The Wolverine – A Review

August 21, 2013 10:19 am

It’s been a bit of a rocky start for comic book movies this year. ‘Man of Steel’ was met with a lukewarm reception from fans and critics alike. ‘Origin’ movies are the in-thing with comic book films at the moment. This was mainly spurred on by Christopher Nolan’s successful Batman trilogy. Marvel films did try an origins film with ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ which was a bit of a mess, so watching how they went about further developing the character was going to be interesting.

2ebc5074457e90ec2088571acbdd3425_L  ‘The Wolverine’ (Hugh Jackman) picks up after Wolverine’s exploits in ‘X-Men: Last Stand’. Broken down and haunted by the memories of having killed Jean Grey, Wolverine retreated to isolation in the woodlands of Canada. The immortal Wolverine is without purpose. But not for long, as he is recruited by another mutant called Yukio to go and say goodbye to a dying man called Yashida in Tokyo. Just to fill you in, Yashida is a former Japanese Soldier whom Wolverine saved from the atomic blasting of Nagasaki in 1945 whilst at a POW camp. Reluctantly, he decides to go. It was for the best really. It would be a bit of a dull experience seeing Hugh Jackman wondering round the Canadian wilderness looking rugged and sad.

Wolverine is by far the most interesting character in the X-Men franchise. It only makes sense that Marvel want to give him a second standalone film and further flesh out his character. It is clear that Jackman has a firm grip on the Wolverine’s personality. Playing the hero tortured by loss and yearning for mortality seems very natural for him now; as if he and Wolverine are one and the same person. In fact, that is what this film is about.

The dying Yashida, fascinated with Wolverine’s immortality, proposes him an offer. ‘You have my mortality, and I’ll take your immortality’. Wolverine refuses, considering himself cursed and not wanting to wish that upon anyone. It all kicks off a few short scenes later with Yakuza gang members kidnapping Yashida’s Granddaughter and Wolverine’s journey to save her.

 Director James Mangold smoothly blends together a character focused story with large Hollywood action sequences. Some of which are truly exciting. Seeing Wolverine and several Yakuza henchmen engage in a high-octane fight on the roof of a 300mph bullet-train is edge of your seat stuff. 

images (1)Mangold pays homage to old school Japanese martial arts movies as the fighting is choreographed beautifully with editing that is exceptionally fast paced.  Albeit, the fighting can be cartoony at times, but this is a comic book film after all, what else would you expect?

On the other side of things, the moments when the story slows down to reveal a bit more about Wolverine are well acted, and given enough time in the screenplay to allow it to breathe. Everything is well executed and thought out, with very few mistakes made.

The third act does suffer by slipping into action movie clichés. Cheesy one-liners and samey action sequences take a precedence over storytelling and Wolverine fights off a giant robot on his way to saving Yashida’s Granddaughter. It was a shame to see such a flimsy ending to an otherwise great film.

Overall, it’s a solid flick. The balance between storytelling and action is kept well for the most part. 

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Additionally, if you happen to have a special liking for Hugh Jackman then there is extra reason to see this, as he spends a lot of screen time shirtless and looking chiselled. Also, staying past the credit reveals an extra scene foreshadowing the next Marvel flick so don’t leave straight away. 

This is one not to miss for the die hard Marvel fans.

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