Monday, May 26, 2014

The Wolverine Review

For whatever reason, despite being a fan of the character and the X-Men in general, I simply couldn't get excited about seeing the 2013 solo Wolverine outing directed by James Mangold. Perhaps it was due to the fact that while I was only casually following the progress of the production prior to its release, I was aware of the fact that accomplished visionary director Darren Aronofsky had previously been attached to the project but had chosen to walk away from it. Maybe it was because the last time a solo Wolverine film had been released it was received with much derision and now basically been dropped from the characters historical landscape entirely, a film so unpopular that most pretend it never existed at all. It also might boil down to super hero and summer blockbuster fatigue last year, as I can barely even remember this being released at all to be honest. Regardless, today I finally caught up with the film as I prepare for Days of Future Past tomorrow night at the cinema, and while I has my issues with it overall I really enjoyed The Wolverine.

The film begins with Logan living in a solitary situation in the woods, overwhelmed with the grief of losing the love of his life Jean Grey, which quickly tells me this is following the events of The Last Stand. This left a bad taste in my mouth almost immediately because it reminded me that the third X-Men film was an actual release and not a bad dream, but as the story carried on I was able to shake this off and leave the sour cinematic memories in the rear-view mirror. Logan encounters a young woman named Yukio that had come looking for him to deliver the news that a man he had saved the life of long ago was now dying, in hopes that it would bring the mutant back with her to Japan to pay his respects. The trip becomes far more dangerous when Logan finds himself wrapped up in a violent struggle involving not just a complicated family situation but also the Yakuza,.

I was quickly falling in love with the film, admiring that it was focused on characters and relationships and an amazing atmosphere thanks to an authentic Japanese setting, but everything that soared during the first half began to falter as the film sputtered a little as it approached its conclusion. Watching Logan experience romantic feelings again while still fighting the demons that were attached to him due to the death of Jean was far more fascinating than the entire villain reveal and big bad people showdown that is typically the aspect most look forward to during a film from this genre.

I was a tad disappointed by the whole thing as the film ended, but that was because of the extremely promising first half. As I entered the experience with insanely low expectations, when looking at the The Wolverine as a complete vision I can't help but admire it as a very entertaining success. Unfortunately an opportunity missed had the Mangold film been stronger down the stretch.


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