The Wolverine

It's probably telling that I totally forgot to write a review about this movie after I saw it on Friday. Not that it was bad; actually, I quite liked it. It just made no real impact, a movie enjoyed and dismissed as a good memory a day later. Which is sad, because there was a lot to like in The Wolverine.

In general, I'd say this film measures up to the same quality as X2: X-Men United. It was well made, the special effects and action sequences were exciting, and the performances were fine pretty much across the board. Jackman's performance in particular really shone as the focal point of the movie, and the fact that the plot was focused more on his character than anything else was definitely a strong point. This was a really nice change from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which had a bunch of other big name mutants thrown in to pad the story.

Unfortunately, the rest of the plot wasn't quite as coherent. It greatly suffered from a forced third act reveal that brought the plot into focus. Without that reveal, much of the motivations and actions of the supporting characters made little sense. The plot did work to rope Logan into the events, which revolved around his powers. However, there was some impossible sci-fi mumbo-jumbo thrown in that may have facilitated the final act, but didn't really work on a thematic or logical level.

I will commend the writers for getting the dialogue for Logan right, and for the fact that the plot never deviated from Logan too much. There were also two supporting roles that really worked as well. Tao Okamoto (Mariko) and Rila Fukushima (Yukio) were both excellent as love interest and sidekick respectively. Svetlana Khodchenkova did a nice job as the villainous Viper. The rest, well, as I said before, none of the performances were bad, but I didn't really care about any of the rest of the characters, and I'm not sure I was supposed to.

I should probably talk about the action stuff. For the most part I really loved how they didn't hold back with Logan. He kills so many people in this movie, and the only reason it doesn't have a harder rating is because the blood was kept out of it. If Logan went full out like he does in this movie, there would be body parts and blood spraying everywhere. That's not necessarily a criticism, I just wish the studio had the balls to make this an 'R' rated film. The rest of the action was impressive, with the train sequence standing out as the best. The final act again suffered from too much plot revealed too quickly so the action beats didn't flow as well as they could've if we knew more about what was going on.


The post credits scene was awesome. If you are a fan of the X-Men franchise at all, don't miss it.

The romance sub-plot was subtle and surprisingly sweet, and I liked it quite a bit. Even though it did feel a bit rushed.

There was a bit of a love triangle between Mariko, Logan, and Harada, played by Will Yun Lee (Total Recall). I'm not sure why they went this way, because it just confused an already complicated plot. Still, his character did have some really good moments, but I'm not entirely sure if he was needed in the movie at all.

There were two slight problems with continuity that I'd like to address.

First, Logan has bone claws in a flashback to the 1940's, which is before Project X where his skeleton was grafted with Adamantium. This does jive with the comics, but doesn't with the second film where it was mentioned that the claws were given to him during that process.

Second, Logan's memory was fragmented with his long term memory spotty at best. This story depends on a flashback to the 1940's, and I may be wrong, but shouldn't that part of his life still be relatively unknown to him?

Overall, I thought this was a good (although slightly forgettable) installment to the franchise. It continues the upward trend of quality, along with X-Men: First Class, which is building up my excitement for next year's X-Men: Days of Future Past. As a standalone story it was maybe not quite as good. Although this film did prove that the character is strong enough to carry a movie on his own.

3 out of 4 Adamantium Claws

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.


JimGfromWI said...

I completely agree with your review JD. It was a good movie, not a great one, but better than the Origins movie from a few years ago. Hugh Jackman was terrific - he really owns this role now. An X-Men or Wolverine movie without him would be like Iron Man without Robert Downey Jr. now. I do think it's telling, that some of the same things you mentioned, seems to be getting most of the attention - it would have been a better movie if it was rated R, the train fight was spectacular, and most people enjoyed the tease for X-Men: Days of Future Past more than the actual movie. And I also thought it odd that Logan had so much of his memory of the 40's, when they established in all the previous X-Men movies that his memory of pretty much ANYTHING before Project X was gone - but as you say, this movie wouldn't have worked without that key detail. Funny how they do that all the time. And of course the big question going into the next movie, without giving away very minor spoilery bits, is what will happen to Logan now, after the big battle that ended this movie - does he get "fixed" again, and how?

J.D. Balthazar said...

Great question Jim, and I am right there with you. I was thinking about as the credits were rolling.

Freeman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman said...

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. I always find that good ol' Wolvie works best the less mutants he has crowding up the scene. The even kinda touched on Logan's tendency to mentor younger women.

The action was great, and it was awesome to see him actually tearing into people, though like you I woulda liked to see them go tread into R-rated territory.

I also agree that the third act felt slightly odd. Like it was written for some other movie or something. Another thing that bugged me was that his Jean hallucinations(?)started to crowd up scenes that could've just been other dialogue sequences. Like how the butts is the man gonna dream about Jean while holding another woman in his arms? That was just awkward haha. It kinda made Mariko feel less like a love-interest and more like a roll in the hay.

Are you sure you meant Shingen? Because Shingen was Mariko's father. And that would be pretty grody. And they show in Wolverine: Origins (shudder) that Logan had his bone claws as a child. So I think that was just an error in the second movie that they just tried to quietly retcon. Or it may have just been an awkward line or a misdirect by who said it. I can't remember, it's been so long since i saw X2.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Freeman thanks for catching that, you're right Shingen was her father not her former lover. That was Harada (Will Yun Lee). I corrected it.