Sunday, April 2, 2017

Logan Tries To Be Unforgiven Yet Falls Far Short

When I first heard about Logan and it being Hugh Jackman's last performance as Wolverine, I was intrigued. Numerous news bits indicated it might be going the way of the graphic novel, Old Man Logan.

I was dubious. It's not that Old Man Logan isn't worthy of screen adaptation, but if you've read it, it ties directly into the bones of the old Marvel Setting which the film company producing Logan have no access to.

I was hopeful and curious. When I saw the first trailer, I was impressed. The use of Johnny Cash's version of Nine Inch Nails 'Hurt' as well as seeing the world tired and wasted and the characters tired and wasted, well, that looks like something I could get into.

The second trailer added to that hope.

And then I saw the movie.


So many of my movie friends were like, "It's the best super hero movie ever! It's way better than any other super hero movie that's come before!"

I wasn't impressed. It's not that the genre hasn't been done before. Unforgiven is one of my favorite movies and heck, it's not the only movie that Clint Eastwood himself has done featuring this type of tired old soldier whose got one last fight left. With the whole Expendables series, there's even a genre of sorts for it. Those who read fantasy fiction like the old David Gemmell's Legend, know it's an old series.

So there are some great stories of the old soldier, the old hero, with one last battle.

This isn't one of them.

I'll be hitting spoilers real quick and discussing some of the things I enjoyed and didn't enjoy so if you don't want to be spoiled on this movie, read no further.


First off, let's talk about the cultivated look.

It looks like it's run down not because it's a dark and broken down future. It's because those scenes that are shown are where Logan is hiding Professor X, which happens to be a rusted out junkyard in Mexico.

So that ambiance shown is a trick, a trap. It's there to create a false "bad times."

It's the year 2029 and Wolverine has not aged well. This is because his skeleton is bonded to the metal and it's poisoning him. The older he gets, the more his healing factor has to deal with the poisoning leaving less time to deal with, oh, say getting shot. 

And it's probably painful.

And this is something perhaps I take with experience as I know people who are in chronic pain and they drink not because they're bitter. They drink not because they hate everyone. They drink because they are self-medicating themselves to cover the pain. 

So that ambiance of Wolverine being all 'drunk' is another false flag.

The movie's R rating is earned. It's violent. There is swearing. There's even a brief bit of nudity. But mainly the rating is for the violence.

The theme of old and faded does have one actual point, and that's mutants aren't born anymore. This isn't a bad idea or a bad seed, but as the movie goes on, even that little bit of information has to be spoiled and spelled out. See, it's not some natural thing that happened, but bio-engineered!

Sigh. Lame.

And then there's the 'big bad.' 

From all the previews we've seen, Logan and friends are being hunted down by trained killers lead by an experienced soldier. Pierce and his Reavers. Pierce comes across as confident and sure-footed, but he is punk'd over and over. The first time being knocked out by a child from behind.

The actual 'nemesis'? The main foe that returns to hunt Wolverine and his prodigy?

It's a younger wild clone of Wolverine.

Go back and watch the videos. That's not really something that comes through right? 

They hide that because it's lame.

If someone is going to tell me how Hugh Jackman playing 'X-24' is the best movie ever when The Dark Knight gave us Health Ledger in an unforgettable performance as the Joker, I'd love to hear it.

I appreciate that memory is short. I understand that the 'now' is 'hawt.' But no, Logan, for all it's well-filmed action sequences, and it's earning of the 'R' rating, it is not better than Captain America Civil War or even Dr. Strange. 

But serious themes!

Okay folks, here's the serious theme.

From the background we get in the movie, Professor X as an older person, had some type of seizure and with vast power blew up the X-Men and killed I think they said six or seven of them. So Wolverine's big plan isn't to be a drunk and be edgy and be hateful and all alone as so many people latch onto.

It's to get Professor X to an uninhabited body of water and kill him and then blow his own brains out with an adamantium bullet.

Yea, that whole "don't show a gun in act one unless you're going to use it in the final act" are in full evidence here.

Because see for whatever reason, a bullet of adamantium can blow Wolverine's head off. Now aren't his claws made of the same metal? Wouldn't he be able to slice through the limbs of say, another Wolverine? Well, let's not go thinking that way...

