A Look Back At Logan

What a journey it has been! When I first saw then newcomer Hugh Jackman play Wolverine in the first X-Men movie back in 2000, I was not that impressed. In X2: X-Men United, Jackman outdid himself and established Wolverine as a very defining action hero for 21st century Hollywood cinema that moviegoers can keep coming back for more.

Then Jackman played Wolverine (referred to as Logan) several more times in the X-Men movies plus the standalone Wolverine movies. His most defining performance as the cinematic icon happened in 2017 with the release of Logan directed by James Mangold.

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Hugh Jackman delivered his best superhero movie performance in Logan.

Set in what is the near future, Logan takes place in a time (note: the X-Men cinematic universe timeline was revised as a result of X-Men: Days of Future Past) when mutants are dying off as a human species. Wolverine/Logan works as a limousine driver and lives at a smelting plant in Mexico with Cabal and a very old Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who has dementia and has been unstable with his telepathic powers which make him a danger.

The future is bleak for them. Logan is very old and his healing factor has weakened a whole lot and the adamantium coating of his skeleton has poisoned him. Xavier meanwhile needs be provided with medication to prevent him from having a seizure which, combined with his telepathic powers, affects all others around them negatively. It has also been confirmed that an incident was caused by Xavier’s seizure which killed off several X-Men members leaving them three. Logan has to work and earn as much money as he could to keep providing the medication.

One day, a lady approaches Logan to try to hire him to drive her and a young girl named Laura (X-23 in the comics, played by Dafne Keene) to a refuge in North Dakota to escape from danger. Logan accepts reluctantly but discovers that the lady got killed. He returned to the smelting plant and learned that Laura stowed away by discreetly riding his limo. Eventually mercenaries led by Donald Pierce (who met Logan early in the film) arrive at the smelting plant. From this point, Logan realizes why the lady and Laura are targets and then mayhem begins when the little girl fights the mercenaries.

When it comes to storytelling, Logan emphasizes the violent and bitter journey of Wolverine who, at a very late stage in his life, has to accept the reality that he has to make another hard adjustment as a key element from his past comes into his life which is Laura who is actually a clone of him produced from an extracted sample of his DNA. The movie has some parallels with the 1950s cowboy movie Shane (which has some scenes in the film) which added depth to the story.

Logan also emphasizes the element of aging which has not been fully explored in the superhero movie genre until now. Wolverine lived lonely, had no people to love and his personal journey has been marked with violence and death. He could only move forward with whatever opportunities he could find but no matter what he does, happiness will always be unreachable to him. For Charles Xavier, age really tore him down and being almost 100-years-old in the story, he really has nowhere else to go to but death. Not even his legacy of brilliance and teaching mutants to use their powers for good could make any profound changes.

The long journey of Logan, Xavier and Laura in the film is where the character developments really set in. Along the way, there is a scene in which Logan, holding X-Men comic books (made specifically for the story), expressed his displeasure about how people perceive the X-Men and that the pharmaceutical company fed their young cloned mutants with fantasy and lies. Also striking to me as a viewer and a geek were the scenes showing how unethical the company has been with developing the young mutants (X-23’s pals) who decide to fight to escape.

In terms of presentation, Logan was rated R and for good reasons. It was rated R not simply because of very brutal violence and swearing but because its concepts are clearly meant for adults to see. If you combine the concepts of unethical science experiments, mercenary brutality, human rights violations and unchecked destruction, clearly Logan is NOT the superhero movie made for parents and their little kids to watch together. When it comes to action and spectacle, this movie has more than enough stuff to keep viewers entertaining while at the same time it has this particular 1980s R-rated Hollywood action film feel to it.

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Dafne Keene as X-23/Laura. Her great act will be remembered for a very long time.

Performances of the actors were top-notch, specifically Jackman, Stewart and Dafne Keene. Hugh Jackman as a superhero cinematic artist truly evolved! If you disregard the timeline alteration of the X-Men films, you will realize how Jackman’s Wolverine gradually changed in terms of style and expression. In 2000’s X-Men, Wolverine was trying to figure out his place among the mutants as Charles Xavier helped him. In X2, he decided to be with the X-Men and help them out in their situation. In X-Men: The Last Stand, he has to deal with helping the X-Men tackle Magneto who has Dark Phoenix/Jean Grey (the lady Logan has feelings for). In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he struggles morally and dealt with his relationship with his “brother” Sabretooth. In The Wolverine, he moves away from the X-Men and got himself involved with a conflict (plus an old friend) in Japan. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Wolverine of the dark future goes back through time to his younger self with the pressure to alter history.

