The big guy is back, the angry Edward Scissorhands with nasty sideburns is slashing his way back into cinemas this Thursday and I got to attend the first 3D screening in the country on Friday night. I was sceptical, while I love the Wolverine in the X-Men films his last solo outing X-Men Origins: Wolverine was ok but pretty lame when compared to all the other hero films of the moment and to be honest, this one is just as good as the last one, pretty mediocre and generally disappointing. Why? the film is made well, the acting is admirable, the special effects are top notch, the production values are amazing, it’s in 3D, then why? The film just has no spark, it is good but nowhere near great, everything has been done before and the story is just lame – with so many things that just pissed me off.
Sometime after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, while Logan is hiding in denial and living off the land as a hobo without care he is found by a young whacky warrior girl with killer moves and flouro hair. She talks Logan into travelling to Japan to see a very old man Logan saved during WW2 – this man is dying and wants to say goodbye properly. Here he engages an enemy in a struggle that has lasting consequences. Stripped of his immortality, Wolverine must battle deadly samurai as well as his inner demons. According to director, James Mangold, this film is influenced by the Japanese samurai films 13 Assassins and Hiroshi Inagaki’s Musashi Miyamoto Samurai trilogy; the Westerns Shaneand The Outlaw Josey Wales; the crime films The French Connection and Chinatown; and the dramas Black Narcissus, Floating Weeds, Chungking Express and Happy Together. It is in fact created from a series of X-Men stories from the 80s – the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Marvel miniseries from the 1980s dealing with the character’s adventures in Japan as he fights ninjas in the ceremonial garb of the samurai. However the only time he wears the ceremonial garb in this film is following some horizontal action.
What I loved about this film;
1) The action, when it happens it is good, however most of the Wolverine action has been seen before but the one fight he has with the samurai and ninjas is pretty impressive, I also loved the scene that takes place on a train, pretty much the only scene in the film that makes the 3D worthwhile.
2) I also loved that it was a story set in another culture, as impressive as it was utlising most of the setting in Japan, in fact most of the scenes are filmed in Sydney, you will notice King Street Wharf area, the Chinese gardens and some areas around Surry Hills.
3) The special effects, all top notch and flawless.
4) The medical bed – I was spellbound by it – it was weird I just could not take my eyes off it, I want one!! Apple please start work on the iBed.
5) But the standout for me, was a person, I honestly believed that the little pocket rocket fighting machine with purple hair, Yukio, played by Rila Fukushima was the best part of the film. She was so unique and her scenes were just incredible, her fighting style mesmerising and her character just mysterious – I would have preferred to have seen a Yukio film. I did not like how she was a second tier back shelf character, I did not understand Logan’s love interest and thought him and Yukio would have been a better match or is Logan attracted to frail things that he can defend and fight for, or that are taken already haha?
6) One final piece of amazement of the film, Hugh Jackman shirtless, I mean seriously that is a body from the gods that ladies, straight men and gay men would all appreciate – the effort Jackman put into getting that physique is incredible, it is the only time he thought his body shape has been right for playing the character, he had a good amount of time to train for this one and followed a set out training schedule from Dwayne Johnson and for the shirtless shots he dehydrated himself for 36hrs before each scene – i.e. no liquid for 36hrs so as to harden the muscles. He said he felt dizzy and lethargic, but hell yeah, at least he looked ripped – the scene where he gets his powers back his muscles in 3D literally smash out of the screen, he looked big before but now he was ripped.
Now what I did not like;
1) The fact that Jean Grey kept turning up as an imagination dream that spoke logic to him in multiple scenes, it actually drove me mad.
2) Hugh Jackman is a self-confessed fan of the Chris Claremont-Frank Miller “Wolverine” comic (1982), especially the Japanese saga: “There are so many areas of that Japanese story. I love the idea of this kind of anarchic character, the outsider, being in this world full of honour and tradition and customs; someone who’s really anti-all of that, and trying to negotiate his own way. The idea of the samurai too, and the tradition there – it’s really great. In the comic book he gets his ass kicked by a couple of samurai – not even mutants.” So based on this comment from Jackman he is drawn to this world of honour and tradition – the problem here is that this film literally slaps the word of Japanese honour in the face, the Japanese are made out as honourless corrupt people who only care for themselves. Two Japanese ladies were the only two people with honour in this film, this bothered me and I felt it ruined a story that was flawed on one of its main themes.
3) I could not stand the character of Viper, played by Svetlana Khodchenkova, she was a large and beautiful woman, and occasionally looked like a drag queen the way she was done up to be the Russianesque lizard lady. I also thought her green leather costumes were reminiscent of the bad Batman costumes that were just tacky and over the top. Her character could have been so much better. I loved her tongue and her power – it should have been used for more.
4) The story is very slow moving, it is trying to be serious and romantically intelligent al a French Connection or Chinatown but instead made me want for a comic book action film that was more like The Avengers, it maintained good story but never slowed the action down.
5) The romance, limited to no chemistry and I just could’t buy it. Sadly.
6) The character Kenuichio Harada / Silver Samurai – make your bloody mind up – good guy or bad guy, shoot one of them and choose your allegiance. M’eh
Look, it’s a fun popcorn film, I have probably rambled on more about things I disliked because I had incredibly high hopes for this film. I loathed the story’s twist and thought it ruined all credibility. I could not understand the motive behind the bad guy. I just think it was incredibly weak and I lost all respect for the film because of it. It was well shot and some scenes are amazing. When I watched the trailer again when putting this article together I thought it looked great, honestly, I was like “that looks amazing” but I do not think I would watch it again and I would not buy it on Blu Ray unless I get some out of control X-Men box set in a couple of years with all of them in it. With things like Dark Knight, the latest Iron Man, Man of Steel, Thor and even Captain America, this is one weak film in comparison. But these are my thoughts, Kernel Claire, she viewed it with me and my guest Tom, well Claire’s friend Ben (her guest) thought it was a 5/5 film and better than Iron Man and The Avengers – as I always say each to their own and this was not to my liking. I hope you get more out of it – let us know what you think.
The Wolverine is out this Thursday 25th in nearly every cinema. It is rated M and runs for 126mins. Enjoy.