Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: The Wolverine

Release date: July 26, 2013
Running time: 126 minutes
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Will Yun Lee
Who to see it with: Someone who absolutely loves Wolverine


Wolverine has always been a difficult mutant for the big screen. Whereas the other X-Men have powers that can be obfuscated to avoid the carnage they cause (i.e. Cyclops' laser just hits someone, Storm blows someone away with wind), it is tough to cover up the damage dealt by Wolverine's claws. This wouldn't be as big of an issue--Wolverine is sort of an anti-hero--if the previous movies hadn't tried so hard to establish Wolverine's humanity. What you get is a weird dichotomy between this anti-hero trying not to let his inner animal out and this mass murderer who goes on one man killing sprees. 

The movie is set in Japan after Logan is convinced to visit an old friend. I enjoyed seeing Japan on the big screen, and The Wolverine's shots of both crowded Tokyo cities and beautiful Japanese landscapes are enjoyable. However, the setup to get Logan to Japan, as well as everything that comes after that, makes little sense. The story becomes unnecessarily complicated, with too many moving parts and plot lines that don't come together in a coherent way. On top of that, there is a weird series of sequences involving Wolverine talking to Jean Grey that just don't work. The mutants they introduce in the movie are not very interesting and their powers aren't really exciting to watch. Maybe they thought the main show should be Wolverine, but some of the fun of these side stories is the ability to introduce some additional mutants to provide entertaining companions and adversaries. 

Sure, it's a summer movie, so the focus is on flashy action. And yes, the action sequences are good, although a little over the top. There is a train sequence that is fun to watch but also tough to digest because the train should have been demolished in the process. And the final fight sequence, while grandiose, is just not that interesting of a fight. It feels like there's not much purpose to it and some of the character changes are abrupt and too convenient. In the end, the Wolverine suffers from a story that just doesn't make much sense for an anti-hero that is painted partly as seeking redemption, but also just slaughtering bad guys left and right. It should still be seen by fans of Marvel movies in general, and Wolverine in particular, but just not at the theaters.

Rent it.

PS - There IS a stinger partway through the credits that is the best part of the entire movie. 

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