James Mangold's "The Wolverine"

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James Mangold's "The Wolverine"

Post by Deviss on Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:50 pm

Deviss wrote:"A lot of people have tried to kill me... and I'm still here."


  • Story: Four and a half Stars
  • Acting: Four and a half Stars
  • Directing: Four Stars
  • Visuals: Five Stars
  • Overall: Five Stars

Before I get into everything involving this movie and my review of it, I have to say that this review is without a doubt the latest review I have ever submitted, to date. I, along with my mother and two of our mutual friends, saw "The Wolverine" the day after its theatrical release and, for the most part, we all had a very good time with it. It isn't much of a stretch to guess that my mother and her two friends wanted to see the movie for; you guessed it, Hugh Jackman. After having seen the movie a handful of times, I have to give credit where it's due. Mr. Jackman is as impressive as ever as the Adamantium-infused mutant Logan/Wolverine. Despite that, the reason I wanted to see this movie wasn't for a shirtless Hugh Jackman, but instead to see how on God's green Earth this character and his storyline could be salvaged after the egregious disappointment that was "X-Men Origins: Wolverine". Even though I'm sure the majority of people out there have seen it by now, it can easily be said that James Mangold's "The Wolverine" sheds any lingering trauma of that previous movie.

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After the events that happened on Alcatraz Island, Logan (Hugh Jackman) has all but abandoned the rest of the world; living as a hermit in the Yukon, Logan is tormented by persistent visions of Jean Grey, his former love, that he was forced to kill many years ago on Alcatraz. One day, Logan is found by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant with precognitive abilities, at the behest of Yashida (Hiroyuki Sanada), the head of the Yashida Corporation, a technology zaibatsu. Yashida is dying and wants to repay Logan for saving his life during the bombing of Nagasaki, claiming he can give Logan a "normal life". But, having heard such claims before, Logan is instantly dismissive of Yashida's assertions. Only after meeting his granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto), is Logan convinced to stay. That decision soon proves to be disastrous, as familial and political plots are unveiled, and Logan is confronted with something he has never faced before: the loss of his powers.

Let's all be honest, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" left a pretty bad taste in everyone's mouths, right? Right. If you said or thought anything other than that, I would suggest you do some serious thinking after this reading this review. I've always tried to stick to the belief of "To each their own". That applies to one's taste and thoughts in movies just as much as it does everything else in life. I'll be honest; when I first saw "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" I thought it was a pretty good movie. I even, to my shame, bought it on DVD when it was released. That was back when I had no idea what a "good movie" truly was, as well as everything else that went into that movie to make it so. Story, acting, visuals, directing, make-up, sound editing, and a lot more. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" had little to any of that. Sure, some things were good here and there; Jackman was... good as Logan, but everything else, all of the important parts of a movie, fell by the wayside.

Fortunately, director James Mangold came along and helped make an infinitely better movie with "The Wolverine". Of course, the previous movie didn't set the bar as high as it should have, but that's beside the point. When everything is said and done, "The Wolverine" is a wildly fun and thoughtful movie from start to finish. As I said in the introduction, Hugh Jackman is as impressive as ever as the clawed, angry mutant. But instead of giving us just that, something we have seen done already, we get to see different aspects of Logan's character. A couple of different aspects, to be truthful. One of those is something we haven't seen before, at least, not in this capacity, is Logan having to deal with the apparent loss of the powers he has had since his introduction. That was something that drew me in right from the get go, and I can happily say that in terms of that part of this movie, it delivers.

Another aspect of Logan's character that we get to witness, and that I found very interesting, are the aftereffects of having to kill Jean Grey in "X-Men: The Last Stand". If there was any doubt that the events of "X-Men Origins: The Wolverine" would be continued in this movie, you do not have to worry anymore. Director James Mangold totally glosses over that movie and what happened in it, delivering something much more organic and believable. If someone were forced to kill the one that they loved, it wouldn't be too hard to assume that that person would be haunted by the memory of that person. We get to see that in a literal sense here, as the memory of Jean Grey, played very well by Famke Janssen, haunts Logan periodically throughout this movie. It impacts the decisions he makes, namely the decision to stay with Tao Okamoto's Mariko. Thankfully I haven't been forced to kill anyone that I love, but I thought that Jackman and Janssen did a good job in this part of "The Wolverine".

