Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stubs - Logan

Logan (2017) Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Dafne Keen Directed by James Mangold Screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green. Based on the comic character: Wolverine created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita Sr. Produced by Hutch Parker; Simon Kinberg; Lauren Shuler Donner Run Time: 137 minutes. USA Color Superhero, Drama

Wolverine is perhaps the best-known Marvel character that is not part of the Avengers or part of the MCU. Making his first appearance in the last panel of The Incredible Hulk #180 (Oct. 1974), Wolverine was the creation of Roy Thomas, John Romita, Sr. and Len Wein. Wein, who recently passed, was one of the unsung heroes of American comics. A writer and editor at both DC and Marvel, Wein is created with co-creating DC’s Swamp Thing as well as reviving the X-Men franchise at Marvel. He was also the editor on Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ influential Watchmen series.

Previously, Wolverine has appeared in X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), The Wolverine (2013), and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), always played by Hugh Jackman. An Australian-born actor, Jackman first came to prominence in the Broadway stage musical The Boy from Oz (2003) about the life of Peter Allen. His choice as Wolverine was initially not met with applause, as he is a foot taller than how the character has been portrayed in comics.

The film had been in pre-production since 2013, with the studio 20th Century Fox looking for another solo Wolverine film as a sequel to the 2013 film. At the time, it was not confirmed if Jackman would be back in the titular role.

Filming began on May 2, 2016 under the title of Juarez to lower the visibility of the production. With a budget of $97 million, principal photography began in New Orleans and concluded in New Mexico on August 13, 2016. The film received an R rating, only the second of the X-Men films to receive that rating, the other being Deadpool (2016).

Logan takes place in 2029, in a future where no mutants have been born in 25 years. Wolverine is living as Logan (Hugh Jackman), an alcoholic limo driver working in El Paso, Texas. When the film opens, Logan is passed out in the backseat of his limo.

Outside, a gang of hoodlums are trying to steal the wheels off his five-year-old stretch limo. When he approaches them, they shoot him. Even though his healing ability has slowed and his body has aged, he is still Wolverine. Basically, they might knock him down, but he manages to kill most of them; the others flee the scene, leaving their dead friends behind.

Logan (Hugh Jackman) is an alcoholic limo driver in El Paso.

Logan continues to drive for bachelorette parties, prom nights and funerals. It is at the latter that he is approached by a strange woman, Gabriela Lopez (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who recognizes him as his alter ego. He, not so politely, tells her to leave him alone.

Next, we see Logan bribing a doctor for drugs. But we’re not alone making his observation; so does Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), the intense head of Security for Transigen. He asks Logan if he’s heard from Gabriela. In cryptic tones, he relates that she has something that he wants back. Logan has no plans to cooperate.

Logan takes care of Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart).

Logan next heads down, south of the border, to an abandoned smelting plant in Northern Mexico, where he keeps Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart) in the care of mutant tracker Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Charles suffers from a brain disease that causes him to lose control of his telepathic abilities, with destructive effects. The medicine that Logan has gotten from the doctor is supposed to keep those seizures to a minimum.

Charles claims to be communicating with a mutant, though neither Logan or Caliban believe him.

Back in El Paso, Logan responds to a ride request that takes him to the Liberty Motel, where Gabriela is staying with an 11-year-old girl, Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen). Gabriela offers Logan $20,000 to take her and Laura to a place called Eden in North Dakota at particular longitude/latitude coordinates. She tells him that Laura is her daughter and that they are in trouble and need to leave as soon as possible.

Logan, who is trying to raise money to buy a boat for him and Charles to live on, reluctantly accepts the job. While he’s back in Mexico letting Charles and Caliban know he’ll be gone for a couple of days, he gets an urgent text from Gabriela.

When he returns to the motel, he finds Gabriela murdered with Laura nowhere in sight. He heads back to Mexico, but is followed by Pierce. Also, unbeknownst to Logan, Laura has tagged along in the trunk of the limo. When Pierce starts to get rough, he is knocked out by a lead pipe thrown by Laura. She also tries to hit Logan with one, but he catches it.

Caliban (Stephen Merchant) is the first to realize they are not alone.

Charles immediately recognizes Laura as the mutant he’s been talking to and about. He takes her in for cereal, while Logan has Caliban take Pierce out and dump his body by the side of the road. But that part goes awry as Pierce revives before Caliban can head back and Pierce’s mercenaries, called Reavers, arrive.

