Logan Review

Logan movie posterSynopsis
In 2029, mutant-kind is on the brink of extinction.  An aged Logan (Hugh Jackman) is hiding in Mexico with Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Caliban (Stephen Merchant).  When a woman finds Logan and asks for his help to transport her daughter, Laura (Dafne Keen), to a supposed mutant haven known as Eden, Logan and Charles set out for the US-Canada border while protecting Laura from Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and his band of Reavers.

Review
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in X-Men is one of those castings that was perfect.  Over the years, he has put his heart and soul into the role and has come to embody the character. It’s one of those actor/role combinations that I can’t imagine any other way.  Now, after 17 years and nine films, Jackman retracts the claws for good and hangs up the cowl, but not before giving the best performance of the character yet.

The X-Men movies have all fallen victim to having too many characters to juggle.  Some have adapted and made it work well (X-2: X-Men United), others have not (X-Men: Apocalypse). Even the other Wolverine movies have felt bloating with the amount of support characters they have tried to include.  Logan, on the other hand, keeps the focus very much on Logan, Charles, and Laura. There is a reason it is called “Logan” and not something like Wolverine 3.  The character moments are what drive the story forward.  The little interactions between Logan and Charles, who has become somewhat of a father-figure to Logan, and Logan and Laura, who in essence has become his daughter, feel intimate and authentic.  There are other characters as well but they are antagonists whose purpose is to move the story forward.

Logan is the most mature and darkest of not just any X-Man movie but superhero movies in general.  I don’t just mean “mature” with the violence but how it approaches the characters as well.  As I mentioned before, this story is all about Logan, Charles, and Laura as a bizarre, mutant family.  Most superhero movies tell a story around the characters’ superpowers. This movie, on the other hand, tell a story about characters who happen to have superpowers.  This makes it unlike any superhero that has come before.

After the success of Deadpool, Fox decided to go with an R-rating for Logan, which is something the character has been missing all these years. Wolverine has always been an aggressive, violent character and his cinematic version has always felt to me that he has been held back by the PG-13 rating.  Now, the character can really let loose.  Logan takes full advantage of the R-rating, showing even that an aged Logan is something to be feared.  This film would not have worked if it was restrained by a lower rating.  Laura is a younger, more rough-around-the-edges Wolverine, whose pure savageness needed to be unfiltered.

This film is a lot longer than it feels.  With a runtime of over two and a half hours, it just flew by.  I felt invested in the characters and the story.  It had its action moments and its character moments. It was never moving too fast nor did it ever feel like it was dragging.  There was a perfect balance between the loud action sequences and the quieter character moments.

I thought Logan was GREAT 😀 You’d be hard pressed to find someone who has come to embody a character the way Hugh Jackman has become Wolverine.  As a farewell performance for the character, Jackman gives the best performance of the character to date.  A tight familial dynamic between Logan, Charles, and Laura and intense and exciting action scenes make Logan not just good Wolverine movie but a great movie in general.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
James Mangold – Director / Story / Screenplay
Scott Frank – Screenplay
Michael Green – Screenplay
Marco Beltrami – Composer

Hugh Jackman – Logan
Patrick Stewart – Charles Xavier
Dafne Keen – Laura Keen
Boyd Holbrook – Donald Pierce
Stephen Merchant – Caliban
Elizabeth Rodriguez – Gabriela
Richard E. Grant – Dr. Zander Rice
Eriq La Salle – Will Munson
Elise Neal – Kathryn Munson
Quincy Fouse – Nate Munson

X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past movie posterSynopsis
In the future, mutant-hunting Sentinels have either hunted or captured every mutant on Earth, along with the humans who try to help them. To try to prevent this bleak future, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) use Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) powers to send Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) conscience fifty years into the past. Once there, Wolverine must convince the younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to work together to stop the Sentinels from being produced by Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).

Review
I went into X-Men: Days of Future Past with high hopes. Bryan Singer returned to the director’s chair for the first time since the amazing X2: X-Men United and one of the most beloved X-Men stories was finally getting adapted onto the silver screen. Without a doubt, Days of Future Past delivered everything that I expected and more.

First off, X-Men: Days of Future Past starts off with an explosive action scene. Many of the fan-favorite X-Men from the trilogy show up here, along with new mutants Bishop, Blink, Warpath and Sunspot. It does great to showcase how terrible things have become for the mutants and the rest of the world, as well as to display Kitty Pryde’s powers that will eventually be used to send Wolverine back to the 1970s. It’s an exhilarating opening that really got me excited for the rest of the film.

I will admit that I was a little skeptical about Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask, mainly because I haven’t seen him very much. But I was pleasantly surprised how well he did with the part. Dinklage pulls off the savvy business man, and the angry, mutant-hating doctor, and the crazy scientist with ease. The only thing I felt his performance needed was more screen time. It would have been great to see more of such a great performance.

Even though several new mutant characters were introduced, they aren’t seen very much. All the characters from the future don’t get fleshed out at all, mainly because a majority of the film’s focus is spent in the past. Quicksilver is the only new mutant introduced in the past who gets a decent amount of screen time and Evan Peters is fantastic as the character. In what is my favorite scene from the film shows Peters running around to knock out several security guards who pinned him and a few other characters in a small room. He shows off the character’s personality without him saying a word. I was hoping he would be a bigger part of the movie than he was. Peters’ performance stole the show and is probably the most underutilized of all the cast.

Time travel can be a particularly tricky plot device, especially when showing parallel events in the past and future like this movie. There comes a moment when you’re like, “Well if they went to the past and changed events, wouldn’t the future see those changes immediately?” This movie gives a somewhat decent explanation as to why the past and future events are able to happen concurrently. It’s a small point, but it kept me from becoming too hung up on the time travel element like I have with similar stories before.

One of my favorite aspects of X-Men: First Class was the character relationships, particularly between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. Unfortunately, I don’t think Days of Future Past pulled it off quite as successfully. There was a great moment between Charles and Erik during a plane flight, but other than that and maybe the final big action scene, they don’t have as many intimate moments together.

Bryan Singer returns to the X-Men universe with X-Men: Days of Future Past and does not disappoint. An exciting opening sets the stage on what to expect for the action in the rest of the film. Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask and Evan Peters as Quicksilver are two great additions to the cast but are underutilized, particularly Peters. Many of the other supporting characters didn’t have much screen time either, instead focusing on Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr and Wolverine. Days of Future Past is the most action packed X-Men movie yet, firing on all cylinders from start to finish.

Rating
4/5

Also check out my reviews for X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Bryan Singer – Director
Simon Kinberg – Screenplay / Story
Jane Goldman – Story
Mathew Vaughn – Story
John Ottman – Composer

Hugh Jackman – Logan / Wolverine
James McAvoy – Charles Xavier (Past)
Michael Fassbender – Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto (Past)
Patrick Stewart – Charles Xavier (Future)
Ian McKellen – Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto (Future)
Jennifer Lawrence – Raven / Mystique
Nicholas Hoult – Hank / Beast
Peter Dinklage – Dr. Bolivar Trask
Josh Helman – Major Bill Stryker
Halle Berry – Storm
Ellen Page – Kitty Pryde
Shawn Ashmore – Bobby / Iceman
Omar Sy – Bishop
Daniel Cudmore – Colossus
Bingbing Fan – Blink
Adan Canto – Sunspot
Booboo Stewart – Warpath
Evan Peters – Peter / Quicksilver
Lucas Till – Havok
Evan Jonigkeit – Toad
Mark Camacho – President Nixon

X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer

Synopsis: The X-Men must travel back in time to change a major historical event that could globally impact on man and mutant kind alike.

So if the mid-credits scene in The Wolverine didn’t get you excited for the next X-Men movie, then hopefully this trailer does the trick.  We get a solid look at most of the cast, including new mutants Bishop, Sunspot, Warpath, and Blink, as well as Bolivar Trask, the antagonist and creator of the mutant-hunting Sentinels.  The future mutants have much darker costumes than in the trilogy, cementing the bleakness they are trying to prevent.  Not much is shown from the First Class cast outside of young Professor X, young Magneto, Mystique, and Beast.  Maybe they are trying to save the reveal for the final trailer, but there wasn’t anything of Evan Peters as Quicksilver, who was probably the character I was most interested to see.

Needless to say, the cast is huge.  Returning from the X-Men Trilogy is Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, and Daniel Cudmore. Most of the core cast from X-Men: First Class is returning, including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Lucas Till.  New to the series is Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask, Booboo Stewart as Warpath, Omar Sy as Bishop, Bingbing Fan as Blink, Adan Canto as Sunspot, and Josh Melman as a young(er) William Stryker.  X-Men: Days of Future Past is directed by Bryan Singer (who also directed X-Men and X2) and hits theaters May 23, 2014.

The Wolverine Review

The last film of my Original Six posts is The Wolverine.  I wasn’t very impressed with it but it was a great improvement over X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  Thanks for revisiting my earliest reviews with me! I’ve had a blast going down memory lane and I hope you had some fun along the way, too. 🙂


The Wolverine movie posterSynopsis
After the events of X3: The Last Stand, Logan (Hugh Jackman), aka Wolverine, vows never to kill again and becomes a hermit. However, Yukio (Rila Fukushima) finds him and takes him to Japan to visit her dying employer, Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), a man he saved from the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Once he arrives, Yashida offers Logan an opportunity: to remove his healing factor, giving him the chance to live a normal life.

Review
Unlike many people, I didn’t think X-men Origins: Wolverine was too terrible. Could it have been better? Yes, but it wasn’t awful. I have a similar sentiment about The Wolverine. While it was definitely a step up from Wolverine’s first solo outing, there is definitely room for improvement. I think my expectations were too high, leaving me slightly disappointed leaving the theater.

The Wolverine focuses on a different aspect of Logan’s character than previous films. The film looks at who Logan is without his healing factor. This has been dealt with several times in the comics and has translated well onto the big screen.

The action is pretty intense and fun. Despite a character-driven story, there are a fair amount of action scenes spread throughout the film. My favorite scene is a fight between Wolverine and some Yakuza thugs that takes place on top of a bullet train. As you can imagine, it is cheesy at times, but at the same time it’s some good fun.

One of my qualms with The Wolverine is that it tries to incorporate several villains and in doing so, loses focus on each one. There are three: Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), better known as the Silver Samurai, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), a mutant immune to poisons, and a third, who pulls the strings and is not revealed until the final battle scene. Shingen dominates as the villain for the first two-thirds of the film, though not in his Silver Samurai persona (more on him later). And not a villain the the traditional sense like Viper was, but rather a person who butted heads with Logan. Given Viper’s history with Wolverine in the comics, I would have expected more of a presence throughout the entirety of the film, rather than just towards the end. There were also ninjas and the Yakuza added to the mix, making for a large variety of people for Wolverine to fight. This lack of focus leaves the movie devoid of a strong, central villain.

Fox’s X-men franchise has exhibited a wider variety of superpowers than Disney’s Marvel movies, who, as Joss Whedon put it, have “punch-y powers.” Sadly, that variety was severely lacking this time around. The only mutants were the titular character and Viper. In the comics, Silver Samurai was also a mutant. He could envelope his sword in an energy that made it strong enough to cut through anything, even adamantium. Instead, he was split into two individuals: who the silver samurai is, the character Shingen, and his powers, a robotic Silver Samurai made from adamantium with a sword that can cut through anything. I didn’t mind this character change because it worked for the story (and many movie adaptations take liberties with characters, so I’ve stopped worrying about it if it works), but it would have been nice to see a few more mutants showcased.

Speaking of the Silver Samurai robot, the final fight between it and Wolverine was pretty intense and awesome. However, I was left disappointed with the outcome. Wolverine left the fight with a physical change, which could have been easily changed back by the end of the film, but was not. I’m interested to see if this physical change will be fixed by the next X-Men movie or if it will still be there. If they keep this change, it will make for an interesting feel in the next film.

Ever since Iron Man, more and more movies have been including mid- and after-credits scenes to tease the next installment of the franchise. However, none have gotten me as excited as The Wolverine‘s mid-credits scene. Instead of a teaser, it pretty much sets up the next film (X-Men: Days of Future Past, which comes out next year for those of you keeping track). It is absolutely worth the few minute wait.

The Wolverine is a step-up from Wolverine’s last solo movie, but a lack of mutants and villain focus still left me wanting. However, the character study this time around was much tighter and appealing. Maybe a third solo Wolverine film will give us a Wolverine-centric story with the quality of X2: X-Men United.

Rating
3.5/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
James Mangold – Director
Mark Bomback – Screenplay
Scott Frank – Screenplay

Hugh Jackman – Logan
Tao Okamoto – Mariko
Rila Fukushima – Yukio
Hiroyuki Sanada – Shingen
Svetlana Khodchenkova – Viper
Brian Tee – Noburo
Haruhiko Ymanouchi – Yashida
Will Yun Lee – Harada
Ken Yamamura – Young Yashida
Famke Janssen – Jean Grey