Snikt! I see The Wolverine and if you liked X-Men Origins: Wolverine you'll love The Wolverine it's one for the kids - Film Review

Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Wolverine ReviewMany of my colleagues loved The Wolverine, you can read Ben Mortimer's 5 Star review of The Wolverine over here! Sadly I did not.

Wolverine is one of the most intriguing, if not fascinating characters in the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately in the comics he has never quite lived up to the promise of an ageless feral warrior that is near indestructible and is at his best when surrounded by many other personalities to bounce off. Sadly Hugh Jackman's latest outing as Logan in James Mangold's The Wolverine doesn't quite live up to the promise either.

As a long time reader of The Wolverine comics I have always felt that the idea of a small ferocious anti hero that always walks his own path and overcomes the much larger odds with no no fear - backed with an unbreakable skeleton and claws is an exciting prospect. Add to this his mysterious past and you have fanboy delight.

the wolverine poster
The Wolverine UK Quad Poster (Click to enlarge)
However, unlike other similar characters, like, lets say the Batman for instance, whose psyche is explored in many alternative timeline stories or Otherworld tales allows us an adult glimpse into who he is whilst not damaging the continuity of the comics universe he lives in. Wolverine has rarely received similar treatment and is either not treated seriously, or, almost always carefully kept in safe territory to ensure his longevity as a commercial property for a younger audience - and this is certainly something James Mangold's The Wolverine suffers from.

The Establishing Shot: THE WOLVERINE ATOMIC BOMB CLIP - 25 JULY 2013 

Visually there are some stunning set pieces like the WW2 establishing shots set just outside Nagasaki where we witness the dropping of the atomic bomb and the events that set off the story of The Wolverine -  it's compelling viewing. Another stand out scene for me was a fight set in a snowy Japanese village - which is beautifully shot (as is the entire film) and has some iconic imagery that will is entwined with the Wolverine mythos moving forward. If judged on visuals alone The Wolverine would be a decent enough film.

The Wolverine fights ninjas in the snow
The Wolverine fights ninjas in the snow (Click to enlarge)
Pretty soon it becomes apparent that The Wolverine is very much a film of two tones, the first a more serious tone which in all fairness shows much promise, as like in the comics, we find Logan an outcast living in the backwoods of the Yukon. But the storyline is transposed to modern day and after the events of the prior X-Men films. Logan is at a low point and haunted by the loss of everyone and everything that he cares about. This Logan very quickly becomes the archetypal driven Hollywood western hero as he makes his way to Japan at the request of an old friend on his deathbed, this all plays to Hugh Jackman's strengths and it seems that we are in for a good time.
The Wolverine Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) threatens Mariko (Tao Okamoto)
The Wolverine Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) threatens Mariko (Tao Okamoto) (Click to enlarge)

Unfortunately the second tone is based around high action set pieces devoid of any emotion or weight as The Wolverine seems to be trying (possibly unintentionally) to emulate the two dimensions of comic panelling too faithfully and  adding nothing beyond what the comics show. Resulting in poor character development - case in point are the villains who are as dire as their names would indicate -Viper and Silver Samurai - no attempt is made to try make these characters fit into the real world in any way, resulting in little relationship between their character identities and their villainous personas, ultimately grounding The Wolverine very much in the world of kids Saturday morning TV cartoon.

The Wolverine Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper
The Wolverine Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper (Click to enlarge)

Secondarily to this The Wolverine suffers from awkward pacing, it seems they are aiming for the same fast Avengers Assembled style "suspend disbelief pace" which may work for a film with countless engaging parts that you have some history with - but with a story that introduces a hand full of characters you aren't given any real substance it's a real stretch. I suspect too much ground is attempted to be covered too quickly, if they had only slowed the pace and allowed the characters some development or contemplation it may have added weight to the facade making The Wolverine a different film altogether. Casualties of the to fast pacing pile up like The Wolverine's body count including key plot elements like  - Logan losing his powers making him more human and susceptible to death, a great concept, sadly this isn't really explored in anyway at all, in fact apart from being mentioned a few times you would never guess that this is the case.

The Wolverine Logan gets ready to unleash
The Wolverine Logan gets ready to unleash
To add further frustration and as nice as it is that The Wolverine dovetails into the current film universe I can't help but think that this is a huge missed opportunity to delve into who Logan is and how his Japanese experience shaped him into the man he is both emotionally and physically.  Take the kids as they will love this supercharged Saturday morning cartoon.

The Wolverine Rila Fukushima as Yukio
The Wolverine Rila Fukushima as Yukio (Click to enlarge)
The Wolverine will be slashing up cinema screens from tomorrow Thursday 25 July 2013

Based on the celebrated comic book arc, this epic action-adventure takes Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before.

The Wolverine
Summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, Wolverine becomes embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.

Director: James Mangold
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Will Yun Lee


Wanna fight?
Craig's is a retired superhero, an obsessive hobbyist, comics fan, gadget lover & flâneur who knows an unhealthy amount about Ian Fleming's James Bond.

When not watching or making films he takes pictures, eats, drinks, dives, tries to connect to nature whilst mentally storyboarding the greatest film ever made. He also  & sometimes utilises owl-themed gadgets to fight crime. 

A list of his 132 favourite films can be found hereIf you would still like to contact Craig please use any of the buttons below: 

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