Everyone's favorite Adamantium-clawed hero has his work cut out for him as he makes his way to Japan in The Wolverine.
But thankfully, ninjas and samurai warriors aside, star Hugh Jackman will be happy to hear he's not the target of critical knives.
That's because the early buzz is strong regarding Wolvie's sixth big-screen adventure directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma), as compared to the terrible drubbing the Oscar-nominated star took for his last outing in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Here's a quick roundup of some of the first reviews to hit the web in advance of Friday's release.
• "Though Wolvie comes across a bit world-weary and battle-worn by now, Jackman is in top form, taking the opportunity to test the character's physical and emotional extremes. Fans might've preferred bigger action or more effects, but Mangold does them one better, recovering the soul of a character whose immortality left something to be desired," raves Variety, calling the Japan-set sequel an "Eastern Western" that's "smart" and "entertaining."
• "Even if The Wolverine doesn't entirely clear away the stench of its misbegotten predecessor…this latest adventure of grizzled mutant Logan…feels like a return to form for the oft-erratic X-Men series. Moments in The Wolverine rank among both the franchise's best and worst, but there's enough in the positive column to make the movie a must for fans and entertaining viewing for casual observers," praises The Wrap.
• "Until a third act that collapses in a harebrained heap, the director largely succeeds in keeping the more cartoonish aspects at bay, roughing up the surface with organically staged fight scenes and, crucially, raising the stakes by stripping his hitherto indestructible hero of his self-healing powers," opines The Hollywood Reporter. "[Jackman] has added some martial arts moves to his character's slice-and-dice repertoire, is buffer than ever and shows no sign of flagging."
• "Jackman's tortured protagonist often looks like the only interesting personality onscreen; even the villains, including a venomous femme fatale (Svetlana Khodchenkova), seem like placeholders. Yet as a showcase for the charms and ruthless talents of the titular hero, The Wolverine gets the job done," observed the A.V. Club.
• "On the other hand, Empire magazine wasn't having any of it, writing: "It's regrettable, then, that in a film concerned with immortality, nothing lasts forever. The final showdown, tonally and in terms of scale, is deeply unsatisfying, with ludicrous reveals, bad CG and plot turns so convoluted they threaten to derail the movie at 300 mph."