Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Wolverine Review (2013) Is It Better Than X-Men Origins: Wolverine?

After the embarrassment that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Logan's latest solo outing had a lot to make up for. In a determined effort to console the fans, James Mangold's take on the most popular X-Man is based on the classic Chris Claremont limited series from 1982, which transported Wolverine to the exotic setting of Japan. This all sounds promising but after being burned by Origins, I was sceptical that this would turn out any better. Is Mangold's take Ol' Canucklehead the definitive Wolverine film that everyone was hoping for? 

Things start off well with an unusual prologue which delves into Wolverine's infamously hazy past. Did you know Logan happened to be hanging out in Nagasaki circa 1945, just as the second atomic bomb ever used in warfare was launched against the Japanese?

While it was genuinely fascinating to see Logan's healing abilities pushed to the max, the opening also introduces us to a soldier named Yashida, who becomes a pivotal character upon our return to the present. In return for saving his life, Yashida offers Wolverine the chance to regain his mortality and live a normal life. As so often happens, things go wrong for Logan in a big way and he ends up having to protect Yashida's grand daughter Mariko while simultaneously battling both her pursuers and his own personal demons...

First off, I have to say that Hugh Jackman is as brilliant as ever in his sixth cinematic appearance as Wolverine. Even after all these years, Jackman strives to convey different nuances in his performance that somehow keeps audiences interested in what could be a very one-dimensional character. If not played right, Logan could come across as seriously unlikable but Jackman is and always will be the definitive Wolverine.

The Wolverine attempts to make Logan more relatable than ever by stripping him of his healing factor for the majority of the story. The reasoning behind this is sound; why would you always root for the guy who can never be beaten? It's just too predictable so I commend the screenwriters for trying to make Logan come across as more human but then what are we left with? A neutered Wolverine who doesn't get enough opportunities to show us that he's the best at what he does. 

I also wasn't overly keen on Famke Janssen's appearances as Jean Grey's... ghost? A hallucination? Whatever she was, her interactions with Logan felt contrived and unnecessary, although I'm sure some of the male audience weren't complaining. You have to hand it to Marvel though. They're doing a bloody good job of linking all their films together so the continuity develops further than it would in just the stand alone movies.

One Marvel tradition I was particularly excited to see was a fantastic after credits scene which contained a few surprise appearances from previous X-Men cast members. To reveal any more would spoil it, but I will say that the short three minute scene leads perfectly into the upcoming X-Men: Days Of Future Past movie that I and the fans have been orgasming over ever since it was first announced.   

It's a sad state of affairs when the extra add on scene at the end creates more excitement than the rest of the entire film combined but that's exactly what's happened for me. Many reviews have gushed over the unusual Japanese setting and while yes, it does look great, I felt that it was under used for the most part, although I did enjoy a mad adrenaline filled fight scene set on top of a bullet train. Those things are seriously fast.

The rest of the action was mundane for the most part and much of this was down to my lack of investment in the characters. Love interest Mariko didn't really do a lot to warrant Logan's affection and most of the couples pursuers appeared cartoonish in their faceless attacks. Sexy femme fatale Viper had potential but she was defeated way too easily and the Silver Samurai was just a walking Transformers commercial who failed to engage me on every level.

The only supporting character who really stood out to me was Yukio, Logan's self appointed bodyguard. Her ability to predict the deaths of others was intriguing and her fighting skills were badass but none of this was shown in enough detail and so I was left longing for more.

There were moments of brilliance in The Wolverine, including the historical prologue and a scene where Logan performs surgery on himself, but this lack of something special sums up my issues with The Wolverine as a whole. James Mangold did an ok job, combining the action sensibilities of his latest film with the internal drama of his earlier works, but Logan's struggle with his personal demons should have been explored in far more depth.

Ultimately, The Wolverine is an enjoyable but formulaic film that improves upon its predecessor, but is still far from the definitive movie that the fanboys hoped for. The whole experience just left me sad that Darren Aronofsky dropped out of production when he did, as I feel the franchise needs someone like him to breathe new life into Logan's character. Whatever happens though, Fox Studios just need to ensure that they keep Hugh Jackman in this role, as he was born to play Canada's most famous mutant. If anyone else steps in, that's when the franchise will really be in trouble. Nuff said.

But what did you think of The Wolverine? Was I too harsh on James Mangold's version or do you think it could have been better? And which classic Wolverine villains would you like to see Logan face in another solo outing? Let me know what you think by commenting, liking and sharing below.


  1. I enjoyed this way more than Origins, but your points are valid. Jean Grey was unnecessary. Yukio was underused considering her awesomeness. Mariko was cute, but I couldn't see any reason beyond that for their budding love. And, too many faceless stabbing bags coming at Logan instead of viable opponents. I also think Silver Samurai would have had more punch had the 'big reveal' been done before the fight.

    But again, better than Origins.

    1. I love the phrase 'faceless stabbing bags' ha that sums it up perfectly! The reveal definitely lacked impact for me and you could kind of see it coming I felt. Here's hoping Days of Future Past makes up for all these average Wolverine films!