The Wolverine

The Wolverine ★★★★

Wolverine still stands as one of the most prolific, most popular, and most badass superheroes of Marvel lore. The man is literally immortal: he heals instantly, even from mortal wounds, and thanks to that he was grafted with an invincible metal skeleton, complete with retracting adamantium claws. Wolverine kicked plenty of butt in the three main X-Men films, but a stand-alone Wolverine film has always been in the cards, to give fans another chance to see this awesome character in action. So, they made X-Men Origins: Wolverine...and it kinda sucked. Oh sure, it had action and style, but with a mixed-up storyline and poor editing, the film proved to be an epic mess.

To rectify things, The Wolverine was made to finally give us a movie that not only gives us the title character on a rampage, but also tells a compelling story. This film is nowhere near as overblown as other X-Men films: the action is confined to a series of fights. Some of the highlights include a fight on top of a high-speed bullet-train, confrontations with a small army of ninjas, and a final showdown with a giant armored samurai suit. Not much terribly large-scale or explosive, but the film does satisfy in the same way thrillers like The Man From Nowhere, Kill Zone, or Crying Freeman do. The fights are pretty cool, showing quality choreography, cool weaponry, and fast moves.

The story is a massive improvement over X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which tried too hard to cram in so much. The Wolverine takes its time to breathe, giving a steady focus on the title character. It is a much-needed character study; as a sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine is a broken man, tormented by guilt and deprived of purpose. As he travels to Japan and becomes caught up in a major conspiracy, he is revealed to be a figurative ronin: a master-less samurai struggling to regain his honor, perhaps even through death. Due to these issues, and with the threat of taking away his healing powers, this is Wolverine at his most vulnerable, and it makes for a very intense struggle. The conflict runs good and hard throughout the story, and the plot is well-structured. The story has a dense layer of conspiracy that's not exactly easy to comprehend, especially with so many side characters, but other parts are predictable. At the film's core, however, strong parallels are drawn between Wolverine and the Bushido code, and it makes for a rather compelling show.

This film uses pretty straightforward photography and editing, and it's refreshing that way. Acting is good: Hugh Jackman is still perfect as Wolverine, and the rest of the cast is decent and feels authentic. Writing is good. This production uses good-looking sets, props, and costumes. Locales in particular look authentic, and it helps, since the setting plays a major role in this story. Music is not bad either.

The Wolverine is the film the character deserves, with emphasis on "THE" to indicate that this is not just another plain ol' superhero flick, but an exploration on the character and his quest for absolution. To be honest, I expected this film to be rather dull, and many viewers will probably dismiss it as being dull. Personally, it exceeded my expectations, if for no other reason than I enjoyed watching the character, both in action and for the drama. If you're an X-Men fan or Wolverine fan already, then this film should be a no-brainer. For everybody else, this would be a decent rental when it comes to disc.

4/5 (Entertainment: Good | Story: Good | Film: Good)

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