Logan: The End of an Era
If you’re one of the movie goers who contributed to Logan’s $85.3 million domestic opening over the weekend, then this review is for you. For everyone else, you may want to go see Logan before reading. The following article Logan: The End of an Era will contain spoilers. This will be your only warning. Clear? Good. Now that we have that bit of business out of the way, I wanna talk about the movie everyone else is talking about. That’s right if you haven’t guessed it, I was one of the nerds…sorry, geeks who ventured and braved the crowds to see Logan. I sat shoulder to shoulder with friends and strangers to witness the end of an era. Which era? The Wolverine, or at least Hugh Jackman’s portrayal as one of the more popular characters in the X-Men lexicon. And let’s face it, this may very well be the end of the character Logan as well, for the time being. At this stage, I don’t see anyone else picking up the reins and having much chance of success. But, that’s a conversation for another day. As I said, I wanna talk about Logan.
Here’s a quick synopsis from the always loveable IMDb:
“In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.”
Not a bad synopsis, as simple as the basic premise and catalyst of the film itself. Better than the typical three words they usually give movies. And they’re not wrong, as the movie opens, the year is 2029, and sleeping Logan is woken by a gang on the Texas-Mexico border attempting to steal his tires. Logan stumbles on the scene and gives a somewhat slurred warning for the would-be “bad guys” to do themselves a favor and take off. On par with what most red shirts do, they ignore his warning and shoot him down. A typical setup for any superhero action movie. But there’s somewhat different here. Something amiss. Wolverine isn’t getting up as fast as he used to. He’s taking a lot more punches until he’s basically driven into an animal like state, lashing out wildly and somewhat lazy. EVenutally in what would have normally taken him seconds, he finally dispatches the would-be thieves, jumps back into his car (a limo BTW), and takes off. He stops at a nearby gas station and runs into the bathroom to clean himself up. It’s here we see more evidence that something is not right with our beloved hero. His body is riddled with poorly healed scars. Marks that would have in the past healed over in a blink of the eye, are now a visible roadmap who his harsh existence.
So, I’m not going to do a play for play on this review. If you’ve seen it, then you already know what happens.
For the most part, Logan (as a movie) felt very familiar. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Wolverine as the reclusive hero or even the reluctant hero. In just about all the movies thus far in which Wolverine makes an appearance, he has been the grumpy cigar smoking asshole everyone loves, except for in Days of Future Past (my favorite X-Men movie) in which he took lead role as the dominant leader of the pack, and of course his cameo in X-Men Apocalypse, one of the few highlights of that movie where they finally got the Weapon-X story arch right. Tell me I’m wrong, but besides those two movies, has not Wolverine always been the “reluctant hero?” And that’s okay. It’s his MO. What it really means is that director James Mangold will have to work twice as hard not to bore the shit out of long time fans. Something he wasn’t quite able to do in his first foray with Wolverine in The Wolverine (2013), which to be fair was much better than the previous Wolverine movies, the duo bust that-shall-not-be-named (Last Stand and Origins), he still fumbled a bit with the ending. The majority of The Wolverine was pretty good, I thought. Bringing Logan out of his guilt and into his true purpose as a soldier/warrior.
Carrying into Logan, Mangold brings the evolution of this “warrior’s tale” to its final conclusion, in a movie that works as both a western and as a dystopian without having to resort to a dismal apocalyptic future. No, the Sentinels are not to blame. Nor is Bolivar Trask. Or even Col. Striker…well, perhaps his legacy is to blame for some of it. No, the real bombshell is that it was Xavier’s degenerative brain disease that is to fault in the so-called “Westchester Event,” as he called it in an impromptu confession of sorts, to the deaths of the mutants, or at least the X-Men. Most of the backstory is left to interpretation and not filled in with lazy narration or exposition. This “revelation,” just before Xavier’s final moments, reveals that this is NOT just another reluctant hero movie, this isn’t a rinse and repeat from Mangold’s first go with Wolverine back in 2013. Logan was a hero, he was a warrior and a soldier, but after witnessing the deaths of his friends, an event that would send any hero Helter Skelter, he’s simply lost his purpose, his banner…now set on caring for himself, and also an ailing aged Professor, and of course Caliban is there too. Can you image?He’s caring for the man who killed his friends, not malevolently of course, to no one’s fault but the disease. Still…what a burden, right? Enough to make anyone a selfish prick.
