The Wolverine (2013)

Our review of the sixth X-Men-related movie and the fifth to feature the mysterious man known as “Logan.” Will it hurt less than X-MO:W or X3? (Yes.) Will it even come close to everyone’s beloved X2? (No.) Will I ever tire of rhetorical questions? (Hell no.) Will this movie make millions more dollars than reason or good sense allow? (Hell yes.) And so it goes.


4 thoughts on “The Wolverine (2013)”

  1. The Wolverine is a better movie than it has any right to be. After X-men: The Last Stand, the franchise has been on a downward spiral. X-men: First Class was entertaining but a thoroughly flawed movie elevated by gimmicks as much as the writing. Was I remotely interested in a sequel to X-men: Origins: Wolverine? No, I can’t say I was. Even if I was one of the few who didn’t hate it, I certainly didn’t love it.

    So is The Wolverine good? Yeah, sort of. Maybe I’m impressed with the results due to my lowered expectations but it’s a pretty decent adaptation of Frank Miller’s Wolverine (back when Frank was about ninjas rather than hookers). There’s actual character development, emotions, and storytelling.

    Perhaps the part I enjoyed best about this movie is it is a sequel to X-men: The Last Stand that justifies the existence of that movie. A large part of The Wolverine is the titular character dealing with the fallout from Jean Grey’s death. Having someone have a semi-realistic reaction to the traumatic events of X-men 3 was so unexpected, I was inclined to give the Wolverine a pretty long rope to hang itself.

    And it didn’t.

    There is nothing I hated in the Wolverine. Maybe that’s a really bad standard to hold the film too but given the way the ball has been dropped with the Fox Marvel franchises lately–it’s nice to see them holding onto it. It makes me semi-excited to see Peter Dinklage unleash a horde of Nazi skyscraper-sized robots on our genetically abberant (but better for the diversity) species.

    1. Is it safe to say that your ambivalence matches that of Mr. DeMoss? You sound like you favor the movie while damning it with apologetically faint praise. He, on the other hand, seems left so cold (and bored) that he barely cares enough to form an opinion, much less a strong one.
      For my part, I think it’s a sad state of affairs when genre pieces are valued so poorly that you can’t expect much more than this; a Big Dumb Action Flick (TM) with an uncommonly interesting backdrop.

      1. You hit it, Infinite. At least as far as I’m concerned. Cool boredom was the order of the day with this Wolverine. And if you’ve watched enough anime, the backdrop’s not really all that interesting. Seems kinda flat, in fact. Straightforward. Dull. Like it’s so afraid of confusing anyone, it broadcasts everything on an open channel. The result being: I knew how the second act would end before I even walked into the theater and called the ending’s grand “twist” before the first act even set it up. So yeah: by the halfway point, I had my head in my hand, mouthing, “Bored now” to a theater that was well and truly enjoying itself. Good for them.

        And I can understand. I’m with Charles on a few points: it genuinely is a better adaptation of that Miller/Claremont miniseries than I dared hope. Less ham-handed cultural appropriation, more gratuitous claw-popping, less slovenly, early-80s stereotyping, more Yukio. And a better Yukio than I’ve seen in the comics. Where the hell’s her movie? he asked, rhetorically. They’ve already reduced Rogue to a Human MacGuffin, ignored Kitty Pryde until X3, and stuffed Jubilee so deep into the background I’m pretty sure I dreamed her in the first place…it’s long past time these movies acknowledge Wolverine’s long and storied tradition of Girl Friday sidekicks. Capable Girl Friday sidekicks, thank you, Fox.

        We’re all in an odd place with this one, really – we could easily tear it a series of new holes…but every time we start to, a little voice deep inside us says, “Remember X-MOW?” Then we remember X-MOW, pass out from shock, wake up two-ish hours later in a puddle of drool and nose blood, and realize we’ve officially lowered our expectations. Sad? Yes. But also a necessary lesson of history. We’re still recovering from X-MOW, along with all the other shock/horrors we sustained in 2009 (Transformers 2, Halloween 2/10, Terminator: No Salvation, Avatar…and on and on and…)

        Personally, I like to counter the inevitable attack of ennui by reading other people’s reviews and seeing how far they’ve lowered their expectations. In most cases (at least among our fellow nerds) the answer is “so low, they should be battling the Mahars for control of Pellucidar.” So low that this (and/or Thor: The Dark Inside) seems worthy of a spot on The Obligatory Year-End Top 10 Best list because…? That I can’t fathom. Some people had a truely terrible year, I guess. Me, I was doing okay until…around the time this movie came out, actually. Then the steady, senses-dulling grind of late-summer 2.5s out of 5s strained my brain past the breaking point. Hence: Carrieathon ‘013.

        1. I think I probably liked it better than DDM but not by much. If “The Wolverine” is worse than “Thor: The Dark World” it’s not by much and is a far more judicious use of its budget. Wolverine fights a giant robot and ninjas in his movie, Thor fights a Stone Man from Saturn in his (but that wasn’t even part of the main plot!).

          Where the X-Franchise went downhill (and indeed all Marvel movies) was when they assumed our fanboy glee would overwhelm the weaknesses in the story.
          The Nightstalkers, Venom, the shameless butchering of Joss Whedon’s excellent Astonishing run, Gambit, and god knows how many others thing thrown at a dartboard do not a good Marvel movie make.

          The Wolverine benefits from both simplicity as well as understandable emotional content. Something both the first two X-men movies understood. Even First Class (problematic as it was) comprehended it enough it was capable of functioning as a coherent (if gimmicky) story.

          The Wolverine has a guy who wants immortality, a guy who wants to steal Mariko’s inheritance, and a bunch of ninjas who are hunting Wolverine because presumably Matt Murdock and Elektra are busy (the real ones). All stuff I don’t need to break out my X-men Encyclopedia to understand. If I’ve lowered my expectations, it’s to the level of wanting to be entertained.

          The Wolverine entertained me and if it’s not “God Loves, Man Kills” it certainly is a decent approximation of the joy I used to get watching X-men animated in the 90s–and I got a lot of joy from that. I won’t lower my standards to the point I accept a bad movie but I’m willing to accept a good movie without demanding it be GREAT.

          Now if only Fox understood I’d have been entirely okay with a movie about the X-men fighting Sentinels WITHOUT all the time-travel nonsense. Especially when it doesn’t involve Bishop, Cable, Kitty Pryde, or Rogue Pryde-hybrid.

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