Okay, right off the bat - Wolverine is solid, if a little wonky around the sides. It's quite dark for the most part; plenty of killing going on - wars, battles and cameos by a few lesser known mutants. Anyone who has seen the leaked workprint are advised that the cinema version is obviously the superior version.
And if you think watching a leaked version of Wolverine swinging around on wires is a good way to judge its quality, then you don't realise what you're missing. This is first and foremost a film for fans of the series; newcomers to the series may feel a little alienated by the choppy plot and sub-characters.
How does it compare to the rest of the series?
Easily better than X-Men 3, but without the quality of subtext displayed in X-Men 1 and 2.
The fight scenes?
We really dug the fight choreography in this flick. There are some menacing, balls-to-the-wall fights between Wolverine and Sabretooth and at times it felt like the duelling cyborgs in James Cameron's T2.
More wink, wink humour in this - along the same lines as the jokes in X-Men 3. Typical comic book plotting; predictable, but fun.
Parts of this script seem to be going for a deep, humanist perspective. Unfortunately, it also comes across as a little clunky and layered on at times, cancelling out what little sympathy there is for the hero.
Dialogue is infused with that 'Dirty Harry' cigar chomping quality. Female fans are advised that there are plenty of shirtless moments for Hugh on screen: think ripped Stallone from Rambo 2 meets the angsty Wolverine of X-Men 2 and you've got some sense of the feel that this film is aiming for.
Mutant cameos make this film a blast. We really enjoyed seeing Ryan Reynolds light up the screen as the witty Deadpool - a standout performance. The Blob is a part Fat Bastard, part oversized mutant redneck, and Gambit remains a fan favourite, coming out virtually unscathed by the end. He has some incredible tricks up his sleeve and literally arrives with a bang wherever he goes.
A young Cyclops (Scott Summers) ends up being crucial to the plot and gets some fun scenes at a couple of high school and prison locations.
Largely hit and miss. Some of it is bang on; particularly in scenes where Wolverine is fighting through various wars in the opening credits (one of the best parts of the film).
At other times (particularly the Weapon XI stuff), the CGI is overly obvious and a little too "video-game" in the rendering. By now, any self-confessed genre film fan should be used to such misgivings.
Gavin Hood has done his best to make this film as dark as possible, minus the blood of course (you can thank the PG rating in America), and the film felt much more violent than previous entries. There is much killing of other mutants and some great action scenes played out in the Canadian Rockies, where Wolverine is hunted down. Supposably set in the 1970's, plenty of Sydney-based (and Kiwi) set pieces stand out, namely the mutant prison complex filmed in Sydney Harbour (Cockatoo Island).
The opening credits, Wolverine in Dirty Harry/Rambo mode (plenty of muscles/chest flexing/tight singlets), Liev Schreiber's incredible performance as Sabretooth, Ryan Reynolds witty smart alec as Deadpool; Gambit's standout fight scenes.
A-grade all-round. Donald McAlpine is a master DP; his fine work in Patriot Games, Predator and Breaker Morrant show up here - even if the palette feels more digital than film and more studio green-screen than on-location.
What didn't work:
The plot was all over the place - you can notice where the script was revised. Canadian reshoots show up with key scenes between Wolverine, his lover and Sabretooth.
The score (as with all the X-Men films) felt generic and some of the supporting acting roles were weak. The de-aging process of a certain famous mutant at the end of the movie didn't look convincing. We liked the effect better in Benjamin Button.