film

Review: Logan or “Old Man learns new Snikt”

Finally, after 17 years we’re getting a ‘rated R’ Wolverine movie. However, the real question we should be asking ourselves is; is it any good? Rest assured comic fans, and western fans for that matter, because this Wolverine solo flick is leagues ahead of the notoriously awful “X-men Origins”, but it’s not necessarily perfect.

The year is 2029, and the mutants have all but disappeared.”Logan” begins with a ragged and hungover Wolverine waking to a bunch of thieves trying to steal parts from the limo he drives for petty cash. This bloody scene brilliantly sets the stage for the rest of the story that is about to unfold. This Wolverine is tired, he heals slower, he drinks away his days making ends meet while he hides an increasingly sick and potentially dangerous Professor X south of the border in Mexico. Eventually they become entangled with a new young mutant, Laura. Perhaps better known as X-23, young Laura is a feral and mostly mute ball of fury from the moment she enters the screen. Thankfully she develops beyond this stage later in the film. Such is the state of old man Logan’s life when the picture begins.

There is some superb acting in Hugh Jackman’s performance. He feels more human and yet more calloused as he tries to keep everything from falling apart. His claws don’t always fully protrude, having to pull them into place at times, he limps after skirmishes, he is flawed here. There is a great sadness in Logan’s eyes and it is palpable. Professor Xavier on the other hand isn’t faring much better, in fact he is definitely in a worse condition. His seizures cause quite the chaos and he seems to go in and out of fully realizing his surroundings. They both live and strive together with Caliban, an albino mutant that can sense other mutants, he helps to keep the professor medicated while Logan finds and funds the aging Xavier’s medication.

From a filmmaking perspective, there is an ubiquitous western influence throughout the film. They even go so far as to point this out by having the characters watch “Shane”, the hugely influential 1953 western. “Logan” borrows and pays homage to this through it’s cinematography, emphasizing scale and embracing the ominous landscape backgrounds of “the old west”. The score itself was adequate, but it never felt bombastic or powerful. It was happy to match the movement and run parallel to the story, but it was never noticeable or standout. The incredible action sequences are well choreographed and nothing ever feels too ridiculous. It doesn’t feel like the characters are swinging from wires like in “X-men Origins”, however there is one scene where Logan is a bit exaggerated in his leaping ability, but it was an emotionally charged sequence so I’ll let it slide.

The film attempts to balance the somber and melancholy aspects of its characters and setting by counteracting it with a gratuitous helping of extra bloody violence. For me, personally, it was a joy to see Wolverine hack and saw through bad guys like a child attacks a birthday cake, but just as with cake, eventually it can be a bit too much. I feel this is what threw the film off for me at times. An excessive amount of gusto for the R rating they finally achieved is admirable, but sometimes it clashes with character. For example, having Professor X drop a F-bomb once or twice would set the tone and be incredibly funny or deadly serious depending on the scene, but having him do so as much as he did in the film felt over-excessive, it didn’t feel in tune with his character. The reveal of X-24 speaks directly to this issue. That whole “character” and how he was utilized was a disappointment in my eyes. I understand the obvious thematic ideas behind it, but there wasn’t enough done to differentiate it/him, or to make it any more useful than say “something to fight Logan”. I can only speak for myself, but sometimes the film went a little overboard. Hey, a few claws directly in the face of several bad guys-that’s cool and shocking, but over fifty incredibly gory stabs directly into people’s faces and heads.. it can get away from itself at times.

In the end this is the best Wolverine solo movie out of the three we got and it will likely be remembered for how well executed it was. X-23, or Laura, was an excellent addition to the film and it will be interesting to see if anything is ever done with the character again. If you’ve been hankering for a bloody western starring Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, you’re in luck, this one’s worth the price of admission.

Final Score: Six razor sharp SNIKTS!

 

film

Movie-Pitch Mondays! Remake of “The Magnificent Seven”

Starting this week my goal is to keep pace with more weekly postings, Movie Pitch Mondays is that first step. This is where I imagine how I would approach the casting, the direction of plot, and crew that inhabit the production of this theoretical film. Description and vision of each film can vary from piece to piece.

