‘Did You Get What You Deserve?’ —- The Wolverine

written by adam on August 2, 2013 in ADAM THINKS and MOVIES with no comments

 “6-Day Total” US Box Office Comparison

(from the outstanding Box Office Mojo site)

‘The Wolverine’ (2013)

‘X-men: First Class’ (2011)

‘X-men Origins: Wolverine’ (2009)

$68,986,397

$69,867,104

$99,152,810

I had such a good time crafting a comparison column on the two GI Joe films that, after finally seeing “The Wolverine” last night….I had to do it again! And while I can report that the movie is well worth seeing; in viewing the above numbers? Apparently…… in the United States anyway….. I’m in the minority; and that’s a shame. If you read about comics &  movies as often as I do? You know how passionate, and vocal, Hugh Jackman is to get the Wolverine character “right.” Some would argue…myself included….that he’s been doing that since the first “X-men” film in 2000; but this is the movie that delivers on that promise!  Now if only “X-men Origins: Wolverine,” hadn’t come out first…….BUT! I did include “X-men: First Class” as a point of interest……’ while not a solo Wolverine film, Hugh did have a highly memorable cameo, and it’s perhaps indicative of the movie-going public’s taste for the X-franchise overall. In that light? “The Wolverine” is holding the course steady, and that’s a pleasing finding.

At this point, it feels as if every great compliment about Hugh Jackman’s dedication to the Wolverine character is on record; and deservedly so! From the evident physical grind that goes into looking like a comic book drawing (and Hugh spends what feels like half the film shirtless or in a tank top….’embarrassingly reminding me how many times I’ve skipped my morning push-up’s) to how strongly he holds the character through dialogue-free sequences, Hugh IS Wolverine. …………. ……although at 6’2” he’s beyond too tall for the part. But that’s a decision FOX made years ago which was wrong then and is still wrong now. Integral to his hair-trigger temper / not a traditional leading man; is being a short person; but whatever, by now you gotta be over it…..which I almost am. Haha

Ok, you have a solid lead as your Hero, but “X-men: Origins” benefited from that too; what’s the difference?………’everything else! The storyline feels so much leaner and meaner…ditto for the supporting cast. The idea of mutants on screen just to show mutants? It’s out the window. Even the most annoying character (hi, Viper) really only becomes nonsensical during the mildly dull climax; until then she serves a necessary story role. And a few things I read prior that I was dreading? ‘turned out to be just fine. For one, that model Tao Okamoto was making her acting debut as Mariko……..Wolverine’s love interest….and end up a wooden, bland presence……..’not at all! Tao’s performance is as accessible and yet strong; as Mariko should be. ‘equally as fantastic is the athletic  Rila Fukushima as Wolverine’s ‘sidekick’ Yukio; she not only sports a cool / unique look; but is more than believable in holding her own during a handful of fight scenes. I wished her character had been in even more of the film; but I appreciated that director James Mangold was after a story balanced in quiet moments as well as visceral ones.

Which brings me to my other pleasant surprise…the bullet train fight. If you’ve seen previews, you’ve seen snippets of this, and frankly I thought it looked awful…’too CGI to be believable and distracting to the story flow. However, in context of the film it works out quite well; thanks in part to the lack of music during and leveraging only organic sounds. (e.g. the train on tracks / claws piercing metal, etc.) In retrospect it’s both more thrilling and exciting than the 1-1 battle at the end that feels a bit more ‘required’ rather than story-driven. Plus, the ending ushes out of the movie a character who I was enjoying seeing how they’d resolve as she (or he) was neither fully good nor bad during the film. ………..oh! and one note for comic fans? There is no ninja fight scene. ..does it matter? ‘not really; but as a geek I wanted to see Wolverine throw down with a group of ninjas and that just doesn’t happen. I sulked for a minute over that omission.

This is a film that has fewer characters than any previous X-men univerise film and a strong idea of what to do (by and large) for each of them. It uses a fresh locale , Japan, to introduce new imagery and music to the X-men film series as well and was an outstanding choice for a Wolverine film. I hope more fans discover it and casual fans give it a chance; not holding it accountable for the bloated, sloppy mess that was “X-men: Origins.”

Is “The Wolverine” getting the box office success it deserves? NO! …but then again, by the 6-day numbers compared to “Origins”… ‘neither did “First Class!”……..c’mon people, we’re supposed to support the quality films, not just the first ones out of the gate, ‘darnnit.