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The Wolverine Movie Review - Better Than Origins?
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.
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?
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
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.
Which is your favourite X-Men movie?
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?
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!
© 2014 Tim Bader