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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A Look Back at Avengers #366

Back in the early 1990s, collecting comic books that had #1 on their cover or had a special cover on the front was a trend among comic book collectors. Marvel Comics back then was well known for releasing comic books with gimmick covers using material like foil, holograms, embossed art and the like. They also released comic books with gimmick covers when a comic book series reached its “anniversary” with the 25th issue, 50th issue, 75th issue, 100th issue and so on.

Then something happened in 1993. Marvel celebrated the respective 30th anniversaries of the X-Men and the Avengers that year and that meant releasing comic books with gimmick covers as well as some related merchandise to entice the fans and the collectors.

Here, I discuss with you Avengers #366.

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The “gold” gimmick cover of Avengers #366.

Released in 1993, Avengers #366 marked the 30th anniversary celebration of its franchise and for a cover price of $3.95, it had a gimmick cover and over 60 pages of content.

The story begins with the Avengers – composed of Captain America, Sersi, Black Widow, and Hank Pym watching a situation. Sersi reveals that Dane/Black Knight is being tortured and that they have to rush to stop the bad guys who captured him. Vision arrived suddenly to their surprise and tells them that Black Knight, Crystal, Hercules and Deathcry have been captured. More startling is that the Kree brought a nega-bomb to Earth. The said weapon was used by the Kree to kill billions of inhabitants. Running out of patience, Sersi tells her teammates that immediate action is needed and angrily she flew out of the Avengers headquarters determined to make the Kree pay. Immediately the Avengers assembled and moved on to rescue their friends.

In terms of storytelling, the comic book has a predictable tale about its superheroes moving to help their suffering teammates. Of course, even though I won’t spoil the plot, it’s obvious where the story is going. To fill the many pages, there is a lot of expository dialogue as well as character interaction moments in between scenes.

When it comes to action and spectacle, there is a lot to see here and there although the quality of the art keeps them from being dynamic.

There is also one additional story published and it even has Deadpool in it.

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This is how the Avengers looked like in 1993.

For a comic book celebrating the Avengers’ 30th anniversary, I found it weird that the Avengers #366 lacked any retrospective to the origins of the franchise. It’s like the publisher did not want readers to remember how the Avengers were formed, who were the original members and why the team was formed in the first place. In other words, the story was nothing special and it does not justify the gimmick cover.

If you are a fan who started liking the Avengers franchise because of Marvel Entertainment movies, then this comic book will most likely not appeal to you. The Hulk, Iron Man and Hawkeye are not included and the style of spectacle will most likely fail to impress you. However, if you are an Avengers fan who started reading the comic book series at least a few years before 1993, this one just might entertain you temporarily.

Looking back in 1993 when I barely had enough money to buy new comic books, I’m glad I never bought Avengers #366. By comparison, the 30th anniversary celebration of the X-Men was better and more engaging with the Fatal Attractions storyline.

 

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.

 

Box Office Pro Predicts Dark Phoenix To Gross Only $113 Million In Its First Eight Weeks In North America

Box Office Pro, a self-described premiere source of information about the global cinema industry, just predicted that Dark Phoenix (or X-Men: Dark Phoenix in other territories) will open in North American cinemas with $40 million to $55 million and eventually will gross only $113 million in the first eight weeks.

Their reasons are as follows:

The early social media buzz of the film is lower than that of X-Men: Apocalypse at the same point of release.

The early revelation showing the death of one of the major characters “muddied” buzz as of late.

There is “franchise fatigue” for the X-Men Cinematic Universe and as Disney completed at last its acquisition of Fox, it is expected by many fans that the X-Men in film will be rebooted although that will not be happening anytime soon.

If Box Office Pro’s predictions will turn out correct, it means that Dark Phoenix will do worse North American theater business than its 2016 predecessor.

What Box Office Pro did not take into account as a business hindrance for Dark Phoenix is the fact that the movie is the first-ever feature film directed by screenwriter Simon Kinberg (which I already mentioned in my Dark Phoenix movie preview) and prior to filming his most active directing work was as a 2nd unit director for the abysmal 2015 Fantastic Four movie.

At this point things are already looking grim for the upcoming X-Men movie.

Still there is a chance that Box Office Pro could turn out wrong. They previously predicted in 2017 that Wonder Woman would open only with $83 million and gross $225 million within the first eight weeks. That film opened with over $103 million and by the end of its eight weekend its sales reached over $389 million!

Going back to Dark Phoenix, I believe that it is likely that online buzz for the film will get stronger as its scheduled release date nears and it is likely that in North America, superhero movie enthusiasts, X-Men fans and other moviegoers will literally get their next “serving” of superhero cinematic fun with the movie. In relation to this, the demand for the expected sure hit Avengers: Endgame will have faded by the time Dark Phoenix opens.

What Fox has to worry about in terms of movie competition is Warner Bros.’ Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Still, I believe that there are more than enough moviegoers out there who will crave for more superhero fun after they had their fun with Avengers: Endgame.

If Simon Kinberg proves to be a very miraculous first-time director and deliver a very engaging story, then there is the possibility that Dark Phoenix could outgross X-Men: Apocalypse even if it had a smaller opening than that film.

Only time can tell what will happen next.

My Coplay Photography (Part 1)

I enjoy taking pictures of people who express their artistry, their concepts and charm through the art of cosplay (costume play) which has grown tremendously popular here in the Philippines over the past several years.

Along the way, pop culture-related events like comic conventions, cosplay gatherings, cosplay parades and other related fan events got organized around the country giving cosplayers even more opportunities to come out in full costume.

Here in the Philippines, I was fortunate to attend such comic conventions like the AsiaPOP Comicon Manila and Toycon which are very similar events showcasing action figures, comic books, movies, TV programs, comic creators and the like. Both AsiaPOP Comicon Manila and Toycon are unsurprisingly popular events that attracted countless cosplayers.

Here are some pics of cosplayers I took in the comic conventions.

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Model and actress Ameera Johara as Wonder Woman during the 2016 AsiaPOP Comicon Manila.
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Also taken at the 2016 AsiaPOP Comicon Manila was this Harley Quinn cosplayer who posed for me.
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This Miles Morales Spider-Man cosplayer surprised me at the 2017 AsiaPOP Comicon Manila when I was searching for old comic books. I took the opportunity to photograph this.
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This picture I took at the 2014 Nexcon in Pasig City.
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This Wonder Woman cosplayer posed for me during the 2018 Toycon.
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Miles Morales Spider-Man and female Deadpool cosplayers posing with some fans during the 2017 AsiaPOP Comicon Manila.

Apart from comic conventions, there were also times when I took cosplayer photos in other instances or activities. Check out my pics below.

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A few years ago, Festival Mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa City had cosplayers like this one standing in front of shoppers trying to get their attention and convince them to drop some money into the rectangular box on the floor.
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Harley Quinn cosplayer posed for me during the day when Comic-Con Asia had its press conference and media presentation at a hotel in Pasay City in early 2018.
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The Cosplay Craze event at SM City BF Paranaque saw these two “clashing”.

This is my first post of cosplay photography that I took and I hope you enjoyed viewing it. I’m still trying find other such pictures among my files and once I get them organized, I’ll post them here.

Also if you are organizing a pop culture event and you need online media and/or photography coverage, please feel free to contact me so that we can discuss business terms privately. Thank you.


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.

 

Watch The International Trailer Of Dark Phoenix (X-Men) Right Here

Very recently I previewed Dark Phoenix (or X-Men: Dark Phoenix in other nations) right here and shared my thoughts.

Just yesterday the international trailer of the movie was released and you can watch it also here.

To get straight to the point, the trailer showed even more common storytelling elements between Dark Phoenix and the disappointing X-Men: The Last Stand specifically the flashback showing a little Jean Grey interacting with a younger Charles Xavier who tried to do something with her powers.

To find out more, watch the trailer below.

If you have any reactions, please feel free to post your comments below. Also if you know anyone who likes X-Men or superhero movies in general, please share this post to them. Thank you.

Can Dark Phoenix (X-Men) Deliver The Fun In Cinemas This June?

The newest movie poster of Dark Phoenix (or X-Men: Dark Phoenix in some other countries) has been released and so has the second movie trailer which you can watch right here.

Previously scheduled for a November 2018 release, Dark Phoenix is all set to to fill up the movie screens – including IMAX – in cinemas around the world this June and fans of the X-Men movies developed by 20th Century Fox will finally be getting their fill of fun.

The new movie is the 2nd cinematic adaptation of the classic Dark Phoenix storyline of the X-Men comics. It has superstar Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix, James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops and Jessica Chastain as an alien shapeshifter. Given the fact that 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past erased X-Men: The Last Stand (the unfaithful Dark Phoenix adaptation) from canon, the 2019 X-Men film will be the DP cinematic story to see.

