I had almost impossibly low expectations going into The Wolverine this weekend. Between the faint rumblings I had picked up that the movie was “slow” and “too long,” and the fact that I distinctly remembered disliking the last stand-alone Wolverine movie immensely, it just seemed like this one stood a chance. Admittedly, I was charmed by the man outside of my theater dressed in an elaborate Wolverine costume, asking people to “enjoy the movie” in a faint Spanish accent, but could he be trusted? What is his taste in movies like? Besides Wolverine movies, I mean? It also didn’t help that this summer seems to have been particularly disappointing when it comes to fun and exciting escapist fair, although I am starting to get the sense that it feels like that every summer, not just that it has been disappointing but that it has been particularly disappointing. So maybe this is more of a Gabe problem and less of a “The Movies” problem.

All of this is to say that I was delightfully surprised by The Wolverine! Oh, it’s a stupid piece of garbage to be sure, but it’s a FUN ENOUGH stupid piece of garbage, all things considered.

Wolverine is sad. He lives in the woods with his hoodie and his batteries. Every night, he has a nightmare in which his ex-girlfriend teases him for having killed her. It seems pretty rough! Even the bears ignore him, just walking around peeing everywhere. (A bear takes a big pee less than five minutes into the movie. Perhaps an homage?) But then one day a nerd’s wet dream of an Asian fetish comes to visit him with her sword and her bangs and tells him that an old friend from Nagasaki who is now dying of cancer wants to say goodbye. Wolverine is goin’ 2 Japan! (Oh, P.S. the opening sequence takes place in Nagasaki, and it is pretty cool, I guess, with Wolverine saving some dude from the nuclear bomb, but in addition to being cool it is also informative. Obviously, we all know about the Wolverine’s healing capabilities, but what you might not have known, and what it takes a nuclear blast to discover, is that when his body heels from, say, a full-body-ninteenth-degree-burn from a megaton blast, not only do his wounds heal, but his SIDEBURNS GROW BACK JUST RIGHT. Neat!)

The friend from Nagasaki is now a multi-billionaire cellphone maker who knows that Wolverine suffers from suicidal thoughts. He offers to take the Wolverine’s immortality in return for death. It’s kind of a weird deal? I mean, sure, Wolverine is pretty sad, but it mostly seems like this dude wants something pretty huge and impossible and all he’s giving in return is the receipt. Wolverine says no. The old man dies. The Wolverine wakes up from a nightmare to realize that he is mortal. Or, well, not mortal exactly, but, like, stuff hurts him a little bit? Then: bullet trains, yakuza, fishing villages, a terrible lizard actress, more nightmares, sex with the old man’s granddaughter who is super beautiful but who also has a collar bone that will FREAK YOU THE FUCK OUT if you look at it during this one scene where the two of them are eating soup, all of it leading to a final showdown where it turns out SPOILER ALERT that the old man is still alive and living in an adamantium Terminator exo-skeleton, determined to steal the Wolverine’s immortality whether he agrees to give it up or not. He does not. They fight. For a little while you think that maybe the Wolverine is going to lose, but it turns out he wins. That is why this movie is called The Wolverine and not The Ninja Robot With The Mean Old Man Inside.

Now, there are some things that don’t really make a lot of sense in The Wolverine. Its plot is made up of deus x-machinas that function by ever-shifting rules reconfigured from time to time to suit its own purposes. For example, it seems like the Wolverine has lost his power to heal himself and maybe he is mortal, except that’s not quite it. He’s still very powerful and also probably immortal, he’s just “subdued,” as the lizard lady whose power seems to be chewing all of the scenery says. So when he gets shot one thousand times, he gets out of breath? OK! Two minutes ago I believed that he was a self-healing immortal with retractable bone claws covered in a non-existent metal, so I can’t get too mad, but it is stupid. (It also turns out that the reason he doesn’t immediately heal from all of the bullets is because there’s a robot spider on his heart? Let’s just keep going.) Also, why is the “friend” from Nagasaki such a jerk? Sure, he is a greedy businessman and stuff, but they show tons of flashback scenes that suggest he used to be a cool dude. Surely there is something more going on here than the simple fact that his cellphone that he made is very successful? Sometimes in movies they show you the all-too-relatable human experiences that transform someone from a good person into a bad person, the way all of us are dependent on the circumstances of our life experiences to guide our development as people. Not so in The Wolverine! What better person to surprise us by hiding in the samurai robot than the guy we thought was dead?!

