Logan Thoughts (Spoilers)

Click here for a spoiler-free review of the film.

After seeing Logan and having some more time to think about it, I wanted to share more thoughts on it without having to worry about spoiling any plot details.

First I have to address one of my biggest gripes. This is my first time seeing Boyd Holbrook in anything and I have to say I am more motivated to check out Narcos after seeing his performance. Do I have a man-crush? Maybe. From the first line of his first scene, I was enthralled. His performance initially hid the fact that the character, and the villains as a whole, were poorly developed. We know Transigen experiments on children and wants to weaponize mutant genes. It is obvious that an army of mutant children would be a terrifying weapon for their enemies, but the head figure (Zander Rice) also explains they created a virus that resulted in the lack of mutant births for the past 25 years. This is one of the most interesting machinations and is glossed over with a few lines of dialogue. It would have been interesting to see more of Rice’s role in this, and Pierce’s role in the curation of X-23 as the chief of security.

This brings up the issue of screen time. The film is 137 minutes, but didn’t feel that long to me, despite a late show time. I think an extra 15 minutes could have done wonders for fleshing out Transigen, Rice and Pierce. We wouldn’t need one solid chunk of exposition that drags the film down. I thought it would have been interesting to see X-23’s flashbacks, the same way we saw Logan’s in the original X-Men trilogy. These could have served the same purpose as the videos from X-23’s adoptive mother, and could have been more interesting.

Next, I just have to reiterate that Stephen Merchant is the man. Caliban had relatively little screen time compared to the main trio of Wolverine, Professor X and X-23, but he still held his own. Fear the light.

The death of the family during the farm scene came as a surprise. I had a feeling that something bad would happen once Professor X decided to stay the night. It came across as a careless move on his part but makes more sense analyzing the move from his character’s perspective. Westchester is where the X-Mansion is located and it is implied that he killed most of the X-Men in the “Westchester incident”. This also adds more reason why Charles says he “doesn’t deserve” a happy day like the one they had. He believes he deserves to be punished but he also wants to enjoy the company of other people before his death. He had years of isolation and is now somewhat carefree in his desire to enjoy life. Although it comes across as selfish, it is somewhat understandable.

However, the death of the family does make Charles’s decision tougher to cope with. Of course, he pays for the mistake as well when X-24 shows up. At first I thought Charles was having a flashback and was thinking they were adapting the X-Mansion incident from Old Man Logan, where Wolverine is tricked by Mysterio into killing the X-Men.

Instead, Charles dies, possibly thinking Wolverine killed him. Then the son, wife and dead get slaughtered. I was thinking that they would be saved at the last second, like most Hollywood films. Although their deaths were brutal, it was also good to see that the film truly wasn’t pulling any punches.

Some members of my audience audibly gasped when X-24 descends the stairs to meet Logan for the first time. For many people, it was a genuine “oh s***” moment. We know X-23 is a clone, now we see one that is Logan at his physical prime. These shots make use of digital faces but the effects are much more seamless than the version of **spoilers for Rogue One– Princess Leia in Rogue One of Clu in Tron: Legacy.

Although X-24 was an amazing physical threat, I feel as if his inclusion hampered the development and threat that could have come from Pierce. Like Zander, Pierce is mainly an overseer, managing the work of people underneath him. There is nothing wrong with villains like that, but maybe it comes across as more jarring, since he and The Reavers were marketed as the main, direct threat. Obviously X-24 would have been too big a reveal for the trailers and commercials, but it still brings up the issue of what audiences expected from Pierce.

Seeing Logan go near-berserk in the forest was an absolute treat. The roar after he takes the serum, followed by his sprint through the forest was cinematic gold.

 

Some people didn’t understand why an R-Rating was a big deal for this final film. Hopefully Logan shows why. Wolverine’s main weapon are metal claws he sinks into people, an R-rating works perfectly, for a solo film especially.  We don’t see stuntmen fall to the ground as Jackman swings his arms. For once, we get to see unadulterated carnage that truly immerses us in the experience. The casino scene, where Logan pushes his slaws, in semi slow-motion, through one man’s head after another is something we couldn’t have in a PG-13 film. The camera would have had to cut away with each stab.

