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The Wolverine Review

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James Howlett returns in his second solo film, but is it worth seeing in theaters?

X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn't a film many of us enjoyed and despite it having a totally different director and set of writers, the previous movie has cast a rather ugly shadow over The Wolverine. Luckily for us, Logan's second film is definitely better than his first, but that isn't saying a lot, is it?

The Wolverine picks up after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. In case you missed it, Wolverine was forced to kill Jean Grey. Plunging his claws into the woman he loved has taken a huge toll on him, forcing him to go into isolation and while he lives in the wild, he strives to avoid conflict. Logan may be an outcast, but one person wants to bring him back into society. Yashida, a man Wolverine saved during World War II, is now dying and wants to give his savior a gift: mortality. Wolverine is flown to Tokyo to hear the dying man's offer and to say any more would be too spoilery, so I'll cut the recap there.

The plot is loosely based on Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's 1982 four-issue series which is simply titled WOLVERINE. And when I say "loosely," I sure do mean it. Yes, it involves a lot of the same names and some scenes are blatantly inspired by the book, but it's massively different. I'm usually cool when it comes to most changes -- after all, they need to keep things fresh -- but they missed quite a few opportunities when it came to some of the more iconic moments from the book (there's a major tease early on but it never delivers the scene you're expecting). Additionally, I didn't appreciate the handling of a certain character. That's sure to only annoy a select few, but it's a character I'm really fond of, so sue me. And naturally, these complaints won't matter if you haven't read the classic series or share my passion for a certain Marvel character.

The story being drastically different than the source material is something I can overlook a vast majority of the time, but the problem here is the new narrative it creates feels like it's striving to be way more complex than it actually is. There's more than a handful of twists thrown our way, but the issue is none of them are actually shockers and I imagine most of you will be able to predict them well before they happen. A generic plot isn't a terrible thing if other factors can outweigh it, but it's worth noting because there's a fair share of moments I thought were downright silly -- the final act in particular had a few. Much to my surprise, there's an awesome amount of humor in the film, too. There's plenty of big laughs to enjoy, so even if you're not all that fond of the plot, odds are this movie will manage to slap a smile on your face a couple of times.

The Wolverine really succeeds when it decides to focus solely on Wolverine's internal struggle. Thankfully, there's a good chunk of that in the movie. Once again, Hugh Jackman does a superb job with the role, delivering the perfect blend of heart and rage. One moment you want to tell him everything will be alright and give him a pat on the back, and the next, you want to keep a safe distance from him or run as far away as you can. The more serious scenes are never enough to get the waterworks going, but it's certainly heartfelt enough at times and that's thanks to Jackman's performance. So if the plot does one thing very well, it would be its handling of the most popular X-Man and how he develops as the journey continues.

While Jackman steals the show and rightfully has a vast majority of the focus, Young Yashida's actor, Ken Yamamura, comes in second place for a short yet strong emotional performance in the opening scene and another flashback. Everyone else does an able job with their roles, too -- even if it is a super campy villain (here's looking at you, Viper).

Earlier action scenes suffer from too much shaky cam (and I'm someone who can usually tolerate a very good amount of that) and it really detracts from the chaos. This movie needs to bring good melees and unfortunately, it misses the mark in some of the early fights. I get the movie can't be too gory and a Wolverine movie certainly doesn't need gore to be good, but it's awkward watching him slice and stab so many goons without any kind of visible damage occurring to them most of the time. That said, they do counter this a few times with some pretty cool shots of blood still on his claws and the aftermath of a door he stabbed through. Additionally, Wolverine is more vicious when it comes to his handling of certain people he encounters, but those actions often take place right outside of our view. Regardless, I'm just happy they occurred, even if we couldn't technically see it.

Director James Mangold delivers big time when Logan finally faces off against a certain character from Claremont/Miller's story. It was without question the best scene the film had to offer and one of Logan's best action scenes yet. For a moment, I thought to myself, "why aren't Wolverine's claws slicing through those swords?" But then I immediately thought, "Shut up and enjoy the best action scene, stupid." (To be fair, they did say they were stockpiling adamantium, so maybe some went to those blades?) And the bullet train sequence? The final cut has better editing than the previously released clip and, despite it being all kinds of ridiculous, it has some truly fun moments that'll likely make the audience erupt in laughter. It's just too bad the finale doesn't have anything on par with these two scenes, but regardless, the two are indeed really enjoyable.

Honestly, 3D isn't worth it unless you want a tad more depth to Jackman's ridiculously jacked body (I wonder how many 3D tickets that line just sold?). The 3D comes off as an afterthought and never added much to the experience. So if you're going to buy a ticket this weekend, I highly recommend saving a few bucks and checking it out in 2D.

