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

Lucien’s Review: Captain America: Civil War

Captain America Civil WarI recently got to see the film Batman v Superman.  I never did a review.  Why?  Because that film is TERRIBLE.  It’s one of the bafflingly-bad movies I have seen in a very long time.  I mean, how is it they were able to fuck that up?  How could they possibly fuck up a concept that an animated film did perfectly (The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2)?  It was a film that was so bad that I was genuinely impressed.  Zack Snyder had to try and make a movie that incomprehensibly terrible.  My favorite bit was the training montage.  How a scene that ridiculous was expected to be taken seriously is beyond me.  How did Armoured Skeptic put it?

I’m gonna drag this tire, ’cause I’m Batman!  I’m gonna hit this tire with a hammer, ’cause I’m Batman!

My score for that movie would likely have been a 4 or 5.  However, in comes along this movie.  A movie that so many people have been stoked for, and not only did it deliver, but it did so in a way that only a movie done by these two directors could have.  I am in love with this movie, and now I mean to talk about it.

The plot goes that after a botched mission where Cap and the rest of the Avengers end up blowing up a good deal of innocent people, the UN decides that they have let them go about their business without oversight for long enough.  A piece of legislation is drafted that splits the Avengers in two.  This wouldn’t be so bad, except things go from bad to worse when there is an attack on the signing ceremony.  Implicated in the attack is the Captain’s old friend, Bucky.  As the plot thickens, friends are pitted against friends, and a newcomer with a Jones for vengeance is out for Bucky’s blood.  Who’s right?  Well, just like the last film these two directed, the answers aren’t especially clear.

I did a review where I talked about how much I loved Winter Soldier.  Not only did it take some hard looks at the concept of a superhero, but it also had a very bittersweet tone where you don’t know if the good guys truly won or not by the end.  I loved that.  I’m getting SO tired of these by-the-numbers superhero films.  There are a fuck-ton of them, and each is more uninspired than the last.  But the other thing I loved about that movie was the action.  Not only was it slick.  Not only was it well-choreographed, but it was so visceral!  It felt like there were people actually getting hurt.  These two are back, and it is every bit as perfect as I could have asked for.  To date, this is my favorite superhero film.  It has everything I have wanted and more.

What things truly stood out?  I could talk about how good all the elements of this film were, but the reality is that that would get a bit redundant.  I will say that this is the best film for the kind of film it can be.  So while it may seem cheap, I can’t give this film a perfect score.  It is still a superhero movie, and that comes with all the hangups that this genre has.  With that being said, certain things about this movie were just awesome.

First is Black Panther.  When I first saw this character, I was entranced.  This guy is nine kinds of cool!  The fight sequences with him were just amazing.  This guy and how badass he is genuinely stole a lot of the show, for me.  What’s more, he is an interesting character.  They make him a very unique guy, with his need for revenge and his pain being at the forefront.  Hell, even when he isn’t in costume, this dude is eight kinds of cool.  But here’s something I want to talk about, and this won’t be particularly well-received – how is this guy going to star in his own movie?  I mean, what is there for him to overcome?  He’s a badass warrior and a king of a nation.  It’s kind of hard to see where his character can go from there.  I will give his upcoming film (or did they cancel that?  I could have swore I heard something about that.  Let me know in the Comments) a fair shake, but I am a little skeptical of where his character can go from the top of the mountain.

Next up is the ultimate fight between the various heroes.  I cannot tell you how nice it is to have a superhero film where the climax isn’t just a fight against waves of nameless thugs.  Now it’s a battle of ideals, with both sides having good points and being unable to come together.  However, the big showdown is nine kinds of cool.  I am so glad that we had the Russo brothers directing this.  Only they could have made it so that every part of the fight look like it was part of a larger tapestry of battle.  The pacing of that battle was perfect.  It kept building and building, then comes crashing down in a perfect wave of tension-busting.  It’s a genuinely emotional scene, where you have Tony Stark getting genuinely angry and looking hurt.

One thing I have to say is that the way each character is addressed and their motivations looked at is so nice.  For a cast this large, this film could have glossed over a lot and felt half-done.  But they didn’t.  This is a LONG superhero movie, and all the better.  It gives us time to really get to know everybody and why they believe the way they do.  It makes choosing whose side you’re on that much harder.  Both sides have legit points.

But the thing I love most is how the film comes together.  Just like the last film, it’s bittersweet.  There is the final battle, which I won’t spoil for the people who haven’t seen it.  Let’s just say that I did NOT see that coming, and it blew me away.  Not only was the emotional energy peaked, but it kept building and building, to the point that when it all comes crashing down, you feel like you are coming down with it.

All in all, as I said, this is the best superhero film I have seen, to date.  I have wanted a movie like this for so long.  After all the boredom of superhero films, this year is really shining.  I honestly can’t wait to see what’s next.  For those who haven’t seen it, do.  I guarantee you, it is worth every minute.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONU: How to Make Spider-Man Movies (Going Forward)

It seems that Disney’s Marvel has finally gotten the rights to the Spider-Man character.  I can already tell that this means that they will be making their own films based on this character.  But there is something that’s been rattling around my head for a while – how do they do this?  We’ve seen the origin story for this character.  Twice.  It’s beyond old-hat by now.  We know it, and it’s not that interesting.  So what should they do with a new series of films about this character?  I think I’ve got a solution.  Follow me on this.

First – don’t make another reboot of this film series.  I don’t mean to continue the continuity they already have.  That got bad pretty quick.  Make a new version of this character, but instead of rehashing what we already know, let’s just not talk about that.  Instead, I think that they should take a cue from one of the greatest things ever made – Batman: The Animated Series.  That show was almost perfect.  In every way, it was fantastic.  But you’ll notice something about the series – they don’t start at the beginning of the character.  Why?  Simple – we already know his origin story.  We know where Batman came from and how he got where he is.  Instead, they started not too far into his being a hero.  That’s brilliant!  The history of the character is shown in flash-backs and dialogue between characters.  So they are able to do what should be done – focus on the growth of the character as a hero.

This is what they should do with future Spider-Man films.  We should just keep going with the character.  Have films where we get to know him as a hero.  It also opens up us being able to know him as a character.  By making films that are set outside of the dumb continuity of this character, we can side-step a lot of the boredom associated with that story.  All the time can be spent getting to know Parker, his personal struggles, and even our villains.  Let’s take some time to get to know who these villains are and why they do what they do.  Give some real time for development.  It will make the fact that these are superhero films that much less boring.

I’m getting tired of the typical superhero formula.  It’s so often the same.  You have a hero coming in, fighting the bad guy and saving the day.  My favorite superhero films are ones that buck this trend, in some way or another.  Like how the new Captain America film has the heroes fighting each other.  That’s awesome!  In fact, just as a side-note, let’s get Daredevil from Netflix’s series in some of the new Spider-Man stuff.  Like maybe have those two fighting.  It’s an awesome character and an awesome series, and both of them are in New York anyway.  So let’s get them some screen time together!  The potential for this character and these films is all over the place.

Oh, while we’re at it – can we PLEASE get a film that has Black Cat in it?  The romance between those two was one of my favorite things about the REALLY poorly-animated cartoon Spider-Man series in the 90’s.  We have a chance for a clean slate with this character.  Let’s not fuck it up.  I like that the new Spider-Man is a lot younger.  This gives us plenty of chances to make him grow over time.  Let’s do this!

Who agrees with me?  Let me know down in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“You know, if you’re gonna steal cars, don’t dress like a car thief.”  – Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man

Peace out,

Maverick