So, the motivation makes sense, and though they make stem from the same vein as previous films, the differences make all the difference. Logan is a wounded, dying animal driven into a corner, and as such furiously defends himself and his very selective circle. But then a strange woman arrives and begs for that “hero,” the legend that this Wolverine, to return and help guide a young mutant, Laura (who happens to be his daughter), played wonderfully by Dafne Keen, to a place called Eden on the Canadian border. Eden is a place mentioned in a comic book, along with a set of GPS coordinates. But Eden doesn’t really exist, and it does exist. This part of the story was kinda brilliant, playing off audience expectations. Seeing an X-Men comic, kinda fourth wall; kinda not, showcasing a sentimental view of the X-Men and this place called Eden, which Logan constantly tells Laura doesn’t exist because it’s in a comic book, therefore fictional, and then, in the end, Eden does exist, but not in the way audiences may have expected. Eden was simply a rondevu point for the escaped children who were part of an initiative designed to re-create the Weapon-X program, the same program that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton and claws.
From here the conclusion is drawn in the sand. Thanks to the children, and some hair trimmings, Logan becomes what he was always meant to be. Not a warrior for hire, but a hero. A very angry and very very violent hero, facing off against what he could have become had he remained in the original Weapon-X program, a rampaging, feral, mindless killing machine. This clone aspect was interesting and very symbolic, forced to square off against one’s past, a somewhat distorted mirror image. For a moment, I thought X-24 looked somewhat like Sabertooth from that dreadful Origins movie with the mutton chops. For a story arch this long, spanning seventeen years, the ending of Logan was exactly how it should have ended. Just like with the “what happened to all the mutants” question, the “why isn’t Logan healing” is also kind of fill in the blanks. The assumption I think is that Logan is suffering from some sort of long-term exposure to adamantium. his healing factor is all but burnt out now. Knowing this, we should have known going into this movie that Wolverine was not going to ride off into the sunset. This was his last mission, not to save the future, but to give the future a chance. While sad, the ending is fitting, as Laura and the other children bury Logan, marking his grave with a wooden X, and running off into an unknown destiny.
I’m sure more will be said regarding all those metaphors and symbolisms we grazed over about family and parenthood or fatherhood, and all that. For now, let me close this review with one final summation. Why did “they” have to get Wolverine right on the FINAL movie??? Seriously. Finally, as audiences would no doubt want more, we’re given the last bill. The emotional setup was near-perfect, opening the curtains by giving us a brief look at Deadpool 2, everyone laughing and then closing the curtains with Logan’s death and an uncertain future for a new generation of mutants. And the no after credit scene added to the realization, this was it. Perhaps not the end of the X-Men, but certainly the end of an era.
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.
Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He is published with The Sinister Horror Company’s horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein and Apocalypse Meow. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, both Dwelling and Emerging and Conceiving, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston Clear Lake with a BA in History. He blogs at machinemean[dot]org, where he does author interviews and reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can keep up with Thomas and all his strange books by joining his author newsletter, at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.
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Weekend at the Movies: The Wolverine
As the sixth installment in the X-men film lexicon, The Wolverine doesn’t disappoint. It was interesting to see how much of the story in The Wolverine is based on the events during X-men: Last Stand…surprising, considering how consistent everyone hated it. But it looks like the folks over at Fox have decided to keep it as a part of their X-men universe. To be reasonable, by this point with the release of so many Marvel/DC movies, we have to come to terms and accept the fact that the stories we’ve all grown up with in the comics do not necessarily translate or transfer well into cinema. Not to say directors and producers should ignore the origins that have made these character beloved icons. Not at all. Simply, it is a very precarious balance between the two worlds. You can’t have all comic, but the films also cannot take the comic element away either. During Last Stand, the balance got tipped a bit towards cinema when Brett Ratner killed off a few too many characters. With that being said, The Wolverine picks up the pieces left behind and makes the events that pissed off so many nerds bearable.
