Lucien’s Review: Observer

I find myself in a very strange position – having a game where there is nothing wrong with it in terms of appearance, gameplay, or performance, and yet I was totally and completely bored by.  This is a game that has nothing fundamentally wrong with it.  I just got so bored playing it.  How is that possible?  Maybe it’s just not the kind of game for me?  I honestly don’t know.  There could be a lot of self-reflection in my future as I think about this game and what it represents to me.  This review may end up with me just stroking my own dick as I think about why I didn’t really enjoy this game as much as the Steam community seems to, but so be it.  I do want to talk about it.

The story goes that you’re in a 1980’s style dystopian future horror movie.  Everything about the aesthetic screams old school horror films.  This game seems to have taken some cues from Alien: Isolation in that regard.  You play as Daniel Lazarski, voiced very well by Rutger Hauer.  I like the voice acting from this character.  Rutger isn’t known for being able to boom.  He plays the broken down old man very well.  He is an Observer.  They’re a new kind of law enforcement who can go into people’s minds and take information that they don’t want to give up out of their heads.  It’s a dark concept, that admittedly has a lot of potential.  Now he’s on the trail to find his son, with whom he is estranged, and gets involved in a plot of murder and deception, all inside the heads of the dead or dying.

This game has a very unique look.  I liked the retro feel of the tech in this game.  You have all these holgraphic displays, mixed in with computers that look like they were coughed up from the 80’s.  It’s cool stuff.  Seeing games willing to eschew the modern film convention of making all the technology super advanced is really refreshing.  A pity Hollywood can’t seem to do that.  The problem here is that since the game really doesn’t take a large amount of time building the world it inhabits, I didn’t find myself getting into this beyond the most basic “that’s kinda cool” sorta way.  Which is really unfortunate because there was a lot of loving detail put into the environments.

Hacking into people’s minds brought me to another game that this one clearly took a lot of cues from.  Well, not really a game so much as what could have been a game – P.T.  After the death of Silent Hills, a TON of games have been trying to take that concept and run with it.  To extremely varying degrees of success.  In my opinion, this game didn’t seem to rise to the ambitious goals Hideo Kojima was trying to do the way others appear to be.  All the intricacies of P.T.’s environmental puzzles connected to being in a single hallway are lost on this game.

Then we get the sections that it’s clear they took from a previous work, Outlast – the moving around and hiding sections from a monster that you can’t kill.  These sections got very tedious, very quickly.  It was so easy to predict where the monster would be, so all the tension that could have come from hiding from the creature was lost in a nano-second.  I found myself wishing that they could have just ditched those entirely for maybe more creative environmental puzzles in the world of people’s minds.  For all the potential the idea of jacking into people’s heads has, they really seemed to not want to take any crazy chances with it.  I can think of 100 ways to make it a surreal nightmare all off the top of my head that they didn’t even try.  I kind of want to see this idea done again by a studio that is a little more ambitious.  Maybe Kojima can take a crack at it after he is done with Death Stranding?  Just a good idea.

Which brings me to the fear element – this game isn’t scary.  At all.  They really should have ditched the fear side.  I guess the fear is supposed to come from the idea of what it means to get into people’s heads and how that is violating their minds.  But here’s the thing – 99% of everyone you jack into is dead.  This concept could have been made immediately more disturbing if you had living people who are desperately fighting you in their minds from getting to their secrets.  Like maybe have an investigation where the Observer is so desperate to get to the answer that he’ll do all sorts of crazy shit in people’s head.  As I said, this is a really neat concept, that I want to see done better.

I guess my biggest problem here is that this game feels like a ton of potential that wasn’t wasted, per se, just not taken far enough.  If they wanted to make a game where the implication of what you’re doing is supposed to be the scary thing (which I like on a VERY large level), then why not go all the way with it?  I mean REALLY fuck with the player.  Make it so that the player feels like they are partly to blame.  Have them also so eager to get to the answer that they are pushing the main character to do all these things.  Maybe some Fourth Wall moments where you put on the player that what they’re doing is wrong.  So much potential in this thought process.

This is not a bad game.  I just got very bored by it.  To me it feels like a game that is riffing off other games and doesn’t go out of its way to be its own thing.  Which is a bummer, because the kind of game I described above, I can see Rutger Hauer being an amazing addition to.  Hopefully this isn’t his last foray into video games before he passes.  He is quite old.  It will be a shame when he goes.  He’s a great actor, and has the chops for great voice acting too.  But that’s just my thoughts.  Let me know what yours are below.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Shin Godzilla

What a fascinating film I just watched.  I love me some old Godzilla movies.  The effects are so bad, but the kaiju fighting is just too much fun.  Plus, watching them dubbed adds an extra layer of cheese that cannot be compared.  I didn’t really like the new Godzilla movie that America made, partly because there was so little of the actual monsters.  A similar criticism could easily be leveled at this movie, but I won’t.  Why?  Because this film just took the most fascinating approach.  There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s get down to it.

The plot of this film is just focused exclusively around Godzilla.  No other kaiju to fight.  This movie has our titular monster as the big bad, which again sounds like it would be boring, but this movie just so odd.  It tells the story of a new Godzilla in a world where he never existed, now coming for Japan (what is his beef with that place?  What the fuck did they do to him?) and the Japanese government desperately trying to save their country from destruction.

This film is perhaps the most political movie I’ve seen in years.  It’s weird.  95% of this movie is spent with characters just talking.  There is so much talk about Japanese politics that you almost forget that you’re watching a Godzilla film for a while.  I wanna hate that, but I don’t.  Getting to see this Japanese government and some genuinely-likeable characters desperately trying to figure out what to do in the face of an international threat that is looking to take excessive measures to stop Godzilla is genuinely touching.  The head of a special department who is trying to figure out a way to stop Godzilla specifically is my favorite.  You genuinely get the feeling that he is invested in this effort to save his country.

Since the entirety of the movie revolves around the political sphere, if you hate listening to people talk about politics for almost the entirety of the 2 hour runtime of this film, you’re gonna hate it.  That’s the big and small of it.  Even when you see things happening in service to the plot of the film, they always find a way to bring it back to the the government’s efforts and how international pressure comes into play.  It’s actually kinda smart.  You genuinely feel for these people who are stuck in a world where they have red tape and public to worry about.  I like this perspective.  In the American film, it was all about a small section of military characters, none of whom were particularly interesting.  This movie has a kind of authenticity because they keep it focused on Japan and make the outside world as not evil, but disconnected.  You can take all this for what you will.

That being said, this film has a LOT of elements that are silly to the point of ridiculousness.  Since there are a lot of American characters in this movie, you get some genuinely funny Engrish.  This female character who is the American liaison to Japan is my favorite.  It’s clear that she’s a Japanese actress and English is NOT her first language.  But believe it or not, they get real American actors to play American parts.  The problem is that the writing for these actors is clearly done by somebody where English is their first language.  So the dialogue is so fucking stilted.  It’s kind great.  Oh boy.

Speaking of ridiculous things, let’s talk about the effects in this movie.  In the old films, it’s clearly someone in a suit.  This time they decided to trade in the suit for CG, and it’s…terrible.  I love it.  When you first see Godzilla in his original form, it looks so bad that I was laughing my ass off.  The eyes especially.  That was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  Maybe that’s why they worked so hard to keep the focus off him.  Because too much time with the monster and we would have been laughing our asses off.

But it isn’t devoid of cool effects.  There is one scene that just blows me away.  It’s when they finally do real damage to the monster, and he loses his cool.  What follows may not be amazing, but is done with so much finesse and really good musical cues that you feel how desperate the situation is.

One thing I do wanna point out is a track used in this film.  When I first heard it, I laughed my ass off.  It’s so clearly robbed from Evangelion.  I mean, to the point of shameless.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I know that FUNimation is at least partly licensed in the production of this film, I’d be amazed that they haven’t sued the living shit out of this studio.  It’s so obviously the track from Evangelion.  They do change it just a little bit later in the film, but it’s not enough to make me think it’s anything else.

I also wanna talk about this film’s weird habit of suddenly taking strange angle shots right the fuck out of nowhere!  I mean nowhere!  They’ll suddenly have a shot from the weirdest angle and then cut away.  Whoever was behind that decision, I want to know why.  These shots just come and go in a split-second, and serve no purpose in any scene they are in.

Overall, I’m not sure how to rate this film.  There are a TON of flaws that one could easily nit-pick to death.  But, I had fun watching it.  This is a genuinely entertaining movie, for me.  Maybe it’s because I liked these characters, and the politics they were talking about was genuinely interesting.  I don’t know.  But your mileage with this movie will vary.  So glad I watched it with subtitles.  If I had had to suffer the dub, I know I wouldn’t have been able to take ANY of it seriously.  The genuine strength of the performances comes out only in original Japanese.  This review may not make much sense to you, but this is the best I can talk about it.  Do with my review what you will.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

I’m about to get very unpopular right now.  I hated the first three Spider-Man films.  Why?  Because I hate Tobey MaGuire.  I’m sure he is a perfectly nice person, and I have seen movies with him in it that I like, such as Pleasantville.  However, I do not like him as an actor.  How he was able to carry the role in the aforementioned film is beyond me.  Maybe they got that one director in a million.  I don’t know.  Whatever the case, he was insufferable as Spider-Man.  There is the meme about the many faces of Tobey Maguire, well, that’s all I can think of when I watch those movies.  Andrew Garfield was a little better in the role.  At least in the first film he starred as.  I at least felt like he was trying to fit into the role of the character.  Still, he ended up being destroyed by studio interference.  Though, that’s what happened to the original films too.  Huh, there might be a clue about Sony and their vicegrip on this franchise in there somewhere.

But for the first time in, roughly 15 years, I actually feel like I have watched a Spider-Man movie.  It’s finally happened!  I knew it would be after I saw this actor in the role in Civil War.  Tom Holland was perfectly cast.  He looks the part.  He sounds the part.  Everything about this kid just screams Spider-Man.  I really liked this movie.  Is it perfect?  Hell no.  But as far as doing justice to this character and making a good Spider-Man film, this movie is the closest we have ever gotten, and part of me is worried that Sony is just going to fuck that up down the road.  Let’s talk about it.

The plot picks up 7 months after the events in Civil War, where Parker is back in school and trying to balance being a superhero and desperately hoping to be involved in something larger by Stark once-again.  Meanwhile, there is a villain who actually has a pretty neat motivation secretly working toward a goal, and Parker is the only one who can stop him.  It’s pretty standard superhero fare, but man is it all in the execution.

Once-again, Tom Holland rocks this role.  I feel like I am legit watching Spider-Man live up to his namesake!  The acting is great all-around.  Holland rocks the main role.  His buddy Ned is pretty fun too.  He’s funny.  He plays the sidekick role really well.  Plus, you actually believe that him and Parker are friends.  Their friendship all comes through due to the chemistry of these actors.  Next up we have Aunt May, who is featured much less than I thought in this movie.  They also gave her glasses for some odd reason.  But you actually feel her compassion for Parker.  The love interest in the film is actually a pretty nice character.  I don’t care that they changed her ethnicity.  It’s all good to me.  I liked her character.

A role that stood out to me was the villain.  Everyone knows it’s the Vulture, so I’m not spoiling anything there.  But he is a pretty neat character.  So many superhero films lately have a problem of boring antagonists.  We actually get to see where this man’s motivations come from.  Is he super deep?  No.  But it’s a hell of a lot deeper than the paper-thin villains I have seen in some of Marvel’s movies.  Plus, he is played by Michael Keaton, who totally owns the role.  He is nefarious and in it for himself, but you can see where he’s coming from.  And I like how they were able to get past the whole “we’re not so different” angle in this film in a pretty clever way.

But there is one performance that just bugs me – Mary Jane.  Do I care that they also changed her ethnicity?  No.  Not even a little.  What I do care about is the fact that they made her into the biggest garden-variety SJW ever!  She’s annoying.  She’s preachy.  I half-expected her to talk about her Tumblr page, it’s that bad.  How Peter is going to get past that and want to be with her in future films is beyond me.  This character was downright insufferable.  Is this a nitpick?  Absolutely.  It didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the film overall.  See, I can handle SJW pandering so long as it’s in a good movie.  But whoever directs this next, can we PLEASE make this character a little more likeable?

Tony Stark also comes back, and I was a little disappointed in this.  Robert Downey Jr was fine and all, but I was kind of thinking that Stark was going to go at this from the angle of him trying to become a father-figure in Peter’s life.  They framed it that way in the trailers.  There is one exceptionally-good moment where he is castigating Parker, but that’s pretty much it.

Finally, I have to talk about something which is a minor spoiler.  Spider-Man unlocks an AI program in the suit Stark left him, and she is entirely too much fun.  The scenes where her and Parker are arguing about stuff are just great.  Desperately hoping this character becomes a mainstay of the series.

The effects and action in this movie are pretty good, but since this film is really character-driven, I honestly don’t have much to say about that.  Vulture was a pretty good villain.  Seeing Spidey doing his thing is pretty awesome.

The final thoughts on this movie is that it’s loads of fun.  It’s not perfect.  It’s being held back by the fact that it has some scenes that drag and an SJW-tastic character who was grinding my gears every time her preachy ass was on screen.  But overall this was loads of fun, and it is my favorite Spider-Man film to date.  But here is where I am worrying.  Sony has said that after the last Avengers film, they are cutting ties to Disney’s Marvel.  Please don’t.  These people know what’s what!  Having their input has gotten you so much farther.  Let them stay involved.  Granted, Kevin Feige is leaving the MCU after this, which is when I plan on tuning out, so maybe it’s all for the best.  We’ll see what happens, but at least I finally got ONE good Spider-Man film that makes me believe this character is Spider-Man.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Little Nightmares

I’ve talked before about how one of my favorite Indie games is the 2D puzzle-platformer Limbo.  A game that combined creepy atmosphere with some pretty enjoyable puzzle elements and an aesthetic that was all its own.  I still enjoy that game whenever I am bored and just looking for a nice zen way to pass time.  Here we have another puzzle-platformer, not quite 2D with a creepy atmosphere and an aesthetic all its own.  And just like the other one, while it isn’t perfect, for the genre it is in, it is very good.  And creepy as fuck.  Let’s talk about it.

Beginning with a literal nightmare, you wake up as a tiny person.  What is this person?  Why are they tiny?  Where are they trying to go?  This game has absolutely zero dialogue of any kind, so you never know the answers to those questions.  I could and may one day do a Critical Examination post on what my interpretation of the world and the creatures within it represent, but that’s for another day.  Suffice it to say, nothing is as it seems in this world.  Even your tiny, adorable, defenseless character has some darkness about it that you will never truly understand.  Which can lead to some genuinely horrifying moments as your tiny person descends into whatever darkness has possessed it as well.

As with Limbo, this is a game that is less about overt fear and more about the subtle implications.  This game is creepy as fuck.  Some of the things you come across made my spine tingle.  However, this game is very good about keeping things within enough nebulous to let your imagination do the heavy lifting.  I like that.  With so many horror games relying on jump scares, it’s nice to see a game that eschews that for an experience that is totally based on the creep factor.  So the place can make the fear come to life.

Which isn’t to say that it’s all about atmosphere.  This game has some creepy-as-fuck monsters living in its world.  From the long-armed blind creature that seems to be taking tiny people for some unknown purpose, to the hog-like chefs who are eager to chop you up, and the lady herself who is running this joint, the designs of the monsters here is just fantastic.  And since you are a tiny person with no weapons of their own, all you can do is hide.  You are completely powerless in the face of what is after you.  Running and hiding.  That’s it.

Since this game is a puzzle-platformer, you may be wondering how those elements hold up.  And I gotta say, pretty well.  Since this game is 3D in many places, it makes you have to think vertically about challenges, and how certain environmental elements can be used to solve puzzles which are all about progression.  Every environmental puzzle is about getting from A to B.  But sometimes you have to back to A, then to C, then back to A and you finally have a way to get to B.  Can it be a little confusing a times? Sure.  However, one thing I really like is how the game does NOT hold your hand.  Right from the start you have to figure out the control scheme and using the lighter you have on your own.  With so many games choosing to hold players hands, this is a very nice touch.

It is worth pointing out that this game is very short.  Only a few hours long.  For the short length, it may be a little overpriced, but I think I got pretty close to my money’s worth, so I’ll let that slide.

