Seen: At the Capitol Theatre in Arlington.
So I find myself constantly waffling in my resolve to stop caring about X-Men movies. It. Is So. Hard. So here I am, reeled back in by the promise of badass Japanese ladies and a script that won't make me want to bash someone's head in, watching the sequel to the horrific X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Which turns out to be a sequel to the also horrific X-Men 3: The Last Stand. Yet somehow, even with all the bad taste left in my mouth from its predecessors, I found myself basically enjoying The Wolverine. Set some time after the events of X3, with Logan (Hugh Jackman) wandering around the Canadian wilderness, clearly super depressed because he has a beard. He is found by a badass fighter in stripes called Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who whisks him away to Japan so he can meet with a dying comrade from his warring days. But then everything goes to shit and he's got to beat up a lot of people while also falling in love with his dead friend's granddaughter (Tao Okamoto).
Ok. So Wolverine has never been my favorite X-Man but I do enjoy the character's mixture of wise-cracks and berserker rages, as well as Hugh Jackman's constant shirtlessness. This movie adapts the well-known Japan arc to fit the films' timeline, and a lot of it works well. It's got a more serious, dramatic tone, with Logan having guilty visions of Jean Grey all the time and just generally brooding. I loved the Japanese setting, mostly because it makes this the only mainstream comic book I can think of that has more people of color than white people, so great job, movie. The action is exciting and a little ludicrous (that battle on top of the train? Whaaaat?), but weirdly kinda takes a backseat for a time so that the story and relationships can develop more. I could see what they were going for, and it's kind of successful, but it also struggles between being a silly action movie and being a more introspective superhero drama.
One of the main cool things about this movie is that there are several awesome ladies who play major parts in the story. Viper is a sultry mutant scientist who's pretty on top of things and I dug her as the villain because she seemed pretty misandrist and reminded me of Poison Ivy, but then of course at the end it turns out the real villain is a dude (in a totally foreseeable twist). Mariko is a little damsel in distressy at first, but she's also an individual with her own life and her own problems, and she propels a lot of the plot forward. The best, THE BEST is obviously Yukio, who is very different from the comic version but still super rad. She's adorable and deadly and I was in love with her hair style. I liked how they fit her into Wolverine's lady-sidekick thing, and never made it romantic. But because she was so awesome, I wanted her onscreen all the time, and kind of wish this movie was "The Yukio". That's the problem with introducing awesome lady characters that I fall in love with, they're always doing rad things on the sidelines and I want them to be front and center. Wolverine's a cool hero and everything but I was just reminded of how starved I am for a great female-driven superhero movie.
Pair This Movie With: I have a hankering to revisit the first two X-films, which I haven't seen in years despite being a little obsessed with them in middle school and high school.
PS And no I DON'T want to talk about the after-credits sting, my GOD how can they fit all this into the same universe when nothing made any sense in First Class and also shouldn't Xavier be in a new body or whatever and ugh I HATE THAT I CARE SO MUCH ABOUT X-MEN.