Total Recall: Hugh Jackman's Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Real Steel star.
Throughout Hollywood history, countless actors have played boxers: young ones, old ones, prize-winning champs, washed-up palookas, and everything in between. But never have audiences been treated to the sight of a down-on-his-luck pugilist who rebuilds his shattered dreams by coaching a boxing robot -- until now, that is. Yes, that's right, Real Steel is here, and in honor of his turn as the rockin'-est, sockin'-est corner man in celluloid history, we're dedicating this week's Total Recall to Hugh Jackman's greatest hits!
10. Someone Like You
An adaptation of the Laura Zigman novel about a single woman (Ashley Judd) who finds herself drawn into a love triangle with a pair of men in her office (Hugh Jackman and Greg Kinnear), Someone Like You was burdened with a premise most critics were ready to dismiss before they even sat down in the theater -- and despite its likable cast, many of those scribes came away unmoved. Audiences weren't exactly crazy about Someone Like You either -- it limped away from its run with a paltry $27 million gross -- but Margarate A. McGurk of the Cincinnati Enquirer offered a dissenting opinion, calling it "A movie that seems the essence of a trivial romantic comedy for its first half, then grows up and gets serious about life."
It's a time-traveling romance starring Wolverine and Meg "America's Sweetheart" Ryan -- with Sting on the soundtrack! What could go wrong? That was the thinking in 2001, anyway. Alas, the result was Kate & Leopold, the critically misbegotten Christmas Day dud about a 19th century British duke (Jackman) who stumbles into a time portal and ends up in the present day, where he falls in love with a New York ad executive (Ryan) even as he struggles to square her modern pragmatism with his stubborn idealism. Even with the added time-travel angle, most critics felt Kate & Leopold was too formulaic to recommend, but the Philadelphia Inquirer's Carrie Rickey disagreed, insisting that "The irresistible force that is Hugh Jackman -- or was it his swoony Leopold? -- swept me off my seat and into the movie."
8. The Fountain
In this era of sequels, reboots, remakes, and reimaginings, real imagination comes at a premium in Hollywood -- so when a director as talented as Darren Aronofsky decides to stake his career on a sprawling love story that asks Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz to play three couples across ten centuries, it's hard to be too critical of the results, even when their reach exceeds their grasp. We're talking, of course, about 2006's The Fountain, in which Jackman and Weisz probe the meaning of love and mortality as star-crossed couples in the 16th century, the present day, and the distant future. It's an awful lot for one 96-minute film to bear, and quite a few critics felt the results were overly ambitious. But for others, the scope of The Fountain's vision outweighed its drawbacks -- including Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum, who proudly admitted, "I'm perfectly content to float with [Aronofsky] even if he doesn't solve the riddles of the universe."
After hitting a home run with Moulin Rouge! in 2001, Baz Luhrmann decided to aim for epic territory for his next picture. His original plan, to film an Alexander the Great biopic, was foiled when Oliver Stone beat Luhrmann to theaters with Alexander, so he turned his eye to his native land for the descriptively titled Australia. Like the country, Luhrmann's film is vast, beautiful, and populated with colorful characters; unfortunately, a lot of critics also thought it was cornily melodramatic and awkwardly uneven, and despite an Oscar nomination and a healthy worldwide gross, it was ultimately regarded as something of a disappointment. Still, it gave Jackman the chance to act in a bona fide epic, playing a tough-as-nails cattle drover who falls for a widowed noblewoman (Nicole Kidman) in the outback during World War II. Calling it "A wildly ambitious, luridly indulgent spectacle of romance, action, melodrama and historic revisionism," the Washington Post's Ann Hornaday applauded Australia as "windy, overblown, utterly preposterous and insanely entertaining."
After two top-grossing, well-reviewed installments, the X-Men film franchise was due for a fall -- and with 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, it arrived in the form of a second sequel whose $400 million-plus grosses were overshadowed by poor word of mouth and a rash of negative reviews that prevented a Fresh certification for the first time in the series. Though 57 percent isn't a terrible Tomatometer rating -- and some critics enjoyed the movie, such as the New York Observer's Andrew Sarris, who wrote that he was "strangely moved" by it -- the lukewarm response was a significant comedown for the franchise, particularly after Bryan Singer, who directed the first two installments, left the project to take on Superman Returns, taking the previous installment's screenwriters with him. New director Brett Ratner took his fair share of critical lumps (the Washington Post's Ann Hornaday accused him of "[making] hash of the story and characters"), but there was plenty of blame to go around; in the words of the Chicago Reader's J.R. Jones, "despite all the grand gestures of climax and resolution, there's a pronounced sense of autopilot."