Directed by James Mangold (R)
Wolverine makes his final stand.
Wolverine and his adamantium steel claws have finally been cut loose in an R-rated movie— “and the result is bloody, vicious fun,” said Rene Rodriguez in The Miami Herald. At least it’s fun once we’re past the dour opening and our mutant hero starts battling foes alongside an 11-year-old who proves a ferocious fighter herself. The year is 2029, most other mutants are dead, and Hugh Jackman’s grizzled, weary Logan has been in hiding, keeping his Wolverine instincts in check while caring for an ailing Professor X. Patrick Stewart makes the former X-Men mastermind a heartbreaking figure— proof that heroism always gets punished in the end, said Tasha Robinson in TheVerge.com. The movie remains so committed to that dark theme that Logan has to be the most adult story an X-Men film has told. The arrival of Dafne Keen’s Laura gives Logan a daughter figure to fight for, of course, and the results are “both as manipulative and hokey as that sounds,” said Chris Nashawaty in Entertainment Weekly. Still, when Logan “isn’t showering you with blood,” it sometimes works well enough as tragedy that “you might find yourself getting choked up against your better judgment.”
Directed by Lloyd Stanton and Paul Toogood (Not rated)
Fifty stand-up artists deconstruct their craft.
If you have a friend or two who dream of a career in comedy, show them this documentary first, said Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times. Dying Laughing assembles “a Hall of Fame roster” of comics, and all of them “speak with candor, hilarious insight, and sometimes deadly serious intimacy about the soul-crushing, spiritually draining, and yes, sometimes exhilarating life of the stand-up comic.” The way Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, and nearly 50 others describe the profession, “every venture into the arena is a risky do-or-die high-wire act,” said Stephen Holden in The New York Times. When you land a joke, says Jerry Lewis, “you get gooseflesh from your fingertips to your toes.” But devastating failures are inevitable, especially for rookies. Unfortunately, as one speaker after another shares thoughts on joke craft, touring, and handling hecklers, “the stories become redundant.” The repetition is often powerful, though, creating “a kind of universal stand-up monomyth,” said Chris Packham in LA Weekly. Though many of the pros here have known the highs of the profession, “the commonality that unites all of these people is pain.”