X-Men Origins: Wolverine ** (out of ****)

Director: Gavin Hood
Writers: David Benioff and Skip Woods
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Lynn Collins, Danny Huston, Will.i.am, Ryan Reynolds
Rating: PG-13 (intense scenes of action/violence and partial nudity)
Running Time: 108 minutes
Release Date: 5/1/08

The most recent installment of the X-Men series is a prequel telling the background story of Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Wolverine known for his amazing powers of regeneration had his origins in Canada back in its British Colonial period. Strangely, he starts the story as a sick boy. Soon his stepfather (I guess) is killed by his real father and he discovers that his friend Victor (Liev Schreiber) is his half-brother. They run away together which starts our adventure.

For some reason Logan and Victor come to the United States. Perhaps it was for the wars? Anyway, the fight their way through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam which we see in a montage. What about the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, and Korea? I guess their involvement in those weren’t movie-worthy or perhaps the just sat those out.

The story shifts in Vietnam when Victor turns against his fellow American soldiers killing several and gets them executed by firing squad. But with their regenerative powers, they as are back in the stockade rather then the morgue. This where they come to the attention of General Stryker (Danny Huston) and are offered membership in a top secret black ops outfit. This unit could be called the U.S. Army’s X-Squad as several of the members have special powers including the teleport John Wraith (Will.i.Am).

It is during a mission in Africa in which Stryker’s quest for a mysterious metal called adamantium leads to Logan deserting the Stryker’s unit and his brother Victor due to Stryker’s brutal tactics. The real action of the movie begins when Logan who now living with Karla Silverfox (Lynn Collins), an X-Woman who has her own special powers, again confronts Victor and Stryker. Logan enraged by Karla’s (apparent) murder by Sabretooth (Victor’s new identity) volunteers to be turned into Wolverine in an Army experiment. He is injected with adamantium in order to make him indestructible. Those claws are now a metal that will cut through just about anything.

The story is full of action and a lot of it very violent. This film pushes the edge on its PG-13 rating which we will recall was created to keep Spielberg’s third Indian Jones film from being rated R. While the action scenes are well crafted much less can be said for the story. It is fundamentally lacking. Wolverine’s amnesia at the beginning of the first X-Men movie is explained and along with how he got his metal claws. But, beyond that we are left will little else. It is does serve the limited role as the beginning episode of the X-Men DVD set. If you are only going to see one movie this spring chose something else but if you are an X-Men devotee then by all means go see it.

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