Why Did Batman Cross The Road? Because We Were Sick of His Clucking (The LEGO Batman Movie review)

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na nah. Just kidding. It’s like a 1000x yeah instead.

 

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

Cast: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifanakis, Jenny Slate
Director: Chris McKay
re-released on blu-ray June 13, 2017
********** 10/10

IMDB: 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Audience Score 81%
The Guardian: ****/*****

Chris McKay also know as Chris Taylor, is an American director and animator of film and television. Best known for his work directing and editing the shows Robot Chicken and Moral Orel, The LEGO Batman Movie is his first film. He is also set to direct a live-action Nightwing movie which has yet to be scheduled.

Having spent most of his early career involved in video production, McKay learned about editing and eventually landed an editing job with ShadowMachine, which allowed him the opportunity to work on what would become the hugely successful Robot Chicken stop motion animated sketch comedy show. Which led him to help co-direct animation for The Lego Movie and giving him the opportunity to direct the film of today’s focus.

A little flavour on the film

Taken from Wikipedia and edited down –

The Joker (Zach Galifanakis) has plans to destroy the city, then Batman (Will Arnett) hurts his arch-rival’s feelings by telling him he is not as important in his life as he thinks he is, leading Joker to seek the ultimate revenge on him.

During the city’s winter gala, which also celebrates the city’s new police commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), Bruce Wayne falls head over heels, only to be infuriated by Barbara’s plans to restructure the police to function without the need of Batman. Joker then crashes the party with all of Batman’s rogues gallery, and oddly enough surrenders, with the exception of Harley Quinn (Jenny Slate), who disappears during the confusion.

Suspicions now raised, Batman plans to steal Superman’s Phantom Zone Projector, a portal to a prison housing some of the most dangerous villains in the Lego multiverse.  Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) intervenes and involves Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), whom Bruce unwittingly adopted as his ward during the gala. After the heist, the pair break into Arkham Asylum and send Joker to the Phantom Zone, but Barbara locks up Batman and Robin for their reckless actions.

Harley steals back the project and frees Joker, with all the Phantom Zone villains in tow. Barbara has a change of heart realizing what has happened. She frees Batman and Robin, and along with a suited up Alfred, the four of them team up to stop Joker. When they meet one-on-one again, Joker confronts Batman, stating they are arch-rivals, but Batman baulks at it and Joker zaps him with the projector. In the Phantom Zone, Batman accepts that even he needs help, and makes a deal with the Zone’s gatekeeper, Phyllis (Ellie Kemper), to retrieve the villains so that he can stop the destruction of Gotham.

Joker intends to blow up the city’s Energy Facility, forcing the thin floor of the city apart and be destroyed, and so Batman assigns Barbara a Batgirl costume, and recruits the other villains Joker has left behind. It’s too little too late, and the bomb rips the city apart. Knowing this was his fault, Batman reluctantly convinces Joker that he is the true reason for being the hero he is, before they, their friends and allies, and the city’s inhabitants, chain-link themselves together and pull the plates back together, saving the city.

Phyllis decides that Batman can remain after seeing how much he had changed in order to save everyone. Batman then allows Joker and the rest of his rogues gallery to temporarily escape, with the confidence that whenever they return, they will be no match for his new alliance with Robin, Batgirl, and Alfred.

Now, what the synopsis I have provided doesn’t tell you is how self-referential and hilarious this movie is to experience.

It is at-once a biting satire of previous Batman franchise outings, teasing the ever-popular use of Bruce Wayne’s backstory as plot motivation, as well as directly addressing the eternal dance between The Joker and The Batman. And yeah, it’s great that The Batman wants to fight around, but The Joker wants him to commit to him as an arch-villain. And rightfully so, they’ve only been at it for over seventy years!

The zaniness of Lego also fits well with Batman’s wonderfully odd and sometimes embarrassing tacky history of stories, costumes and villains. Think Disco Batman, Eraser and Clock King. And yes, you get to see King Tut, Polka Dot Man and Egghead make appearances too.

