(Photo by Ben Rothstein – © 2013 Marvel Characters)
"The Wolverine," the sixth film in the X-Men franchise, opened strongly last week, but Christian reviewers say excessive violence mars it, while they disagree on its positive elements.
"There is a time where I just want to go and see stuff blow up," producer and filmmaker Phil Cooke, founder and chief executive officer of Cooke Pictures, told The Christian Post in a Friday interview. "However, I also know that the opportunities for deep, meaningful drama are going to be few and far between, particularly in the summer box office."
Logan, the titular Wolverine, is tantalized with the ability to die after living a purposeless, invincible existence, and begins to lose his powers of healing, all the while slicing through scores of foes to get the girl.
While he liked the previous X-Men films, Dr. Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Coalition and editor-in-chief of Movieguide, echoed this lack of substance in modern cinema, more specifically in "The Wolverine." "They just took out the faith and values and they made it very bloody, very action, very mean," he said in a Movieguide interview.
"It's all style and no substance," Baehr said. "It's like several of the movies this year – including The Lone Ranger - where they've just become so infatuated with CGI and with style and with fights that they forgot to tell a story."
A Movieguide review of the film noted that, "The Wolverine is marred by some gruesome and even graphic violence, implied sexuality, and foul language."
"A whole city is nuked and Logan's grotesquely burned body heals itself…a man's throat is stabbed with a pen," and "Logan is forced to cut open his chest and reach inside to fix his heart." Due to these graphic elements, Movieguide advised "extreme caution" for the film.
"Wolverine has long been one of Marvel's darker superheroes – an antihero, really, with few qualms about killing his big, bad adversaries," wrote Paul Asay, senior associate editor at Focus on the Family's "Plugged In" review site. "While both Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel technically have bigger body counts, the violence in The Wolverine is more visceral, and it can be bloodier as well."
Asay echoed Baehr's list of graphic violence – throughout the film Logan is "shot and stabbd and cut almost clean through. He falls from huge heights and is shot full of harpoon-like arrows." While fewer die than in some of this summer's blockbusters, this film features "people who are hurt and killed via bullet blade and arrow." Chillingly, "corpses lie around."
Nevertheless, the PluggedIn writer called The Wolverine "one of the better films to come out of Marvel's cinematic X-Men franchise," because it introduces the idea of purpose. Through his romantic interest in a girl named Mariko, Logan "rekindles not just a new love of life, but a new direction. He's given a reason to get out of bed in the morning."
Even the Movieguide review noted Logan's willingness "to sacrifice himself for others." This redemptive heroism "aligns with the biblical worldview of standing and fighting for others."