X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not a very liked film. But, Wolverine himself is a marketable character, everyone likes him. So it was inevitable that a sequel would come. The interesting thing is that this is more of a standalone, according to the people involved. We would see the title character heading over to Japan, which has been a popular fixture in the comics. This film is also significant because it's technically the first real sequel to The Last Stand, it takes place about two years after Jean Grey died. The first trailer didn't do wonders. Who wants to see a film where he loses his mutant powers? Thankfully this is one of those rare cases where the trailer is pretty dull while the film is anything but. THE WOLVERINE is one of the best films in the X-Men continuity. It's also a very unique comic film thanks to the Japan backdrop. Director James Mangold delivered the second best comic book film of the year.
The story begins in 1945, at the time of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Logan is in a bunker and saves the life of a rather kind Japanese officer named Yashida. In present day he has seemingly given up on being the Wolverine. When he's met by a mysterious Japanese woman called Yukio, he embarks to her home country to meet the man he saved in 45. He offers Logan a chance to be mortal, to take away his adamantium. Of course in comic book fashion, plot twists are abound and a blond-haired lady by the name of Viper takes center stage. The story is loosely based on a classic arc by Chris Claremont. There are very few negatives to be said, it's a great watch from beginning to end.
It's been quite awhile since we saw Hugh Jackman take up the mantle. (His unneeded cameo in First Class doesn't count.) I had forgotten just how great of a portrayal he can deliver, this film cemented that. This is by far the greatest portrayal of Wolverine the movie universe has seen. From his sarcastic wit to his brutality, it's like he was lifted straight from the comics. One of the biggest new characters is Yukio, portrayed by Rila Fukushima. This samurai girl is definitely cool and a fantastic addition to the story. Then we have the more helpless-but-still-able-to-fight Mariko. She's a nice character to have around, very genuine. I suppose the romance between her and Logan was inevitable, but from the film's point of view it was unneeded and felt forced.
There are two main antagonists. First we'll go with the much better one, Viper. She is one of the few female comic book villains to grace the screen. Sure, we have Mystique, but Viper was more of a mastermind. She was just a blast to watch, a true villain with her exotic look and pretty good dialogue. Unfortunately, the other antagonist Yashida is much less notable. You see, by the end it's revealed that he wanted to take away Logan's power for selfish reasons. By the end, the viewer is left thinking that he's nothing but a jerk. It's a shame too, since he was a really good character in the intro. The Silver Samurai should have just been an empty suit of armor. Speaking of that...
The Silver Samurai is one of Wolverine's biggest enemies, maybe second to Sabertooth. He was briefly featured in the trailers. Well, he's technically the final boss. He's more of an it, being a large suit of armor. Think Iron Monger just Japanese style. Unfortunately, the big plot twist is that Yashida was the one wearing it. In the end, Viper is the more engaging antagonist. There's a few side characters, perhaps the most notable being
The action in this movie is very good and appropriately gritty. Wolverine doesn't shy away from unleashing his claws. It's violent, but that's expected from a Wolverine movie. One of the more unique action scenes was on the train, very clever.The soundtrack is solid, it blends into the movie well. There aren't really any standouts, but I did like the the theme that started playing at the ceremony when Wolverine unsheathed his claws. Now what I think is one of the greatest aspects of the film is the Japan backdrop. It's a whole different feel and look than New York. It's a nice change of pace.
Overall, THE WOLVERINE surprised me. It's a well-paced action drama. It proves that Wolverine can hold his own without any of his X-Men comrades. Yukio is a great character, and I hope she's used in the future. Viper was fantastic, one of the best villains of the year. The Silver Samurai...not so much. (At least the armor was cool.) The mid-credits scene is obviously awesome and a great tease for X-Men: Days of Future Past.