Thursday 1 August 2013

Review: The Wolverine (second-pass / SPOILERS)

World of Blackout Film Review

The Wolverine Poster

The Wolverine (Second-pass / 3D / SPOILERS)
Cert: 12A / 129 mins / Dir. James Mangold

So watching The Wolverine a second time, made some things clearer. And some things, fuzzier. In between viewings, I read the 1982 comic series it's "based" on. That didn't help, either, given that the book and the film share names, locations and that's about it.
Did I enjoy it again? Yes.
Do I have a better handle on what's not quite right with it? Yes…

Three things which would make The Wolverine a more enjoyable movie…

A title-card at the beginning
Around the time Logan wakes up from seeing Jean and he's got his tramp look going on in the woods would be a lovely spot to insert the film's title card. I usually like the technique of putting it at the end (Thor / Captain America), but I feel it works best when you're introducing a character for the first time, and you've spent two hours outlining who they are. We already have a fairly rounded idea of who Wolverine is, so it seems silly to hold it back.
More importantly, this movie is a slow starter. After the atomic blast, we're pretty much on down-time for the next twenty minutes, and the first time I watched the film I found myself wondering "look, have we started yet, or is he going to wake up again?"
Establishing the structure at the beginning of the film would help it flow a lot more smoothly.

More use of the 3D
Yes, I saw it in three dimensions this time, and if I'm being honest it's pointless. There are a few (of the outdoor) scenes with terrible ghosting, a few (of the quieter) scenes where it adds a nice level of depth, but nothing special, and the rest of the time it's barely noticeable. I expect at least two fling-things-at-the-camera moments in a 3D action movie, and they didn't even bother to add those. By the time you add the picture being darkened and every poor sod in the auditorium being asked to pay a surcharge for this, it's not really worth the bother.
That being said: the train-top fight does look phenomenal. Although it looked pretty phenomenal in 2D as well, so go figure.
Either apply the 3D properly, and with good reason, or leave it in its box.

Interesting antagonists
And this was the part that was really underlined re-watching the film. The two main baddies, Yashida and Viper have been barely written, leaving poor old Logan to pick up the slack; and we all know by now that he's no Tony Stark in the fun-stakes.
Viper, other than seeming like Uma Thurman who's been cast to play The LIzard, feels like she should be one of the background mutants in X3. She's evidently got Magic Green Saliva™ (and in true Marvel fashion, stops to explain her talents to at least one doomed cast member), but we don't know why she's at Yashida's laboratory or what she ultimately wants. Viper seems to be in it for herself, but without knowing her goal, we don't know how far she'll go to achieve it, or what her weaknesses are (other than elevator-counterweights). All the pouting-in-green-outfits in the world doesn't make her a worthy opponent for Weapon X.
Yashida, on the other hand, we do know a little about, but he 'dies' shortly after we meet him, then returns at the end as a crossover between IronMonger and Darth Vader. And other than 'really not wanting to die', we don't have any real idea as to his motivation either. The upshot is that when these cardboard cutout bad-guys finally bite the dust, we don't particularly care. And if we're not bothered about that, Wolverine's victory doesn't matter, either.

When you have a hero as gruff and focused as Wolverine, you need to give him enemies with personality. Col Stryker and Deadpool had that*1. Darth Yashida does not.

It keeps my attention, but why isn't this film more fun?

Is the trailer representative of the film?
It's visually dark and thematically po-faced, so yeah.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Hmmm. Ish.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Sadly not.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
Marvel enthusiasts will want to see it at the cinema. For everyone else, there's BluRay.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There is. It's when Logan is taking on the Ninja-party in the snow village. It's low, but it's there.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
How come Logan's hair and beard grows back in the seconds following the atomic blast? The skin-healing I can understand. More to the point, why does it grow back into a style he won't have for another 70 years? Is that his go-to barnet? Obviously he can grow it out into 'The Coiff' (X3) or 'The Tramp' (this film), but is the default blast setting that style? We get to see the Viper chick being bald, but not Logan? That's more than one question, isn't it? And that's another one. Oh.

*1 Sorry to bring that movie up; I know it's generally considered the black sheep of the mutant family, but I really enjoyed it. For all that it lacks in continuity (although let's face it, how do you break a broken machine?), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was a shit-ton of fun, and felt like it had consequence. And I genuinely wish I could say the same about this movie, but I can't.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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