Patrick Stewart’s dying Xavier in Logan shows a new dimension to the cinematic art of the actor. He really makes Xavier look hopeless and yet he successfully made viewers more sympathetic to his character than ever before. Last but not least, Dafne Keene as Laura/X-23 proved how talented she really is when it comes to dramatic scenes. Even though she got yelled at by Hugh Jackman, Keene still moved on with her strong performance. Definitely her performance is something to be remembered for a very long time in cinema.

Conclusion

I have seen a whole lot of superhero movies in my life. Just over a week ago I managed to watch Avengers: Endgame and it was a true epic like Infinity War. Even by today’s standards, Logan is a standout superhero movie that delivers spectacle, action, solid performances, some humor and the distinct vibe of 1980s R-rated Hollywood action cinema combined. In fact, I should say that Logan is a modern day classic among all superhero movies.

As such, Logan is highly recommended and I urge you readers to watch it on Blu-ray disc format to get the best visual and R-rated viewing experience.


Thank you for reading. If you find this game review engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

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My Observations: X-Men: Dark Phoenix Final Movie Trailer

20th Century Fox just released what is supposed to be the final movie trailer promoting Dark Phoenix (or X-Men: Dark Phoenix in other countries) to the best they could leading to the June 2019 global opening in cinemas.

Watch the trailer here now.

To describe quickly, it is a rehash about how the story will turn out. Somewhat based on the classic comic book storyline by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the trailer shows the X-Men going to space and then something cosmic happens that affects Jean Grey.

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For the first time in cinema, the X-Men go to outer space.

Of course there are clips again of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) approached by a mysterious lady (Jessica Chastain) which clearly connects to further footage showing the former with cosmic powers as Dark Phoenix.

If there is anything new shown, it is the short but very sweet moment of Professor X/Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) communicating with people using Cerebro. That is a very common aspect from the X-Men comic books that remains heavily underutilized in the movies!

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James McAvoy as Charles Xavier using Cerebro for communication.

There is also added footage of Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) showing great concern for Jean Grey which resonates with me as I read the comic books. It looks like Tye Sheridan has the talent, and perhaps enough good material from the script, to bring Cyclops to life on the big screen.

The way 20th Century Fox marketed this movie gave moviegoers and fans what seems to be the core elements of the story. I am just hoping that behind the scenes, the filmmakers have prepared a big surprise or some sort of major twist kept secret from the marketing. I also hope that Simon Kinberg outdid himself as a first-time director with this movie given the fact that most directorial debuts end up as cinematic disappointments.

Dark Phoenix will open in cinemas worldwide this June. We will find out soon enough if there are enough fans and moviegoers who will care about it more than a month after the anticipated giant opening of Avengers: Endgame.

 

A Look Back At Halloween (1978)

A lot of people call the 1978 low-budget horror film Halloween from director John Carpenter an all-time classic that is also one of the scariest movies ever made. As a commercial product, it made around $70 million in ticket sales worldwide on a production budget of less than $400,000. When it was first released, it received a mixed reception from movie critics but two notable critics – Roger Ebert and Tom Allen – praised it and arguably propelled the film. Halloween also sparked a wave of slasher horror films that got produced most notably the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street films. The slasher horror sub-genre also became a business-friendly model for movie studios that wanted to profit without spending too much on production costs.

Apart from the continued praise and accolades it received, Halloween was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry (NFR) by the Library of Congress which found it to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The film was selected by Empire Magazine as an entry in its “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time” feature.

I learned about all those winning achievements before even getting to watch John Carpenter’s Halloween for the first time ever many years ago.

How was my 90 minutes of watching it the first time? Halloween did not do well for me and it’s not as great as I thought it was.

Let’s start with the plot. On the evening of October 31, 1963, a 6-year-old Michael Myers (wearing a clown costume) killed his teenage sister and was discovered by their parents outside their home (in Haddonfield, Illinois) still holding the knife. Fifteen years later, Michael was to be escorted from a sanitarium to a court by Dr. Sam Loomis and Marion Chambers but he took advantage of a situation to steal the car (of Loomis) and drive all the way to Haddonfield. Along the way he killed a mechanic (to wear a boiler suit) and stole key items (knives, rope and the distinctive mask) from a store.

