The Wolverine (2013): A Welcome Respite

Language : English | Running Time : 126 Minutes | Director : James Mangold

Of late, I have started to be displeased with the thought of a super hero movie coming out. Until a few years back, till the start of The Avengers and its related films, super hero movies would be once a year or once in two year affairs and I could handle all the buildings falling down, bridges burning to the music of Hans Zimmer (no matter who scored the music, they always sounded like some random Hans Zimmer score) and some big budget elaborate action sequences. It is very rare to find a superhero movie which isn’t laden with these “summer blockbuster” riches. Well, James Mangold for one doesn’t fall into the all – out action super hero movie director category. He is a man known more of the drama he envisions than the action that he puts up on screen.The Wolverine benefits from the touch that James Mangold brings to the franchise.

The Wolverine has been someone I’ve had a soft spot for ever since I started watching the movies. Right from the first X-Men movie that came out in 2000, I’ve been a fan of Wolverine. Let me confess straight out, I haven’t read the comic books. That’s one I’ll allow you to hold against me but hopefully, not for long. It pained me to see such a character having as poor a film as X-Men Origins : Wolverine for an origins movie. I know the makers faced a huge backlash from fans after the movie and I’d join them not because of they didn’t stay true to the comics but because they’d done a poor movie for a super hero who was pretty much almost everyone’s favourite from the league of X-Men.

The Wolverine (2013) ReviewJames Mangold starts off with a big budget action sequence. The Atomic Bomb is dropped in Nagasaki  forms the basis for things that happens later in the film. A big budget action sequence handled brilliantly and in the bag, James Mangold delves into drama, a position he controls. It is remarkable how he manages to have the atom bomb’s effect on the lives of the people in the film throughout the runtime of the film.

We first see Logan(Hugh Jackman) in Nagasaki, a POW isolated from the rest and the imminent threat of the atom bomb. It is here that he gets acquainted with Yashida, a man when on his deathbed sends for Logan to bid him goodbye which gives the movie an excellent location in Japan. In Japan, Wolverine gets himself a sidekick in Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a precog, who aids him when he becomes the protector of Mariko Yashida(Tao Okamoto), the granddaughter of the billionaire Yashida. The Yashida house has its own protective fighting clan led by Mariko’s former lover Harada (Will Yun Lee), who aids Logan in his protecting detail. There is a mutant involved as well, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) whose motives are unclear but whose importance to the events is highly essential. Viper has the enviable task of removing Wolverine’s powers and it is quite something that she manages to do.

Hugh Jackman is lithe, charismatic and exudes raw power. But never for a minute does he let the flexing muscles and power to override Logan’s emotions. Ever since Christopher Nolan came out with the rebooted Batman franchise, there have been attempts to try and make the superhero more than just what’s on the outside and make it also about the man wearing the costume. Largely, the attempts to bring what Christian Bale brought to Bruce Wayne have been unsuccessful but Hugh Jackman gives Logan’s emotions great value. To remind us that Wolverine has a beating heart and has emotions under the thick skin and adamantium skeleton we have Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Logan’s long dead lover, appearing in his dreams.

wolverine review 2013A superhero is more than just raw power and a crusader. The Wolverine addresses that quite remarkably thanks to a brilliant Hugh Jackman and some wonderfully handled work by James Mangold. The breath of fresh air that The Wolverine remains till the climax is almost undone by the final moments. As the template action sequence unfolds, there’s little of interest and our attention is lost. Make no mistake, this is a movie about The Wolverine and Hugh Jackman rules the roost. But even then, there are times you wish Harada and Viper were made better use of and there was less of what transpires in the final moments of film.

The Wolverine deserves to be watched in 2-D. The film has a noir-ish quality to its visuals and the even darker 3-D is just not appealing, even though the visuals in Japan are absolutely beautiful and have a lot of wonderful colour in them.

For a summer blockbuster, The Wolverine is everything that we’ve not come to expect and it is a welcome respite from all the money shots, CGI and action sequences with little heart in them. The Wolverine is a contradiction of our time and a contradiction which is very much welcome. The love for Wolverine is back with this well crafted James Mangold movie.

 

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