Twitter Plot Summary: Wolverine gets all mopey because he killed Jean Grey in X-Men The Last Stand. He’s tracked down by an old
Director: James Mangold
Key Cast: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Famke Janssen.
Five Point Summary:
1. Wolverine as big beardy man.
2. Yukio’s face is a reaaaalllly strange shape. That’s really weird.
3. Wolverine swears. Quite a bit, actually.
4. He’s got a big red hot sword! That’s also not a euphemism.
5. So… she’s Poison Ivy, right?
Let’s face it, nobody expected much after the abomination that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It dropped the proverbial ball so badly it was debatable whether or not any further X-Men films or spin-offs would see the light of day. The long-fermenting Magneto origins film was put on ice following the poor reception to Origins: Wolverine, but then the best elements of his backstory were incorporated into X-Men First Class, so it’s all swings and roundabouts.
As if making reparations for past sins, the script this time round doesn’t clog the narrative with a ridiculous number of mutants. We’re limited to three (or four, if you want to be pedantic) including Wolverine, and other than the obligatory “HOW DO WE KILL THIS MAN?!” stuff, the mutant powers element is mostly underplayed. Wolverine gets a hefty introduction to Japanese culture which makes this quite a unique undertaking in the X-Men movie-verse. Of course, those of us who have read Marvel comics in the past know full well that Wolverine has a long and coloured history with Japan, and I for one wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.
As the story goes, Wolverine is brooding after the events of X3: The Last Stand – that one with Vinnie Jones, if you recall. If you can remember anything at all about that movie (most prefer to avoid it), Wolvie was given the job of bumping off Phoenix, aka Jean Grey, because she’d gone off the rails a little and started killing innocents. Sorry – spoilers! So Mr Wolverine takes himself off the grid and starts living in the woods like an adamantium-laced Bear Grylls. He’s soon picked up by Yukio, a red-haired Japanese girl with a strangely shaped face, and offers to take him to Japan to say goodbye to an old friend. Soon he’s involved in a plot to bump off Mariko, granddaughter to Yashida, the man Wolverine saved at Nagasaki. The story interweaves the present with flashbacks to 1945 and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. This links in nicely when Wolverine returns to Nagasaki in the modern day and it’s a serene place of beauty. There’s got to be subtext there for time healing all wounds. If anyone says there isn’t, then I’m saying there is.
And ladies – rest assured, Mr Jackman spends a good portion of the film showing off his muscles. Given the amount of effort that must have taken to get into that kind of shape, I’ll avoid any snide comments about pandering to a certain portion of the viewing audience, I’m above that. Oh, and unlike Origins, Wolverine’s claws actually look decent this time.
It’s an entertaining, brooding and thoughtful film for the first two thirds, let down by a slightly silly if obvious finale. Compared to the rest of the film it feels very much like a return to the silliness of Origins: Wolverine. However, it’s nowhere near as bad as that first Wolverine film, and is a marked improvement over X3: The Last Stand as well, but the tonal mismatch throughout the film’s running time is a shame. It’s a petty thing to be complaining about I suppose, at least this was an improvement. Now let’s just hope a third Wolverine film gets the go ahead and they finally get it spot on. And stay for the mid-credits sequence, it’s worthy of a geeky little “squee”.
Favourite scene: Wolverine VS Ninjas. And the look on Harada’s face when he sees Wolvie healing…
Quote: “A lot of people have tried to kill me… and I’m still here.”
Silly Moment: That Viper woman peeling off her skin and hair. Or the giant adamantium samurai.