Review: The Wolverine

This isn’t a review of the Blu-ray as I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet, but it’s recent release reminded me that I never reviewed the film, I really wanted to praise the film, but I had some minor issues with it that would seemingly negate my overall satisfaction, so at the time, I left it alone.  Here are my lasting impressions:

The Wolverine is the best Wolverine film so far. While that doesn’t say a whole lot, I think this time around actually delivers the best Wolverine centered film the proprietors of the X Men franchise are capable of offering. I would even call it their best X Men effort of all. James Mangold, director of Knight and Day, leads the action terrifically, almost from start to finish and Mark Bomback and cowriter Scott Frank’s (Minority Report) screenplay based on the 1982 Chris Claremont/Frank Miller series is very strong.

Beginning during US atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki, Logan saves a man’s life and many years later is summoned back to Japan to meet the old man before he dies.  He is offered a chance to become mortal, but sinister schemes are at work, putting the weakened Wolverine to the test as he protects a young woman from a deadly band of Ninjas lead by the Silver Samurai.

Like the first Wolverine film, we get to see a lot of cool things, but the dexterity with which this installment is handled is enviable.  It’s far from the perfect thrills of the very best Marvel films to date, but it is highly enjoyable and basically a really good movie.  Hugh Jackman continues to be the ultimate portrayal of Logan and gives considerable range to the character.  The very comics like appearance of Viper was a deviation from the look and feel of other movies which take steps toward a more believable film world, and ultimately that sense of being true to the source material is both The Wolverine’s greatest attribute and it’s greatest failure.

As the film progresses, it feels a little bit like a series divided between battles, which I thought was kind of a cool touch.  The story had me engaged all the way until the final act, which was the least climactic of all of the action sequences despite the high stakes, because you already expect Wolverine to win and it wasn’t staged particularly well.  I enjoyed the Avengers like tie in at the end that teases X Men: Days of Future Past.  I have a love/hate relationship with this franchise, but The Wolverine is a solid “like.”

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