Review: The Wolverine - Who Needs Origins?

So it looks like we're back into the swing of things. After the disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine which is one of the stupidest movies ever made, we're back in the full swing of X-Men movies, starting with First Class and leading up to next years X-Men: Days of Future Past. Slap bang in the middle, we have The Wolverine. Following Logan, our titular hero on his struggles from living in a cave and faced with nightmares to travelling to Japan to finally lose his powers. It's set right after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, where if you remember correctly, he brutally stabbed the love of his life to death. Excellent.

Let's get this out of the way, it's very hard to come into this franchise fresh and enjoy this movie as much as fans. The film has this problem where it expects the audience to understand the back-story of this character and his feelings and torment and stuff. In some regards, this is a strength as it doesn't waste any time with the dumb, repetitive exposition that we saw in the original trilogy. This is kinda why it's more of a fan's movie, one that unashamedly embraces the fact that it's the sixth movie in a long running franchise and plays that to it's strength, by giving the people who love this character and have for some time exactly what they want, when they want it.
This brings us nicely on to our main character, Logan. I mean, on a normal day I love Hugh Jackman, and this is no exception. He's back at his best (the best of course being X-Men 2) here. His performance is top-notch, bringing that rough and intimidating exterior mixed with his dark wit and now thrown into the mix we have his torment. Hooray for torment, right?
The movie seems to be trying to go for a 'eternity is a curse' angle and that Logan's immortality is having a terrible effect on him. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to come across that much, and it isn't really explored that well. That doesn't mean there's no good solid character development, and it's probably for the better, as the eternity is a curse thing seems very tired as of late.
Let's head over to the rest of the cast, which is predominantly made up of Japanese actors of which I have never heard. Rightly so, as Rotten Tomatoes informs me it was mainly their first feature. They all do a perfectly good job, and it's nice to see such fresh talent in such a mainstream movie. Good job, casting department. Good job.
The movie has a nice setting in Japan, bringing us from wartime Nagasaki (in probably only the second darkest X-Men movie opening so far, I mean we've had the Holocaust, a kid murdering his dad, assassination attempts, more Holocaust, stuff like that) to modern day but still very dreary backstreets. They're vivid, exciting, expertly shot and just generally look very nice.
Let's get to the action in this movie. It doesn't really get going for a good twenty minutes, but when it does turn up, it's in droves. Following a high-octane ambush at a funeral where Wolverine does some really awesome jumping and slicing and it's really really awesome, we're plunged into a slightly ludicrous but equally entertaining bullet train chase sequence, which actually I think is scientifically impossible. You'll understand when you see it.
Then the problems start. While it's undoubtedly true that they tried to do some really super intense character development in the middle act, it just kinda slumps into the most boring half an hour I've seen for a while. NOTHING of consequence happens, very little interesting stuff happens and there's at least one too many dream sequences. There's moments where Logan's companion Mariko (Tao Okamoto) just starts these out of place monologues about what being the Wolverine means, and what her grandfather wanted, and missing out the fact that a) this stuff has already been told to us and b) no-one actually cares. It's rather confusing about why this segment is even in the movie. But it's ok, I'm fine with it. Do you know why? Because what follow is in my opinion, one of the best scenes in X-Men movies that completely redeems itself. Ok, sound the spoiler foghorn!


Ok I won't go into too much detail, but as the trailer says at one point, Logan loses his healing powers. He then realizes at the start of the third act that he needs them back. Thus we have a scene where he, uh, reaches into his own chest to rip out a parasite that is stopping him from healing. While this is happening, his Japanese friend Yukio is dueling her step-dad in what is a fairly powerful fight due to the step-dad's motivations. But anyway, Logan rips out the parasite...but he doesn't heal.
At this moment, my companions and I were on our seat. This is film-making at it's most simple, yes but it's also incredibly effective. Why? Because we're attached to this character, it may not be because of this film alone but it doesn't matter, because it means this character is working. It was so tense...and then one of his cuts starts to heal, and we were punching the air, I had a grin on my face, that's how emotionally involved I was in this scene. The rest of the scene continues to be awesome, showing Wolverine being really really badass and slicing and murdering quite a bit, reconciling the last act instantly.

The last act kinda plays out, well, like a mixed bag. The fights are great, the effects are great, the emotions are still bubbling and everything is as gripping as's just, this one character at the center of it, who is quite pivotal to the plot and the only reason I have not mentioned her until now is, well...she does nothing. I'm talking about the villain Viper who my friend recognized immediately right before she promptly did nothing for the next hour or so. She really doesn't do much, and ultimately it doesn't matter, the actual villain in this movie isn't her. The person who it is has much better reason to be villainous than her to be actually honest. I don't even think her final fight scene was very good. Oh well.
A final reason to see this film is that it has THE BEST POST CREDITS SCENE EVER. Watching it, we were gasping, yelling 'No!', grinning, you name it, it is that good.

I realize that my review is slightly slanted in favor of this movie as I love the character at the center of it, but I've made it clear enough before. If you don't have an initial attachment to this character, there's no way you're gonna come out of this movie with such glee as I did. It has huge glaring problems, sure, like pointless characters or really dull chunks, but overall it's a solid, if not superior low-brow flick about a fan-loved hero for the fans. Is the message 'eternity being a curse' like they thought? No. The message is;

'If you get in the way of this guy, he will flat-out kill you in the best way possible and it's really awesome.'

And I'm perfectly fine with it being that.

I give The Wolverine 3.5 out of 5 stars

So what did you think of The Wolverine? Did you find it to be an improvement over Origins? Let us know below.