Pros: It is surprisingly sophisticated in it’s exposure of Batman, how pop culture has appropriated him, and core issues we’ve all been thinking about for what seems like decades. Top it off with a smart bow, riddled with fun for kids, and this is a movie not to be taken for granted. Michael Cera is heartwarming as Robin.

Cons: It does become a bit difficult to swallow all of the bricks towards the end, surprisingly enough because the story works so well to disengage us from the kitsch of the format it’s presented in. And the happy Bat family moment feels a bit shoehorned.

Runtime: 1 hour 44 minutes

Points of Interest: In a blink and you’ll miss it moment, Batman references the 1989 movie when he says  “You want to get nuts? Let’s get nuts!” to the Joker. Billy Dee Williams voices Two-Face for the movie. He also portrayed Harvey Dent in the 1989 movie, but never got to play Two-Face in the third movie because Joel Schumacher recast Dent with Tommy Lee Jones.

I cannot say enough good things about this movie. It is so reinvigorating to see DC poke fun at The Batman for once. Acknowledging all of the missteps over the past few years, *cough* Suicide Squad, Batman V Superman, and Man of Steel *cough* it’s great for them to realize that Batman is their best character, but that people are sick of seeing the same old Bruce Wayne.

The LEGO Batman Movie gives the people something to look forward to. It’s fun, interesting, and even humanizes the Bat. Go Will Arnett go.

theories Summarized

Maybe it’s my fine art background or maybe it’s simply my love deconstructing and reconnecting the LEGO assemblages I made as a young boy, but this is exactly what postmodernism should have been doing with Batman in the 1990s, not making him a goof with big nipples, but a caricature worthy of dissection and primed for exploration.

That said, you should also check out this cool vid we did for episode three of Watch Culture!

Out of theories for now creative cuties, tune in tomorrow for some wisdom. Same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Tim!

Gun Kata (John Wick: Chapter 2 review)

I love the TV Tropes brand. It’s all about the collection of and education on popular culture, specifically as it relates to common figures of speech. The ones that best convey concepts that exist in various forms of media, like movies, or say, television.

Now for example, in action movies, it’s fairly common for guys to smash and girls to shoot things. But does this action movie fall prey to tropes? Or transcend them?

 

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Chad Stahelski
re-released on blu-ray June 13, 2017
********** 10/10

IMDB: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Audience Score 87%
The Guardian: ***/*****

Chad Stahelski is an American stuntman and director. It wasn’t until fairly recently that he took up the reins and decided to direct a movie, starting with  the first John Wick, and now it’s sequel John Wick: Chapter 2. More importantly, Stahelski is famous for his relationship with Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, who died from a gunshot wound during the final days of filming for The Crow. Stahelski was a good friend, and agreed to replace Lee as a stunt double, even wearing prosthetics to look like Lee, so that the movie could be completed.

He is also currently working on Triple Threat, a movie which stars Tony Jaa, Tiger Chen and Iko Uwais. That said, I think with his well established history in film that Stahelski was more then prepared to take on the action genre, and so far, it’s been to his benefit.

In case you haven’t seen 2014’s John Wick, I recommend you go and do so, because there are massive spoilers ahead.

Taken from Wikipedia and edited down –

Mere days later for, former assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is at Abram Tarasov’s (Peter Stormare) chop shop looking for his car. He demolishes Tarasov’s men, but his car is damaged in the fight. He chooses to spare Tarasov as a peace offering, and heads home.

Aurelio (John Leguizamo) fixes the car, but John is visited by Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio). We learn that John was able to retire with the help of D’Antonio, and that they have a blood oath which John is required to fulfill upon request. D’Antonio presents the medallion to demand services from John, but John refuses. In a fit of rage, D’Antonio decides to take a grenade launcher to John’s house.

Winston (Ian McShane) reminds John of the two rules of the underworld, and that by breaking the oath he would be marked for death. The other rule being that every assassin has amnesty in Winston’s hotel. John reluctantly agrees and accepts the proposal, which is to assassinate  D’Antonio’s sister (Claudia Gerini), the head of the criminal group called the  “High Table”, a council of high-level crime lords. D’Antonio sends Ares (Ruby Rose), his personal bodyguard, to surveil John.

John easily infiltrates Gianna’s compound and confronts her – Gianna instead chooses to commit suicide. While retreating, D’Antonio’s men flip on John, hoping to consolidate his newfound power. Gianna’s bodyguard Cassian (Common) learns what has happened and begins a relentless pursuit.  They land at Winston’s hotel, and stop their battle at per the rules. Cassian vows revenge.

D’Antonio then opens a $7 million  contract on John and he fights his way through the city, dispatching numerous hidden assassins. He even runs into Cassian again, and wins the fight, so he can make his way to underground crime lord The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), whose subordinates treat his injuries and guide him to D’Antonio’s location. After navigating a hall of mirrors, John forces D’Antonio back to the the Continental. But despite Winston’s warnings, John kills D’Antonio in the Continental dining room.

Winston unfortunately has to excommunicate John from the order, but gives him another marker and some time to plan his next move before doubling the contract and sending it out globally. This doesn’t phase John, who collects his dog and starts running across the city.

Oddly enough this movie manages to accomplish more then enough in the way to trope fulfillment and furnishing a thin plot to move the action ahead.

But where most action flick fall apart because of their ridiculous premise, John Wick embraces the odd and each element is considered within the framework of the already established world. We can suspend our disbelief because we don’t “really” know how the world of assassins works, but the action and dialogue are slick, allowing the most important motivation of John Wick’s revenge to shine throughout.

Pros: The rules of this world continue to be defined with great consideration and the lack of CGI create better entertainment then anything out there right now. The choreography, the cinematography, even Reeves in the role of John is deliberate.

Cons: Of course, the motivations of the first film are stronger and the action a little more frantic. This movie serves up a lot more of the same, and is a little long as a result. And then we introduce the problem of John as someone who is invincible, and with that Superman complex, a little less compelling.

Runtime: 2 hours 2 minutes

Points of Interest: Keanu Reeves is a talented martial artist, and performed almost all of the stunts himself, with the exceptions of the car crash and falling down stairs. Second time director Chad Stahelski was a stuntman in the Matrix Trilogy. Laurence Fishburne elude to their connections as co-stars of The Matrix Trilogy.

The first John Wick movie was artfully created and a sleeper hit of 2014. This movie is an excellent addition to the catalogue and another example that over-the-top budgets don’t always equal action success. The Fishburne cameo is a welcome addition and perfect demonstration of the skillful layering going in in this movie.

theories Summarized

I really enjoyed this film and I suspect that if you are an action movie fan, Keanu Reeves supporter and even interested in experiments in storytellling, then you won’t blink twice at picking this up. That said, I have to wonder where we can go from here, and hope that Stahelski can put a nice bow on these films after the third is completed. John Wick: Chapter 2 appears to be mindless fun, but it has more then enough world-building to make stand out as one of the top five movies of 2017.

Also, in case you’re looking for another movie recommendation, the latest and greatest Watch Culture vid is now up!

No more theories from me friends, I’m tapped out for the now. But come back tomorrow for some wisdom.

Tim!

A Tale On Repeat (Beauty and the Beast review)

Rehashing a story that rehashes another story doesn’t create more hash? Sheesh, y’all. What a wonderful thing is this reimagining that it can invigorate previous fans, and draw in troves of new ones too.

 

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson
Director: Bill Condon
re-released on blu-ray June 6, 2017
******** 8/10

IMDB: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%, Audience Score 83%
The Guardian: ***/*****

Bill Condon is an American screenwriter and director, best known for his dual roles in Gods and Monsters as well as with Dreamgirls. He also had success directing Kinsey, Mr. Holmes, and very recently the 2017 version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

And that is the topic I shall choose to write about. Mostly because I bought a copy and watched it last week.

Taken from Wikipedia and edited –

In pre Revolution era-France, an enchantress disguised as a beggar (Hattie Morahan) arrives at a ball and offers the prince (Dan Stevens), a rose for shelter. When he refuses, she transforms him into a monstrous beast and his servants into household objects, and erases the castle from the memories of their loved ones. She casts a spell on the rose and warns the prince that, unless he learns to love another and earn their love in return before the last petal falls, he and his servants will lose their humanity forever.