Shortly enough Myers stalks Laurie Strode while Dr. Loomis reaches Haddonfield anticipating great danger from the Myers. Wanna know what happens? Watch the movie if you can.

Strong points

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Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter on the set of Halloween.

Halloween is not a mere low-budget horror movie that got very successful commercially. Rather it is a labor of love and collaboration. Many times during the filming, the cast members participated in the arrangement of the equipment and along the way they bonded closely with John Carpenter, Debra Hill and the other film crew members. In some ways, the bonding added to the serviceable quality of the actors’ performances on-screen as well as the clever techniques used by the filmmakers. Donald Pleasance is the true start of the film and clearly did his best on making Dr. Loomis a very believable concerned professional that viewers can relate with. Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode is memorable and will always be remembered as the archetype “final girl” of the horror genre.

Carpenter did not only write and direct the film but also provided the music which alone added to the scare factor and overall mood of the film. Definitely without the music, the movie would have been ineffective in scaring viewers. Even until now, having a movie director who is also talented and capable of providing the music is rare.

Considering the low budget, the filmmakers did a good job making the movie visually creepy. The way they had Michael Myers mix in with the shadows in the dark interiors of the houses remains great to watch. Also who could forget Michael’s emerging from the darkness in the background as Laurie Strode (in the brighter foreground) remained unaware of his presence late in the film? That sequence is true horror classic.

The cinematography by Dean Cundley is excellent to the eyes. The film looks bigger than its budget shows and there were lots of shots showing a wide, open “world” within.

As for the horror icon Michael Myers, having him as a mysterious figure was the right move pulled of here. He stalks people and takes his time killing the victims which easily freaked out moviegoers back in 1978. His mask with a very expressionless face further added to his creepy look. Back to his being mysterious, Michael Myers is truly effective as a violent horror figure as moviegoers are left up to imagine on their own why is he such a killer, why is he so cold, what could have made him like that, etc.

Weak spots

While the movie had its strong points, they are not enough to keep Halloween the acclaimed, all-time, very scary movie many claimed to be. In my honest view, I don’t find Halloween scary at all even with the combined visuals, action and music.

As it preceded the 1980s wave of slasher horror movies, John Carpenter’s movie lacked the violence and the goriness of those other films which ultimately made it look tame by comparison. It is no wonder why when the filmmakers produced Halloween II (1981), moves were made to make that sequel more violent and gory to keep up with the competition. That being said, Halloween just can’t keep up with those other slasher horror films when it comes to scare factor and violence. Really, Halloween is ultimately not scary to me.

While Michael Myers is iconic as a horror figure, he really is not that intimidating as a villain in the movie. Sure he stands from outside the place staring at Laurie Strode like an obsessed stalker but I personally don’t find that effective. In fact, I just end up saying, “Oh, he’s just posing to catch Laurie’s attention and then vanishes without a trace…like an attention grabber with some cowardice within.”

On the way things happened in the story, unrealistic or unbelievable scenarios made me lose focus on the narrative. Let’s be honest with ourselves as we try to relate to what happened and who took part in the story. Who would walk into another house alone in the dark (read: not bothering to turn the lights on) alone? Who would go to the yard alone in the dark to check on the noise or disturbance felt? The lack of lighting sure adds to the creepy factor but ultimately these are cheap tactics by filmmakers to build up suspense and jump scares.

And then there was that scene in which Dr. Loomis spent too much time standing at one particular spot only to realize that his stolen car was just parked nearby. Was he absent-minded all the time to even notice his car?

Another weakness in the film is its slow pacing which made me feel sleepy at times. The film’s dialogue lacked punch and there was a lack of interesting developments before the killings set in. As for the serviceable acting, there were a few actors playing the victims of Michael Myers who registered sub-par reactions which detracted from the targeted scare and shock values of the killings. Perhaps a few more takes and compelling the actors to perform better would have helped.

Conclusion

I know I will be bashed here by the fans of Halloween and John Carpenter but I must say that 1978’s Halloween is simply not a great film, not scary at all and it did not age well. I question not only the acclaim it received but also its status as a preserved film in the National Film Registry. Had I not seen all the other slasher horror films and limited myself to Halloween, then this John Carpenter movie would have been more engaging and scarier. Sadly that’s not the case with reality right now and I can clearly say that Halloween is over-rated. Sorry John Carpenter.


Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you read on this website was an updated and expanded version. In other words, this newest version you just read is the most definitive version.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco.