Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Wolverine Review + X-Men Analysis

WARNING: I typically have the exact opposite opinion of people when it comes to X-Men movies, so I suppose you have to take this review with a grain of salt. Also, in talking about The Wolverine, I promise that I won't spoil the movie at all. However, I may dish out spoilers for previous X-Men movies, so look out for that.

Before I jump into The Wolverine, I want to talk about the other X-Men movies real quick so you know where I am coming from. First off, I have never read the comics, so I don't know much of the official lore to compare to. Second, I do remember watching the X-Men cartoons when I was growing up, but I was much more into other Superhero cartoons such as Spider-Man and Batman Beyond. Onto the movies. In preparation for The Wolverine (and admittedly to watch a couple of them for the first time), I had an X-Men marathon, so all of them are fresh on my mind.

Starting with the first one, I really appreciate the first X-Men movie because it pioneered the current wave of Superhero movies. Back in 2000, X-Men earned over $150 million in the US and nearly $300 million worldwide. Because Hollywood likes to replicate success, a lot more Superhero movies came about. As a movie, though, I didn't really care for it. It had a really good cast for the most part (I didn't really care for Halle Berry as Storm or James Marsden as Cyclops -- Liev Schreiber's Sabretooth was also a lot better than Tyler Mane's), but despite it's 104 minute showtime, it felt really short and was very thin and boring as far as the story goes. X2 was significantly better than X-Men as it had a really good story, but it seemed really long this time and still wasn't anything special. X-Men: The Last Stand I actually thought was the best of the three. It had the best story of the three, several really interesting plot twists, and tons of emotion. It also flowed really well. Despite being the same length as the first and not much shorter than the second, it didn't drag on like X2 or speed through things like X-Men. I didn't care about Cyclops in this trilogy. I thought he was really annoying and poorly cast, so I didn't care that he died. I didn't like how they killed Xavier, but as some seemed to never catch, he didn't actually die. You learn that in the end credits scene. The final scene also showed Magneto getting his powers back slowly, so that twist was fine for me. The whole Jean Grey story line in the third one was great and super emotional as Wolverine was forced to kill her to save everyone else. I loved the fight between Iceman and Pyro at the end. The Juggernaut was lame, but a lot of the other new mutants were pretty cool.

Now to two origin movies. Most people hate X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but it is actually my favorite of the X-Men movies. The main reason for that is that I don't care too much for the trilogy as I just noted, but also because Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is my favorite character. Origins Wolverine is admittedly inconsistent with the trilogy and also inconsistent with the comic book lore from what I hear, but being that I didn't care much for the trilogy and never read the comics, that didn't offend me. What I did get was a super emotional movie where you really felt for Wolverine, especially when his girl was dying and he got his memory erased with the bullet. You would think that never dying would be an awesome thing, but as we see in Origins and throughout the trilogy later on, it is a curse for him. Origins also has a great cast all around with a fantastic and emotional final battle and a great feud throughout with his brother (or half brother) Victor, aka Sabretooth, who is a lot better in Origins than in X-Men like I previously mentioned. I loved the insane Deadpool character and am looking forward to his potential return as was inferred in the end credits scene. Also, quickly on X-Men: First Class. I did like it as a character story that established the origins of several characters, but it wasn't that exciting and I was bored through a lot of it.

And now I will start my review of The Wolverine.

Yes, as I mentioned, Wolverine is my favorite character of the new X-Men movies and I loved Origins Wolverine, so I was really excited for this one. After watching all the previous X-Men movies, this movie really didn't feel like the others. Instead of feeling like part of the X-Men franchise, it felt more like an X-Men spin-off with the character Wolverine, which is definitely an aspect of the movie I enjoyed. We get to take a break from the X-Men world and just enjoy a movie about Wolverine. That said, I would say that you do need to watch the X-Men trilogy before seeing it to completely get the full emotion of the movie because it does take place after X-Men: Last Stand and feeds off of the finale in that movie.

After what happened in Last Stand, Wolverine is going through a lot emotionally and we begin this movie with him off on his own once again, just hiding from everything. He has nightmares every night that torment him and thus he can't sleep. In one of these nightmares we see in the beginning, the experience is about him being in Japan during World War II when the bombs are dropped. In them he saves the life of one Yashiba. This nightmare/flashback is important because shortly after we see that, one Japanese lady named Yukio shows up informing him that Yashiba is about to die and wants to see Wolverine before he dies, so Wolverine is convinced to take the trip and this is where most of our story takes place. It's not necessarily the most creative or emotional story, but it is a super fun movie with lots of great action sequences.

Hugh Jackman is fantastic as always. It's a bit weird to think that it's been 13 years since he first showed up in X-Men. He would've been 32 in that movie, which makes him 45 years old right now. The great thing about him being Wolverine is that he has aged super well. It's almost as if he has the same non-aging ability as the character he plays because in watching the first X-Men movie he doesn't look 13 years older in this one. Being set in Japan, most of our cast outside Jackman is Japanese and the Japanese characters are just fantastic. There are two leading Japanese females played by Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima and both are very pretty and charming in their own way. There are four main male characters outside Wolverine played by Hiroyuki Sanada, Brian Tee, and Will Yun Lee with Haruhiko Yamanouchi and Ken Yamamura playing Old Yashiba and Young Yashiba respectively. The overall chemistry between all the Japanese cast is fantastic and is what makes this movie. Our main villian, Viper, is played by Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova and she is brilliant. Also showing up is Famke Janssen, reprising her role of Jean Grey. Wait, Jean Grey you ask? Yes, Wolverine is still in love with her despite what happened in Last Stand and every time he falls asleep she shows up in his dreams and either taunts him or gives him advise and that aspect of the movie is just brilliant. Jean Grey has been killed off twice now and even with that it is still good to see her show up.

Overall, most people from what I am hearing will like this movie a lot more than Origins and it will be the Wolverine movie they are waiting for. Personally, I liked both movies a lot but if I am forced to choose, I will give the edge to Origins just because of how emotional and moving it is. The Wolverine is nothing super emotional and sometimes predictable, but there are a lot of awesome action scenes and great performances from the entire cast, so it ends up being a super fun movie. If you like Wolverine as a character like I do, you should really enjoy this one. Being that I essentially spent a super long time reviewing all the X-Men movies in this really long blog post, I'll go ahead and give a grade to all of them. X-Men gets a 6 out of 10. X2 gets a 7 out of 10. X-Men: The Last Stand gets an 8 out of 10. X-Men Origins: Wolverine gets a 9 out of 10. X-Men: First Class gets a 7 out of 10. And finally, I will give The Wolverine an 8 out of 10.

P.S.- Don't go anywhere once the credits roll. There is an important clip during the credits that sets up X-Men: Days of Future Past out next year. It's pretty sweet and answers a few questions that were asked about the ending of X-Men: The Last Stand.

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