Movie Review: The Wolverine
- Actor(s): Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen
- Title: The Wolverine
- Director: James Mangold
- Type: Action
- Website: http://www.thewolverinemovie.com
Heading into the release of The Wolverine, public expectations seemed rather mild for a Marvel superhero film. The campaigns for the production seemed modest and the buzz hadn’t nearly reached that of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man 3 or the assemble film The Avengers. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and you also shouldn’t judge a movie by its rollout. When it’s all said and done The Wolverine may be the most integral piece of the 7-movie puzzle that is the X-Men series (including 2014’s X Men: Days Of Future Past).
Hugh Jackman has become to the Wolverine character what Christian Bale means to Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy. Jackman’s persona, appearance, and vocal inflictions have brought one of the most beloved comic book characters to life like no other. The Wolverine shows just how masterful Jackman’s grasp on the role has become. The piercing stare of Hugh Jackman as the movie opens up and develops set the mood and pace perfectly. The movie takes place after the events of X Men: The Last Stand and Wolverine is as conflicted as he’s ever been. Jackman’s ability to facially project the emotions of such a complex character in just a single frame is chilling.
With a little over 2 hours of screen time to work with, director James Mangold takes his time and eases into the plot. Anecdotes and flashbacks of Wolverine’s past subtly drill into the audience’s head the characteristics that make him such a prominent warrior but also such a flawed human being. The writing finds a valid way to make viewers heavy hearted over the curse that is Wolverine’s immortality. While the dialogue is very direct, it somehow finds a way to avoid becoming cheesy as Jackman bitterly delivers lines such as, “what they did to me…what I am…can’t be undone,” and “you don’t want what I’ve got.”
More than anything, the style of action throughout the film will be remembered for years to come. In an era where CGI rules blockbuster films, The Wolverine relies on breath taking hand-to-hand combat scenes compounding with stunts bold enough to get Jackie Chan on the edge of his seat. The film’s focus on the humanization of Wolverine, and how special he is beyond his mutant abilities allows for such great combat. At one point Wolverine rhetorically questions how fast a Japanese bullet train can travel, foreshadowing an awesome high-speed locomotive scuffle. The CGI effects are only used when absolutely needed, such as portraying the damage caused by the atom bomb in Japan which Wolverine witnessed first hand.
Famke Janssen reprieves her role as Jean Grey, who taunts Wolverine relentlessly through his subconscious as he struggles with the aftermath of killing her in X Men: The Last Stand. The Chemistry between Janssen and Jackman’s psychological exchanges mirror that of Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard in Inception. These moments make for some of the most powerful cinematography we’ve seen in superhero flicks but they also slow down the movie, displeasing many action hungry fans.
Surprisingly enough, The Wolverine is even scored greatly. The music choices set the ambiance of each scene fittingly without distraction. If anything may plague the film it’s an overdevelopment of Wolverine’s character, leaving too much time between the amazing fight scenes. Many may also argue that the best action comes earlier on in the film, with no true anti-hero present for a climactic ending. In all actuality though, Wolverine’s butt kicking skills have been thoroughly put on display through the previous 4 films Jackman’s appeared in. It’s most refreshing to see what depths a comic book character can reach on the big screen. By the end of the film, Jackman brings you back to the feeling you had when Wolverine lent a near-death Rogue his healing powers in the final moments of X-Men in 2000. By the time the traditional post-credit scene rolls in fans will rejoice and erupt in applause at what the future holds for the X-Men saga.
-Review by Gregory Calvaire