The Wolverine, directed by James Mangold, is Hugh Jackman’s sixth film in which he portrays Marvel’s character Logan. Since 2000, when the first X-Men film was welcomed in cinemas, Hollywood’s approach towards comic-book adaptations on the big screen has changed. There’s Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and a well thought out series of movies from Marvel Studios surrounding The Avengers. It turns out that the adventures of superheros can be tackled differently, while counting the colossal profits in movie theatres. Unfortunately 20th Century Fox fell asleep and X-Men films began to be discontinued from the competition. After a while, they managed to regain their spot on the market with X-Men: First Class and now, their latest project, The Wolverine. The film’s story is inspired by a series of comic-books from the 1980s, of the same name, written by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller.
We meet Wolverine in the worst moment of his life. Steeped in despair after the death of Jane (Famke Janssen), he’s holed up in Alaska, where he suffers alone. While in Alaska, he’s followed by a fellow mutant Yukio (Rila Fukushima), whose precognitive ability to foresee people’s death would have frightened anyone. The girl is sent by Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), a powerful businessman, whose life was saved by Logan in 1945 during the atomic attack on Nagasaki. Yashida, who is now dying of cancer is desperate to say his last goodbye to his saver. While in Japan, Wolverine finds out that the visit to the country isn’t only about farewell but also about the deprivation of his abilities to regenerate. It seems like Yashida isn’t the man Logan thought he was. The deadly game begins, Logan will have to fight against the dying man, the industrialist’s doctor- another mutant, a dominant female called Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) and Yashida’s son, Shingen (Hirayuki Sanada), an antagonist whose greediness has no limits when it comes to overpowering his own daughter Mariko (Toa Okamoto). However, each time Logan tries to run and fight for those he cares for, a new enemy appears on the horizon like Harada, a former lover of Mariko and head of the Black Ninja Clan, sworn to protect the Yashida family, who is constantly on Logan’s tail.
James Mangold (3:10 To Yuma, Walk the Line) had good things in his hands: an interesting source material, one of the world’s favourite Marvel superheroes and, above all, a very dedicated audience. I thought the vision of the deceased and reminiscence of the Second World War were essential for the development of the story, however it was shown in a slightly chaotic way. Nevertheless, after the establishment of the story and moving to Japan, The Wolverine gains momentum and becomes a good show.
In the film, Japan offers the viewers what’s expected from the country: super fast trains, ultra-modern technologiy, a handful of superstitions, wonderful tradition and super fit ninjas such as Harada played by Will Yun Lee. Who, in my opinion, was right for the role. Apart from being an impressive warrior his acting skills weren’t overshadowed by the fighting scenes, everything was well balanced, however, there were a few things that got me confused about Harada’s character: was he a villain or fallen hero? We see him trying to kill Logan than we see him doing the opposite. What’s behind his character?
For the females in the audience seeing Hugh Jackman is still the unquestionable pleasure. I must admit that he is undoubtedly the only actor that I know, who can, and is, able to portray Wolverine brilliantly. Whenever he is distraught, angry, relentless, ironic or noble his performance is always believable. Jackson’s Wolverine can show emotions in sentimental scenes and not seem ridiculous. Batman, Iron Man and Superman can be replaced, but finding a new Logan would be excruciatingly difficult.
Unfortunately, the female characters such as Mariko and Viper do not match Jackson’s charisma. They are good but somehow colourless in the case of Viper. Svetlana must have watched scenes with Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, in the weakest installment of Batman, too often. Wicked Viper runs around in high heels and a tight Latex costume like an unsettled cheerleader. Svetlana is an incredible actress, so I don’t think that the role of Viper will affect her future acting career by any means. Yukio, on the other hand, a young and fearless lady is an interesting character with her own story in the background.
The Wolverine is great fun to watch. There is a lot of excitement and surprisingly accurate humour. It’s action filled with swords, arrows and even a bit of romance. So trot to cinemas and enjoy the show!
Written by Maggie Gogler