Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Movie review: Wolverine shows claws in ‘Logan’

Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

It’s called “Logan.”

Who, you might ask, is Logan?

After a blockbuster opening weekend, you may be among the few in the whole wide world who does not know that Logan is the name of Wolverine, here downplayed as a comic book superhero and presented more as a human being, albeit, a so-called mutant human being, played again with brooding gusto by Hugh Jackman.

Make no mistake about it, Logan, aka Wolverine, gets his claws out in “Logan” aplenty. The result is quite a bloodbath with so many “killings,” I didn’t even try to count them. Be forewarned: There is mucho mayhem, of which parents should be aware if they plan to take preteens to the movie (the R rating for a comic-book based movie is unfortunate but understandable given the violence and profanity). Those claws eviscerate the “bad hombres” in graphic detail, but with little blood-splattering.

Adding to the carnage is a “little mutant,” a preteen girl, X-23, aka Laura (an excellent Dafne Keen, TV’s “The Refugees,” 2015, in her theatrical movie debut), with a bad attitude who’s willing to get her claws out for any seeming slight.

Director James Mangold, who wrote the “Logan” story and co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Frank (“The Wolverine,” 2013; “Minority Report,” 2002; “Get Shorty,” 1995; director, “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” 2014) and Michael Green (“Green Lantern,” 2011), is back, having directed “The Wolverine.”). “Logan” is based on characters from Marvel Comics created by John Romita Sr., Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Herb Timpe, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost and Laura Kinney.

The storyline is post X-Men. Logan must get X-23 from the Mexico border to a safe haven in Canada. Can you say “metaphor?”

Mangold is noted for helming Oscar-winning performances (Reese Witherspoon, Oscar actress, “I Walk the Line,” 2005; Angelina Jolie, Oscar supporting actress, “Girl, Interrupted,” 1999); the excellent remake, “3:10 to Yuma,“ with fine performances from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, among others, 2007, and one of Sylvester Stallone’s best performances in “Copland,” 1997.

While “Logan” has its share of computer-generated imagery, it’s not used, as in many comic book superhero theatrical movies, to blow up buildings, entire cities or spacecraft. Instead, the CGI blends seamlessly with the characters’ actions, mostly in the fight and chase scenes.

The chase scenes, with a parade of pickups, SUVs and military vehicles, gives a “Mad Max” sense. X-23 isn’t the only young mutant. Her cohorts are reminiscent of “Children of the Corn.”

The creating of the mutant children is depicted through cellphone video footage, a clever plot use of the device. The screenplay, what with gene splicing, is pertinent in this storyline, replete with a greedy biogenics corporate honcho (Richard E. Grant). The dialogue deals with these ethical questions in a cursory manner.

“Logan” uses many exterior nonurban locations, including scenes of the Southwest (filmed in New Mexico) and the North Central West (representing North Dakota, but apparently not filmed there). There are a few interior scenes, including an abandoned factory building where Professor X, aka Charles the mastermind (a fine Patrick Stewart), is holed up.

Mangold gets good performances from Jackman, looking at his most perturbed; Stewart, ever the sagacious elder, and Keen, who seems to be the most petulant preteen ever. Mangold elicits good interplay in scenes with these main characters.

The villains aren’t particularly memorable, and that’s perhaps as it should be for this is Logan’s film all the way.

And after seeing “Logan,” you will remember his name.

“Logan,”MPAA Rated R (Restricted. Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.) for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity; Genre: Action, Drama, Science Fiction; Run time: 2 hrs., 17 mins.; Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Credit Readers Anonymous:“Logan” was filmed in New Mexico, California, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Box Office March 17:It was a battle of the beasts at the box office and “Beauty” won. The live-action version of the animated hit “Beauty and the Beast,” starring Emma Watson of “Harry Potter” fame as Beauty, put up summer blockbuster numbers, opening at No. 1 with $170 million, ending the No. 1 one-week run of another big hairy “Beast,” “Kong: Skull Island,” with a still-strong $28.8 million, $110.1 million, two weeks, and keeping that other beast “Logan,” still showing signs of life at No., 3, with $17.5 million, $184 million, three weeks;

4. “Get Out,” $13.2 million, $133.1 million, four weeks; “The Shack,” $6.1 million, $42.6 million, three weeks; 5. “The Lego Batman Movie,” $4.7 million, $167.4 million, six weeks; 7. “The Belko Experiment,” $4.1 million, opening; 8. “Hidden Figures” (three Oscar nominations), $1.5 million, $165.5 million, 13 weeks; 9. “John Wick: Chapter 2,” $1.2 million, $89.7 million, six weeks; 10. “Before I Fall,” $1 million, $11.2 million, three weeks.

Unreel, March 24:

“Power Rangers,”PG-13: Dean Israelite directs Becky G., Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston and Naomi Scott in the action, adventure science-fiction reboot about those high school students possessed of superpowers to save the world. Sounds like your typical group of teens (or so they think).

“Life,”Daniel Espinosa directs Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Hiroyuki Sanada in the horror science-fiction thriller about an international space crew that discovers life on Mars.

“CHiPS,”R: Dax Shepard directs Michael Peña, Dax Shepard, Jessica McNamee, Adam Brody and himself in the action comedy reboot about the misadventures of two California Highway Patrol (CHiP) motorcycle officers as they patrol the Los Angeles freeways.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes