Tag Archives: james mangold

Logan – Review

6 Mar

The X-Men series of movies seems to have been around forever. The beloved team of mutant heroes were shown onscreen in live action for the first time back in 2000, and there are a few of these actors that are still playing the same roles almost two decades later. In this case, I’m talking about Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X. Now, here in 2017, we’re seeing the departure of these two actors from their respective roles in the newest film of this series, Logan. What a movie to go out on. This isn’t just the best X-Men film to date, it may very well reign supreme as the best superhero film ever made.

logan-poster-4

In the not so distant future, mutants are on the brink of extinction and have to go into hiding to avoid certain death squads and other forces that want them gone. One of these mutants is a much older Logan (Hugh Jackman) who is working as a limo driver to support his vices while also supporting a sickly Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). A chance encounter with a nurse ends with a little girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), being left with Logan and Charles who are tasked with transporting Laura to a safe haven for mutants. Laura is soon revealed as a mutant test subject known as X-23, who is on the run from the company’s head of security, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), and his soldiers called the Reavers. Against Logan’s best wishes and attempts to rid himself of the responsibility, he takes both Laura and Charles out of their compound and begin their journey to the haven with Donald and his men hot on their tails.

There’s so much about this movie I want to dive right into that I have to force myself to stay focused. Let’s talk story first. I tried to keep my summary as vague as possible because there are so many layers and feelings that start to peel away as the movie goes on. It would be impossible to try and cover everything that is important in this movie because there isn’t one frame that is unnecessary. The story to Logan isn’t like any other X-Men movie, and it plays out like a very intense character drama as much as it is a graphically violent action film. The main reason this movie worked so well for me is because of how deep the story is and how it explored parts of these characters that were never seen before. The story is about Logan and Charles protecting X-23, but it’s also a story of family, regret, and severe, relentless pain. It’s can be a rough one at times, but I commend writer/director James Mangold and his co-writers for going there.

logan-wolverine-3

The decision to make Logan rated R was a very smart move from 20th Century Fox, especially after the over the top success of Deadpool. This works great for the drama that I’ve already talked about as well as the action sequences. Let’s talk action, now. This is still a superhero movie, and a superhero movie completely devoid of action would be weird. Wolverine has always been viewed as an angry character prone to violent outbursts, and we’ve seen that in previous X-Men movies, but never like what I’ve just witnessed in Logan. This is Wolverine at his most unhinged. Limbs fly, heads roll, and the scenery is often times showered with pieces of whoever got in Logan’s way. What’s cool about it, also, is that it isn’t violence for the sake of violence. There’s a fair amount of action sequences that go heavy on the violence, but it has weight backing it up, and it never gets to a level that’s solely exploitive and gratuitous. It’s very well handled and was never anything less than exciting.

Finally, Logan has an excellent cast of characters and actors who play them to perfection. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have been playing these parts for years, so it’s pretty clear that they have their roles completely covered. Stewart gives a subtle and often sad performance here, where we see Professor X in ways that I’ve never thought I would. As for Hugh Jackman, this is simply his best performance. It’s controlled while also being ferocious, but the quieter and more contemplative scenes is where Jackman really shines by making Logan so vulnerable and appear so broken. There’s also some great newcomers to the series that are memorable. Dafne Keen, despite her relatively young age, is outstanding as X-23 and can really hold her own in terms of the ferociousness that is expected from the character. I also really enjoyed Boyd Holbrook’s portrayal of Donald Pierce, whose villainy oozed through every scene he was in. It’s exactly how I like my comic book bad guys.

I really wasn’t a fan of X-Men Origins or The Wolverine so I was really hoping that Logan was going to do the character right. Well, it sure does and it does even better than I could have hoped. It’s sad to see Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart bowing out of their roles, but this was the send off that they deserved. This is a powerful film that has some really heavy storytelling that will leave you teary eyed yet incredibly satisfied. This is the best written and executed entry of all the X-Men films and it brings something new and exciting to the superhero genre that can potentially change the game. I absolutely loved Logan.