But like I said: this movie was fun enough, and I expected much worse. I actually couldn’t even remember what was so bad about the first one, so I went back and read my review. Holy moly! For one thing, I forgot that it was Taylor Kitsch’s first major movie role. Poor Taylor Kitsch. He cannot win when it comes to major movie roles! I also forgot that Will.i.am was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. No wonder I liked this movie so much better! Also, this is funny:

According to the media reports, this is “a great kick-off to the summer,” which is true if your system for determining a summer’s quality is how many millions of dollars a movie made. Obviously, a great kick-off to the summer is a barbecue, or going to the beach. Duh. Barbecue Origins: Ribs.

Haha. Barbecue Origins: Ribs. Good one, me. One nice thing about reading that review is to be reminded that despite the problems with the last Wolverine movie, I was still a fan of Liev Schreiber. Phew. I’ve been watching Ray Donovan and getting more and more into it with each episode, and I was a little worried because the ONLY thing I remembered from the last movie was that Liev Schreiber played the Wolverine’s brother, which could have gone either way. Or could it? Liev Schreiber is the best. The herstorical record proves it. He can even act without urinating all over himself!

Speaking of that, and I’m only going to say this once, and then get back to making fun of him for peeing his pants that one time, but Hugh Jackman is genuinely a very talented actor who is very good at his job and we should all respect him for that. I mean it. Ugh, you guys, is there anything worse than SINCERITY?

All of this being said, I still HATE those bone claws that Wolverine has in these movies. They are so disgusting. And I’m still a little bit lost as to how Wolverine’s immortality can be extracted by drilling into his bone claws but also how you can’t get all of the immortality out until you drill all the way. But I’m sure they will explain all of that in the next installment of Wolverine. The post-credits scene was fun, though, right?

Guys? Hello? Fun? Bones? Guys?

Comments (70)
  1. I don’t care what this post is REALLY about, I just wanted to give a big sarcastic “thanks,” for ruining my birthday.

    Also, where do I file my paperwork to campaign for the position of King Blogger? My administration promises more WMOAT, less ruining of birthdays, and a 9-9-9 plan to do something about this economy.

  2. I did not see this movie, but I did look up the after credits scene, and AAAAHHHHHHHHHHH I am excited for REDACTED and REDACTED so much!

  3. Just to get this out of the way, because sincerity is THE WORST, I would like to sincerely thank you for all the work you’ve put in to this website. You’ve made me laugh, think, laugh again, annoy my fiancée by telling her about all the funny and interesting stuff you’ve posted, and fostered a really great internet community. I’ve met many awesome people through here, and it’s thanks to this thing you’ve created. I will miss reading your grumpy old man rants and your weird father issues and your hatred of GOOP, and, although I had already come to suspect it, the confirmation that there will never be another WMOAT does make me genuinely a little sad. So, thank you sincerely, Gabe. You will be missed.

    • This for real.

    • Also, the question on everyone’s mind: Even though the journey is the destination, in your (Gabe’s) opinion what is the worst movie of all time? Or the top few?

      • I was reading old WMOATs the other day and unearthed what scholars maintain is the first Gabe post I ever read. The WMOAT for Bicentennial Man. I couldn’t even watch that movie on an aeroplane — I turned it off 15 minutes in, feeling spiritually ill, and when I landed I went a-Googling to see if anyone had bothered to review it and give it the brutal death it deserved.

        That was more than four years ago, and I’ve been a monster ever since.

        Thanks, Gabe.

      • Did he settle on Elizabethtown as the frontrunner? I seem to remember that that was the one to beat for a while.

        • Also any time I ever see that someone is from the town of Elizabethtown, NC, I think back to that post and laugh and laugh and laugh.

        • Wow, I just realized that that was almost 5 years ago that he said that. I suppose that he may have watched a worse movie in that time, but who knows?

