Wolverine, fan favourite of the X-Men universe in both comic books and film, gets his own movie vehicle with X-Men Origins: Wolverine
, a tale that reaches way, way back into the hairy mutant's story. Somewhere in the wilds of northwest Canada in the early 1800s, two boys grow up amid violence: half-brothers with very special powers. Eventually they will become the near-indestructible warriors (and victims of a super-secret government program) known as Wolverine and Sabretooth, played respectively by Hugh Jackman (returning to his role) and Liev Schreiber (new to the scene). It helps enormously to have Schreiber, an actor of brawny skills, as the showiest villain; the guy can put genuine menace into a vocal inflection or a shift of the eyes. Danny Huston is the sinister government operative whose experiments keep pulling Wolverine back in, Lynn Collins is the woman who shares a peaceful Canadian co-existence with our hero when he tries to drop out of the program, and Ryan Reynolds adds needed humour, at least for a while.
The fast-paced early reels give an entertaining kick-off to the Wolverine saga, only to slow down when a proper plot must be put together--but isn't that perpetually the problem with origin stories? And despite a cool setting, the grand finale is a little hemmed in by certain plot essentials that must be in place for the sequels, which may be why characters do nonsensical things. So, this one is fun while it lasts, if you're not looking for a masterpiece, or an explanation for Wolverine's facial grooming. --Robert Horton, Amazon.com Stills from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Click for larger image)