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The Wolverine Movie Review - Better Than Origins?

Updated on August 22, 2014

Forget Your Origins

Before we get going, please don't confuse this movie with the similarly named "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", a prequel panned by many.

I had heard about the poor press, so I didn't have high expectations, but I was perhaps one of the few who enjoyed Origins.

Despite some cringe-worthy moments (the "blob", anyone?), it had some nice ideas, including a clever intro/credit sequence.

Sadly, it tried a bit too hard to make the story fit into the pantheon, with everything ending up a little bit too neat for my liking - similar in some respects to First Class, the other, much superior, prequel.

Cultural Identity

The Wolverine tries to make up for Origins faults by taking the eponymous hero to a different country and culture not seen in the series before: Japan.

It follows on directly from the events of The Last Stand, the third movie in the original trilogy, with Wolverine trying - and mostly failing - to come to terms with his own actions and his loss.

If you're not sure what I'm on about, then you need to go away and watch The Last Stand again to find out what happened and why Wolverine is the way he is.

Which perhaps is the first of this movie's faults: I'm not sure how well this iteration stands by itself.

It seems to assume we already know who Logan is, where he is coming from and hence, how he is feeling.

That said, this is the sixth movie in a series, so if you're still watching then maybe it's a fair assumption to make?

Age Rating

The Wolverine is rated 12 for "moderate action violence and one use of strong language", according to the back of the Blu-ray box.

Logan uses the "s" word several times and the "f" word once.

Personally, I am not fond of swearing, especially in Marvel movies which are aimed at an older child/teenage audience.

Logan was seen to use the "f" word in a cameo in X-Men First Class, where it was a mildly amusing scene.

However, in my opinion, it's use in this movie was completely uncalled for and didn't even make much sense in the context in which it was used.

It should also be noted that there is one scene where three scantily clad women are in a room with a man.

While nothing much is "happening" (they are all standing up talking), sexual overtones are strongly implied and one of the ladies' apparel is so skimpy that she appears at first to be naked from the back.

This is not full frontal nudity, but it seemed a bit close for comfort to me, so you may want to think twice before letting your kids watch it.

New Meets Old

It gets off to a good start, introducing new characters through flashbacks and the like, and mixes mystery and action to keep your attention.

I don't want to spoil the story, so I'll keep things brief:

Logan is persuaded to go to Japan to say goodbye to an old friend who is dieing.

In the process, he ends up in a mission to protect his friend's granddaughter from gangsters.

He also meets a new enemy who somehow takes away his ability to regenerate, making him truly vulnerable for the first time.

It's a good thing then that Logan is aided and abetted by the granddaughter's best friend, who is pretty handy with a sword, acrobatic moves and a slightly creepy ability to see into the future (I won't spoil why it's creepy).

This leads to all sorts of shenanigans and the kind of set piece action sequences that we've come to expect from the clawed wonder.

The Man Himself

Hugh Jackman at 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International
Hugh Jackman at 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International | Source

Suspend Your Disbelief

Hugh Jackman is, as always, very believable as the hero.

I always feel that he gives his character charisma to offset the gruffness and enough heart to let you know that he genuinely cares about others.

This both wins you over and lets you believe he has been through a tough life, but at the same time justifies him from sliding down the slippery slope to anti-hero.

Of course, in this instance I appreciated all the action and being able to see him do his signature moves too!

I also enjoyed the sense of suspense that the movie managed to attain - almost through to the very end.

In particular, there are at least 3 characters for whom it was difficult to work out their motives, or even which side they were on. I mean this in a good way though.

You see, I kept finding myself thinking, "I don't trust him", or, "is he a bad guy ...or not?"

None of this was particularly deep, I was surprised that a Wolverine movie kept me engaged as much by these questions, as it did by raw action.

After all, he's hardly Professor X.

Teaser Trailer

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All Good Things ...Fade a Bit in the End

However, I felt the ending faded just a little bit.

Yes, there was a good fight between the heroes and the baddies, once we worked out what it was all about.

Yes, there was a suitably explosive finish to keep action junkies like me happy.

Yes, there was the obligatory end credit sequence in true Marvel style, to set you up for the next story.

But I still have an issue with it.

