Qstorm Reviews The Wolverine

In this corner...Edward Scissorhands!
In this corner...Edward Scissorhands!

I've always had a problem with the Wolverine character in comics and in the movies, particularly in the movies. My problem was that the nature of Wolverine's fighting ability, using six foot-long claws, meant that in order to defeat a foe, it would mean killing them. What else can you do with claws against an enemy? And that would always mean that in a Wolverine fight scene, he would have to get his ass kicked for a good five minutes before delivering a death blow, so as not to make the fight scenes ridiculously short. Witness the fight scene in the original X-Men with Mystique. Witness the fight scene in X2 with Lady Deathstrike. Witness the fight scene in Last Stand or X-Men Origins: Wolverine where...oh, hell, I don't remember much about either of those films.

Well, all that's out the window with The Wolverine. This movie, whose story is loosely based on the defining Wolverine comic mini-series of the early 80s, is easily the best portrayal of Wolverine in any of the X-Men films. This is Wolverine doing what he's supposed to do, mainly slash, gut and eviscerate anyone who steps to him. Granted, most of the people he goes up against are secondary characters, but as there are technically no true supervillains in this film, we finally finally finally get to see Logan square off against his adversaries in true "let's get it poppin'" badass form. The fight scenes are excitingly choreographed, although they suffer from the PG-13 rating, which means when Wolverine uses his unique weaponry against a bad guy, we see the bad guy crumple over and we hear a sound effect akin to a heavy boot stepping into a pile of thick mud. If only this were an R-rated movie, so we the audience could see Logan engage in his bloody handiwork unfettered. The fact that you don't see the blood doesn't make it any less violent, in my opinion. So why not go all out? If I'm allowed to see zombie heads being severed on AMC, why not a little blood splatter in a movie about, um, the Wolverine, hello? But no matter, this is Wolverine at his fighting best. In full disclosure, I'll also say that I never really took to Jackman in the role, not because he was too tall (the comic character reportedly stands at 5' 3") but because he was too much of a pretty boy. I always pictured Gary Sinise in the role, an excellent actor with the right stature and a natural scowl. But after reading about 44 year old Jackman's training regimen and insanely rigid diet of seven chicken breasts a day around the clock, and seeing him acting every bit the part (for the first time, in my opinion), Jackman definitely earns his stripes in this one. Or his claws, if you prefer.

The underlying story is simple. Dying Japanese billionaire industrialist Yashida summons Logan to thank him for saving his life during the bombing of Nagasaki (Logan's healing factor renders him veritably ageless) and offers him a proposition: the chance for Logan to transfer his mutant healing ability into Yashida's body, thus saving Yashida's life and ending Wolverine's curse of virtual immortality. Things get hectic when it becomes known that Yashida has willed all his holdings to his daughter Mariko; everyone from the Japanese mob to the mutant Viper set their sights on Mariko to gain control of the industrial empire, or so it seems. Wolverine, for reasons not completely clear, becomes Mariko's protector and these initial scenes grab a tight hold and don't let up. The first act of the film culminates in a stunning fight scene aboard (literally) a 300 mph bullet train. This is a scene to rival the Air Force One midair rescue acrobatics in Iron Man 3. As the film convenes its second act, it become a little muddled and slows significantly. While there are still some really kick-ass fight scenes, characters and motivations become hard to follow. However, by this time, I was completely enthralled by the noirish aspects of the film (who doesn't like being a little confused by a good whodunit?) and the Japanese mise en scene.

I'm hearing that the third act is where the film falls apart for most people. Whereas the beginning and middle of the movie takes itself seriously, and justifiably so, the third act devolves into a trite comic book film. It becomes rather silly. I completely understand why these criticisms are leveled at the last half hour of the film, but I say that if we were able to accept that in the first X-Men movie, Magneto was able to build a machine that would turn regular humans into mutants by hooking Anna Paquin up to it, there's really no ground to criticize the third act of this film whatsoever. It requires about the same amount of suspension of disbelief. That is to say, it does become a bit of a head-scratcher, but I would say the same for some of the previous X-Men installments as well. I will say that once you exit the theater, if you stop to analyze it a bit, you will pause and ask yourself, "Well, why did this/these character(s) go through all THAT when they could've just done THIS?" I engaged in that for about three hours afterwards. I will say that I was less bothered by this last act than by the numerous dream sequences that hit us over the head with the fact that this movie picks up where X3: The Last Stand ended.

However, my bottom line is that this is the Wolverine that I've been wanting to see since the year 2000, when the X-Men debuted onscreen. The supporting characters; Yukio, Mariko Yashida, Shingen, Harada and Viper are all on point. I loved the noir mystery tone the film sets once Logan arrives in Japan. I loved the fact that the movie is set in Japan and that Japanese dialogue is subtitled, adding realism and an international dynamism to the film (as well as increasing its chances to make a mint overseas). I loved the Silver Samurai. But most of all, I love being able to say finally that Hugh Jackman killed (again, literally) as The Wolverine. 4/5 reels

P.S. I'd heard that the bonus scene, which appears soon after the credits begin to roll, was as good as the entire movie. I guess I'm in the minority there. If you've read the X-Men story arc entitled "Days Of Future Past," which by now, should be no spoiler to say is the basis of the next X-Men film, then I'm not sure why you'd be more than just mildly entertained by this scene. What it did for me was show how the great Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan have aged since X3.

More reviews at Lightning Strikes!

