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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Logan Is A Definite Must Watch!


I'm going to be straight-up and blunt: This is how the Wolverine movies should of been to begin with. Okay, well, maybe not like a Western/Super-Hero hybrid flick but in terms of raw, gritty, powerful, and ultimately moving then absolutely.

There will be SPOILERS, so if those bother you, I'd stop reading right about here.

SPOILERS BELOW!

As a fan of the comic character, there has always been a mix of awe and anguish when it came to Wolverine in the comics. One awed at his stoic attitude and primal ability to cause deadly carnage, but there has also been a deep anguish surrounding the character as well.

The mystery of who the character really is or was played out for quite a while in the comics and a sense of longing for the truth ravaged the character with some kind of tragedy that could've been true or a false memory implant. For Wolverine in the comics, the truth may have been just as horrific as any false nightmares that haunted him.

And that's just it: He is a haunted character and filled with loss underneath that hard exterior.

Logan finally captures the soul of this. For those critics who gave the film a bad review and citing only the movie's over-bloated violence, they do not know much about the character or even X-Men lore.

The overt violence or crude language isn't the core of this film. Dropping f-bombs whenever he wants or slicin' 'n dicin' whoever at will because he's such a bad ass isn't the reason Logan is finally the Wolverine movie that was meant or suppose to be.

Those things are a by product of what made the comic character's over-all story so powerful in the panels and pages of comic books and finally in this film - a strong sense of anguish that fuels his rage and story.

This movie is such an unorthodox approach from the typical super-hero movie, but in truth, it finally captures the essence of Wolverine in the right degree. In that respect, it lends itself to a different kind of power. Dazzling special effects are put on the back burner to actual characters and story.

Strong spectacle gives way to strong circumstances and the emotions that brew from them in Logan. While we have always seen Wolverine in vulnerable situations, never have we seen him as vulnerable as in this film.

Even when he was being tested and experimented on like an animal in prior films, we always had a sense that he would be okay because of his healing factor. We do not get this sense in Logan. In fact, we learn that Logan's healing factor is failing him and cannot keep up with the adamantium around his bones that are now poisoning him from within.

On top of Wolverine's predicament, we quickly learn that Professor Charles Xavier is on the fritz as well and suffers from a degenerative brain disease that brings upon lethal psychic seizures. The dynamic has been completely turned on its head in this film, and instead of exploring those who can go well above and beyond the human condition, Logan strips back spectacle and brings the genre back down to the human condition.

The characters are at such a vantage point that heavy and moving performances are absolutely required. Once again, this movie is more than just slicing and dicing but more about relationships, no matter the burden or cost.

Logan and Charles' father/son relationship is greatly heightened in this movie, complete with cantankerous and verbal jabs towards each other. However, the love is clearly there and displayed regardless of the tense frustration the pair feel towards another and life in general. 



The cast absolutely delivers strong emotional performances, and the acting is so nuanced at times yet emotionally charged and brutal in this film. In short, they're realistic performances - human in every way and unashamed to reveal it.

We watch how despair grips these characters, and how frustration bubbles underneath until it erupts into hope. Not just the twinkling and shiny kind of hope, but the eruption of hope filled with loss, frustration, and anguish. 

It's an uncompromising hope that is born from those who have known an entire life of continually being ostracized, who have felt discarded and alone but yet search for a way to rise above the hatred they are constantly beaten with. This is the essence of the X-Men comics and even the character of Wolverine, though Logan's journey is often more cynical and darkened with tragedy.

For Wolverine, these tragedies weigh down the character, and a guilt for feeling directly and indirectly responsible continually haunts him. The perfect line that sums this up is said in the movie, "I suck at this. Bad shit happens to people I care about."

I could laud over just Hugh Jackman and his amazingly strong performance. After all, it's his swan song to the character, but the truth is the entire main cast gives moving performances. Patrick Stewart gives an incredibly memorable performance, as well as Stephen Merchant as Caliban. Seriously, who would've thought...Caliban, right?




There is absolutely no doubt that Dafne Keen's X-23 is a breakout performance, yet she does not overshadow nor detract from the beauty of the other performances surrounding her. Instead, this is a great ensemble piece, and the acting so cohesive, layered and fitting together that it doesn't even seem like acting while watching Logan.

I hope the X-Men franchise do more with Dafne Keen and the character of X-23. It would absolutely be dumb if they did not, and Logan has already done the wonderful job of setting up a vantage point for the character.


The future timeline may present a problem, but we now know of a group of mutant children who were Transigen test subjects and now venturing somewhere in Canada - living, surviving and carrying on hope. There is a story there, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who wants to further explore it.

Like Wolverine, Laura is also a character that is surrounded by anguish and loss. She is the female clone of James Howlett in both the movie and the comics and was also the subject of cruel experiments to become the ultimate killing machine.

X-23 is very much like Wolverine, a character who not only has to search and discover her humanity but then fight to keep it from those who intend to constantly rob it from her. Unfortunately, she is a character who had her humanity suppressed from her creation.

Logan does utilize the comic character of Dr. Zander Rice in the film. In the comics, Dr. Zandar Rice is a baddie that is involved in the creation of Laura and conducts several cruel experiments in turning Laura into the perfect assassin.

Just some of the cruel experiments that Dr. Zander Rice performed on Laura was subjecting her to radiation poisoning in order to activate her mutant gene, coating her claws with adamantium without anesthesia, and developing a trigger scent that sends X-23 into a murderous killing rage.

