The Wolverine Reviews
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.(1) Grandpa
This is what I understood at the end of the movie: Turns out Grandpa is a bad ass who just wanted to magically suck Wolverine's healing powers and live forever. So what he did was (i) Invite Wolverine to Japan; (ii) Fake his own death; (iii) As part of his plan (?) inject a spider onto Wolverine's heart so that he loses his healing powers--What in the world did this achieve for evil Grandpa?; (iv) As part of his plan (?) allow his granddaughter to be subject to multiple assassination attempts, just so that Wolverine will keep following her; (v) Then after leaving a trail of crumbs for Hansel and Gretel, captures his granddaughter, and lures Wolverine to some sort of lair, where his powers can be sucked.
The (?)'s indicate where I am not sure if it was really part of Grandpa's plan or things just worked out this way.
Given the tremendous amount of uncertainty involved in the above plan (e.g. Wolverine might've been killed, in which case no powers to suck; his granddaughter might've been killed, in which case end of story, and Wolverine would've returned to the Yukon to chill out with grizzlies), you'd think there'd been a simpler and cleaner way to do all this. But no.
All this is quite forgivable, compared to other things that went wrong.
What the hell is motivating her? What does she want? Is she working for herself? Or is she working for Grandpa and if so, why?
How did she inject the spider onto Wolverine's heart? Just by kissing him in the middle of the night? (This was never clarified.)
(3) Japanese Father and Japanese Fiancé
OK so it turns out the whole family (except pretty granddaughter) are a bunch of one-dimensional assholes. This is clichéd and boring and stupid, but still acceptable if you at least make some effort explaining what exactly was motivating them.
Japanese Father wants to kill his own daughter just because Grandpa willed her everything? (Oh, and this too was part of Grandpa's grand masterplan?)
Japanese Fiancé is just some asshole who's engaged to pretty granddaughter (this, BTW, is explained for us gaijin simply by the line that "You're not Japanese, so you won't understand"). He's the minister of justice or something. And he likes to have white hookers in his hotel room. Uh, and what else do we know about him? Nothing! Basically he's just some asshole who somehow wants to do bad things.
There are many other things wrong with this movie. E.g.,
(4) Totally artificial and forced chemistry between Wolverine and pretty Japanese granddaughter.
I literally cringed whenever they hooked up.
(5) Jean Gray bad dreams BS was just LAME
I can think of only two things I liked about the movie: (A) The Nagasaki A-bomb scene. Pretty sick, think it's the first time I've seen it portrayed up-close in any movie. (B) The black ninjas, doing their thing in the middle of the night and flying across roof-tops.
GREG: (Greg Smith, Founder of Agile Writers of Richmond, VA) In the trailers, Yashida offers to make Logan mor-tal but I think he s tall enough.
SCOTT: Groan! Let s recap. The Wolverine begins with a flashback to Nagasaki during World War II, when the city is about to be hit by the A-bomb. At that time Logan saves Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) from being burned by the radiation. But now Yashida is dying of old age and sends his granddaughter s friend, Yukio (Rila Fukushima), to bring Logan back to Japan, presumably to say thanks and farewell. On his deathbed, Yashida tells Logan that he wants Logan s superpower of immortality, but Logan refuses to hand it over. Just before Yashida dies, his doctor, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), injects Logan with a parasite that disables his instant-healing powers.
GREG: Yashida, a rich technologist, has left his vast fortune to his granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto) which makes her the target of assassins. Logan comes to her aid and not only saves her from the villains, but befriends her as well. Logan is now on a mission to protect Mariko until the will-reading which bestows all power of the Yashida company upon her.
SCOTT: Greg, I found The Wolverine to be a fairly good film that is only notch below its predecessor, 2009 s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in quality. Once again, Hugh Jackman strikes all the right notes in his performance as Wolverine. No one looks more intimidating with and without those talons that spring from his knuckles. And let s face it -- those massive creases in his furrowed brow are deeper than the grand canyon. Jackman s intensity is palpable. For me, the movie succeeds in showcasing several of the strongest female characters we ve seen in a movie this year. The characters of Yukio, Mariko, and Viper are all outstanding. Viper, in particular, is a powerful character and a terrifically effective villain. The Wolverine also features one of the best action scenes I ve witnessed this year -- a fight on top of a high-speed train traveling at 300 miles per hour. It literally had me on the edge of my seat.
GREG: I thought the film started out really well. We were in Nagasaki, Japan during World War II where Logan is found in a hot box as a Japanese prisoner of war. When the air raid sirens go off, Yashida lets all the prisoners out of their barracks so they d have a fighting chance. His peers commit suicide before the bomb falls. Yashida then attempts to let Logan out of his lead-lined pit, but Logan convinces the man to take shelter with him. The nuclear bomb explodes and it is Logan who shields Yashida from the blast. Logan s powers of regeneration allow him to take the full force of the blast and survive. Yashida is forever in his debt. This opening is exciting and sets up the rest of the story. It exemplifies Logan s powers and establishes the two men s connection. We get another scene of action when Logan saves Mariko from the assassins. The train battle you mentioned is thrilling and even has moments of humor. Watching Logan battle it out on top of a speeding bullet train was exciting. But that was about the end of the thrills for the next hour. And that s where The Wolverine lost me.
SCOTT: The Wolverine pretty much kept my attention, Greg. When he loses his powers, it s akin to Superman being exposed to Kryptonite. As the audience, we know that the hero must regain his lost powers to defeat the villain. Not knowing how Logan was going to do this was enough to maintain my interest. Then, when Wolverine recoups his superpowers, he encounters a force that threatens them again, and in a surprising way, too. Having said all this, the film is not without its problems. For one thing, some of the fight scenes, to me, were poorly filmed. The camera was shaking so much it left me wondering what the camera operators were smoking that day. Also, the ending of the movie was somewhat anti-climactic and fell a bit flat for me. And in terms of the hero journey, Logan lacked encounters with a mentor and a father figure, which are two important elements of the path that heroes take.
GREG: Scott, the time between the train action and the final scenes where Logan fights a giant Adamantium robot was easily an hour long. Virtually nothing happens in that 60 minutes. There are flashbacks, and love scenes, and walking along the shore. But nothing of interest. All the time Logan spends as a weakling he is in hiding. There is no drama at all. I really felt like the director was padding out half the movie. The plot made no sense at all. If Mariko didn t want the company - all she had to do was turn it over to her father. There was an army of ninjas who appear from nowhere. There s an old flame who is an expert with a bow (there was a lot of archery in this film). The villain Venom seemed to have variable potency with her poison. And the climax of the film (aside from the thrilling battle) made no logical sense at all. I really felt like the movie died after the first act and never recovered.
SCOTT: Sorry you didn t like The Wolverine more, Greg. Overall, I found it to be a worthy addition to the X-Men canon. Logan is an effective hero character because he longs for peace of mind and for a chance to lead a normal life. Yet he knows that he is a soldier who is called to right the world s wrongs. The tension between these two incompatible goals makes for an effective hero story. The Wolverine isn t a great film but it left me satisfied and entertained. I give the movie 3 Reels out of 5, and 3 Heroes out of 5, too. Movie: Heroes:
GREG: I felt The Wolverine didn t measure up to 2009 s X Men Origins: Wolverine. Hugh Jackman gave it his best and is convincing in the role. But the writing was terrible. There wasn t much of a hero s journey here. Logan starts out in one place and ends up in the same place. He hasn t grown or changed a bit. I felt like I didn t get my money s worth as this was only half a movie. I give The Wolverine 2 Reels and 2 Heroes. And I ll never look at a fork the same way again. Movie: Heroes: