Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Wolverine Is Pretty Sharp

Plus, The To Do List is uneven but sweet and funny, and The Way, Way Back is Certified Fresh.

by | July 25, 2013 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got an embattled mutant (The Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman and Rila Fukushima); an uptight valedictorian (The To Do List, starring Aubrey Plaza and Johnny Simmons); and a lonely teenager (The Way, Way Back, starring Liam James and Steve Carell). What do the critics have to say?

The Wolverine


Wolverine may rank among the most beloved heroes in the Marvel universe, but thus far he’s been deprived of a big-screen vehicle worthy of his stature. Still, critics say The Wolverine is much sharper than Logan’s previous solo effort, X-Men Origins: Wolverine; though it has a few dull patches, the film features terrific fight scenes and a typically full-bodied performance from Hugh Jackman. This time out, Wolverine heads to Japan for a reunion with a soldier whose life he saved years before. Soon, our hero must defend the man’s granddaughter from all manner of ninja and Yakuza assassin. The pundits say The Wolverine doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a rock-solid, smartly scripted, surprisingly introspective superhero flick. (Check out our gallery of X-Men on the silver screen.)

The To Do List


The female-centric teen sex comedy is a rare beast, which may be why critics find The To Do List so refreshing — or perhaps it’s the winning presence of Parks & Recreation wiseacre Aubrey Plaza. Intent on upending her prim-and-proper ways before college, recent high school grad Brandy Klark (Plaza) makes a list of every licentious activity she shunned in her pursuit of academic perfection — and quickly discovers how little she knows about teenage romance. The pundits say The To Do List is uneven and occasionally predictable, but it’s also immensely charming, thanks to a terrific performance from Plaza and a crack supporting cast. (Check out RT’s video interviews with Plaza, co-stars Bill Hader, Scott Porter, and more.)

The Way, Way Back


The Way, Way Back goes wide this week after charming audiences during its limited run, and critics say it’s a keenly-observed, well-acted coming-of-age tale that makes up in heart what it lacks in originality. Liam James stars as an introverted teenager who forms an unlikely bond with the manager of a water park (Sam Rockwell). The pundits say the Certified Fresh The Way, Way Backis funny, bittersweet, and true to life, and boasts excellent supporting turns from Toni Collette and Steve Carell.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Johnnie To‘s Drug War, an action thriller about a Chinese meth manufacturer who must turn informant to take down a powerful cartel and save himself from execution, is at 94 percent.
  • Springsteen And I, a crowdsourced documentary that compiles fan footage of the Boss in concert, is at 91 percent.
  • Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine, starring Cate Blanchett in a drama about a well-to-do socialite whose world collapses around her, is at 84 percent (check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Allen’s best-reviewed movies).
  • Frankenstein’s Army, a found-footage horror film about a group of Russian soldiers who stumble upon a legion of stitched-together soldiers in the waning days of World War II, is at 56 percent.
  • Wasteland, a crime drama about a falsely-convicted ex-jailbird who attempts to strike back at the drug kingpin who cost him his freedom, is at 45 percent.
  • The Time Being, starring Wes Bentley and Frank Langella in a thriller about an eccentric man who makes a series of bizarre requests to a young artist in exchange for patronage, is at 17 percent.
  • Breaking The Girls, starring Agnes Bruckner and Shawn Ashmore in a thriller about a college student who is drawn into a murder plot, is at zero percent.
  • Stranded, a sci-fi thriller starring Christian Slater as the leader of a lunar military unit left high and dry by a mysterious meteor shower, is at zero percent.

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