Monday, July 29, 2013

Spoiler Free Diet: The Wolverine

Love this poster.
Did you hold off on seeing The Wolverine this weekend? Too afraid of another X-Men: The Last Stand or Wolverine Origins? Read below to find out if you made the right choice or not.

Oh, hi. You got here pretty quick. Hold on, a little bit farther down.

Ha. My thoughts on The Wolverine were surprisingly positive, but let's give a rundown of my thoughts going in and then what I liked and disliked.

---X-Men in films--- (This is a pseudo rant, skip to the next session for Wolverine specifics)

In general, I am disappointed with the X-Men movies. It feels as if they don't have a single person working on the movies who has even picked up an X-Men comic book, they just tried to get the gist of it from Wikipedia.

That doesn't work.

And it doesn't really work that the movies really focused on Wolverine, because that just gets confusing: Origins-->X-Men-->X2-->Last Stand-->The Wolverine is the actual series order for Wolverine's story. First Class... well, he makes a cameo, I guess.

It has led to senseless character changes that really hurt the series as a long-running entity. Maybe they didn't expect it to do so well and wanted to hit the big names that would draw people in. Maybe they were just confused. Maybe they Sony needs to release them back to Marvel...

Aside from going so far off the comic book path, X-Men: The Last Stand wasn't good. And it felt like the writers were trying to write off the series. And then we got Wolverine: Origins. The movie suffered from the same off-comic book script that would have been MUCH better if they tried to stick a bit closer, but only really got bad when the writing got lazy. Really, Striker KNEW that two adamantium bullets to Wolverine's head would give him amnesia and WOULDN'T be fixed by his healing factor? Nonsense. A machine to wipe minds, which was mentioned, would have been acceptable, especially since the comics have so many explanations (and the real one wouldn't fit the movies), but this lazy writing actively killed the movie for me.

Enter First Class, and no one even knows if this is a reboot, a re-telling, or an honest-to-goodness prequel! Well, it looks like a prequel in the end, as long as you don't mind them slapping the timeline of THEIR OWN MOVIES across the face. This could possibly be rectified in Days of Future Past, but it shouldn't have been needed.

---Ok, I'll actually talk about the movie now---

The Wolverine directly follows Last Stand, with references to Origins (though I didn't see any to First Class, not that that's important). So you should see the original trilogy before going to see the Wolverine if you want to know what the deal is with one of the characters in the movie (ooh, spoiler-free makes this sound more interesting than it was).

The Good: The character of Wolverine was done well. They've had four movies to work on it, and this is the first one that I feel they hit the important elements of the character, from his inability to remain a pacifist to his desire to protect younger/smaller female figures (well documented in the comics).
Mariko and Wolverine.

The movie doesn't follow a comic run per se, but it also doesn't step on any toes and does tie in characters in a relatively appropriate fashion. This is easily the least damaging movie to the comic storyline.

There weren't quite as many fight scenes as I had expected and there were a few missed opportunities, but I enjoyed those that were in the film and really enjoyed one sword fight in general.

The supporting cast plays their roles well enough. Again, the character roster is actually pretty small considering the comic book Japanese history Logan has, but this made for an easier to control movie where we know who was important/interesting
Yukio and Hobo-Wolverine.

The 3D for this movie was actually really beautiful. I normally don't care for 3D, especially since it is a gimmick that feels more appropriate in a Michael Bay film, but it wasn't used for overt action sequences in The Wolverine, it actually just gave a nice field of depth to the whole movie. I loved the opening pan done with the 3D technology and this is the first movie I honestly suggest spending the extra cash when you see it. The Wife, who hates 3D, agrees with me on this one.

There is an appropriate after-the-credits scene, which is something Sony usually sucks at.

The Bad: There aren't really any surprising moments. This means the plot is easy to follow, but the attempted plot twist is very weak.

The ending doesn't go in any direction I wanted it to. It has promise for the future, but I sincerely doubt it will get much focus in later movies, which is unfortunate.

Wolverine has a much larger history with Japan in the comics. As far as I can tell from this movie, this is no longer the case. What we have was done well, but it is an example of missed potential.

I really disliked one of the villains they chose. I don't think they are mentioned anywhere so, to remain spoiler free, I'll just say that I felt they looked stupid and had zero interesting points. In fact, they could have easily been removed from the film and it actively would have been better with all of their scenes removed. They have one gimmick that got them in the film, and it could have been replaced VERY simply.

It could have been shorter. Some scenes dragged on and others could have been removed entirely.

The Verdict: This is a strong entry into the Wolverine storyline. One of the strongest, honestly, because the focus is clear and doesn't stay from the title character, who goes through several changes throughout. It was a good comic book movie in the sense that it doesn't outright ruin any comic stories for future films and it still remained in the realm of plausibility. The writing was better than Origins, though there were a few points I'll contend with if I am motivated to do a Spoiler-Full review.

As it stands, any comic book fan should see this movie. Anyone who remotely liked the X-Men films should see this movie. Fans of Hugh Jackman will enjoy this movie. Fans of over-the-top action films... will find it a bit slow.

My arbitrary rating would be a 7/10.


  1. I agree with most of your points. Definitely helped that it was way more focused and didn't blatantly fuck with comic continuity for the most part. I thought the post credits scene was way, way more exciting than a lot of the other ones. Mmmmmmf. Can't wait for Days of Future Past. As for that movie rectifying things, Bryan Singer has said pretty much that he wants to fix what was wrong with X-Men 3. My prediction based on this movie - the Phoenix Force entered Wolverine at the end of X 3, and she is in his mind, to be resurrected in Days of Future past.

    1. Woof. That's a predication, damn. That might be going the way of X-Men 3, though, with taking the comic stories and stomping on 'em. Not saying it can't be done well, I just don't much trust the creative team.

      That being said, the run of Days of Future Past follows Kitty Pryde, with her "future" self trading places with her "past" self psychically. Wolverine is an important part of the run, so I'm sure the movie will focus on him instead.

      I'm not sure HOW they'll work in the rest of the intended cast, but the comic doesn't actually have any physical time travel, which I feel they'll choose to go with.

      Plot concerns aside, I'm just pumped to see some Sentinels in action!