Movie Review: The Wolverine (Confirmed Good)

As you can see in the above banner, The Wolverine
has had one of the best studio poster campaigns of the summer!

     It wasn't too long ago that when you heard the name Marvel you thought of two characters: Spiderman and Wolverine, regardless of the medium, be it film or comics.  That was, of course, before The Avengers phenomenon hit, pushing characters like Iron Man and Captain America to the A list of Marvel both on the pages and on the big screen.  James Mangold’s The Wolverine is an attempt to give Logan (Hugh Jackman) the type of in depth character portrait he lacked in his last two on screen appearance in: X-men The Last Stand and Wolverine Origins (*You forgot about his cameo in X:Men First Class- Editor*).  Not only that, this film is seen as the launch point for Fox’s own Marvel Cinematic universe overseen by the comic industries' number one hype man Mark Millar.  So was The Wolverine a successful launch for the Fox Marvel cinematic universe? Did Director James Mangold fill the large shoes left by Director Darren Aronofsky when he left the project? Find out after the break…..
Marvel/FOX Czar Mark Millar hopes The Wolverine can do for FOX what
Iron Man did for Marvel Studios and launch FOX's own Marvel Cinematic universe!
      Director James Mangold’s execution of Wolverine's time in Japan was handled pretty well.  Rather than spend a film explaining Logan’s past in Japan the film gives you that in flashbacks and instead chooses to focus on Wolverines life post X-men: The Last Stand, which eventually leads him on a return trip to Japan.  This choice in narrative gave Mangold the opportunity to really scratch beneath the surface of the Wolverine character in a way not seen since X2 as he deals with the loss of Jean Grey, who returns in a series of very powerful dream sequences brilliantly portrayed by the beautiful Famke Janssen.

The Wolverine sees the return of Famke Jansen as Jean Grey.
      Mangold’s choice in narrative really served as more of a brilliant character study of Wolverine for the first two thirds of this film rather than the action bloated stereotypical superhero film.  Instead of seeing Wolverine slice and dice through Japan for the entire film, most of it is spent dealing with Logan’s lack of mortality. While this film night not be the Wolverine film you were expecting, it felt rather like a really good creative team stepped onto a Wolverine comic choosing to focus on Wolverine the man instead of Wolverine the hero.

Director James Mangold gave us a rather unique look at the Wolverine character,
at least for two thirds of his film!

       Unfortunately, in the film's third act The Wolverine decided to take a rather abrupt tonal shift and fall into the type of stereotypical CG filled superhero movie ending most audiences probably were expecting.  Instead of the fresh take on the character that we saw for most of the film, the third act feels like something from the mind of Brett Ratner rather than James Mangold.  While the ending of James Mangold’s take on the Wolverine character works in the context of the film's story, it just feels like an unworthy conclusion to Logan’s trip to Japan.  It's a conclusion that sees characters such as the films villains Viper (Sevetlana Khodchenkova) and the Silver Samurai revert back to typical superhero film archetypes rather than the well rounded characters we expected they might be based on the earlier parts of the film. 

The Wolverine's CG heavy version of The Silver Samurai is only one of the 
many problems that arise in the film's final act!

      While The Wolverine failed to be the definitive Wolverine film that it feels like the first two thirds of the movie promised, it isn’t a failed entry in the X-men film franchise like Wolverine Origins or X-men The Last Stand.  Rather, The Wolverine blends elements of history and comic book mythos to provide a lacking, but solid start to the FOX Marvel cinematic universe.  However everything The Wolverine leaves to be desired is more than made up for in what might the best post credits stinger since Nick Fury met Tony Stark at the end of Iron Man.  It's a stinger that sets up what could potentially be the definitive X-men film and perhaps the biggest blockbuster of next summer: Bryan Singer's X-men: Days of Future Past, slated for a May 23rd, 2014 release.  As Bryan Singer and Fox continue to put the finishing touches on what might be the definitive X-men film, it may be time for the studio to stop trying to make the definitive Wolverine film and realize that Bryan Singer already made that film back in 2003; it was called X2!



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