Saturday, July 27, 2013

Movie Review: The Wolverine (2013)

The latest Wolverine movie focuses on the character and is anchored by Hugh Jackman's committed performance. Heavy themes come into play: what good soldiers seek, family and honor, genetics and the favored, death and immortality, and salvation and forgiveness. Good writing, good performances, and spectacular sword fighting choreography make this movie enjoyable.

The movie answers two questions: what is the Wolverine? -- a practically indestructible mutant with a near-miraculous healing factor and unbreakable bones -- and who is the Wolverine? -- something that requires more nuance. He's a soldier who fights for justice; a hunter who knows mercy; a scrappy fighter who'll keep going no matter what; but here, most of all, a man in pain. He dreams of Jean Grey every night, tortured by her death at his hands. Dream-Jean wants him to join her. When Yashida, a man Logan saved in Nagasaki decades ago, offers to "end your eternity," he sees a glimpse of the end of his suffering. Still, the Wolverine in him resists, and so what is not given must be taken.

The standout character here, apart from the ever-talented and beefcake Mr. Jackman, is Yukio, played by Rila Fukushima. Sporting dyed red hair, bangs, and a can of whup-ass, Yukio is competent and endearing. Here's a great interview with her on Screen Rant. The movie also notably did a decent job with the character of Mariko, who in the comics is Wolverine's Great Tragic Love Interest®. Played by tall human being Tao Okamoto, Mariko is a strong, independent young woman who is torn between obeying her father and honoring her grandfather.

Speaking of Mariko, a reviewer made the comment that The Wolverine is really about a crazy Japanese family that Logan happened to get involved with, and it's partially true. But it's interesting to see how he reacts to a culture that's so rich and rigid at the same time, with a metric ton of yakuza, bodyguards with machine guns, and ninjas in the mix. In particular, hats off to the ninjas for their handling of the fight with Logan. As my girl Rebel Wilson would say, going up the street and just punching someone--"That is not the ninja way." Nope, they get the job done, and it doesn't have to be flashy.

Speaking of flashy, okay, I get the main villain, and I do wish the film spent a little more time about motivations, but what the heck was up with the doctor who was dressed like a Romanian prostitute under her lab coat? Good lord she was campy. Well, maybe every comic book movie has a quota of at least one over-the-top character.

Folks, if you're going to watch this movie, make sure to stay until halfway through the credits for the Easter Egg. You will vibrate with excitement in your seat if you were or are an X-Men comics fan. And rumor has it a very popular Game of Thrones actor shall be cast... eeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

After this movie, I recommend going for sushi and beer, to honor Japan and Logan, respectively.

Sayonara... bub.