When the Reavers arrive, Logan hurries Charles away from danger.

With the Reavers on the way, Logan takes Charles out to the limo, leaving Laura to fend for herself. When Pierce sends in three of the men to get the girl, she turns out to be more than they can handle. To prove this, she comes outside with the head of one of the Reavers.

Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) leads mercenaries called The Reavers as they look for Laura.

In the confusion, Logan tries to escape, collecting the girl as they go. They make it out of the complex, but the Reavers are in hot pursuit. Logan manages to outrun them to a nearby railroad track, where a long train shields them from their attackers and they manage to get away.

Laura (Dafne Keen) is more than the Reavers can handle.

But Pierce isn’t too worried, as he coerces Caliban to help them or be tortured.

Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) coerces Caliban into helping them find the girl.

When they come to a convenient store on the road, Logan and Charles look at a video Gabriela had left for him to watch on her cell phone, while Laura rides on a mechanical horse out front. In the rather elaborate video, considering it was all shot on a cell and narrated throughout, Gabriela explains that she worked as a nurse at Transigen in Mexico City, where she and other nurses were hired to take care of gene-altered babies, X-23s, who were born at the company under the direction of Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant).

The company was trying to grow their own mutants and, in the video, we see different ones who can move objects with their mind, make ice with their breath, set people on fire and, like Laura, display wolverine style claws. When the children resist being used as weapons, we see one boy jump to his death, Transigen changes plans and develop their own non-human soulless fighting machine, X-24, and set out to euthanize the children. Nurses like Gabriela set out to save as many of the children as they can, seeking a location known as Eden where the mutants will be safe.

The battery on the phone dies and Logan takes Charles into the restroom. With the quarters used up, Laura goes into the shop, where she shoplifts some Pringles, a drink and a pair of sunglasses before the store’s clerk (Dave Davis) stops her. Laura, who is also feral, attacks him and is about to claw him, when Logan intercedes. He apologies to the attendant before stealing a phone charger as they flee the scene.

The trio stops in Oklahoma City at a hotel/casino to get some rest and to change cars. There, Logan finishes watching the video on Gabriela’s phone and pieces together that she got the concept of Eden from one of the X-Men comic books that she took to be real accounts.

Meanwhile, Charles and Laura watch the movie Shane (1953), which he recalls fondly from his youth, recounting for her when he first saw the film when he was her age.

Logan is gone for more than hour getting a new ride, a pick up, and getting new tires put on. When he returns to the hotel, he notices that the Reavers are there as well. But before he can get inside, Charles has one of his seizures, which affects everyone in and around the hotel. Logan, who is not as affected as everyone else, can still move, though he needs his Wolverine claws to propel himself through the hallway to their room.

Logan has to use his Wolverine claws to manuever down the hallway when Charles has a seizure.

But the Reavers are already there, guns drawn and pointing at Charles. Logan kills all of the attackers in the room and then injects Charles with a suppressant which ends the seizures. While everyone, including Pierce, is still recovering, Logan, Charles and Laura manage to escape.

Meanwhile, Dr. Zander Rice manages to convince Caliban that no harm will come to Logan and Charles if Caliban helps them find Laura.

Back on the road with automated high speed trucks and there is a traffic incident that sends the Munsons, a farming family, along with their horse trailer, off the road. Charles uses his telepathy to help wrangle the horses and Logan helps them push their truck out of the ditch. Father Will Munson (Eriq La Salle), mother Kathryn (Elise Neal) and their son Nate (Quincy Fouse) are grateful for the help and invite the trio back to their house for dinner. While Logan wants to keep moving, Charles accepts the invitation.

After dinner, Will discovers that there is a problem with their water. Apparently, it is part of a feud he’s having with the Canewood Beverage company that had tried to buy him out and then force him out. Logan goes with Will to fix the pump. On the way, they pass through a field of tall corn, which Will tells him have been genetically modified and taste terrible. But the corn is not for eating, but for use in sports and soft drinks.

After making repairs, the two are confronted by Jackson (Lennie Loftin) and his henchmen about trespassing. When Jackson brandishes a rifle, Logan takes it away and breaks the stock over his knee. In the process, he also manages to break Jackson’s nose, causing the henchmen to flee.

