Jun 2, 2014

[Movies] The Wolverine (2013)

Fox's continued hold on the X-Men movie franchise has had more than it's fair share of ups and downs. We all sort of cheered when the first movie came out, since it was a great demonstration of what more modern movie making was capable of bringing to life. And then we've sort of cringed on and off as Fox has tried to expand this slice of the movie empire into a number of sequels and spin off movies that just demonstrate how determined they are to make as much money as possible.

Initially the X-Men Origins line of movies was meant to be just that - a series of spin offs that would explore the beginnings of several X-Men characters. But things didn't go quite as well with the first movie about Wolverine and so it looks like the rest of the movies were never commissioned. And yet a sequel to that first origins movie was created, and thus we have The Wolverine, which is another movie that looks into Wolverine's history.

Look, I get it - Wolverine is a very popular character. I never quite got his appeal even when the X-Men were just confined to the comic books, but I bow down to the fact that a lot of folks like him. But the fact that Fox continues to focus on him and him alone as pretty much their most bankable character is getting really tiring. And it's not like this particular movie was all that good either.

Synopsis: The Woleverine is a 2013 superhero movie directed by James Mangold with a screenplay by
Mark Bomback and Scot Frank. The movie takes place some time after X-Men: The Last Stand.

Because it's a Wolverine story, we first start with a flashback. This time around it's 1945 and Logan (Hugh Jackman) is a POW in a Japanese camp in Nagasaki. Just as the atomic bomb is dropped, he manages to save the life a Japanese officer named Yashida with the two of them hiding in some well and Wolverine shielding him from the worst of the effects with his body. Somehow his healing factor manages to keep him alive and perhaps absorb all ambient radiation in the area?

Back in the present, Logan has been hiding from the world given he's still struggling with the fact that he killed Jean during the events of The Last Stand. He is approached by a mutant named Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who has precognitive abilities. She has been sent by Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), who is now the head of a large corporation. He is dying of cancer and hopes to offer Logan the one thing he has always wanted - death. By taking Wolverine's healing factor into himself, he'd make Logan mortal and heal himself of his cancer.

As if The Last Stand wasn't enough to teach us that stories centered around taking away the powers of our mutant heroes are annoying, this story jumps right back into that premise of pushes things to the limits. To be fair, Wolverine didn't lose his powers in the main X-Men movies, so this is not quite a story that has been covered before. However let's agree on one thing - we like superhero movies when they can fight and demonstrate the limits of their abilities. It sucks when they just struggle to keep up since they're back to being human.

The story has a lot of family drama centered around the Yashida clan including all the usual audience confusion over who is really good and who is bad in this family. It doesn't help that Yashida himself is practically some CGI puppet stuck on the most uncomfortable hospital bed ever conceived. But despite all the drama, it's not quite drama that you want to care about.

The movie certainly made sure to provide a lot of gratuitous shirtless scenes for Hugh Jackman, including a ridiculous bath sequence that didn't need to be there, but of course was there. And you have ninja-like bodyguards who are painfully obvious in their movements and a weird scientist lady with snake powers. Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) was based on an existing Marvel character, but was twisted in a horrible way. She is merely a token villain though.

The whole point of this movie was to bring in the Silver Samurai as the main villain of the movie and the inevitable big beat down between him and Wolverine. The actual end result was...less than to be desired however and terribly CGI-dependent. Silver Samurai was quite the complex character in his own right in the comic books, but what they had here was just...crazy.

I watched this movie just to be done with it, and I'm glad that I didn't pay theater prices to do so. It's a crazy movie that feels like a weird shadow of what the actual Marvel Universe is like in terms of the comic books and a sub-line of the movie franchise that I hope they abandon.

The Wolverine wasn't that much better than the first Origins movie, but still was terribly unsatisfying. The only real purpose of watching it is probably for the post-credits scene that somehow links to Days of Future Past, but even that connection is a little weak. Thus the movie only really gets 2 horribly inefficient samurai and ninja type characters out of a possible 5.

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