The Wolverine (2013)
*WARNING: ADAM ANT-IUM LACED SPOILERS!*
12-Year-Old Brad (12YOB): Wolverine rules! He’s a bad-ass! And in this one he’s fighting ninjas and samurai!
Brad: Be as that may, they could’ve easily just straight-forwardly adapted the Frank Miller/Chris Claremont miniseries and it probably would’ve been nominated for a few Oscars. It was a simple story of Logan taking a break from the X-Men to help out his girlfriend Mariko with her evil father and getting entangled in a family-feud and politics of a far-away land and culture shock. Yes, he battled ninjas and old-school Japanese fighting which even for Logan was a tough enough battle. But it was an entertaining and intelligent story.
In this film he’s asked to see a dying old man in Japan, whom he saved from the Nagasaki atom bomb and hasn’t seen since, to say goodbye. But the old man knows that Logan struggles with the burden of near immortality and wants to use his healing power to live. Logan more or less tells him no way and the old man dies the next day.
12YOB: I liked the part where he stabbed that hunter in the hand with an arrow because the hunter left a bear in the woods to die a slow and painful death. But Wolverine found the bear and mercy killed it because the bear somehow asked him to. Question: Can Wolverine speak to animals now?
Brad: Yes that was a nice scene because in the beginning of the film, Logan is living off the grid in a forest struggling with dreams of Jean Grey basically telling him to kill himself so they could be reunited in the after-life. Seeing Famke Janssen again as Jean was nice and done without hamfist or fan service it did drive the plot of pain of immortality for Logan as well as guilt and remorse for having so many loved ones die and he lives on. The only gripe I had with Jean was that she pops up like 4 or 5 times and if not for her negligee I was getting bored of her telling Logan basically the same thing.
12YOB: She was really pretty. I didn’t care much for the Japanese mutant girl with the power to see other peoples’ future deaths. Also did she have a Cerebro or something because she found Logan who was now living in the woods.
Brad: She was alright. Yukio served one basic purpose in the film and that was coming in at just the right moments to help Wolverine. Her mutant power of future death, while kinda weak and dumb (why not just make her a psychic?), only was used plot-wise once and it ended up she was wrong. Other than that she had few fight scenes and by the end of the film stayed by Logan’s side back to America. Although looking ahead, she’s nowhere to be found in the new X-Men movie so I don’t know what the point of her following him back, telling him she’s his bodyguard, is.
12YOB: I also thought the snake lady was good. She was pretty and sinister!
Brad: Are you kidding?! She was THE WORST decision in this film. Horrible actress, horrible character and horrible to the plot. I didn’t recall this mutant with snake-like venom powers in the comics & I care less about researching her. She was the old man’s oncologist when we meet her but then she’s revealed to be a mutant with venom that actually kisses Logan to inject her venom that actually takes away Logan’s healing factor. As time goes on, Logan realizes that he’s vulnerable and isn’t healing his wounds, which isn’t such a horrible idea for a Wolverine movie.
12YOB: I didn’t like to see Wolverine hurt. He bled a lot and even had to see a doctor to patch him up!
Brad: Yeah but the healing factor came back of course in one of the most confusing scenes ever. So Logan goes back to the old man’s oncology lab in his house where he remembered that the guy had a super-sophisicated x-ray/ultra-sound machines. Logan looks in his chest and discovers a mechanical spider or bug attached to his heart. Somehow this spider got in his body by the snake mutant lady when she frenched some venom down his throat. This makes ZERO SENSE!!! How did a spider get in his body when she’s a venom spitting mutant. And a mechanical one at that?! So anyway Logan actually performs some half-assed surgery on himself to remove the spider from his own heart. Bear in mind that he’s using his own unsanitized hand to reach up into his rib cage and grab the spider. HIS OWN HAND!! And also bear in mind that he has no healing factor to help him along with this surgery of his. And while all this is going on Yukio is sword fighting with Mariko’s father to help build more unnecessary tension while Logan rips out the spider, dies for a brief moment and when the healing factor kicks back in, he’s all good to go to fight! This is the second self-surgery scene two summers in a row thanks to Prometheus‘ stupid c-section scene. Hollywood is getting out of hand with the medical bullshit.
12YOB: AHH! My virgin ears!!
Brad: Sorry, little buddy. I also have to bring up something that also makes very little sense to the overall plot. So the old man wants Logan’s healing power to live virtually forever. He has in his employ a mutant that can take away such a power and does, leaving the only means of survival for the old man vulnerable to all the attacks the Black Ninja Clan as well as the Yakuza Wolverine has, to survive. My main question is: Why would you take away Wolverine’s power if you needed it so bad? You might assume half-way through the movie that Viper (the snake lady) was double-crossing the old man but that was not the case at all since she helped the old man become the Silver Samurai (a huge adamantium-laced robotic suit for the old man) and almost succeeded in draining Logan of his healing power through his bone-marrow(?) when the Silver Samurai’s huge sword cut off both of Logan’s adamantium claws (eventually his healing factor grew back his bone claws, which I don’t know how they’re going to address this in the new X-men movie; if they’re going to somehow get him adamantium claws back or not.). So Viper was always on the side of the old man but took away Logan’s power, getting his nearly killed in the whole second half. If Logan had died, their plan would’ve failed. So that whole plot point is prime example of terrible screen-writing me thinks.
