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The Wolverine: Great Movie or Another Letdown?

July 25, 2013|Elliott Serrano, for Redeye

THE WOLVERINE - A MOVIE REVIEW

When I went to the theater to see the latest movie starring Hugh Jackman as the most popular character in Marvel Comics, I told myself I was going to keep an open mind. See, after the last few geeky features I’d seen had let me down, I had fears that this one would do the same. But then I thought to myself that there was no way that director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) could fudge this up. Especially when he was doing an adaptation of the original Wolverine comic-book mini-series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller.

Man, was I wrong. But before I start sounding like a “grumpy geek” who hates everything, let me talk about the things that THE WOLVERINE got right:

THE ACTION SEQUENCES: This film is full of fun, frenetic fight scenes that are reminiscent of old-school Hong-Kong martial arts epics. A battle that occurs early on, when Wolverine is fighting what appears to be an endless horde of Yakuza thugs, will have your head spinning. And there is a supporting character who is a cross between the Avengers’ Hawkeye and Jackie Chan, with moves that put Jeremy Renner to shame. (I sure hope that Joss Whedon sees this and keeps that in the back of his mind for the next time Clint Barton gets back into action.)

THE WOMEN: I found it refreshing that with Wolverine being all alpha male throughout the film, the female leads were no slouches themselves. Rila Fukushima, who plays Yukio - Wolverine’s self-proclaimed “bodyguard” - goes toe-to-toe with a whole slew of male baddies and more than holds her own.  Even Mariko - played by the stunning Tao Okamoto - gets to lay a little smack down and show she’s got fire. So it’s nice to see women playing strong supporting roles and not needing to be rescued all the time (>cough< Man of Steel >cough< Lois Lane >cough<).

THE SPECIAL EFFECTS: The effects in THE WOLVERINE are far superior to the previous installment X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. The CGI effects were especially effective in the sequence where Wolverine is battling the Yakuza on top of a bullet train going at 300 mph.  It’s probably the best fight in the film.

So it’s not all bad, okay? And for many, this may be enough for them to walk out of the movie satisfied. But I just couldn’t get over the things the movie got wrong. Like:

THE STORY: You had one of the best Wolverine stories in comics to tell with the original mini-series and they barely followed it. Instead of telling a tale where Logan goes to Japan and learns about honor, duty and how to live as a “man” instead of an “animal”, the screenwriters decided to scrap all that and make it a meditation of immortality and dealing with the sins of the past. Which means that you’ve got EMO WOLVERINE. AND I DON’T WANT EMO WOLVERINE. NOBODY WANTS EMO WOLVERINE.

THE PACING: For all the action sequences in the movie, there are long stretches where people just stand around and emote. And talk. And cry. And emote some more. And then Wolverine says a cuss word to make us laugh. And then everyone talks again. And then you look at your watch and you go “is this movie over yet?” I mean, come on, IT’S A FRIGGIN WOLVERINE MOVIE. MAKE WITH THE SNIKT AND THE SLICEY DICEY!

THE CHARACTER MOTIVATIONS: Quite frankly, I was getting really confused trying to figure out why the characters where doing what they were doing if not simply because the plot called for it. One particular character seemed to change allegiances so often I couldn’t tell if he was playing both sides or just forgot if he was a good guy or a bad guy. And in the end, when the “big bad‘s” plan is revealed, you think “gee, that was needlessly complicated.”

Add to that a couple nerd nitpicks, like how is it if Wolverine's healing factor has been compromised why don't his knuckles keep bleeding after he retracts his claws? AND WHY DOESN'T WOLVERINE FIGHT THE NINJAS LIKE HE DID IN THE COMICS? (Yup, there is no big battle where Logan goes mano-a-mano with The Hand. Nuh-uh. Even though they tease it in the trailer. And don't say I'm giving you a spoiler because YOU CAN'T SPOIL SOMETHING THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN.)

After the movie ended, before the credits rolled, I sat in my chair and thought “this was a letdown”, or more exactly “this was no better than X-MEN ORIGINS.” And I only heard a smattering of applause when the credits started to roll. Which brings me to the thing that makes seeing THE WOLVERINE worth the price of admission…

THE EASTER EGG: Continuing the practice of all the other Marvel films, this one has a bonus scene that comes just after the first round of credits. BE SURE TO STAY FOR IT. I’m telling you, while only a couple folks clapped for the film itself when it ended, the entire theater cheered after the easter egg was shown.

And I literally yelled at the screen “That’s it! That made it worth it!”

So, maybe I’m not such a grumpy geek after all.

THE WOLVERINE gets a Geek Factor Rating of 2 ½ Samurai Swords (Out of 4).

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