So, today I’m being a little cheap before the holidays and between packing up boxes (more on that later) decided to watch a movie at home instead. Today’s film is The Wolverine, an X-Men film that takes place after X3 and before Days of Future Past.
Also, today I’m trying something new for me. Normally, I try and be very spoiler light about my reviews, glossing over major points and even leaving a lot of the smaller points unmentioned, today, I’m just going to give it to you pretty raw instead. Let me know in the comments if you’d rather I go back to the lighter version or if you like this style instead. In addition, I’m not going to go on a snarking nerd rage rant about every difference that the film had to the normal Marvel universe. This post would be a small book, and frankly, most people either don’t care or already knew it anyway. The short of it here for those who didn’t know and do care: there are some big differences, like every Marvel film to date (particularly the X-Men films). I will go into some detail below, but that is more tangential to differences than it is to a different problem in the film.
I honestly think that this screenplay was designed for an entirely different character. This is the beginning of a series of character-altering choices which make me think it was someone’s story about a Japanese warrior turned into a story about an Australian playing a Canadian ginsu knife sent to Japan. First off, there’s the completely random scenes of 1940s Logan being locked in a well in Japan, with zero explanation, removing the entire thing that makes Wolverine the death machine that he is (his regeneration factor), and so on. That last one, coupled with the sword fight scenes that simply wouldn’t have worked as well with the smaller blades from his claws (which is a relative term, where does he hide those things anyway?) all point to this secretly having originally been a story about some immortal Samurai, instead of the Wolverine of the title. It even goes so far as to call Wolverine a Ronin, who has outlived his master. News check: Wolverine was never really good at the whole “master” thing to begin with. Obviously, the script was altered fairly heavily afterwards (the immortality itself could have been added even, for that matter), but that’s just my theory.
With that in mind, it was an entertaining film, even somewhat enjoyable, but it only felt as tangentially related to the Marvel universe as Logan’s involvement in it was related to the X-Men. I did like how Logan’s dreams, and near-death experiences mimicked his death in the Civil War series, with him lamenting the loss of Jean, and Jean telling him to move on and come to her. I don’t know how many people get the reference, but it was a nice touch.
The action scenes are also well put together, very engaging, and I don’t think I saw any scenes that jumped out at me as being “wrong” for one reason or another, though I do want to know when Logan developed super strength. But then, this goes back to the different root theory, as the scenes looked perfect for a high-budget Wire-Fu fight, such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, rather than the gritty scenes that we were expecting from Marvel’s most deadliest man. It looked beautiful with the full weight of Fox’s massive budget, but did take me out of the scene a little bit. This was almost entirely made up by the fight scene on the train though, which had to have been the best fight in the whole film, I think.
As for the rest of the film, I want to say that it was interesting, but honestly, a lot of that interest was generated from the tiny amount of Japanese that I understood, because easily half or more of the dialog was in pure Japanese, and not a single word was subtitled. Of those, maybe 1/10th of the words are then translated, and even then, the translation is a fairly quick explanation more than an actual translation. I think that they did it to show that Logan has no knowledge of Japanese (which is likely untrue, considering the time he’d spend in Japan previously) and to give the sense of alienation while people plot, sometimes openly in front of Logan, in this strange tongue. And yet, when they went to the lengths to do that, they completely screwed up on another part of Japanese culture as far as I’m aware of: while America is very gun-heavy, with relatively few laws to prevent gun ownership or carrying, Japan has always had an extremely tough gun law, with ownership never being legal, ever. Even most police don’t necessarily carry a gun, and those that do, have them strapped to their belts. The gun culture is different too, such that I find it highly suspect that a private residence or funeral would have so many people with guns, particularly automatic weapons. It simply isn’t the style of the culture, and prevalence isn’t as high there as it is in America. An easy mistake that many American writers make though, but still jarring.
Overall, the film was entertaining, and provided some neat insight into Wolverine, but also felt distinctly off from the character they were portraying. The fights were quick and intense, but came across more as a Wire-Fu Chinese action film than an American superhero film, and the story was, frankly, occasionally hard to follow, full of holes and generally asked to be ignored. The few jokes in the film were funny, the grit was completely masked by the healing factor and general squeamishness of the film makers (or the rating board) and it generally just felt like it didn’t want to commit itself to going all the way in any given direction. Like Deadpool and Punisher, Wolverine REALLY wants a hard R rating, but Fox wasn’t willing to man up to the sort of damage that might do to ticket sales. All in all, I’d say it’s a very skippable film whose final after-credits moments are about the only really great point, and frankly, even that was kinda meh, though some of that might be because of the magic deflating after seeing Days of Future Past myself.
The Ranting Loon