X-Men Origins: Wolverine managed to make X-Men: The Last Stand look good in comparison, and with both of them being, at minimum, relatively terrible movies, that’s saying something. The Wolverine was Fox’s chance to show that they can make a good movie focused on the character. If the trailers were anything to indicate, it didn’t seem like that was going to happen. They didn’t exactly make The Wolverine look bad, but it didn’t look good either. X-Men: First Class was great, but The Wolverine could show that its quality was a fluke.
I find it interesting, not good or bad, that Fox continues to stick to the continuity set forth in the main X-Men trilogy even though the third movie is widely regarded as utter shit. They had no problem retconning bits of X2 in the last Wolverine movie, but the main story beats are cannon. The Wolverine opens with, after a short prologue showing him saving a Japanese soldier who freed him from a POW camp from the Nagasaki bomb, Logan living in the woods like Spider Jerusalem, except instead of being a loner who hates society, he is continuously haunted by the memory of killing Jean Grey at the end of The Last Stand.
The following two hours chronicles Wolverine’s return to Japan to fulfill that soldier’s dying wish. There is plenty of crazy action and they managed to take one of the worst plot conceits, a hero with a healing factor who then loses it, and actually make it a somewhat interesting story. Though it helps that Wolverine has a metal skeleton, so a simple bullet to the head wouldn’t work. Of course, since they’re in Japan, he has to fight plenty of Yakuza soldiers and ninjas. What would a story in Japan be without Yakuza soldiers and ninjas though?
I really did expect The Wolverine to be mediocre to crap. What I instead watched was an incredibly entertaining action movie that reveled in its comic roots. The bullet train sequence, while ridiculous, was so much fun to watch that I can almost recommend the movie for that scene alone. Thankfully the rest of the movie has enough fun elements that it not only justifies its own existence, but attempts tries to remind you that the X-Men can be fun when handled well. You also have to stay after the end credits for a teaser that set up Days of Future Past in the best way possible.
The Wolverine manages to make up for the travesty that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That doesn’t make it an amazing movie, and in many cases it’s not, but it attempts something so many comic book try to avoid completely, the sheer insanity and dumb twists and turns that the plots so often take. The Wolverine isn’t going to win any awards, but it succeeds at being a fun comic book movie that feels like the panels coming alive on the big screen. Sure, we can do better, but at the very least what we have is a fun ride that tries to make you forget the mishandling of this franchise.
In Theaters: July 26, 2013
Runtime: 126 min
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Studio: Marvel Entertainment, The Donners’ Company, Seed Productions, Hutch Parker Entertainment
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Official Site: http://thewolverinemovie.com/us/