Meanwhile, back at the Munson’s, Charles is awakened from his slumbers and tells Logan how good he feels. But unfortunately, it is not Logan he is talking to, but rather X-24 (Hugh Jackman), a Transigen clone of Logan, who kills Charles and grabs Laura. Nate and Kathryn are killed as well, even while Will and Logan are downstairs. When Will goes in to check on his family, X-24 stabs him. Logan runs upstairs to check on Charles, but finds him dead, before he chases after the girl.

Zander Rice, X-24’s minder, is waiting down the road in a truck with Pierce and Caliban, but on his way X-24 is mistaken for Logan by Jackson and his henchmen, who have come to get even with Will. They don’t realize who they are tangling with and X-24 rips them apart.

Meanwhile, Caliban steals two grenades and blows up the truck, killing himself, several Reavers and wounding Pierce. While he’s recovering from his wounds, Pierce goes through some evidence taken from the Munson house, including a photo Laura had been carrying of other mutants from Transigen. On the back, Pierce finds the coordinates for Eden.

Mad about what he’d done to Charles, Logan attacks, but he is overpowered and is about to be killed when Will, who has recovered, drives his truck into X-24, pinning him against some farm equipment. Will takes out a rifle and fires several shots into X-24. He then turns to Logan, but just as he lifts the rifle to shoot him, Will falls over dead from his wounds. Logan and Laura manage to escape with Charles’ body in the bed of the truck.

Logan saves Laura after Caliban blows up the Reavers' truck in the background.

After he buries Charles next to a lake, Logan is enraged when the truck won’t start. He attacks the disabled truck with a shovel before collapsing in the street, presumably from exhaustion. He wakes up in an urgent care facility, where a doctor (James Handy) recognizes him as a mutant. Despite the doctor’s warnings to check himself into a hospital or at least submit to some testing, Logan leaves.

He finds out that Laura has commandeered a truck and when he thanks her for taking him to the doctor, she speaks for the first time, “De nada." After that, she won’t shut up until Logan relents and agrees to take her to the North Dakota rendezvous. Even though he insists on driving, when he passes out, Laura drives the rest of the way.

Logan reluctantly agrees to drive Laura to Eden.

The other mutants are waiting for Laura high on a mountain top retreat, but when Logan tries to follow her, he collapses and is brought up the side of the cliff on a stretcher by a pulley. Eden is run by Rictor (Jason Genao) and they welcome Logan, who rests there for several days. But while he’s sleeping, the children laughingly cut his hair and beard to match his old Wolverine comic book look. Laura discovers that Logan is carrying an adamantium bullet which he tells her he thought about using to commit suicide. When he passes out again, she pries the bullet from his hand.

When the children plan to journey to Canada, Logan, much to Laura’s dismay, decides to stay behind. But the Reavers are onto their trail and swoop in to capture them. It’s not easy, as the mutants have some powers, but the Reavers do manage to capture most of the children.

Logan takes an overdose of serum given to him by Rictor that increases his physical abilities and restores his healing ability. Singlehandedly, he slaughters most of the Reavers and rescues Laura, but the serum wears off very quickly. As Pierce holds Rictor at gunpoint, Rice confronts Logan. They confirm that Logan killed Rice's father years ago while escaping from Weapon X. Rice confirms that the decline of mutants is due to a Transigen virus that Rice created and distributed through corn syrup.

Logan fights to save the children.

Logan shoots Rice dead and attacks Pierce, making him lose his robotic arm. X-24, who has been regenerated from the wounds he suffered at Will’s hand, is enraged by Rice's death. He attacks Logan.

Laura takes down one of the Reavers in the woods.

The children take advantage of the distraction and attack and kill the Reavers, including Pierce. Rictor uses his seismic powers to flip a large truck onto X-24. Logan encourages the children to run, anticipating the inevitable. X-24 manages to push off the truck and resumes his attack.

Grabbing the tired and wounded Logan, X-24 impales him on a tree branch. But before he can finish him off, Laura shoots X-24 through the head with the adamantium bullet, immediately killing him.
Laura tries to save Logan, but he’s too far gone from his wounds. After they have a touching father and daughter moment, he dies.

The children hold a burial and Laura’s eulogy consists of Shane’s speech to Joey Starrett at the end of that film:

Shane: Joey, there's no living with... with a killing. There's no going back from one. Right or wrong, it's a brand. A brand sticks. There's no going back. Now you run on home to your mother, and tell her... tell her everything's all right. And there aren't any more guns in the valley.

