Director: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima and Tao Okamoto
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
The Wolverine is a film that starts strongly and ends stupidly. It goes from Nagasaki and discussions on death to giant robots and poisonous breath. There is much to admire The Wolverine for in regards to its Japanese setting and darker tone, yet unfortunately an incredibly silly villain and third act slightly undermine the more serious film that had preceded it. The film starts with the atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki, showing Japanese soldiers committing suicide as the sirens blare in the background. It is an incredibly dark and brave opening for a film of this sort and one of the better openings of the year. As the film develops it is easy to see why Aronofsky was attracted to and originally attached to this material. Like Aronofsky’s best work, this film is at times, and is at its best when it’s being, a character driven body horror. However the knowledge that Aronofsky was attached occasionally undermines the film’s darker and better movements.
While the film is much darker than any other superhero film or even film this summer, one cannot help but think how much more darker it would have been in Aronofsky’s hands. Even in the film’s finest scenes, you can tell and see where it has been toned down to achieve a slightly more universal age rating, cheapening and weakening these moments and taking you out of the film. It is ironic, as it is really only the age rating of this film, which seems tailored for a younger audience. The film itself is rather slow, heavy and definitely not for young kids who will likely be bored and/or disturbed. This is, for the first two acts anyway, a much more adult film. It is at times rather frustrating, that the film has been toned down in regards to its violence so that an audience who won’t appreciate the film as much are legally allowed to see it in the cinema.
However this is not to say that the film doesn’t have its action packed moments. A fight scene on top of a bullet train is one of the more exciting and memorable set pieces of the summer. The film is very solidly directed by Mangold, who handles the action well and manages to explore Japan cinematically in a rather unique manner. In regards to the performances, there is one clear star of the show here. Hugh Jackman is playing Wolverine for the sixth time in this film and watching this you truly realize how he IS Wolverine. There is perhaps no other actor who has inhabited and become a character as comprehensively as Hugh Jackman has with Wolverine. He is an incredibly dedicated actor whose passion for the project and character is evident throughout. He carries the film and demonstrates why he is a star. Rila Fukushima gives a solid performance as the mysterious Yukio, making her big screen debut, she is arguably the breakout star of the film.
However where The Wolverine lets itself down is in a screenplay that perhaps loses its nerve and brains. There is an incredibly weak love story between Logan and Mariko (Played by Tao Okamoto), which does not work at all, as well as a corporate conspiracy aspect of the story, which did not compel me at all and felt incredibly mundane. Most crushingly though, is a villain named Viper (Played by Svetlana Khodchenkova) who was incredibly silly and incredibly poorly written and acted. She felt like something out of a Joel Schumacher film and at odds with the tone of the rest of the piece. When it reaches its final set piece there are some revelations and moments, which took me out of the film due to their stupidity. The more I think about it, the more stupid and damaging that third act becomes.
However despite silly villains, a poor love story, a boring corporate conspiracy subplot and a ridiculous third act, The Wolverine is a film to be admired. For the most part it is quite dark and quite foreign (Although fortunately many Japanese characters will have private conversations with each other in English…can’t have general audiences reading too many subtitles now can we?) It manages to explore dark and heavy material without becoming depressing or portentous, has one of the better set pieces of the summer and for the most part is a unique outlier in this summer’s blockbuster fare.
As a final note, this film has a mid credits scene that unlike most is an actual legitimate scene and deliciously hints towards the next X-Men film, Days of Future Past. With X-Men: First Class and now The Wolverine, the X-Men franchise is firmly back on track and has redeemed itself for the Last Stand and X-Men: Origins. Now the healing process is over, next year’s Days of Future Past will hopefully return us to some true X-Men action.
Movie Parliament Rating: MINORITY GOVERNMENT (What does this mean?)
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister, Michael Dalton
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