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Posts tagged “X-men

Logan: The End of an Era

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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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Terrifying Moments in Cartoon History

who's ready for breakfast?

Not to sound like the old guy in the room, but Saturday morning cartoons just aren’t the same anymore. In fact, Saturday morning cartoons seem to be nonexistent. Sure, there are some originals, like Rick and Morty and Adventure Time, but for the most part kids nowadays are being feed a refried equivalent to what my generation watched back in the 80’s and 90’s. Marvel based cartoons (Avengers, Hulk, X-men), thanks to the recent surge of super hero movies during the 2010’s, have found themselves gaining rating with the younger generation. DC’s Young Justice League seems to be rather popular these days. There is even going to be a new take on Batman, called Son of Batman, though I doubt it’ll have the same luster as the original animated series. And sweet baby Jesus, even My Little Pony has made a (some what disturbing) come back! My favorite Saturday morning cartoon, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been revamped and are as popular as ever, there is even a Micheal Bay live action adaptation coming out. And will we see the evil cogs being manipulated by the brain-ish blubbering Krang? No, I seriously doubt he’ll make an appearance.

Why?

the always impressive and genius, Krang

While today’s cartoons may mimic the ones from our Saturday morning heyday, they are however not the same. It seems like cartoons, or at least the cartoons I enjoyed, back in the 80’s and especially the 90’s were darker, grittier. Not because these pre-HD days, but because the writers and producers seem more willing to take risks and weren’t afraid to show audiences something disturbing. Looking back on it now, even cartoons as far removed from what’s consider traditional horror, would sometimes introduce new character origin stories or plot arcs that involved something tiptoeing the verge of gruesome. Consider the following Terrifying Moments in Cartoon History and tell me if kids are still getting the same cartoons as we did:

 

1.  Clayface (Batman: The Animated Series)

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Even now, I can still remember how Batman: The Animated Series was the sole Saturday morning cartoon I looked forward to the most. but when I watched the washed up has-been actor Basil Karlo jumped by a bunch of shadowy gangsters who poured a tub of experimental, addictive cosmetic (which applied in small doses, allowed Karlo to hide his scars) over his gurgling face, I was a bit surprised and applauded this daring take on a iconic comic villain. I’m not sure what was more intense, watching Karlo near choke to death or that he was an absolute sympathetic character who wasn’t really a complete “bad-guy.” He was just a guy who made not so great choices and went through something horrible. This is what made the Batman of the 90’s so darn good. Not all villains are caricatures, sometimes they are people who rationalize their own reasons for doing the things they do.

2. Baxter Stockman (TMNT)

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TMNT had a few questionable character creations (Bebop & Rocksteady), but Dr. Stockman takes the cake. This was a Saturday morning kids cartoon that gave a nod to Goldblum’s 1986 eccentric scientist who’s experiment does terribly wrong (watch, The Fly, if you have no idea what i’m talking about…go, now, watch). A CHILDREN’S CARTOON MIND YOU!! No judgments, but damn… could you imagine if some PTA crazed soccer mom saw this reference…and actually understood that Baxter was totally Seth Brundle?!?

3. Man-Spider (Spider-man, 1994 Fox Animated Series)

how's about a little kiss?

Spider-man was another Fox Saturday morning animated line up that I enjoyed as an adolescent. It was fun with lots of action and plenty of villains for Peter Parker to fend off. Until the morning when Peter became the monster and transformed into this cuddle bug. The story followed a “what-if” scenario that’s actually part of the larger Spider-man comic universe where the bite that gave Parker his abilities continued to change him.

4. Ghash (The Real Ghostbusters, 1986)

"come to me..."

Believe it or not, the Real Ghostbusters animated cartoon used to be widely popular. And for a cartoon based on a comedy about a business that catches and contains ghosts, we should expect some aspect of macabre. However, the episode Slimer, Come Home was a little bit darker than what my younger self anticipated. I can still remember the howling growl of Ghash calling the other poltergeists to him, “Come to me.”  There was just something about the Lovecraftian mouth on the stomach and the bubbling skin that kept me from eating pizza for at least week.

5. Morph (X-men Animated Series, 90’s)

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Nothing was more exciting than getting to watch the X-Men on Saturday mornings. But… in the first few episodes fans were introduced to some rather complex and disturbing content. The death of Morph is a moment in animated history I will not soon forget. Everything seemed to be going right. The mutant crew were giving as good as they got from the Sentinels, but Wolverines screams of anguish for the loss of his friend burrowed deep in my memory; his loss was our loss.

I think it goes without saying, they don’t make em’ like they used to! My favorite old an saying is how back in my day, cartoons actually scared you. What are some of your favorite terrifying cartoon moments? Leave them below in the comments section!

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Often called The Hemingway of Horror, Thomas S. Flowers secludes away to create character-driven stories of dark fiction ranging from Shakespearean gore feasts to paranormal thrillers. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, his debut novel, Reinheit, was soon published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Apocalypse Meow, Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, and FEAST. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, including Dwelling, Emerging, Conceiving, and Converging, 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 Bachelors in History. He blogs at machinemean[dot]org, where he reviews movies and books and hosts a gambit of guest writers who discuss a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can follow from Thomas at a safe distance by joining his author newsletter at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.

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