X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Another does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Marvel outing. It's Wolverine, and the story of how he got to be Wolverine. You know he won't die in the process because he made it all the way to X-Men 3: The Crap Stand, so there's no need to worry about any of the scrapes he gets into along the way. Anyone you've heard of from the others will also make it, with a good chance that any newbies we encounter along the way won't. If you can get over that, it's fine.

As in the other films, Hugh Jackman's early Clint charm pulls the whole thing along. He's got the chops and the sideburns, the claws and the cigars, and enough personality to make the film work. There are long passages where this is totally all you need, and it's quite fun seeing him acquire his jacket and chat about his life-long love of motorbikes etc.

It's efficient stuff, ably directed by Gavid Hood (Tsotsi, Rendition) until the obligatory blow-out ending - another one that suffers from the "hang on bad guys, just wait there while I do this thing over here for a moment and um, yes, ok, I'm ready for you to come and fight again now" syndrome that affects so many of these films. It's fine for them to ask us to believe in a chap with a metal skeleton and super-insta-healing and all that, but really, it sucks when films fall apart with basic lapses in logic. We get all the way to Stryker's evil scientist hideout - but then there's no-one there with him apart from some lab coat henchlady - he's in the US Army! Come on! Where's all his super secret soldiers or whatever?! 

Liev Shrieber is a decent foil as Sabretooth (although all he and Wolverine seem to do is run at each other every 20 minutes or so); Danny Houston makes a decent Colonel Stryker and there are various other mutants along the way to please Marvel fanboys: Gambit (magic cards), The Blob (super blobby dude), Bolt (power over lightbulbs - played by Lost refugee Dominic Monaghan), Deadpool (chatty assassin), John Wraith (played by will.i.am - seems to be a bit like Nightcrawler except with a cowboy hat) etc etc.  

It's nowhere near as lame as X3, and is all fairly entertaining, but it's hard not to wonder when we're going to get a whole new set of characters or worlds to get into, rather than fleshing out long-established franchises.