This past weekend at San Diego Comic Con, Toys and Geek was able to catch an early screening of “The Wolverine”, introduced by none other than Hugh Jackman himself and the film’s director James Mangold.
After a few comments regarding the film, its challenges and goals the lights dimmed and those lucky enough to get inside the small theater in downtown San Diego got see the movie in its entirety.
And the result, I’m happy to say, was a success.
After the bad taste the last Wolverine film left in my mouth (not to mention X-Men 3) I was a bit hesitant about what we would get this time around. However those fears where quickly laid to rest during the opening moments of the movie.
If it was the director’s goal for the film to grab your attention from the get go, then he succeeded. The first few minutes of the film are also some of its most intense. I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible but let’s just say it starts off in Japan during one of the most terrifying events in that nations history. In fact, 90% of the film is set in Japan and the change of scenery from the typical “New York, Chicago, Los Angles, was a welcome one.
The movies opening also fits in with the overall theme, which James Mangold pointed out before the showing was “Everything the Wolverine loves, dies”. And we get to see the effects this has on Logan, particularly the death of Jean Grey, aka The Phoenix, who died at the hands (or claws) of Wolverine at the end of X-Men 3. I was happy to see the return of Famke Janseen who reprises her role of Jean Grey and was in the movie a lot more than I thought she would be. But we soon discover that Wolverine’s psyche isn’t as indestructible as his Adamantium skeleton. In this regard Hugh Jackman does a good job of giving the character a bit more depth and also makes him more relatable than in previous installments. While some of the supporting cast feels at times underused, Rila Fukushima, who plays Yukio does a great job. Her fight scenes are some of the best in the movie and she adds some well placed humor to the film.
Another aspect I appreciated about the movie was that in a world in which “comic book” movies are often dominated by CGI, this film was surprisingly “human” for a lack of a better word. Not that I am anti-special effects by any means however this movie didn’t trout out an endless stream of mutants. There were no cities being destroyed. No larger than life “Super Villain”. Although I enjoyed The Man of Steel, some felt the mass destruction and CGI special effects where a bit much. The Wolverine takes a different path. The fight scenes for the most part are intense and personal, often showcasing the martial art skills of the cast. The result, I felt was a much more personal story and one I left the theater feeling satisfied with.
The one sour note of the movie was oddly enough the villains. Fans of the Silver Samurai may feel disappointed with how the character is portrayed and how much screen time he actually gets. And the Viper, played by Svetlana Khodchenkova, felt a bit underdeveloped. But this movie is more about Logan’s personal demons than with fighting an arch enemy. His battles with what he has lost in his life versus what he has to look forward to along with weighting the benefits of his mutant powers against the costs are at center stage here. To that end, I would encourage moviegoers to enter the theater with an open mind. Look to go on an adventure and be entertained for a couple of hours. In that regard you won’t be disappointed. The Wolverine delivers a fun and exciting experience.