As for the story that drives this movie... I found it to be rather enjoyable, despite not being familiar with the "Japanese/Samurai" comic series on which "The Wolverine" was influenced. However, what little knowledge I have of the Japanese culture, or rather Samurai culture, was represented well in my point of view. Most samurai have always been bound by honor, either to a master or themselves, as was occasionally displayed in this movie. Another thing about the Japanese culture that was shown was the reaction and treatment of someone not from Japan. An outsider, or "gaijin", would generally be met the same way Logan was by the Yashida family. Of course, that is not always the case, but it does happen. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Hiroyuki Sanada, Will Yun Lee, and Brian Tee were cast in this movie. Namely Hiroyuki, who starred in 2003's "The Last Samurai" as Ujio, and was even more enjoyable in this movie than he was in "The Last Samurai".

Now to talk about the ladies in Logan's life, the one thing that never fails to lure him into trouble and keep him there: Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, and Svetlana Khodchenkova. Something that I quickly realized as this movie went on was that, surprisingly enough, these three women, two of them models, did a better job than most "actresses" in Hollywood could ever hope to do. That is both praiseworthy and disappointed in equal measure. As "The Wolverine" played out, I found myself invested in what would happen to each of these three women, but slightly less so in the case of Svetlana's Viper, as she came off as a little stereotypical. Don't get me wrong, she was very enjoyable most of the time she was on-screen, particularly during the climax of the movie when, but everything else was too "been there, done that" for me. The moment I enjoyed the most with her was during the movie's climax where, true to her character's name, she literally shed her skin. A scene we saw in the trailer for this movie, and one that I thought was suitably and effectively creepy. Another decision for the character that I respect quite a bit was the choice to have Svetlana "loose" her hair, something that many actresses today are unwilling to do.

But, I have almost glossed over Rila Fukushima and Tao Okamoto, something I would be remiss in doing. As I've already said, both of these women are primarily Japanese models and they both did wonderfully in their respective performances. Yukio, a precognitive mutant and one of the deadliest assassins in Shingen’s clan, and Mariko, Yashida's granddaughter, karate practitioner, and skilled knife-thrower. Both women were successful in getting me invested in their respective characters within moment of seeing each. It was rather obvious what roles each woman would play pretty early on; Rila's Yukio as Logan's tough-as-nails sidekick and Tao's Mariko as Logan's new love interests, but both were great.

As for the man himself, what more can be said that hasn't been already? Hugh Jackman IS Logan/Wolverine. There is no disputing that. He is to the character of Logan what Robert Downey Jr. became for Tony Stark/Iron Man. Even though it is possible for another actor to play the tormented character one day (and that is a day I hope does not arrive ANY time soon), Jackman's shadow will always loom large over whoever accepts that role. But in "The Wolverine", Jackman is pitch perfect, delivering one of the better performances of the character.

Not only that, but he was great during the action scenes, chiefly the bullet train sequence and the one-on-one fight with Shingen Yashida. The latter being one that immediately caught my attention and caused the pulling of muscles upon first imitation. Now however... it's just so much fun. But it's not about me; it's about Jackman who, if it wasn't clear enough by now, was simply great. I enjoyed his performance so much, that I went out and bought a poster for the abundant amounts of open wall space I have. And when this movie is released on DVD, I will definitely be picking it up for myself. One of the many design choices I loved was the one to make Wolverine's claws double-edged, giving him twice the likelihood of slicing whomever gets in his way. Which he does quite a lot.

As for the "twist" that is revealed in the movie's climax, I can easily say that I didn't see it coming. I was mildly aware of who the Silver Samurai was, but after seeing it in the trailers, as well as it's reveal in the movie itself, I assumed it was something other than what it turned out to be. I still liked seeing it in action, but the "reveal" ended up leaving me with a "Oh really? You guys went that route?" taste in my mouth. Granted it was rather obvious in hindsight, but it should've been done better. As the movie's pacing should have.

All in all, "The Wolverine" was a great movie that I had an immensely fun time with. Everything from the story and performances to the visuals and score which, as you might've guessed, I've been listening to as I type. The trio of Marco Beltrami, Pete Anthony, and Belinda Broughton has done a wonderful job with the score of "The Wolverine". It is a soundtrack that I would recommend anyone pick up, be you a soundtrack aficionado, as I am, or you enjoyed this movie, as I did.

This was a review by tMG. Thank you for reading.

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