Years later, in the village of Villeneuve, Belle (Emma Watson) dreams of adventure and brushes off advances from Gaston (Luke Evans), an arrogant former soldier. Lost in the forest, Belle’s father Maurice (Kevin Kline) seeks refuge in the Beast’s castle, but the Beast imprisons him for stealing a rose. Belle ventures out in search for him and finds him locked in the castle dungeon. The Beast agrees to let her take Maurice’s place, despite her father’s objections.

Belle befriends the castle’s servants, who treat her to a spectacular dinner. When she wanders into the forbidden west wing and finds the rose, the Beast, enraged, scares her into the woods. She is cornered by a pack of wolves, but the Beast rescues her and is injured in the process. A friendship develops as Belle nurses his wounds. The Beast shows Belle a gift from the enchantress, a book that transports readers wherever they want. Belle uses it to visit her childhood home in Paris, where she discovers a plague doctor mask. Belle realizes that she and her father were forced to leave her mother’s deathbed as her mother succumbed to the plague.

In Villeneuve, Gaston sees rescuing Belle as an opportunity to win her hand in marriage and agrees to help Maurice. When Maurice learns of his ulterior motive and rejects him, Gaston abandons him to the wolves. Maurice is rescued by a hermit, Agathe, but when he tells the townsfolk of Gaston’s crime, Gaston convinces them to send him to an insane asylum.

After sharing a romantic dance with the Beast, Belle discovers her father’s predicament using a magic mirror. The Beast releases her to save Maurice, giving her the mirror to remember him with. At Villeneuve, Belle proves Maurice’s sanity by revealing the Beast in the mirror to the townsfolk. Realizing that Belle loves the Beast, Gaston has her thrown into the asylum carriage with her father and rallies the villagers to follow him to the castle to kill the Beast. Maurice and Belle escape and Belle rushes back to the castle.

During the battle, Gaston abandons his companion LeFou (Josh Gad), who sides with the servants to fend off the villagers. Gaston attacks the Beast in his tower, who is too depressed to fight back, but regains his will upon seeing Belle return. He spares Gaston’s life before reuniting with Belle. However, Gaston fatally shoots the Beast from a bridge, but it collapses when the castle crumbles and he falls to his death. The Beast dies as the last petal falls and the servants become inanimate. When Belle tearfully professes her love to him, Agathe reveals herself as the enchantress and undoes the curse, repairing the crumbling castle and restoring the Beast’s and servants’ human forms and the villagers’ memories. The Prince and Belle host a ball for the kingdom, where they dance happily.

This version of the film does well to increase the mythos of this fairy tale, all while adding in additional songs, but never losing the main story nor the music which made it so memorable in the first place, but it does fairy fail in other ways. Learning more of the princes backstory, why the servants became objects, and the reason Belle has no mother are interesting, but add a lot of time to the story.

In some ways it makes it a far more beautiful telling of the story, though it doesn’t significantly improve the stock of it’s Disney characters. Except for Gaston and Lefou… Their performances are noteworthy and feel very fresh throughout.

Pros: Luke Evans and Josh Gad provide a far more nuanced and complex relationship for their characters, and Lefou is a scene stealer to be clear. Emma Watson does well in revitalizing and addressing the persona of Belle. Heck, even the new song the Beast sings is pretty swell.

Cons: Kevin Kline just doesn’t quite cut the mustard as Maurice nor does Emma Thompson as  Mrs. Potts. Their performances seem a little phoned in and do a lot to slow the story down in addition to 45 minutes worth of new songs and the aforementioned backstory updates.

Runtime: 2 hours 9 minutes

Points of Interest: During the Be Our Guest sequence, a model of Aladdin’s Agrabah castle appears. Belle takes on the role of inventor in this film over Maurice because Emma Watson wanted Belle to have more of a back story, and a better reason for being treated differently by the villagers. And in case you didn’t already know, Le Fou is Disney’s first official gay character.