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Space travel confirmed for the newest cinematic adaptation of Dark Phoenix. There was space travel also in the comic books of the Dark Phoenix storyline.

Dark Phoenix is set in the year 1992 (9 years after X-Men: Apocalypse) and Charles Xavier’s team of mutants face their most formidable and powerful foe yet who happens to be one of their own…Jean Grey. During a rescue mission in space, Jean gets hit by a mysterious cosmic force. As a result, she gains tremendous power but struggles to contain it. What makes things more difficult is her raging emotions.

At least from its premise, the movie has potential. I myself am an X-Men fan as well as a long-time comic book collector. The Dark Phoenix Saga is one of my favorite storylines of not just the X-Men but of all superhero comics in general. I could never forget the very powerful storytelling pulled off by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. The Dark Phoenix Saga in comics has always been very engaging to read on my part.

Within that storyline, the stakes were raised very high and each member of the team – Charles Xavier, Colossus Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and others – each had a nice contribution to the overall development of the team as it struggled with the moral complications related to Jean Grey’s struggle with Dark Phoenix not to mention her being responsible for the countless deaths of inhabitants of planets destroyed. Also included in the saga was the Hellfire Club

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Quicksilver moving towards a very powerful Jean Grey.

Naturally I cannot expect Simon Kinberg and his team to pull off a 100% faithful adaptation of the literary storyline. As such he and his creative team have a story of conflict and division that looks like will challenge each X-Men member personally as their team struggles with Jean Grey.

The newest movie trailer is an improvement over the previous one and now the cinematic plot looks clearer. I just hope that the marketing team at 20th Century Fox did not reveal potential surprises from the movie.

As much as I enjoyed the X-Men movies and comics, there are a few signs of concern that can potentially make Dark Phoenix a major disappointment.

The first sign is that this movie is Simon Kinberg’s directorial debut. Checking his record on IMDB.com, he worked as a screenwriter, producer and as Second Unit Director (notably on the pathetic 2015 Fantastic Four movie). I’m not putting Kinberg down but those credentials don’t convince me he could effectively direct a solid film. As I learned in film school from my Hollywood mentor almost 15 years ago, the film debut of a Hollywood director is often the worst film as he makes more films.

Many times in Hollywood, the director’s 2nd movie turned out not only a major improvement over his/her first film but also a critical and/or commercial hit. Look at the 2009 Star Trek movie which was J.J. Abrams‘ 2nd movie as director. That was a critical hit and it grossed $385,680,446 worldwide. Remember when Iron Man 3 made $1,214,811,252 in global ticket sales in 2013? That movie was Shane Black‘s 2nd directorial effort!

I can only hope that Kinberg can prove me wrong by making a really great and fun movie despite the tremendous odds stacked against him. It is very rare that a movie directed by a first-time director would become a hit. Maybe Kinberg can pull off a Dances With Wolves with Dark Phoenix.

The next sign is that key storytelling elements from the 2006 disappointment X-Men: The Last Stand seem to be resurfacing in the new movie according to the latest trailer released today. Those elements include Charles Xavier taking special responsibility of Jean Grey when she was a little girl. Jean Grey becoming unstable with her tremendous power which affects her relationship with the X-Men. Also if you look closely at the movie poster posted below, you will notice Jean Grey wearing (on the other half) a coat that resembles what the X-Men: Last Stand Jean Grey (then played by Famke Jansen) wore.

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The official movie poster from 20th Century Fox.

Still there is potential in the movie to deliver something new as far as storytelling is concerned. Key portions of the latest trailer show Cyclops showing greater concern for Jean Grey (which reminds me of what I read in The Dark Phoenix Saga) and he even pushes Charles Xavier to answer his questions. Xavier could only say “I don’t know what to do!”

It has been reported that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige reviewed the script of Dark Phoenix although it’s not necessarily a sure sign that the X-Men cinematic universe will end and somehow the X-Men will become part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) within the movie.

Even though there are uncertainties, I intend to watch Dark Phoenix in the local cinemas this June. The uncertainties actually motivate me watch and find out the answers if there are any. Also I want to experience again the fun of watching Fassbender, McAvoy, Lawrence and Hoult reprising their roles. Sophie Turner meanwhile proved to be good as Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse and I really want to see her portray the character struggling with the Phoenix. I am confident she can do a much better job than Famke Jansen.

Now if only the clock could move faster…


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.