(Part 5/∞) The Wolverine Review

The Wolverine Review
By Bret Dorman

I’m not tired of Summer Action Movies.

I’m not tired of comic book adaptations.

Heck, I’m not even tired of Wolverine (although I’d love to see a good Gambit on screen). Everytime, every, time, he gets those claws out *I* feel like badass. And that doesn’t happen often.

Never got into the comics. Doesn’t matter. Not a purist anyway. I’m more familiar with the character via Marvel Vs Capcom and some of the arcade style/Sega side scrollers.

But I am tired of wasted potential.

The Story: Logan (Hugh Jackman) is tired of killing. He doesn’t like it anymore. So he stops. But then he goes to Japan and everyone wants either him or some girl (Tao Okamoto) dead. So he kills everyone in his path. Except some people. He tells them he doesn’t kill. But then he kills them. Cuz he’s The Wolverine. Also, some lady spits poison sometimes.

Wolverine holding the sword he uses ALL the time.

Wolverine holding the sword he uses ALL the time.

Brief history of my experience with The Ol’ Canucklehead and Friends:

X-Men: It was okay.
X2: Definitely a fun one. Solid entertainment.
X-Men The Last Stand: Terrible. Horrible. Possibly worst of the year. Hated it.
X- Men Origins Wolverine: I remember being kind at the time. It’s pacing is great and logic is ridiculous. But the cameos. So many! And they botched Gambit big time, mon amis (or is it mes amis).
X-Men First Class: Best X-Men movie. Fassbender as a suave English assassin with super powers? Yes please! Wolverine’s cameo is a definite highlight.

When it comes to The Wolverine, they definitely focus on the man himself. Its true. They do a good job. Wolverine is great! He’s mean and grizzled. He’s reluctantly hostile but secretly willing. And the claws! Snikt! Yes! They really do milk it for all he’s worth. Problem is, they are milking a cat. (I got nipples Focker, can you milk me?) They should be milking a cow.

The big premise of The Wolverine is that Logan is trying to let his inner animal rage go and live a more peaceful life. Yet every confrontation he gets in he snikts out the claws and goes to town (except the bar brawl, where the chick delivers a sword monologue that never comes back into play). Apparently henchmen don’t count as people, so you don’t have to feel guilty for killing them. Also, at one point a character is totally owned by Wolvie, who beats him down. Logan tells him its a worse fate to live with your mistakes. Oh snap! Then Logan turns and the man charges at him. Wolverine kills the guy! Right after he says its more just for the man to live, he kills the dude. Whatever Wolverine. You wanna throw a bunch of hissy fits and mope around that’s fine. But when you then decide at the end its totally the right thing to do, make it count.

How does one mess up Wolverine + Ninja(s)?

How does one mess up Wolverine + Ninja(s)?

Origins had super cameos left and right. Every mutant from the X-Men universe seemed to appear. Here, there’s only one other mutant. Okay. Well. Jean Grey appears as dream illusions. Logan’s super sad about killing her. She still looks super sexy. That’s about it. Oh. Okay, well. There’s also one other chick who can see into the future. But never when its important. And she predicts Wolverine’s death. And SHE’S NEVER WRONG! The main mutant is some poison chick who I assume is named Viper. She has nail claws (of course, don’t all mutants have some sort of claws). And she has a long tongue. And she spits acid. At one point, for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON, she sheds her skin.

The yakuza are in this movie just as much as the main Japanese business guy’s family. You see, when Wolverine was at Nagasaki during the A-bomb, he saved some dude. That dude went on to become the most powerful man in Japan. Then, his family started fighting for his money and the yakuza got involved, as they do. All of this means some girl is going to get kidnapped and Wolverine has to save her. I’m fine with trying to create this tense atmosphere where Wolverine doesn’t know who to trust and can’t just lunge into battle. Except everyone is basically a badguy and Wolverine isn’t just a wildcard, he’s playing the main detective killing his way to the top.

Clearly I didn’t like the movie. It has a lot of neat elements, but its like the filmmakers were doing one of those slide puzzles where you can only move one piece at a time and everyone looked at it and declared it was done before the full picture had formed. It’s hard to get into without really breaking down the character and seeing just how much the core concept really fell flat. So from here on out SPOILERS! I’m going to assume you’ve seen the movie so I don’t have to explain things like Red Hair Chick.


(I’ll attempt to provide some answers to the “what would you do differently to fix it?” which is always a dangerous game. Yikes.)

Badass. Snikt!

Badass. Snikt!

Problem #1 – The Killing Problem

Okay. So Wolverine can’t kill. Well, not can’t, but doesn’t want to kill. This is not a problem. This is a cool idea. Only, every time he is confronted with baddies (or even just jerks) he snikts out the claws. The bar room brawl he is stopped by Red Hair Chick. But the intent is there.

