Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

13 March 2014

The Wolverine

Don't confuse The Wolverine with X-men Origins: Wolverine, although, well, I guess it wouldn't matter too much if you did.
This poster is awesome.

I insist on seeing these X-men movies, and I am not really sure why. I guess it is out of queer solidarity. Mutant powers are an obvious (and useful) metaphor for deviant sexuality, certainly, and then there are all of the gay people in the movies. Which is fun. But most of these X-men movies have, frankly, not been very good, so I am not sure why I am as loyal as I am to the franchise. In any case, I couldn't bring myself actually to see The Wolverine in the theatre when it was out, but now that Oscar season is over, I rented The Wolverine. Oh yeah, and this isn't the sequel either to the 2009 Origins: Wolverine film or the 2011 X-men: First Class. This movie is a follow-up to X-men: the Last Stand (i.e. X-men 3), which came out 7 years ago. I, frankly, couldn't remember anything that happened, but apparently I saw it back in 2006 because I blogged about it back then.

This movie is bad. Honestly, though, I still kinda liked it. First off, this film takes place in Japan and is filled with every single movie cliché that Hollywood has ever churned out about the "land of the rising sun" and about Japanese people in general. These include:
  • women pouring tea (and I don't mean sharing gossip)
  • women cooking for men
  • samurai swords (a lot of them)
  • the phrase: "Chopsticks standing up are a bad omen. Everything has meaning."
  • 10th century wall hangings
  • the word rōnin, which is used multiple times
  • the factoring of the bombing of Nagasaki into the plot
  • an outdoor winter scene (which is weird, because sometimes it's Spring in the film)
  • martial arts galore
  • nefarious businessmen (see the Christopher Nolan Batman reboot films for more villainous Asians)
  • a low-rent Japanese brothel
  • the Yakuza
  • the phrase: "I don't expect you to understand; you're not Japanese"
We even got the biggest Hollywood cliché of them all in films about Japan at the end. As he finally kills the bad guy for good, Hugh Jackman looks into the villain's eyes and says: Sayonara. Boom.

But there are a lot of good things, too: the villain is really cool. Actually, she is the hot blonde chic that exists in all Hollywood films about Japan. (There is always a hot, evil, blonde chick with whom we can contrast the naive, docile, but incredibly gorgeous Japanese woman, with whom the hero is supposed to fall in love.) But anyway, this blond villain, whose name is VENOM, is really cool.

Why wear a shirt? This guy is 45 years old and he looks amazing.
And Hugh Jackman is shirtless a lot, and he looks amazing. In fact, Hugh Jackman is shirtless so much that I started to wonder who this film's intended audience is. I mean, it is filmed like a silly movie for teenage boys (the violence is almost egregiously fake and cartoonish), but this film loves Hugh Jackman's body, and there is an extended sequence with a sexy Japanese guy in his underwear, too, and I couldn't really figure out why. Not that I'm complaining.

What else? I guess there isn't much else to say. We learn almost nothing about Logan or his origin, of course, and the acting is pretty terrible across the board except for the excellent Hiroyuki Sanada and a really great performance by Ken Yamamura.

Basically, this is for Hugh Jackman fans but pretty much nobody else. I take that back. Honestly, I'm not much of a Jackman fan, but I sure am a fan of his upper body. Woof.