If you've been optimistic about the trailers and clips, check this out and hopefully you can pretend this is the only Wolverine solo film that exists. Odds are you won't fall in love with it, but you'll probably dig it way more than his first effort. It does a solid job handling the character and provides at least two crowd-pleasing action scenes. That said, it does also suffer from a pretty weak overall plot and has some fairly questionable moments, especially towards the end. The Wolverine isn't a very bad movie -- it's just not a very good one, either.

Oh, and there is a mid-credits scene and yes, it is ABSOLUTELY worth waiting for. You'll definitely want to stick around for it.

216 Comments
Posted by TheAcidSkull

@the_mast said:

@theacidskull said:

@the_mast said:

@theacidskull said:

@the_mast said:

Such an awful film.

could i ask why though? i thought it was a Good movie, Not The BEST THING EVER( kind of hard to be impressed after Pacific Rim and MOS THOUGH) but i though it was a solid one :)

Well, I thought Man of Steel was pretty garbage, too.

ouch. just wanna know why you didn't like it?

I don't like Jackman as Wolverine. I never have. I tire of the same old facial expressions, the same old nonsense.

"Oh, you cut my face? I better turn back to the camera slowly as my wound heals. I feel that's something I need to get across in the sixth proper film appearance I've made."

I tire of the, "Oh, I don't wanna be me anymore." I don't like Robosamurai. Viper was awful. The plot was badly predictable in ways it clearly didn't think it was, which insults me as a viewer. "You'll be surprised by this because you are so oblivious that you'd never see the twists." No. I had this movie figured out by the trailer, yet it insisted.

It's not like Pacific Rim where it KNOWS what it is. I knew what this was and it tried to tell me it wasn't.

I thought the characterisation was poor. The adaptation of the original story was a shambles and disrespectful (Changes work, but bad changes don't).

I just...don't give an F about this movie character, his adventures or anything else. I think the X-movies are just awful.

i see, mhh, i really liked huge as wolverine though, and i enjoyed the movie, sure it wasn't the best thing ever, but it was Good IMO

To each there own i guess, either ways i respect your opinion.

Posted by KingStandup

As far as 2013 superhero movies are concerned, this isn't as good as Man of Steel, but is on par with Iron Man 3. I do believe though that this is the best movie in the X-Men franchise and one of the better Marvel movies to date for that matter. This movie sets the stage for bigger and better things for Wolverine. It certainly opened the door for more solo movies. There is much more to Wolverine and this movie only just "scratched" the surface.

Edited by jhazzroucher

3 is so low. The Wolverine is better than Iron man 3 and Man of Steel story-wise.

That guy who wore the Silver Samurai armor acted well. Yukio was very interesting and I like the Mariko-Wolverine romance though it wasn't explored much.

I give it 4.25/5 or 8.5 over 10, better than iron Man 3 who had opponents which I don't really think were tough enough against Iron Man and they just had War Machine fly away to keep the president safe and not making him go back to the battle scene so he can assist Iron Man. Better than Man of Steel too.

Posted by rayraymond82

Just saw THE WOLVERINE. Good, solid movie, captured the feel of the character and look of his comics at times way better & much more well done than Origins but (SPOILER ALERT) 1. While watching it I couldn't help but think damm I wish this movie was rated R like it should be, I mean the man is stabbing slicing n dicing n no blood ?! 2. Silver Samurai a Cyborg/mech suit eh ok 3. No Sabertooth ? No hint of Omega Red ? 4. WTF!? Wolverine does not run away from a platoon of Ninjas!!! wtf! Other than that I liked it. Better than Iron man 3 but slightly below Man of Steel imo. still feel it needs more badassness & grit.

Posted by Jedted

Just saw it in theater and thought it was a solid Wolverine film. I think this and Wolverine Origins are good bookends for Logan's epic story arch(with the X-Men Trilogy as the creamy center).

As predictable as the story was i still enjoyed it a lot. It's worth it just to see Hugh Jackman wield a katana, that part where he CUTS OPEN HIS CHEST to remove that tiny robot was pretty bad-ass too.


That teaser scene has me psyched for "Days of Future Past"! I hope the explain Xavier's resurrection in a not too over the top way.

Posted by ccraft

@xrs10 said:

It is seriously better than this review, saw it today and it beats IM3 and MOS

Yeah I agree Wolverine beats IM3 and MoS, but imo MoS had better action scenes. Wolverine had better story than both films, but IM3 was funnier. So yeah I agree with ya.

Edited by ccraft

@hobanho said:

Is this movie worth going to see in theaters??? Like the average comic book nerd has something better to do with two hours of their time??? They can argue over who wins a fight between Mr. Majestic and the Silver Surfer for 26 hours but can't waste two hours to go see The Wolverine?? And I'm sure they will only have to pay for one ticket, since most of us nerds don't have girlfriends. But we can trash the movie for months before it comes out, and for months after it comes it, but still debate whether actually watching it?? This is why people hate comic book nerds.. This is why I hate us. Don't like Wolverine? Well then don't see it. I love Wolverine, and even though I'm nervous about it, I think I can fit it into my busy schedule and my monthly budget.

The movie is worth it, Hugh was at his best imo, deadly serious, romance scenes were good too.

I hate when CV does that too.

Edited by k4tzm4n

@ccraft: You really just agreed with a post claiming "most comic book nerds don't have girlfriends?" Tsk tsk. :P

And that person completely missed the point. It's not a matter of time -- it's a matter of money (which they even mention in their final remark). Going to the movies isn't exactly a cheap experience, especially if one opts to see it in 3D. So, many people will try to limit the amount of films they see per month.

Online
Posted by ccraft

@k4tzm4n: I agree some of the flaws you have with the movie, like the blurry fight scenes, I didn't really have a problem with Silver Samurai because I don't know much about the character. I actually couldn't predict this movie as much as other people did, so I was surprised on most of the twists, maybe because I didn't read the Wolverine comic? Anyways I enjoyed the movie, still had great fight scenes and I loved the story.

I have a question though, and it's kind of a spoiler What happens now that Wolverine's claws are bone now? If it's revealed in the comic don't spoil it, I'm going to get it soon :)

I guess you heard it by now, but Wolverine is getting a unrated cut were they will add more blood scenes to the movie so I'm excited for that.

4.5/5 for me.

Posted by ccraft

@k4tzm4n: lol I was agreeing with what he said about this

But we can trash the movie for months before it comes out, and for months after it comes it, but still debate whether actually watching it?? This is why people hate comic book nerds.. This is why I hate us.

Why do people do this!!! :P

Posted by hobanho

@k4tzm4n: no I didn't miss the point. I'm sick of people saying that going to the movies is so expensive. If I really want to see a movie, I'll buy the ticket(and one for my girlfriend of course) and sacrifice my large popcorn, large soda and goobers to save an extra 30 bucks. Her and I went to see it in 2d, for $18 dollars total. I get it, it just boggles my mind that people will go onto comic book sites and read articles solely debating whether you should spend 9 dollars to see a movie people have been picking apart for months already. It's amazing how jaded and fickle comic fans are. If you would have told me 20 years ago that comic book movies would rule the theatre and that the Avengers, Wolverine, and Spiderman would be established franchises, let alone The Dark Knight Trilogy reaching the levels that it did I would have said you were nuts. Now we get huge budget, and very well made imo comic movies and we bitch every chance we get. It's sad.

Edited by Crowingaboutcomics

Well, I guess I'm in the minority, because I'm not too sure I feel like it deserved 3 out of 5 stars...I'd go as high as 2.5 (maybe). I understand the "want" or the "need" for Fox to "make it their own," but honestly, they F it up too much. Yukrio (sp?) got sidelined into a whole different character, Viper: if you're going to have her in it, then bring out Hydra, and she has never (in my memory) been a mutant, maybe a whole different character, named the same? Maybe. The whole Jean/love story, seemed contrite to me, forced to create a narrative - that was somewhat meaningless, because it's not like they had a whole torred love affair throughout the movies. From the very beginning it was corny. From, Logan the Caveman with the friendly Grizzly, to the Silver Samuri, daddy issues Mariko was having. And yeah, I'm sure happy I didn't pay for it in 3D. What a waste!

Edited by Owie

I have to say that while I agree with most of Gregg's criticisms, and I have some of my own (the Viper was super-lame, the Cave Man Logan was cheesy, Jean was annoying, the grandpa's moral turnaround wasn't justified, and the silver robot was really bad), I did really enjoy it. I thought the movie was pretty fun and did a nice job with Wolverine and the Japanese setting. I had no problem with it being very different from the book. I thought Yukio and Mariko were great, they really made it for me. And Shingen was solid too.

Posted by Master_Thief

it doesnt make sense

Harada wanted wolverine's healing factor.... so why take his adamantium

Posted by ccraft

@hobanho said:

@k4tzm4n: no I didn't miss the point. I'm sick of people saying that going to the movies is so expensive. If I really want to see a movie, I'll buy the ticket(and one for my girlfriend of course) and sacrifice my large popcorn, large soda and goobers to save an extra 30 bucks. Her and I went to see it in 2d, for $18 dollars total. I get it, it just boggles my mind that people will go onto comic book sites and read articles solely debating whether you should spend 9 dollars to see a movie people have been picking apart for months already. It's amazing how jaded and fickle comic fans are. If you would have told me 20 years ago that comic book movies would rule the theatre and that the Avengers, Wolverine, and Spiderman would be established franchises, let alone The Dark Knight Trilogy reaching the levels that it did I would have said you were nuts. Now we get huge budget, and very well made imo comic movies and we bitch every chance we get. It's sad.

this guy gets it, yeah I agree with ya.

Posted by BritishMonkey

I think it was really good. A hell of a lot better than Origins.