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From Under A Rock: Logan

September 2, 2017 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
Logan
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From Under A Rock: Logan  

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We don’t often pick recent movies on this column, and if we do they are usually hidden gems that go under the radar. But this is a film Aaron has wanted to discuss with Michael for a while, so we decided to bring that conversation here.

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show determined at the discretion of Aaron Hubbard and Michael Ornelas in alternation.

Last week Michael chose Forgetting Sarah Marshall. This week Aaron takes Michael out from under the proverbial rock to show him Logan.

Logan
Released: March 3rd, 2017
Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green
Starring:
Hugh Jackman as Logan
Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier
Dafne Keen as Laura/X-23
Stephen Merchant as Caliban
Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce

Aaron Hubbard: You don’t have to look at my review history very long to know I love superhero films. But even I get tired of them sometimes, and while I don’t want the genre to disappear entirely… Logan is the first movie in almost a decade to make me feel like the genre is spinning its wheels and is capable of being more. I love it, it’s nearly my favorite superhero movie and probably will top this year’s list of my favorites in the genre.

Michael Ornelas: I’ve been so busy this year, and this one was a casualty of that. The list of 2017 movies I’ve seen is shamefully small when compared to the previous two years. Logan has been at the top of my list of movies from this year that I haven’t seen yet for awhile, so I was more than happy to watch it for this. I loved it, too.
Jackman
Demythologization of the Superhero
Aaron: Logan is a film that nobody would think to call a superhero film if the main character wasn’t one of the most recognizable characters that comics have ever produced. It’s a down to earth human drama that veers into nihilism, delivers visceral R-rated action, and is about facing one’s mortality and trying to so with dignity. While it definitely has some moments of comic book strangeness, this is the heaviest, most adult film in terms of its themes the genre has ever produced. It tears down the myth of Wolverine, strips him down to his base humanity, but ultimately opines that the myth is worth remembering and has value. Even if it isn’t totally in line with reality.

Michael: I’ve never been captivated by the X-Men universe, and so I found this to be the most enjoyable entry I’ve seen in the franchise merely for the fact that it presents itself so differently. This movie rarely felt “Hollywood popcorn blockbuster” to me. This movie felt like there was a story to tell, and dammit, they were going to tell it. The humanization of Wolverine really endeared him to me as not just a protagonist, but a well-rounded character. The R-rating also really helped with this because it allowed them to go into gritty territory we don’t often get to see in superhero films. The MCU is great and all but they don’t make movies like this and I’m glad this exists outside of it.

Aaron: Yeah, I don’t think Marvel Studios has any desire to push the genre this far. And that’s okay; I don’t want every superhero to be a nihilistic, ultra-violent deconstruction. Comics really started to suck when everything tried to emulate Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, which this film reminds me of in many ways. But I’m very glad this exists and think it is a fitting eulogy to the X-Men movies. Even though Fox is still going to try.
Stewart
The Fall of Xavier
Michael: My heart broke from Charles Xavier throughout this movie, but man was his deterioration handled creatively. My favorite parts of the movie involved his suffering triggering his powers. It was heart-wrenching because it was a very unpretty portrayal of being elderly and stripped Xavier of his dignity at times. To see him play needy is tough but adds so much depth to the film. I think the coolest sequence (visually) in the film is when Logan is struck by Xavier’s powers and everyone around him in the hotel is tensing/freezing up, and he has to get to Charles, and kills all the men coming for him in the room. Seriously, so well done.

Aaron: I was very happy to see Patrick Stewart return to the role one last time. The X-Men franchise is hit or miss but these two were the soul of their franchise. Here, Jackman and Stewart get to push their characters in new directions. It’s clear that Logan sees Xavier as a father figure, which serves as a juxtaposition with his relationship with Laura. It’s no coincidence that Logan becomes more physically vulnerable after Charles’ death. He is now the old man waiting to die, and Laura is the one taking care of her ailing father figure.

Michael: That parallel was clear without hammering it over the audience’s head, which is my way of giving huge props to James Mangold, who gave this story the delicacy it needed to give it emotional impact while also maintaining it a gruff exterior…a perfect metaphor for Logan himself in this movie.
Laura
Leaving a Legacy
Aaron: On the whole, Logan is not an upbeat or happy movie. Logan and Xavier are not only facing their mortality, but the reality that the dream of the X-Men was all for nothing. But the film finds its hope in Laura, a young girl raised on the X-Men myth. Though he is reluctant, Logan eventually learns that Laura can be his legacy; if he protects her, he dies a hero. If she can believe in who Wolverine was and use it to protect the kids, maybe the dream doesn’t die with them. In spite of the downer ending, I find a lot of satisfaction in how Logan’s life came to an end.

Michael: Absolutely. The legacy aspect very cleverly tied into the story with the inclusion of X-Men comics being canon. That blew my mind, amused me immensely, and ultimately ended up being my favorite little detail about the film. Seeing this “next generation” with Laura, and specifically her adherence to and belief in the comics, gave me hope that the legacy can in fact live on.

Aaron: I also have to give major props to how the character Laura was handled. She is both completely a kid (the rocking horse scene is a favorite of mine) and a total badass in a way young girls rarely get to see themselves portrayed on screen. Dafne has real screen presence and her glare makes it believable that this girl can deal with and dish out pain. I feel that, through Laura, the film expresses that while the superhero genre isn’t sufficient for us as adults, we still have to remember the power it has for children.

Ratings:
Michael: I also didn’t really get an opportunity to state how much I enjoyed Stephen Merchant’s performance in the film, so I’ll just do that here. On top of great performances, this story was told at a perfect pace, all the big moments had gravitas, the action rocked, and I don’t have any major complaints. Definitely one of the top movies of the year.

A+

Aaron: I often find myself hesitant to be enthusiastic about new releases, especially in genres I love. It’s really easy to get caught up in hype. But Logan is the real fucking deal; it has hard-hitting action and great characters, and provides commentary on the genre and a fitting end to Jackman’s 17-year run as Wolverine. It was a bumpy road but it ended on the highest note possible.

A+

Michael: That was our first perfect score in a little bit, yeah?

Aaron: Yeah it’s been a weird but really fun summer of picks.

What is your favorite X-Men film, and what do you want to see from them in the future?

Next week:

Michael: Next week’s pick will absolutely not receive a perfect score, but I want to see what Aaron makes of it, and it’ll be fun to revisit it. I enjoy Kevin Smith more than most people…but I have no problem calling him out on his shit. This next pick has his best and worst qualities all wrapped into one.
Tusk
Aaron: I have not brought myself to watch this one. I stopped being interested in Kevin Smith films after Red State. I’ve heard mixed things on Tusk; so bad it’s good? Or so bad it’s awful? Guess I’ll find out.

Michael: I wouldn’t call it either of those. I think the first half of it sets up an amazing horror movie while the second half…well, you’ll find out.

Are you looking forward to Moose Jaws? Michael is!

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Aaron Has Another Column!
Want to see me rave about another, happier comic book film? Check out my column on Iron Man from earlier this week.

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here to see my star ratings for over 850 films. Recent reviews include Alien: Covenant, Kong: Skull Island and Netflix original film Okja. That last one is what would happen if Cronenberg made a Studio Ghibli movie.

10.0
The final score: review Virtually Perfect
The 411
Logan is both a deconstruction and a reaffirmation of the superhero myth. The film is for adults not just for its brutal violence, but for its preoccupation with mortality. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart breathe new life into their X-Men characters as they bid farewell, while Dafne Keen handles herself well as X-23. Even if you are tired of superhero films or have never been a huge fan of the X-Men, Logan is a must watch.
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