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Sunday, 5 March 2017

Review: Logan (2017)

Warning: May Contain Spoilers
Logan is the newest entry into Fox's X-Men franchise with it being the third Wolverine movie. By far this has to be the best entry in the X-Men franchise, and definitely in my top ten comic movie adaptations. When I first heard that they were adapting the Old Man Logan I was initially hesitant as Fox, (who has made the movie), only had access to the X-Men characters while Old Man Logan featured characters from across the Marvel Universe. For example, the other protagonist is Hawkeye who is owned by Marvel Entertainment/Disney. However, they managed to make a great adaptation. 

Logan and Laura
Logan is set in 2029 where mutants are on the verge of extinction. Logan (Hugh Jackman) has given up on being a superhero and is now working as a chauffeur. His regenerative ability is failing, one of his claws occasionally gets jammed, and he is suffering through adamantium poisoning (the metal which covers his skeleton). He is also taking underhand drugs for Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who is suffering from a neurodegenerative disease and keeps losing control of his telepathy. Logan and the mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant) have to act as carers for Xavier. One day Logan is contacted by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) who is looking for a young girl. Xavier has been in contact with the young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), and they have to get her from one side of the country to the other before Pierce can get her. Then we find out that Laura isn't human but instead a mutant...

The plot is extremely good. I was initially hesitant as James Mangold was one of the screenwriters, as well as being director, as he made The Wolverine whose third act went badly, and in my opinion ruined the movie. However, this did not happen. The first and third acts were high paced thrilling action, (very brutal action as well), while the second was a slower paced character building act. This worked very well making it an enjoyable film throughout, although the second act could have done with more character development. It felt very much like a Clint Eastwood or John Wayne movie, in fact the Western Shane is shown and quoted, which was Mangold's intention. He did a very good with this and captured the feel of Old Man Logan. Logan manages to blend brutal action with quite dramatic emotional parts making viewing more enjoyable. The violence was intense and the emotional scenes really wrenched at your heart. Throughout the movie you get an idea that hope has been lost, perfectly matching the tone of the comic, but there is always a glimmer of hope in the horizon. I really like the tone that they took with Logan. Mangold and the other writers did a fantastic job.

Characters and Acting
The recurring characters were done well as well as being acted well. Hugh Jackman as Logan managed to balance his character's berserker rage and the broken old man aspect. It fits very well with the movie's tone of hope being lost. Patrick Stewart as always was very good. He effectively portrayed a character who is trying to stay positive in a world that is falling around them. Contrasting with Jackman as Logan it made the two aspects of the movie come together. Surprisingly for a child actor Dafne Keen did a fantastic job. Through the writing and the acting I really felt that X-23 came to life on the screen. Outside the three protagonists the acting and characters were less memorable although that is largely because of how much screen time is given to the protagonists. Even the antagonists were done well with Richard E. Grant giving a good performance which is a change from the antagonists from the last few years in comic book movies. They weren't memorable as Magneto, for example, but I definitely felt that they weren't given the same treatment as the Marvel villains. 

Action and Effects
Logan at the end of a fight
The effects were good although at times the CGI was a bit off. When the CGI was less good it happened to occur during the action scenes but as the action was so fast paced you had to specifically look for it. These included things like arms, heads and legs being sliced off by Logan. With one exception the poorer CGI only lasted for a split second so for the most part you would be unable to spot it, but if you did it would be off-putting. However, surprisingly most of the rest of the CGI was quite well done. Although I would have preferred more practical effects (with a lower budget compared to most other comic book movies using CGI was more cost effective) at times the CGI honestly tricked me. At one point in the second act there are remote controlled HGVs which are made by CGI. I could be mistaken though as they at times could be made through practical effects. When first seeing them I originally believed that they were made of practical effects.

The action is fantastic throughout the movie and extremely brutal. It is so brutal. Deapool's violence was intense but that was nothing compared to Logan. Limbs and heads fly off, people are impaled, people are brutally stabbed with lots of blood, and bodies practically explode when Logan slashes them. Especially in the final fight scene this violence is brutal and done extremely well. I am an anime fan and my biggest criticisms of Elfen Lied and Hellsing Ultimate is that the violence and gore in those anime was too over-the-top. However, in Logan the violence was excessive but not excessive enough to detract from the movie. I hope future comic book adaptations copy this style of violence if they go down the 'R-rated' route.

X-Men Comic
Shown throughout the movie are X-Men comics. I really liked this addition as it shows that the X-Men managed to achieve some veneration among the public. As Fox doesn't have the rights to show actual Marvel comics these comics were specifically created for the movie, and they got the excellent Joe Quesada, the Chief Creative Officer at Marvel, to make them. In the mainstream Marvel universe Marvel comics exists as an actual company (where Stan Lee and Jack Kirby tried to gatecrash the Invisible Woman's and Mr Fantastic's marriage). This was a nice touch. I also liked how they sneakily referenced the Legacy virus and other subtle hints to the X-Men universe. Although I thought that X-24 could have been Daken (Wolverine's son) instead of what we got even though I did like what they did with X-24. We also see a samurai sword in reference to Logan's time in Japan in The Wolverine. Finally, the way that they explained what happened to the X-Men having a similar fate to their counterparts in Old Man Logan. However, by the trailer I assumed this was done by Wolverine like in the comic itself. Nevertheless I did like how they inferred the X-Men's fate. Also, tigers are extinct by 2029 in this world.

Logan is easily one of the best comic book movies that I have seen. It is emotional, action packed and homages Westerns. If comic book movies do go down the serious route I hope they go down this route instead of the Batman v. Superman route. If they ever plan to make a Spawn, Preacher, Nemesis or Authority movie I hope they make it like Logan. Through all the reasons mentioned above I give Logan a score of 8/10. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review.

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