‘Logan’ Review

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Director: James Mangold

Writers: James Mangold, Michael Green, and Scott Frank

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse, and Richard E. Grant

Synopsis: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

17 years ago – yes, 17 years! – we saw a virtually unknown Australian actor take the role of the fan-favorite X-Men Wolverine in Hugh Jackman. While people had their doubts at the time – some still do – Jackman proved himself to handle the character well, and has earn the respect of many fans over the years. So when it was announced that Logan would be Jackman’s last go as Logan aka Wolverine, it was fair to say it has been the end of an era. So, was Jackman’s last ride worth it and the perfect way to send off Jackman? Yes, yes it was.

Set in the year 2029, mutants are almost all but extinct and there hasn’t been a mutant birth in some time. We find Logan (Hugh Jackman), who is now going by his birth name, James Howlett, as a limo driver in Texas to raise money. After long night he goes across the border to an abandoned facility where he hides and cares for an old and ailing Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with the help of another mutant, Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Before Logan can gather enough money to buy a boat so he and Charles can live out in the ocean, they cross paths with Laura (Dafne Keen), a young girl who is very similar to Logan in almost every regard. Now all together, they must run from a military force called The Reavers, lead by Donald Pierce (Body Holbrook) and a scientist in Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) that are after Laura and will do anything to get her back.

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While the character, of course, originated in the comics and has appeared in every X-Men film and now has three solo films in what are essentially comic book/superhero films, Logan is a whole – no pun intended – animal altogether. Not only is the film rated R, and boy does it embrace that rating – seriously, wow – the film doesn’t feel like a comic book/superhero film. It actually comes off more like a neo-western and it’s better because of it. Instead of focusing on some Earth-ending event, it focuses mainly on Logan, the man, and him protecting his girl he hardly knows in this bleak future, and finally coming to terms with his mortality. We’ve seen the mortality question come up before, but we see it more here. And it is that reason while I think so many love this movie. Director James Mangold could have easily put some Earth-ending even here, but he didn’t. He knew who the star in this film is, and what fans have been dying to see, and he finally delivers it.

Hugh Jackman has already played version of Logan/Wolverine we’re use to, but his performance in Logan is something different. We see him finally beaten down and a broken version of himself. He’s not healing like he use to, his drinking a lot and cuts himself off from the world. Not only that, he has to help Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who due to his old age, his powers have become a bit unstable, but the chemistry between Jackman and Stewart in the film is the best we’ve seen. Stewart is finally able to cut loose and not worry about coming off as a mentor or professor and instead tells everything how it is. Seeing the two together at this stage in their lives makes the film even better, especially knowing that Stewart is also bowing out after this makes his performance equally bittersweet.

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However, if you want to talk about casting, you have to talk about Dafne Keen as Laura aka X-23. Making your film debut is always tough, but making your film debut in Logan as a badass killing machine who is mute is probably tougher. Keen will definitely be a fan-favorite walking out of the film, and not just for being badass but the fact that she can express so much of her emotions into a simple stare. I don’t know where director James Mangold and the casting directors found Keen, but I can’t wait to see what she does after this. Believe me, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Keen in the future.

However, despite the great casting from the good guy side – which also includes Stephen Merchant’s Caliban – the bad guy side of the spectrum falls apart fairly quickly. Even though the film isn’t about the villains, and more about Logan, is doesn’t mean the villains should suffer. Boyd Holbrook does a descent job as the head of the Reavers, Donald Pierce, but his smooth-talking persona fades away and is just another henchmen. Finally there’s Richard E. Grant, a scientist who has a connection to Laura, but his character isn’t in the film enough to really justify him really being there. He does play a part that is pivotal for the ending, but that’s really it.

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All in all, Logan is one of the best X-Men and best solo Wolverine film there’s been. It’s a beautifully done character film that ends the era of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in the best way possible. A brutal one, but a respectful and proper way to send off Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, while introducing Dafne Keen. Logan is one of the films that will have you talking afterwards and have you thinking back at how great it is.

Logan

4.5 out of 5

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ Review

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Director: Bryan Singer

Writers: Simon Kinberg

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Olivia Munn, Alexandra Shipp, Ben Hardy, Lucas Till, Josh Helman, and Lana Condor

Synopsis: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a post-credits scene.*

 

This year has been a great year for comic book/superhero films. All of them different in their own way, and all of them will have their fans and detractors, but the mistake that everyone should avoid making is trying to compare the films in how each handled their subject matter, characters and plot. Is it completely wrong to do so? Probably not. But like I said, all the comic book/superhero films are done in their own way. Saying that, I hate that I’m making the comparison, but for the sake of making a point I guess, X-Men: Apocalypse, like Captain America: Civil War is a culmination of the last two X-Men films (First Class and Days of Future Past). What does that all mean? Well let’s find out.

