• by Wes Singleton

Logan, B+

Rated R, 135 minutes

Hugh Jackman and claws are back as Wolverine in a smashing way, in the dark, brutal and vastly entertaining, "Logan," a strong addition to Marvel's X-Men universe in some time. With a striking change in tone from some of the other films, the blood and guts is a nice, albeit divisive move, and know that "Logan" isn't for everyone, but it's certainly the movie that fanboys have been waiting for.

In the near future, a weary Logan (Jackman) cares for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) at a remote outpost on the Mexican border. His attempt to hide from the outside world gets upended when X introduces him to a young mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen). Logan must now protect the girl and battle the dark forces that want to capture her.

Directed by "Walk the Line's" James Mangold, with a story by Mangold, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Frank and Michael Green, "Logan" is the best of the Wolverine standalone films and a smashing entry for the first of many superheroes making their way to the big screen this year (the new Spider-Man and an updated Wonder Woman are coming). "Logan" is part revisionist tale and part introduction of the next generation of the X-Men, and certainly a gritty opus for one of the most beloved of original X-Men, Wolverine, whose possible final cinematic stage is a memorable one.

"Logan" can feel way too bloody and redundant at times, but there's no denying the fun, you'll have either. It's a treat seeing Patrick Stewart back as Professor X, sparring with Jackman's usual gruff and grumpy Wolverine, though it's newcomer Dafne Keen, in her feature debut and a striking breakout turn as Wolverine's daughter and mini-me, and someone you definitely don't want to feed too much sugar to. Between she and Wolverine, heads and many other body parts roll generously throughout the film.

Wolverine does battle with some evil folks, Zander Rice (Richard Grant) and his relentless head of security Donald Pierce (a terrific Boyd Holdbrook), not to mention a Wolverine clone, also played by Jackman; it's a treat seeing Jackman doing battle - against himself - thanks to the nifty face capture special effect. "Logan's" middle act is a tad overlong as they wander into some cornfields, but it comes back nicely with a stellar, fun climactic battle.

I won't give any spoilers here, but "Logan" goes out in style, and with some hope to carry on his legacy. It's bloody, terrific fun and one of the more satisfying X-Men installments.

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