Reviews: The Wolverine
Pretty stereotypical movie
I mean, it's all there. All of it. White guy goes to asia, fixes all their problems, saves the day, gets the girl. Asians are all about honour and tradition and swords and ninjas and yakuza and stuff. I would almost call this a weeaboo film. Mash it all together with Wolverine and you have The Wolverine. Plot-wise, there's nothing of note. The villain and his motives are pretty obvious right from the get-go. The story tries to throw a curveball here or there but it doesn't really go very far. The dialogue is mostly predictable and cliche. The fight choreography has a few moments of brilliance but most of the time is crude or cheesy (seriously, the whole ninja town part had me facepalming). At least Mariko is a little more active than your average damsel in distress. It's not as bad as Origins, I think. Still, not a good showing.
If you were to ask me which was better, the first or the second Wolverine movie, I'd have a hard time answering. The former movie is undeniably bad, but it is innocuous to the point that I can easily sit through it, when it happens to be re-showing on tv for the fiftieth time. Though better crafted, and arguably a better movie over all, I don't think I could do the same with The Wolverine. I've read that The Wolverine is based on a comic series from the 80s. Looking at the way the Japanese are characterised throughout the film, that doesn't surprise me at all. It's almost like someone had brainstormed all the broadest cultural stereotypics - Ninjas, katanas, Yakuza, robot samurai, love hotels, atomic explosions, Hari Kari, words like "ronin" and "honourable" - and then endeavoured to feed them all into the script. Maybe if this movie was made in the 80s or 90s, the simplistic depictions of Japanese people and culture might have felt more natural. In 2013, it just feels unimaginative and tedious. As for the plot; The Wolverine starts well enough, with a fleshed out back story for the World-weary Logan, and an interesting relationship forged between him and an aged Japanese businessman. It quickly flies off the rails though. Characters double and then triple cross each other, allegiances are vague, motivations are uncertain, and it all becomes a bit of a mess as three generations of family vie for power and Logan sits awkwardly in the middle. By the end, I had lost the plot and could no longer figure out the circuitous scheme the movie's main villain had put in place - why the need for some spiel about protecting/killing/kidnapping a granddaughter? It has nothing to do with what Logan really wanted. My final complaint is the action scenes. There is an imaginative fight atop a bullet train, and I liked how the movie manages to makes Logan more vulnerable (invincibility always being a tension killer), but the cinematography is muddy and perpetually blurred. I know it is a tired complaint by now, but action movies really need to get their act together when it comes to choreographing a good sword fight. If you are going to take anything from the 80s or 90s, take that.
Great Wolverine Movie, Bad Everything Else
I went into the movie with intensely low expectations due to Origins: Wolverine being significantly less than perfect, to say the least. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by The Wolverine. Logan's development was great, the fight scenes are awesome, and we get some honestly badass brawls that don't involve Logan at all; Yukio's battles were just as good, if not more so, because they were less focused on superpowered mutant brawls and more about fluid combat choreography, which is always a plus in my book. Mariko, the main love interest, also gets a few whacks in, but in a movie where Yukio is present, she comes off as almost laughably ineffectual. The enemies are really unfocused in this movie, though; there's way too many people vying for way too many different things. Intrigue is great, but The Wolverine doesn't pull it off well at all. A lot of villains seem to just want to do things For The Evulz, and it really creates some sort of bizarre disconnect when it comes to trying to understand villain motivations. Chief among these is Viper, who does everything she does for... no reason. At least with the other villains there is a reason - money, power, and glory. She had no development, no reasons behind her actions, and no real purpose other than to serve as another minion to fight at the end. In fact, the villain thing leads to my greatest annoyance regarding the movie: it is upholds the Mighty Whitey trope to an almost ridiculous, near-parody level. Every Asian man in the movie (excepting one) is insanely, unrepentantly evil, engaging in deeds such as killing their own children, kidnapping, cheating, and all sorts of other nasty things. By the end of the movie, the two Japanese girls were both head over heels in love with Logan, the brave, strong "kuzuri" who saved them from the vile Japanese men. As an Asian man watching the movie, it struck me as writing that was almost laughably bad, especially when Wolverine confronted a man for cheating on his fiancÚ despite sleeping with that same girl not fifteen minutes ago. Even The Last Samurai was better than this. That being said, The Wolverine is an really good summer action flick. It has fun characters, great battles, and a good development arc for the protagonist. It's worth a watch, especially if you're a X-Men fan.