Disclaimer: There may be spoilers up ahead. I will do my best to warn you before anything is given away that you might not want to read. My intention with this review is to not give any major plot points away, but again, I’ll have to talk about some things from the film. You have been warned.
Have you ever gone to a movie and been anxious? Have you ever drove up with knots in your stomach. You’re smiling but still a little hesitant? For me, this is how I felt as I pulled up to the theater in Webster. Luckily, there weren’t too many other early birds in the parking lot. I was there to see The Wolverine. I hadn’t been to a movie opening weekend in some time. The last being Hunger Games. I got my $6 ticket and my bag of popcorn and soda and sat down and waited, nervously. Why nervous? Well, two parts, aside from the feeling this movie was going to be awesome, the last Wolverine movie (Origins) had been only good enough to be passable, though it could have been better, way better, way — way better! Origins was too rushed and should have explored his character more. Second, because of the last Wolverine movie, there was a good chance this movie was also going to be just another could have been better comic based movie. Thankfully, my nervousness was for not. The Wolverine began amazing and ended amazing. From start to finish, this sixth installment was perfectly balanced. Picking up from the events of Last Stand, we’re introduced to a lamenting Logan who is “dealing” with the death of Jean Grey, a death he brought about if you remember. We’re also given a little taste of his time in Japan as a POW during WWII, just before the bomb was dropped. Not a shabby opening sequence, if I do say so myself! And also in the opening, we’re given the theme that will be constantly thrown about: death and living.
Eventually, Logan is forced back into the world at the request of the man he saved during the war, Yashida. A new character Yukio, on behalf of her employer, brings the “caveman” looking Logan back to Japan. The following experience was welcomed, an equal balance of humor and tragedy with the ever present theme of death. Yashida is dying and makes a very strange proposal for Logan, who is obviously depressed because of Jean and the weight of a long life, with so many loved ones dying around him, but Wolverine isn’t dumb, he can smell a bad proposition when he hears one and refuses. I’ll leave the details of this teed bit for those who haven’t seen the movie yet!
Logan’s refusal, however, forces the character into a chain of misfortune events. SPOILER: during the funeral sequence, we discover Logan has lost most, not all, of his healing powers. This is where I was most impressed. Sure, the healing factor is very much a part of Wolverine, but its not everything; his drive and determination boil from some place much deeper than his mutant ability. Despite the newfound disability, Wolverine pushes through a bunch of ninja assassins and kicks butt. From the funeral, to the train, and all the way to the eventual revelation to the evil force behind all the calamity, Wolverines perseverance is what makes him a superhero. SPOILER: Silver Samurai is not a robot; thank you Jesus!!! All the trailers made it seem that he was; however, as the larger plot unfolds, we discover that Yashida has not died as we were lead to believe. In fact, he’s gone completely mental over his obsession to prolong his life and becomes the “Gambit” powered warrior. Some hardcore fans of the 1980’s Wolverine series might be a bit perturbed with the character change ups, but not me. I never read the 80’s series, and so, this was a new experience and an awesome adventure to witness. I was thankful with the Samurai not being some goofy robot though. It would have been too much and not personal enough with the whole death and living theme working throughout the movie. Another great part in the movie, which is normally the worst part in most comic based movies, but for The Wolverine, everything worked perfectly as his characters purpose was restored.
Bottom Line: I do not want to give to much away here. The Wolverine just opened and folks are still waiting to see it. My suggestion is to leave the comic story behind, for now, and embrace this Wolverine as a new arch in the Marvel universe. To be honest, comics change more than movies do sometimes, I think we can forgive the director and screen writers here for any deviations. The Wolverine is amazing adventure and story, start to finish. And as a bonus, stay after the credits…trust me, its worth waiting to go pee!