THE WOLVERINE… A robot Silver Samurai? Seriously?

Posted on August 2nd, 2013
Posted on August 2nd, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Logan a.k.a ‘Wolverine’ (Hugh Jackman) has been hiding out in the Yukon wilderness after being forced to kill his lover Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) back in “X-Men 3.” He is tracked down by a mutant ninja named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) who was ordered to bring him to Tokyo meet Yashida, a man he saved from the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki back in World War II. He reaches Yashida to learn he is the most powerful man in Asia, a pioneer in medicine and technology, but he is dying and claims to be able to grant the immortal Logan the gift of mortality. Yashida’s beautiful and wise daughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) stands to inherit the family fortune but her father (Hiroyuki Sanada) is plotting against her along with the Yakuza and a clan of ninjas known as ‘The Hand.’ Logan falls for Mariko and becomes embroiled in the family power struggle, but does not realize the forces working against Mariko have plans for him as well.

What a disappointment. The “Wolverine in Japan” was my favorite comic book storyline of his. I fished the graphic novel version of it from storage and re-read it before viewing the movie and it’s amazing how many unnecessary changes the studio made in an attempt to jazz it up for the silver screen. They made some popular human characters mutants, made a popular mutant villain a robot (?)… or more like a samurai version of Iron Man (????) and generally messed up a bunch of stuff that didn’t need to be messed with.

As I watched “The Wolverine” I could practically hear the studio execs in my head, butchering the film in the conference room…

We need more recognizable villains that will fit into this storyline; any ideas? How about Viper? She’s a international spy and should fit into the Japanese setting. Perfect! Can we make her a mutant? But she’s a spy. Yeah, and make Viper a Russian-looking blonde – because we need caucasian actors – and give her freaky snake powers. Make sure she sticks her snake tongue out a lot because it’s hilarious and no one will ever get tired of that. We still need more mutants with superpowers in the story. Silver Samurai is Wolverine’s greatest nemesis and he’s a mutant. Great, but I think he should be a robot instead. Kids love those Transformers. Okay, make him a robot, but we still need more mutants. What about Wolverine’s treacherous, ex-lover assassin Yukio? We are making her a sidekick daughter-figure, like Batman and Batgirl. Fine, should we make her caucasian? No, we already have the blonde snake lady. Make Yukio a cutesy Japanese ninja with red hair because kids are into the anime thing. Oh, and make her a mutant but not a powerful one because she’s already a ninja! Got it.”

…I’m about 99% sure that some form of this conversation happened at some point while planning this movie.

Jackman is great as usual and I can’t imagine anyone else ever playing the role of Wolverine at this point. I have no qualms with the acting in general. The mostly Japanese cast kept things palatable for Westerners and some of the accents were harsh, but I never got too confused. The rampant appearances by Famke Janssen in Logan’s dreams were distracting and in order to make her a larger part of the story, Logan gets knocked out or passes out a ridiculous amount of times.

The plotting wasn’t so great, but what was even worse was the motivation of the characters. No matter what any of them did, there was always a flimsy reason for why they did it and it’s so haphazard, it’s often impossible to know who to root for. There is one ninja guy who started off as such a promising hero that when his true intentions were revealed, I was absolutely confused because they made little sense. The same goes for the main bad guy, whose actions I didn’t buy at all. Also, what they did to the character of the Silver Samurai was a travesty. He was Wolverine’s biggest mutant enemy and they made him a ridiculous robot-man-thing with no easily explainable function. It made about as much sense as making the Joker from Batman an alien.

It’s like 20th Century Fox didn’t learn much from the widespread fan criticism against “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” When a studio takes a fantastic story from a comic book franchise, make sweeping needless changes and foul up an already fantastic storyline, it’s time to worry about future films. Having said that, “The Wolverine” is still watchable. The action scenes are exciting and they bring to life a few of the spectacular scenes from the comics. I can recommend it to action movie fans and I’m sure most non-comic fans will find it refreshing and original. Personally, I can’t endorse it.

There is also a major surprise after the first half of the final credits; a cameo by two beloved characters nobody was expecting to see which hints at big things in the next film, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” coming in the summer of 2014.

Rating: 2 and 1/2 out of 5 stars

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