The journey of Wolverine is supposed to be going from someone who doesn’t care to someone who does. But his character is constantly filled with rage, anger, and aggression. Since he’s going to Japan, why not have him try to develop a tick where when he feels rage, he does the tick (hand rubbing?) and he does the exact opposite? He wants to fight in a bar? Rubs hands. No fight! Doesn’t want to go to Japan? Rubs hands. Why not go to Japan? In Japan he’s confronted by his WWII pal. The guy wants Wolvie’s powers. Rubs hands… no, maybe not this time. No one gets his powers!

As Wolverine hacks and slashes his way through a mess of a first (*real*) action scene (which appears 40 minutes into the movie?) he must kill at least 20 henchmen. But you never feel the anger. The Rage. The animal urge!

That’s just *some* dude and Wolverine goes total full on berserker yell.

And yeah he kills plenty of people on purpose. Including the train guy. You know.

And then there’s a moment. The Son puts on some samurai armor for no reason and picks up a katana. He battles it out with Logan, who kicks his ass. Yeah! Then Logan tells the guy he’ll let the dude live since he tried to kill his own daughter. And that’s going to be tough. Good guy justice! Booya! Except… the baddie runs at Logan who stabs him in the neck. RIGHT AFTER saying it would be more just to let the guy live with his own guilt. This is a man who can not die. And does not want to kill. Great drama right there.

Another cool character poster.

Another cool character poster.

As the guy is about to get snikted in the throat, he asks Logan, “Who are you?” Logan replies with uber gruff “I’m The Wolverine!” Woah!!! That’s the name of the movie!!! Except… that doesn’t mean anything to the man he’s about to kill. One of the cool things about ‘The Wolverine’ is that he has many nicknames. At one point the soon-to-be-dead guy’s daughter tells Wolverine about The Kuzuri (had to look that up). To me, again, this is just my perspective, it would have been cooler if he gave that name (Kuzuri) to the guy. What if Wolverine just scoured the land assimilating the names of the most toughest most badass creatures around? Awesome! To THAT guy, that would have meant something. (Also he should have let him live, and not in the PG13 balcony throw safe way.) To me, Wolverine is Logan’s personal beast. The one he has to unleash at the end of the movie in a blind rage to cut his enemies down. You want to meet The Wolverine? You got it. Snkit!

Then and only then, when he’s pushed into a corner and killing is his only choice, do we get an awesome moment a la The Rundown (supposedly Jackman approached The Rock about bulking up tips and IT SHOWS).

Problem #2 – The Healing Problem Part 1 featuring science

Taking away Wolverine’s healing? Cool. Make it about gusto and grit. I like it! But, how does he lose his powers? At the very beginning of the movie its clear Logan has a deep sleep problem. He has a dream within a dream. So troubled! Then in Japan he has another Jean Dream, only this time as he’s gettin’ his dream-kissing on, he wakes up into a dream where he’s being spit-kissed by Viper! Oh no! And then he wakes up alone. I assume the truth is that Viper spit-kissed a spiderbot into Wolvie’s mouth like it was a strawberry and they were lovers. (Side note: everyone loves Wolverine. Obviously. Because, Hugh Jackman. I mean. Come on. But when Red Hair Chick starts laying the premonition on thick and crying *big time*… ugh…)

So Wolvie fake dreamt he was being spit-kissed by Viper when in reality he WAS getting spit-kissed by Viper and but his dream was on delay because when he woke up she was gone? Right?

Abs of Adamantium.

Abs of Adamantium.

Regardless, Wolverine can’t heal. Cool. But we later learn that its because of a spiderbot. I mean, whatever happened to the mysticism of mutants? Blade II introduced a psuedo-science that made the movie fun, but never lost sight of the romance of the vampires. Here, science is taunted in front of us, but later when WWII guy is “draining” Wolvie’s powers no science is involved whatsoever. How? How did that man drill into Wolvie’s bones and suck the power out? Under the rules of X-Men I understand its a gene. How did his drills take ALL of Wolvie’s genes out of all his DNA and then inject them into WWII guy’s DNA? Better to just leave it all out. Or… what if science played a part, but Wolverine “ignores it” because his power isn’t a gift. It’s not a curse. It just is who he is. He doesn’t understand it all, but he accepts it. It’s such a buddhist way of thinking. You know. Buddhism, one of the two major religions of Japan. And you know, it would relate to his “suppressed anger” approach at finding peace that he could of had at the beginning and throughout. Only now that he’s been pushed over the edge he accepts the Wolverine side. He transforms from a soft and delicate mutant BACK into the hardened angry Canadian we know and love because people just can’t stop stabbing him with things.