The forest scene is something I’ve been wanting to see for a while and was delivered beautifully. Yet again. I have to comment on X-23. Many films are guilty of showing a woman with Angelina Jolie proportions knocking out 250 pound guys with one punch (looking at you Colombiana). X-23’s claws avoid that issue. We don’t see her overpower men for the most part. The flip she performs on the gas station attendant is the only example I can think of. Otherwise, she uses her size to her advantage, relying on stealth and agility to kill her enemies.

One thing that bothered me was that her transition from a borderline-feral mute to a more well-adjusted human seemed a little too fast. She nearly kills the gas station attendant because he tried to take her goods from her. At first I tried to rationalize that by saying that she interpreted his hands on her as a deadly threat, but her relationship with the Eden children contradicts that. Although the children were collectively treated as products by Transigen it is implied they had a pretty strong relationship with one another before they escaped. Since X-23, or Laura, is able to socialize with them normally when she arrives her reaction to the gas station attendant seems out of character. Then again, we didn’t get to see her interact with the group much. Most of the film from that point on focused on her interacting with Logan and their fight with Transigen. It would have been interesting to see how they all reacted to being together again.

P.S- Some people might laugh at the fat kid running, but that kid was hauling ass.

 

Logan Review

Entertainment Value: 10.10

Critical Value: 7.5/10

It is the end of an era. After 17 years, Hugh Jackman presents us with his last outing as Wolverine. After the first two Wolverine films many fans, myself included, initially approached another one with a healthy dose of skepticism. Then the first trailer dropped and skepticism gave way to hype for many people.

Then the second trailer dropped, confirming that Dafne Keen would be playing X-23. The film was flooded with good reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and one of my favourite YouTube reviewers also gave the film his highest rating. Needless to say, I expected a lot from this film, and for the most part, it delivered. I won’t say that the film is on the same level as The Dark Knight (it got a lot of comparisons to it) but it is undoubtedly the best Wolverine film and one of the best films in the X-Men Universe.

Logan introduces us to a bleak(er) future where most mutants are now dead. Twenty five years have passed without a mutant birth, most of the X-Men are dead, and Logan is slowly dying as his healing factor burns out. He is aging more noticeably, healing slower and the adamantium in his body is now poisoning him. Meanwhile, Charles Xavier is suffering from a mental disorder. Early plot summaries said the disease was Alzheimer’s but it is never actually confirmed in the film. Either way, he is prone to fits of dementia and seizures, which have devastating effects on the people around him.

Logan now works as a chauffeur and is content to save money so that he and Charles can buy a boat and live on the sea. Logan is tracked by a Mexican nurse who eventually convinces him to escort Laura Kinney (X23) to a mutant safe haven and evade The Reavers, cycber-netically enhanced soldiers tasked with bringing X23 back.  Firstly, I have to say that X23 was insanely badass in this film, showcasing an agile fighting style that is in contrast to the brute force on display from Wolverine. Although Wolverine is feral in his own way, Laura shows us what could have become of him if he was raised as a weapon. Dafne Keen doesn’t have many lines for most of the film, relying on facial expressions and body language to create the character.

The makeup department did a great job in creating a weathered Logan, whose body tells it own story. Jackman is able to exude anger, coldness,sensitivity, love and caring seamlessly. Although his character seems to shy from caring or helping others, it is easy to see that he is only putting up a wall to protect himself from the pain of losing more people he cares about.

Charles Stewart brings us a different version of Charles Xavier. Although Charles still houses some of the wisdom we associate with the character, his disease has resulted in forced isolation. We see a Charles who knows his time is coming and is eager to enjoy the rest of his time, coming across as more carefree than any other version of Xavier we’ve seen on screen. The closest comparison is to his younger, broken self in Days of Future Past. 

Jackman, Stewart and Keene are the film’s center and their scenes stand out as my favourite emotional moments. At its core, the film is about family and it great to see the family grow stronger as the film progresses. Although he is not necessarily a part of the family, Caliban (Stephen Merchant) assists Wolverine in taking care of Xavier and his performance is another stand out in the film. He has a relatively small role but succeeds in picking away at Logan to reveal his mindset as they try to navigate the dangerous world they live in.

Needless to say, the action is amazing, giving us the R-Rated glory we’ve been waiting to see for a while. People don’t just fall down when Wolverine swings his arms, they die in spectacular, gory fashion. There were many scenes that genuinely gave me chills. The film does feature some spotty CGI in parts. Fortunately, most of the effects are practical.

One of the weakest parts of the films, in my opinion, are the villains. Don’t get me wrong, Boyd Holbrook was enthralling as Donald Pierce. The issue is that it felt like he had little screen time. He and the man he answers to, were not developed very well in contrast to the other characters. There is one interesting goon that adds a new level of threat to the film, and the goon’s introduction is one of the most memorable in the film. However, I feel as if this mute goon could have been substituted for a stronger Donald Pierce.

While the film was not perfect, or as even as I would have liked, it was a solid end to Wolverine’s story. The ending, for lack of a better world, is poetic. Jackman has implied that he would be open to playing the role again if it existed in a different universe e.g. the MCU. However, he has also said that “This is it. This is the last one.

It is sad to see Hugh Jackman end the role, but I am happy that this is the film he did it with.

Edit: After more thought, had to bump up my ranking of Logan.

X Men Universe Film Rankings

Days of Future Past

X2

Logan

Deadpool

First Class

X-Men 1

Apocalypse

X3

The Wolverine

Origins

The 2nd Logan Trailer

I think many people will agree that the first Logan trailer was one of the best of 2016. The second red-band trailer has come along, with some new footage and a different vibe from the first. While the first trailer helped to set the tone of the film and introduce X-23, it was a teaser in a sense that it still kept the plot under wraps.

This second one reveals more, which some people may not like. It is now clear that Dafne Keen is playing X-23, and the cast list on IMDB has now been updated to reflect this as well. I knew that the filmmakers would want to reveal X-23 in the trailers in order to entice the general audience, who wouldn’t know about the character. For that reason, I wanted to avoid this trailer, but I ended up giving into my impulses.

For those who do not know, Laura Kinney a.k.a. X-23, is a female clone of Wolverine who was introduced in the comics in 2004. She was cloned from one of Wolverine’s blood samples, but since the Y chromosome in the blood sample was damaged, only a female clone could be created. She is referred to as X-23 since 22 failed cloning attempts preceded the 23rd successful one.

The Logan trailer actually had one comment by someone complaining about X-23 being introduced due to a need for “progressiveness”. It looks like the poster deleted the comment after a herd of people called him out for his ignorance. As I’ve said before, people will say they are not bigots and complain anytime a character who isn’t white, male and straight is a hero in a movie. The first trailer was Wolverine’s, this one is X-23’s.

Anyways, moving on from the misinformed.

One interesting thing this trailer brings up is the kind of upbringing X-23 has faced so far in life. She nearly kills a convenience store cashier for trying to stop her from stealing, with Logan being the only thing stopping her. “Not okay!” When the leader of The Reavers tries to control her he also addresses her like a dog, “No, no…”. It’s obvious she has been raised as a slave, a weapon or both. She reminds me of Jet Li’s character in Unleashed, raised to kill but emotionally and socially stunted as a result. While Wolverine may think of himself as an animal, he can still help to civilize X-23.

We still don’t see too much of the villains, which was a relief. Between the reveal of X-23, and additional footage of the action scenes, I did not want to finish this trailer feeling like I watched the whole movie.  We don’t see Wolverine’s claws go through someone’s head, like we did in the first red-band trailer, but there is plenty more to enjoy. The choreography for X-23 looks like it will lead to some of the best hand-to-hand (so to speak) fight scenes in the X-Men universe. While X-23 is small, the choreography allows the character to rely on agility and speed more than Wolverine might. While bloodshed doesn’t guarantee a good film it was a treat to finally see blood spilling as Wolverine and X-23 wreaked havoc on the men in their way.