Final Grade: A+

Advertisements

The Wolverine – Review

2 Aug

Wolverine and the X-Men are some of the most beloved characters in comic book history. Their powers combined with the team work aspect and some great villains have proved to be success for readers and with their more cinematic endeavors (mostly). In 2009, Wolverine got his own movie with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and that was anything but successful. Now it’s four years later and his second attempt at a stand alone movie is aptly titled The Wolverine. With promising trailers and marketing, which include some excellent posters, I thought that nothing could go wrong. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The_Wolverine_posterUS

 

Taking place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is living in seclusion in the forest outside of a small American town. Haunted by his past with Xavier’s team of mutants, the loss of his beloved Jean Grey, and the constant struggle of the life that he has been living, he feels the desire to live a normal life. This wish seems to be granted when he is picked up by the mysterious mutant Yukio (Rila Fukushima) and brought Japan to meet with her boss and mentor, Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi). During World War II, Wolverine saved Yashida’s life and now that he is dying, Yanshida wants to return the favor. Unfortunately for Wolverine and Yashida’s grand daughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto) there are people who want Wolverine and his adamantium for mysterious reasons, and they won’t stop until they succeed.

I’m pretty convinced that 20th Century Fox released this movie just so we had something to hold us over until Days of Future Past is released. This does not feel like an X-Men movie at all. It could be argued that it is strictly a Wolverine story, but there are so many tie ins to the trilogy that it still has to be considered part of the canon that the previous movies have established. Jean Grey does pay Logan some visits in his dreams, and that’s pretty cool the first time it happens, but to keep having him get knocked unconscious and fall asleep multiple times just so we can have these scenes feels like overkill of a good idea. That’s a petty complaint, and just the start of a long list of reasons why The Wolverine is a major disappointment.

the-wolverine-picture06

 

I will say that this movie does have some pretty cool scenes, but I’m not saying that it’s a pretty cool movie in the least. A few scenes doesn’t make up for the rest of the movie. The scene on the train is a great action sequence that reminded me a lot of the climax of the first Mission: Impossible movie. The other cool part starts with Wolverine having an issue with a handful of ninjas and ends with a duel with the Silver Samurai (who gets incredibly poor treatment in this movie, and may be as big a disappointment to me as the Mandarin in Iron Man 3). Unfortunately, that’s about it. The first big action sequence that is really supposed to hook the viewer is so shaky that it made me nauseous. There were times when the camera man wasn’t even running after the action, and the camera was still shaking! Come on. That’s just stupid film making.

Finally, let’s talk about the story. So much potential is had here, especially with Wolverine losing his regenerative ability for some time. Nope. Wasted. Wolverine is shot and beaten, and the only thing that really happens is that he needs to chill for a few seconds and maybe take a nap. Great, so all of that potential suspense is totally lost. It would have been great seeing Wolverine try a new approach to taking down his enemies than just doing what he usually does and flail and stab about until they are all dead. It would have been awesome to see him adopt a more ninja-like style, using stealth and surprise. Also, there is a romance in this movie. Why, oh why? It really makes no sense to have it there and it has absolutely no bearing on the story a whole. It just slowed down an already slower than need be movie.

The-Silver-Samurai-vs.-Hugh-Jackman-in-The-Wolverine-2013-Movie-Image-600x330

 

So all The Wolverine really did was bore me silly. There is a scene during the credits that is absolutely necessary viewing, and is definitely a lot better than the movie itself. Major lore was changed in a way that was really stupid, there was a romance that felt forced, and the story was just wasted. There are other movies out there to see that are infinitely better than The Wolverine. Die hard fans may want to see it because it’s the newest movie in the X-Men universe, but don’t expect anything particularly good. I hate saying this about movies, but this one was just stupid.