Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Wolverine (2013) Review

Directed by
James Mangold
If you could give one type of film that has defined 21st century summer blockbusters (other than maybe Harry Potter), the answer has to be superhero movies.  I believe every year so far this century has had at least one blockbuster superhero movie define its summer season.  The majority of these superhero films have come from the Marvel universe whether it is Spider-man, Iron Man, or all of them together in The Avengers.  The franchise that really jump started this resurgence in superhero movies was X-Men.  Many will want to say Spider-Man or even Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Batman saga, but X-Men came first and also has the most installments of any superhero franchise since 2000.  The Wolverine is the sixth X-Men movie since Bryan Singer started this run in 2000.  When you start making this many installments in a series, there is bound to be a clunker at some point.  All the great movie franchises have them.  Batman had Batman & Robin, The Avengers squad had Thor, Spider-Man had Spider-Man 3, James Bond had Roger Moore.  It happens.  For the X-Men franchise, The Wolverine is its clunker.

The ageless Wolverine is once again portrayed by the ageless Hugh Jackman (seriously, go back and look at Hugh in the original X-Men ... he looks exactly the same).  Jackman is also the only actor to appear in every X-Men movie to date.  This is the second film focused primarily on this character, and while the first, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, discusses how Logan became who he is now, this film acts as an update on the titular character after the original trilogy.  SPOILER ALERT - THIS FILM GIVES AWAY IMPORTANT PLOT POINTS FROM THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY.  WATCH THE FIRST THREE FILMS BEFORE WATCHING THIS ONE.  Following the completion of the first three films, Logan goes into hiding in Alaska, haunted by many events in his past.  While there, he is found by a Japanese girl who was sent by Yashida, an old Japanese man Logan had saved from the Nagasaki bombing in World War II.  Yashida became a wildly successful businessman, but is now on his death bed and wanted to say goodbye to the man he owes his life to.  So Logan flies to Japan and learns there is a way to reverse the effects of his mutation, stop healing, and eventually grow old and die in peace.  Unsure if he wants to go through with it, the situation is forced on him by the villain (another mutant).  Logan is then forced into action without being able to heal as he is used to doing while protecting Yashida's granddaughter from a clan of ninjas.
The makers of this film were not very forthcoming about the plot of this movie.  You really did not get much of the plot from the trailer beyond Wolverine loses his healing at some point.  I think the reason for this is so many things about this plot scream bad movie.  Seriously, Wolverine in Japan being chased by ninjas?  What about that concept sounds like a good idea? That's like putting John McClain in Russia (wait ... they did that...). Then Wolverine is forced to ask himself the question that is becoming more and more cliche and overdone: "Who am I?"  Every superhero franchise has forced their lead to have this crisis of faith, and it is getting old.  Then, as if it couldn't get any worse, every 15 minutes Logan has a dream sequence that allows him to have conversations with a dearly departed "friend."  Honestly, if you asked me the secret formula on how to put together a flop, this film seems to have every quality I would list.
With all that said, the film wasn't horrible.  It sure tried to be the worst movie ever made, but it just has to settle for the worst X-Men movie to date.  I can't say it was too terrible because at its center is still one of the more interesting lead characters of all the superhero films.  One of the reasons for this is, more than any other superhero, you can't really call Wolverine a hero.  He doesn't want to be a hero.  He just wants to live a normal life.  Only when it gets personal is the Wolverine forced to save the day.  Sure, he ends up helping save the world at times, but he has to be begged.  He is the reluctant superhero.  That makes Wolverine's crisis of faith actually an interesting question.  If handled better and in a different setting, this topic could have made a remarkable movie.
Although this is far from a great film, fans of the X-Men series will still find The Wolverine a worth-while watch for several reasons.  Not only does it advance the story of the X-Men universe, but it drops some great hints at the next X-Men installment, X-Men: Days of Future Past which is due out next summer.  It has been announced that this new film will combine the cast of the original trilogy (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, etc.) with the cast of the First Class prequel (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, etc.).  With the quality of these films (The Wolverine excluded) and the great casts being merged, this has become one of my most anticipated films 2014.  So if for nothing else, see The Wolverine to get a glimpse at what is to come, but save your money.  Wait till you can netflix it.

1.5 stars

1 comment:

  1. The franchise looks ever so promising now, especially thanks to this movie and the note it ended on. Good review Terry.