After a production misfire with Darren Aronofsky in the director’s chair, the second Wolverine film, The Wolverine, has finally arrived in theaters. This time around the venture is directed by James Manigold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk The Line) and, of course, stars Hugh Jackman.
My initial misgivings about the proposed adaptation of Claremont and Miller’s acclaimed mini series, where logan travels to Japan, were pushed aside when I learned that the film would take place post X3. That is to say, this would be the first X-men film to forge new ground and create new continuity. Since the catastrophic debacle that was X-men 3: The Last Stand, Fox has only green lit prequel films. That being said, my lack of faith was restored when I witnessed the first trailer for The Wolverine. The film was bright and sleek, not gritty and tarnished as the direction laid out by the comic would have suggested.
Let’s get this out of the way quickly, The Wolverine is not as bad as X-men Origins: Wolverine. But it’s not good, either. The film lacks vision, complex characters, or a real pov. The entire film felt like the characters were doing things because the Plot God demanded it. It was almost uniformly bland at every turn.
I will give it this, the film doesn’t try to cram 12 different mutants into every scene, like its predecessor. The characters are (sort of) allowed to breath. I say ‘sort of’ due to the fact that no one really does anything spectacular or has an massive revelations. Everything is very surface. None of the characters really get inside each others skins. Even Logan’s forced romance, which was taken from the comics, feels awkward and not organic.
Let’s talk about ninjas for a second. Ninjas are awesome. They’re really really cool. They just are. They freaking cool, man. Well, in a movie about Wolverine in Japan you’d expect him to fight lots of ninjas, right?
Well, he doesn’t.
There’s one set piece towards the end of the film where ninjas chase him and subdue him. Sure he fights a couple of ninjas in this sequence but it happens an hour into the movie. How did they make a movie about wolverine in Japan and not have him fight a metric shit-ton of ninjas? How is that a thing? How is it not the first thing on your list? How is that not the first sentence uttered by both the writer and the balding, sweaty Fox executive? Both of those people have a VESTED INTEREST in ninjas. There should be ninjas in a movie where Wolverine goes to Japan. There just should. It’s not rocket science. It’s like making Top Gun without airplanes, or Days of Thunder without race cars, or Mission Impossible without spies. I’m not sure why I just named three Tom Cruise movies but, whatever, just go with it.
The Wolverine also has weird technical problems. It has continuity issues. Big ones. There’s a sequence where Logan and his love interest are eating, using chop sticks and she scolds him saying, that you should never leave them upright as it is a bad omen. She reaches across the table and lays them flat. They then engage in a long drawn out conversation which ends in HER REACHING ACROSS THE TABLE AND LAYING HE CHOP STICKS FLAT. Somebody just wasn’t watching the movie during editing. These little things add up over the course of the movie.
Then there’s also weird suspension of disbelief stuff. There’s a sequence where Logan is attending a funeral and spots a ninja up on a rooftop. He shrugs it off and just continues walking into the funeral. Wha? Why would he do that? Especially when viewed in the context of the fact that thirty seconds later he figures out that the priests at the funeral are actually Yakuza agents because he spots one of their tattoos. Why does Wolverine hate tattoos but loves ninjas on roves? What? That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
Wolverine isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it was too bland to really enjoy. I loved that fact that it was all about him getting over that he had to kill Jean. That was enjoyable. However, almost every other sequence in the film fell short. Let me redact that slightly, I loved the WWII sequences. However, I enjoyed the WWII sequences so much that I found myself wishing that we could just be watching a WWII era story instead of the story we were actually watching.
Seeing as the film is making money, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a Wolverine 3. Here’s hoping that this time they actually make a Wolverine movie worthy of Hugh Jackman.