After the terribly uneven X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Marvel’s most famous mutant needed a kick to the X-gene. For the most part, he gets that in The Wolverine. Based (very) loosely on Chris Claremont’s highly regarded 1982 Wolverine miniseries, this movie focuses on Logan’s activities in Japan — one of the most fascinating aspects of the character. The action is fantastic and the good guys turn in solid performance, but the movie is limited by its villains. Read on for some random thoughts on The Wolverine.
Huge Jackman: Hugh Jackman is back and he’s bigger than ever. Seriously. Dude is frickin’ ripped. At this point, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else playing Wolverine. Yes, a chunk of the portrayal involves large periods of brow furrowing and screaming (“Grrrrrrr!!!” “Arrrrghhh!!!” “Raawwwrrr!!!”), but for many people Jackman is Wolverine. He’s very good at playing this character and it’s fun watching him be “the best at what he does.” That said, I dream about Jackman mashing up his X-Men and Oklahoma experiences. Watching Wolverine sing “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top” would be awesome.
Amazing Action: Some of the fight scenes in the movie are just brilliant. The action sequence on top of a bullet train will take your breath away. The post-funeral chasing and fighting early in the movie is fantastic. Wolverine and company vs. ninjas is always a good time. The movie is at its best when Logan is slicing and dicing nameless minions. It’s awesome adamantium-laced fun.
Impressive Newcomers: Relatively inexperienced actors Tao Okamoto (Mariko Yashida) and Rila Fukushima (Yukio) are quite charming in the movie. It’s nice to see movie damsels that are more than distressed beauties. Both women play characters that are capable and powerful. It would have been nice if Fukushima had the opportunity to crank Yukio up to 11 (the script’s fault, not hers). Her version of Yukio is quirky and eccentric. To me, Yukio is reckless to the point where you question her sanity. Fukushima could have rocked a borderline insane Yukio, but did well with the cute, quirky, and fierce version.
Famke Flashbacks: The movie had several dream sequences featuring Jean Grey. They were mostly unnecessary, but I’m all for scenes with Famke Janssen in lingerie. She’s the tall Dutch cougar of my dreams.
Japanese People in Japan: 20 years ago, this movie would have been full of caucasian actors. I love that we’re at the point where a Hollywood movie set in Japan has a cast full of Japanese people.
Unnecessary Roughness: The movie has a lot of needless gymnastics — dynamic moves that are made for the sake of looking cool. There was this one moment that was so bad that it pulled me out of the movie and made me laugh. A ninja performed a midair cartwheel that took him from one side of a doorway to the other. After landing, he closed the door. WTF?!? He could have accomplished the same thing and expended less energy by, you know, walking.
Viper Sucks: My biggest problem with the movie was Viper. As a comic-book nerd, I hated the changes made to this character. Why give her mutant powers? Why is she peeling off her skin for no reason? Why does she have a mid-fight monologue that explains her capabilities? The bigger and more universal problem was that the actress was horrible. Svetlana Khodchenkova’s acting was so terrible that it was distracting. She made Olivia Munn look like Meryl Streep. Many of her scenes pulled me out of the movie and left me thinking, “Wow. You suck.”
On a completely immature note, I was also distracted by her beauty mark. I was hoping for a scene where Wolverine went all Austin Powers on her, poked her beauty mark with one of his claws, and shouted, “Moley moley moley moley!” That would have made Khodchenkova’s crappy acting worth enduring.
Anticlimax: So Viper sucked and
secret character was kind of a dull villain. Both of them would have worked better as supporting villains. Instead, secret villain man bastardizes the Silver Samurai character and constructs a giant adamantium suit of samurai armor. It’s like he watched Thor, was inspired by the Destroyer, and thought, “Hey, I have this huge stockpile of adamantium. That Destroyer thing was cool. Know what else would be cool?” Since the villains weren’t very good, the movie’s climax wasn’t all the climactic. It’s hard to get excited about the big face-off against the baddies when the baddies are tepid.
Verdict: The Wolverine was lots of fun for the first 3/4 of the movie. The action scenes against nameless ninja minions were highly entertaining, Jackman is great at playing this character, and the leading ladies were fun (and beautiful). Unfortunately, the movie flattens out at the end because the villains were kind of lame. As a comic-book nerd, I firmly believe that the movie would have been better if it followed the original Claremont plot more closely. Most of the things that went wrong were a result of stupid script adaptations. I definitely enjoyed The Wolverine, but not nearly as much as Star Trek: Into Darkness, Iron Man 3, and Pacific Rim.
If you caught the movie, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Kindly share your healing-factor enhanced feelings on The Wolverine in the comments section.