The Wolverine – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The WolverineThe Wolverine – 4/5 – There is many things I can say here, that could lead into a deep prologue of indispensable thinking.  This time around, I will not go into no deeply provoking monologue, and go straight to the point.  This film, The Wolverine, is the film about the most popular character in the comics, which we have all been waiting for.  From the simple storytelling, to the ideology and focus on ‘who is Wolverine’, all the way to the fast pace action, this film has it all.   With a little cliché and predictable near the end, The Wolverine is a film that will be a delight for any film fan out there.

Premise: Wolverine is at his lowest, trying to find a reason to live from the devastation of his past.  A young woman comes to find him, with a proposition for him from her master.  As he makes his way to Japan, he is out of his depth and thrust into a world of the unknown.  Here, he faces the ultimate nemesis.  Vulnerable for the first time, he must confront not only the path of lethal samurai steel, but also the struggles within.  Through it all, he must reconvene with fate, and learn to become, that warrior once again.

At the heart of this story is the character Wolverine/Logan, played by famed actor Hugh Jackman.  He has played this character for so many years; that by now, this character has defined who he is.  Hugh Jackman is Wolverine; by the physical attributes to deeply harden persona; Jackman brings to the front of this movie the greatness and charm that anyone would expect.  Outside of the obvious action scenes he performs stunts in, Jackman provides an element of layer an intrigue that helps us connect to the deeper reaches of his mind.  He is longing for some peace to the past, and through his acting, we watch as he struggles with these emotions.  He wants to be alone, but also wants to be that ‘warrior’ that he knows he can be. Combine these vivid elements with his interactions with the other people in the film, you become attached to him, understanding his faults, but also cheering for him to find some closure in this part of his life.  Opposite of Logan, all the other actors are pretty much supporting him through this journey of enlightenment, but also drag him into their world of politics and tragedy.  We have the Old Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) and flashback Young Yashida (Ken Yamaura), Granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) bodyguard and young samurai Yukio (Rila Fukushima), son to Yashida Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), Noburo (Brian Tee), Harada (Will Yun Lee) and Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova).  Most of these actors/actress are unfamiliar in western cinema, but as a group involved in this ‘Wolverine’ oriented story, they do well.  As a whole, they give you a typical but complex vision of a ‘family feud’, but it helps you understand their situations, as well as give perspective to the development of this film.  For the most part, you’re not as attached to any of these characters other than Mariko, and that is because of a subtle attachment she develops for Logan.  Outside of Logan and the main supporting cast, much of the other roles are left to be typecast; common thugs, typical aloof politicians and annoying bad guys.

The direction of this film is character driven.  For a comic book film, you would think it’d be better to focus on action and extravagant set pieces, but for a character like Logan/Wolverine, this direction is very well needed.  In the beginning, it has been a year since the events of X-men: The Last Stand, and Logan is at his lowest.  Eventually, he is found by a young woman/samurai by the name of Yukio.  She was sent out to find him, per request of her Master, Yashida.  He wants to thank him for saving him long ago, with a gift.  From here, we are off to Japan, as we follow Logan as he looks to find the reason behind the old man motives, as well as find peace to his internal struggles.  As Logan gets entangled into Yashida’s life, threads of mystery start to unravel about the Yashida clan, and he is thrust into a power struggle of sorts.  Here, Mariko gets kidnapped, and again Logan must become the warrior of his past, and save his granddaughter’s life from Yakuza thugs.  As the story unfolds, the film follows a path of intrigue, treachery, and also an affirmation of life’s personal duties and sacrifices.  Through it all, Logan must learn to not only; be the man of strength, but also find that middle ground of peace with his past.  He does this with his personal interactions with Mariko, as she helps him overcome the nightmares and accept what fate shall bring forth.  Through the first 2/3’s of this film, the focus of the story is on Wolverine, an out of place man in this world of Japan.  You watch as he gets drawn into this war of political maneuvering and backstabbing, but also has to relive the past, learn from it and find a way to move forward, while holding true to his warrior spirit (protecting Mariko).  The characterization is profound, and you become fully aware of the conscious that is beating steadily throughout the tone of the direction.  The methodical pacing and astute dialogue helps you get a firm grip on Logan, the side characters, story and setting.  Being in Japan has a great influence on the direction, as the unique draw comes from how the area is different, as you watch that this change helps Logan see clearer within. Eventually, the film heads into the climax; where it becomes a volley of twist and turns, as predictability rears it head for the final joyride.  As you watch the film cap itself, you’re able to see the cliché elements of the common comic book film, with ‘bad guys’ and ‘action sequences’ combine with a ‘pseudo dramatic end’.  This doesn’t hinder from the films enjoyment, but it does derail the character piece that has been built throughout majority of the film.  Even for this change of pace, the film as a whole, shows that there can be a great stand-alone story for Wolverine.

The visuals in this film are outstanding.  This is because (as stated above) the setting of the story is situated in Japan.  With it being set in Japan, it helps bring in that sense of wonder, as well as give a colorful perspective with its foreign environment.  In using aspects of both the city and countryside of Japan, you are given contrast, but are encapsulated.  This helps compel an emotional draw for the audience, as you focus on the strong attributes of both the story and specific characters.  The score isn’t an important part of the film, but when needed, it helps bring another layer to the film.

Overall, The Wolverine is a standout of the summer films this year.  It isn’t over-the-top in its appeal, but it does tell a grounded story for a popular character.  If you’re a fan of X-men, Marvel, or films in general, this is a great one to watch in theaters.  Don’t forget to stay for the post-scene credits.

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