Snikt! Snikt! Wolverine returns to the big screen, making a lateral move from the star of the X-Men movies to the star of his own prequel: X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

In the mid-19th century young brothers Logan and Victor Creed run away following a violent encounter (with Logan's bone claws). During the credits we see a montage of the adult Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) as soldiers from the Civil War up to Vietnam -- with Creed becoming more and more violent.

In Vietman, the healing and claws of the two brothers bring them to the attention of military leader William Stryker (Danny Huston), who recruits them into a group of other superhuman operatives. But Logan leaves when Victor's savagery remains unchecked. Then Logan's in Canada, where he finds love with Kayla (Lynn Collins), who obligingly gets killed to prompt Logan to seek revenge (which includes calling himself Wolverine, and getting his bones coated with an unbreakable metal). And Victor/Sabretooth is still on the prowl; and Stryker is up to something; and there are lots of cameos from characters from the comic book and X-Men movies...

Much like the X-Men movies, this movie focuses on a few main characters -- in this case Wolverine, Sabretooth and Stryker -- and reduces everyone else to neat powers. There are teleporters, people with diamond-hard skin, and the strongest fat guy ever, but we learn next to nothing about them except for their abilities. (The best brief-but-fun supporting character is Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), whose preternatural skill with a sword is combined with an unending stream of chatter.)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the fourth time Hugh Jackman has taken on the role of Wolverine, and Jackman once again combines the tough-guy element with the tormented character never allowed to be happy. Schreiber is suitably evil as Sabretooth, the villain who feels betrayed by his brother's decency.

The plot of X-Men Origins: Wolverine has plenty of holes, with complicated twists and plans that don't make a lot of sense. This might be forgiveable if the movie were exciting, but for every cool action scene, there's another one that relies too much on slow motion. (There is a nice amount of humor sprinkled between the battles and tragedies.) X-Men Origins: Wolverine is an okay movie, but it's nothing to get excited about. And considering how much the previous X-Men movies focused on Wolverine, I can't guess who another Origins movie would be about.

Overall grade: C
Reviewed by James Lynch

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