The Wolverine

A fairly entertaining movie that can be best described as a comic movie hiding in the closet of a drama. As such, it did not really live up to the potential of either. As a drama, it had many dramatic moments but it lacked the depth of characterisation leaving the main characters rather linearly described. In addition, without the knowledge of Logan's backstory, many non-comic fans (and those who can barely remember the events of the first Wolverine movie and the original X-Men trilogy) would have trouble connecting with the lead. "Who is Jean?" thus ending up being more like a meta-mocking question rather than the insightful, thought-provoking and soul-searching question that writers Mark Bomback and Scott Frank may have intended it to be. Although any chance for Famke Janssen to grace the screen (without the atrocious god-knows where accent she affects in "Hemlock Grove") in her ethereal beauty (and also softly backlit) is always appreciated. As a comic, this movie lacked the comic-charged energy and comic moments (those moments that you thought can only occur on the pages but amazingly brought to life on the big screen; "The Avengers" NYC battle or Thor/Iron Man/Captain American fight in the woods). On top of this, the plot is too highly predictable with extremely heavy-handed foreshadowing employed. But predictability is not a fault per se, but with predictability then the audience's attention need to be grabbed either with a crackling dialogue, amazing directing (this may be more subtle to most), or brilliant acting. Dialogue: stale, stilted and chunky (what happened to the dry witted, deadpanning Logan?); Directing: James Mangold did a good job with the action scenes but because of the PG-rating the violent nature, and consequently the violent tone, was too subdued which did nothing to help the wolverine as a character. Mangold excelled more at localised action scenes rather the more complicated, hand-camera, follow the action along kind. There were a couple of continuity errors that were really jarring, the extras were unusually calm in the face of "confusion" (now, del toro did a great job on this aspect for "Pacific Rim") and the biggest fault in the lack of authenticity. This last part may be due to the fact that we, I, am more attuned to Japanese culture than the US domestic audience. However, with a film that is almost 90% set in Japan, some things are too jarring and in particular, should not the locals be speaking to each other in Japanese (when there is no gaijin) around rather than stilted English. Nonetheless, Mangold and cinematographer Ross Emery did managed to capture some really pretty imageries that did encapsulate the simplicity yet strength of Japanese culture. Hugh Jackman better embodies The Wolverine that Robert Downey Jr does Iron Man, IMHO. Having said that he did not really display any sense of of real acting, as he did in "Les Miserables", and his chemistry with Tao Okamoto was superficial at best. On the other hand, the history he had with Janssen's Jean, was palpable. Similarly, he had a better sidekick relationship with Rila Fukushima. Unfortunately, Fukushima has fallen into the recent Hollywood trap of the typical bad-ass Japanese girl first perpetuated in Tarantino's "Kill Bill" as Chiaki Kuriyama's Gogo Yubari, and most recently in del Toro's "Pacific Rim" as Rinko Kinkuchi's Mako. And I could not help thinking that Kinkuchi would have done quite well in this movie. Marco Beltrami is at the helm of the score again and although there is now the addition of some japanese drums to his repertoire, the score did its job by underscoring scenes but never really add dimensions. Stay to the end of credit for the FANTASTIC final scene that mirrors a similar one in X-Men: First Class and potentially foretells a kick ass X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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