Brian West

“The Wolverine” Puts The X-Men Franchise Back on Track

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I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn’t very nice.

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Since the very first X-Men, the best part of the X-movies has always been wolverine, it’s fitting that The Wolverine is the movie that finally helps put the X-Men franchise back on track. Hugh Jackman proves that there is still life left in the franchise that really got the comic book movie craze going in the first place. Director James Mangold(Walk the Line, Knight and Day) ditches the usual superhero big budget special effects and tells a much more personal tale of honor, mortality, and redemption. The Wolverine succeeds where Wolverine: Origins failed, by not bloating the story with as many mutants as possible, and stays focused on Logan and his struggles. This is a Wolverine story not weighed down by an origin story or chained to continuum. By allowing Wolverine to do what he does best, we finally get an X-Men Story that stays true to character and gives us the movie we’ve wanted to see since the first time Hugh Jackman donned the adamantium claws.

The Wolverine takes place following the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. Having been forced to kill Jean Gray(Famke Janssen) to save mankind, Logan (Hugh Jackman) has given up fighting and exiled himself to the mountains of North America. He is found by Yukio (Rila Fukushima) a ninja sword wielding Japanese girl sent to bring him to Japan. During WW2 Logan had saved the life of a young Japanese solider named Yashida (Ken Yamamura/Haruhiko Yamanouchi) when the Allied forces dropped a A-Bomb on Nagasaki. Yashida, now an old man and dying, wanted to give Logan a gift for saving his life. Logan feeling honor bound, accompanies Yukio to Japan. He soon learns his “gift” is letting Yashida have his mutant healing power. It seems the old man is not ready to die, but believes that Logan is. Yashida tells Logan he is a Ronin, a samurai without a master, he believes that Logan will gain purpose in life by becoming mortal. Logan disagrees. Later that night the old man dies, thus setting the rest of the pieces into motion. The Wolverine has so many moving plot lines that it can get confusing early on, but rest easy knowing that the movie does a good job of wrapping them all up by the end.

The Wolverine is refreshing in the sense that it’s a superhero movie that doesn’t feel like a superhero movie. The tone is closer to a bond movie than a X-Men movie. If not for the fact that Logan has adamantium claws that come out every time a bad guy showed up, I would’ve forgot that he was even a mutant. That said, when those claws do come out, a lot of people die. This is by far the most violent of any of the X-Men movies. The Wolverine definitely pushes the boundaries of what a PG-13 movie is. The fight scenes are personal and very brutal. The samurai/ronin theme is underlying in almost the entire movie and it does a good job of giving all the violence a sense of honor and justification. Anyone with small children though should probably stay away, everyone else feel free to enjoy the glorious carnage. One action piece worth pointing out is the bullet train scene. Its one of the few big action/special effect sequences in the movie and its a good one. Its well done, and one of the funnest parts of the movie.
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For the most part The Wolverine works, but there are a few things that just don’t. The biggest flaw in this movie is the villains, or more specificity, the lack of defined villains. There are bad guys all over the place, but none of them elevate into more then just stereotypical evil doers, only there for wolverine to sink his claws into. The worst of the bunch is Viper(Svetlana Khodchenkova), a mutant who’s motives are never really defined, she seems evil just to be evil. For a movie that is driven by strong characters it seemed odd to have one of the main villains be so two dimensional. Her role never really felt important and it probably would’ve benefited the movie had her character been cut completely. The only other minor problem I had with the movie was the ending. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t match the tone of the rest of the movie. The endings CGI big bad fight really didn’t vibe with the personal combat the movie had done so well, and the final reveal almost felt a little scoobie-dooish. Lastly, the fan in me would’ve liked to see more Wolverine vs. ninjas. Wasn’t really a flaw in the movie, I just really think it would’ve been awesome to watch.

I really liked The Wolverine. Its a great entry into the X-Men Universe, and helps us forget the less than stellar X-Men: Last Stand and Wolverine: Origins. This is the movie we all hoped for when it was first announced years ago that Hugh Jackman was getting a solo shot at Wolverine. It succeeds in telling a great story, while also giving us a movie that almost anyone can enjoy. The best thing about The Wolverine is that it reminded me why I loved the character in the first place, and gives me hope for the future of the X-Men franchise.

The Wolverine gets 8/10 adamantium claws to face
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BONUS:

1.Stay through the credits, you’re not gonna want to miss that post credit scene
2.I saw it in 3-D. There were a few nice touches, but I found a lot of the fight scenes hard to watch. So unless you love 3-D, I’d save the money and see it in the second dimension.

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