He is the best at what he does…and thus far it hasn’t been used for a great solo film.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was the last time we got a taste of a full fledged Wolverine adventure in our local cinemas…and it left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. If not for an amazing foul mouthed cameo in X-Men: First Class, it would have been the last time anyone would of thought about Hugh Jackman in his iconic role…but now we have Hugh back to his claws and a new director at the helm for the aptly titled, The Wolverine.
This movie is a Wolverine comic book come to life in the best way possible. Everything you wanted from a solo Wolverine adventure that didn’t get delivered in Origins, is given to you on a silver—err, how about adamantium platter?
Based off the comic book written and drawn by the team of Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, the adventure of Wolverine in Japan was a comic book story that over the years has been regarded as a classic not only for the genre, but the character itself. There have been many Wolverine stories told over the decades he has been around, but his time in Japan rank up high amongst the most important and is treated as such in it’s adaptation to film. This isn’t just another run of the mill story, it has the level of importance to it. It might not be as earnest as a Nolan Batman film, but it keeps its self-leveled with the characters that surround our anti-hero.
So one thing you will notice about this tale of the man named Logan in Japan…is that besides Wolverine, Viper, and Jean Grey…all the other characters are truly of Asian origin. Some films would take this maybe this opportunity and warp the script to white wash some characters, but to the credit of James Mangold, he put this film in Japan and filmed it with a surrounding Asian cast. The three most important roles that were cast to almost comic-book perfection were Rila Fukushima as Yukio, which is a Miller trademark in its own, a lethal, but sexy Japanese woman with a sword, who serves as both Wolverines guide and “bodyguard” in the film. We then have Tao Okamoto as Mariko, the fabled long love of Wolverine’s heart in the comics and in the film, the one that helps bring him from the brink of his despair. And finally we Haruhiko Yamanouchi, who plays Ichiro, grandfather of Mariko and another silver armored character that has its roots in the Wolverine lore.
If you watched any trailer for this film, the plot is seemingly easy to get behind. Wolverine is about 10 years removed from the events of X3: The Last Stand. He is constantly having nightmares about Jean Grey, and wishing for death to finally ring his door bell. He is found by Yukio and brought to Japan, where from there the tale of how Wolverine deals with a suppressed healing factor amongst a land of killers is brought to life. Watching Wolverine not just wave off an attack, but seriously have to deal with long lasting pain is something new to the character on film. From his first solo film, to all the X-Men movies, Wolverine has taken a beating, but then easily come right back to fight. Here, we watch as Logan has to deal with the last effects of a gun shot wound and how badly that can slow me him and alter his fighting style.
The Wolverine is the movie not X-Men fans have been wanting, but what Wolverine fans have been hoping for after the utter disappointment all around in Origins. I don’t think it’s the perfect film, but it’s the right film for this character. There was no need to add in extra X-Men characters that have no use in Wolverines life to this feel, they made this big budget film seem small and large at the same time. Taking cue from classic Samurai films of the past and designing a beautiful film where the blood of his enemies can be seen in the snowy white landscape of Japan.
Mangold has gone on record to proclaim when this film hits blu-ray it will be a much bloodier unrated version of the film we get in theaters, which is both understandable and smart. The talk of a R-Rated Wolverine movie has been discussed often, but the character is TOO popular to be tagged with an R and have some of its box office taken away, the PG-13 version we get is just violent and berserker enough to satisfy any fan and I’m sure the blu-ray release will be enough to satisfy the even more bloodlusting fans.
Like any Marvel film, be it Marvel studios or any other studios, there is a nice mid-credit tag after the film. Wont ruin it, but lets say, this Wolverine still has ties with his old team and there is a reason we will see Hugh Jackman pop those claws in next years X-Men: Days of Future Past.
I give it an EIGHT out of a TEN, on the scale of film merit and overall quality.
But I also give it a SKNIT out of TEN, on the scale of the slicing and dicing of ninjas. This movie was actually really fun watch and worth the price.