The Wolverine (2013)

Film: The Wolverine
Release: 2013, theatrical
Starring: Hugh JackmanTao OkamotoRila Fukushima
Directed by: James Mangold
Previous in the series: X-Men: First Class
Next in the series: X-Men: Days of Future Past
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: Logan is in exile, haunted by memories of Jean Grey when he's approached by the young woman Yukio, her employer was saved by Logan during the Nagasaki bombing and wants to thank him before his impending death.

Hans' thoughts:

X-Men is one of those very long and complicated comic book series, always very reliant on drama. I consider it the hardest series to keep track off if you've been out of the loop for a while. Jokingly, you could call it the "Days of our Lives" of superhero comics. Of all the characters on this long running team, one of the arguably most popular is Wolverine. He's a tough, no-nonsense, animalistic warrior of a man. Armed with claws coming out of his fists and a regenerative ability making him nearly immortal. Which is why it makes sense that Wolverine got his own spin-off series, originally done by comic book superstar Frank Miller (Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns, 300) in a 12-issue mini-series. In it, Wolverine went to Japan, fighting as a sort of superpowered samurai against larger than life foes. This movie is based loosely on that series.

The same goes for the movies actually, The X-Men series might be the longest single run of movies based on a single superhero franchise thus far. What I'm trying to say is, you might want to brush up on the events of the original X-Men trilogy before choosing to see this movie. I saw a lot of people in the theatre mumbling confused to each other, some of them even ending up leaving the theatre. I personally didn't find the story all that hard to follow though.

Geeking out aside, this movie is in the upper half of the X-Men movie spectrum. X-Men and X-Men 2 were arguably the best ones, followed by First Class and now this one. Then you have X-Men: The Last Stand and in the far bottom X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So where does this differ from the other Wolverine centered movie? Well, while the former Wolverine movie was a prequel movie about his (very complicated) past, it actually didn't focus much on story. Instead it was just a series of action scenes with a loosely put together plot. This however, is an actual story. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. It doesn't feel the need to throw in action merely for the sake of action but instead it goes for making the events seem like natural results of what occurs on screen. If that makes a lick of sense. X-Men Origins: Wolverine also had a lot of cameos, the most infamous being that of popular team member Gambit, who were in the thing for about 5 minutes, seeming like he was there for the sake of putting a stop to the fanletters asking for him to make an appearance. Thankfully, this movie doesn't pull something like that either. If you're expecting something akin to the other X-Men movies, you're out of luck. This movie has a complete tonal shift from the others, being more akin to Japanese samurai movies. Of course it's rated PG-13 so it has a lot less blood splatter than an actual Japanese movie would have. It's overall darker, whereas the X-Men movies is pretty much "Look at all the cool stuff all these characters can do" with a lot of special effects and action this one doesn't actually as heavily on mere eye candy. No, this movie instead digs deep into the drama. This is something I've hoped for, for quite a long time.

Of course, this story also had a lot easier time being told. Wolverine's backstory has had an oceans worth of reboots. It seems like every new writer wants to offer their own take on what and who Wolverine is. With that out of the way however, there's no need to explain who Wolverine is. This is a sequel, and it rightly assumes that most of the audience knows the character. Though I would have preffered a big "2" on the end of the title, as to better inform audiences but that's a general pet peeve of mine. The story also has a pretty good twists, and some of the most fun action scenes the series has managed to put on screen in quite a while. Of course it has to be mentioned that yes, there is indeed shaky cam in this movie. However, aside from one scene inside a train (Where I had to squint to spot the action) I really didn't have any trouble seeing what was going on.

If you're like me and missed some substance to balance out the action in some of the former installments, rest assured. This is actually a good movie. I had a lot of fun watching it. It's also pretty entertaining if you just missed Hugh Jackman playing this character and needed your Wolverine fix in the waiting time for X-Men: Days of Future Past.
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