For those of you who don't know I am something of a fan of the original X Men trilogy and I go into detail about it on the latest 2-part epic X-Men episode of the podcast from The After Movie Diner.
The 1st part deals with the main X-men Trilogy We ALSO talk Man of Steel and Pacific Rim a little too.
RIGHT CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD MP3 OF PART 1
The 2nd part deals with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine
RIGHT CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD MP3 OF PART 2
However, I feel that the two prequel films Origins: Wolverine and First Class add very little to the franchise (although First Class is vastly superior to Origins, of course). It was with a little bit of trepidation then that I went to see the new instalment of the franchise, The Wolverine.
It's basically a sequel to X3: The Last Stand while also giving you more back story, more character and more information about the nature and personality of Logan/Wolverine, it's also the age old comic-book story of 'Superhero loses powers and learns deep abiding truths and the value and responsibility of wielding that power' but it tells it the best way I have ever seen that story told AND it's also a 70s Yakuza film complete with operatic and Shakespearean family drama, some sword wielding and, yes, even ninjas. It has a lot to accomplish, including being an entertaining comic-book, action, blockbuster film and it manages it all with grace, skill, awesome performances, mature pacing and an adult, serious slant.
It's not filled to bursting with whizz crash bangery but when the action and fighting take place it's awesome, especially in the first couple of acts. I have to say that the ending climax seemed a little flat to me and while there were lots of cool moments, as a whole it felt underwhelming after the fights that had come before.
Although it's PG-13, the film is more adult in tone and in pacing. It's slower, it doesn't talk down to the audience and, in fact, even has quite a bit of swearing and some mild gore, certainly more than any of the previous films. Anyone remember those three tiny cut marks on Mystique after Wolverine was meant to have stabbed her back in X1? well them days are long gone, thankfully, although the film-makers don't spill half as much crimson as would actually be spraying everywhere if this was real.
I know there are some out there who wish Fox and Marvel would get off the whole Wolverine kick and give someone else a chance in the limelight but this is truly the film the character and the patient, loyal Jackman deserve and he is particularly excellent in this film. Hugh Jackman has kept this character on when many other actors might have fled and despite the questionable turn of events in X-Men Origins, ignoring that, there is a wonderful continuity throughout the other 5 films that is continued and developed here.
In fact, considering the desire of a studio to often make these films 'stand alone' there is a certain plot strand involving Jean Grey that you really have to have seen, at least, the original trilogy to appreciate.
I felt this instalment added more to Wolverine's character than ever before and finally all the pieces for me, as a non comic book reader and just a movie goer, fell into place. Jackman does a wonderful job of conveying Logan's journey like we haven't seen before.
I can't fault the direction or the performances much at all, Rila Fukushima especially is a great sidekick that I hope crops up again one day, and while the script, much like previous films in the franchise, does a great job of juggling all the plot, character development, back story and action, it has a harder time finding good, decent, crowd pleasing one liners for Jackman to growl on, chew up and spit out with glee. There are attempts but nothing truly satisfying and it's been this way since X-Men 1. Someone needs to do an anti-hero cheesy one-liner punch up on the script. Get Schwarzenegger's old writers on it or something!
Also, MORE NINJA FIGHTING!!
Apart from that I can't suggest you see The Wolverine too highly. It's a good time at the cinema but avoid the 3D it really does add absolutely nothing, sadly.
8 out of 10 adamantium wolf meat kabab skewers