          • Elizabethtown was declared the one to beat, early on. Since then, Georgia Rule, Wicker Man, and Nothing But Trouble were all declared top contenders. I believe Nothing But Trouble may have been declared only top 10, but got a special “Worst Action Comedy” award, or something. These were the standouts, as I recall.

            (But now I realize I did mis-remember how I came to Bicenntenial Man. I did meet it on an aeroplane, but that was years before I read the review here. It just stuck in my head as Exhibit G in favor of the extermination of our species, and then one day I was discussing worst movies with a coworker and bang, THAT was what made me Google it.)

          • Called it!

  4. I saw Hugh Jackman riding his bike the other day in East Hampton. All 5 of us gay men literally stopped, dropped (our jaws) and swooned before we even realized who it was. He’s a stunning piece of work.

    • For the record, I do think he’s gay but it doesn’t matter because I’ll never have a chance with him even though my bf said he’s on “the list.”

  5. I am a Wolverine (the character) superfan and the bone claws gross me out so much. In the first Nagasaki scene I actually though they were bamboo claws, which was kind of gross but cooler than bone.

  6. I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to X-Men movies over the past year or two, or their fans who love them. You know, just busy with life and whatnot. If someone had asked me yesterday if I was going to see Wolverine I would’ve said probably not, and been done with it.

    But if it’s is the last X-Men movie that Wolverine is going to be in? Then I feel, my friends, like I have been a fool. Sure, I can rewatch old X-Men movies but I will still know Wolverine is gone from the franchise.

    *in this comment Wolverine is Gabe, X-Men movies is Videogum, and the fans are you lovely commenters.

  7. Now thoughts on the movie:

    1) The bullet train scene was awesome.

    2) Was the funeral party like 80% yakuza? Because that’s what it seemed like.

    3) I was talking with my friend afterwards, and we were remarking how it’s weird to see a superhero movie that’s just kindof a stand alone story. Like, this was just an Adventure of Wolverine without any major tie-ins (other than the jean gray stuff). We were also like, “why make this movie? if it’s just a stand alone?” And the answer was “Wolverine vs. a town of ninjas”

    4) Wasn’t the final battle very Iron Man? Like, almost the same back story? Although Giant Adamantium Samurai is waaaay cooler than any non-samurai robot

    5) That “Oh, right. Two hands” thing in the final battle actually made me groan out load.

    6) Don’t forget his pants survived the nuclear blast as well.

  8. Today is a national tragedy.

    I’m trying to find the silver lining. We may be losing a President Warren G. Harding, but we’re gaining a President Calvin Coolidge? That’s it, that’s the lining; that is so goddamn silver.

    (Coolidge was vice president under Harding, and Harding died. In this analogy “died” is “finally refused to ever do another WMOAT, ever, finally, stop asking” and “Coolidge” is “Kelly Conaboy.”)

    • I was going to say losing a Garfield gaining a Chester A. Arthur because Chet was Totally A. Awesome and quite underrated, but Garfield’s presidency was brief, so maybe Harding-Coolidge is a better analogy.

      • Chester A. Arthur is indeed underrated, and we are a much better country today than we would be had Garfield never died!* Now, I’m absolutely sure that when Garfield died it was just like Gabe’s retirement, in that the country was rent by despair.** And Kelly is clearly awesome, so she might very well found a whole new America/Videogum just like Arthur did!*** But this is the thing about history analogies — they are complex and subtle, and only history can judge them.****

        *It would be super weird if Garfield never died.
        **I’m not sure of this. It seems possible people didn’t get too attached to Garfield.
        ***No sarcasmo! He kind of did! He abolished the “spoils system” of politics.
        ****For the sake of accurate assessment, historians suggest we review our analogies in 2039.

        • I really liked this little bit of Historygum. But now it’s

        • Right there with you, hots, but Garfield was elected as a reformer, so I’d like to think we would have made it out ok if he hadn’t been shot by a madman. What’s funny is that Arthur was put on the ticket to appease the crooked N.Y. Customs House Boss Tweed types, but after Garfield died, Chet decided the right thing to do was continue Garfield’s policies. (To your question, since it took Garfield months to die, the country did get pretty attached to him with daily newspaper dispatches on how much puss was leaking from the president’s wound.) So, perhaps in an Arthurian move, Kelly will bring about a return of WMOAT in Gabe’s honor.

