WHAT IS IT?
The Wolverine is the sixth entry in Fox's X-Men series of films and the second solo adventure for Hugh Jackman, following the half-arsed X-prequel, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). Unlike X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine is a sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and picks up events after the death of Jean Grey.... and not after X-Men: First Class (2011), the fifth X-Men film.
Thought you might be.
Go watch the third X-Men film and then come back here.
Seen it now? Right, now you understand where this film slots into the series... so let's carry on.
Taking a deviation from the usual X-Men films, The Wolverine strips things back considerably, jettisoning most of the mutants usually associated with X-Men films in favour of a more streamlined tale.
The story sees Wolverine transported to Japan where Ichiro Yashida, a figure from Wolverine's past, offers the former X-Man a way to remove his immortality. If that wasn't enough for Wolverine to have to deal with, he also has to reconcile his feelings of guilt over Jean's death, whilst tackling the deadly Viper and the Silver Samurai!
WHAT WAS GOOD?
For a 'stand alone' Wolverine movie, there are quite a number of references to the past (and future) instalments of the X-Men franchise, including a few appearances from Famke Janssen's Jean Grey and a great post-credit teaser for X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). In fact the references to the wider X-Universe are some of the best bits of the film and really help to get the fanboy juices flowing.
The action scenes are a highlight of The Wolverine, particularly a fight which takes place on top of a moving bullet train. It also doesn't hurt to see Wolverine team up with an ass-kicking sidekick in the shape of Yukio, another of The Wolverine's strong points.
Finally it goes without saying that Hugh Jackman is once again brilliant as Wolverine, a part he was destined to play. This is the sixth time around for Jackman and despite problems with the script (I'll get to that shortly) the Aussie actor knows the character of Wolverine inside-out.
Sigh... where to start? The Wolverine is not a bad movie. In fact, it's an OK movie. However that is all that it is - an OK movie... which in itself is disappointing.
The story, which seems keen to separate Wolverine from his usual X-Men cohorts, only really gets going when it treads back over familiar territory. Whilst the backdrop of Japan is interesting - and beautifully shot - it does nothing to enhance the story and is....boring! Yep, there are moments when it seems as if time has stood still completely and only gets going again when an action scene kicks in.
The slower moments of The Wolverine could have been filled with comedic scenes to lighten the mood, but nope, the film is pretty much devoid of any humour too. In another attempt to steer this X-Men film into new waters - and turn it into a 'more serious' take on the original source material - director James Mangold has forgotten many of the reasons why audiences like the X-Men films in the first place.
The biggest disappointment comes during the finale, with Wolverine facing off against the Silver Samurai; a freakin' big mess of a character that is tacked on rather than carefully developed.
As cheesy and daft as X-Men Origins: Wolverine was, in some respects it was a heck of a lot more entertaining than The Wolverine. Shudder.... yes, I am aware that I just typed those words.
WHY PUSH THE BUTTON?
The Wolverine could have been the ultimate superhero film, taking everyone's favourite Marvel mutant and giving him a chance to excel without his pals, but sadly The Wolverine is just dull.
Push the button, erase the film from existence... well except from the scenes with Jean Grey and the closing teaser scene... and move on.
The Wolverine is not