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The film starts with what could be called the origin of Apocalypse (Isaac), set in the Nile Valley in 3600 BCE. However, something happens that seals him inside a pyramid until, of course, 1983, when he is set free. Seeing what the world has become, he sets out to find his followers, The Horsemen. Meanwhile, Charles Xavier (McAvoy) has opened his school with Hank (Hoult) as one of the professors. He also deals with new students like Jean Grey (Turner), who is afraid of her powers, and new student Scott Summers (Sheridan), who has just discovered his powers at the expense of a bully and bathroom stall. Raven/Mystique (Lawrence) is now seen as a public figure amongst humans and mutants, thanks to the events of Days of Future Past.

Finally, Magneto has moved on with this life and has a family, but with Apocalypse now awakened and finding his new Horsemen, Magneto gets dragged back into the world he thought he left behind. What follows is this new group of X-Men trying to stop Apocalypse from building a “better” world.

Like I, begrudgingly, mentioned earlier, one of the things X-Men: Apocalypse shares with Captain America: Civil War is that it is a culmination of the films before it. A good chunk of the film is built up from the events of First Class and Days of Future Past, so Apocalypse does feel like a true sequel to both films and a film you will appreciate more if you’ve seen both films, and know you’re previous X-Men movies history. There are some nice callbacks to the previous films and several subtle nods that fans can appreciate sprinkled throughout.

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The film itself is held together by the cast. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender continue to prove that they are worthy successors to Patrick Stewart’s beloved Professor X and Ian McKellan’s Magneto. Fassbender has the better arc of the two at the beginning of the film, but gets a bit lost in the shuffle by the third act. Nicholas Hoult’s Hank/Beast is more of a background character this time around and Jennifer Lawrence does the best she can with what she’s given, but does take more a leader role by the end of the film that makes sense and isn’t shoehorned in. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver has, once again, a standout sequence and his own arc, that gives him more to do this time around, but it doesn’t go anywhere – at least in this movie, maybe?

The new cast holds their own against the veteran cast, and gives us a great hope for future X-Men films with this cast – at least for me. Tye Sheridan gives off a good vibe as Cyclops, while Sophie Turner gets some of the meatier material as Jean Grey. However, one of the big highlights is Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler, which we are introduced to in a mutant fight club along with pre-Horseman Angel (Hardy). Lana Condor has a brief appearance as Jubliee, but doesn’t go anywhere really.

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As for the rest of the Horsemen, Alexandra Shipp’s Storm is the first one introduced and the most interesting out of the three since she has her own story before she becomes a Horseman. Olivia Munn’s Psylocke is just a bit disappointing, only in that she doesn’t have too much going on before hand and it feels like she joins just for the hell of it. One of the good things is that he’s actually in the movie, and she’s one of the few that actually wears her comic book outfit.

When it comes to Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse, Isaac owns it. Obviously, when images of him came out, Ivan Ooze was getting thrown around – which I hated – but seeing the costume in action and Isaac actually playing the character is great. One of the different between Apocalypse and other villains we’ve seen in the films is that Apocalypse doesn’t see himself as a mutant. He comes from a different time and sees himself as a God. That’s why he doesn’t care about anything or anyone that stands in his way, which is what makes him, arguably, the dangerous person the X-Men have dealt with to this point. And since the film is called Apocalypse, he does cause a lot of destruction.

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X-Men: Apocalypse does have some flaws. Some emotional beats could, and at one point should, have been stretched out. Like I previously stated, some characters aren’t completely developed, which is one of the missteps that every ensemble film does, so you really can’t hold that against the film. Even some return characters like Lucas Till’s Alex Summers/Havok, Rose Byrne’s Moira Mactaggert and Josh Helman’s William Stryker which have their moments but are put on the backburner to develop the newer characters. Not a knock on the film, and something that is completely understandable, but still a bummer.

I wouldn’t consider this a spoiler, but if you haven’t seen the last trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse, then maybe avoid this part. Wolverine does make an appearance in the film, and while it was awesome to watch him literally claw-up Stryker’s men. It did feel a little forced. I had no problem seeing Jackman in this especially knowing that this is one of his last performances as the character, but the scene felt like a way to lead into potentially Wolverine 3, and make us the audience know that Wolverine is a lot more dangerous, potentially, in this new timeline that was created thanks to Days of Future Past. It also adds a little more depth to the end-credits scene. Also, the scene pushes the boundary of PG-13 rating that could get fans excited for Wolverine 3, if they go the rumored R-rating.

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All in all, X-Men: Apocalypse is another good edition to the X-Men franchise. It’s fun, has great humor, and entertaining. Is it the best one? Well, that’s up to you, but the cast is once again solid. There are some real highlights and standout sequences, but the film does have some missteps that don’t hurt it, but are noticeable. If you’re an X-Men fan, you’ll get a kick out of the callbacks and nods.

X-Men: Apocalypse

4 out of 5