This brings us to The Wolverine. It seemed like Fox was very serious about making a good Wolverine movie since initially they hired Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) to direct. Sadly the acclaimed director dropped out when he realized he’d have to be in Japan for a year and was replaced by James Mangold who is…a pretty good director. But after watching his films 3:10 to Yuma and Walk the Line I wasn’t sure he was very good at doing endings (especially with 3:10 to Yuma which was a fantastic movie until the last five minutes ruined everything). Now, like with Pacific Rim, most of what I’ve heard about this film has been extremely positive with most people agreeing it was far and beyond better than the original. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while or have gone back to check out the archives you will probably be aware that Wolverine is one of my most hated characters in superhero comics. I once wrote a long blog about why. (He’s not as bad as Barry Allen though; f**k that guy). But I’m a huge Hugh Jackman fan so I’m willing to give it a chance.
Oh by the way; Fox had prior to this film announced their intention to create their own shared superhero universe following the massive success of The Avengers. In theory the shared universe would include the X-Men and the Fantastic Four with this film starting the trend (well, technically it would make the original film retroactively the trend starter, but whatever). So in addition to its own film we may need to look for clues for possible future films seeing as X-Men: Days of Future Past and the FF are both right around the corner.
Full review after the jump.
[WARNING: This review contains major spoilers. On the bright side they weren't particularly good plot twists but you should still proceed with caution]
|Hmm, I wonder how old Logan will handle this: reasoning or decapitation?|
I’ve said before that while I dislike the Wolverine character in the comic I liked his movie counterpart more due to how charming and likable Hugh Jackman is. This film is no different as Jackman once again does a good job with what has become his signature character. In addition I thought he had tremendous chemistry with Rila Fukushima, even though the character of Yukio wasn’t exactly done correctly (Yukio wasn’t a mutant in the comic, just a badass). The best parts of this film, without question, were the scenes of the two kicking butt and otherwise working together. The fact that a sizable portion of the film separated them was to its determent. Honestly speaking I could watch those too all day and I would be far more interested in a movie focusing on the two of them having adventures around the world than watching this upcoming film X-Men: Days of Future Past. Give me something called “Wolverine/Yukio: Blood Money” or “Wolverine/Yukio: Dead Man’s Hand” and I’ll be first in line.
Also I know this will sound a bit weird but I found myself really attracted to Fukushima in this flick. I think it was the shape of her head in conjunction with the hair color.
|Not to mention I got a thing for ladies who are expert swordsmen|
[Note: Rila Fukushima is a model, not an expert swordsman]
Oh and hey; a lot of people spoke Japanese in this film. This doesn’t happen nearly as much as you think it should in these types of films where the natives of a country we spend a whole movie in don’t speak their own language (and in some cases have English accents on top of that). So that was cool.
|Wolverine at a funeral where he didn't kill the guy being buried? Crazy!|
Now that pretty much ruined the movie for me but on a less important note that would not have really bothered me that much had the climax not been so bad The Wolverine is not very good at adapting comic book characters. All the X-Men films play fast and loose with character sin their films to the point where it’s practically the franchise’s calling card (the Juggernaut having nothing to do with Professor X, Lady Deathstrike basically was a completely different character, Havok possibly being Cyclops’ father rather than younger brother….and that whole “Deadpool” disaster in the last Wolverine flick) and it’s not the worst here but it certain seemed like the filmmakers did not give a shit at all. Now Yukio being a mutant (and having pink hair) is fine and worked well enough for this film and Mariko being slightly more capable than a helpless victim is appreciated but the changes to Viper are odd. In the comic her only powers are being a really good fighter and being really smart (though not a scientist) but here she has snake themed abilities and is referred to as being a mutant. Um, okay, that seems like a very unnecessary addition to her character. And Shingen Yashida, who was well known from the comic for beating the f**king piss out of Wolverine with a bokken (a wooden sword), has his role from the original miniseries streamlined like crazy to the point that he’s basically a joke here.
But the worst of it is Kenuichio Harada, better known as The Silver Samurai and one of the few memorable villains from Wolverine’s rogues gallery (after Sabertooth and Lady Deathstrike, arguably). He’s mainly famous for two things: 1) wearing samurai armor made of silver metal and 2) his mutant ability to channel energy through his sword. In this movie he’s a human archer who wears a lot of black clothes (and is a ninja or something). So…why the f**k would you even bother having the Silver Samurai in the film if you weren’t going to use him? Couldn’t you just have an original character playing that role? Also, on a creepy and surprisingly relevant note (See: Sword Art Online), in the comic Harada is Mariko’s half-brother and in this movie they’re ex-lovers. Gross. This movie is really gross.
|Pictured: A silver samurai|
Not Pictured: A character from a Wolverine comic
This is a much better film than X-Men Origins: Wolverine but that’s like saying that punch to the mouth is a lot better than a kick to the balls. The beginning and middle of this movie were great and I loved the team of Wolverine and Yukio. Had things not degraded so quickly I would have probably given this flick a pretty good grade. As it is this picture feels like a convoluted mess that had a tastes of being highbrow (or at least highbrow for superhero comics movies) but in end couldn’t handle it. It’s simple: if the first act involves your protagonist fighting poachers in a bar and the second acts has him fighting gun wielding gangsters having him fight a super villain in a mutant power sucking robot suit in the third act will make your movie look kind of dumb. Add to the fact that the plot doesn’t seem very well thought out then you have a disappointing film that could have been the best superhero film of the year. I hate to say this but Wolverine deserved better than this.
|Also you can't argue that he doesn't wear that suit well|
-Wolverine and Yukio make a great team
-The action is good
-The first and second acts are actually very entertaining
-The third act pretty much negates what I just said
-Weak, convoluted writing
-Badly adapts several key charters from the comics (And made siblings lovers as a result. Gross)
And in regard to its connection to the Fox Superhero Universe: the movie seems to directly set up to X-Men Days of Future Past in a pretty intriguing (if canonically impossible) way. It’s not a lot but neither was Tony Stark’s brief encounter with Nick Fury in the first Iron Man movie. If nothing else Fox did a much better job making me excited for more films than Warner Bros. did with Man of Steel. I'm at least moderately more interested in the next X-Men movie than I was previously.
|Logan and Yukio will return in|
"Wolverine/Yukio: The Desolation of Smuag"