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The Wolverine (2013)

Josh Reviews The Wolverine

August 1st, 2013
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I think if I had never read Wolverine, the classic 1982 mini-series written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Frank Miller & Joe Rubinstein, I would have had a lot more enjoyment from the new film The Wolverine.

I think The Wolverine is a very solid film, an excellent Wolverine solo adventure with some great character beats and some killer action sequences.  It’s a film that goes a long way towards righting the “present-day” X-Men film franchise that had so badly stumbled with X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  The problem is that this film is purported to be an adaptation of the Claremont/Miller mini-series.  Ever since Hugh Jackman first impressed movie-goers with his portrayal of Logan in Bryan Singer’s first X-Men film, fans have clamored for an adaptation of the character-defining story in which Wolverine goes to Japan, finds love, fights lots of ninjas, and is forced to confront the basic duality of his nature and determine whether he is capable of being more than an animalistic killing machine.  It’s a classic story, probably still to this day the greatest Wolverine story.

And although The Wolverine is set in Japan and features characters named Mariko, Yukio, and Shingen, the similarities to the Claremont/Miller story end there.  That really bummed me out, because while The Wolverine tells a very interesting story, I didn’t find it nearly as interesting as the comic book story.  So I wonder why the filmmakers didn’t just tell that great story from the comic, rather than making up this whole new one?

Putting aside the comparisons, the story told in The Wolverine is a good one.  Despite quite a few years having passed since 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, The Wolverine is an unabashed sequel to that film, picking up an unspecified number of years later, with Logan still haunted by his killing of Jean Grey.  He has tried to swear off violence, but continually finds himself drawn into situations in which he sees wrongs that need to be righted, often at the pointy-ends of his adamantium claws.  Into his life enters Yukio, a young woman sent to track him down on behalf of the aged head of clan Yashida.  Logan saved his life decades ago, at the end of World War II, and Yashida wants to repay this debt by giving Logan a way to end his immortal life.

Hugh Jackman is still staggeringly impressive as Logan.  He brings tremendous physicality to the role (Mr. Jackman has a Shatner-esque ability to constantly find himself without a shirt) and also an ability to almost effortlessly display Logan’s innate nobility and romantic side.  That’s a central aspect of the character in the comics — he’s really quite a … [continued]