Critics grumble over "The Wolverine;" smitten by Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman is shown in a scene from "The Wolverine." 20th Century Fox

The reviews for "The Wolverine" are in, and while critics stand divided on the Marvel film as a whole, they mostly agree that Hugh Jackman remains sharp as Wolverine, keeping his edge in his sixth appearance as the clawed anti-hero. Directed by James Mangold, the second stand-alone Wolverine film in the X-Men franchise, finds Jackman in Japan facing the repercussions of his new-found mortality.

Here's what the critics are saying about "The Wolverine."

Claudia Puig of USA Today: "Though 'Wolverine' is well-crafted visually by director James Mangold, who evokes a moody atmosphere, there are few surprises, and the movie descends into formula.... "The Wolverine" is an intermittently exciting action film anchored by a strong performance by Jackman, who embodies Wolverine like no one else could.

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times: "'The Wolverine' is an erratic affair, more lumbering than compelling, an ambitious film with its share of effective moments that stubbornly refuses to catch fire."

A.O. Scott of the New York Times: "It has all the requisite special effects and big-ticket action sequences -- including a fight on a moving train and a climactic punch-out between the hero and a villain in an oversize metal suit -- but it also has an unusually intimate, small-scale feel.... And Mr. Jackman, for all his growling, flexing and macho wisecracking, keeps our attention focused on Logan's feelings."

Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post: "A refreshing summer cocktail of action-movie staples, The Wolverine combines the bracingly adult flavor of everyone's favorite mutant antihero with the fizzy effervescence of several mixers from the cabinet of Japanese genre cinema. It goes down super smooth but packs a punch, erasing not only the memory of Marvel's last foray into the Wolverine mythos, the 2009 stinker 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine,' but also washing away the more recent unpleasant aftertaste of this summer's other Tokyo-set action thriller, 'Pacific Rim.'"

Steve Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Although 'The Wolverine' eventually falls back on a comic-book formula and CG effects (the climactic face-off between Logan and a giant silver warriorlike thing is totally generic), Mangold and his team find time to explore more nuanced realms."

Jocelyn Noveck of the AP: "Whether you're an X-Men fan or not, it's Jackman that makes 'The Wolverine' worth watching." At this point he could play the role in his sleep -- but he doesn't, and the nuances he and director Mangold bring to the character lift this enterprise up from the usual blockbuster-sequel fare."

Ian Buckwalter from NPR: "A handful of bold ideas brought down by the need to regress to a blander, more box-office-friendly middle ground."

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle: "'The Wolverine' is the first film from the X-Men universe to show Jackman to full advantage ... and his performance is in the best action tradition of strength and humor."

And Rolling Stone's Peter Travers may sum it up best: "It could have been worse. Exhibit A: the crapfest that was 2009's 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine.' But Hugh Jackman, in his sixth time up as Wolverine, still has the juice."
  • Lesley Savage

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