A story rehashed from a story already rehashed, 2017’s Beauty and the Beast works to window dress a film which is already well love by many, but guilty of the falling into the same philosophical challenges of its predecessor – love is the answer. The realist in me knows that love is hard work and to expect that love alone will cure sickness (read: mental health) and prejudice (read: sexism, violence and hate) is a silly aspiration, but the underpinning message of Beauty and the Beast can’t seem to shake it.

theories Summarized

I’m happy that movies are being made like Goat, Moonlight and Nocturnal Animals. They address issues of toxic masculinity and other not-so-fun global problems, so I’ll say good on Emma Watson for injecting a stronger voice and presence in to Belle, and good on Bill Condon for keeping this movie a musical, and good on Disney for updating this story, but please can we stop making the same tales as old as time?

Tim!

She’s So Animated! (Wonder Woman (2009) review)

Super heroes have been dominated by male leads in film since almost the beginning of their celluloid representation. Which is odd, given that there are more than enough female super heroes to go around, with compelling story arcs of their own to be had.

This is one of those times.

 

Wonder Woman (2009)

Cast: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson, Marg Helgenberger, Oliver Platt, Virginia Madsen, David McCallum
Director: Lauren Montgomery
re-released on blu-ray May 16, 2017
******** 8/10

IMDB: 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Audience Score 78%
The Guardian: n/a

Lauren Montgomery is an American animated film director and artist. Aside from directing the Wonder Woman film I’m about to revisit, she also had a hand in Green Lantern: First Flight, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, Justice League: Doom, and co-directed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and Batman:Year One. A fairly young director still, Montgomery has been drawing from a young age and is heavily influenced by Disney, Bruce Timm of Batman: The Animated series fame, and anime.

Wonder Woman is her first directorial outing. And to be frank, it’s quite entertaining. But I’ll let the plot drive some of this demonstration for me first.

The story opens by explaining that the eternally youthful Amazons and their queen Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen) were granted the island of Themyscira after defeating Ares (Alfred Molina) and his monster army in battle. Hippolyta even beheaded her and Ares’ son Thrax in battle, who was begot from rape.

Hippolyta would have killed Ares too in battle, but  his father Zeus (David McCallum) stopped her from the action. Instead, Hera (Marg Helgenberger) bound his powers with bracelets that could only be opened by another god and the Amazons held Ares in prison cell indefinitely.

Later, Hippolyta was granted a daughter with Zeus’ blessing, and Princess Diana (Keri Russell) was born from sand and blood.

Over a millennium later, an American fighter pilot, USAF Colonel Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion), crash-lands on the island. Steve and Diana meet and fight, and she defeats him, taking him to the Amazons. Interrogated with the golden lasso, they learn he is not an enemy. An emissary will be tasked to take him home. Diana volunteers, but her mother argues against that notion, to which Diana defies the order and participates in the emissary contests with a helmet to hide her identity.

Simultaneously, the Amazon Persephone, seduced by Ares, kills Artemis sister, Alexa, and releases him. Now also tasked with capturing Ares, Diana brings Trevor to New York, and he volunteers to help Diana.

In the world of man, Diana starts an investigation that will eventually lead her to Area, by way of the underworld. Diana attempts to stop Ares, but harpies knock her out and Trevor saves her instead of stopping Ares. Elsewhere Ares persuades his uncle Hades (Oliver Platt) (who has made Thrax his slave) to remove the braclets, to which Hades agrees.

When Diana wakes up, she is furious that Trevor saved her instead of stopping Ares, but Trevor makes good points about the Amazons isolation and ignorance, winning her over.

Ares and the Amazons battle in Washington, D.C. and Ares raises the undead to his side, but Artemis is given a chant from her dead sister Alexa to redeem the dead and remove Ares’ command. Ares promptly destroys the undead while Hippolyta faces Persephone in combat and kills her. Not before Persephone points out that by hiding away, the Amazons never got to know men and be whole women.

Ares and Diana finally square off and Diana narrowly outmaneuvers and beheads him just as Hippolyta beheaded Thrax. Diana and Trevor share a kiss and we see in the Underworld that Hades has enslaved Ares just as he did with Thrax.