My problem these days, is that I find myself asking two questions of any movie which has a traditional "bad guy".

The questions are:
Why does the bad guy do what he does?
Why does the bad guy's henchman (or woman) stay with him and/or help him?

Bad Guys and Good Guys

The problem I have in this case is that I am not completely convinced that the bad guy would do what he ends up doing (again I am trying to avoid spoilers here, so please bear with me).

Perhaps he is mad, or is completely obsessed, but it just didn't quite ring true.

Or perhaps the director was trying to make some point about honour in the context of Japanese culture and what happens to dishonourable people?

Well, if that was the intention, then I'm afraid it was too subtle for me.

Similarly, the henchmen weren't entirely believable.

One of them seemed to change their mind on who they were fighting for, but their reasons for doing so were unclear.

The other was so self-obsessed that I wondered why they would ever work for someone else.

Of course, I am probably expecting too much. This is still at heart an action movie based around super heroes, from the Marvel stable, no less.

It would just be nice if for once, the "bad guys" were a little more than one or two dimensional.

Or maybe, I should just chill out a little more and enjoy it for what it is?

Rounding Up

Don't let me put you off though, these are merely my musings and it could be that on second viewing I pick up on things that I missed the first time through.

If so, then I will update my review.

In the meantime, I must say that I did enjoy it and will definitely watch it again.

So what about my original question? Is it better than X-Men Origins?

I think it is clearly superior to Origins, and despite its own flaws, manages to break new ground for the characters.

Is it the best in the series?

I my opinion no, but it is still a worthy addition to the canon.

What do you think?

Do you agree or disagree with what I have said?

Let me know in the comments, below!

Final Score

4 stars for The Wolverine Movie

© 2014 Tim Bader

What do you think?

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    • Tim Bader profile image

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      Thanks @SheGetsCreative !

      I agree, Hugh seems to fit the role perfectly.

      On the odd occasion I've seen a comic book version of the character, I keep thinking that the uniform wouldn't suit him, rather than the other way around.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Good review. I haven't seen them all but I can't imagine anyone but Jackman as Wolverine.

    • Tim Bader profile image

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      To be honest, that's what I've tended to do too, especially on a Friday night, lol.

      I think it's just because I've watched a lot of these type of movies over the past 2-3 years that I'm seeing a pattern now in how "bad guys" are set up.

      Glad you enjoyed it. :)

    • Tim Bader profile image

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      I see!

      You are obviously well acquainted with the comics, while I have to admit to never reading them (lame, I know).

      I think it's tricky adapting any kind of written work for the screen, there's always something that gets left out - sometimes favourite characters.

    • Shinzuu Katame profile image

      Shinzuu Katame 3 years ago from Maine, USA

      I'll be honest. I didn't know he was in it until I saw it. However, I will say I was a bit upset at The Wolverine because when I saw it was going to be in Japan, I had expected they would properly introduce Lady Deathscythe alongside Silver Samurai.

    • profile image

      mumsgather 3 years ago

      Great review. I normally don't do a lot of thinking like this when I watch movies. I just "chill out and watch it as it is". ;)

    • Tim Bader profile image

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      Thanks Susan.

      Nice to see you here!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Nice review, Tim!

    • Tim Bader profile image

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      That's a good point, regarding the inconsistencies - often a problem when movie makers try to shoehorn prequels into an existing storyline.

      I know what you mean about Will-I-Am.

      When I first realised he was in it, I rolled my eyes a bit, but in the end I was quite surprised at how well he fitted in.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Shinzuu Katame profile image

      Shinzuu Katame 3 years ago from Maine, USA

      It goes without saying that The Wolverine was a much better movie over Origins. Origins not only had raised too many story inconsistencies (a couple in part with First Class), and raised too many issues in the movie industry for spin-offs, especially for Deadpool.

      But I will say that Origins was awesome with casting Will-I-Am and finally being a movie that introduced Fred Dukes. Aside from Sabertooth, Fred Dukes was the only other major rival for Wolverine in the comics. (Deadpool is his own, and Lady Deathscythe is really just a bad romance)

      The Wolverine is just epically awesome, even if Silver Samurai's story was quite a bit off since he wasn't actually a suit of armour.