There's also the problem of Wolverine being flat out stupid. To humor Charles Xavier, Logan allows Laura and Chuck to rest for the night at the home of a family who they help on the side of the road.

Which of course gives the bad guys time to catch up to Logan and wipe out the innocent family.. because, in all his years of being an X-Men, Wolverine would've never thought of that I guess?

There's also the unreliability of Professor X's own power in all situations. It's the same problem you have anytime you watch a movie where the character could easily escape if they did the most basic of things but hey, for whatever reason, they don't do it.

Using his power to communicate with the apparently 'mute' Laura? No problem. Using his power to actually do anything useful? Can't have that happen.

And then there's this weird part towards the end where it's like the film company is setting up the sequel. See, in my ramblings, while I've mentioned Laura's name a few times, I haven't actually talked about how she fits into things.

It seems instead of going with anything resembling Old Man Logan, the writers decided to make Logan old and use that to introduce X-23.

Now I like X-23. I liked the origin, I like the growth of the character, the mentorship with Logan in the comics, and the eventual replacement of Logan as the Wolverine.

This isn't a bad way to introduce a character to a series. 

But there are about another half dozen children who are clones of various characters I'll let interested readers Google.

It is these kids who help Wolverine, who in fact, wind up killing Pierce.

But apparently, all of their unique abilities are no match against X-24! Who by the way while being younger than Logan, is much older than Laura so forced growth or some other unexplained bits?

So, of course, Wolverine has to go all out against his evil younger self, and this gives Laura the opportunity to use the magical adamantium bullet because Wolverine's own claws or her own claws aren't made of the same material...

My ramblings don't even cover the theme of Cracked, and it's a bit about this being a poorly veiled rip off of Children of Men...

If Children of Men doesn't get some rentals out of Logan just to see the comparisons, I'd be surprised. It's a good movie on it's own rights and in my opinion, superior in many ways to Logan.

So do Logan have no redeeming qualities?

I know I'm hacking a lot at it here, but it's mainly in disbelieve over all the praise it's been getting. Wolverine being a loner and helping a young girl is almost literally the playbook of Logan's character growth in the very first X-Men movie with Rogue.... okay,  rambling again.

Positive bits.

Action sequences are all out and pull no punches. If you're the type who always wanted to see the Hulk punch through a man but were left hanging by the PG-13 ratings, well, limbs are severed, heads are decapitated, and action aplenty fills the film. If you're an action buff, there are several scenes to enjoy. Even the car chase scene is robust.

Professor X is played to great effect by Patrick Steward. I've loved Patrick Steward ever since seeing him in Excalibur and man, I'm not saying he's done no bad roles, but he nails it as a semi-lucid Professor X here. 
Mind you, half the time I think he's missing the point of not getting that Wolverine is literally dying with such brilliant phrases as "Logan, you still have time." but there are interactions between Professor X and X-23, as well as between Professor X and Logan that click and add much-needed humor to the film. The history between Logan and Professor X is so thick you could cut it with an adamantium knife. 

Some future bits that are coming up, seem well timed. There are trucks with no human drivers. There are drones in use. There are robotic limbs on active soldiers. I know some may feel that the last one is pushing it, but man, 3-D printing and the whole field of what can be done to replacing missing limbs has come a tremendous way since even the first X-Men movie came out.

Hugh Jackman's 'presence'. He plays an old dying Logan well. He's got a lot of gravitas in his interactions with others and comes across as someone waiting to die and does it well. In many instances, unlike some fiction works I've read, Logan is older. He's probably not a fit a fighter as Laura even. And he's sick. And he's bitter. And he's got a duty to kill one of his oldest friends before that brilliant brain goes off in a populated area and then to kill himself with his magic bullet. And he's ready for that.

But in his interactions with the world itself? Some are like, "He's a father figure! They are a family!" and I'm bliking wondering if they saw the same movie I did. Like the touching scene from the trailer where Logan violently shakes her hand off? Or where he continually tells her to get away from him? Or that he only originally helped because of money? That he knows he's dying and like a sick animal, wants to be away from others so muh that he's practially unbearable to be around and in that same vein, to be the main character of the movie?

Logan is a fun action flick that earns it's rating but all this talk of "best super hero movie" ever tells me that either the branch of best is a low held title or that Christian Bale's Dark Knight trilogy is already so out of modern memory that real villains with real actors need to make a come back.