The trailer also included a meta moment where X-23 is revealed to be a fan of the X-Men comics. As Logan says, “Maybe a quarter of it happened, and not like this.” In this fictional world, the X-Men have inspired comic books that exaggerate or distort real historical events. This reminded me of Garth Ennis’s The Boys, where superheroes are actually sponsored by comic book companies and get their own titles if they are popular enough. These fictional X-Men comics include Wolverine’s original costume, which makes me wonder if Wolverine actually wore his costume at some point in this timeline,  or if the drawing is just a nod for the comic book fans.

The song in this trailer may not be as epic as Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt”, but Kaleo’s “Way Down We Go” is amazing in its own right. The last shot of this trailer is gold and I am sure it will fuel more “Last of Us” comments.

 

March 3rd is not that far away, and I plan to see this film on opening day.

Logan Looks Like The Conclusion Wolverine Deserves

logan

The final Wolverine solo film now has an official title and its first trailer. I uploaded my thoughts to YouTube yesterday, but I also wanted to discuss the trailer on the blog. Attention spans are short when it comes to blog posts, but they can actually be worse with YouTube. I try to aim to make videos less than seven minutes long so I often have to condense all my thoughts and points. The blog gives me a little more breathing room, even though there may still be plenty of people who think “TL:DR”.

Wolverine: Origins was terrible, I think most people agree with me on that. A butchered version of Deadpool is the film’s most infamous creation but there was plenty more to hate. Terrible dialogue and CGI as far as the eye can see. Let’s not forget the boxing scene with the blob.

Wolverine was an improvement, although that is not saying much. I loved the idea of wolverine losing his powers and the question that the film raises: How much suffering can one man take? However, the film is brought down by a weak third act and some weak characters. I’m looking at you Viper.

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Not only is Logan the last Wolverine solo film, it is also Hugh Jackman’s last outing as the title character. He was the first character to portray Wolverine in a live-action Hollywood film and by the time this film comes out, it will be  seventeen years (2000-2017). Hugh Jackman is a great actor and regardless of the quality of the films, I believe he has always delivered a great performance. I have no doubt he will be remembered as one of the best comic book film castings. With all that said, I am hoping this final film gives the actor and character a strong finish.

The first trailer gives me hope that my dream will come true. Director James Mangold has said that he was aiming for a Western vibe with the film, which is also aided by the song choice. Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt”, originally by Nine Inch Nails, conveys the loneliness and grief that is omnipresent in the trailer. Although we know that the film will not closely follow Mark Millar’s “Old Man Logan”, there are plenty of similarities.

In Old Man Logan, an aging Wolverine escorts a blind Hawkeye as he delivers cargo across a post-apocalyptic US that is controlled by super villains. After one coordinated attack, the super villains were able to eliminate most of the heroes. Years later, Logan has settled down with a new family with his days of heroism long behind him. His family is bullied by his landlords, inbred children of Hulk and She-Hulk, and his healing factor has greatly diminished.

In the trailer, Logan says that mutants are gone, implying that he and the Professor are the few ones remaining. We see an older, scarred wolverine who is helping an ailing Professor X transport a young girl to safety. Additionally, plot synopses do say that a group of mutant-hunting cyborgs called “Reavers” will serve as the film’s antagonists. The “Reavers” may serve as the super villains that lead to the near-extinction of mutants in this timeline.

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There is one shot of Professor X laying in bed, and another shot of Wolverine carrying someone who appears to be the Professor. With how much older Wolverine looks, the Professor is likely near the end of his days.  Additionally, the last shot in the trailer shows Wolverine holding a shovel and standing over what appears to be a grave. There is already a lot of speculation that he buried the Professor. This also seems likely since the words playing over this shot could be the Professor’s last words.

