Good news and bad news here: Bad news is that MIDWEST MO will seem a bit punchier than normal for his Monday installment of AROUND THE WEB because he will be waking up tomorrow morning to a pesky movie review once again invading our sacred television blog. Good news is that there are no other movies being released that I am anywhere near interested in for at least three weeks minus ELYSIUM where theater viewing would be purely circumstantial based on significant boredom. KICK ASS 2? Now there’s a priority. So if another movie related post worms its way in here in the next week or two, it would be for no other reason than to purposely raise MIDWEST MO’s blood pressure by a notch or two. Considering his current dietary habits, this could very well be detrimental to his health. I’ve been trying to explain to him that pizza sauce does not count as daily vegetable intake and when the doctor tells you to eat more whole grains, liquid hops is not on the list. Nor is any grain with the word “distilled” in front of it. So far my words have fallen on deaf (and mildly intoxicated) ears.
Without further ado,
THE WOLVERINE was a totally enjoyable and mildly surprising entry to the XMEN and WOLVERINE franchises, lofting itself lightyears ahead of the previous solo Wolverine pic and seriously showcasing HUGH JACKMAN’S acting chops in a character that could have easily continued its one-dimensional nature.
I could not help but jokingly draw parallels to the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES trilogy for some random nostalgic reason, and how more than several franchises (Batman, GI Joe to name a couple) go through the “when all else fails go to Asia” phase. I was afraid that the change in setting (completely aside from the fan favorite comic source material) would take away from the central character too much, but it never got overbearing to the point of being distracting and actually flowed quite well.
Here’s where one of the most common gripes rears its ugly head: Being that the entire movie is set in Japan, no other famous mutants are featured prominently in the movie. While this point is true, bear in mind that THE WOLVERINE is meant to be a character study on Jackman’s portrayal of Logan much more than it is another random/mindless superhero flick. Quite frankly, the absence of other big names treated the film better. I would have liked to see a flashback or two of LIEV SCHREIBER’S Sabertooth, though…
The gist of the plot: Wolverine is humanized significantly when many of his powers are taken away from him and he is forced to legitimately cope with mortality for the first time. In doing so, he saves a couple of Japanese ladies from imminent doom and rediscovers himself in the process.
***Possible Spoiler*** I’m not sure how fond I was of the ‘power stealing’ mechanism and thought it was the weakest point of the film. While it’s explained slightly, it’s never quite explored satisfactorily. The first time his bullet wound refuses to heal itself was a bit confusing out of the sheer randomness of it all.
For the sake of journalistic integrity, I feel obligated to find some kind of fault in shows and movies regardless of how great they are, so I might be reaching a tad there. Other reviewers complain of the cheesy third act which I had no problem with other than the lack of a more effective lead up to the ‘major’ villain.
Aside from the minor stuff, this film was stolen by HUGH JACKMAN every step of the way. He showed a side of the character largely unexplored from the rest of the series, wrecked by guilt from Jean Grey’s death in XMEN 3 and vulnerable through his newfound humanity. It was also a bit more violent and than the other movies. I was pretty excited to see *gasp* blood (!) on Wolverine’s claws after some of the fights. The action was as good as would be expected, with the bullet train scene being pretty awesome and the choreography being on point with the martial arts-iness focus of the plot.
By the way, don’t miss the mid-credits scene which perfectly sets the stage for the upcoming XMEN film that comes out next May.
A- overall. If nothing else, THE WOLVERINE proves that there are still more stories to tell and that HUGH JACKMAN is not running out of steam by a longshot.