Director: Gavin Hood Release Date: 29/04/09 Link: IMDB Now, don’t misconstrue that compliment as me saying “Wolverine” measures up to last summer’s superhero movies “The Dark Knight,” “Iron Man” or “The Incredible Hulk,” but in no way does it deserve the bum rap it is getting. It’s also not as good as Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” and “X2: X-Men United,” but it should erase any bad memories that come from the last film in the trilogy, Brett Ratner’s “X-Men: The Last Stand.” To me it felt like Ratner was just trying to copy the blueprint that was created by Singer, but director Gavin Hood (“Rendition” and the 2005 Academy Award-winning “Tsotsi”) has given his motion picture a whole new flavor. Singer’s films were more about character development and the inner struggles that mutants faced, but most of that is left out of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (except for the first 20 minutes or so) and instead the main focus is on nonstop action. Sure, you are not going to see the same kind of thought-provoking material in Hood’s movie, but his slick direction, Hugh Jackman’s performance and the constant slicing and dicing by Wolverine helps hide the fact the script from David Benioff and Skip Woods is full of underdeveloped characters and lacks fresh ideas. There’s no doubt “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” will not please every single fan of the comics, but what movie adaptation ever does? I myself have a number of problems with this origin story about the clawed and moody Marvel character that propelled Jackman into Hollywood stardom, but rarely did they prevent me from having an enjoyable time. Hood has made a respectable addition to the “X-Men” franchise, one that starts with interesting and absorbing parallels between Logan/Wolverine (Jackman) and his catlike brother Victor Creed/Sabretooth (a menacing Liev Schreiber). Following a tragic incident in the 1800s that leaves a young Logan and Victor to fend for themselves, the two vow to stick together side-by-side no matter what the future holds. With some pretty smooth editing techniques the mutant brothers are shown fighting in the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War, and in these battles it becomes painfully obvious that Logan and Victor share more differences than similarities. Logan is more like Dr. Phil in that he would rather talk things through before fighting, but Victor has a rage inside his body that never lets him feel remorseful about killing innocent people. And it’s Victor’s bad attitude that leads him and Logan to Col. William Stryker (Danny Huston), who is forming a covert military organization of mutants that includes the teleporting John Wraith (will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas), the electricity-generating Bradley (Dominic Monaghan) and Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a wisecracking swordsman who’s nicknamed the “Merc with the Mouth.” After a raid in Nigeria that leaves Logan disgusted, he parts ways with the group and makes a new life for himself by moving into a secluded mountain home. But when someone near and dear to him falls victim to one of his foes, the beast is unleashed and Wolverine agrees to let Stryker inject his body full of the indestructible metal adamantium so he can become more powerful than before and get his revenge. I realize with a title like “X-Men: Origins: Wolverine” the movie is going to mostly follow Wolverine, but one of the film’s biggest blemishes is a large majority of the side characters barely have any screen time. Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), who can manipulate kinetic energy, is in the movie for about a measly 10 minutes and Deadpool makes his one and only appearance in the anticlimactic final showdown. It’s as if the filmmakers only hastily threw them in there just to say they were in the movie. And although a majority of the action scenes are fun to watch (especially the one with the helicopter), the brawls between Wolverine and Sabretooth are void of any kind of suspense because the two are more or less immortal. (It’s sort of like watching boxing matches that keep ending up in draws.) Is “Wolverine” going to be the greatest blockbuster that comes out this summer? I sure hope not. But I must confess that I am rooting for it to rake in loads of money at the box office so we can get more origin films about the mutants in the “X-Men” universe. Then hopefully we will be provided with the chance to see the backstory of the most intriguing character of all: Magneto. Rating: 6/10