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Film Review – The Wolverine

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©Gandalf (Flickr)
This is the Wolverine movie you are looking for

Memories of the muddled mess that was “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” way back in 2009 may still be fresh in our minds, but that hasn’t stopped Hugh Jackman and newcomer to the series, director James Mangold, from attempting once again to provide the knife fingered mutant the solo spotlight in his own movie. And believe it or not, they’ve succeeded and “The Wolverine” is possibly one of the finest comic book movies yet.

First of all, I would imagine many would disagree with what I have just said. The conscientious on this film seems to be that yes it is a vast improvement on the previous spin off, but that it is far more straight forward and “real” by comparison to the X-Men series. This however is exactly why it works. Before we go any further, this is not a comic book movie, its a graphic novel movie. The source material for the film’s plot comes from the limited series from 1982 written by Chris Claremont. Though this was a comic book as opposed to a graphic novel, the plot and themes contained within bare the hallmarks of the latter. With the focus on Wolverine alone, the more fantastical elements of the X-Men fall away. When we encounter him in this movie, Wolverine, or Logan, has no interest anymore in being a hero. He lives a loner’s life in a cave in the wilderness and he mourns the loss of Jean Grey who he was forced to dispatch at the conclusion of the third X-Men film.

He is brought out of his retirement when he is summoned by a Japanese former soldier who he saved when the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and now, on his deathbed, he wants to repay the favour to Logan. The offer? To take away his healing power and let him grow old and die like a normal human. Logan refuses, yet somehow the next day finds himself without his power. This is what kicks off the bulk of the plot, as we watch a Wolverine film that sees him having to deal with mortality and in the process, rediscover his humanity. As you watch it, you will see it has far more in common with the Bourne movies than the X-Men series, but such is the gravitas with which Jackman has embodied the role in what is now his sixth outing, you won’t have any fear of feeling this doesn’t “fit in”. He is unmistakably Wolverine, and with the exception of one he is the character that has anchored every X-Men film to date. The action comes a lot less frequently than the other films, but when it comes it is full on. This may not be the R rated gore fest many fans were clamouring for, but Mangold and Co. manage still to pack in a tonne of hard hitting action and as much of the claret as they could get away with. This isn’t the simple desires of a gore hound, putting it plainly when your main character has adamantium claws a bit of bloodshed is to be expected!

Yes it does fall off a little in the second act, but the third act and particularly some of the imagery that goes with it more than makes up for that. Whatever you do, don’t watch this after a marathon viewing of the original trilogy, but do watch it as it is and worry about slotting it in with the rest afterwards. A beloved and tormented character such as this has been begging for a film like this for a long time, and her’s hoping there is quality like this in store for even more yet.

Oh, and whatever you do don’t leave during the credits! The after scene isn’t at the very end, rather halfway through the credits, and it is extremely well worth sticking around for.

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