Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Wolverine review

The Wolverine has had a rough trip to the big screen.  The film is a s. I meauel to the terrible,entirr  Origins: Wolverine.  That film stunk up theaters everywhere in 2009.  Darren Aronofsky eventually signed on to direct the sequel, which is set in Japan.  The story comes from an incredibly popular Frank Miller graphic novel.  When realizing how long he'd be away from his family to film on location in Japan, Aronofsky left the project.  James Mangold came in to save the day, and direct star, Hugh Jackman, in his sixth film as the clawed anti-hero.  Lots to talk about, let's go!

What I liked about the film:
Hugh Jackman
At this point, Hugh Jackman is the Christopher Reeve of our generation.  Reeve WAS Superman to an entire generation.  And it would be seriously difficult to picture anyone but the Australian actor, playing the character of Logan, aka Wolverine.  His ridiculous physique, his voice, his beard; all comply such a great example of 'perfect casting'.  In this film, Jackman gets to REALLY show off his acting chops.  There are several scenes, with no dialogue, that Jackman is able to carry on his own.  The character has been through hell, and as an audience, we've taken this ride with him.  Wolverine has been though so much, the movie asks, 'is it too late for him to find peace'?  Only Jackman could bring brute strength, and pure emotion to a character he undoubtedly knows very well.

The Character Development
Adding on to my comments above, about Jackman; the character has an arc in this film.  Imagine that!  Where 'Origins' failed was really flushing out the main characters.  Instead, they teased the complicated relationship between Wolverine and his brother, only to leave us unsatisfied in the end.  The Wolverine doesn't do that; the character is a different man at the end of the film, than he was at the beginning, and that's really interesting to watch.

The Bullet Train Scene
The action wasn't my favorite aspect of the film, but there is one scene that stands out.  Wolverine is ambushed my some goons, aboard a speeding bullet train.  The fight starts inside and inevitably moves to the roof of the train.  The scene moves so fast, we barely have a chance to catch our breath.  But it's not done in such a way that you lose track of the action.  Director James Mangold and his team choreographed the fighting perfectly.  It is very reminiscent of the fight atop a train in Spider-Man 2.  As I mentioned, I liked this scene, but overall the action isn't that great.  Maybe it's because you're limited to hand-to-hand combat with this character and his powers, but there weren't many interesting action set pieces throughout the film.

The Score
Two-time Oscar nominated composer, Marco Beltrami, brings us a great soundtrack.  The music is aware of the films settings in Japan, and does a nice job of fusing the two worlds (East & West), together.  The action had almost a mechanical sound to it.  And without giving anything away, the climax definitely demanded that type of sound.  Great stuff.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Pacing (1st & 2nd Act)
The first act is not as bad as the second; but both move so incredibly slow.  Some of this was necessary to peak into the various characters' motivations, but most of it wasn't.  And speaking of motivations, they're outright ridiculous.  For Wolverine to go to Japan with a complete stranger, is so unlike the character, and completely illogical.  And once we're in Japan, there is so much setup, it had me bored.  I will say, this may be because I know the story from the comic books, and didn't need all the exposition offered to the audience.  Either way, it's a film that is just too long, and too slow.  I would have cut 30-40 minutes from this film to keep it going at a swift pace.

The Lack of Mutants (Damned if you do, Damned if you don't)
I guess it could be argued that 'Origins' had too many mutants, and didn't utilize any of them all that well.  This is a big problem for most comic book films.  They throw too many characters into the story, and none of them are developed correctly.  But there are seriously 4 mutants in the entire film (Wolverine being one of them).  Famke Janssen as Jean Grey is the second; and I'll get to that in a moment.  Rila Fukushima plays a very cool ninja-esque character, Yukio.  She befriends Wolverine and convinces him to go to Japan.  Not only is she good with a sword, but she can predict the future as well.  Last but not least, is Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper.  In my opinion, she was one of the worst villains we've seen in the X-Men universe.  And I understand that this is the Wolverine character's franchise; but let us not forget where he originated from.  He is a part of the X-Men universe damn it.  And there is no way there should only be 4 mutants, in any film, taking place in the X-Men universe.  Period.

The Creepy Jean Grey Scenes
As I mentioned above, Famke Janssen reprises her role as Jean Grey, in a series of dream sequences.  I'm going to keep this short and sweet.  Whatever effect Mangold was shooting for with the dream sequences, didn't work.  They were creepy, and totally redundant.  And it threw off the pacing of the film.  It's almost too much, in your face, storytelling.  How many times are we going to see Wolverine wake up, in a cold sweat, claws out, ready to fight, only to realize it was just a dream?  Stupid.

There is Absolutely NO Chemistry Between the Leads
This was a HUGE pet peeve of mine.  Tao Okamoto is horrible in this film.  The film's story is basically centered around her character, Mariko.  Okamoto and Jackman spend a fair amount of time together in the film.  And they're interactions are awkward and cringe worthy.  This is Okamoto's first film (according to her IMDB page), and it totally showed.  I was honestly withdrawn from the film because of her acting; and totally gave up my suspension of disbelieve.

The Verdict:
It Caters to a Comic Book Crowd
For me, the film was entertaining, but only in short spurts.  I loved the character development and just one of the action scenes.  Overall, the movie was boring.  I'm sorry, I hate to say that, but it's true.  It catered more to the comic book crowd that knows and loves the Frank Miller story.  But I left dissatisfied.  I saw the mostly positive reviews online, and I guess I get it.  The critics love character driven stories, as do I.  But I walked into the theater expecting an X-Men, action packed movie WITH character development.  I didn't know I had to choose one.  Either way, this is definitely a step up from the previous Wolverine film.  And make sure you stay until after the credits for a scene that will bridge the X-Men, Wolverine, and X-Men: First Class movie franchises.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good review Tony. It was a fun movie, but one that also had a grounded, emotional story that worked.