Monday, August 19, 2013

Movie Review: "The Wolverine" (2013)

Movie: "The Wolverine"
Director: James Mangold
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
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Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has spent the last few years in isolation grieving over the death of Jean Grey (Famke Jannsen). One evening, Yuki (Rila Fukushima), a servant of an old friend of Wolverine's, locates him and requests that he come to Japan. She informs him that her boss and his friend Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) is dying and would like to say goodbye. However, Yashida may have ulterior motives in bringing Wolverine to Japan, which thrusts him back into a lifestyle he thought he left behind.

"The Wolverine" is a sequel/spinoff to the X-Men trilogy starring its  the most popular and prominent mutant, Wolverine. It is directed by James Mangold, and of course, has Hugh Jackman reprising his role as Logan/Wolverine. It seems to be a direct continuation of Logan's story following the events of "X-Men: The Last Stand." The entire thing starts with a flashback of Logan in Japan on the brink of nuclear disaster during World War II. Just before "the bomb" drops on Nagasaki, Logan saves a young soldier named Yashida, played by Ken Yamamura, and later played by Hal Yamanouchi. Many years later, Logan finds himself wandering through the forests, alone, grizzly, and haunted by his past because he had to kill the woman he loved. He is visited by Yuki, played by Rila Fukushima, an employee of Yashida's. Yuki tells Logan that Yashida is dying and wishes to say his final goodbyes to the man who saved his life in person. Unbeknownst to Yuki, Yashida has an ulterior motive for bringing him there. After his death, Yashida leaves his company and his entire fortune to his granddaughter Mariko, played by Tao Okamoto, and now, she has become the target of many assassination attempts. Wolverine takes it upon himself to protect Mariko, though his regenerative powers have mysteriously diminished after meeting with Yashida and his assistant/doctor, played by Svetlana Khodchenkova.

In all seriousness, with no expectations, this movie is pretty good for a movie centered around just one character. We know a lot of fans do not like this film, but we have no problem with it at all. As Logan deals with his past and tries to overcome his demons, we get an insight into both Wolverine's past and present motivations and struggles. It has a decent plot, though there are a few notable plot holes, but then again, continuity has never been a strong point of the X-Men franchise. This movie is also much more character driven than past X-Men films, but overall, it's still mostly entertaining. The acting is mostly well done, and we know Jackman knows what he's doing at this point. He's played Wolverine so many times, it's hard to think of anyone else playing him. One of the biggest problems with this spin-off is the character of Viper, played by Svetlana Khodchenkova. She's Yashida's doctor, sure, but she was inexplicably annoying throughout the film, serving little purpose other than to feel like a throw-away villain. The scenery and visuals are stunningly beautiful, and barring some hit or miss CGI, it remains gorgeously crafted. Finally, the martial arts sequences are expertly choreographed, which is something a couple of parts of the older X-Men movies lacked.

The entire thing begs the question, though: is the only reason this story is set in Japan in an effort to bring the Asian market to see the movie? We're not sure of Logan's comic book origin story, but it sort of feels unnecessary to tell this story after "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." In the end, this is still a pretty entertaining film even with some big flaws. Now that "X-Men: Days of Future Past" has been released, the events of "The Wolverine," like the others, may have been erased anyway, making this movie a moot point in the grand scheme of the franchise.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 68%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
To see our review of "X-Men," click here.

To see our review of "X2: X-Men United," click here.

To see our review of "X-Men: The Last Stand," click here.

To see our review of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," click here.

To see our review of "X-Men: First Class," click here.

To see our review of "X-Men: Days of Future Past," click here.

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