- Written by Filip
- Hits: 1944
Let's get this out of the way immediately: The movie was disappointing. Maybe, my expectations had been too high, but with movie industry progressing (at least in the sense of what can be realistically presented on the screen) and with this kind of a movie, expectations should be high.
The X-Men universe is so rich and developed and alluring and fantastic and KPOW-KBAM that I do not understand how can you end up with a movie like The Wolverine with such a base material to work with. Perhaps, it is the lead character. I am starting to think that everything has been sucked out of this character in the past 5 movies in which it appears, that it is difficult to show it as fresh and interesting. Still, if the character is not the most captivating, then please by all means put it in a situation that is. Instead of it, the story is yet another revisiting of the past of the main protagonist (as we've had in previous superhero movies) and fighting its demons in present, just in a different setting.
The story is set in Japan, sometime after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, with Logan (Wolverine) visiting a man whom he had saved in WWII. What was supposed to be a peaceful visit for Logan to pay respect to a dying man, soon turns into him fighting for his and Mariko's (the old man's granddaughter) lives. Through trials and tribulations, it becomes a journey of Wolverine's rebirth.
Or at least that is how I understood it. In the center of the movie's character development is Logan's coming to terms with what had happened to Jean. If you look at the character's growth arc – in the beginning he is a dishevelled, tortured man, who by the end of the movie is set and ready for some new, unknown adventures. The Jean Grey scenes serve only the purpose of Logan's recovery and now when I think about it, they have absolutely no connection to the main plot whatsoever and are there, I guess, just because they happen at the time of the events of this movie? Other than that, I really do not see how those scenes fit into the whole story. What is more, they do not add any depth to Logan's suffering simply because they are too straightforward – from „Oh, it is difficult for me to let go“, to „I love you and I don't know what is going to happen with us“ to „I am letting go of you“ and finally „OK, I am free“. When you add to that an unbelievably ridiculous relationship between Logan and Mariko, where they fall for each other in a day and then easily say goodbye in the end, you get a flat-blah-comooon-pft love-story (ies). Now, this would not have been the problem IF that story had not been one of the two main story-lines of the movie.
Unfortunately, the other main storyline (what Yashida called Logan to come to Japan for) is also uninventive and for most of the time even a bit boring. The characters are just not that interesting, the story feels old, already seen and just rehashed. And this is what is a bit frustrating – I am not an expert on X-Men, I am a fan, but not the one who knows everything about every character and story in its universe, still I have read a little bit about the original story that involves Yukio, Shingen, Viper and the Silver Samurai and just that little what I have read was far more interesting than what I saw in the movie. Yukio is perhaps the most interesting character of these, but even she has its silly moments (what is with her power, foreshadowing through a keyhole, eh?!?!). I must admit that the actress (Rila Fukushima) did a great job in playing her though. However, the biggest disappointment for me was the Viper. This is a character that I expected to shine in all its slime. Snakes, venom, poison immunity, immunity to men as she says, WHAT more do you want from a mutant?! and all she does is spit a couple of times and remove wig off her head! Such a let down. Not to mention that she also has no real purpose in the movie – yes, she is a scientist involved with Yashida, but what is her motive? She is obviously very evil, which makes her out-of-place and purposeless even more. She is just there and she is just evil and she spits. To make things worse, other supporting characters suffer the same fate – Noburo, the son-in-law minister was introduced to the movie solely for a two-minute hotel scene that could have been completely avoided. You gave him a name, please give him a purpose. Shingen, who first comes across as a strong, authoritative character, ends up just being redundant. Harada, who was supposed to be Miriko's love interest and add some depth to that field, just becomes a casualty. No purpose = no depth = no connection to the characters = no connection to the story = overall bad movie experience.
Not only characters suffer from the lack of purpose. Sometimes, it feels like the director thought: „Oh, this would just be cool to do, so let's put that in the movie“, such as the scene where the ninjas overcome Logan (let's just rope him with hundred arrows because it is awesome), or the scene with the bear (don't even want to comment on the bear). I mean, I understand the meaning and what the director wanted to convey with these scenes, but honestly those were not well put and had the opposite effect on me. For me, this is a sign of amateurish directing, which comes as a huge surprise considering that James Mangold directed such gems as Girl, Interrupted or Identity, or really good Kate & Leopold and Walk the Line. But then again, when you look at the pacing of The Wolverine one cannot escape the feeling that Mangold tried to apply a formula for creating an intense drama onto what is supposed to be an action flick. The result, suffice to say, is not good. The movie is full of dragged-on parts, it is slow and the worst of all: tension does not build up. I guess superhero movies are not Mr. Mangold's forte.
Before I move on to positives (yes there are a few), I want to comment on the soundtrack. The soundtrack on its own is not bad. Its placing is what was bothering me. Let me give you an example – You have a scene where Yukio picks Logan up with her car and they drive off to save Mariko. There is no heavy drama or tension in that scene and the music is beating and blasting all over the place as if you were watching the most dramatic scene of all times. And that's not the only point in the movie when that happens. Speaking of that scene (sorry, but I have to comment on it just to show the silliness of certain things in the movie) – Logan gets into the car, and Yukio tells him: Logan, I have to tell you something (all teary-eyed and serious) and Logan is like: Just drive. Then she starts driving and they drive like that for 500km and only when they stop Yukio goes again: I have to tell you something... Because you know, the past 500km just flew by so quickly that she hadn't had the chance to tell him ... (insert eye-roll).
But enough of bashing, onto the positives. The cast does a remarkable job, Hugh Jackman particularly. I do not think that there is an actor now who can be as half as good as he is in this role. Maybe that is not so surprising considering that it is his (correct me if I'm wrong) sixth appearance in this role, and he has Wolverine figured out by now. Nevertheless, he is great and I do not think that there is a role this man cannot tackle at least with decency if not with utter owning. As said, others do good job as well, especially Ken Yamamura as the young Yashida (short role, but really nicely played, looking forward to more from this actor) and Rila Fukushima as Yukio.
The action scenes are nicely done (not the best I have seen, still pretty good). The bombing looks awesome and the Silver Samurai is great. I have seen it in 3D and I can tell you that it can freely be watched in 2D and maybe that option is even desirable, since A: it's cheaper B: you don't get absolutely anything by watching it in 3D. The action is good, but nothing would be lost if you do not watch it in 3D. The most thrilling scene in the movie is the train scene (and there is nothing too 3D about it), it is simply the most fun to watch. What the movie lacks in the area of special effects (and then the story with it as well) is – more mutants. Surprisingly for a mutant movie, there are very few of them in it. Some might consider this a positive, because it gives a more natural-realistic-serious vibe to the movie, but in the end, which universe are we talking about here? I came to see mutants, I demand to be shown some mutants! (OK, maybe I should have researched a bit more about the movie before I went to see it, but did not want to spoil anything).
Anyhow, I would recommend to wait for a DVD to watch this movie, or if there is really nothing else for you to watch/do, or you are a fan of the X-Men universe, then go and see it, but do not expect too much out of it. I will be eagerly expecting the next X-Men: Days of Future Past since there will be lots more mutants, with it probably more action and from what I have already read an interesting story. On the other hand, I do not want anymore Wolverine movies. There are other characters in that universe who would be more compelling to watch (give us The Gambit already!) and this one has been sucked dry by the franchise that it deserves a rest. Of course, bring it back for the all-X-Men movies, but just no more Wolverine-delves-into-his-past-relives-traumas-and-recovers movies.
Read the newest RED2 review here