Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Wolverine (US/AUS 2013)























So here we have the brand new sixth installment in this rather overdrawn franchise. A sequel to the third in the original trilogy, not really anything to do with the Wolverine origins film, obviously nothing to do with 'First Class' but a prequel of sorts for the upcoming new film 'Days of Future Past'. 'Days of Future Past' of course being a sequel to 'First Class' and 'Last Stand' which is the third in the original trilogy...Jesus Christ!!!

So yeah, try and keep that in your head whilst watching these films. So old muttonchops is off to Japan to meet the guy he saved back in WWII. Of course this guy is up to no good with his evil blonde lady scientist sidekick and gives Wolverine an offer he can't refuse...but he does and that upsets the old guys plans. Before he knows it Wolverine is defending himself from Yakuza whilst trying to keep his new love interest (his old Japanese war buddies granddaughter) safe whilst trying to solve the puzzle of why these guys want her and what the evil lady scientist did to him...basically.

Amazingly this film is completely grounded and quite realistic, invincibility thing aside. Right up until the main finale the film plays out like a semi serious light thriller in the land of the rising sun that is unbelievably quite sensible, intelligent yet kinda action free!. What action we do get is quite sparse but highly intense when it hits, admittedly some of it does go over the top but I gotta keep reminding myself I'm watching a Marvel flick.

Naturally the first really big action sequence is on board the Shinkansen (as you all know that is the Bullet train). Now this sequence at first kinda made me laugh somewhat but I did kinda enjoy it, again...remember, its a flick about Wolverine. Felt a bit Mission: Impossible-ish, a bit too silly and I do still wonder how he managed to get back inside the train from the roof at well over 200mph but hey...he's Wolverine.

Apart from that there isn't much to shout about until the end and a lovely dark moonlit sword fight with Shingen the son of main bad guy Yashida (wanted more of that with the Silver Samurai), beyond that point things get typically comic book. But for much of the film there is a lot of gritty emotion with Wolverine in angst over Jean Grey, his growing affection for Mariko and all the time thinking about Yashida's offer of a normal mortal life.

Jackman IS Wolverine, we know this, the guy just embodies the character so well plus he looks like him too, kinda helps. Most of the Japanese characters are sort of cliched and bland, nothing special really but they are all played well. The bad femme fatale in Viper kinda felt like a badass Poison Ivy to me and not much more, just more vicious. Sure she's hot and dresses in ridiculously sexy attire for no reason at all but she just felt generic, I did prefer her bald though, yeah I'm kinky.

There are some gripes with the film I must add, you knew it was coming. Firstly Viper is thrown from a huge height, striking metal on the way and survives, yet gets killed by being strangled?? seems odd to me. They steal an entire idea from Bond classic 'Diamonds are Forever' when the bad guys throw Plenty O'Toole out the window into a pool below and say 'I didn't know there was a pool down there' which Wolverine says. Not really a problem but come on guys, think of you're own stuff. Wolverine cutting himself open and doing DIY heart surgery?? hmmm not sure about that. And finally most of humour is fine but at the beginning when they force Logan to have a wash, shave and haircut, yet he comes out with that totally scruffy yet iconic muttonchop look. He looked more acceptable with the beard, and what is with the chops? is this the 70's? the sequence just didn't make much sense to me and felt forced, desperately grasping for laughs.

The biggest drawback for me and something that spoilt the film was of course the Silver Samurai. Now I was expecting a traditional samurai warrior suit on a bloke (Harada) with super powered katana's. What we get is a huge robotic Iron Man type mech suit that looks like something out of G.I.Joe or Mortal Kombat, it was just some generic big robot thing rendered in CGI, lame!!!!! Why couldn't he have been a normal bloke in a samurai suit doing kickass martial arts, generic still yes, but no CGI. On top of that I was kinda expecting to see this regular Silver Samurai throughout the film fighting with 'Wolverine' in mach 3 kickassery. But all we get is a finale sequence that kinda brings the film down.

So yeah the film on the whole is actually a pretty moody and reasonably dark adventure, offering a haunted and distressed Wolverine who lurches around feeling sorry for himself a lot. Seems to be a self contained story (yet you never know) and it does work pretty well, it all feels tight and intense with some nice stylish visuals helped by the Eastern setting. I can't deny my love of Japan and their culture has made me enjoy this film more than I would have, had it been set elsewhere. I mean in all honesty its very formulaic in various places, same slice n dice action and offers nothing new really, how many times can Jackman turn and stare into the camera intensely with glaring eyes before it becomes rather stupid.

Its still hokey at times, I didn't like their Silver Samurai approach, he's not even in the film that much and I can't lie the ending ruins the semi serious angle. But its definitely the best Wolverine outing so far (although not much competition) mainly because of its Japan setting, some good Eastern performances (they always come across so intense over there) and great location visuals.

6.5/10