The Wolverine

The Wolverine ★★★★

A lot of people have tried to kill me... and I'm still here.

I was going to give this film 3.5 stars last night but after dwelling on it since then I'm giving it a slight bump for a few reasons. First it is without a doubt the best on screen adaptation of the Wolverine character to date. While it might not be the best X-Men related film, it is still Hugh Jackman's best outing as Logan. If you want to compare it to the other X-Films however, the only ones that would rival it are X-Men 2 and X-Men: First Class.

The other things that influenced my rating are that it is the best comic book film of the year (so far). It's better then Iron Man 3 and certainly better then the bloated Man of Steel. Action junkies might be disappointed as the film centers more on character and drama rather then huge action set pieces however. The planet is not in jeopardy, the country isn't on the verge of war and the city doesn't get leveled in a super-powered throw down. Surprisingly having all those things missing from the film is actually refreshing.

Also surprising is that The Wolverine does something with the aftermath X-Men: The Last Stand instead of avoiding it completely and it works to put the character in the right frame of mind he needed to be in for this story to be told. He's a broken and haunted man that doesn't know how to tame his savagery. The other X-Men films seemed to portray Logan as quite tame and this is the closest he's ever been to what his comic book origins show him to be. He's supposed to be one of the original comic book anti-heroes but you wouldn't know it by his film outings.

The film's brilliant opening featuring Logan in a POW camp during World War II is probably better then anything that was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It sets up the kind of story that you would only be able to tell using a character like Logan as a soldier he saved when Fat Boy (A-Bomb) was dropped on Nagasaki, 60-70 years earlier (I don't think the present date is ever specified) searches him out for dubious reasons bringing the action to Japan.

This is where the film does something right that even X-Men: First Class didn't and that's only use characters that the story actually needs instead of inserting various mutants for no real reason except to have them there. The amount of actual mutants in the film is actually minimal and even though the film takes place in Japan it's still surprising since this is a Hollywood film that the majority of the cast is actually Japanese and Ken Watanabe isn't among them.

As I said earlier, this is Hugh Jackman's best outing as Wolverine by far. While I wouldn't say that Rila Fukushima steals the show as Yukio, she certainly holds her own both in screen presence and action scenes. It also fulfills the odd fact that Logan has always had a tendency to have young female sidekicks in the comic books. It was never anything romantic but more like a big brother/little sister type thing fulfilling some sort of missing family link that Logan needs. Getting a bit sidetracked, the film works it's best when these two are together kicking Yakuza ass.

The Yakuza aren't the only villains here either, you have Ninja and Samurai thrown into the mix along with perhaps something a little more sinister. It's very much a pulp filled story and very much in line with the tone of the actual Wolverine comic books mixing in hard boiled stories with more superhero themed elements that the X-Men comic books are known for. While it might throw off some people looking for another X-Men film, I'm confident that Wolverine comic book fans will be highly satisfied with his best adaptation yet.

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