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What the critics are saying: ‘The Wolverine’

Hugh Jackman stars in 'The Wolverine.'. Handout

TORONTO — Hugh Jackman is back in theatres this weekend, donning claws for the sixth time on the big screen as Logan in The Wolverine.

Picking up where 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand ended, the movie starts with Logan living peacefully in Canada’s northwest until hunters kill a bear and send him into a rage. He is whisked off to Japan by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who has an offer he can’t refuse.

Is The Wolverine, directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line), worth a look? Here’s what the critics are saying.

“This is a big, loud, commercial picture which does not appear to have been written so much as audience-tested, global-market-researched, greenscreened and CGI-ed to within an inch of its life,” wrote Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian.

At the Huffington Post, critic Marshall Fine found The Wolverine “extremely entertaining” but “long on action and short on tension.”

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Writing in The Independent, Anthony Quinn said Mangold was tasked with “how to stage one egregiously implausible set-piece and then instantly top it.”

He added: “The thing finally crashes into absurdity during  a scene in which Wolverine is performing cardiac surgery on himself just as a man dressed in full samurai fig bursts through a wall intending to kill him.”

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times was not completely impressed, either. “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,” he wrote.

Turan found the movie’s plot “too scattered and far-fetched.”

Specifically, he disliked Wolverine’s diminution of powers. “The notion of the mutant becoming more human is intriguing in theory, but in practice it turns out not to be anything we want to see,” wrote Turan.

Peter Debruge of Variety thought Wolverine’s vulnerability was “actually interesting.”

He opined: “Logan’s self-imposed isolation reveals unexpected new layers of his psychology and suggests that once these iconic characters have been established onscreen, they can be fleshed out in standalone films.”

At the New York Times, A.O. Scott said The Wolverine has “an unusually intimate, small-scale feel.”

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Scott wrote: “A modest superhero picture may sound like a contradiction in terms, but really it is a welcome respite. A short one, to be sure.”

Jason Anderson of The Grid also liked the movie’s “satisfyingly terse sensibility” but thought it was a shame the director’s “efforts to deliver a grand finale … sacrifice the texture and tension that distinguish The Wolverine from much of its recent comic-book brethren.”

Some critics mentioned the movie’s technical merits — or lack thereof.

“The action sequences are not perfunctory and, though they had to have been cooked up on a computer, they don’t look like it. Or at least, they’re imaginative enough that you don’t have time to think of them in that way,” wrote Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald said the “post-conversion 3D is more distracting than anything else, but the rest of this surprisingly fun entertainment is as sharp as the hero’s claws.

“The filmmakers take the time to allow you to invest in these characters, which makes the bursts of action all the more thrilling,” Rodriguez added. “Even though the movie resorts to comic-book cliches for the big climax, The Wolverine still feels like a refreshing change of pace.”

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