I’mma Cut You (The Wolverine Review)

While the X-Men comics have emphasized the team aspect of the superhero group, the X-Men movies more or less eschewed that in favor of making Wolverine the main character. Nerdlingers the world over have been upset by that, but, honestly, it makes the movies better. Wolverine is a top-tier superhero, the general public knows who he is, and he’s fucking cool. If you were going to focus your film on any of the X-Men, Wolverine would be the most logical choice.

It only makes sense that after three team-based movies, Wolverine would get a few solo efforts. The first one, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was a giant smelly turd. Everybody hated it. Hugh Jackman remained a complete badass in the role, but everything else was total shit. After the movie failed, it seemed like everyone involved decided to take a few years off from the whole X-Men franchise. Finally, 13 years after the first X-Men movie, Wolverine is back, and once again starring in a solo effort. So, how was it?

This scene wasn’t in the movie, but I wish it had been.

I’ve never been into comics. Most of my exposure to superheroes comes via movies or TV shows. I was a big fan of the X-Men animated series when that was airing. Therefore, I can’t comment on how closely the plot of The Wolverine compares to the source material. I’ve read a few other blogs, some of which state the movie follows it fairly closely (at least as closely as a movie can), and some of which claim it’s an unholy abomination that destroyed everything good and decent about the comic. Basically, I went in fresh, liking the character, knowing a few things from the classic cartoon, but that was about it.

For me, the story was good. Clearly, the filmmakers emphasized story over action. They focused a lot of time on Wolverine and his struggle with humanity. He’s a killer and he doesn’t like it, but he can’t seem to escape it no matter how hard he tries. The first two acts of the movie demonstrate this quite well. Out of all the X-Men movies, this one spends the most time on trying to more fully develop its characters. Wolverine remains a fascinating character, and the other characters are good, as well. His relationship with Mariko developed naturally, and although it was a tad cheesy, it mostly worked. Secondary characters like Yukio could have had more screen time, but were utilized fairly well. The bad guys were underdeveloped, but I’ll give them a pass. Bad guys only exist for Wolverine to carve up anyway, right?

More of her would have been nice.

The action sequences were surprisingly great. The action was there to service the story when needed, but it didn’t have that feeling of Wolverine going from Point A to Point B just to fight tons of bad guys. Most superhero stories fail in this aspect, because LOL WE NEED TO HAVE TONS OF EXPLOSIONS AND ACTION SCENES EVERY 10 MINUTES AND THE HERO HAS TO SAY SHITTY ONE-LINERS EVERY TIME HE KILLS A BAD GUY LOL! The Wolverine doesn’t fall into this trap. In fact, he only fights humans right up until the end, making the action more grounded in reality. Although the bullet train fight wasn’t exactly realistic, it was well directed, and pretty fucking tense. That was the film’s best action sequence.

Things teeter in the third act, and the film could have fallen apart, but thankfully didn’t. Wolverine fights a giant CGI samurai, which, fortunately, isn’t as bad as it sounds. The CGI was top-notch, and it didn’t look woefully unrealistic. I suppose it was sort of a necessary evil, since up until this point he was only fighting humans, and they needed something more spectacular at the end. And when the Silver Samurai drilled into Wolverine’s claws, I definitely cringed. A lot.

I hate it when I go out for a relaxing day of Pachinko, and a bunch of Yakuza try to kill me.

The biggest complaint I’ve read from comic fans is the film’s subplot of Wolverine losing his healing abilities. Apparently, this didn’t happen in the comic. For the regular viewer, this was one of the film’s best features. The problem with Wolverine is the same problem with Superman: he’s invincible. Not only that, he’s practically immortal. When you have a character that essentially can’t be killed, it’s hard to build up any cinematic tension. Fortunately, Wolverine’s attenuated powers help ramp up the tension in the action sequences. You realize he could die (of course he won’t), and that helps inject life into a movie that could have been boring as hell. Without that subplot, the movie would have been a lot worse.

As far as complaints go, I don’t have a lot. Yeah, the third act was a little cheesy, but not more so than any other superhero movie. The cinematography should have been a lot better. Considering they filmed the movie in Japan, they hardly spent any time on establishing shots to showcase the unique and beautiful setting. Also, Wolverine outrunning a nuke, and the CGI bear were both bad ideas. Fortunately, those were in the beginning of the movie, and once they were over, things got a lot better.

Damn, Hugh, it’s like you aren’t even working out anymore.

The Wolverine is not only a good superhero movie, it’s a good movie in general. It sets itself apart from the pack because it takes on a more serious, grounded tone, something that most superhero movies fail at. And it manages to do so without being GRRR DARK AND GRITTY GRRR like so many other films these days. Hugh Jackman is still amazing as the title character. It’s funny seeing how fucking huge he is in this movie, then to going back and see him in the first X-Men film. He was still pretty ripped back then, but he’s even bigger now. It’s kind of incredible. That aside, he turns in a great performance, bringing all the necessary humanity to the character.

Without a doubt this is one of the best X-Men movies. I hope the filmmakers can find another worthy Wolverine story, and round out a solo trilogy for the character. In our world that is filled with so many shitty superhero movies, it’s really nice to watch a good one for a change.

Verdict: Good

18 Responses to “I’mma Cut You (The Wolverine Review)”

  1. August 17, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Nice review, I think you pretty much nailed it. This is less of a “superhero” movie than I expected which turned out for the better. Certain elements I would have liked to develop more like Mariko and their relationship.

    • August 17, 2013 at 8:56 am

      I think most superhero movies could be better if they acted less like “superhero movies”, you know? I’m curious how the original screenplay draft directed by Darren Aronofsky would have turned out.

      • 3 Fred Nietzsche
        August 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm

        Please elaborate.

        If you ask me, the only worthwhile superhero movies since Superman are Spider-Man 3 (cool villains with relatable grievances played by excellent actors, plus a sense of humor), the X-Men trilogy (substance, style, plus Ian McKellen and Rebecca Romijn), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (tight plotting, well-done action, and again, a sense of humor), Watchmen (all the good shit from the comic, with none of the self-important dross), the two Fantastic Four pictures (good, old-fashioned, high-spirited fun), and Unbreakable (clever as a motherfucker).

        Chris Nolan’s Batmen and the first two Spider-Men take themselves terribly seriously despite dealing with nothing remotely serious, and therefore eat balls. They also eat dick, as they run way too long on scripts that are way too flimsy. Ditto Superman Returns.

        The Avengers was a mishmash of pathetic cliches and dumb, overblown setpieces. Whoever wrote The Amazing Spider-Man found the word “branzino” so hilarious, they made an endlessy running gag of it–’nuff said.

        I’ll hold my tongue re Tom Jane’s The Punisher.

      • August 19, 2013 at 8:04 am

        Watchmen was fine, and so were the first Spider-Man and first two X-Men movies. Yeah, I liked Unbreakable, too. The rest you named didn’t do much for me. I like the less cheesy superhero films, which is why I like the Dark Knight trilogy so much. Cheese can be great, of course, when used properly, but too many superhero movies rely on cheese and end up ruined by it. See Captain America as the perfect example.

  2. 5 WL
    August 17, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Now I feel bad. We were supposed to go to the movies this past week, but our contempt for comic book adaptations made she convince me to go bowling instead. Now that you say it’s good, maybe I will skip 1 or 2 classes and go watch it.

    I regret nothing though. Bowling is hella fun.

  3. August 17, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    It was pretty good, I didn’t think it was all of that. LOL. Feels strange to like a movie LESS than you do 😯 😉

  4. 9 James Mangold
    August 18, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    You’ve got to be joking.

    From the Poison Ivy knockoff with the pointless powers (who was clearly only in the movie so that Hugh Jackman’s wouldn’t be the only white face audiences would see for over two hours), to the glut of other one-note bad guys marking time in the absence of a worthy antagonist (a (superhero) picture can be no better than its villain), to the meandering and nonsensical plot, to the lame love interest and consequently sparkless romance (it would’ve been a lot hotter, and made far more sense, for Wolverine to fall for the psychic redhead (or, even better, the old man)), to Famke Janssen lying on her side in every single shot of her too-long series of redundant scenes, to the unmemorable fights (with the sole exception of the bullet-train thing, which, admittedly, was fairly novel and awesome), to the failure to make good on the redhead’s prediction that Wolverine would hold his own heart in his hands, to the telegraphed anticlimax, The Wolverine was easily the shittiest of the X-People flicks.

    I’m afraid io9 got the best of you on this one: http://io9.com/the-wolverine-the-spoiler-faq-962967380

    • August 19, 2013 at 8:00 am

      Wow, James, I thought you would have liked your own movie a bit more. Sure, it had problems, but it wasn’t really that bad. And there’s no way it’s the worst. It’s miles better than Origins and X3.

      • 11 James Mangold
        August 19, 2013 at 9:34 am

        No, I’m a hack. I don’t know why people shit on The Last Stand. I mean, yeah, Kelsey Grammer as anyone other than Sideshow Bob is insufferable, but otherwise, it was a good story well told. As long as you ignore the stinger, anyway.

  5. 12 gazerbeam
    August 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I have to disagree with this review. I read it and then went into the movie with good expectations. Why is Wolverine falling in love with someone who looks to be in her 20s while he looks to physically be 45?

    And did you not notice that the barely-out-of-high-school girl he fell in love with never made a single facial expression until the end of the film for a few second where she half-scrunches her brow?
    That was the most stone-faced boring acting I’ve ever seen in ANY FILM. Even in her closeups, it’s like the director is pleading with her to finally show some emotion, or any facial reaction to ANYTHING and nothing happens. She just blankly stares forward 100% of the time.
    The redhead acted. The Japanese model needs to stick to the runway…
    I also had a hard time believing she had the strength to puncture the dude’s skin when she stabs him with a knife at the end (she actually does this to two people). Her arms were thinner than the knives she used.

    But in all seriousness, worst acting I’ve ever seen. And that romance was essentially pedophilia.

    • August 31, 2013 at 7:43 am

      The problem is that you read the source material and expected it to be replicated in the film. Hollywood never does that. They always change stuff. Even Lord of the Rings had tons of changes. It’s best to forget the source material before seeing the movie. Honestly, yeah, the main girl could have emoted more. But I’ll take her stone face over the typical Japanese acting of I HAVE TO SCREAM ALL MY LINES which is what they usually do in live action dramas. And honestly, if that’s the worst acting you’ve ever seen, then you haven’t seen a lot of shitty movies. I envy you.

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August 2013


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