High-concept sequel to 2009 ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ doesn’t disappoint but doesn’t break new ground.
Directed by James Mangold
Written by Mark Bomback & Scott Frank
In cinemas now! Check it out in 2D and 3D.
Beware of spoilers!I’ll preface this review by saying I don’t dislike ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ but I don’t love it either. I felt that Fox – or somebody else involved in production – was worried that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine couldn’t carry a movie by himself despite his massive popularity and so the film became overstuffed with secondary characters who added nothing to the story.
‘The Wolverine’ seems to suffer the same problem. There are less mutants on screen this time around and Jackman is allowed much more time to run around screaming and saying the word ‘bub’ but even then those mutants who do pepper the story are not given time to develop.
For those who haven’t yet seen the film the story revolves around Wolverine being dragged back from a life of obscurity post ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ to say goodbye to an old friend. Of course chaos ensues and an adventure that takes place across several Japanese locales takes on a journey through 126mins of giant set pieces and small character moments.
The story is flimsy but it’s there although potentially a little hacked up to make the 12a rating and also to cut down the running time. There are times I almost expected Wolverine to say ‘ah f**k it’ and go back to the woods.
Jackman has inhabited this character for 13 years now and it shows. He may not have aged too much in that time – much like the character – but there’s now a very blurred line between actor and character for me. His dialogue is short and a sometimes a bit stunted but it embodies the character well and reflects the kind of dialogue you would expect to see in a comic. Adaptions like this often struggle to balance the visual-to-dialogue ratio when basing on strong source material.
The other stand out character in this film is easily Rila Fukushima’s Yukio. She has the most screen time behind Jackman and most of her scenes are shared with him. There’s not a great deal of exploration of her powers but if she was to appear in future movies the groundwork has been laid. There’s enough backstory to make her seem real and she fits in well to the story and with Jackman.
The ending would suggest that she could return to appear in future movies but the post-credit scene, not to be spoiled here, may suggest otherwise for the time being.
The biggest offender on the cast list in this film… Viper played by Svetlana Khodchenkova who comes off as nothing more than a clone of Poison Ivy from ‘Batman & Robin’ her screen time gives Khodchenkova no chance to develop the character and so she totters around, reads her lines and is then gone to be forgotten. No disrespect to the actress but the character is an unnecessary addition to the film. Secondary to her lack of story her costume becomes increasingly green (and shiny) to the point where comparisons to Uma Thurman as Ivy are impossible to avoid.
There are many redeeming features to this film. The set pieces are ambitious to say the least. There were moments during the bullet train scene where I was ducking in my seat and I only saw the 2D version. The flashback scene which opens the film is a little uncomfortable but plays out well although not as well as the WW2 prison camp scenes from ‘X-Men’ and ‘X-Men: First Class’.
There’s nothing major by way of plot twists (during the main film) and the twists which do occur are easily predictable just to those who have seen the trailer. On the topic of the trailer I did feel that there are some misleading scenes which had led me to make assumptions about the plot which were incorrect. Nothing wrong with that, I was actually pleasantly surprised I couldn’t quite read the whole film before having seen it.
Special effects are what we have come to expect from this kind of summer tentpole. There were a couple of occasions where the claws on Logan’s hands were clearly added later but this aside this film has a great visual style which makes the viewer aware they’re in the X-verse we have come to expect on film.
The biggest difference from the previous Wolverine film is the sense of realism. Ignore the fact that you are witnessing mutants with special abilities and this film exists in a relatively real world. My other main gripe with the ‘Origins’ film was that as it lacked a sense of reality due to the number of set pieces which were purposely constructed. Overall ‘Origins’ felt staged whereas ‘Wolverine’ feels much more organic.
Excitement is building massively for next years ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ and with the viral marketing already in play it may have overshadowed this film but actually if you can let go of a meaty plot this is still an enjoyable addition to the X-Men saga.