Logan also sports numerous scars, and Mangold has confirmed that this is due to Logan’s aging. Like the comic, his age is taking its toll on his body and it can’t repair itself as well as it used to.

X-23 ( a female clone of Wolverine )will likely introduced as well. From what Professor X says the young girl is “very much like” Wolverine. I already know that Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman will be great in their roles, let’s hope the actress for X23 doesn’t bring the film down. Child actors always make me wary.

We still don’t know what X-23’s purpose will be. She is clearly the person being escorted, but we don’t know for what purpose. That is fine with me. IMDB is already swarmed with people asking why Wolverine has scars, why he looks so old etc. Some people need all their answers in the trailer and seem unable to give a film a chance to answer some questions. The teaser got me excited without giving away too much. The red band trailer also showed a glimpse of the R-Rated footage that many fans have been craving. Mangold and Jackman both acknowledge the importance of ending strong so I think that we finally have a Wolverine film that will live up to the hype.

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Old Man Logan

Hello everyone,

Here is the latest piece I wrote for comicommand. Enjoy and have a great weekend.

Old Man Logan - Boy Is He Angry

Written By Cadeem Lalor

After reading the first volume of The Ultimates years ago, I wondered if Mark Millar’s writing skills were a little over-hyped. The series had great moments for sure, but overall I wasn’t that big a fan of it. I’d heard about Old Man Logan for years and it has popped up in discussion much more with with the development of the final Wolverine film. Hugh Jackman was pictured on set with a thicker, grey beard and many people began to speculate that the film would use the story-line. Hugh Jackman also referenced the story-line during comic-con. It is likely that the film will use some elements from the story but it has been made clear the film will likely introduce X-23 and branch off with a new version of the character.

After reading Desi’s article on Old Man Logan, and numerous glowing amazon reviews, I made the commitment and ordered my own copy. The story follows an older Wolverine in a USA that is now divided into four villain territories, with most of the heroes now dead or in hiding after one night where the villains banded together to eliminate their foes. This story did not disappoint. I read about the story online before buying it and the thing that intrigued me most was how the super villains would manage to eliminate the heroes.

He's Making A List And Checking It Twice

This aspect of the story also proved to be the most well written and the one that my mind keeps going back to. One thing we probably never think about when reading comics is the villain to hero ratio. Every hero has their own rogues gallery. With a shared comic universe, many of the villains overlap but most can be tied to a particular arch-nemesis. In Old Man Logan, the estimate ranges from anywhere from twenty to fifty villains per hero. Once all of this power is organized into one attack, it is easy to see how the heroes could fall. Villains might normally be somewhat selfish in their pursuits, but by banding together and by creating their territories, they still accomplish more together than they could have individually or in smaller groups.

The epic battle that created this new world is only alluded to, but that ends up being enough. We see the skeletons of Loki and a giant skeleton of Hank Pym, and our minds fill in the blanks from there. One of the most powerful scenes is the reveal of Captain America’s death at the hands of the Red Skull.

We don’t see this fight either. We only see an injured cap lying on rubble, with his body partially crushed by debris. He can only watch as Red Skull gloats of the new world that he and the other villains will create. After so many years as a man out of time, Cap still sees his worst nightmare come to life. There are no words from him, only a tear.

A Panel From Old Man Logan #7

The most powerful moment in the comic comes when we delve into Wolverine’s past. In this apocalyptic future, Logan is no longer Wolverine. He has taken a vow of nonviolence and has rejected his old persona. he hasn’t bared his claws in fifty years. As the story begins it is implied Logan was traumatized on the day of the attack but it is hard to imagine what could break him. When we are told the full story, it becomes clear why Logan was broken. One illusion by Mysterio led Wolverine to kill all of the X-Men, making each member look and smell different. When we see the event from Logan’s point of view, we see him end the battle by brutally stabbing Bullseye. That moment is tainted when we realize it was Jubilee who was butchered.

As Logan’s journey continues we see The Red Skull again, who is in the habit of wearing Captain America’s costume. He wears the skin of his foes, likes the ancients. However, it appears that he almost misses his foe, monologuing about how he could still defeat Captain America if they were to fight again. It is implied with this scene that villains might lose their purpose without heroes. This is also implied when Wolverine fights this universe’s villainous Hulk. The Hulk implies that he got bored and killed Logan’s family because he wanted Logan to come to him: he missed their fights. We often say a hero is only as good as their villains. Without any heroes, Hulk admits he went from being a villain to being a landlord.

Old Man Logan Vs Captain America

Old Man Logan is a grim story, but it demonstrates that grim and good are not antonyms when discussing comic books. This mindset is far too prevalent now, especially among moviegoers. Some of Millar’s previous attempts to add a more adult spin to comics were failures in my opinion, such as his perverted version of the Hulk in The Ultimates. Some aspects of The Hulk do bring the story down a bit here, such as the hillbilly Hulk descendants. The fact that these hillbillies are products of incest between Hulk and She-Hulk could also throw people off as well, but I actually found this to be one of the better-justified changes for this alternate story-line. Banner explains that she was the only person he could mate with to breed mutant offspring, although he says this in much cruder terms. Overall, Old Man Logan is another reason that I look forward to discovering more that comics have to offer.

Jennifer Lawrence- The Taylor Swift Effect and X-Men Apocalypse

After this latest trailer the Suicide Squad has quickly moved to the #2 spot of my most anticipated comic book film of 2016. Deadpool is still #1 and it comes out in less than a month so Suicide Squad will occupy my #1 spot for most of the year.

X-Men’s themes of discrimination and oppression have always resonated with me and I thought X-Men Apocalypse would easily beat out Suicide Squad. I was fine with less Wolverine, and I know that many viewers (even those who loved the films) still wished they focused on Wolverine less and let other characters shine. With the exception of X3 and the Wolverine solo films, the X-Men films are some of the best comic book films to date.

Which is why it was disappointing to see the first trailer for Apocalypse and realize that Jennifer Lawrence has apparently been given a bigger role. Step aside Wolverine, make way for Mystique. I used to like Jennifer Lawrence. I enjoyed the first Hunger Games film and also enjoyed her performance in Silver Linings Playbook. As time passed though, Lawrence quickly became the Taylor Swift of Hollywood: ridiculously overrated and overexposed (in my opinion). For that reason I refuse to watch any more of the Hunger Games films, American Hustle, Joy or any other films she will appear in.

Lawrence was already an A-lister and every teen girl’s idol when the script was originally written. Therefore, I do not think it is a coincidence that the most marketable actor in the film, now has a much bigger role. This would be understandable, if the move was really necessary. X-Men First Class still managed to make a decent profit, despite the absence of the franchise’s most marketable character and actor (Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine). Additionally, Apocalypse was in a position to build off the hype of Days of Future Past instead of pandering to one actor’s fan base.

Lawrence’s acting was a weak link in Days of Future Past and the few lines in the trailer make her sound like she’s half-asleep. Hopefully they sound better in context, but if Days of Future Past is any indication, they may not. What makes Lawrence’s position even more frustrating is the fact that her character does not have to be an important figure in this storyline. First Class revamped Mystique as a central heroic figure, as opposed to a super-villain. Days of Future Past transitioned her into an anti-hero and X-Men Apocalypse could have continued by having her as a periphery figure who is deciding which side to join (Apocalypse or the X-Men). Instead, Mystique will now replace Wolverine, wasting an opportunity to develop other characters. After the cyclops we had in the original trilogy, I was hoping this film would help to flesh Cyclops out more. Instead, that might be pushed aside for more Lawrence or more Sophie Turner (Jean Grey). Turner’s few lines in the trailer make it clear she has brought her whiny Sansa Stark voice over to this film, so my hopes are not too high for her performance. Then again, we will see. Perhaps I will be proven wrong: Turner and Lawrence will be great, and all of the characters will get their chance to shine. However, I doubt it.