Hippolyta  determines that Diana should be the official Amazon misses emissary and sends her back to New York. Trevor and Diana become a couple and Diana is now by the world as Wonder Woman.

The animated Wonder Woman follows many of the same notes as its 2017 live action version, but interestingly enough, it has different examples of humour and even more in the way of action sequences. Wonder Woman rejects the notion of a secondary role for women in action/ adventure stories, she is her own heroine.

Pros: It’s fast paced, well animated and the voice acting is excellent in almost every instance, though you never feel like are expected to know tons of her back story. Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion and Alfred Molina in particular are a treat to watch in action.

Cons: Aside from the complex issues of gender, there are dialogue moments which are difficult to swallow (ie. “You’re starting to sound like a woman”), and it is a bit jarring to hear Rosario Dawson’s voice and see a white woman in her stead.

Runtime: 1 hour 14 minutes

Points of Interest: The movie originally received an R rating from the MPAA, though most of edits came from minor changes to the battle scenes. This is the second time Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion have worked together, after Waitress.

While the story has clearly stuck to the visual aesthetics of comic book history, we are never treated to a sexualized or naive Diana Prince – she always carries herself as a patron of truth, justice and freedom. In fact, there is little in the way of narrative calling her out based on gender. The story is strong, and ripped out of the Wonder Woman’s past, so expect to feel that higher sense of morality by film’s end. It’ll be a wonder if you don’t.

theories Summarized

I’ve now seen both this film and the live-action version, and while I love the weirdness of comic books, the 2017 film is something to behold. Yet, that doesn’t make this story irrelevant. It touches more on the greek myths of which Wonder Woman is based, and in some cases, has even better mature humour. If you’ve enjoyed any of the DC Universe Animated Original Moves, you should give this one some time.

Tim!

I’m Not Crying, It’s Just Been Raining On My Face (Logan review)

And if I am crying, it’s not because of you
It’s because I’m thinking about a friend of mine
You don’t know who is dying, that’s right, dying
These aren’t tears of sadness because you’re leaving me
I’ve just been cutting onions, I’m making a lasagna for one
Oh, I’m not crying, no

That’s all I could think of before I watched this movie for the second time. The first time being in theatres, and the second at home. And I cried both times.

Like a well adjusted man in touch with his emotions, and okay with them.

Logan (2017)

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant
Director: James Mangold
re-released on blu-ray May 23, 2017
********** 10/10

IMDB: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Audience Score 91%
The Guardian: ****/*****

James Mangold is an American director, screenwriter and producer. He’s been responsible for some great films like Heavy, Copland, Walk the Line, the 3:10 to Yuma remake, and The Wolverine. He’s also directed Girl, Interrupted, Kate & Leopold, Identity, and Knight & Day. Which means that over the course of a 30+ year career, he has refined his ability to craft gritty, masculine films about relationships, loss, and character development. I’m glad to share that I’ve been there with him in good films and bad, and when the times are good with Mangold, the times are really quite good.

After the somewhat moderate success of The Wolverine, I was excited to learn that when Mangold was signed on to do Logan, he went to the fanbase to get insights on how to develop the story. Much like Hugh Jackman has done throughout his tenure as James Howlett, Mangold really took stock of the material and worked it over with proper attention.

Taking elements from the Old Man Logan run and The Death of Wolverine run (spoiler alert), this film gives Jackman room to breathe, much like Tim Miller did with Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool, he focused on the nuances of him.

In the year 2029, mutants are almost extinct. An aging and limited Logan (Hugh Jackman) lives with mutant tracker Caliban (Stephan Merchant) and cares for nonagenarian Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who has Alzheimer’s disease, which is effecting his telepathic abilities.

When a lady asks Logan to escort her and eleven-year-old girl Laura (Dafne Keen) to a place in North Dakota called “Eden”, he dismisses her at first. He then reluctantly accepts when money is offered, money that would get him and Charles onto open water away from people. But the Transigen corporation is looking for Laura, and they murder the lady, with Laura hiding in Logan’s vehicle.

