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Sunday, July 28, 2013

THE WOLVERINE REVIEW


About The Movie:

The Wolverine picks up with the semi-immortal mutant Logan (Hugh Jackman) looking particularly disheveled, after having spent an unspecified amount of time in self-imposed exile in the Canadian wilderness (following the events of X-Men: The Last Stand). Logan, who is tormented by the survivor’s guilt he’s accumulated over the centuries – having outlived every person he’s cared for – and haunted by recurring visions of his deceased love Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), has abandoned his Wolverine (re: superhero) alter-ego for an isolated existence.

Everything changes when Logan is approached by a mysterious pink-haired woman named Yukio (Rila Fukushima). She informs Wolvie that her employer Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) – the extremely wealthy founder of a powerful Japanese technology corporation – is on his deathbed and wishes to thank Logan, who saved his life way back in WWII. Logan is hesitant, but  soon agrees to accompany Yukio back to Tokyo, in order to to bid farewell to his old acquaintance – unaware that he’s taken the first step on a treacherous journey that will take him into the sordid underbelly of Japanese society, and leave him permanently altered in a mental, spiritual and physical sense.

What Is Good/Bad About The Movie:

Jackman, as Logan, appears to be in the best physical condition of his career here; furthermore, this film offers the most captivating portrayal of the character put on the big screen yet (how true he is to the X-Men comic books’ depiction – that’s open for debate). Under Mangold’s watch, Jackman successfully brings Wolverine full circle.

Above all else, The Wolverine is informed by Noir traditions, beginning with the opening flashback to WWII and then giving Japan the feeling of the setting for an old-school detective story: shadowy and menacing at night, deceivingly harmless by day. Similarly, Logan is a proper choice for the Noir archetype of an investigating protagonist: he’s emotionally-fragile and vulnerable one moment, and in the next he throws a bad man out a window without even blinking an eye.

The Wolverine successfully avoids some of the pitfalls that the worst of the X-Men movies fell into – particularly the urge to just load up the screen with as many different mutants as possible – and it definitely treads on some interesting ground thematically, but it never feels like the movie is fully capitalizing on its best ideas. Grief over the death of Jean is a perfect emotional starting point for Logan in the story, but the full weight of that emotion never really hit me.

While the story winds up being fairly straightforward and not everything works perfectly, credit should be given to the film just for trying something different than anything we’ve seen from the X-Men franchise. It doesn’t always work thematically, but Mangold successfully capitalizes on his setting aesthetically, as the director takes full advantage of the nation’s unique architecture, clothing, and even language to make the movie feel unique. It’s also surprisingly refreshing that Jackman is really the only recognizable star in the film, which both helps support the story’s focus and adds an extra fish out of water layer to the narrative.

Overall Grade: B

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