As the band of mutants continue on to Canada, Laura returns to the grave site, turning the cross at its head on its side, making an X. She then hurries to catch up with the other mutant children on their journey.

After premiering at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival on February 17, 2017, Logan was released in the US on March 3, 2017. The film would go on to gross $226.3 million in the United States and Canada and $616.2 million worldwide.

For a film that was part of the X-Men franchise, Logan doesn’t require that the viewer had necessarily seen any of its prequels. While it would certainly help to have seen some of these films, it is not a requirement, as the film does a fairly good job of setting up its characters. It might help to know who Charles is and what his powers are, but you can pick up what you need to know from the film.

The film earns its R rating. Violent and bloody, there is a fair amount of cursing as well as a fleeting shot of a bridesmaid (Laura Gros) flashing for Logan from the backseat of his limo. The violence includes a lot of impaling, at least two decapitations and X-24 getting part of its head blown off. This is not your usual super-hero film and was not intended for the usual audience.

The acting is really very good. Hugh Jackman is quite a talent with both a physical and emotional presence. He seems very comfortable in the role of Logan/Wolverine, a part he has played off and on for seventeen years.

As much action as Jackman does as Logan, Patrick Stewart as Charles is pretty much the opposite, as he is relegated to either a wheelchair or a bed for most of the film. Still, he gives a very captivating performance.

Stephen Merchant, as Caliban, the mutant hunter turned caregiver, provides some comic relief to an otherwise serious film.

[In a fit of anger, Logan smacks Caliban's drink from his hand, shattering the cup]
Caliban: That was my favorite mug.

Boyd Holbrook plays Donald Pierce in Logan.

The villains are also well-represented by Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce, who, like the Energizer Battery Bunny, never gives up in his relentless pursuit of Laura and her fellow mutants. His mild southern accent provides just enough of the good-old-boy turned evil that punctuates the character. Richard E. Grant as Dr. Zander Rice brings a little sophistication to his character, sort of like a Bond villain, his cultured exterior covering up his internal evil. He might talk like a well-educated man, but in reality he is heartless.

But the biggest surprise is Dafne Keen, the Spanish-British actress who plays Laura. At 11 years-old she has a presence even though she doesn’t speak a word for most of the film. In only her first feature, it is easy to say a star has been born. But while it is too early to say, if she can continue to give the type of performance she gives here, then that will be true.

Overall, the film was quite good and is perhaps the first truly serious take on a comic-hero movie. Logan/Wolverine for the first time is human with human frailties. It makes you feel sad that it is more of an end to the series than a beginning. There is no telling what comic-book movies might have been like if they followed this blueprint.

But unlike most of the films say from the MCU, this is not a child-friendly take on superheroes and the R-rating should be adhered to, even if you’re watching it at home.


Logan Noir (2017) Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Dafne Keen Directed by James Mangold Screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green. Based on the comic character: Wolverine created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita Sr. Produced by Hutch Parker; Simon Kinberg; Lauren Shuler Donner Run Time: 137 minutes. USA Black and White. Superhero, Drama

When director James Mangold took photographs on the set, he noticed how striking the photos translated to black and white. Mangold and his Director of Photography, John Mathieson, did a lot of night shooting with sculptural black & sidelight separating actors from the background. This led to a black and white master that was eventually released for a short run in theaters and was released on home video.

It is exactly the same film, there are no special edits or cuts specific to this version. It is sort of like listening to a mono remix of your favorite stereo album. Nothing is really taken away but in some cases new images emerge.

Logan Noir is the same movie but shown in black and white.

Black and white reminds you of all of the film noirs from the 1940s and 50s. Like most of them, some of the best action in Logan takes place at night. While the monochromatic visuals provide a striking retake of sorts, they don’t really add or subtract from the overall story. One thing it does do, and that might not have been intended, is that it seems to mitigate the gory quality of the original. For some reason, the blood (and there is plenty of it) is not as pronounced in black and white, but make no mistake, it is still just as violent as its color counterpart.

The imagery looks more stark in black and white.

Modern audiences may not be used to seeing black and white films, which is a shame. Hopefully, Logan Noir might be used as a gateway to introduce them to the vast Hollywood repertoire that was not filmed in color. There is so much there to explore that perhaps seeing a modern film get this treatment will make it okay to keep digging.

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