The Wolverine Movie Review
With keen animal senses, accelerated healing power and long retractable claws, it’s no wonder that the Wolverine is one of people’s all-time favorite comic book characters. Along with his cool mutant super powers, Wolverine, also known as Logan, is the ultimate anti-hero with a surly rebellious attitude and sometimes rage-filled temperament. His mysterious origins and the fact that he has practically been alive forever definitely makes him one of the most interesting characters stretching past the X-Men and Marvel universe. Miraculously, the super cool character is matched perfectly with actor Hugh Jackman who embodies the role better than any superhero casting…(dare I say?) ever.
So why can’t the Wolverine make a decent solo movie?
I admit, after 2009’s X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE delivered an uneven hokey introduction to the character, I wasn’t looking forward to this summer’s follow up in THE WOLVERINE. But as the trailers started pooling out showcasing the unusual and exotic setting in Japan with some rather interesting characters using exciting martial arts and cool weaponry, my interest began to peak a little more. Wolverine vs. Ninjas, you can’t go wrong with that. Right? Wrong. Sadly, director James Mangold and the team behind THE WOLVERINE waste another opportunity on a beloved character.
The film opens in 1945 with a fascinating scene showing Logan caught deep in an underground hole as a prisoner of war. Rescuing one of the young guards named Yashida just before he commits hara-kiri, Logan shields Yashida at the bottom of his cell as the atomic bomb floods the world above them. Years later, Logan is summoned by Yashida on his death bed. He offers Logan the gift of death, which will in turn give Yashida the gift of life. Red flags anyone? Yashida is worried about his valuable estate and doesn’t fully trust his corrupt family other than his granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto). Despite Logan decision not to “help” out the dying old man who is only alive now because of him, Wolverine begins to lose his healing powers anyway.
I’m all for making superhero films dramatic; Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight series are the current blueprint for such an endeavor. However, plot holes and inconsistencies feel that much more apparent when films take themselves more seriously. Why does Wolverine’s retractable claws not give him any problems once he loses his healing ability? I was under the impression that the bone ripping through his skin was always a painful act. And is that adamantium-laced skeletal structure bring up any new difficulties? These are questions I wouldn’t regularly care about but the film was so bland it failed to keep me interested.
THE WOLVERINE stretches on with minimal action and rather poor dialogue. When plot points do come up, they are overly spelled out with obvious exposition and predictable outcomes. Interesting characters like future-seeing mutant Mariko (Rila Fukushima) and the bow-wielding Harada (Will Yun Lee) are sorely underutilized. The film is a true sequel to 2006’s disappointing X:MEN: THE LAST STAND using Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) in way too many redundant dreams of Logan’s.
The early action appears a little shaky while the 3D is absolutely unnecessary. But a thrilling battle on top of a fast moving bullet train is an exhilarating action experience. Add the always great Hugh Jackman as the awesome Wolverine and a fun little tease of what’s to come after the first part of the credits and there isn’t much more worth saving in THE WOLVERINE. I’m happy that because of films like THE DARK KNIGHT, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, IRON MAN and THE AVENGERS, the bar has been set to a new high for for comic book movies. Unfortunately, THE WOLVERINE can’t muster the strength to claw its way there.