          • Huh. I did not know that about Garfield’s death. Or that he planned to be a reformer. I have a regrettable* tendency to ignore Garfield, both Harrisons, Tyler, and Taylor, and I just don’t know much about Cleveland’s achievements! On either try!


          • It’s cool. I’m sure you make up for it with an intimate understanding of the great Rutherford B. Hayes years.

  9. This is for Gabe and this is for us: http://bit.ly/16vnwGo

  10. I used to work in a guitar store and one time Liev Schreiber came in to get his guitar strings changed. Our tech was gone for the day so I did it for him. He was super cool and really nice and gave me tickets to the play he was in at the time. Two facts I did not know: Most movie actors are short, but he is not. He had to be at least 6’2″. Also, his name is pronounced, “LEE-ehv,” not “Leave,” like I thought.

    • Do actors carry around tickets to their plays? This is a nice story, and it sounds like Liev Schreiber is a nice person, but I am genuinely curious if he just reached into his pocket to pull out a stack of tickets and hand some to you.

      • Haha, no. He took one of our store cards and wrote a number on the back and was like “Call this number. Ask for Ed. Tell him I sent you and he’ll get you free tickets.” Which is actually way cooler. I felt all clandestine and stuff.

        FYI the play was Talk Radio. I’m not a huge fan of Bogosian, but Liev was really good. He definitely has Presence™.

  11. Damn, this whole time I thought WMOAT stood for Wolverine Movie of All Time

  12. i saw this with my twelve year old cousin who loves anime. we both thought it was pretty cool, x-men? check. japan? check. bullet train chases? check. i feel like i am not sorry i paid for this in the theater.

  13. Not sure anyone’s going to miss Gabe more than this guy:

    I guess I should save my sentiments for the goodbye Friday post, but seriously Gabe…iTEARS !!

  14. I didn’t get to see The Wolverine (I think James Mangold is the hackiest of hacks) but, I did see The Act of Killing and, holy frijole, that is an incredible movie. Fascinating, strange, harrowing, beautiful; it’s one of the best documentaries ever made. No lie. See it.

  15. i feel like someone should tell steve winwood…

  16. Stay golden, Gabe.

  17. Here’s blogging at goop, Gabe.

  18. Now I am off to go see The Wolverine, so I can participate in this post properly.

  19. I feel like Gabe is Mary Poppins, and since he’s changed us for the better, he’s off to another blog or whatever he’s up to now.

  20. See, I like that they didn’t really explain how drilling into your claws could get the immortality out, or a spider on your heart interrutped your healing factor, because let’s be real: what POSSIBLE explanation could there have been for it? Any explanation you have, that means you’ve got to explain what the mutant healing factor is in the first place, and who even knows about that.

    “Why does drilling into the claws get the immortality out?”

    “I dunno, bone marrow or something.”

    “… sure. Sure, okay.”

    • OH yeah, sweet, sweet Wolvie bone marrow.
      That just clicked (I just got back from the movie about 30 minutes ago)! Hence cutting the claws off and drilling at the marrow!

      I started writing a whole bunch of thoughts about the movie, but figured it’d be better if I continued this below in its own comment, and not inserting it into the middle of the thread)

  21. wait what? Gabe is leaving! Now where will I get hilarious reviews of top chef episodes?

  22. Gabe is my new boyfriend

  23. Will An American Patriot change his avatar now? (is it still even the Lindsay flag thing?)

    I dont comment here often, but I’ve been reading videogum consistently ever since the Lindsay era, and I keep coming back because I honestly think it’s some of the finest, most perceptive and funny writing on the internet. Gabe’s cultural commentary here is top-notch, and I’ll miss it a lot. But I’ve been thinking for years that as much as I love videogum, gabe’s talents could be used for much more. He’s limited by having to write for a blog every day.
    So Gabe I wish you the best and I’m glad you’re moving on to bigger things. I look forward to whatever it is. Please dont let us find out you left us just to write for some terrible sitcom or something. I hope there will still be a place for us to read your writing in some form. Whether its a book, movie, internet series or something else, I’ll be there to buy it, so please let us know how we can keep following you.

