Wednesday, September 25, 2013

3 Short Paragraphs: The Wolverine

2013, James Mangold (Kate & Leopold, Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma) -- cinema

I am more upset by this movie's loose (non-existent) adaptation of the source material than I was with World War Z. At least I got a differently styled zombie movie out of the mix, and separated enough that I see the two as completely distinct entities. But this movie lifts all the basic elements from the comic book mini-series and manufactures an entirely different story around them. And not a particularly compelling one neither. This is not a bad superhero movie, but considering its source, it could have been so so so much more. Instead, it feels retread and long and not engaging at all.

In the 80s comic series, by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, Wolverine travels to Japan to find out why Mariko, his true love, is cutting ties with him. He finds her engaged to another man, via a powerplay by her father, a power leader of the Yakuza. Wolverine is forced to fight him, seemingly losing his honour in inglorious combat, but later regaining both his honour and the hand of Mariko in marriage. It is a grim, dark story full of Miller's shadows, ninjas and samurai. Wolverine was transformed from a raging mutant of earlier stories into a troubled ronin, seeking to control his beast within. It was a story that changed how I saw superhero comics.

As they are resurrecting the X-Men movies, this one revisits Wolvie's desire to lose his powers and has him still moaning his killing of Phoenix. But that is quickly dispensed with when he meets the frail flower (but oh so lovely) Mariko. Oh, the line from Up was never more apparent than here. I am sure I am not the only one who felt Logan would have been better suited with the wonderfully choreographed warrior Yukio, which was an element of the original story so I have to give them that credit. In an annoyingly PG romp (seriously, how could he not have made hamburger of people in those fights?!?!) he protects Mariko from assassins, falls in love with her, climbs a tower only to fall back down through its levels in a big battle against a giant samurai robot... there is a trope in there somewhere, isn't there? My only suggestion is to give Yukio her own movie.