For my first pitch I would love to see a remake of the old western classic “The Magnificent Seven”. Which itself was an Old-West style remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese-language film “Seven Samurai”. I know there’s a current remake of this property under way right now, set to be directed by Antoine Fuqua with Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, & Vincent D’Onofrio among others signed to star. This is simply how I would arrange the property.

The Cast, with character descriptions:

Tom Hanks as the Sheriff with a heart of gold and wit of steel.

Aaron Paul as the Deputy, loyal and proud yet a shadowy past.

James McAvoy as the angry Scottish indentured Railroad worker.

Simon Pegg as the Neurotic Englishman that translates for McAvoy’s character, inventive.

Michael Pena as a wanted bank robber from south of the border seeking asylum.

Vin Diesel as the tough Miner that’s had enough and demands a call to action.

Robert Downey Jr. as the devilishly charming Southern Gentleman, in from the East.

Patrick Stewart as The face of bureaucratic, crushing, power. Joyless.

Tim Roth as Business partner to Stewart’s character, The Good Cop to Stewart’s bad.

The Crew:

Director: JJ Abrams

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie

I chose JJ for this piece not only because I personally want to see what he could do in this most classic of sandboxes, but also because I believe he would handle that territory of filmmaking well. I would trust his handling of the genre. After “Star Trek”, and now “Wars” a western will almost be akin to retiring if we’re scaling for box office numbers anyways. JJ has a unique visual style, and I’m assuming his cinematographers would come along with him on subsequent projects. He can handle a piece such as this, a big ensemble cast that has many moving parts while maintaining just the right slow burn pace that is representative of the genre as a whole, but respectful of its varied and long history. What I think JJ brings to this potential film that is most needed is his sense of “Magic” that he has somehow acquired, that almost unfathomable subtle touch of magic that makes the film feel impervious to negativity. If that makes any sense. He’s very Spielbergian in that way, which is why I also chose to add in Tom Hanks as the emotional anchor of the piece.

Christopher McQuarrie has a history of delivering knock out screenplays, and just wrote and directed the latest “Mission Impossible” installment, “Rogue Nation”. With “The Usual Suspects” in particular, and “Edge of Tomorrow” in a lesser way, McQuarrie has proven himself capable of multifaceted and complex screenplays. Though this film won’t be a mind blowing reveal like the ending of “The Usual Suspects” it will have multiple things going on all at once and I believe his style would only compliment it.

I see the plot essentially maintaining the general idea that a group of gunslingers ban together to save a small Mexican town overrun by bandits. However in my revision we would place the setting in America and the Sheriff is the initial push in banding together forces both local and afar to save the town from a crushing pair of British businessman that bought their way into the Oil business and need a railway to run their product through the town for high speed purposes. From there the film almost writes itself to be honest. First the threat is established by the foreign businessmen, then when they are turned down a terrible act of violence is carried out. Perhaps the child of Vin Diesel’s character? Dark, but a high character motivator. You’d have your traditional recruitment scenes wherein Hanks rounds up anyone who isn’t too scared of the threat aka Vin Diesel. Next up, the people that have great needs for which they will join up if reimbursed/helped, a la Pena, Pegg, and McAvoy. Lastly, the wild card, or Robert Downey Jr’s character, the charismatic big talker blown in from the east who is really a washed up legend and feels obliged to take up the cause.Lest the townspeople neglect him or worse, find out his true tale and exile him.

This could be a really fun throwback to Western and Samurai tales. I may have wandered too far from the original concept, but every remake has to have its own skin, it’s own purpose, otherwise why do it at all? Obviously the third Act has to have large numbers of muscle/militia bought by the businessmen that end up carrying out an onslaught on the town and its people. Maybe even have Aaron Paul’s young and nimble deputy fall in battle as in the initial Western remake? Like I said there’s a lot you could do with this, I love the idea of it and while this will look almost nothing like the actual remake that is being made right now, I can dream, and you should too! That’s my Movie Pitch for this week!