Overall, this is a solid entry into its genre, and creepy as fuck to boot.  There really isn’t much more to say about it.  If games like Limbo appeal to you, then check this out and get ready to be unnerved.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: What Remains of Edith Finch

From the creators of The Unfinished Swan, a very depressing but poetic story comes another tale that is equal parts depressing and poetic.  There is just one major flaw holding it back.  It is nowhere near the artistic rendering that its predecessor was, but that doesn’t do too much damage to it. The problem is that doing a review of this game means that I get to go into more the artistic merits of it than the gameplay elements.  This is a game for those who like unconventional games that take your mind to very strange places.  If that isn’t your jam, trust me, best to just pass.  So now let’s put on my hipster hat and go into a game that I can already see the anti-SJW crowd calling a “walking simulator.”  A title that this game whole-heartedly does NOT deserve.

The plot goes that Edith Finch is returning back to the family home.  It’s a dark house that has as many stories as it does dead bodies in its cemetery. A tragic story of a family that Edith has returned to so she can uncover.  And along the way, she comes to some realizations about this home and what it represents.  Does the mystery come together in a fitting climax where all the disparate elements make sense and you have an emotional catharsis much like the previous work of this company?!  Well…no.  But props to how close they got.

As I said, this game is not a walking simulator.  To call it that is to be underselling how this game plays.  Sure, the story of Edith is pretty much just walking from place to place with basic environmental interactions.  However, each of the narratives that tells the story of one of the Finch family dying incorporates all kinds of gameplay dynamics.  My favorite being where you have to manipulate the sticks on the controller to do different tasks at the same time.  Can get confusing, but that fits with the narrative.  While this game lacks the novelty in the pain elements from the last game, it does at least have something going for it.

When I saw the original promo for the game SJWs fawn all over, Gone Home, this is what I thought I was going to get.  A game where you explore an abandoned home, but there is a definitive creepy edge to it.  While I wouldn’t call this a horror game, its use of atmosphere is truly fantastic.  Without a single jump scare, this game makes the house it is set in very ominous.  As you uncover all the secrets and build up the narrative, the place gets less and less inviting.  Which just makes the fact that it never really builds to anything that much more frustrating.

The best thing about this game is the first three quarters of the narrative.  Sure, the exposition can be a little much, but you learn to roll with it because you think it is building to something.  Which brings me to the thing that I need to talk about.  I will try and avoid outright spoiling the ending, but I will spoil the elements of how it comes together which may set your expectations.  If that’s something you want to avoid, go to the Final Verdict now.

Here’s my problem – the ending.  This game has some pretty great build-up.  Right as we are FINALLY getting to see where it was all building to and if it would be something more, the game just stops.  In the most anti-climactic way ever, it just stops.  I was so frustrated by that.  I mean come on!  We are finally going to know what the mysterious force surrounding this house is, and you stop?!  What the hell!?  I was actually really stoked to see just what it was that had come into contact with this family.  It is hinted that the actual stories being told in this game give the forces at work power, but since you never get to find out what it actually was, you never know!  I hate that this game has so much great narrative tension build, only for it to crash and burn.  Part of me thinks that the development of the game got a little rushed at the end, or maybe they had written themselves into a corner and decided to go with the “you never know what it was” thing, but I honestly think that works against this game.

All-in-all, this is a decent game.  As games purely for art’s sake go, it’s fine.  But I think the lackluster ending really does damage to the whole narrative, and that is a real shame.  That doesn’t make this a bad game.  Just not one that I would recommend.  Do with that what you will.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Persona 5

First things first – fuck Atlus for their stupid policies about people live-streaming this game.  It’s bullshit, and I guess they don’t like free publicity.  Nintendo should tell them how well that is working out for them.  That being said, hopefully this company’s asinine decision doesn’t ruin your drive to play this game, because this is one HELL of a JRPG.  I haven’t played a JRPG this fun in years.  With how this genre has scaled down to the point that it seems like it’s on life support, for a game this good to come out is truly a marvel.  This is my first game in the Persona series, and hot shit.  This game is nigh flawless.  There is one major thing that just eats away at me, but we’ll get there when we do.

Never has the idea that delaying a game until they get it right hold more weight than it did here.  I am so glad this game got delayed.  The polish on this final product is fantastic.  This game is incredible, and I cannot recommend it enough.  Sony really is putting their best foot forward lately.  Seems they are aware of how they are not doing so well, but they have come back swinging this year with two exclusives that are beyond the pale.  And if this is a sign of things to come, I am so stoked for the other exclusives of theirs that I am waiting for.

