First, I need to say this is better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Second, I have to say that comparison is like saying a tonsillectomy is less invasive than a heart and lung transplant. The Wolverine does largely wash away the horrible memories of the first outing and its leaked work print. I think that Fox has learned from last time and stopped interfering as much (IE – redecorating a set over a weekend without telling the director) and hired a competent director (someone not named Gavin Hood).
This time our director is James Mangold, who in his previous outings such as Identity, Walk the Line and the fantastic remake of 3:10 to Yuma, shows us he understands how to tell a movie about characters and sell it. He grasps the concept of drama and melodrama and even how to have fun in a movie, like he shows in Knight and Day. While not necessarily a visionary director, he is an experienced one that still isn’t a “safe” choice. That said, his direction isn’t perfect and the movie suffers slightly in the pacing and editorial departments with a running time just over 2 hours that you do feel.
The writing is solid through the film, though it does bear the three writers issue. Many elements are telegraphed and the romance, while somewhat accurate to the comics for a change, feels far more forced than it should. Between an uncomfortable romance and something I can almost say looks like a love triangle between the living it feels awkward at times. I am not sure who should be into who. Then there is the actual love triangle between a man, a woman and a nightmare. No, I am not kidding. Yes, I am embellishing, but only a bit. The nightmare sequences while interesting at first become overwrought and unwanted the longer the film goes and you are hoping for resolution of them much sooner than we get. While the dialogue is solid, the plot comes across clunky and forced more often than it should.
What of our actors? Well, I am glad you asked. Hugh Jackman is back in shape and the movie loves to show that off. I am glad the movie loved to show it off. Oh he played Wolverine well again, but with I think his 6th performance and a 7th on the way, I think he has this role down. I am a little bothered by his lack of knowing Japanese, which is an aspect to Logan I enjoyed in the comics, but this Wolverines timeline is different so I move on. He does play the tortured soul and Ronin without going totally Nolan with it and it makes me happy. I don’t need my superheroes to be completely mopey and depressed all the time, I really would prefer them to be superhuman, not human.
The movie also introduces us to several new talents to the American scene with Tao Okamoto as Mariko who has, according to IMDB, never acted before. It doesn’t show much and she performs better than the entire cast of X-Men Origins- Wolverine. Another new comer to film Rila Fukushima, playing the candy apple red haired Yukio. Her character definitely helps to drive the plot forward and is generally interesting to watch on screen. Her performance, though at times feeling awkward, does add more life to the film than X-men 3 had in its entirety.
FX? Well, they are hit and miss. Some look far better than others. The sets are
gorgeous and minus the train sequence authentic looking. The camera work is nearly solid, there’s at least one fight sequence where I believed the camera man was in the middle of a grand mal seizure and the director wanted the shot so bad he didn’t call cut. Beyond that, not much on the shaky cam. The healing/blade effects are hundreds of times better than the last film and the cuts, with one or two exceptions are not painful to watch.
So where does that leave us? TL;DR!
Overall the movie is solid, not the best thing this summer, not the worst this summer. It is at the moment the best of the comic book movies to come out so far since May, but Kick Ass 2 is coming so it may lose the crown quick. It’s slightly better than a meh, but I can’t bring myself to say it’s great. It is…”Good enough.”
Matinee it if you weren’t sure but are curious.
If you were a fan and dying to see it, full price and I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Fox has apparently also taken the Marvel route and decided to use this movie to launch the next film through the end credits sequence. I promise spoiler free as always, but the two cameos in the credits are a joy to behold.
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