PLUS, this is a nitpick but as a Wolverine fan I have to say it: Wolverine’s healing factor makes him impervious to all toxins. So his body should’ve rejected the venom she gave him. If the venom is that powerful to basically erase his healing factor than it should’ve simply killed him on the spot.
12YOB: I was bored during the middle of the movie when Logan and Mariko talked so much.
Brad: Yeah that’s a good point to bring up. The middle of the movie did drag a bit. However, this wasn’t such a bad thing. Now I’m a huge Wolverine fan. Always have been. The love story behind The Wolverine was well written and you really felt a connection between Logan and Mariko. They had good chemistry and its always good to see such a nuanced and tough character like Logan have a soft side and emotional vulnerability. Scenes like them hiding in Mariko’s southern home and eating together were a nice warm touch. I didn’t mind these scenes too much as I wanted a more-grown-up story to Wolverine, especially the love story with Mariko, like the mini-series in the 80s. The beginning was great too with Logan basically living in the forest like John Rambo. If they made the rest of the movie as good as First Blood then The Wolverine would be phenomenal. They really should’ve made it more like First Blood meets The Outlaw Josey Wales meets Yojimbo.
12YOB: Yo Bimbo? What the heck is Yo Bimbo? I thought the Silver Samurai was awesome!!
Brad: See, this where the movie really sank for me. The movie tried so hard to be a smart, Western-themed and toned movie but the finale was really terrible. Logan is captured in a base on top of a mountain. I checked but Dr. Evil was nowhere to be seen. He is harnessed in a chair with his arms outreached in front of him. Viper starts to go on like every other cliched villain, explaining her plan to Logan and trying to act her way out of a paper bag but fails miserably. My eyes just couldn’t stop rolling at her words. Finally she pisses Logan off and he extracts his claws. Big mistake as that was part of the plan and she somehow uses the chair so he cannot pull the claws back in. This is so the robotic Silver Samurai can use his adamantium sword (that charges with extreme energy to make it hot and sharper—Whatever) to cut off Logan’s claws so he can extract his healing factor. Mariko somehow moves the chair so the Silver Samurai cuts the chair to pieces to free Logan and a fight ensues. Eventually the Silver Samurai does cut off his claws and reveals himself to be dum-dum-DUMMM, the old man. The Silver Samurai suit also has special arms that manage to grab and hold Logan’s hand so tiny screwdrivers can easily plug into his open claw bones and extract his healing factor. The old man then quickly reverts back to his younger self and Logan starts to age rapidly. Its just as dumb when you see it. Mariko again comes to Logan’s aid and stabs the old man in the neck with one of Logan’s cut adamantium claws. As soon as the Silver Samurai frees Logan from its grip, Logan’s healing factor kicks in and he’s able to fight another day.
12YOB: The post-credits scene was really awesome!!
Brad: Shuuuuush. Lets not spoil that for everyone. Its easily the best scene in the whole movie.
So while the movie failed in lots of ways for me, it also had some good things, like: The bullet train fight. A great choreographed fight scene with really great visuals. I didn’t see this in 3D, but this scene would be reason enough to. The funeral fight was decent as well. Not too many close-ups and blink-and-you-miss-it edits so you can’t follow the action. Plus we had Mariko’s ex-boyfriend, the head of the ninjas, shooting arrows at Yakuza from great distances. Can’t go wrong with an archer in your movie. Am I right, Hunger Games, Avengers, Brave & The Hobbit?
Also Marco Beltrami’s score was very good. There was a couple of moments that I entertained the notion to walk out of the movie (in hindsight this was probably just a bad attitude due to the disappointment at the time) and what kept me there was the score.
Hugh Jackman IS Logan. His protrayal of him is essential to the cinematic world. Like how Christopher Reeve IS Superman or Christopher Lee IS Dracula (or Christopher Walken IS Max Zorin. Hugh Jackman will always be remembered as Wolverine. Rightly so, the guy really loves this character and it shows in his performance of him. From the fierceness to the sarcasm to the brooding he acts just like how Logan in the comics is expected.
I just wish this was a smarter movie. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was so stupid it was insulting. It was Resident Evil-level bad. I was really hoping the new director, James Mangold made this film like his 3:10 to Yuma which was one of the best modern Westerns I have ever seen. Wolverine deserves a better movie. Like how I complained that Man of Steel was not for kids even though it was Superman, Wolverine is like Batman wherein you can make a hard PG-13 comic book movie for an adult audience. Logan fighting a 8-foot adamantium robot is not what should happen in a Wolverine movie. Especially one where he almost dies twice. If they had left him without a healing factor by the end so the odds are more even with a highly skilled Samurai warrior of normal size (not robotic) than that would’ve been way better. Man, if they emulated the sword fight from Liam Neeson’s under-seen gem, Rob Roy, that would’ve been kick ass. But no. We get a robot completely made out of adamantium. Even if the Silver Samurai was normal armor and still had an adamanium sword I would’ve bought that more. Just because its a comic book movie doesn’t mean it has to be so fantastical to be good. The whole movie didn’t suspend that much disbelief up until that point and was more grounded in reality than all the other X-Men movies, so why such a silly ending?
Oh what could’ve been…
Score: 4 mechanical heart attack spiders out of 10