Problem #3 – The Healing Problem Part 2 featuring no claws

Okay, so we are back to him sans healing. He gets in the metal bed and scans for spiderbots. Bingo! He pulls it out. Red Hair Chick’s premonition is WAY off. Yes, he does have to do heart surgery, but what if he had to ACTUALLY pull his heart out to get the spiderbot off? That’s what she implies. What the movie executes is he just pinches the thing off. I blame the PG-13 rating. Totally gets in the way of their own story here, which they don’t have enough foresight to change just a tiny bit to accommodate for.

So… right before the big fight, Wolverine gets his powers back. WHERE’S THE TENSION IN THAT? Why? Why take it away only to give it back BEFORE the final fight. And so he can fight a sub par boss too (the samurai armor dad). As he fights the ninja(s), he gets a bunch of arrows stuck in him. Instead of swinging his ADAMANTIUM CLAWS around to cut the ropes and deal with the arrows later (remember he heals now) he just falls to the ground after two poison darts. Right…

That guy!

That guy!

So they get Wolvie tied up and want to go for his claws. Supposedly to cut them off to have access to his bones, which have better DNA for power sucking (science sucks when applied to mutants). The stupid chick saves him and he loses his claws anyway. Correct me if I’m wrong (seriously) but didn’t the Silver Samurai only use one hand for the first successful claw chop? Later Wolvie NEEDS two (glad we had that flashback!) to perform the task.

Regardless, Wolverine, sans claws, regrows his bone claws and throws the Samurai down. Woulda been awesome if, Wolverine knowing he has his powers back, blew up the suit by stabbing into it (between the plating, obviously) and blew it up, then walked out of the blast. WWII guy could have been somewhat alive because he almost had the healing powers all the way. Wolvie “I should have let you die in the first blast long ago.” WWII croaks. CALLBACK! Booya.

I’m curious to see how they’ll solve this problem of no shiny claws. I cringed with pain when he was stabbing in the well wall. That’s pure bone! Ouchies. I mean, Logan’s a badass, he can take it, but still.

Problem #4 – The Love Interest

Red Hair Chick.

Red Hair Chick.

So the Granddaughter Chick opens up to Logan. She tells him she loves (loved?) Ninja Guy. They were going to get married. But then her father wanted her to marry Red Underwear Man. So she obliged. Because of Honor. She’s Japanese. He wouldn’t understand. She’s FAITHFUL to her father’s wishes and she’s FAITHFUL to her fiance. Cue love scene between her and Wolverine. Because, Hugh Jackman. I mean. Come on.

It’s super creepy too because she tells the story about how she dreamed about the Kuzuri. Her dad told her not to be a wuss but her granddaddy told her The Kuzuri would protect her. So she’s acting out her childhood weird monster sex fantasies with Wolverine? Yeah. True love.

In the end they kiss goodbye and he ditches her. Because, Hugh Jackman. I mean. Come on. But then he ends up teaming with Red Hair Chick. She’s totally his best bud now and even keeps the body gaurd thing going. She totally wants him. Because Hugh Ja- okay you get it. Right! I’m sure we’ll see tons of her in the future!

Problem #5 – Mid Credits Scene

This movie was so good I’d say about 25 of the 30 people in my theater BOOKED it the moment the movie was over. Burn! Okay no seriously. Why don’t these people stay? Don’t they know???

Okay. Wolverine is at an airport. He opts out of the metal detector (second time they used that joke) and then… MAGNETO!!! SHIT!!! WHAT!!! And then… XAVIER!!! SHIT!!! WHAT!!! And then… cut to black? SHIT!!! WHAT!!!

This teaser did NOTHING.

We know Days of Future Past is coming. So what new info do we learn here? The only time I went “nuts” for a “teaser” is The Avengers at the end of The Incredible Hulk. Because that was so wildly bold. But to me, I’ll take the more lighthearted jokey ones like at the end of The Avengers or Iron Man 3 over this crap.

In Conclusion, last week I saw The Conjuring and from the get go I loved it. In my review, I go over “The Snowball Effect.” One little move by that movie had me geared up to love it. Here, after the first 30 minutes, I was just bored. Sure Wolverine is funny and some of the action is sort of nice, but overall the more I watched and the more I found to dislike the more it snowballed into extreme dislike. There are some cool ideas, but ultimately I’m not sure everyone knew how to use them to manipulate The Wolverine‘s nipples for it’s sweet, sweet Mustelidae Milk.

Final Grade: D

Phoenix Rising!

Phoenix Rising!

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