The Wolverine Review
by Nick Casaletto
Big-budget superhero movies are being thrown at us movie-goers in droves. It has become a genre of its own, one that I, as a “comic book nerd,” truly love. In 2000 the comic book movie world was changed forever. Bryan Singers X-Men blew audiences out of the water, giving us a great story, a superb cast, action sequences like we had never seen, and a metal-clawed protagonist to root for. We saw our greatest heroes come to life on the big screen, and it was the start of a new era of film. Since then, we have had our fair share of ups and downs in the X-Men universe — some truly great comic book films (X-2, X Men: First Class) and some that we as fans just want to forget entirely (The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). The latest attempt to capture our favorite cigar-smoking hero is James Mangold’s The Wolverine.
I feel it is safe to say that we were all pretty skeptical going into this new installment. The most previous standalone film was a slap in the face to fans; it was downright awful. Well, I can honestly say that I was thoroughly impressed with this film. Hugh Jackman is back and, in my opinion, better than ever. He is ripped out of his mind, cussing every chance he gets, getting blood on his claws as well as still having a heart of gold. The PG-13 rating is really pushed to the limits in this one. When Jackman unleashes those Adamantium claws of fury, there is no holding back. I finally got to see the Wolverine movie I longed for all of these years.
As far as story lines go, this one is decent and grounded enough to capture even non-comic book fans. Wolverine, or Logan, as he usually goes by, saved a Japanese soldier’s life during the bombing at Nagasaki. Decades later, that man he saved is on his death bed, looking to repay Logan for his help all those years ago. What we get after that is a well-grounded character study that happens to feature Wolverine. He teams up with the sword-slinging Yukio (Rila Fukushima) to protect the granddaughter of the powerful man he once saved. Any more plot points from this point on would be considered a spoiler, so I will tread lightly.
Now, when I say the action in this film is great, I truly mean that. You have the obligatory over-the-top action set pieces, with explosions galore. However, the ones that truly caught my eye were the ones when Wolverine was facing off one-on-one with another person. It felt like a Kung-Fu movie at times, with the Japanese backdrop and all. The set pieces were real, and it did not feel like a green screen takeover, which I appreciated. There is a scene on top of a bullet train which is truly breathtaking to watch, as well as a one-on-one battle which truly shows off Logan’s healing ability.
The dialogue was exactly what I was looking for in a Wolverine standalone feature. He really uses that fowl mouth every chance he gets, even throwing in a PG-13 F-bomb, which really got the audience going. However, the film is not without its flaws. The main villain, “Viper”, was a little too over-the-top and brought me out of this grounded-in-reality story. The third act gets a little messy, yet it is still engaging enough to keep audiences entertained without rolling their eyes. Some of the CGI was a little too noticeable and the acting of some of the Japanese actors was quite amateur. These, however, are just minor gripes in a great character-centered story.
I truly enjoyed The Wolverine in all of its action-packed glory. It may drag a little at times for story purposes, yet when the action is there it is truly a marvel to watch. Jackman is in top form and he embodies everything about this beloved character. It is nice to see a “superhero” movie without a ton of big-budget special effects and cities being destroyed by aliens for a change. This story was focused, grounded, well told and a lot of fun. Also, there is a mid-credits scene that brought the fan boy inside of me out and jumping for joy. It shows a taste of what is to come in the next installment of this franchise. We are nearing the end of the summer blockbuster season, and we have had some very controversial superhero films that have taken fan boys by storm. This one, I feel, will satisfy the majority of the nerd population, which is highly uncommon today. Go enjoy the movie, Bub, you will be happy you did.
Final Grade: B+