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Vault Movie Review: “The Wolverine”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 7/26/2013

Theatrical Release: 7/26/2013

Synopsis

Logan (Hugh Jackman) has watched as many he cared about died. He is no longer with the X-Men, and he is struggling to cope with the tragic deaths of so many of his friends and loved ones. Logan now wanders the Canadian wilderness, but a mysterious mutant named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) has tracked Logan down on behalf of her employer. Ages ago, Logan saved a man named Yashida from an otherwise certain death during the bombing of Hiroshima in World War II. Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) is now an extremely wealthy and resourceful CEO in Japan, but he is old, sick, and dying. Before he dies, he wants to thank Logan for saving his life, and he wants to do it in person.

Logan travels to Japan, and Yashida is shocked at how little Logan has aged after all this time. Yashida wants Logan to give him his power, since Logan is very clearly miserable and now sees his power for the curse that it is. Yashida's mutant scientist Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) has the ability to transfer Logan’s mutant healing, but Yashida's daughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) is being targeted by assassins, and Logan is her only hope of survival. Logan, however, quickly discovers his mutant healing is not working like it normally does, making him severely outnumbered in a land he does not know, while being more vulnerable than ever and with a woman who will not survive without him. This trip all began as a simple invitation from a dying man, but it has turned into Logan's greatest challenge yet.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Wolverine (+8pts)

Mariko (-4pts)

Yukio (+5pts)

Yukio’s Ability (-3pts)

The Action (+8pts)

Viper & The Silver Samurai (-6pts)

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Pro: The Wolverine (+8pts)

I thought Logan’s story in this movie was really compelling. He was tormented by the fact that he was essentially immortal, while everyone he loved and cared about died around him. He felt doomed to an eternity of misery, and that was where his head space was at the beginning of this movie. Then someone wanted his power, but Logan refused, taking the burden and misery for himself.

Then it seemed he was losing his powers, which was what he wanted, but it happened when people needed him with his powers to survive. Logan basically wanted and hated his powers simultaneously, and it really played into the idea that his powers were a curse and a burden, but that they allowed him to save lives. It made Logan’s motivations and desires really complicated, which made this an interesting character story. Then there was the fact that this movie had plenty of great Wolverine action, and the scenes when he let his rage out, with his powers at 100%, were simply awesome.

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Con: Mariko (-4pts)

Mariko was a disappointing main character. She was a typical damsel in distress, and she had an eye-roll inducing romance with Logan. It was one of those romantic storylines that only happened because the two characters were primary protagonists and were characters of the opposite gender. The filmmakers didn’t do anything interesting with it, there was no chemistry between the two characters, the two characters had very little screentime together to justify the romance, and Mariko did not contribute anything to the story other than being a body for Logan to have to save.

Mariko was an uninteresting and almost useless character, and I could not help but think the filmmakers could have solved all these problems by merging the characters of Mariko and Yukio together. Merging the two characters would have required a minor rewrite, but it would have delivered a badass female lead who only needed Logan’s help because she was severely outnumbered. She could have been Yashida’s daughter, and could have been a potential love interest, but she could have been one who had a lot more in common with Logan. It also would have given her plenty more screentime to flesh out the potential romance. Keeping the two characters separate definitely did not hurt Yukio as a character, but it certainly hurt the far less interesting Mariko.

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Pro: Yukio (+5pts)

I liked this character a lot, as she was a badass and her power pretty naturally made her story an interesting one. She had the ability of getting glimpses of how people would die, so upon meeting someone, she became aware of their most tragic moment. I liked how her power weighed on her, and I liked how it made her similar to Logan, as she saw her power more as a curse than a gift. I will get into what I did not like about her power later, but I enjoyed what it did for her as a character, as it made her story a lot more interesting.

Then there was the fact that Yukio was simply a badass. She had a deadly sword, and she was more than capable of using it. Her mutant ability did not help her in combat, but her talent with a blade let her hold her own against almost anyone she crossed paths with. She was cool, she was fearless, and I liked seeing her doing her thing.

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Con: Yukio’s Ability (-3pts)

While I liked what Yukio’s ability did for her story, there were still a couple of things I did not like about it. The first was that her premonitions were conveniently vague. They were just detailed enough to cause characters to become paranoid about things, and to tease how characters might die, but they were just vague enough for the writers to dial up the drama and suspense. The vagueness of her power just felt very convenient for the writers, but I also thought Yukio could have used a cooler ability, one that could be used in action. Yukio was a warrior, for all intents and purposes, and I think she would have benefited from having a cool power that she could use to take on some baddies. She was a cool character anyway, but I thought she could have been so much cooler if she had a power that had could actually be used in action.

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Pro: The Action (+8pts)

There were a lot of cool action sequences in this movie, which should come as no surprise considering the main character was the Wolverine. I liked all the action between the Wolverine and the ninjas, and the bullet train sequence especially was a lot of fun. Then there was the showdown between the Samurai and the Wolverine, which was fueled with rage and emotion, and it was so satisfying to watch. The action sequences with the Wolverine were cool, and the filmmakers made them intense and engaging by playing with the Wolverine’s mutant healing. His healing worked fine in some scenes, in which it was awesome and satisfying to see him tearing through his enemies. In other scenes, his healing was diminished, which made him vulnerable, and it dialed up the intensity in the process. The movie could have been better overall, but with the Wolverine, Yukio, some Samurai, and a whole bunch of ninjas, the filmmakers had a fun toy box to play with when it came to the action, and that action was pretty entertaining.

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Con: Viper & The Silver Samurai (-6pts)

I do not want to give anything away with respect to these two characters, but both of their roles in this story were very predictable. Logan spent half of this movie not knowing what was going on with his powers, but it was incredibly obvious where the filmmakers were going with it. The filmmakers also kept the identity of the Silver Samurai shrouded in mystery, but that was incredibly obvious as well. These could have been interesting characters, but their predictability—and the fact that the filmmakers spent half the movie pretending they were not predictable—made Viper and the Silver Samurai very underwhelming characters.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B- (83pts)

Despite the quality of the last two movies that starred this character, the Wolverine was still one of my favorite superheroes, so I was hopeful going into this movie. Fortunately, the filmmakers got it—a stand alone Wolverine movie—right this time around. This movie had all the awesome action you would expect a Wolverine movie to have, but Logan’s story was a lot more interesting in this movie than it was in any of the last ones. As cool as Logan’s powers were, the filmmakers made it out to be a curse, and I really liked that idea. It made Logan’s story as tragic as it was heroic, which made his story interesting, and it got me hooked into this story right out of the gate. Unfortunately, I thought every other character in the movie could have been handled better.

Yukio was a badass female protagonist, and her power made her story inherently interesting. However, that power was conveniently vague, and I thought a badass character like Yukio could have benefited from having a cooler power, one that she could have used in action. Despite these issues, I still liked the character of Yukio, but the same cannot be said for the rest of the characters. Mariko was a typical damsel in distress, and the filmmakers forced a romantic storyline between her and Logan, and I did not buy that romance at all. Then there were Viper and the Silver Samurai, whose stories were incredibly predictable, making them fairly underwhelming characters. The movie had its weaknesses, but there was still plenty in this movie to enjoy, especially if you are a fan of the Wolverine.

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