Weekend at the Movies: The Wolverine
As the sixth installment in the X-men film lexicon, The Wolverine doesn’t disappoint. It was interesting to see how much of the story in The Wolverine is based on the events during X-men: Last Stand…surprising, considering how consistent everyone hated it. But it looks like the folks over at Fox have decided to keep it as a part of their X-men universe. To be reasonable, by this point with the release of so many Marvel/DC movies, we have to come to terms and accept the fact that the stories we’ve all grown up with in the comics do not necessarily translate or transfer well into cinema. Not to say directors and producers should ignore the origins that have made these character beloved icons. Not at all. Simply, it is a very precarious balance between the two worlds. You can’t have all comic, but the films also cannot take the comic element away either. During Last Stand, the balance got tipped a bit towards cinema when Brett Ratner killed off a few too many characters. With that being said, The Wolverine picks up the pieces left behind and makes the events that pissed off so many nerds bearable.
Disclaimer: There may be spoilers up ahead. I will do my best to warn you before anything is given away that you might not want to read. My intention with this review is to not give any major plot points away, but again, I’ll have to talk about some things from the film. You have been warned.
Have you ever gone to a movie and been anxious? Have you ever drove up with knots in your stomach. You’re smiling but still a little hesitant? For me, this is how I felt as I pulled up to the theater in Webster. Luckily, there weren’t too many other early birds in the parking lot. I was there to see The Wolverine. I hadn’t been to a movie opening weekend in some time. The last being Hunger Games. I got my $6 ticket and my bag of popcorn and soda and sat down and waited, nervously. Why nervous? Well, two parts, aside from the feeling this movie was going to be awesome, the last Wolverine movie (Origins) had been only good enough to be passable, though it could have been better, way better, way — way better! Origins was too rushed and should have explored his character more. Second, because of the last Wolverine movie, there was a good chance this movie was also going to be just another could have been better comic based movie. Thankfully, my nervousness was for not. The Wolverine began amazing and ended amazing. From start to finish, this sixth installment was perfectly balanced. Picking up from the events of Last Stand, we’re introduced to a lamenting Logan who is “dealing” with the death of Jean Grey, a death he brought about if you remember. We’re also given a little taste of his time in Japan as a POW during WWII, just before the bomb was dropped. Not a shabby opening sequence, if I do say so myself! And also in the opening, we’re given the theme that will be constantly thrown about: death and living.
Eventually, Logan is forced back into the world at the request of the man he saved during the war, Yashida. A new character Yukio, on behalf of her employer, brings the “caveman” looking Logan back to Japan. The following experience was welcomed, an equal balance of humor and tragedy with the ever present theme of death. Yashida is dying and makes a very strange proposal for Logan, who is obviously depressed because of Jean and the weight of a long life, with so many loved ones dying around him, but Wolverine isn’t dumb, he can smell a bad proposition when he hears one and refuses. I’ll leave the details of this teed bit for those who haven’t seen the movie yet!
Logan’s refusal, however, forces the character into a chain of misfortune events. SPOILER: during the funeral sequence, we discover Logan has lost most, not all, of his healing powers. This is where I was most impressed. Sure, the healing factor is very much a part of Wolverine, but its not everything; his drive and determination boil from some place much deeper than his mutant ability. Despite the newfound disability, Wolverine pushes through a bunch of ninja assassins and kicks butt. From the funeral, to the train, and all the way to the eventual revelation to the evil force behind all the calamity, Wolverines perseverance is what makes him a superhero. SPOILER: Silver Samurai is not a robot; thank you Jesus!!! All the trailers made it seem that he was; however, as the larger plot unfolds, we discover that Yashida has not died as we were lead to believe. In fact, he’s gone completely mental over his obsession to prolong his life and becomes the “Gambit” powered warrior. Some hardcore fans of the 1980’s Wolverine series might be a bit perturbed with the character change ups, but not me. I never read the 80’s series, and so, this was a new experience and an awesome adventure to witness. I was thankful with the Samurai not being some goofy robot though. It would have been too much and not personal enough with the whole death and living theme working throughout the movie. Another great part in the movie, which is normally the worst part in most comic based movies, but for The Wolverine, everything worked perfectly as his characters purpose was restored.
Bottom Line: I do not want to give to much away here. The Wolverine just opened and folks are still waiting to see it. My suggestion is to leave the comic story behind, for now, and embrace this Wolverine as a new arch in the Marvel universe. To be honest, comics change more than movies do sometimes, I think we can forgive the director and screen writers here for any deviations. The Wolverine is amazing adventure and story, start to finish. And as a bonus, stay after the credits…trust me, its worth waiting to go pee!