Review: The Wolverine (2013) – Dawson Reviews

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the wolverine poster

Taking from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s comic arc of the same name, The Wolverine is set after the traumatic events of X-Men: The Last Stand, following Logan (Hugh Jackman) whose past come back to haunt him. A Japanese soldier who he saved from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) invites him to Tokyo so that he can share his parting gift of mortality, when his granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto) is caught up in a Yakuza plot.

As the sixth film in the X-Men franchise, I’m sure many were wondering if it was really necessary to have another solo Wolverine film, especially after the travesty that was Origins, and how close it came to killing off the series altogether. But surprisingly, The Wolverine is quite decent. Jackman, as always, delivers as the titular character, but this time around he adds a new level of emotional depth to the role, since Wolverine has become a directionless soldier, trying to forget his past, or as one of the characters call him: “a Ronin, a samurai without a master”. It’s clear that he’s fed up of being immortal and outliving everyone he loves, a point which is hit home by the recurring hallucinations of Jean Grey (Famke Jannsen), who still plagues his nightmares after her demise in the third film. And despite being a clichéd technique, it serves its purpose, and Jannsen serves as the embodiment of Logan’s guilt. Another aspect that the director, James Mangold, examined was Wolverine’s immortality, and by inhibiting this, his character is made more vulnerable and stripped to the bare bones (at one point quite literally).

hugh jackman the wolverine

Hugh Jackman returns as Wolverine

One of the major flaws of the first Wolverine film was the severe mismanagement of supporting characters, and to a smaller extent, the problem remains. This is especially evident in the antagonists of the film, since both Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) and the Silver Samurai weren’t particularly memorable, and their motivations were a little sketchy. They just felt as if they were there so that Wolverine could have some kind of threat. The other minor character that suffers is Mariko, since she isn’t really developed apart from a half-hearted romance sub-plot that never really comes into fruition. However, one character that really surprised me was Yukio (Rila Fukushima) a precognitive mutant assassin that takes Logan to Japan. Her backstory was layered, without it getting in the way, and she had some decent martial arts sequences that added to the setting. In fact, Yukio is one character that I wouldn’t mind coming back, as there is still a decent amount of potential left for her.

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Rila Fukushima as Yukio

The action scenes were quite grounded, apart from the climax of the film, which descended into the ‘suspension of disbelief’ territory. Yet by reducing his healing capabilities, it was refreshing to see Wolverine taking on ninjas and Yakuza members with the potential of him not walking away than unscathed. This was a nice contrast to the huge clash of indestructible characters that we have grown accustomed to in comic book films of late. One particular highlight was a scene on top of a bullet train, which was better than I thought it was going to be. Unfortunately, it is let down by a mediocre and forgettable plot that is used simply to engineer these situations.

The Wolverine was a film that nobody asked for, but I’m not upset that we got it. It furthered the development of Hugh Jackman’s character, but the intense focus on him impacts the secondary characters. The plot is a little lacking, held together by some good action sequences. After five major film appearances and a cameo, people have started wondering if he is outgrowing the role, but with a central role in the upcoming Days of Future Past, and a third solo film on its way, Jackman’s Wolverine is here to stay, for a while longer anyway.

stars

 


Thank you Matt for contributing this review for my X-Men Blogathon, this has been most fun!

 

Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

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x men origins wolverine poster

“Mutants. I don’t hate them, I just know what they can do. You don’t realize this, but we are at war. I took an oath: Protect this country. My name is William Stryker, and I am not a monster. I am simply a patriot.”
– William Stryker

In 1845, James Howlett (Troye Sivan) is extremely ill, and one night witnesses his father’s death at the hands of Thomas Logan (Aaron Jeffrey), the groundskeeper. Flying into a rage, James’s mutation makes itself evident, and he grows bone claws from his hands and kills Thomas Logan, who turns out to be his real father. He goes on the run with his half brother, Victor Creed (Michael James Olson), and the two live a long life. Victor also has a mutation, though slightly different from his brother. Both are blessed with healing and long lives, and together move through the many wars throughout history. The longer they live and fight though, the more violent and uncontrollable Victor (Liev Schreiber) becomes . James (Hugh Jackman) is the only one that can keep him in check. Captured in a village in 1975 after Victor kills a senior officer, the two are put to death by firing squad, which obviously does nothing. Approached by Major William Stryker (Danny Huston), who offers them the chance to serve their country on Team X. Members are Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), John Wraith (will.i.am), Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), and Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan).

wolverine origins stryker approach

“Oh, I care. I care because I know how valuable you are. I’m putting together a special team, with special privileges. So tell me, after defending this country for 150 years and 4 wars, how would you like to really serve your country?” – William Stryker

James is weary of joining, but ultimately does. He is uncomfortable with how things are done, though Victor loves it. Stryker questions a man in a village about some incredibly rare rock. Ultimately James leaves, he cannot agree with the blatant disregard for other people and their lives. He is now functioning under the alias of Logan, and is a lumberjack. His life seems to be going well, and he lives with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). Stryker pays him a visit after Bradley has been killed, and tells him that Wade has been, too. What he does not tell Logan is that Victor is behind the slayings. Logan rebuffs him, saying he will be fine. Instead he later discovers Kayla’s dead body as well as indications that Victor is responsible, and flies into a rage and intense mourning, and vows to avenge her death. After a fight with Victor that he loses, Stryker explains that Victor has gone rogue, and offers Logan a way to get strong enough to beat Victor. Undergoing an extremely painful procedure to have the rare rock (adamantium) the team once hunted melded to his bone structure, he survives and takes on the mantle Wolverine. He is furious with Stryker when he finds out that he, too, is nothing more than an experiment and that his memory is to be erased.

wolverine origins stryker's team2

“In my whole life, I felt like an animal. I ignored my instincts, and I ignored what I really am. And that won’t ever happen again.” – Logan

Escaping Stryker, Wolverine sets out to get as many facts together as is possible so as to take down Victor as well as work his way back to Stryker. Stryker is doing his damndest to take Wolverine down, and has special ammunition crafted of adamantium to use on Wolverine. John and Fred help Logan out as far as to explain to him that the mutants they were taking in were being taken to an island where Stryker would experiment on them. One such mutant escaped, and his name is Remy LeBeau, a.k.a. Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), someone who could take Logan to the island so that he can extract his revenge. Meanwhile, Victor is still on a mission to kill mutants and take their DNA, and it becomes evident that he is still working for Stryker, though on what it is not sure, only that it is called Weapon XI.

wolverine origins end

“I despise my humanity as much as you cherish yours. And I will come for you without mercy.” – Victor Creed

Will Logan make it onto Three Mile Island? What will he find on the island? What is Stryker’s end game? Why is Victor working for him? What is this Weapon XI that he is so intently working on?

wolverine origins gambit

“If I learnt anything about life, it’s this: always play the hand you’re dealt.” – Gambit

I would give X-Men Origins: Wolverine a 7/10. I know that so many people have their issues with this movie but I really cannot understand the hate. I think this is a really entertaining and fun film and something I look forward to watching every time that I get to it. I loved the opening credits that showed how James and his brother Victor  moved through the times together, fought the wars together, but continually showing how Victor got more and more prone to violence and brutality. They also just looked really cool. Then there was the backing story, and I thought it was pretty awesome, bringing in Logan’s break from Stryker and his mutants, deserting his brother, moving on with his life and losing it all, ultimately driven by hatred and revenge. I really liked Ryan Reynolds as Wade, and I really wish Marvel would stop teasing and actually just get the hell around to making that Deadpool movie! Damn! The one massive complaint I had about this movie was Wolverine’s claws. Not the bone ones, those always look brutal, but the adamantium ones. It looked like someone gave some first year graphic designer free reign on it, resulting in them looking way too fake and computerised and all, and that really ruined it for me each and every time Wolverine brought them out. Though I suppose that happened for a lot of the effects… I enjoyed watching Danny Huston as Stryker in this one, he really is a reprehensible and nasty man. I know the world has issues with Taylor Kitsch, but overall I thought he did a relatively good job as Gambit. Yes, there were faults in this movie, but I had fun with it. Maybe because I never read the comics that would back this, I don’t know, but either way this movie is not deserving of the hate it garners.

Review: X2 (2003) – Silver Screen Serenade

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X2 ONE SHEET A ¥ Art Machine Job#5263 ¥ Version A ¥  02/28/03

So when Zoë shared her plans to have an X-Men Blogathon to prepare for the upcoming Days of Future Past, I was totally in. I’d been thinking I ought to do something to get in the spirit, and I think this is just the ticket! Kudos for the awesome idea, Zoë!

When given a choice between the X-Men films to review, I immediately snatched up X2: X-Men United. In my opinion, this is the X-Men film to beat. Let’s talk about why, shall we?

Synopsis: “The X-Men band together to find a mutant assassin who has made an attempt on the President’s life, while the Mutant Academy is attacked by military forces.” –www.imdb.com

Why it’s awesome:

That opening! X2 doesn’t waste any time getting right into some action. I mean, an assassination attempt on the president within the first five minutes? I’m paying attention! And as for the would-be assassin…

  • NIGHTCRAWLER IS THE BEST. Seriously, he might be my favorite thing about this film. Played brilliantly by Alan Cumming, Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler is just too freaking cool. His look, his power, his personality—I feel like this film nails it. He looks scary, but he has a heart of gold, and with only a few details, you get a sense of his tortured past. Plus, I love the designs on his skin. “One for every sin,” he claims. Very nice touch.

  • Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier. Yes, Professor X is a character we’re introduced to in the first film, but he continues to shine here as the strong, wise, soft-spoken patriarch of the X-Men family.
  • Hugh Jackman just…is Wolverine. At this point, I do believe Logan a.k.a. Wolverine has been a bit overexposed (he has a huge role in every X-Men film except First Class, where he’s limited to a brief albeit delightful cameo), but this is the surly tough guy’s second film appearance, and it’s great.

  • Ian freakin’ McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto. So much yes. Aside from Tom Hiddleston’s irresistibly fun Loki, McKellen’s Magneto is my very favorite Marvel villain. He’s wonderfully suave, clever, and brutal, and his complicated “frenemy” relationship with Professor X is brilliantly portrayed. Also, his prison breakout scene is arguably the best moment of the film. Sheer awesomeness.
  • Rebecca Romijn as Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique. We don’t know much about her, but what we do know is that she’s sexy, sassy, smart, and an undeniable badass. She has some great moments in this film, but my personal favorite is when she breaks into William Stryker’s facility, then slides through a closing door while flipping her enemies the bird. Win.

  • The coolness of Colossus (Daniel Cudmore). We may not know much about him, but man does he look awesome.
  • The creepy intensity of William Stryker (Brian Cox). It’s hard for a plain old human villain to measure up to mutants, but Stryker does the job perfectly.
  • Bobby’s “coming out” scene. When Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) leads a group of mutants to his family’s house, he has to confess to them what he really is. The family’s reaction is less than favorable. You can’t help drawing parallels between this and the struggles of the gay community. It’s a smart tie-in to a very relevant social issue.
  • The Phoenix teasers. There are a couple of them in this film, and even though Phoenix a.k.a. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) doesn’t turn out quite like fans had hoped, the hints of power are still pretty great.
  • Yuriko Oyama a.k.a. Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu). When those adamantium claws sprout from her fingertips and she takes on Wolverine, it’s the best.

That scene near the end where the mutants talk to the president. Everything freezes, it’s dark and stormy, the mutants speak from the shadows…Mr. Prez, you’d better LISTEN!

  • In general, I just think the script is really sharp for this one. The dialogue is great, the pacing pretty spot-on, and the story, though ambitious, works well. Kudos, X2!

Clearly, I love this one. But if I have to pick on a few things…

The (few) things that bother me:

I don’t love Jean, Rogue (Anna Paquin), or Storm (Halle Berry), and I hate that because they’re all such potentially awesome characters. The problem is Famke Janssen can’t act her way out of a paper bag, Rogue doesn’t have nearly enough sass and is a little whiny (I blame the writers more than Paquin), and Storm is miscast as well as sans the cool African accent she is supposed to have. I read a list the other day of miscast X-Men where the writer suggested Angela Bassett instead of Berry in the role. Anyone who has seen Bassett in American Horror Story: Coven knows why that idea made me giddy.

angela bassett

BEST. STORM. EVER.

I hate the Logan/Jean/Scott love triangle. Is that a thing in the comics? I hate it. I hate how it makes Scott a.k.a. Cyclops (James Marsden) act toward Logan, I hate how Jean kind of leads Logan on, and I hate how it makes Logan a bit mopey. Do you guys feel the same? I don’t know. Maybe the prevalence of love triangles in, like, every recent book and movie has made me bitter toward them.

love triange

make them staaaaahp!

  • Stryker’s team breaks into the X-Mansion like it’s child’s play. Isn’t that place supposed to be super duper guarded? I feel like Professor X would’ve put more thought into that.
  • John Allerdyce a.k.a. Pyro (Aaron Stanford) is just an annoying psycho. There’s not much done to develop his character, and by the time he abandons the X-Men for Team Magneto, I’m like, “Whatever, bro.” Could not care less. Do we even really need him?
  • So if you’ve gotten this far, I’m sure you don’t care about spoilers, but SPOILERS! So Jean heroically sacrifices herself by stepping outside of a jet full of her X-Buddies and powering it up before rushing waters come to drown them. Here’s my question: Why couldn’t homegirl power up the jet from the inside? I guess you could argue that she also has to hold back the waters, but earlier in the film she stopped a missile from inside the jet. I see no reason she couldn’t hold back the water from inside it, too.

GET IN THE JET, YOU DUMB BITCH.

Summary:

I love this film. In my opinion, it’s the best X-Men so far (we’ll see how Days of Future Past stacks up), and it does all the things a good sequel is supposed to do: show us more of the characters we love while introducing a few awesome new ones, thicken the plot and put it on a grander scale, and improve upon and/or equal the previous film in greatness. Check, check, and check. This is one of my favorite superhero films for good reason.

My Rating: 9/10 (Probably an A on my rating system)

Thanks so much for letting me participate, Zoë!  X-Men Blogathon ruuuuuules! 😀


Thanks a million for participating Cara, this was an awesome review! I would have loved to see Bassett rock the Storm role!

Review: X-Men (2000)

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X-MEN 2000 POSTER

“Why do none of you understand what I’m trying to do? Those people down there – they control our fate and the fate of every other mutant!”
– Magneto

Yes, I know this was something I reviewed a while ago, and I have been threatening to review it from scratch again along with all the films that fall a part of this canon and just never got around to it. Here I am updating it for my X-Men run (finally)!

A new generation of man has emerged, and this generation is being drawn into the public eye more and more, and needs defenders to back it up. This is the generation of the mutants, their genetics altered from the average person, making them irrevocably different and ultimately special. Dr Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) is the public face for the mutants, defending them and attempting to veto ridiculous votes such as registries and acts to segregate the mutants from the rest of the American population. The forerunner against the mutants is Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison), and nothing he learns will sway his stance on the subject.

x men eric and charles

“Mankind is not evil, just… uninformed.” – Professor Charles Xavier

Marie, a.k.a. Rogue (Anna Paquin) is on the run after almost killing the first boy she ever kissed, and meets up with Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) at a bar outside a town, pegging him for being different. She sneaks in a lift with him, and he finds her. They are ambushed by a group of mutants, and are saved by another group. Wolverine and Rogue are taken back to an area that they learn is a school for the mutants, established by Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Here they have a place where they are looked after, accepted and taught life skills. Being the loner, Wolverine wants out, and is intent on making that happen. He is, however, very taken with Jean Grey, and her boyfriend Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops (James Marsden) is not impressed at all.

Soon they learn that Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto (Ian McKellan), is after Wolverine, and they are sure it has to do with his abilities to heal. He believes that a war is imminent, and has en evil master plan to win no matter the costs. Magneto sends in Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) to capture the senator, and from there his evil plan becomes slowly unveiled. Professor X is convinced that given enough time the normal people will accept the mutants, being very much the idealist. As a realist, Magneto and his troubled past knows that people do not accept that which they do not know, they ostracize it, and make it suffer. He wants to hurry up the genetic mutations in people. Senator Kelly escapes and rushes off to Jean Grey at the mutant academy, not knowing where else to go now that he is one of them, and desperate to survive this. Magneto kidnaps Rogue, and Professor X uses Cerebro to locate her. Suddenly it makes sense to all of them why she would be the one. He is willing to transfer his powers to her briefly to implement what he is too weak to do, and not willing to die for.

x men 2000 cerebro

“Mutants are not the ones mankind should fear.” – Dr Jean Grey

The X-Men need to gear up and get ready to fight Magneto and his vile plans to save the rest of the world from being wiped out. Magneto has no patience, and also no desire to let people choose their own paths, their own destiny. Wolverine feels he owes Rogue, and is intent on saving her, but will he be in time? The X-Men band together to fight evil, but will they save the girl? Will they be able to save the people?

x men 20000

“If they have anything that can pick up our jet, they deserve to catch us.” – Cyclops

A 7.5/10.  I have enjoyed this movie since I was a child. The first time I watched it I literally finished it, rewound the VHS and started all over again. You know how kids can get? Obsessive, I think, would be the only way to summarize it correctly. So because of that I have a soft spot for it. The effects were not bad for their time, but are a little dubious should you look them over too closely now. The story is alright, but has a few holes, and is slightly rushed, but not to the extent that none of it makes sense or that nothing sinks in. Hugh Jackman is so perfectly cast as the Wolverine, and I don’t think anyone could play it as successfully as he did. I am putting it out there right off the bat so it has been say, I have never been a fan of Scott Summers or the red that makes him Cyclops. I think he is a total chop, and I was not a fan of the casting, though it might be more due to disliking the character than anything else, not so much the actor. Halle Berry really had terrible acting skills, and she is truly not amazing, and doesn’t really bring much to the story. Her character was incredibly weak. Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart rocked their roles (I expected nothing less), and have a great chemistry to show how the friends have turned on one another, though still respect each other. Very well done for that! Every time I see the piece of Magneto in the concentration camps I get to sad. Definitely worth checking out, and a really fun set of films to watch. This is definitely a good entry to the superhero genre. X-Men truly sports a fantastic cast and is very well done and holds up pretty well, even after all this time.