I recently revisited X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and there’s no fucking way The Wolverine can be as shitty as that movie was, can it? Did you guys see the trailers for this movie? HOLY FUCK, THEY LOOKED SO AWFUL. As if the last solo Wolverine movie wasn’t bad enough, and with there being some changes in filmmakers throughout production, when we finally saw what all the fuss was about, it looked like garbage. Why did Wolverine start styling his hair so much? Why did he have so many veins? Where did that giant robot ninja come from?! Surely there would be logical explanations for all of these things, right? Well, I checked out The Wolverine, and no, it’s not nearly as bad as the trailers. Although, to be fair, that’s like saying “At least it was better than that line of dialogue in X-Men about a toad getting struck by lightning.”
So Japan is home of the bad hairstyling decisions?
Set after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) finds himself living in the deep Canadian wilderness with nothing but a little radio and a scraggly-ass beard. While walking through the woods, he sees a giant CGI grizzly bear and gives it a nod of “Yeah, bears are cool as shit”. Well, this bear could also have been two people in a bear suit for all I know. The point is, this bear looked like shit. It was the fakest bear I’ve seen in my life, I’m willing to bet. We also see this fake bear taking a piss. WHAT HAVE YOU BECOME, X-MEN FILMS?! Okay, sorry, got sidetracked by that awful looking bear. Anyways, Wolverine later finds this bear with an arrow in it and tracks down the hunters and confronts them in a bar, only to have a Japanese lady with a Die Antwoord haircut show up and tell him he needs to go to Japan. This woman is the daughter of a big time businessman and takes Wolverine back to Japan with her, where he learns this man was saved by Wolverine decades earlier. When this man’s funeral is interrupted by ninjas, his other daughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) and Wolverine escape the funeral into the Japanese countryside, but not until after a creepy doctor lady can temporarily take away his regenerative powers. While in the country, Wolverine learns to let go of his past and embrace the present while being in a place so surrounded by traditions that have been around for centuries. He falls in love with Mariko, so you can imagine he gets pissed when the ninjas from earlier in the film kidnap her. Healing powers or not, Wolverine is going to find out what these people want and how to get his new love back, feeling a new sense of humanity. Then he fights a giant samurai robot. The end!
Featuring two of pop cultures most memorable characters! Wolverine and…uh…lady who…wears green…and…maybe is a snake…or something….and….venom?
Uhhhhh, what? WHERE DID YOU COME FROM, ROBOT?! Okay okay, I know that “robot” might not be the best term to describe the “Boss Battle” that the film needs, but it’s close enough. The Wolverine seems to have had to lives throughout production, and what we’re left with is a consistently mediocre results. First we had Darren Aronofsky developing the movie for 6 months, then he drops out and James Mangold takes over. The movie is planning for an R rating, and the theatrical release is PG-13. There’s the “real world” story of a guy getting caught up in Japan’s organized crime, then there’s a robot samurai that shows up in the last ten minutes. The whole thing felt really unbalanced. I did like the idea of Wolverine basically saying “FUCK THIS” after the last X-Men movie and running to the woods, as well as happily leaving the country. The unbalanced tone of the film and some of the more interesting visual elements reminded me of how I feel about Daredevil. It’s not AS bad as Daredevil, but I do also kind of like that movie, so just hold on for a second. There are shots in both Daredevil and The Wolverine that look like they were ripped right out of a comic book, so there’s definitely some acknowledgement of the source material without going as literal as the 300 or Sin City route. One segment that stood out is one that’s in the trailers that involve arrows and ropes and, well, you’ll see what I mean. Let’s not forget that Daredevil had 30 minutes cut out from it’s theatrical release, so in theory, if The Wolverine had additional sequences of our titular character fucking with the Yakuza, it would have made the film more like Batman Begins than, oh I don’t know, any other comic book movie with dumb villains thrown in. It’s like they go to the end of the movie and said, “Oh shit, there’s no other mutants, let’s throw in some lady who can come back to life by cutting her skin off like a snake or something and a guy with giant adamantium swords.” It gives the movie a more superhero feel, but that’s not meant as a compliment.
YEAH, WE GET IT, YOU’RE STRONG, NOW PUT YOUR VEINS AWAY YOU FUCKING FREAK.
Wolverine himself makes for a really interesting character, when he’s used sparingly, which is why he’s featured as a supporting member on so many comic book superhero teams. Unfortunately, when you base an entire film on him, you lose some of his mystique, no pun intended. He typically gets to sit on the sidelines of any superhero meeting, throw in a line that mocks everybody, then kicks the shit out of everything. He’s as close to invincible as any Marvel character can get, and fans love him so much that so many writers incorporate him into a few panels of their team books. When the entire focus of the movie is on him, you have to come up with things for him to do and things for a character that’s going on 200 years old. HE’S SEEN IT ALL AND DONE IT ALL. Just let him drink some beers and live in the woods forever, standing up for the rights of bears. Jackman puts in another solid performance as Wolverine, but I think there was a little too much humor in it for my vision of the character. Sure, he can be sarcastic and mocking at times, but the comedic relief in this film really took me out of it. Following the recent trend of comic book movies adding scenes after the credits, The Wolverine is certainly no different. It’s actually kind of a long sequence, but I felt it built anticipation for the next X-Men film, X-Men: Days of Future Pasts. The Wolverine certainly isn’t bad, but it felt more like it was trying to make up for the boring X-Men Origins: Wolverine and tried to bridge X-Men: The Last Stand with Bryan Singer’s return to the X-men franchise. If you haven’t seen Origins, then you might enjoy this movie a little bit more than I did because you don’t have that bad taste in your mouth, and if you do have that bad taste, this movie helped take that way just a little bit. Sadly, The Wolverine really only reminds us of how good of a character Wolverine can be when used sparingly and sets people unfamiliar with the storyline up pretty well for next year’s Days of Future Past.
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