Friday, February 28, 2014

Movie Review: The Wolverine (2013)

The Wolverine (2013) directed by James Mangold

Another film I meant to see last summer (along with Pacific Rim, World War Z, Much Ado About Nothing, Evil Dead, Man of Steel, The World's End). I like the character and Hugh Jackman is usually reliable. 

Wolverine followed in Superman's footsteps last summer. Both characters had a disappointing solo outing a few years ago (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Superman Returns) followed by a much better, though not great, film this past year. Superman's reboot left him a bit unsure of himself as a moral hero (not his usual Boy Scout self); Wolverine's new film drains out his healing factor (not his usual immortal self).

Wolverine's movie starts with his memories of World War II, specifically when he was in a prison camp just outside Nagasaki before the atomic bomb was dropped. He saved one of the Japanese soldiers who eventually became a highly successful businessman. In the modern day, the businessman sends one of his workers with a gift for Wolverine and a request to come say goodbye to his dying friend. The businessman can afford the best of care but he's an old man and doesn't have much longer to live. Unless, of course, he could get healing powers like Wolverine's...

The plot moves on from there in fairly predictable but not unenjoyable fashion. Almost every Japanese stereotype is in the film (seppuku, yakuza, bullet trains, martial arts, samurais, family honor, ninjas, etc. etc.--except I didn't see any sushi or Godzilla*). Logan's loss of healing is a little bit inconsistent but is a good way to make him vulnerable. Hugh Jackman gives a good performance as a tortured soul dealing with a tortured body. And fighting like a crazy, one-man army.

Like Man of Steel, The Wolverine is a big step in the right direction for the character and a lot better than I was expecting.

*Godzilla vs. Wolverine is a movie I would definitely make an effort to see in the theater.

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