I had almost impossibly low expectations going into The Wolverine this weekend. Between the faint rumblings I had picked up that the movie was “slow” and “too long,” and the fact that I distinctly remembered disliking the last stand-alone Wolverine movie immensely, it just seemed like this one stood a chance. Admittedly, I was charmed by the man outside of my theater dressed in an elaborate Wolverine costume, asking people to “enjoy the movie” in a faint Spanish accent, but could he be trusted? What is his taste in movies like? Besides Wolverine movies, I mean? It also didn’t help that this summer seems to have been particularly disappointing when it comes to fun and exciting escapist fair, although I am starting to get the sense that it feels like that every summer, not just that it has been disappointing but that it has been particularly disappointing. So maybe this is more of a Gabe problem and less of a “The Movies” problem.
All of this is to say that I was delightfully surprised by The Wolverine! Oh, it’s a stupid piece of garbage to be sure, but it’s a FUN ENOUGH stupid piece of garbage, all things considered.
Wolverine is sad. He lives in the woods with his hoodie and his batteries. Every night, he has a nightmare in which his ex-girlfriend teases him for having killed her. It seems pretty rough! Even the bears ignore him, just walking around peeing everywhere. (A bear takes a big pee less than five minutes into the movie. Perhaps an homage?) But then one day a nerd’s wet dream of an Asian fetish comes to visit him with her sword and her bangs and tells him that an old friend from Nagasaki who is now dying of cancer wants to say goodbye. Wolverine is goin’ 2 Japan! (Oh, P.S. the opening sequence takes place in Nagasaki, and it is pretty cool, I guess, with Wolverine saving some dude from the nuclear bomb, but in addition to being cool it is also informative. Obviously, we all know about the Wolverine’s healing capabilities, but what you might not have known, and what it takes a nuclear blast to discover, is that when his body heels from, say, a full-body-ninteenth-degree-burn from a megaton blast, not only do his wounds heal, but his SIDEBURNS GROW BACK JUST RIGHT. Neat!)
The friend from Nagasaki is now a multi-billionaire cellphone maker who knows that Wolverine suffers from suicidal thoughts. He offers to take the Wolverine’s immortality in return for death. It’s kind of a weird deal? I mean, sure, Wolverine is pretty sad, but it mostly seems like this dude wants something pretty huge and impossible and all he’s giving in return is the receipt. Wolverine says no. The old man dies. The Wolverine wakes up from a nightmare to realize that he is mortal. Or, well, not mortal exactly, but, like, stuff hurts him a little bit? Then: bullet trains, yakuza, fishing villages, a terrible lizard actress, more nightmares, sex with the old man’s granddaughter who is super beautiful but who also has a collar bone that will FREAK YOU THE FUCK OUT if you look at it during this one scene where the two of them are eating soup, all of it leading to a final showdown where it turns out SPOILER ALERT that the old man is still alive and living in an adamantium Terminator exo-skeleton, determined to steal the Wolverine’s immortality whether he agrees to give it up or not. He does not. They fight. For a little while you think that maybe the Wolverine is going to lose, but it turns out he wins. That is why this movie is called The Wolverine and not The Ninja Robot With The Mean Old Man Inside.
Now, there are some things that don’t really make a lot of sense in The Wolverine. Its plot is made up of deus x-machinas that function by ever-shifting rules reconfigured from time to time to suit its own purposes. For example, it seems like the Wolverine has lost his power to heal himself and maybe he is mortal, except that’s not quite it. He’s still very powerful and also probably immortal, he’s just “subdued,” as the lizard lady whose power seems to be chewing all of the scenery says. So when he gets shot one thousand times, he gets out of breath? OK! Two minutes ago I believed that he was a self-healing immortal with retractable bone claws covered in a non-existent metal, so I can’t get too mad, but it is stupid. (It also turns out that the reason he doesn’t immediately heal from all of the bullets is because there’s a robot spider on his heart? Let’s just keep going.) Also, why is the “friend” from Nagasaki such a jerk? Sure, he is a greedy businessman and stuff, but they show tons of flashback scenes that suggest he used to be a cool dude. Surely there is something more going on here than the simple fact that his cellphone that he made is very successful? Sometimes in movies they show you the all-too-relatable human experiences that transform someone from a good person into a bad person, the way all of us are dependent on the circumstances of our life experiences to guide our development as people. Not so in The Wolverine! What better person to surprise us by hiding in the samurai robot than the guy we thought was dead?!
But like I said: this movie was fun enough, and I expected much worse. I actually couldn’t even remember what was so bad about the first one, so I went back and read my review. Holy moly! For one thing, I forgot that it was Taylor Kitsch’s first major movie role. Poor Taylor Kitsch. He cannot win when it comes to major movie roles! I also forgot that Will.i.am was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. No wonder I liked this movie so much better! Also, this is funny:
According to the media reports, this is “a great kick-off to the summer,” which is true if your system for determining a summer’s quality is how many millions of dollars a movie made. Obviously, a great kick-off to the summer is a barbecue, or going to the beach. Duh. Barbecue Origins: Ribs.
Haha. Barbecue Origins: Ribs. Good one, me. One nice thing about reading that review is to be reminded that despite the problems with the last Wolverine movie, I was still a fan of Liev Schreiber. Phew. I’ve been watching Ray Donovan and getting more and more into it with each episode, and I was a little worried because the ONLY thing I remembered from the last movie was that Liev Schreiber played the Wolverine’s brother, which could have gone either way. Or could it? Liev Schreiber is the best. The herstorical record proves it. He can even act without urinating all over himself!
Speaking of that, and I’m only going to say this once, and then get back to making fun of him for peeing his pants that one time, but Hugh Jackman is genuinely a very talented actor who is very good at his job and we should all respect him for that. I mean it. Ugh, you guys, is there anything worse than SINCERITY?
All of this being said, I still HATE those bone claws that Wolverine has in these movies. They are so disgusting. And I’m still a little bit lost as to how Wolverine’s immortality can be extracted by drilling into his bone claws but also how you can’t get all of the immortality out until you drill all the way. But I’m sure they will explain all of that in the next installment of Wolverine. The post-credits scene was fun, though, right?
Guys? Hello? Fun? Bones? Guys?