Review – The Wolverine

The Wolverine Poster

Appearing as the saber-clawed mutant for 6th time, Hugh Jackman stars as the title character in this X-Men spinoff.

Living in the wilderness, Logan has tried to put his past as Wolverine aside, feeling he no longer has anything, or anyone, left to live for.  Of course, when he’s all but immortal, living is something he’s going to continue to do, one way or another.  Tracked down by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mysterious and dangerous Japanese woman with clairvoyant abilities, Logan is convinced to travel to Japan.  Yukio’s employer is Ichiro Yashida, whom Logan saved many years before  He is on the verge of dying, now an old man.  Under the pretense of saying a thankful farewell, Yashida offers up a proposition – he would transfer Logan’s mutant healing powers to himself, granting him new health, while bestowing mortality on the tired Wolverine.

What follows is a considerably more thought out story than the rest of the X-Men franchise.  Rather than have the screen filled with clawed bad-assery every moment, time is given to the inner struggles of one of Marvel’s more complicated heroes.  Jackman is really given the opportunity to dig into the psyche of the character, building on what has already been established over the course of five other films.  And only occasionally does it dip into queso territory.

This is not all brooding heartache, and moral dilemmas though.  There is plenty of screen time given in this lengthy film to impressive fight scenes.  Unleashing the animalistic nature of Wolverine, the fights often brush up against an R rating, keeping just enough of the implied violence off the screen to avoid the harsher label.  There are few other mutants in the movie, throwing mere humans (though deadly ones) at Wolverine most of the time.  This avoids the Man of Steel vs Zod issue where there are impressive fights, but nothing is accomplished as equally powerful people pummel each other until one of them does something smarter than the other.   Nope, ninjas may be lethal, but they aren’t getting up from having adamantium claws go through their gut.

There are some truly thrilling action pieces, including a train fight unlike any train fight you’ve seen before.  CGI doesn’t make a big, noticeable, appearance here, which is nice – everything has a very real feel to it.  I was, unfortunately, to near the front of the theater for the 3D to do much other than look out of sync, but it didn’t look like anything particularly special.

With fewer super-powered beings clogging up the story, The Wolverine is able to actually focus on, surprise surprise, the Wolverine.  As much of a character driven drama as a super-human action blockbuster, The Wolverine successfully melds those two aspects together in a way that fans of comic books have been wishing for.  Hugh Jackman has never embodied the character more than he does here.

In most super-hero films there are going to be blinding plot holes, left open for the convenience of the story, or just because it’s really hard not to have plot holes when dealing with super powers and comic book logic.  I only noticed one such blatant occurrence, which I think is a pretty forgivable number.  That, a few moments that feel a little too hokey, and the inclusion of Famke Janssen reprising her role as Jean Grey – a character I had hoped to never see again – prevent this from being a grand slam.  As it is, though, seeing what a good Wolverine movie is like makes me embarrassed to have even sort of liked X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Side note:  Whatever you do, don’t leave the theater before the mid-credits teaser!

Mrs. Hamster says:

“This doesn’t belong with the other X-Men movies – this is just a Wolverine movie.  But that’s ok because he’s awesome.”

My Rating: Four out of Five Hats

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Trailer:

The Wolverine claws its way into 3,924 theaters, in 2D and 3D July 26