Film Review: The Wolverine

the_wolverine_2013Cary, NC- It’s been 13 years since Hugh Jackman first graced the silver screen as Logan AKA Wolverine in the first X-Men film. What’s even more impressive is that in those years, Jackman has played the character a total of 6 times now, more than any other actor in any superhero film ever. There have been some miss-steps along the way ( I’m looking at you, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), but through it all, Jackman has remained 100% committed to the role, and The Wolverine is no different.

Hugh Jackman Is Better Than Ever

As I mentioned above, Jackman brings his all to this sixth go as Wolverine, and the guy really has gotten better with each go-round. In fact, this is the best representation the clawed mutant has had on the big screen thus far.

The film’s director James Mangold, who previously helmed the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line and the western remake 3:10 to Yuma, forgoes non-stop action with actual character development of the seemingly immortal Wolverine.

The movie takes it’s time and tries to figure out what kind of toll immortality has taken on Logan, and Jackman knocks it out of the park. Aside from the usual rage and humor we’ve come to expect from his version of Wolverine, Jackman is finally able to really show off his understanding of this tortured character.

It also helps that The Wolverine is a stand-alone entry in the X-Men film universe. It references previous entries, but not in such a way that would alienate audiences that aren’t overly familiar with the previous films. The lack of a huge ensemble is a big reason that Jackman and the filmmakers are as successful as they are with the development of Wolverine.

Wolverine In Full-on Rage Mode

As for the action, it’s top notch. There are only 3 or 4 set pieces in the movie, but they are extremely exciting and well done.  In almost every fight we get that berserker version of The Wolverine that was only hinted at in the other movies. He is in full rage mode here, and it’s a joy to watch. There is a particularly exciting sequence that takes place on top of a bullet train where Wolverine has to fight two different henchman while going 200 plus miles per hour. Oh, and he fights ninjas. So, yea, pretty cool.

I should also mention that The Wolverine never forgets that it is in fact a comic book movie and never takes itself too seriously. This is most evident in the film’s final battle sequence, which I won’t spoil here. It gets a little silly, but not enough so to ruin any true enjoyment of the movie.

A Little Bad To Go With All The Good

It’s not all great, though. Even with a substantially smaller cast than any previous X-Men film, there are still a few too many characters on display here. One in particular is a doctor whose intentions are less than good. It’s a character that almost literally adds nothing to the movie and yet is given a surprising amount of screen time. Everything that she does bring to the story could have easily been explained or dealt with a few extra lines by other characters. It doesn’t help that the actor’s line readings are close to terrible, and I found myself distracted every time they were onscreen.

Definitely Worth the Price of Admission

It’s a minor quibble though, as The Wolverine delivers a great examination of everyone’s favorite mutant while never forgetting to show us the characters’ rage and humor that has come to define him. I can’t quite call it my favorite X-Men film ( that honor is a tie between X2 and X-Men: First Class ), but it is my favorite version of this character on screen so far and I for one can’t wait to see him again.





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  1. The Wolverine
    The Wolverine says:

    First and foremost I must say that I absolutely loved this movie. But as I will cover in my review it may largely be due to the fact that I have always held the source material of this film in very high regard. Having said that, I do recognize that their may be a sliding scale of enjoyability for this film. If you are a fan of the 1983 Claremont/Miller miniseries of Wolverine then this is the movie you have been waiting for. If you are fond of the character Wolverine and interested into delving deeper into his chronology and exploring his inner conflicts, you will certainly enjoy this movie. If however, you have no familiarity, or no desire to familiarize with the character of Wolverine, you may find yourself not caring about many of the slower moments and longing for a more evenly paced action film.

    Fans of Claremont’s Wolverine rejoice, this Wolverine does it right. The film does its best keeping characters intact while deviating from the comics in the sake of a self contained story and grander character development. There are several of the shots in this film that are near recreations of the comic’s original panels, and although story lines have been shifted and shuffled in some places, its all there. Mariko, Yukio, Harada, Shingen and Viper may develop differently than in the comic series, but their relation to each other and contextual significance is intact. As a Wolverine fan it was also nice to see a meaningful relationship blossom between Wolverine and Mariko, unlike the comics where it really is love at first sight. Instead here Wolverine falls in love not entirely with the character of Mariko, but rather with the idea of being a protector, a take that is a welcome addition to the Claremont storyline. The characters of Silver Samurai and Viper undergo the largest facelift in this film, but it isn’t entirely out of place. Let us not forget they were involved in the X Men issues directly connecting to the Wolverine miniseries. Although their characters have undertaken slight adjustments in order to incorporate ideas from the Fatal Attractions storyline, the plot does well to take from Wolverine’s side of this storyline because it was one of the few times in the series where Logan did feel vulnerable. Many fans will recognize that the plot device and character of Master Yashida cannot be found in any of the original comics, but one must keep in mind it serves as a useful device to connect all the developments of Logan’s journey. All in all I think its the best character study of Wolverine that any fan could ask for. Wolverine struggles with his animalistic urges and his commitment to reform, he grapples to find meaning in his endless immortality, and he ultimately finds purpose and resolution that he had not before. None of these developments are significantly or profoundly discovered, rather they are slowly revealed, which may turn casual movie goers off from enjoying this film. As a thoughtful exploration of Wolverine’s character and a grand homage to incredible source material though, how can any Wolverine fan say no to this movie? It is the best X-Men movie and one of the best comic based movies.

    For those who would not consider themselves fans, but are rather moviegoers intent on enjoying a superhero epic, be warned. This film is a character study, it does not grapple with any conflicts outside of Wolverine’s internal struggles. The world is not being threatened, and not many lives outside of Logan’s are even being threatened, so the storyline does not crescendo in epic suspense like the Avengers or the Dark Knight. So for those not invested in Wolverine’s personal self discovery, some of the action can seem unmotivated and the pacing an obstacle to satisfaction. The film does its job in providing action sequences, but it intersperses several moments of symbolic soul searching, cryptic metaphors and relationship building that serve as pavement for Wolverine’s self discovery. This movie can still be enjoyable without interest in Wolverine’s inner conflicts however. With an outstanding supporting cast, a beautiful setting, and gripping and intense action sequences, it plays a lot like a token Bond film for those unfamiliar with Wolverine.

    Whether you are familiar with the original comics or not, this movie will certainly provide entertaining thrills and intriguing themes. If, however, you are a fan of the original comic books, this film is a wonderful achievement.

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