Logan ★★★★½

Easily the single best film based on a Marvel property ever, and it's not particularly close (and even moreso if you just restrict it to the X-Men movies, as many of those are frankly mediocre). Most Marvel flicks top out at "enjoyable entertainments, and maybe a few moments linger with you." This, though - this is a goddamn MOVIE, in a way a lot of Marvel films aren't. It's timely to boot, considering the plot is basically "Logan helps illegal immigrants escape to Canada."

Sure, you can say that the analogy to SHANE is heavy-handed (there are more adept ways to make that comparison than literally having the characters watch the film, much less have one character quote Shane's final monologue in full at the end of the movie). And I do get the feeling that they decided to put that in there because fanboys are, generally, fundamentally kind of dumb about these movies sometimes.

But yeah, regardless of the moral being executed in a bit of a heavy-handed way, it still matters to have a superhero movie whose theme is "violence is corrosive to the soul, regardless of whether you're killing good guys or bad guys, and it is far better to opt out of violence than partake." Logan is a nearly-empty soul at the beginning of the movie, and by the end he's found purpose, and the purpose isn't just to save Laura and the other kids from the evil corp people but to save Laura from becoming *him*, and that's really kind of amazing. As it is when, about two-thirds of the way in, he loses his shit and has a rage against his shitty car - not a cool Wolverine berserker rage, but a helpless, tired, inept old-man rage. There are a lot of moments like that in this movie, moments that make you connect to Logan as a real person rather than as a superhero.

There's a lot of those moments for Professor Xavier as well, and Patrick Stewart absolutely deserves a Best Supporting Actor nom next year for his work on this movie; Xavier battling with dementia is terrifying and real, beyond the impact of the psychic brain-seizure scenes - which are quite scary, but Xavier whining at Logan angrily is frankly scarier, because none of us have to worry about killing people with our minds but all of us stand a reasonable chance of being unable to recognize when people who love us are trying to help us.

And finally: this movie is extremely, EXTREMELY violent. But the violence is not prurient, and it doesn't happen for no reason. It's purposefully hard to watch. This is a movie that says "oh, you've spent seventeen years enjoying the adventures of a guy whose major superpower is stabbing people to death? Well, this is what it would actually be like."

Christ, what a good flick. Yeah, Jackman deserves a Best Actor nod too, and the film certainly deserves a Best Picture nod. None of them will win, of course (okay, maybe Stewart has a shot). But Fox should campaign hard on this come Oscar season.