Cyborg Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) heads up a team of Reavers to find Laura, but not before Logan and Charles learn that Transigen was breeding mutant children under project X-23, and when they moved onto project X-24, the children were to be euthanized. Laura is a clone of Wolverine, AKA Logan. Caliban is captured, but the other three escape.

On the way to North Dakota, Charles experiences another seizure, but it happens when the Reavers have closed in, allowing Laura and Logan to dispatch them. At one point on the journey the X-family stay with a farmer and his family after helping to wrangle their horses away from a busy highway. During the evenings events Logan helps the father fix the water pipes, and deal with the encroaching corporate farmers and their goons. While Logan is away Charles remembers another seizure he had as Westchester, one which claimed the lives of many of the X-men and several civilians. But he doesn’t reveal this to Logan, it is X-24 a feral clone of Logan with limited healing factor.

X-24 murders Charles and the farmers family, and abducts Laura for the Reavers and the man behind it all, Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant)

Caliban sacrifices himself by setting off grenades, but fails to kill Rice and Pierce. Logan barely stops X-24, but the farmer is injured and blames Logan for his families deaths, succumbing to his wounds.

The pair bury Xavier and find their way to Eden, where the remaining children have all escaped. But the Reavers have caught up to them once again. This time Logan uses a Transigen serum to temporarily restore his healing factor, and he takes out many of the men. Laura and other children get away, but Logan is stopped by Pierce and Rice. We learn that Logan killed Rice’s father while escaping from the Weapon X program, and that the destruction of mutantkind was designed by adding a genetic dampener to the water and laced into the food supply. Without no hesitation Logan shoots Rice dead, but Pierce releases a renewed X-24, who impales Logan on a tree. The children wipe out Pierce with their powers and Laura shoots X-24 with an adamantium bullet before it can finish Logan off.

Before dying, Logan calls Laura his daughter, compels her to not be a weapon like him, and accepts the feeling of death. Laura and the other children bury him and head towards Canada, but Laura repositions the cross in the shape of an X before walking away.

A fitting send off for the man who would be Wolverine. Logan doesn’t necessarily fit into the Fox X-verse proper, but it doesn’t earn him his movie death, and it puts some great rose-coloured glasses over the seven films he starred in (nine if you include cameos).

Also what a great way to send off Patrick Stewart as well. The legacy left by these two characters/actors will likely be analyzed by movie geeks in the decades to come.

Pros: This movie takes what is now a common genre in filmmaking, the superhero, strips it off it’s special effects and adrenaline soaked pacing, and allows a real story to happen over its run time. The R-rating was almost necessary to allow Mangold the space to do Wolverine Justice. Jackman, Stewart, and newcomer Keen are all enthralling to watch.

Cons: That we had to experience nine films and a great darkness over the Fox X-verse before we could get to excellent depictions of two X-men characters. Three if you count Deadpool. And man is it dark. Where will Laura go from here?

Runtime: 2 hours 17 minutes

Points of Interest: James Mangold set the film in 2029 to give it distance from the rest of the film continuity and create a separate film with almost no requirements or expectations to carry into more sequels. The film relies very little on CGI and green screens. Also the debut film role of Dafne Keen.

Logan definitely earns its R-rating, and while there has been much speculation over whether Deadpool forced that direction, I’m glad for it either way. It pulls some influences from comic books like Old Man Logan and The Death of Wolverine without emulating the self-referential stuff too much. Heck at once point Logan even chides Laura by saying “…we’ve got ourselves an X-Men fan… Maybe a quarter of it happened — but not like this. In the real world people die! And no self-promoting asshole in a fucking leotard can stop it!”

This movie deserves to at the top of the comic book movie heap, it does all the kinds of things that The Dark Knight did, but it has infinitely more heart.

theories Summarized

What else can I tell you about this movie? You should expect a longer more thoughtful take on the Wolverine, with character development being central to the plot. I think it deserves to win movie awards, and it’s a contender with Get Out for my favourite movie of 2017. Seriously that good. A fitting end for a guy who is the best at what he does. Only what he does isn’t very nice.

And that’s not a theory either, it’s well documented.

Tim!