2009, US, directed by Gavin Hood
Wolverine isn't great art, but as a big summer movie it's pretty good fun, at least up until the obligatory over-the-top conclusion in which even the limited logic established earlier in the film is thrown out the window. Despite their very different styles, Hugh Jackman reminds me of Bruce Willis: no matter what the material, both actors give 100% onscreen, and I can't help thinking that audiences notice and respond. I rather enjoyed Jackman's hosting of the 2009 Oscars: as silly as the opening song-and-dance number may have been for many viewers, the host gave it his all, which came across even on a small TV screen. The same is true here, with the downside that the film tends to miss Jackman's energy when he's offscreen (although Danny Huston is pretty good in a villainous role). The early going tries to restore some of the smaller scale of the first two X-Men installments, and scenes of Logan/Wolverine's attempts to create a normal life are quite effective, recalling similar efforts -- in a rather different context -- in Gavin Hood's earlier Tsotsi. Inevitably, though, the film subsequently proceeds toward the kind of one-on-one face-off that seems obligatory in the superhero genre, while also leaving plenty of sequel-friendly loose ends.