Meanwhile, his older brother Victor (played perfectly by Liev Schreiber) also possesses rather unique appendages in the form of nasty, yellowing fingernails that also make perfect weapons and the ability to move very, very quickly. Wanting to shield his little brother from capture, Victor and James retreat to the woods. Thankfully, another ability they have-to heal quickly and not age-helps them on the battlefield as they fight in the Civil War, World Wars 1 and 2 and even Vietnam later on.

But there's a clear distinction between the brothers that's made early that ends up fueling the rest of the movie. While Victor enjoys killing for sport, James clearly doesn't crave violence and bloodshed and actually feels bad for the sins of his past.

This distinction becomes increasingly more important when they're invited to join Stryker's black ops team. Sensing an opportunity to use the brothers' special powers for his evil endgame, (in one instance, he commanded his troops to annihilate an African village full of innocent people—a plan James eventually thwarts), it doesn't take much for Stryker to get Victor onboard.  But James, who eventually christens himself Logan, is ready for a new life that doesn't involve killing people without questioning why.

When Logan eventually finds contentment in his career (he's a simple lumberjack, happily living in a remote corner of British Columbia) and his burgeoning love life, however, you automatically know it's going to be short-lived with guys like Victor and Stryker on the loose. And it doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out what eventually motivates Wolverine to switch back to the dark side because you've seen it coming from a mile away.

It's almost insulting how clearly—and neatly—everything is spelled out for you. And that's something that no amount of really cool special effects can change, because there's really no reason to root for any of these characters—mutants or otherwise—which is a shame given their intrigue. Even the writers of the other X-Men movies understood the value of painting in shades of gray and throwing a few twists in the mix, something that would've made Wolverine far more memorable.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Social drinking is depicted in a couple of bar scenes. 
  • Language/Profanity:  Some coarse language, although not pervasive, including three instances where the Lord's name is misused. Also, Wolverine makes a rude gesture with his middle finger.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Wolverine emerges from a laboratory fully nude, but only his backside is revealed.
  • Violence:  The Dark Knight has definitely expanded the range-and amount-of violence that is allowed in a PG-13 movie, and this movie takes full advantage of that. But because it's comic book violence, it doesn't feel quite as real somehow because most of it is actually bloodless. Nonetheless, there are multiple shootings (of innocents, too), stabbings (those claws have to be used for something, right?), body blows, deadly fires and a decapitation. Wolverine also undergoes a painful process to become indestructible that's certainly not for the faint of heart. In the opening sequence, there's hand-to-hand combat fighting that underscores Victor's ruthless nature and Wolverine's inclination not to kill for sport.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.