Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Movie Review - Logan

by Beth

I went into Logan unspoiled, and I'm glad I did. For those of you who haven't seen it yet I will do my best to help you stay that way too. Well, I did read one review. I purposely chose the worst review I could find on IMDB so that I could get an idea if what the the worst case scenario might be. I don't remember who wrote it, but they were from TIME, and they were way off. According to them Logan was making a weak attempt at reflecting our troubled political landscape, and it just didn't go far enough in that area. I didn't get that from it at all so maybe just ignore any piece of the review you see from TIME. I know that Phantom already reviewed Logan for his Patreon subscribers so by all means go check that out, but I'm going to throw my two cents in as well. We often have differing opinions so I don't think putting another perspective out there is a bad thing. He's softened on his stance against Days of Future Past, but we disagreed wildly on it at first.

Logan is a brutal, and honestly kind of tough movie to watch. That isn't to say you shouldn't watch it or that it is not a great work, but you should know that going in. I've heard of, and seen first hand, some epic parenting fails with people taking small children to see this movie. Don't do that. It's not as graphic as Deadpool, but they do make very liberal use of the “R” rating. It's almost like a contest to see how many “shits” and “fucks” they can cram in there (though the rating gave me the real "Beserker Rage" I've been wanting to see for 17 years so that's a big plus). Also, don't let the fact that Logan is old lead you into thinking that this is based on the Old Man Logan graphic novel. Logan's age is about the only thing that this movie shares with the comic. It's pretty much the darkest movie I've seen in recent memory. Again, don't let that dissuade you. I just probably should have done a better job preparing myself for what was about to happen to me.

Before we head down the dark path of Logan let's talk about something light for a minute. The Deadpool 2 trailer that came on before the feature presentation. If you haven't seen it yet here's a link. This is a little longer than the one shown in the theater, but it was clearly meant to be shown before Logan. If you don't have the time to watch I threw a picture in for your lazy asses. Look closely at the writing on the phone booth where the name Nathan Summers clearly appears. I'm taking that as 100% confirmation that Cable will be in the next movie. I was also told that they're looking to cast Domino as well. That makes Deadpool 2 the movie I'll most be looking forward to in 2018 as of right now.

But going back to the very serious business at hand. Let's talk Logan. As dark, brutal, and challenging as it is to watch this is the best treatment of a Marvel property ever made. It might help if you know something about the X-Men universe going in (Mr. Tibbs was with me, and having to explain what Reavers were and that Joss Whedon took the name for his Firefly baddies because he loved the X-Men so much was time consuming), but it's not strictly necessary. As much as it might enhance your viewing pleasure, it will also raise additional questions that won't all be answered. At first I thought some flashbacks to the events they allude to might have helped. I realize now that I was completely wrong. There is no neat bow that ties this all together with other X-Men movies.

We start with a much older looking Logan working as a limo driver who drinks too much, and appears to be falling apart physically and mentally. He turns out to be secretly caring for a debilitated Charles Xavier with the help of fellow mutant Caliban (this time played by Stephen Merchant who is a surprisingly good actor. I always just thought of him as Ricky Gervais' lanky sidekick, but no more) in a world where mutants are all but extinct. In 2029 no new mutants have been born in 25 years, but good ole Professor X establishes telepathic contact with a young girl who needs their help. The Prof has also seen better days as he is suffering from a degenerative brain disease which causes him to lose control of his powers. There are references made to an incident he caused in Westchester that killed 600 people including several X-Men. While this is one of the things I wanted to know more about I know that part of the point is that Professor X is so far gone that he barely even remembers what happened. To see someone who has been such a strong stabilizing presence for so long brought low is heart-breaking. His plight is even more moving than Logan's downfall since the character of Logan has always been more confused and conflicted (I'm ignoring the whinier parts of James McAvoy's performance in Day of Future Past). They end up finding the little girl who has powers that are eerily similar to Logan's own mutations. She's on the run from the top secret lab that bred and raised her, and only Logan can help get her to the freedom she thinks awaits her in a place called Eden. The only problem is that Eden is from the X-Men comics the kid has been reading. No one knows if it's real, and getting her there will take everything Logan and Charles have. On the hunt are the Reavers, and the son of one of the doctors who worked on the Weapon X program. Well, we're up to 24 now so clearly the bad guys have been working hard since they created Wolverine (which I guess is the 70's. It's getting harder and harder to keep up with these damn timelines).

It's really tough to talk about this movie without giving anything away, but there is some seriously devastating shit in this movie. I came close to tears at least once, and barely contained my tears at the end. It's completely unlike any superhero movie ever made, and that's a good thing because it raises the bar for what we think a superhero movie should be. Deadpool pushed the boundaries of violence and language, and Logan pushes the boundaries of depth and raw emotion of what you thought Marvel could deliver. It's not fun like Guardians, and there are no epic city destroying battles like Avengers movies. It's a more intimate story, and that makes the violence more visceral and intense. The little girl is a bad-ass while managing to emote without talking much. Stephen Merchant showed a range I never thought him capable of. Patrick Stewart was allowed to act more than in any other X-Men movie, and as well as I've seen him in anything else before. It was Hugh Jackman that really surprised me tough. I saw Les Miserables so I knew that he could sing, and was a reasonably good actor, but he was allowed to pull out all the stops. He goes balls deep into his character for the first time since he started playing Wolverine. If you thought he was tough but vulnerable in the first X-Men movie you really haven't seen anything yet. It makes me sad that this is his last time playing Wolverine, but if you're going to bow out I can't imagine a better way to do it.

The biggest question for the future of the franchise has yet to be answered though. Do they recast Wolverine or reboot the movies completely? It's a tough call either way. I love much of the new cast, but will Fassbender and McAvoy want to commit to an extended series of movies? I'd be okay with Jennifer Lawrence and the rest being recast since we've seen all their characters played by other people before. All of these newer guys are likable enough, but none of them have really made the character their own. What I can't imagine is recasting the role of Wolverine. As iffy as I was when he took on the role I have been completely sold ever since. That is Hugh Jackman's character, and anyone else will have a tough hill to climb. I can't think of a single actor I know of who could fill those shoes, but right now I don't want to. I'm going to be feeling all the feels of Logan for several days still, and nerdy arguments about shit that I can't affect can come later. Much later.



Beth got her start writing for a site called Movie Criticism for the Retarded (which has been reborn as dorkdroppings.com. Check it out sometime), but was pulled out of an early retirement to write for Needless Things. When she isn't writing she plays video games and watches bad horror movies while eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. She may try to save her husband and/or their cats, but luckily hasn't had to make those tough decisions yet. Follow beth0rama on Instagram or on Twitter @NeedlessBeth where she doesn't post often enough to be annoying, but updates way more than Google+

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