That origin was told in the story "Innocence Lost" that ran through the comic series X-23 #1-6. It is the first headlining comic to star Laura Kinney as X-23 and Dr. Zander Rice debuts in issue #1.

It's apparent that the movie Logan takes more concepts from the X-23 limited series than the "Old Man Logan" story that began in Wolverine #66 and carried on through issue #72 and the Wolverine Giant-Size Old Man Logan comic. After all, Logan is very much an origin story for X-23 in the X-Men cinematic world.

Like in the movie, Laura is broken out of the facility but by her surrogate mother, Dr. Sarah Kinney, who is part of the research team that sought to create a clone of Wolverine in the comics. In the movie, she is broken out by a former Transigen nurse named Gabriela Lopez.

I am not sure if the movie ever referenced Laura's mother. In Laura's Transigen file, it notes the host as just the number of 0089-JGS.



The movie does mention or references that they used captured women to carry embryos to term and that these mutant children did have DNA templates like how Wolverine was for Laura.

In Logan, the character of Rictor used the DNA source of Dominic Petros. In the actual comics, Rictor is not a clone of anyone and Dominic Petros is none other than Avalanche.  



Rictor is actually a good guy and one of the few openly gay super-heroes in the Marvel Universe of Comics. He has been a member of The New Mutants, X-Factor, X-Terminators, and X-Force, and debuted in X-Factor #17.

Avalanche has always been a baddie in the X-Men comics and Dominic Petros is the anglicized version of his name, Dominikos Petrakis. The comics have seen Dominic Petros as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Freedom Force, and Villains for Hire to name a few since the character's debut in Uncanny X-Men #141.

Thought it was a cool little reference from panel to screen. There's also another reference in one of them Transigen files as well as shown below.



So the DNA source listed in that file is Christopher Bradley. In the comics, Christopher Bradley is has been known as both Maverick and Bolt.

Bradley was a member of the New Warriors and also Cable's Underground. I don't know the actual mutant cloned from Bradley's DNA and not sure if the movie ever reveals or references his name. However, Christopher Bradley debuted in X-Men Unlimited #8.

So I'm not sure if the identity of Laura's mother is ever revealed in the film, but I do wonder if they will ever point that host number of 0089-JGS to the comic character of Sarah Kinney in a later movie involving X-23. Sarah was coerced in carrying and eventually giving birth to X-23 by Zander Rice in the X-23 comic series as shown in issue #1.




In the end of that origin from the comics, Sarah is somehow exposed to Zander's trigger scent and Laura is sent into a frenzy that claims her life. The movie did take certain elements from the actual comics, but it focused on capturing the pain and sadness of these characters.


It is apparent that the character of Dr. Zander Rice played by RIchard E. Grant is the main antagonist in Logan. He is wonderfully played by the actor, as is the villain of Donald Pierce by actor Boyd Holbrook.

Boyd's take on Donald Pierce was quite different from the comics. Not anything to do with the actor's actual acting, but the villain wasn't really written prominently in the movie. He just sort of pops in from time to time, and he and his Reavers hardly seem to be much of a threat to X-23 in the film.




Pierce isn't connected to Dr. Rice or X-23's origin in anyway in the comic books, but the villain is a known baddie in the world of X-Men comics. Donald Pierce started out as a member of the notorious Hellfire Club and made his debut in shadow in X-Men #129. He didn't fully appear until X-Men #131 and was a high ranking White Bishop of the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle. 


While the whole deal with the Hellfire Club did not play out on the big screen with Donald Pierce, he did create and command the Reavers from panels to screen. Cyborgs like Pierce, the Reavers are a military organization funded by the Hellfire Club and first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #229.

Bonebreaker was one of the first Reavers to debut in that issue and the character was actually used in Logan and played by Daniel Bernhardt. The character of Angelo Macon was also a Reaver in Logan and played by Stephen Dunlevy.

The character is simply called Macon in the film. In the actual comics, he debuted in X-Men #133 as a Hellfire Knight before being seen as one of Donald Pierce's Reavers in Uncanny X-Men #248.

Logan is the crown jewel of the X-Men movies to date and has broke the mold for the comic movie genre. This movie is actually a game changer, a comic book movie that transcends the genre and gives all the action needed while serving up a well needed level of emotional sophistication.

The heroes in Logan are greatly flawed and consequences are actually explored in this film. No more does their extraordinary abilities relieve them from the pain of guilt that can perpetually haunt characters instead of being instantly righted by the creation of an alternate timeline.


But like all X-Men movies, Logan does not lose sight of what the X-Men comics have stood for so long, and that is the very human condition of hope even when life seems hopeless. Despite the heaviness of Logan, the universal hope for the future of the next generation is still explored but it hits harder than any X-Men film to come before.

Logan reminds just how much you really cared for these characters in the comics and how much you really still care about them on screen. This movie amps that right up. 

You greatly feel their despair as well as their hope, and it hits you right in the heart. You can't help but find yourself hoping right a long with them.  

This extremely positive review isn't because of Hugh Jackman's last performance as the beloved character on film. While I admit that I am sad this is Jackman's last outing as the mutie runt, he has given us a wonderful ride as Wolverine but Logan is really that good.

James Mangold didn't just create a comic movie masterpiece, it's just a movie masterpiece and a must watch.


2 comments:

  1. Great write up! I can't wait for the next X-23 movie!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Mayhem,

    funny! My comic shop guy just said the same to me - Logan is a must watch! That film totally went under my radar! Really sad it' s not running in cinemas any more.

    Speculation Jones

    ReplyDelete