The CGI is terrible. I can see the wires.


Theatrical Release Date: 07/26/2013
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Famke Janssen, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Hiroyuki Sanada
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.
Runtime: 2 hours, 6 minutes


Trailer:

I’m emoting as hard as I can!

For anyone who has been reading my reviews for the past few years, you know I’m protective of the X-Men franchise when it comes to their cinematic adaptations. As a kid, it was my favorite comic book and as an adult the opportunity to use their stories to mimic current real-life situations is uncannily obvious (X-fans will know what I just did there).

In any case, the X-Men movies to this point have been a mixture of half-decent (X2) and obscenely awful (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: First Class, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). The first X-Men gets somewhat of a pass considering it was treading fairly new ground in the current cycle of comic book movies, though plenty of its needless changes to characters and storylines still incur my ire.

The next wave of X-films are on the horizon now and hoping to make amends for just how terrible the first stab at Wolverine’s back story ended up, here comes … well … The Wolverine. (I’m 1,000% down with dropping the “X-Men Origins” nonsense.) This time around, the story centers on the titular anti-hero (also known as Logan and played again by Hugh Jackman) going to Japan at the request of an acquaintance made nearly 60 years ago. In the comics, this phase of Logan’s life is remarkably significant as his relationship with Mariko Yashida (Tao Okamoto) is a manner in which he confronts the animal side of his psyche and the matter of being an honorable warrior is tantamount.

In the film, there are shades of this and I think Okamoto did a wonderful job of playing Mariko. However, the script got a bit too excited about making sure there was some way to include a fight between Wolvie and a giant adamantium samurai which would result in some of the dumbest and most needless alterations to Wolverine that the final twenty minutes undo a rather decent job of adapting the source material. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m annoyed as hell about other elements as well (most notably revolving around the characters of Yukio and the Silver Samurai which I can’t get into due to spoiler territory) but I understand that adapting items for screen can require change so I’m going to take a deep breath and let that stuff go (mostly).

The fight scenes are rather generic for the most part, which is sort of sad considering this film has loads of ninjas. I repeat: NINJAS. (That they call them the Black Clan rather than The Hand is puzzling but don’t mind me, I’m an X-Men nerd). There’s one interesting and moderately original fight on top of a bullet train but other than that, it’s pretty standard stuff and often director James Mangold gets a little too happy with the idea of shaky-cam that it makes following things more work than fun. And I doubt I need to mention how useless the 3D is, right? As is the case with far too many attempts at the third dimension, I found more than a few spots where taking off the glasses for whole scenes really didn’t do much but make me wish the whole thing was presented in 2D.

I still don’t quite understand why every scene involving Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) required she be in lingerie but that’s even less concerning than bothering with that plot element in the first place as Marvel should be distancing itself from The Last Stand, not reminding people of it. And as happy as I am to let Janssen walk around in whatever skimpy outfit she wants, it’s so blatantly handled that it began to feel exploitative and I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t Zack Snyder continuing with his Sucker Punch fantasy.

Still, boiling it all down, I’m somewhat surprised that I spent good portions of the film simply following along and not being too irate about one thing or another. It still baffles me why the ending has to be so anti-climactic, predictable, and over the top but that’s big budget Hollywood for you. The Wolverine is a significant step up from its predecessor but far from must see material. Fans of the X-franchise will likely be satiated for the most part and for those who enjoy a bulked up Jackman, you can thank the costume department for how often he sports a wife beater shirt (seriously awful name for a piece of clothing). And of course, since this is a Marvel movie, wait for a scene in the credits which will kick off the fanboys salivating at what’s to come in the X-Men universe.

SPOILER ALERT: Considering how much I loathed First Class, if they get the upcoming storyline wrong (which in the entire run of the X-Men is one of the best), that review may be very NSFW. You might want to start hiding your wife and/or kids now.

3 out of 53D No