NPR Story
5:21 am
Fri July 26, 2013

'The Wolverine' Grumbles All The Way

Originally published on Fri July 26, 2013 7:33 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Hollywood, studios are always crunching numbers at the box office. And the popular X-Men series is back in movie theaters. "The Wolverine" stars actor Hugh Jackman playing the superhuman role for the sixth time. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: One might think that having superpowers - or at least extraordinary abilities - would make the person cheerful, if not downright happy. But comic book heroes are forever complaining about their lot in life. The grumbliest of these grumblers has always been Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, a man who would have us believe that the gifts of self-healing and berserker strength are a curse, not a blessing. This latest outing finds Logan - the Wolverine's alter-ego - living off the grid in Alaska, marking his territory with his fierce claws and having imaginary conversations with his dead girlfriend, Jean Grey.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE WOLVERINE")

FAMKE JANSSEN: (as Jean Grey) Wake up, wake up, wake up.

HUGH JACKMAN: (as Logan) You're here.

JANSSEN: Of course.

TURAN: Logan is rescued from this terminal lassitude by a young Japanese woman who brings a message from a man saved by the Wolverine during World War II.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE WOLVERINE")

RILA FUKUSHIMA: (as Yukio) My employer is dying. He wants to thank you for saving his life all those years ago.

TURAN: Or so he says. Once Logan takes the bait, things get complicated. For one thing, that dying man covets those Wolverine powers. For another, the man's inner circle has the kind of complicated family dynamics that would not be out of place in "Days of Our Lives." Director James Mangold - whose previous films include "I Walk the Line" and "3:10 to Yuma" - works hard, maybe too hard, to infuse Japanese local color into the story. Jackman is effective as always in the title role, and the film's action sequences are solid. But problems in other areas slow things down. Wolverine's grab-bag plot is too scattered and farfetched to be enjoyable. The film also miscalculates in its listless romance between Logan and a young Japanese woman. Just as unsatisfying is the key plot point that has our hero facing a mysterious diminution of his powers. If the Wolverine can't be the Wolverine, why are we putting up with all that grumbling?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and also for the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.