The Wolverine (****1/2)
Snikt, snikt go the claws
A lot of ninja action
Good Logan is back
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. After hearing some not so good things about The Wolverine (and, you know, seeing Wolverine), I didn't really have high hopes for this movie. Perhaps it was going into the movie with this mindset, but I was actually pleasantly surprised about how much I liked it.
The plot was pretty basic, as far as comic stories go, and is set (minus flashbacks) post-X3. During WWII, Logan saved the life of a Japanese soldier, who went on to found a technology company that grew to be one of the most successful companies in the world. When the man is on his deathbed, he sends people to find Logan, who is living the life of a hermit deep in the woods, to say goodbye. Logan travels to Japan and gets involved with the dying man's family—and their shady business projects.
The movie went a long way toward tying the stand-alone Wolverine movies into the X-Men franchise, both older films and newer ones. (More on that latter part below.) Hugh Jackman basically is Wolverine, so it's no surprise that he continues to excel in the role. Famke Janssen reprises her role as Jean Grey—in a manner of speaking. The rest of the cast were new to the franchise, although many of their characters weren't new to X-Men canon, and they all did well in their roles. Except, that is, for Svetlana Khodchenkova, who played the villain, Viper. I don't know why, but all of her lines were dubbed, and it was extremely distracting watching her lips not line up with the speech that was supposedly coming out of them.
One thing I really didn't like, however, was the ending and what happened with Logan's claws. I'm not going to say what happens, exactly, but it was a bit disturbing, and I have no idea how the powers that be (in future movies) are going to fix it. I guess I'll have to wait and see.
The movie was a lot of fun, and way better than the first, but the defining moment, for me, was actually the in-credits scene, which ties The Wolverine to the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past in a big way. In a squirming in my seat, bouncing with excitement, fangirl squeal big way. (If you have no interest in seeing The Wolverine in theaters, but want to know what I'm talking about, you can watch a bootleg version of the scene here.)
Definitely check this movie out if you're a Hugh Jackman/Wolverine fan (or possibly just looking for something to tide you over until X-Men: Days of Future Past).