The Wolverine seemed really, really, really good to me. I think that was in large part due to how bad the previous Wolverine film, 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine was. That struck me as a pretty terrible movie, the only good parts I remember being that Hugh Jackman was in it and he's really good at being Wolverine in movies, and that the part where he fought a helicopter was pretty funny. Oh, and Liev Schreiber was pretty good in it too, I guess, looking more like Jackman's evil counterpart than Tyler Mane did in the original X-Men film
Part of X-Men Origins: Wolverine's problem, aside from having about two words too many in its title, seemed to be that it was re-covering ground already covered in 2002's X2...in fact, X2 seemed more like a Weapon X moive than X-Men Origins: Wolverine was (Also? Wolverine: Weapon X is a better film title than X-Men Origins: Wolverine), part of it was filling a Wolverine movie up with X-Men who weren't the X-Men from the previous, better movies, and then basically doing nothing at all with them (Why bother casting and introducing Gambit if you're only going to have him make a few cameos, for example?
(Oh, and what was up with that part where Wolverine met John and Martha Kent, they gave him a jacket and motorcycle, and then got totally blown up a few seconds later?)
At any rate, The Wolverine is the best movie with the name "Wolverine" in the title by far, is what I'm trying to say, but that's not really saying a whole lot*.
•I was a little thrown by the fact that it was set after the events of 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, which I barely remember (Like, I guess I forgot that Wolverine killed Jean Grey in it...?), and I guess my X-Men movie timeline was also a bit discombobulated by the fact that the last two movies—X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: First Class—were set before the other three X-Men movies, in terms of chronology, and I just sort of assumed the Japanese setting of this meant it would take place before them as well, that it would be a sequel to origins and a prequel to the X-Men trilogy.
•I was additionally surprised by the presence of Famke Janssen's Jean Grey, in a small but key role. It was nice to see her, as that character and actress sort of got the short end of the stick in the previous films (ditto poor Cyclops; the franchise lost a lot of energy when that love triangle collapsed under the weight of Wolverine's popularity). She was rather well-employed here, I thought, and that particular plot-line was among the artier aspects of the film. It was one of several aspects that made it seem like a movie-movie, rather than just a silly superhero movie, although it would certainly get sillier as time went on.
•When Brian K. Vaughan put Wolverine in Japan for the dropping of an American atomic bomb, I thought that was pretty crass and tasteless. Perhaps it was because BKV managed to desensitize me to it a bit, or perhaps film seems a better medium for it, being somewhat less exploitive of the poor audience member (it was a few minutes of a film I watched for free in one sitting; not part of a $12, three-month storyline).
•It was sort of weird seeing Wolverine's big Japanese adventure set in the present, or after all of his X-Menning, rather than as part of his mysterious past. This isn't a fault of the film or anything, just an observation: As a reader of Marvel comics, it was weird for me to see a Wolverine who couldn't speak Japanese, ate with a fork instead of chopsticks and didn't know how to hold a samurai sword.
•Tao Okamoto, who played Mariko, was pretty.
•Is Viper a new character? I can't think of any X-folks with that name or power-set, but I'm not an X-Men expert by any stretch of the imagination. (Wikipedia offers me a confusing answer on a Viper's existence in Marvel comics; I guess movie Viper is an original remix of several versions of different characters, maybe...?)
•The bullet train fight scene was pretty cool, I thought. It certainly bordered on the ridiculous, and occasionally stepped/flew over that border, but for all the fight scenes set atop trains in action film history, one set atop a bullet train was, of course, inevitable, so good on The Wolverine for going there. Hell, it may not even be the first fight set on top of a bullet train, but it is the first one I saw.
•The Silver Saumurai was fucking ridiculous (see above), and I had a hard time wrapping my head around the exact plan to steal Wolverine's healing powers from him...apparently, if you chop off the adamantium claws, you can use the claw holes of his knuckles as, like, access ports with which to siphon out his immortality. Or something?
•Ninjas don't really work in live-action movies, do they? They seemed super-cheesy in this. And, as I was thinking about it, I can't recall any movies—at least made in America ones—where ninjas didn't look at least a little like men in pajamas playing dress-up. In comics though? Ninjas work just fine in comics.
•You know the part when that one bad guy asks Wolverine what kind of monster he is and he says "The Wolverine" and pops his claws into his throat...? He totally should have said "The (Whatever That Japanese Monster Mariko Told Him Her Grandfather Said He Met At the Bottom of the Well With the Claws, The Monster That Would Always Protect Her)." That, or "The (Japanese Monster). The Wolverine."
•So I wonder what's next for Wolverine, in terms of solo movies? An eye-patch and Madripoor? Tyger Tiger? I hope so; I really like the name "Tyger Tiger," and would love to hear highly-paid actors say it out loud repeatedly in a movie theater.
•It looks like the X-Men people are taking a page from the Marvel Studios people, and teasing their next film during the credits for whichever one just finished, as Professor X and Magneto show up for a few minute scene with Wolverine in this, apparently teasing Days of Future Past.
•After I finished watching the movie, I watched the trailer, which is something of a habit I have. When I did so, I noticed a few elements that didn't make it into the final cut:
In the trailer, there are a few glimpses of ninja's on motorbikes, including a moment where one of them pops a wheelie on the front tire, and smacks Wolverine across the face with the back tire.
•And then I watched the trailer for Days of Future Past, which looks sort of intriguing, although I was sad that X-Men I would most like to see more of—Alan Cummings' Nightcrawler, Taylor Kitsch's Gambit, James Marsden's Cyclops, the aforementioned Wong's Jubilee—aren't in it, but Halle Berry's dumb-ass Storm is. And Havoc. And, ugh, Bishop too.
*Disclaimer: I've never seen this 1921 silent movie called The Wolverine, but I'm pretty confident it is not about the mutant with the funny hair and claws named Logan.