As with most viewers, I was disappointed with X-MEN ORIGINS – WOLVERINE (2009). It just seemed to miss the mark on so many levels. So it was with great trepidation that I approached this new attempt to capitalize on Wolverine’s popularity. 

Based on the 1980s Chris Clairemont/Frank Miller miniseries (which I still own from when it first came out), THE WOLVERINE is much more in line what I expected from the first film. It’s not perfect, but it’s a vast improvement and makes me want to see more of Logan’s further adventures sans the X-Men. 

Picking up where X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006) left off, Logan aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is still haunted by the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). He has gone off on his own and is living in seclusion in the woods like the animal he considers himself to be. 

He is soon tracked down by Yukio (Rila Fukushima) who works for Yashida (Hal Yamanochi), a wealthy Japanese industrialist who it turns out Logan had saved during the end of World War II. Yashida is dying and wants to return the favor by offering something no one thought possible: Restore Logan’s mortality, so he can grow old and die. 

Of course, things aren’t always what they seem in the Marvel Universe and Logan is being used as a pawn in power struggle that could end his life long before he dies of old age. 

Directed by James Mangold, THE WOLVERINE takes itself very seriously. The movie is as dark and brooding as its main character. This is both a good and a bad thing. 

It’s refreshing to see a fantastical movie like this played for serious drama and not winking at the audience because they are afraid to commit, but the flip side of this is that when the more extreme elements finally surface, they seem out of place at times. 

The character of Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) particularly stands out with her over the top performance and costuming. She feels out of place and it works against the drama. 

The film has a slower pace than most, playing more like a modern samurai film, which is fine, but thankfully there are also some exciting action set pieces especially one aboard (or should I say on top of) a speeding bullet train. 

Certainly not the best film to feature the iconic Wolverine, THE WOLVERINE still has its merits and is one of the middle-ground Marvel efforts.


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FEBRUARY 13, 2014