 

Qstorm aka Indiana Jonez aka the east side Uatu aka Norrin Raddical aka Michael Jones. I have a love of movies; there's nothing better (besides Halle Berry in a negligee) than a movie that transports you to another world, place, or time. I own my own video/multimedia production company, Qstorm Media Group and have been working in film and video since 1988. You just need to know one thing about me: if I believe I'm right, I'll fight to the death. And on that note, check out more of my rambling at http://reelqstorm.com, on Twitter @qstorm3476, on Facebook as Michael Jones, and here at Podcast Juice! And check out Red Shirts, a Star Trek podcast on iTunes!

  • Shandin

    Come on man, The Wolverine was one of the worst movies I’ve ever
    seen. I am a big fan of comic books and science fiction, and Wolverine is one
    of favorite characters, but this abortion of a movie was horrible. It felt like
    to me some big time Hollywood producer just came up with these “great” ideas
    for scenes. “Ohooo let’s have him fight
    on top of a bullet train!”, “Let’s have him run through a village, being chased
    by ninjas shooting arrows into his back!” Or “Let’s have Wolverine rip out one of
    those robot spiders attached his heart. You know the same spider thing they
    used on Neo in the Matrix!” So these Producers gave a big wish list to some
    writers who had to shoe horn that crap in along with the Frank Miller story
    line.

    You can tell right from the jump the movie was fowl. Why
    would a 100+ year old man need to be sleeping in the woods? Was it too much to give him a house or a cabin?
    And why would he be pining over Jean Grey so much? They didn’t have a relationship.
    They never kissed or boned or anything. She was Cyclopes’ girl and she never
    cheated. The closest he got to her was gutting that bitch in the third movie.

    With a man of his advanced age and traveled as much as he
    has, Wolverine is supposed to be fluent in a few languages and familiar with foreign
    cultures. I know the movies and comics don’t always match up but don’t make him
    look like an idiot. If you’re working for the Canadian or U.S. government as a
    big time special agent they’ve got to train you up (and pay you). You just can’t
    go over to Japan in WW2 and not be acquainted with the people, maybe as regular
    foot soldier but not Wolverine.

    Sweet Lord have mercy how in the world do you attach a
    devise to Wolverine’s heart!…His heart! And he not know about it. I call
    Bullshit!! One: how did you do the
    surgery with all that healing factor and unbreakable bones? I guess we we’re to
    assume that the spider thing crawled in and walked its way to his heart after
    he was knocked out or drugged by Viper. Bull Shit! And we’re talking about a
    guy whose senses are super keen and whose immune system can fight off all that
    mess. And can someone tell me how wrapping a spider around his heart can take
    his powers of healing. Fine I’ll roll with that but if you already have the man
    down and out and going through the trouble of attaching shit to his heart, Why
    don’t you just say fuck it, since I’m here let’s take his powers and call it a day. End of movie. But Noooo, They
    force our legs into stirrups to continue with the abortion. The writers have got
    to give those Hollywood guys what they wanted.

    The Yashida family has a clan of ninjas protecting their
    family for the past 800 years and they send 1 guy with one of the most ancient
    weapons on earth (a bow and arrow) to watch over the family. And then for some
    reason the Yakuza want to kidnap Mariko Yashida. (I’m not real clear on that)
    If the dad knew he wasn’t going to inherit the company (that was broke by the
    way) and his daughter was; Why not just have her killed. But he didn’t know if
    she was going to inherit the company because the will was going to be read in a
    few days but probably wasn’t made cause the grandfather had no intention of
    dying. WHAT? Why would a father murder his only daughter over a broke company? And
    why would the Grandfather speak so highly of Wolverine and tell awesome stories
    to his family about how he saved his life and then turn around and kill this
    muthafucker. (Sorry but you’re gonna have to give up the healing factor baby!
    You’ve got to die!)

    I could go on and on, like why if you’re on the run and
    hiding from one of the most notorious gangs in the world why would you talk to
    you neighbors and then have them ask you to chop down a fallen tree in the
    middle town. (So much for hiding). Or how come Wolverine healing factor is gone
    and there’s no blood from the claws popping out. (Attention to detail people)
    The thing that bothered me the most, the thing that destroyed it for me was
    breaking adamantium. Now that’s some Bull Shit. It’s supposed to be the one
    constant in Marvel, the shit does not break. You can shoot this mofo in the
    head point blank, Twice, and neither will budge. They established that in the
    first movie. But here we see the shit getting chopped in half not once but
    twice. That sword went through like hot butter. I was like, get the fuck outta
    here. All it took was a heated up sword! I would be more forgiving if it were a
    light saber or the sword of Omens. Fonzie himself was like, “Damn, look at the
    height of that bullshit jumping them sharks!” And then the big fuck you the
    real Wolverine fans, where you can clearly see where the claws are cut close to
    his knuckles, KaBoom! A new set of bone claws from I don’t know where. How!!! The
    stub was clearly there and if you’re going to re-grow more they should come from
    that end point where it was broken, but nooooo.

    Jeeze man the last scene, the last middle finger. “Hey look
    I was dead (Xavier), and I had no more power (Magneto)” But yet here we are,
    rolling around and using magnetism power on a neutered Wolverine with 3 pencils
    sticking out of his hands. Man, when I was a kid, I use to put pencils in-between
    my fingers a walk around scratching shit, it’s not cool at all to see it on the
    big screen.