So it is with Wolverine, sometime X-Man, sometime Avenger, general hater of authority figures and quippy men in spider costumes, lover of a beer and a cigar and a sarcastic put-down. (I'm sure I've started a review on a similar theme before. It might bother me enough to check before the end of this...)
One of Marvel's best-loved characters, Hugh Jackman pretty much nailed the be-clawed one back in X-Men, then again in X-Men 2 and even survived The Last Stand with his credibility in tact. Then came X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the first of a planned raft of origin stories that did so well the second one is surely to be announced any day now.
Now we have The Wolverine. Why 'The'? No idea. We've had four films already to establish there's only one (even if Origins gave us a brother), plus an X-Men: First Class cameo. Still, I'm sure someone somewhere decided this was the title that best summed up the movie.
It doesn't. Well, it sort of does, but you've got to think about it - and after two hours of this, that's not something you're going to do willingly.
Things start off well. Picking up after The Last Stand (an obvious starting point, a mere seven years after that film did its best to ruin the good work done in the first two), Logan (OK, you may not be a fanboy, my bad - Logan = Wolverine. They're the same man) is living rough with the bears trying to forget what happened.
He killed his One True Love Jean Grey, in case you've had other things to think about since 2006, and this is bothering him some. He's also haunted by other stuff, which is why it's just him, his radio and a stash of whisky bottles in his cave. Turns out Logan is now a bit of a thinker.
But he's not alone. He's being tracked by Yukio (the excellent Rila Fukushima, who if IMDB is to believed is only on her second film), sent by the man Logan saved from a nuclear holocaust at the end of World War II. (Geek note - no sign of his brother. The brother he fought alongside during the war in Origins. That brother. Seems he went to a different Japanese bombing target).
Turns out the old man Yashida (played by veteran Japanese actor Haruhiko Yamanouchi) is none too well and wants to say farewell to the man who made it possible for him to die of old age. There's some fighting, some quips, Yukio shows she can use a sword - it's all perfectly good stuff.
And then Logan is persuaded to fly to Japan, and as the pair head East the whole thing goes south.
In Japan, one thing leads to another and Logan comes under attack from all sides trying to save Yashida's daughter Mariko (Japanese supermodel Tao Okamoto making her debut) from various factions, groups and plots. It's arguably more convoluted than it needs to be, but even at this point you can still go with it.
It helps that director James Mangold has made Japan look stunning, capturing perfectly the way old and new sit side-by-side. As an advert for the place, he does a good job (assuming you're not in the 'at risk from ninja gangs' group). And, to be fair, that's true of the whole film - it looks beautiful. Sadly, he gets easily distracted by things that look beautiful which is why we have far too many lingering shots of Mariko. Yes, she's a supermodel. Yes, she looks good. But it does feck all for the film as a whole.
Over the course of two long hours, there are some good fight scenes (a couple of them even feature good comic deaths) and some breathtaking scenery, but there is also a hell of a lot of Logan coming to terms with what's happened and what's happening, all while falling in love. Again.
Now, as I may have mentioned, Logan is not one of the Marvel universe's contemplators. You want to overthink stuff? Danny Rand and Matt Murdoch can help. Want to wallow in the 'what ifs'? Steve Rodgers, Bucky, Peter Parker and Tony Stark know a thing or two about that. Want a man to wade in and hit stuff? Call Logan.
It's the way things are.
And if the writers (Mark Bomback and Scott Frank) had stuck to that, we could have shaved a good 30 minutes off the running time and just got straight down to the big final fight. Instead we have a misguided attempt to give the film heart and emotion. It's bad enough that he's talking to ghosts...
Another problem is Viper - the super villain of the piece. Played by Russian starlet Svetlana Khodchenkova (who proved she can act in Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy), Viper should be all sex and slither, menace and allure - a woman who you know will kill you, but you don't care.
Instead, we get some sort of pantomime performance where what I assume should be a sexy swagger just looks like she's slightly unsteady on her feet. And there's no menace. No fear that something bad will happen at any given moment.
It's also like that with the relationship between Logan and Mariko. Nothing from either party suggests they have any feelings for each other. No clues, no little looks, nothing. And yet suddenly there they are.
The whole film feels like there were two ideas going on here, and neither side won so we get a movie no one actually cares about.
It's not all bad. Jackman does what he can without his sarcastic remarks (there are about three) or his cigar and Rila Fukushima really does shine as the underdog with real bite. It could even have been her film if people didn't insist on making models attempt to act. But that really is it. And that's borderline criminal.
Granted, it's not Origins bad, but it's not First Class good either - in fact the Logan cameo there outshines everything here. It's laboured, drawn out, pedestrian, tedious... but, hey, Japan and Tao Okamoto look nice.
There is still one highlight, however, and it's a goodie.
Now, as anyone who has seen more than one Marvel movie will tell you, the rule is simple. You may have sat in your seat for two hours, your bum may be numb, your feet may have forgotten what the floor feels like (OK, that may just be me), but you know not to leave before the credits have ended. Makes you wonder why so many people got up and left straight after, but hey, no one said humans were intelligent.
Where was I? Oh yes. If you go see The Wolverine (and there's no need, seeing as YouTube exists), stay 'til the credits roll. It's not like Iron Man 3, you haven't got to stay all the way to the end, it's like Avengers - a short wait. Two minutes at most.
I won't spoil the surprise (it'll be all over the internet by Monday anyway), but stay in your seat. The film may have bored you, but the post-credit teaser will get you all X-cited...
Now, about that intro - nope, like they makes of The Wolverine, I don't care enough...