There's more facial hair on show than at a real ale convention but after last night's screening we can confirm that Star Trek isn't the only all-action prequel you should go and see this spring.
Focusing on the story of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine from early childhood trauma through blood-soaked soldiering, it's clear from the powerful title sequence this would be a popcorn movie with a dark heart.
We join an apparently contented Wolverine in happy isolation having turned his back from a ragtag mutant special ops teams on moral grounds - he's now living a lumberjack's life of good, clean air, a good woman and possibly yoga.
The tranquility doesn't last long (as this clip shows). What follows is a brilliantly-paced revenge movie mixing original set-pieces, thumping fight scenes, cheeky nods to its comic-book roots and just enough story to keep things balanced. South African director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) knows when to dwell on things and when to kick things on - at 1hr 47minutes, it's shorter than most action vanity projects and its lack of bagginess shows.
Performance-wise, Liev Schrieber as Sabretooth provides a suitably menacing nemesis, while Jackman broods and grimaces as his character is pushed through one nightmare after another, culminating in a final act that helps explain the even grouchier Wolverine we come across in the earlier films. He's not having much fun, but we certainly are. Out April 30