Logan

Logan is a 2017 American action drama film with superhero elements written and directed by James Mangold. Logan is the tenth film in the X-Men film franchise and the eighth and final appearance of Hugh Jackman in the role that made him famous, James “Logan” Howlett, also known as Wolverine. The film also sees Patrick Stewart returning (also in his final appearance) as Professor X/Charles Xavier. Both these men had originated these roles seventeen years earlier with the original 2000 smash hit X-Men, which, along with Spider-Man, is credited as the major catalyst for the resurgence of mainstream superhero films into popular culture. Logan is more than another entry into the franchise, it is a swan song for two of the most integral people, two people undeniably responsible for the franchise’s initial success.

Logan, partially based off of the 2008 comic book storyline of the same name, takes place in the year 2029. There has not been another mutant born naturally for 20 years at this point. Following the disillusion of the X-Men, Logan has been living off-the-grid on the U.S.-Mexico Border taking care of a dangerously ill, ninety-year-old Charles, who is now prone to uncontrollable seizures. Xavier, who possesses the most powerful telepathic mind of any mutant ever discovered, is also experiencing fits of Alzheimer’s and periods of delusion. His seizures are very dangerous and have the potential to harm everyone in the vicinity if not dealt with. Logan is working as a chauffeur to make ends meet, making drug deals to acquire the medication necessary to subdue Xavier’s episodes, with help from another mutant, the albino tracker Caliban.

Logan himself is also dying. His regeneration factor no longer works and his adamantium-fused skeleton causes him constant pain and is slowly killing him. He is hard-drinking, cynical, and nihilistic. His devotion to his former mentor is the only thing keeping him from suicide with a specialized adamantium bullet.He is approached by a young mother, desperate to get her and her young daughter to North Dakota, with promises of enough money so Logan and Charles can buy a boat and escape to the high seas. An offer too good for Logan to refuse, he is drawn into a saga of violence, death, despair, and rediscovery.

You will notice that I avoided terming Logan a superhero film; that’s because it isn’t. It is a dark, mature character study of a man, a deeply-flawed, 150-year-old man who used to be a superhero. James Howlett was born in the later 1880’s, yet is ageless because of the degenerative healing factor provided by his mutation. He has been a veteran of all major wars since his birth in one way or another, before becoming Weapon X and eventually finding redemption for his sins with Charles and the X-Men. He has seen things, done things that he cannot take back. He cannot live with all the people he has killed. Logan is an analysis of a man with a century and change worth of self-hatred, rage, and anger.

Logan might be the best film in the entire franchise, challenged only by Days of Future Past and technically Deadpool. Like any good film, it knows there has to be substance to a story to be good. Logan is a film of substance. The action is not flashy, nor heroic. This is not a heroic film. It is a deep dive into the darkness of the soul, by way of a great script and great directing by director of the very disappointing standalone film The Wolverine back in 2013. I was pleasantly surprised, as it seems Mangold has discovered there are a lot of people who emotionally invest in these characters, and the action, though important, often should take a backseat to emotional connection, something Logan does very, very well.

Logan is the second film to be rated R after Deadpool. This was a very smart move, as, in addition to the blood, dismemberment, and swearing, which is honestly necessary to parallel the emotional brutality of the narrative, it also allows for the exploration of highly mature themes, like loss, death, consequence, and hope in the face of adversity. Logan is a film that pulls no punches in any sense, whether physical or emotional. It is a brutal, almost saddening journey to watch, and it is a better film because of that.

All of this is amplified by truly amazing performances by Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. I feel I cannot describe exactly how great these two were, so I will just say this: they friggin’ nail it! This is a return to form that shows the viewer exactly why these actors were skyrocketed into the spotlight for their portrayals of these legendary characters, later becoming respected actors in their own rights. The characters themselves have remained and will remain long-lasting mainstays of popular culture. Young newcomer Dafne Keen is also great. The Spanish-English 12-year-old proves that being a kid is not an excuse for being a horrible actor, because she hits it out of the park.

Ultimately, I think the people behind Logan finally understand what these characters mean to people. Comic books like X-Men (which began in the 1970’s) were initially marketed to children. Those children formed an attachment to these characters. They felt for them emotionally, they were invested. Then, those kids grew up. Superheroes are no longer just for kids, as anyone who’s seen the enjoyment that Iron Man or Civil War can give to an adult audience knows. The people behind Logan knew how to give fans exactly what they wanted.

Logan is a great film. It is a great addition to the franchise that almost makes up for the failures of the previous entry, while also being a great film by itself. As Logan does not rely heavily on the X-Men or other connections except for, obviously, the characters featured in the film itself, I do not think a newcomer would be hopelessly confused. Logan isn’t a superhero film, it’s about a really emotionally messed up dude who used to be a superhero, is a century and a half old, has metal claws, and can regenerate from injuries. It’s not a superhero movie, and to that effect, I would challenge you to go see it even if you are not a big fan of superheroes. It features solid performances from everyone, and is full of emotion, drama, and some brutal action to boot. It was, in summary, a fitting goodbye to Jackman and Stewart’s most famous and well-known roles that everyone is sure to appreciate on some level.

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Atomic Blonde: Red Band Trailer

Atomic Blonde is an upcoming spy thriller action film directed by David Leitch, John Wick co-creator and future director of the Deadpool sequel. The film is based upon the 2013 graphic novel The Coldest City by Anthony Johnston and will feature a script by Kurt Johnstad. The film will star Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, and John Goodman.

Atomic Blonde, as well as its original source material, tells the story of Lorraine Broughton, an MI-6 agent sent to Berlin to investigate the death of an undercover agent and retrieve a list of every Western officer working in Berlin, which is in possession of a Stasi agent that the undercover man was able to flip, codenamed Spyglass. Set in 1989, the story is set in the backdrop of the extremely volatile and dangerous period  leading up to the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall on November 9th. Lorraine is forced to partner up with Berlin Section head David Percival, and the two forge an uneasy alliance with each other.