  24. Now who’s going to fire Kelly?

  25. Just to say, I don’t often pipe up here, but thanks Gabe. You created a fantastic place to come to, I can’t wait to see what you do next. Big hugs. And thank you monsters, you kept me smiling when Gabe was hating it.

  26. (continued from my reply to Chris Braak)
    But even still, what is in his marrow that isn’t in his blood, and how is all of his livelihood in his CLAWS that we just established can be completely removed? Claws that can be 100% cut off and they will regenerate KIND of almost immediately. Hmm. Maybe that’s what it is. We have skin, meat, blood and arteries (gross), and all of that is attached to bone, and then the marrow is in the bone. So naturally, that’s where we keep all of our secrets.

    I think that old man played his hand ALL wrong. He should’ve been like, “Ohaiyo Gozaimasu, Logan-San, hey, I am super-powerful and innovative in Japan and I am not done— there’s some cool stuff coming down the pike, Steve Jobs-style— but my cursed body is failing me. I owe you for saving my life in Nagasaki, I have no idea how I can ever repay you for that, but let’s have a conversation about it, because I am SUPER-RICH, and you know, I can buy all sorts of things (like a stockpile of adamantium, for example, which I can heat up and destroy at will even though that goes against the concept of adamantium’s set-it-and-forget-it-forever-because-it-ain’t-ever-gonna-break reputation ), but we will talk of all that stuff later. Firstly, can I PLEASE pretty-please ask you for another solid and let us use some of your blood to maybe synthesize your healing factor to get rid of this cancer?”

    That would’ve been a good place to start. Because Wolverine ISN’T immortal, and his bone marrow is not Fountain of Youth Botox. He does age, just slowly. In the comics of the 1970s he looked like he was in his late 30′s/early 40′s, whereas in actuality he was closer to 90 years old. He’s not a goddamn Highlander, and nothing in any X-Men films set him up to be immortal.

    All this is to say tho, that Wolverine said no to that dude because that dude was mistaken in his assumption that Wolverine was immortal. Then that dude faked his own death, decided Wolverine’s immortality was in his bones, made a complicated Silver Samurai Jaeger with fists that turn into claw-marrow-drills, and then spent OVER A WHOLE YEAR trying to find Logan so he could be like, “Hey old buddy, I can end your suffering. I’ll kill the shit out of you and add it to me. Cool?”

    The movie was fun at parts. It was also a weird time. The action seemed to take off at the slowest of morning warm-up jogs before it would ramp up in any fashion. Wolverine *feeling* pain for *the first time* was annoying, because he has ALWAYS FELT PAIN. I’m not addressing injuries that stick around, of course. Wolverine would for sure not be used to that kind of lasting ache and pain. But I’m talking like, “OH! I cut myself shaving with a store-bought razor… ouch!” Well, James, maybe if you shaved with YOUR SUPER-DOOPER RAZOR SHARP CLAWS— claws you’ve MASTERED using over the 100+ years you’ve been alive, 70 of which have been with metal claws— you wouldn’t cut yourself shaving. But yeah, nicking yourself with a Gilette is the pits. Oh, one last thing (I’m Columbo): why are you shaving when, as Gabe adeptly pointed out, your hair grows back to its exact groomed shape after it burns off in a nuclear blast?

    As I sat through the end credits, the only word(s) I thought of to sum up the filmmaking and the entire outing was ‘Competent… barely).’

  27. Probably a way more important question than the question of “why do we get Wolverine’s immortality out through his bone marrow?” is:

    If Wolverine grows his sideburns back after having them vaporized by an atomic bomb, how come he doesn’t grow his beard back after he shaves it off?

  28. I came here looking for a review of Elysium (to confirm my suspicion that it really sucked as bad as I thought it did) but now I don’t need to waste 7 bucks to find out that Wolverine blows also. Thanks Videogum!

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