Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine (2009 and 2013 movies)

Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (Logan to his friends) may be the most popular character in the X-Men movies, so it’s not surprising that he would get a couple of solo films.

The first, set mainly in the 1970s I think, tells how he came to acquire his powers from a mixture of mutant abilities and advanced technology and how he came to lose his memory. As a lot of reviewers complained, the film is marred by an overload of clichés, even, no kidding, a shot from overhead as a character looks up and cries “NOOOOO!” in reaction to some tragedy, something so often parodied that at this point it’s hard to imagine anyone trying to get away with it.

On the other hand, for all its flaws it’s not unwatchably awful. In fact, as someone who’s rather short for his weight, I quite liked the scene in which Wolverine gets his skinny ass thoroughly kicked by a fat guy.

The first film reveals that Logan has been around for a while and fought in the Civil War as well as World Wars I and II. In the second, set mostly in the present day, he’s invited to go to Japan to say farewell to a Japanese soldier he’d befriended during WW2. The man had later become a major Japanese industrialist and is now coming to the end of his life.

Strangely enough, Logan seems to remember the guy despite his amnesia. Maybe this is explained and I just missed it. Then again, I didn’t notice the inconsistency until I started writing this. That probably classifies it as what Alfred Hitchcock once called an “icebox scene,” i.e., a plot hole that doesn’t occur to you while watching a movie but only later when you’re back home taking something out of the refrigerator and suddenly think, “Hey, wait a minute.” Hitchcock implied he didn’t worry too much about that sort of thing. (The terms seems to have morphed into “refrigerator logic” in current usage.)

Anyway, in Japan Logan encounters various mysteries and menaces and a couple of very attractive women, one the industrialist’s granddaughter and the other her childhood best friend. The latter is a sort of ninja and a mutant besides. For some reason Logan takes up with the granddaughter despite having more in common with her friend, not to mention the fact that unlike the granddaughter the friend doesn’t have a fiancé. I also found the friend more physically attractive, in an exotic way, but maybe that’s just me. If Logan prefers the more conventional beauty, that just leaves more exotic hot mutant female ninjas for the rest of us.

The second film is definitely better than the first, but I wouldn’t recommend either to anyone not already inclined to see them.

Incidentally, one amusing bit of trivia: It seems Hugh Jackman, an Australian, initially didn’t realize that there is an animal called the wolverine and hence thought the term was an adjective meaning something on the order of “wolf-like.” So when he was originally cast to play Wolverine in the first X-Men movie he reportedly spent a lot of time studying wolves to develop mannerisms for his character.



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