As John Wick remains possibly my favorite film of the straight-up action thriller genre, I was immediately interested in what its creators, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, were planning next. Stahelski went on as the sole director of the equally brilliant John Wick: Chapter 2, as Leitch was busy with this new project. As he has been attached to direct this film since early 2015, I immediately purchased and read through the source material as I knew I was automatically going to see this film, as, at the time of writing this, I am automatically interested in anything either of the two men create. The graphic novel presents an old-school le Carré-esque story with much more focus on tradecraft and double agents. That type of story is very much a niche and is not for everyone, as tradecraft and mystery-driven spy thrillers are often deliberately slow moving and cerebral, which is a turn-0ff for mainstream audiences. So when it comes into converting The Coldest City into the action-focused Atomic Blonde….

I have absolutely no objections whatsoever. The trailer starts with a sampling of what I assume will be a breathtaking long take action sequence. I have often described what a long take is in other reviews; it is a portion of the film that is shot continuously, meaning no fancy camera tricks and no breaks. Normally for fight sequences, it’s “kung fu move, cut, kung fu move, cut, kung fu move, cut.” With a long take, there are no breaks. For further examples of long takes, see both seasons of  Daredevil and the first season of True Detective. I am overjoyed that both these two men know to cast people who can actually pull off action sequences like this themselves without a stunt double. Keanu Reeves is apparently immortal, and Charlize Theron has proved her action chops in Mad Max: Fury Road. The sequence in question, though it certainly stole the show in this trailer, is not the only thing of note here. There are several glimpses here of sequences that are sure to give the film’s spiritual predecessor a run for it’s money.

All of this focus on action is not to discount the fact that Charlize Theron is an Academy-Award winner and a truly talented actress in her own right, on top of being physically fit enough to pull off a film like this, and James McAvoy, though overshadowed by X-Men co-star Michael Fassbender, is a very talented actor, whom I hazard will have some awesome highlights of his own throughout the film. On top of that, the wonderfully skeevy Toby Jones is here, being wonderfully skeevy. With such plot-heavy source material to work with, even though they are certainly not following the graphic novel to the letter, there’s more than enough to create an engaging plot; if you can make one of the most engaging action films in the past few decades using a dog and a car, a good story with the material here should not be hard at all.

Atomic Blonde might sound like a cheap California-produced porno, but make no mistake; this neo-noir spy film, directed by the guy who created one of my favorite films of all time, starring a very beautiful, award-winning, and talented actress and a woefully underrated and talented Scotsman, is officially my most anticipated film of the summer. Atomic Blonde is set to be released on July 28th, 2017.

Logan: Official Trailer #1

Logan is an upcoming 2016 American superhero film directed by James Mangold. It is the tenth installment in the X-Men film franchise, and is the final installment set to feature Hugh Jackman as James Howlett/Wolverine/Logan. It is loosely based upon the famous comic book storyline Old Man Logan by Mark Millar. The film also stars Patrick Stewart, returning as Professor X, as well as Narcos star Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce, Dafne Keen as X-23, Stephen Merchant as Caliban. Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, and Elizabeth Rodriguez have been cast in unspecified roles.

The X-Men franchise has had an extremely turbulent history. Rocketing onto the screen in 2001 with director Bryan Singer, the original X-Men film and it’s sequel X2 are credited along with Spider-Man for legitimizing, revitalizing, and revolutionizing the superhero genre. Everything after X2 has been hit-or-miss, however. The Last Stand, directed by Brett Ratner, is somewhat of a gold standard for bad modern superhero movies, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine is legendary for all the wrong reasons. Future Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn was able to put the series back on track with the excellent X-Men: First Class, which among other things, introduced the brilliant actors James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender to mainstream audiences, playing young Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, respectively. James Mangold was then brought on to direct The Wolverine, an unimpressive, uninspired Wolverine film that, while not terrible, left much to be desired. It was extremely bland and rather tame.

Bryan Singer’s return with 2014’s Days Of Future Past was, in my opinion, the best X-Men film to date. It was a perfect representation of everything the X-Men should be. Created in the early 1960’s at the hight of the Civil Rights Movement, the X-Men were used to tackle complicated social issues and, frankly, be freaking awesome at the same time. DoFP was a perfect representation of that. Fans of the franchise were overjoyed that the X-Men were good again. Followed up by the hilarious comedy Deadpoolthings continued to look good for the franchise. Sadly, 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse was nothing short of a bland, boring, confusing mess. Many are confused by the franchise’s innate lack of consistency, especially considering making a good superhero film after one of the most iconic and influential superhero teams in history should be relatively easy. This has led many to wonder if the franchise should not just simply be put to rest.

I hope you will forgive my franchise history lesson, I just wish to explain in full why I am extremely apprehensive concerning Logan. I am curious and confused as to why Fox once again gave this movie to James Mangold, considering how blah The Wolverine was. I am concerned that the franchise will, for whatever reason, never be able to find stable footing. Though it is a rather impressive trailer, and I think the use of Johnny Cash’s Hurt is a great way to portray this film as being more emotional than most superhero films, I am worried and skeptical. As with everything involving this franchise, Logan is very much a potential hit or miss ordeal. Boasting an undeniably intriguing and impressive trailer with intriguing aspects and awesome visuals, the film nevertheless has a questionable director behind the camera; part of a franchise that has been rather questionable for the last decade or so. I am neither against this movie, nor am I even close to sold. All I can hope for is a good send-off for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Please… Maybe Logan will be another good movie in the franchise, I don’t know. We’ll see.