The Wolverine (2013)
I have often been critical of comic book cinema franchises, and super-hero films. As I have confessed, I rarely even bother to watch them, convinced that they are best suited to the colourful pages of the comics where they originated. I know that I am getting on a bit, and my tolerance levels are low, so I thought it best to at least watch another one, before continuing to slag them off. I noticed that one was on TV tonight, presented by Film 4, so I decided to give it a chance. Even though the Euro football has concluded, there was little else on, to be frank.
I have had little time for Hugh Jackman, the Australian actor, and star of this film. Although I have enjoyed some films he has been in, like ‘The Prestige’, and ‘Swordfish’, these have been countered by dull performances in films such as ‘Australia’, ‘Kate and Leopold’, and many more. He has the hunky credentials for a manly role like ‘The Wolverine’, but not much else, as far as I could tell.
So I settled down to watch, and was immediately overwhelmed by the numbing predictability. He is an apparently indestructible, long-lived mutant, with sharp knives that appear from between his fingers when he needs to fight, or is angry. In a plot best forgotten, he has to save the Japanese granddaughter of someone he had met during WW2. This enables the film to be set in modern-day Japan, and to include all the cinematic stereotypes associated with that country.
Lets examine if they are all present.
Beautiful Japanese girl, also a love interest. Check
Friend of same girl, also beautiful. Check.
Angry Yakuza gangsters who try to kill the girl. Check.
Samurai swords and martial arts. Check.
Bullet train scenes. Check.
Running through crowded shopping areas, and Pachinko parlours. Check.
Japanese businessmen being entertained by attractive prostitutes. Check.
Jumping up in the air, and across large gaps between buildings. Check.
Mysterious Ninjas with archery skills and sneaking up to strangle people. Check.
Beautiful young women who are also experts in martial arts and sword-fighting. Check.
Lying Japanese man thrown out of a window. Check.
And many more…
The Wolverine is unstoppable. He can survive bullet wounds, swords through the heart, and any number of beatings. His wounds heal as if by magic, and he has twice the strength of all his adversaries. Alright, I accept it is a fantasy, but come on…I was bored after thirty minutes, and would have switched off, if I hadn’t already decided to review the film on this blog. It is just lazy, a by the numbers, seen-it-all-before adventure film, dressed up in the heritage of a Marvel comic. And he doesn’t even look much like the comic character, when all’s said and done.
I dread to think how much a big-budget blockbuster like this cost to make. Hang on, I will look it up.
$120,000,000. That’s a lot of moolah. They could have made a better film for that money, or three better films. Maybe even four. Better still, they could have financed some independent film-makers to come up with something entertaining and original for a change. But it isn’t really about films anymore, we know that. It is about selling Wolverine toys to kids, and Wolverine figures to collector-nerds. Wolverine computer games, lunch boxes, backpacks and baseball caps. T-shirts, hoodies, DVD spin-offs, and so much more. This is merchandising by cinema, 21st century style.
And it is complete crap, by the way.
See for yourself, here’s a trailer.