Reviews for The Wolverine began seeping out yesterday – you can read mine here – and the consensus seems to be that while it isn’t quite the definitive take on the character we might have hoped for, it’s still leaps and bounds ahead of the widely-derided 2009 prequel, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which scored negatively with critics and didn’t exactly ignite the worldwide box office.
With a surer hand at the helm and countless other facts I’m about to detail, hopefully The Wolverine will have a measured degree of success that the previous effort never managed.
What’s clear regardless of its eventual box office take, though, is that it shreds X-Men Origins to pieces, and is a far more confident, assured effort as we move ahead with whatever the character might be getting up to next. Beware, some MILD SPOILERS do follow, but no hard details…
10. James Mangold
It’s really a no-contest here; who would you rather have directing your film – the guy who made Cop Land, Girl Interrupted, Identity, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma and Knight & Day (screw you, I dug it!)…or, the guy who seemed to have a fluke with his South African debut Tsotsi, and then delivered the mediocre Rendition, followed by X-Men Origins.
Though the script was really the focal problem with Origins, Gavin Hood’s feckless direction really didn’t help all that much; he clearly seemed out of his depth, going from a super low-budget film, to a mid-budget one, to a $150 million one, and unable to cope.
Mangold, on the other hand, has had a hugely successful Hollywood career, and it really shows in the final product. Pretty much all of the problems facing The Wolverine are narrative rather than directorial; the guy handles the chaos and the dialoguing with a calm confidence that makes the film eminently watchable even during its slower moments, which is more than can be said for Origins.
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