The Wolverine movie review
We have had a lot of superhero movies in the past several years. They are a popular genre right now, raking in millions of dollars. One of the earliest successful superhero movies was X-men back in 2000. It was a financial and critical success that went on to get 2 sequels and 2 spinoffs revolving around one of the best things of the franchise: Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. We have here his second spinoff movie, that treads new territory and gives a familiar breath of fresh air, to deliver one of the best superhero movies out right now.
The story starts off with a flashback to a time in Logan's (Wolverine) past, where he saves a Japanese general from death. Then we flash forward to the present, where we find Logan out all alone, cut off from the world in a small mountain town. A young Japanese girl named Yukio, finds Logan and requests he accompany her back to Japan. Yuriko's adoptive father turns out to be the man he saved all those years ago, named Yashida. Yashida is dying from old age, and as a gift to Logan, for saving him long ago, he offers to end Logan's suffering and end his eternity. Logan refuses, yet a woman named Viper takes his powers anyway. Now, without his regeneration powers, he is caught inbetween a power struggle between the Yakuza crime mob, the black ninja clan, and Yashida's family; including his grand-daughter: Mariko. Logan must protect Mariko from those who would harm her, and find a way to get his powers back, and make all those that attack him pay for it.
The major strength of this movie is Jackman as Wolverine. With the exception as RDJ as Tony Stark, Hugh Jackman is one of the best characterizations of a comic character in film. Jackman IS Logan in these X-men movies, he naturally fits as the character, in ferocity, seriousness and sense of humor. He even looks like him almost spot on. It helps that the overall movie is great, but Jackman is a fantastic leading man. He carries the role with such weight and depth, it is an overall knock-out performance. His scenes involving his murder of Jean Grey to save the world in X-men 3 still haunts him to this day, and this struggle is something he deals with through the whole movie, even as his romance with Mariko progresses. I can't brag on him enough. He nailed the role.
The supporting cast is also pretty good, especially considering the rest of the cast is filled with actors who are not too commonly known. Yuriko is a great supportive character, filled with depth, personality and likability. She has her troubled past, and has a power that doesn't help her out at all. But she is an awesome character. Mariko is also a great love interest as well. She is strong-willed, can fight on her own and is very likable as well. Her romance with Logan is believable, and she was such a great character, it was easy to root for her, and worry for her safety in the film's climax.
The movie has you believe for a majority of its running time that the main villain is Viper. Granted, she did suppress Logan's regeneration, and she leads the black ninja clan. Until the film's plot twists though, it is hard to believe she has this much power or control. She is a weak villain compared to other Marvel villains, especially when the spotlight is on her. However, and I only say this because the commercial spoils it, there is another villain. This a better villain, but not too strong or anything. Since it was introduced so late into the film, not much hype could be built, nor depth. But, it is a good villain.
The rest of the supporting cast is good. Mariko's father was a troubled character. There was an archer with ties to Mariko who, while confusing at first about his allegiance, turns out to be a good character.
The scenery is just fantastic and very immersive. It is filmed in Tokyo, and you are completely sucked in to the culture and locations. Seeing the Japanese culture and atmosphere like this was a wonderful change of pace for these movies. Even Pacific Rim didn't come close to capturing the essence of the environment. It's great fun, and honestly, I felt relaxed at some scenes. Some areas that were shot, like where Mariko and Logan go to hide, were just beautiful. It is a wonderful setting for this unique movie.
The story is also pretty good. Iron Man 3 may have tackled a hero losing a lot and having to grow past it, but The Wolverine keeps its strong characterization and struggles that Logan faces at the perfect pace, and unlike Tony, he actually learns something and grows in a believable way. Logan's journey through this movie is great, seeing his internal struggles with living for so long and having killed Jean are powerful, not to mention not having his regeneration and being put in a very challenging position. The Viper may have been a weak villain, but the other villain picks up the slack and presents us with a believable threat. I wish the twist of its character was revealed earlier in the film so we got more depth and plot development from it, but for what it is, it was good. It was a great story, that follows its comic roots very well. It is inspired by a popular Wolverine story from years ago. It is not verbatim, but it is close enough to be respectful and fresh. It's the perfect balance.
Overall, we have another great superhero movie. Hugh Jackman leads a strong cast, as another powerful performance as Logan. The story is great and the setting is just wonderful. The movie also has great action scenes, with a tense final fight that was quite shocking. I was pleasantly surprised by The Wolverine and I plan on seeing it many more times.
P.s. There is a scene in the middle of the credits that sets up the next X-men movie. Make sure you stay and watch it, because it is awesome and sets up big things.
I give The Wolverine a ferocious 4.5 out of 5
Eat your arc reactor out Iron Man 3.