The Wolverine Review: Hugh Jackman in Top Form

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It’s quite rare for a spinoff to feel necessary to the canon of the story in the overall series. No, The Wolverine does not reach the heights of the series’ refreshing prequel X-men: First Class, or the first superhero masterpiece X2: X-men United, but at least it feels necessary.

That’s where X-men Origins: Wolverine failed. It was a prequel about a time our hero decided wasn’t important (see X2). This movie is a bridge for Hugh Jackman’s clawed rogue. It connects those significant, though faulted, moments at the end of X-men: The Last Stand to next summer’s merry mutant reunion, X-men: Days of Future Past. And it does so well enough that you won’t be dreaming of what will likely be a much better film.

At the beginning of The Wolverine, Logan is living in the woods. His hair overgrown, his demeanor broken, Logan is haunted by dreams of his comrade and love that he was forced to kill. Famke Jennsen returns at Jean Grey for a small, yet important role as Wolverine’s dark side. All the blame and negativity towards his necessary action take form in his lost love.

But then he is found by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant with the ability to see how people die. She takes him to Japan to reunite him with a man Logan saved from the bomb in Japan back in World War II. He wants Logan’s immortality.

From there, The Wolverine becomes a lot of things. A Japanese noir, dark yet colorful by nature. A meditation on the pros and cons of immortality. A rare character study on a superhero, giving us reasons for him to keep living. Director James Mangold took a risk by making this summer superhero movie much quieter than Iron Man 3 or Man of Steel. He takes his time showing us where Logan is headed, and how he gets there psychologically. It’s one of the deeper superhero movies in the last few years.

But it is certainly still a superhero movie. The claws come out early and often as Jackman cuts down waves of enemies 13 years since he started without batting an eye. At least until Logan’s immortality is hindered by the villainous Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova). She has a forked tongue and spits acid. Viper is no Magneto, but she gets the job done just fine.

Speaking of Magneto, be sure to stick around for the credits…

As it’s own standalone movie, The Wolverine is largely successful. Jackman once again gives it his all and the story surrounding Wolverine is fun romp with just enough to keep the intellectuals happy. If you’re not already sick of superheroes this summer, The Wolverine is a fine addition to the X-men canon, deepening one of cinema’s best superheroes and whetting our appetites for the future. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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