Saturday, March 4, 2017

Logan Review

I have an interesting relationship with the X-Men movies. One of these days I will sit down and do a ranking of all the X-Men movies like I've done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe recently. But today is not that day. Today is the day to talk about our latest Wolverine movie. This is the third Wolverine solo movie that has been made, the first two being fairly disposable films. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" gets a really bad rap from most. I recognize its flaws, but I think some people are a little too harsh on it. My problem is it tries to be an origin story for Wolverine, but has continuity errors with the original X-Men movies, so it ends up being pointless as a film, even though it's fairly entertaining on its own right. "The Wolverine" I thought was a really fun movie and much better than Origins, but it felt like a filler episode of a superhero TV show. There was also no point to it. And they wiped it out a few months later in "Days of Future Past." Now we have our third Wolverine movie, this one titled "Logan." Out of our three Wolverine movies, this one is easily the best. But that's not really saying much, so let's go a bit bolder. Out of our nine X-Men movies we've had so far (10 if you count "Deadpool"), this one is the best. And I'm pretty confident in declaring that.

Before we dive into this movie, let's get something out of the way. Don't take your kids to see this movie. Last year "Deadpool" took a big risk to see if people would pay money for a major superhero movie that was rated R, because in order to do justice to the character, an R rating was needed. That risk ended up paying off big time as "Deadpool" made $363.1 million in the U.S. alone, making it one of the highest grossing films of 2016 and second highest grossing superhero movie of the year behind only "Captain America: Civil War" and ahead of "Batman v. Superman." "Suicide Squad" and "X-Men: Apocalypse." Not only was "Deadpool" a big hit at the box office, but it is also becoming a revolutionary film in the comic book realm as Hollywood now knows that superhero movies don't have to be PG-13 to make money. They can be free from the bondage of the MPAA and make it how they feel it needs to be made and still make money regardless of rating. "Deadpool" was a very strong R, but for some reason some parents didn't get the memo. And I'm still confused as to how that happened. When you buy a ticket to an R-rated film, there is usually a big letter "R" on it. That means you shouldn't bring your kids and you definitely shouldn't get mad at the movie if you do.

When Hollywood saw the box office receipts for "Deadpool," it didn't take long at all for a whole ton of R-rated superhero movies to get the green light. It was like a cry of freedom. They've been bound to PG-13 for the longest time despite the fact that many comic book characters definitely aren't PG-13 characters and thus had to be watered down to be done justice. But now that "Deadpool" released those chains and proved that R-rated superhero movies can be done and make money. The first superhero movie to get immediately green-lit after "Deadpool" was "Logan." Because that's what fans have been asking for for years. Wolverine is a troubled, angry character who has giant metal claws that come out of his knuckles. He slices and stabs people with these. Yet up to this point, they've had to keep a leash on the Wolverine action scenes. A lot of careful editing and watering down to make it fit in a PG-13 movie. But now they don't have to keep a leash on that and they certainly don't in this movie. Yes, this movie is bloody, it's graphic and it's foul. It's an adults only movie. The MPAA warned you. Your ticket will warn you. I have warned you. Don't make the same mistake that many made with "Deadpool." Leave the kids at home.

With that two paragraph warning out of the way, shall we actually talk about this movie? "Logan" is based on the "Old Man Logan" story in the comics. I'm not actually super familiar with that story so I don't know how faithful it is to that. But as that title would suggest, Logan is old. And so is Charles Xavier, who is also in this movie. The year is 2029 and a lot of crap has happened since we last saw the X-Men that has made Logan more broken and worn down than normal. I don't even really know what timeline we're in. I assume that it's the new timeline that was set up in "Days of Future Past," but at this point the X-Men timeline is so screwed up that I don't even know. Point is we're in some sort of future and Logan is not in good shape at all. Charles is even worse as he looks like he's on death's door the entire film and keeps having these seizures that are extremely harmful for everyone around him. And it's super depressing and sad. I may have had a unique relationship with the X-Men movies, but I have always loved Patrick Stewart's Professor X and Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. It's been 17 years with these two and seeing them both in a worn out, broken down state just broke me. Right off the bat it starts off as a very heavy movie emotionally and it never let down.

As you can expect, Wolverine has a habit of not being left alone. Despite his best efforts, crap happens and people come looking for him and we are sent on quite the journey in this movie that I'm not going to tell you anything about because the advertising actually made me happy by not revealing hardly any of the plot, so I am going to respect that because it doesn't happen too often. I will say that part of that includes us being introduced to X-23, a female version of Wolverine who is a young child in this movie. She ends up with Wolverine and Professor X for reasons and they have to protect her for reasons and things happen in the movie for reasons that were really well done. Bad people were convincing in their roles and fights against bad people were bound to happen for reasons. And man are those battle sequences intense and awesome. We've all been wanting this movie to happen for a long time and seeing it happen is glorious. Wolverine is finally allowed to be let loose in this movie and him and young X-23 make a phenomenal fighting duo that makes for perhaps some of the best action sequences ever in a superhero movie. And this was able to happen because "Deadpool" finally opened the door for it, which makes me want to sing praises to "Deadpool" even more.

One thing that I really loved in this movie, though, was how restrained it was for a lot of it. And I know I just bragged about how happy I am that we finally have an unrestrained version of Wolverine, but I will admit that I was nervous that they would take this too far and make an over-the-top, gratuitously violent Wolverine movie that had no story or purpose to it except for watching Wolverine chop of people's heads and arms for two hours just because we could. But no, thankfully that's not what happens. This movie is actually a very deep character study into Wolverine and Professor X that is a slow burn for much of it. And I don't mean that in a bad way. But the movie goes long periods of time without any violence or action sequences. They took the time to tell a good story and dive into these characters with what they are going through. In fact, this almost feels like an independent superhero movie as the main focus is on the story, the acting and the script as opposed to the action and violence. When we do get to the action sequences, they are there to supplement and enhance the story. Wolverine has so much anger and rage built up for reasons and the action sequences are his way to express his anger and none of it felt gratuitous or pointless. There was a purpose to every action scene in this movie and Wolverine never did anything unless he had to.

There is certainly a lot to unpack here with this movie, but I'm going to surprise you by wrapping this up instead. Because I want you to go experience this movie for yourself without knowing much about it. That's how this journey should be taken. Just know that this is an emotionally heavy movie. There are many moments that will make you want to gush out and cry. The movie is deep and moving. Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman give their best performance yet as these two characters and if the Oscar voters weren't so violently opposed to superhero movies for some dumb reason, I'd say Hugh Jackman would be deserving of a best actor nomination with Patrick Stewart getting a best supporting actor nomination. They bring a lot of weight and emotion to their roles and if this is indeed the last X-Men movie for both of them, they went out on top with performances to remember. Not to be ignored is what Dafne Keen brought to the table as X-23, but I'll be brief with her because I want to leave that mostly a surprise. But I absolutely loved her. Together these three add power and weight to this movie that we've never seen in an X-Men movie yet and the fantastic action sequences were the icing on the cake to a beautiful and emotional movie. For these reasons and a whole heck of a lot more that I stayed far away from, I'm giving "Logan" a 9.5/10.

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