An Absolute Classic (Warning: Spoilers)
I'll admit, I wasn't negative heading in. I was fairly confident that it would make up for Origins: Wolverine (and as such be better than X-Men 3: The Last Stand as well). However, I was still pleasantly surprised. This movie surpasses even the 1st two X-Men movies- which is in no way an easy feat. Unlike his last solo outing, Wolverine truly takes center stage. Indeed, as was promised, the movie doesn't waste time with dozens of cameos and instead it's purpose is to give a truly satisfying and in-depth view of his character. Like the original miniseries it was based on, the movie focuses on the dualism between man and beast of the character. And instead of the tired and worn 'he's still human' trope, the movie doesn't give a true answer on which side Logan leans more towards. It's main message is that no matter which he is, his heart is pure. There's a multitude of interesting side characters. Yukio and Mariko share the role of Deuteragonist. Mariko is the main love interest and fits her role perfectly. But, audiences are more likely to be drawn to Yukio. She's the perfect little spitfire and adds to the atmosphere each time she's on screen. Add the fact that she's a true Action Girl and has the proper emotional range and we have a brilliant character who needs to appear again. Her chemistry with Logan is also great, leading to a rather obvious Fan Preferred Couple. The villains, while not very memorable, are still written well and their actions are investing. Perhaps the best part of the film is the intrigue and mystery behind the shifting alliances. Viewers are left asking throughout just who is the real Big Bad. Speaking of our main villain, while they aren't sympathetic, we can see the motivations for their actions, saving him from doing crimes For The Evulz. As would be expected the action is top-notch. In fact, part of what makes it so great is that there's no explosions, lasers, or truly over-the-top powers. It's just good martial arts and sword-fighting. Bryan Singer's two franchise openers were amazing, Oscar-worthy films. Yet even they meet their superior here. With out a doubt this is the best film yet in the X-Men franchise, and one of the greatest of all time. 10/10. A must-see.
Absolutely phenomenal (SPOILERS)
Does The Wolverine succeed at being a good Wolverine movie? Answer: It. fucking. does. The Wolverine is a solo movie in the truest sense: It explores the character of Wolverine itself, showing him as both an animal (The start of the movie compares him to a grizzly bear, as an animal who hides in the woods and hunts his food, both are hunted, and multiple characters later on make reference to his animalistic traits) and as a masterless samurai without purpose, uncapable to commit Harakiri (many times the movie calls him a Ronin), exploring his guilt, death wish and thrist for blood and how does that mesh with his sense of heroism. Should the Ronin live or die? Is there anything in his life besides suffering and blood? The result is a insightful look into Wolverine (like the comics arc), humanized (literaly), shown as a fallible Death Seeker on a journey that might lead to his honorable death or his redemption. Across this journey, we meet a tiny, adorable, Badass, almost Ensemble Darkhorse girl: Yukio, with some of the best lines, chemistry with Wolverine and is so damn AWESOME you wish for a spin off. Best character Wolverine aside. The movie does a commendable effort at trying to Mariko, our Love Interest, a deep character besides Damsel In Distress, and while it doesn't fully succeed (I didnt think Mariko was interesting in the comics either), she becomes her own entity and a good enough pair for Logan. As for the villains, that is a point of criticism: Too many villains, too many plans, and nothing is properly explained. You get lost amidst the Big Bad Ensemble and their plans. Our most promoted villain, Shingen, is competent but lacks in screentime/characterization And dies Midway through, Harada is a Flat Character, Viper has more screen time and competency, but I didn't find her interesting enough to carry the movie. Ichiro Yashida/Silver Samurai, however, is a excellent villain, if lacking in screen-time, re-watching with him in mind will enhance the experience. No Lokis here, sadly. But that doesn't detract from the excellent writing and superb action that accompany us on this journey inside the mind of the Wolverine. 9/10. PS (1): The post credits scene blew minds. PS (2): I want a Yukio solo movie, btw. More Yukio in general.