it much less than Origins. I've heard X-Men: First Class is excellent but I haven't seen it so I can't judge that yet.

But from what I have seen of this movie franchise until this recent film The Wolverine, I could honestly have said that the X-Men films are better than the forgetful Fantastic Four films and the terrible Green Hornet, Punisher: War Zone, and Green Lantern movies. That's about it, though. X2 comes really close to being great (from what I remember), but one good film doesn't necessarily equal a great series. And if X Men: First Class is one of those great ones then allow me to change my previous statement to "two good films." 

Now we have The Wolverine, though.

This is a film where I wasn't expecting much from. Again, I'm not that big of a comic book nerd or an X-Men nerd. I typically avoid comics and only know about the X-Men from the cartoons and movies. So the smallest and minutest of changes really don't bother me. A lot times I'm not really aware of them. The big ones like essentially erasing Gambit from the movies with the exception of Origins or the exclusion of Jubilee from all of the films altogether does bother me a little bit, but it's still not the end of the world for me. 

No, the main reason I went to see The Wolverine was because somebody said "Wolverine goes to Japan." 

That was all it took. 

I love Japan in case you haven't noticed. Or maybe I just love Japanese stereotypes. Maybe a little of both. Yeah, I'm up front enough to admit that. 

Either way, I was going to see this movie. 

In case you have been living under a rock then you know that brooding superheroes are in these days. Hell, even Superman brooded in Man of Steel. Wolverine post-Last Stand is very good at brooding. But I think Wolverine has a much better reason to brood than Superman. While I didn't care for X3, I can say that the storyline did leave the possibility for an interesting continuation and I think The Wolverine makes good use of that. 

So while the dream scenes that feature Famke Janssen reprising her role as Jean Grey were perfectly acceptable within the confines of the movie. When the movie starts out Logan is wondering around the wilderness essentially wishing he could die and be with Jean again. When he is approached by an anime-haired Japanese girl (portrayed by Rila Fukushima) with the powers to see the future, Logan is finally given a chance to step out of his exile.  

And to Japan they go to say goodbye to an old acquaintance of Logan's. 

There's mischief afoot, though. We have the Japanese mafia, an offer to give Wolverine mortality, a fight on a bullet train, evil mutants doing super evil things, and a big-ass silver samurai robot thingy. 

But this movie is really about Logan's recovery from the depths of despair so the pace is deliberately slower and not always as actiony as some folks would prefer. Even I expected a little more action. I was pleased with the film, though. 

With the exception of the bullet train segment and the fight against the silver samurai at the end, a lot of the fights are really about choreography rather than special effects. So they don't quite have the same over the top feel as... say, the final half hour of Man of Steel.

Personally, I was pretty pleased by the performance of the largely Japanese cast and I think James Mangold did a good job with this one. There were a few things that could have been a bit different, though. I think that the role of Viper (portrayed by Svetlana Khodchenkova) was rather pointless, but she was decent eye-candy so I guess I can let that pass. I also think that the connection between Logan and Yukio could have been a little more thought out. 

But... this is still a pretty good movie. Not quite great, but certainly a good one. Especially if you like subtitles. And kudos to writers for putting "fuck" in the movie. 

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