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“The Wolverine” – Review (POSITIVE)

August 14, 2013

Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 5.29.42 PMLet’s be honest, nobody liked “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, even if you liked it the first time you saw, by now, you’d be smart to say that you don’t like it. It has lame visual effects, wooden acting, and cliched ridden story from bottom to top. The X-Men franchise had hit a bit of tailspin with “X3” “Origins”, many started to lose faith in the series, and prayed to the movie gods that the rights would go back to Marvel. Then we got “First Class” in 2011, which was a phenomenal movie. A movie that found a way to revamp the beloved series to a new level and somehow make it fresh and new.

Fast forward to the near end of the summer of 2013, we’re given a reboot (of sorts) to the stand alone Wolverine story in “The Wolverine”. The movie does a few things right, and a couple of things not so right, but the good news is this, “The Wolverine”, overall, doesn’t disappoint, and finds a way to remove that sour taste from our mouth regarding “Origins”, not to mention amps up our excitement for the future of the “X-Men” series.

We pick up years after the events of “X3: The Last Stand”, where Logan aka. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has purposely distance himself from his fellow mutant pals after the deaths of Professor X (Patrick Stewart) & Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). In modern day Japan, Wolverine is out of his depth in an unknown world as he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before. 

The films overall storyline is based on the beloved 3-part story arc by Frank Miller. The Japan-story has been a fan favorite among thousands of Wolverine fans, including the man himself, Hugh Jackman. Jackman cares for this character a lot, for crying out-loud, this is his sixth time playing the titular hero, not to mention he’ll be playing the character a seventh time next summer, so it’s safe to say that commitment has pretty much had it’s day. However, this is probably the first time since “X2” that we get a greater emotional depth of the character. The movie itself is a character study of such a person who’s been burden with the gift of immortality and (little to) no weaknesses all his life, and the suddenly stripped away leaving him open to the whole world. How does one cope with this? How can he deal with it on a psychological level. The movie touches on these themes, it doesn’t dare to go far enough, this isn’t a Christopher Nolan film.

Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 5.31.01 PMI give props to the film in another way, it doesn’t feel like a superhero movie, because of it’s focused character story. The movie doesn’t have an over abundance of random mutants thrown at us. In fact it takes the opposite approach that “Origins” faced. Logan is faced with more normalized foes than mutant ones, because of his new found condition it sort of evens the playing field. Naturally there are a few mutants here and there, the one that stands out the most, love her/hate her, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), who happens to have great scene stealing moments.

However, the movie faults by the last twenty minutes, the twist with the Silver Samurai, one of the most infamous foes the Wolverine has ever faced, is reduced to a silly mad scientist ploy. And the whole climax goes down, it borderlines rolling of the eye moments. The movie was doing so good 3/4 of the way in, and then it fizzles down to the typical superhero climax, that I wasn’t wishing to see. It just goes to show you, we all can’t get what we want out of a movie like this. 

Nevertheless, the movie is good, it’s actually more than good, it’s darn good. And in this post “First Class” world, our familiar characters are definitely heading in the right direction. The secret ending alone in this film which opens the door to prospects of a wider X-verse to tell tickles the fanboy in me. There’s promise in the X-Men franchise still, and next summers “Day’s of Future Past” will hopefully promise to be the epic masterpiece we’ve been yearning for.

GRADE: B+

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