This game has you playing as the Phantom Thieves, a little band of high school kids (of course they are) who are going into a parallel universe to steal the hearts of people twisted by their own desires.  This game has a lot of REALLY dark themes, and not once do they shy away from it.  In fact, the way this game tackles the dark subject matter head on is actually pretty impressive.  I expected them to get kind of antsy about going this deep into the scary stuff.  But nope!  Not once do they shy away from the twisted shit that is in this game’s villains hearts.  Not to mention some of the darker implications of what you are doing to these people stealing their heart’s treasure.  The moral implications of some of what you do can get a little disturbing.

Which brings me to the acting.  A game this twisted can only be sold with great performances.  Every role in this game is fantastic.  Your character is a silent protagonist, which admittedly isn’t as fun as I would like, but I can overlook that with a superb cast of supporting characters, all of which have their own personalities and quirks that they bring to the table.  Not to mention the relationships that you build up over time and how your actions with each character can change all sorts of variables in the game.

So let’s talk about the visuals.  Oh my Groj!  This game looks amazing!  The use of color is fantastic.  The punk aesthetic that they were going for is all over this game, and bless it for that.  I love every second of the visual candy that I see.  The real world is even pretty nice, with every area having a lot of personality.  But the Palaces are where the game shines the most.  Each one is unique and has a design that will blow you away.

The thing which will make or break this game for a lot of people is the combat system.  If you don’t like turn-based strategic combat, you are going to hate this game.  It’s that simple.  Fighting in this game took me back to Final Fantasy X.  Every move is a carefully planned decision, paying attention to your enemies, your stats, and what Personas you have equipped.  Which brings me to the primary way you will be fighting.  Each of the side characters can only have one Persona, which is fine.  The idea of micro-managing an entire team of interchangeable Personas gives me a headache just thinking about.

You have a TON of customization options in this game.  Whether it be the skills you teach your Personas, the Persona crafting system which has some dark implications on its own, or the customization of your characters and the sheer amount of items there are to collect, you will never find yourself in a position where you don’t have options to play with.  The sheer amount of stuff to do in this game is incredible.  Which brings me to my one and only beef with it.

For coming so close to a perfect score and crashing on this, it is a little frustrating.  This game has a time based system, and here’s the problem with it – the game will often fight with you about it.  Instead of allowing you to make use of your time as you see fit, there are so many points where the game will fight you.  Why can’t I spend a little time at the gym and a little time at the baseball cages?  Why can’t I do a little studying and then catch a movie?  This game’s limiting factor in what you can do is so frustrating.  This is made all the worse because leveling up your personality traits is a HUGE part of this game, and you don’t get the time to really do a lot with it.  I don’t like when this game fights me, and it does that a lot.  To some this might seem nit-picky, but when I have the option to eat ramen and then chill at a bathhouse, I don’t want to have to choose between the two when I could so easily do both!  It is so frustrating at times.

This is not a game for everyone.  The pace is slow, and you will find yourself wishing you could get more side-tracked with stuff.  It doesn’t help that leveling up your personality traits is so fucking inconsistent.  If only I had more time to do the stuff necessary!  But if you love JRPGs, then you owe it to yourself to play this game.  It is a cut above its contemporaries, in every way.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Logan

It’s nice to see that Twentieth Century Fox has the balls and creative integrity to do what Disney’s Marvel isn’t capable of doing – taking risks.  And hot shit are those risks paying off!  This is not only the Wolverine film that all of us have been hoping for since the very beginning of seeing this character, but also the superhero film that so many of us have been waiting for.  And as I said, it was Twentieth Century Fox who brought it to us.  The studio didn’t seem to believe this film nor the one whose sequel was teased in the beginning would even find a fanbase, but find it they did.  Perhaps the fat cat suits in Hollywood can actually realize that making a superhero film that isn’t for kids can be profitable.  Perhaps we can get to see some of our favorite dark superheroes brought to light.  Netflix is doing a pretty good job working with this.  Their Punisher is pretty badass.  This is a fantastic movie.  Let’s talk about it.

Anyone in my audience who actually wants to see this film already has.  I realize that since my reviews are always late, I am going to start trying to find an angle to talk about which everyone else hasn’t.  So no plot recap.  It’s an adaptation of the Old Man Logan storyline, where we get to meet an equally-badass character – X-23.  A tragic tale of the death of two of the greatest mutants to ever live, along with the introduction that hopefully isn’t wasted.

