Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Wolverine

An Excellent Hardcore Noir Movie
by Reymundo Salao

THE WOLVERINE seeks to revitalize the comic book character Wolverine with a treatment designed to correct the wrongs of the previous movie, one that will render it "done right this time" And yes, it does accomplish that job.

The movie has various plots and subplots, in such a way that still has some sense of order; you have a family at the crossroads of betrayal, a character who is interested in Logan's mutant abilities, Logan himself trying to survive the fact that he can be mortally wounded, even be killed. He is also facing a haunting past that frequently visits his dreams. All its subplots are layered one over the other in a way that is not confusing and manages to let the story run in a fluid consistent manner. [continue after the jump]

The action was great; the stunts and the choreography were awesome that it had me cheering a lot in various parts of the movie. It never underestimated its audience by being honest with the necessary violence. There is no cartoony way of trying to hold back the action in order to maintain some kid-friendly rule. Although it cheats its audiences by controlling violence boundaries and sparing the audience the scenes of gore or excess bloodbaths, it still manages to maintain the presence of the violent action itself; the kind of violence necessarily inherent in what a Wolverine movie should have. (What? Do you expect to make a Wolverine movie without all the slicing and stabbing?) And yes, for those not familiar with the comics, do not be shocked; Wolverine does kill.

Aside from the action, The Wolverine is more character-driven. People who expect the same kind of "fantastic fun" in other superhero movies may find the movie dragging, or even mediocre. Especially in the first half of the movie wherein which I loved the drama and the complex evolution of fates, following the journey of one man who is lost and feeling cursed by the pain of the past, and the fact that he has to live with it (eternally).

For me, the weaker parts of the movie were when they brought out the big special effects; the big fight with Viper (Viper herself felt like a B-movie character) and the Silver Samurai. The movie's strength really is in the character development and the more hardcore non-fantasy action. With a character like Wolverine, as is in the comics, his best stories do not involve big monsters or apocalyptic scenarios; Wolverine is more complex than Superman or Spider-man. He is animalistic, savage, yet he maintains his sense of morality and honor. Character-wise, he is more grounded in reality with the fact that he really does not have some quest to seek out and rid the world of evil as a costumed superhero; he just does that as he goes along the way.

James Mangold manages to create a movie that is faithful, in essence, to the comics; and reflecting the gritty, violent and noirish aspects of what a Wolverine movie should be. But at the same time, he manages to make an action-drama with great character development and an awesome script. My verdict; this is feels like the Wolverine movie his fans are waiting for; dark, gritty, brooding, and with the right amount of simplicity. It’s a must-see for fans and those who seek to be surprised that superhero movies can be a source of good drama as well. But for those looking for the usual Hollywood Summer movie, this might fall short on expectations.

Additional Notes: In the story's continuity, events in THE WOLVERINE happen years after the events in the movie X-MEN: THE LAST STAND. Jean Grey (Famke Jansen) often appears in Logan's dreams as some sort of haunting conscience, injecting an interesting psychological aspect in the movie. Aside from that one detail, the story does not oblige you to watch the previous movies, and can be considered as a stand-alone movie. There seems to be no reference to the movie X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE which is better off forgotten or considered to 'not have existed.' Audiences are advised to stick around in the post-credits to find an extra scene which seems to be a bridge scene to the upcoming movie X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

No comments: