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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Hugh Jackman
Famke Janssen
Will Yun Lee
Svetlana Khodchenkova
Rila Fukushima
Tao Okamoto
Hiroyuki Sanada.
Directors
James Mangold.
Screenwriters
Christopher McQuarrie
Scott Frank
Mark Bomback.
Running Time
126 minutes

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The Wolverine
Mutants. Ninjas. No turtles


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Plot
Haunted by the death of Jean Grey, former X-man Logan (Jackman) is now a loner, foraging in the woods. But he’s tracked down and brought to Japan by a billionaire who’s keen to repay a life debt by stripping The Wolverine of his immortality. But it isn’t going to be that easy...


Review
The Wolverine
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In a summer packed with movies that work their way up to levelling entire cities, The Wolverine takes an interesting tack: that’s how it starts. Within the first three minutes, Nagasaki has been obliterated in a mushroom cloud, courtesy of a B-29 bomber and the nuclear bomb known as Fat Man that effectively signalled the end of World War II.

In the middle of the mayhem, we find Hugh Jackman’s Logan — aka The Wolverine — chained up and shirtless (of course; those playing the ‘Shirtless Jackman’ drinking game will be blootered by the second act) in the middle of a POW camp. As sirens blare and Japanese officers commit hara-kiri with honour, Logan is saved by, and then saves, an officer with a stricken conscience.

It’s an audacious opening that some might find in dubious taste, but there are enough grace notes here — the opening shot of the B-29 approaching its target is serenely beautiful — to suggest this will be light years ahead of the lamentable X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And so it proves, even if it never hits the heights of the first two X-Men movies or X-Men: First Class.

After that grand opening, things scale back as we meet the Canadian mutant living rough on his home turf as, effectively, Grizzly X-Man, Les Mis hair and beard in place, plagued by visions of his lost love, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, lounging in a négligée through interminable dream sequences) and as haunted by the events of X-Men: The Last Stand as anyone who saw it. He’s a wounded bear who even encounters an actual wounded bear, just to pound home the metaphor. Logan has vowed never to hurt anyone again, a vow he breaks within roughly 37 seconds, but before he can kill some idiots in a bar, he’s tracked down by the slinky Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a flame-haired employee of the man he saved in World War II, and brought to Japan, where he becomes embroiled in a convoluted plot involving the yakuza, indestructible samurai and a new lady-love in the beautiful Mariko (Tao Okamoto) who, in a nice twist, sees Logan and his claws as something to love, not fear.

And it’s in its Japanese roots that The Wolverine becomes most intriguing. Comic book fans will know that Wolverine and the Land of the Rising Sun go together like Nic Cage and Pachinko, and it’s refreshing that, Canada section aside, it takes place entirely in Japan. That alone is enough to make it look and feel unlike any other superhero movie to date, director James Mangold capturing a real sense of place as he frames Logan against Tokyo streets or in rural ryokans.

Sadly, the embrace of Japanese culture feels often skin-deep, a superficial whisk through a checklist of clichés. There’s an (admittedly very funny) awkward visit to a love hotel with Mariko as they go on the run; Logan struggles to come to grips with chopsticks like a gaijin fool; and he keeps being told he’s a ronin, a samurai without a master. Yet there’s no sense his experiences have much of an impact — by the end he’s as authentically Japanese as YO! Sushi. Just a shame he doesn’t show up at a karaoke bar — we reckon Logan has serious pipes.

One of the — many — criticisms of Wolverine’s last solo outing was that it never had the courage to trust in the appeal of its lead character, instead chucking in large numbers of rubbish mutants. The lesson has been learned here, with minimal muties (Svetlana Khodchenkova shows up as the venomous Viper, regrettably too reminiscent of Batman & Robin’s Poison Ivy). Instead, Logan bloodlessly slices his way through armies of yakuza and ninjas, in keeping with the film’s determinedly (open air quotes) realistic (close air quotes) tone.

It’s all the better for it, from a free-for-all that puts the fun in funeral to the movie’s highpoint, a creative showdown on top of a speeding Shinkansen. And, if you have any qualms about pitting a highly trained, invulnerable mutant against scores of rent-a-piñata henchmen, Mangold and Jackman level the playing field slightly by going full Superman II and depriving Logan of his powers. With his healing factor and animalistic senses on hold, Logan develops an aversion to shotgun blasts that slows him down considerably, and gives Jackman something interesting to play with sixth time around. That element is far more absorbing than his endless moping after Jean — some psychos don’t need analysis.

It’s regrettable, then, that in a film concerned with immortality, nothing lasts forever. The final showdown, tonally and in terms of scale, is deeply unsatisfying, with ludicrous reveals, bad CG and plot turns so convoluted they threaten to derail the movie at 300 mph.
 


Verdict
An improvement on the last outing for Jackman’s not-so-merry mutant. If only it trusted enough in its unique setting to forgo a descent into aggressively awful formula.


Reviewed by Chris Hewitt

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Wolverine
Empire Star Rating

RE: A different kind of superhero movie.

Thought this was ok but nothing particularly special. I understand that this was designed to be a relatively scaled back superhero film compared to the other X films but i found this to be fairly boring at times.Like porntrooper said, there were a ton of scenes that seem to revolve around Logan in bed waking up dazed and being fed seemingly endless amounts of exposition. The action scenes when they do come are pretty good and Yukio was a terrific sidekick for Logan.However, once Logan... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 14:54, 30 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A different kind of superhero movie.

X-Men 2 is my second favourite X-Men movie after First Class. The original X-Men movie is still enjoyable, but has slipped down to fourth place after The Wolverine. The less said about the other two, the better... ... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 12:19, 30 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A different kind of superhero movie.

I can't believe people seem to no longer like X2....that shit is brilliant! It's a great comic book movie! Anyway, The Wolverine is not too bad. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I think a lot of that is due to this feeling a lot smaller and slower than most of the big comic book movies from the last couple of years, particularly the MCU movies. It has a more sedate pace for the first two acts, and it reminded me of the first two X Men movies in tone, so yea I was enjoying it. The action sc... More

Posted by porntrooper at 12:04, 30 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A different kind of superhero movie.

I enjoyed this film far more than most of the world's reviewers seemed to. Perhaps it's because the general consensus was that it's nothing special that I was able to enjoy it more instead of expect something more. After the three big comic book movies from the last couple of years (Avengers/Dark Knight Rises/Man Of Steel) it was actually kind of refreshing that The Wolverine didn't go the epic route with the large cast, and an entire city/world at stake... as much as I loved all three of the... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 11:49, 30 July 2013 | Report This Post


A different kind of superhero movie.

I enjoyed every part of this movie. Its quite different from any other comic-book film out there but thats what made it interesting. The story was well told and nicely paced. It wasn't action for the sake of action. Speaking of which, the fight sequences were very well executed. Wolverine himself is portrayed much meaner and grittier which brings him back to his roots. My only complaints is the giant samurai robot was a bit of a stretch of the imagination and at times the claws looked like they ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Alien Hunter at 13:50, 29 July 2013 | Report This Post


Wolves and Ninjas or Ninja or Ninji?

The lone Wolf heads of to Japan to pay respects to a man he saved from the Nagasaki Atomic bombings and ends up in a plot involving honour, love, immortality, politics and money. Haunted by visions of Famke Janseen in negligee - (which could be a lot worse by the way) Wolverine is probably my favourite comic book hero. There’s some nice backstory and scene setting that adds gravitas to our hero and is a nice balance with the usual action and smashing about. The fight on on the Bullet Trai... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BigRonFilmReviews at 09:41, 29 July 2013 | Report This Post


More claws, less bite.

I enjoyed The Wolverine a great deal, but the unfolding-mystery, nomadic-warrior, and super-hero influences are all pulling in different directions. At least there don't appear to be any of the internal-continuity issues that the series has suffered from so far, and if nothing else it answered one of my questions about the bone-claws. Another viewing required, I think. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 00:53, 29 July 2013 | Report This Post


decent

I really enjoyed it. Rather obvious and lame final few minutes and that mid/post credit sequence is terrible! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 19:11, 28 July 2013 | Report This Post


Awesome

Now this is more like it. No, it's not perfect (Jean turned up a few times to many for my liking, and it goes full retard by the end BUT! I had a great time with it, it is the best version of Logan we've seen thus far (Jackman is freaking jack-ed) and it's miles better than Origins and X3. Finally a movie that does the character justice! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rdaggard at 03:10, 27 July 2013 | Report This Post


Frustrating

I walked out of this really annoyed. There are some good parts in the movie, enought to make you think that this could have been so much better. A dull mid section, an unbelievable romantic interlude, an unnecessary fight over an open hearted wolverine, lots of basil exposition and an ending that doesn't jump, but vaults the shark, let this down badly. The viper lady appears to be in another film, and as for the bloke in the samurai iron man suit.... Well, at least that was funny. Stupidest film... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by echoroom at 20:50, 26 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Stay past the credits!

The final fight sequence was a bit of a let down,,,,but much better than his first solo outing.... ... More

Posted by No Diggity at 15:03, 26 July 2013 | Report This Post


Stay past the credits!

Not bad but not great. Nice to see Japan as the backdrop but it takes a little while to hit its stride. Not much point in seeing it in 3D either. Jackman does his best with a slightly unispiring plot, but not a disaster. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 00:09, 26 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Wolverine

The train sequence happens prior to the third act, but is a very entertaining sequence. ... More

Posted by R W at 17:51, 25 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Wolverine

L: R W Since the year 2000, the Australian Hugh Jackman has been an international star thanks to his iconic performance as Wolverine in the X-Men franchise. Much like the character from the comics, Jackman’s Logan became so popular that he had his own spin-off in 2009. Sadly, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a pointless no-brainer that told the character’s backstory that was already somewhat explored in Bryan Singer’s superior X2. Now in his sixth outing, Jackman, along with franchise newc... More

Posted by Woger at 17:16, 25 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Wolverine

Since the year 2000, the Australian Hugh Jackman has been an international star thanks to his iconic performance as Wolverine in the X-Men franchise. Much like the character from the comics, Jackman’s Logan became so popular that he had his own spin-off in 2009. Sadly, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a pointless no-brainer that told the character’s backstory that was already somewhat explored in Bryan Singer’s superior X2. Now in his sixth outing, Jackman, along with franchise newcomer/director Ja... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 16:46, 25 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: X men disappointment.

Anyone seeing this I would recommend staying behind after the credits to watch the X Men 4 teaser. However I would strongly recommend not youtubing it unless you seen The Wolverine first. The Wolverine doesn't follow the traditional previous X Men films and doesn't feel like one untill the very end. The film begins with a broken Logan. Here we witness the toll Logan had to face with his immortality. Since X Men 3, Logan had excluded himself to the forest, unable to commit sucide and feels... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ghidorah at 15:48, 25 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: X men disappointment.

L: ericcoyle Personaly I don't get all this positive defence of the X Men films. They are very much a disappointment from the start rhaps First Class, which is actually the only really worthwhile film of the bunch)t we get X men. In this film we have a happy couple which is broken apart because the woman (Jean ) fancies this bloke that turns up. How shallow is she? There is nothing in the script, no cinematic chemistry to justify this. We are just supposed to take it as read that she w... More

Posted by superdan at 07:35, 24 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: X men disappointment.

L: ericcoyle Then we get X2. Once again the whole three way romance thing is fumbled terribly. The budget is perhaps a little bigger and the effects are impressive in places ( Night Crawler's attack on the White House is the standout sequence in the film). Some neat cameos by characters lift interest ( Collosus is very underused. Budget not enough again?). Overall there is once again little chemistry between characters, little or no humour to create some light and shade. on't bother ... More

Posted by Nimrods Son at 02:55, 24 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Disappointment continued

L: Ballschin I was most excited for this film when Aranofsky was involved and promised that it would be an entirely standalone picture. As soon as he departed I assumed we would get another typical studio blockbuster, and the trailers seem to have confirmed my thoughts. Quite why they would want to tie the film to "The Last Stand" anyway is unfathomable as nobody likes that film and it is widely regarded as a disaster. Then we have to have the inclusion of other pointless mutants just ... More

Posted by Oroborous at 13:18, 23 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: waltham1979 I like cake...one time when I had the munchies after a night out I decided to make an entire cake from scratch and bake it; then spent the next hour with a fork eating the entire thing on my sofa...in my pants...it was not one of my prouder moments as I fell asleep with the remains of a Cadbury ready mix cake spilling out over my sweaty snoring body. I was woken up by my dog eating the cake off my belly...dogs can't eat chocolate. Anyway; back on topic. What about i... More

Posted by Oroborous at 13:13, 23 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: Oroborous L: sanchia Most films which end up being highly enjoyable and very good have no "remarkable" talent attached to them. Also so called "remarkable" talents have created absolute dogs of films and having someone deemed as such is no guarantee of anything. It is a falsehood to say it is not in the least bit interesting as as you admit there is talent attached (even if it is uninteresting to you). If you only watch films with remarkable talent and find no other fil... More

Posted by waltham1979 at 12:46, 23 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Disappointment continued

I was most excited for this film when Aranofsky was involved and promised that it would be an entirely standalone picture. As soon as he departed I assumed we would get another typical studio blockbuster, and the trailers seem to have confirmed my thoughts. Quite why they would want to tie the film to "The Last Stand" anyway is unfathomable as nobody likes that film and it is widely regarded as a disaster. Then we have to have the inclusion of other pointless mutants just so the audience don't ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ballschin at 12:05, 23 July 2013 | Report This Post


Disappointment continued

Any way, I have run out of space already so just decided to add this bit.... You get the idea. Dull characterisation, uninvolving plot development, a lack of screen chemistry etc. It just goes on. There is no justification for any X Men film (other than First Class) to get more than three stars and the disappointment factor could justify a drop to two stars if you were being mean. Other than people saying they are masterpieces, I have not actually heard any justification for this opinion that m... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ericcoyle at 11:11, 22 July 2013 | Report This Post


X men disappointment.

Personaly I don't get all this positive defence of the X Men films. They are very much a disappointment from the start (bar perhaps First Class, which is actually the only really worthwhile film of the bunch)). First we get X men. In this film we have a happy couple which is broken apart because the woman (Jean ) fancies this bloke that turns up. How shallow is she? There is nothing in the script, no cinematic chemistry to justify this. We are just supposed to take it as read that she would fal... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ericcoyle at 10:59, 22 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Ah darkness my old friend. I will embrace you once again. ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 09:35, 22 July 2013 | Report This Post


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