The glue that holds this movie together is the performances.  Hugh Jackman definitely steals the show as an aging Logan.  His powers are starting to fail him, and his age has finally caught up with him.  A lost soldier, he’s not looking for a spot to live.  He’s looking for a place to die.  But over the course of the film he comes to realize that he has one last chance to truly feel what it’s like to be alive.  A lot of comparisons have been made between this film and the incredible game The Last of Us, and I can kind of see that.  Jackman makes a pretty good Joel of the film, equally as gruff and equally tired of being alive.  And just like Joel, he meets a companion who makes him want to live again.  Only difference is how it all ends, and the level of dark implications for both characters.  Logan gets his redemption in the end.  Joel does not, but that is part of why the narrative works.

Next up with have Patrick Stewart.  Part of me likes the dark implications with this character.  There is some backstory to what happened to him that you never fully understand.  He’s done something horrible, and just like Logan, his powers are failing him.  Two of the last mutants on Earth, both of them are equally lost.  As his mind is slowly faltering, he goes from a mutant who doesn’t care about anything, to getting to enjoy one last adventure with the only friend he has left.  Stewart plays the old man with nowhere left to go very well.  You believe the chemistry between him and Logan.  He simultaneously hates and depends on his angry companion, and the juxtaposition does not escape his notice.

Of course, the character everyone is talking about is X-23.  This girl brought the character to life incredibly well.  This could so easily have been botched, as so many child actors just suck, but this girl brought her a-game to the table and it shows.  Just like Joel and Ellie in the game that everyone says this story is ripping off, the bond that grows between these two is believable.  They do take moments to address the reality that both of them are becoming killers and there is no going back.

Something else I want to talk about is the language in this movie.  As I said, I am loving the fact that we have comic movies with the balls to go this far, but part of me can’t help but early on was just so forced.  Some of the times that they would be laying down the word fuck liberally just felt so middle school.  I like hearing Professor X swear, but don’t make me think that it was put in there just because.  Fuck is a great word, but use it when you mean it.

Another thing is the carnage.  Everyone who reviewed this movie said that it was grotesque and violent, hard-R, I was told.  It’s violent, but don’t be fooled.  This isn’t Robocop levels of grotesque.  It has blood and gore, but still plays it safe.  That being said, while they may not always embrace how vicious it can be, the kills still felt visceral.  When you have Logan tearing people apart, you actually feel like that would hurt.  This film knew that it could take risks but only to a point.  I mean, if it really stuck to how disgusting Logan’s murder sprees would be, people would call it gore porn.  The creators of the film wisely chose to make emphasis on the killing to make it feel personal.  And when you watch X-23 on top of a gut tearing him open, you can tell that that would be scary as fuck to witness.

All things considered, this was a ballsy, very intense superhero film.  The most I have seen since The Dark Knight.  It took risks that no film of its genre would dare doing, and I am so desperately hoping it won’t be the last.  Disney’s Marvel will never have the guts.  Not unless they pawn it off on some lesser Disney studio so if it sucks they can give the blame there.  That’s what they did with Princess Mononoke.  See, Disney owned the rights to Studio Ghibli films, but Miyazaki outright refused to make any cuts to the violence in his magnum opus.  The film was a huge hit in Japan and Disney wanted a piece of that pie.  So rather than fight with Miyazaki when he sent a katana to the head of Disney at the time with a note attached saying “no cuts,” they pawned it off to a studio that they owned but was far away enough from Disney to be able to distribute it without them looking bad.  A clever tactic.  And it worked.  I am hoping that some film creators come to them after Infinity War, when the MCU will be toning down and sputtering away, and wants to look at some of the more violent superheros in the library and give them a fair shake.  Take a note form how big a success this movie and Deadpool have been, Disney.  You can do this.  The reward will come in ten-fold.  Not to mention, both of the movies that have taken this approach have made the most of having a smaller budget.  The limited resources not only meant that they had to be more clever in making them, but also that they could much more easily recoup their budget.  Deadpool and Logan have been massive financial successes.  Hint-hint!

This was a phenomenal movie.  It’s sad to see Logan go, but the X-Men brand has gotten kind of stale anyway.  But please, for the love of Groj, do NOT let the next film with X-23 be some watered-down version of this character!  She’s a violent killing machine.  Respect that.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick