Logan Movie Review

LOGAN MOVIE REVIEW BY JMCNAUGHTON


“Logan” proves out the old adage from the Bible: “Those who live by the adamantium blade will die by the adamantium blade”, or something like that. Logan being the X-Man called Wolverine who has been enhanced with the indestructible metal called adamantium; this movie shows the difficult end times of the former superhero. His strength and powers of regeneration are almost gone, and the years have not been kind.

In 2029, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is visibly aged. We is emotionally and mentally drained. All other ‘mutant’ being are thought to be long dead. But Logan is hiding a frail Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who is up into his nineties. Xavier’s mind is fading and starting to fail, and at times he seizes up and sends telepathic waves that will cause a state of paralysis. One other mutant exists, called Caliban, who helps tend to the disabled Xavier.

Logan meets a woman who begs him to take a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) to North Dakota. Logan is driving a limo in El Paso to make money, but the woman offers a large amount to protect the child. There are evil forces from a government-run research industry. The security team headed by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) finds and kills the woman, and then comes for Logan and the girl.

 

Soon there is a wild fight at Logan’s Mexico hideout, but he escapes with Xavier and Laura. The girl is shown to be a super-powered Wolverine Junior, with the retractable blades and such. Her fighting skills are as sharp as her weapons. Logan finds out that the research company was raising many children in Mexico and they were turning them into miniature weaponized mutants. Pierce and his crew of bounty hunters, called Reavers, will stop at nothing to get them all.

Before you can ‘road trip’, the group are heading across country to get to a special ‘safe place’ that Laura read about in the X-Men comic books. Logan is mortified that any of his past exploits were put into a comic book. Prof X has another seizure and it causes a lot of grief for everyone around them. They barely escape, and they are running low on medicine for Prof X. Pierce and the head of the research place named Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant) are closing in.

After stopping to help a farmer with some wild horses, Logan, Prof X and Laura are invited to take a break. But things do not work out well for anyone, and more death and mayhem occur. Logan and Laura get back out on the road to find the safe zone, where Laura hopes to find the other mutant offspring who escaped with her from the research facility. If she can make it there, they can all cross the border to Canada, eh!

But every time he fights and every bad guy killed by Logan keeps draining him of his powers to heal and rejuvenate. He is looking all the worse for wear, and the days have been rough. As Indiana Jones would say “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage”. Logan is feeling every little ache and pain that was inflicted on him for all those years/miles.

You may have heard that this is Hugh Jackman’s last performance as the Wolverine (or Logan). He has intended to make this final movie the most bad-ass swan song ever.  He has made sure that the movie cuts to the core of Wolverine. It is brutal, violent and profane. The movie is rated R, and for very good reason. The language is very rough; the fighting is bloody and sometimes gory. It perfectly suits a character like Wolverine.

 

Jackman worked with director James Mangold to get everything just right. The theme resembles an old Western in which the heroes are being chased over the frontier hills and valleys. The tone of regret and despair falls over everyone. All the super powers are nearly gone, and days of a quick recovery turn into weeks of pain and agony. Will there be any redemption for Logan?

Hugh Jackman has taken this character over seventeen years of X-Men movies to this one as the final conclusion. His performance is distinct and precise, and evokes a great deal of inner pain and mental anguish. He plays it all to the letter, and does not hit any false notes. Patrick Stewart is also terrific as a mentally diminished Professor X. He is pained by the fact that is losing control of his mind. He lapses into a seizure and the world around him gets a taste of his telepathic skills gone very wrong.

Dafne Keen gives a masterful performance as a little girl who has been raised to be a brutal killing machine. She has a physical presence that can give you chills when you see her become angry. You know that something very, very bad is about to happen. But she can do that with her stance and the glare in her eyes. It is quite an impressive feat for this young actress. All the rest of cast are also well-cast in their roles, but main three are the ones that count.

 

Is this the end of X-Men, and the end of Wolverine? It is for Hugh Jackman, and he has done well by having a long phase of his career playing the super-hero. If you can stand the harsh language and the bloody violence, then you can see that Jackman has gone out on his own terms. He ends it with a brilliant performance surrounded by a talented cast.

Logan movie review by JMcNaughton


A Monster Calls

“A Monster Calls” is a heart-wrenching yet artistic view into a 12-year boy and his troubled life. With a slowly dying Mom, a divorced dad who lives far away, and a grandmother with a gruff and unemotional manner, he is dealing with quite a lot. Also, his time in school is marred by a group of bullies who confront him every day. If only he had the size and strength and courage of a Monster…

Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) lives in a small rural town in the English countryside. His life is in turmoil because his Mom, Lizzie (Felicity Jones) is getting worse with a terminal illness. It is difficult at school, because there are boys that bully Conor, mostly because he has a sick mom and he is a good artist. Mom and Dad (Toby Kebbell ) are divorced, and he lives in California. Dad comes to visit, but he again shows that he is not part of Conor’s life.

When Lizzie gets so bad that she needs to be in the hospital, Conor must stay with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). She is strict with Conor, and she cares more about cleanliness and keeping order in her house than she does about Conor. Conor has dreams of being big and strong and getting his way. He wants to set things right, and to get his Mom back. Then one night, something strange happens.

Out on the distant hill, there is an old church and a still older yew tree. The anxiety and pain in Conor’s life is felt by the yew tree. It comes to life, and it comes to visit Conor. The immense humanoid tree seems very scary, yet he speaks with a gentle but authoritative voice. The Monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) has three stories to tell Conor, and when he is done, Conor must tell him one story.

The stories that the Monster tells are illustrated with a beautiful watercolor animation sequence. The first story is about a magical kingdom that has kings and queens. The second story is about a pastor who shames an old man who sells roots and herbs that can cure people. The third is about an invisible man and a monster that helped him. Conor hears the stories, but they do not work out the way that he thought they would.

Conor hears the stories, but he overreacts. He drives away his father and becomes more distant to his grandmother. He goes overboard and destroys everything precious in his grandmother’s living room. He is overcome with rage and fights back against the bully, but sends him to the hospital. In each of these cases, even when he has done something outrageous and destructive, he does not receive any punishment. Conor is simply dealing with too much stress, they all say.

But nobody knows about the Monster, and nobody knows about the stories. They surely don’t know that Conor now has to tell his story, and Conor is very afraid. The Monster said that he was sent for healing, but Conor’s mom is still in bed at the hospital. Conor is sad, angry and confused. Exactly why did the Monster come to visit with Conor?

The story of “A Monster Calls” is very simple and direct. It focuses on Conor and what he is going through. He feels alone and powerless until the Monster calls upon Conor. But the final story reveals the full sadness in Conor’s life and what he truly wants. He is ashamed to have the Monster know what he feels inside. The dread and sadness of the story are then lifted up by the artistic beauty of the story sequences and the emotional release at the end.

Lewis MacDougall is a major young actor who can handle the tricky role of Conor. He is well cast and performs in a very believable way. Felicity Jones does ok with the Lizzie role. However, not a great deal is asked of her in the role, and she fades out near the end.  Sigourney Weaver does a sturdy job as the grandmother, who at first seems very mean and harsh, but she learns that Conor is more important than just things in the house.

The Monster is voiced by Liam Neeson, who has a very distinct quality of overwhelming scariness in his tone, but has a soft and comforting aspect as well. The Monster design is very well-done CGI. It has the unfortunate tendency of bringing to mind a similar character from the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”. So the Monster is a huge giant, and he is a big tree. This movie might be called “The BFG 2: The Big Friendly Groot”.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Teaser Trailer

Set to the backdrop of ‘Awesome Mixtape #2,’ Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand.

Man Down

Is there an issue with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Of course there is, and it needs to be addressed. Is there a potential for family issues when a solider comes back to his family from the war front? Yes, and it can be quite severe. Is the best way to present these problems wrapped up in a movie that cannot decide if it is a serious look at the situation, or an overly dramatized version of the warrior’s mental disconnect?

That is “Man Down”, which follows the solider named Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) who is married to Natalie (Kate Mara) and has a young son named Jonathan (Charlie Shotwell). He joins the Marines with his best friend Devin (Jai Courtney). Gabe gets sent to Afghanistan, while Devin recovers from an injury back in the States. Devin soon joins him over there in the thick of the nasty action.

 

Later, Gabe has a sit-down session with Captain Peyton (Gary Oldman) about ‘the incident’. It is finally revealed that a mistake by Gabe led to an ambush attack that had killed Devin. But then, later on when Gabe is back with his family, Gabe shuns his wife and his son to hang around with Devin. Eventually Gabe and Devin prowl about the bleak apocalyptic landscape for his son. But Devin did not make it back…

The late Devin is Gabe’s closest friend and Gabe’s metal state is in question. Captain Peyton talked with Gabe about his reaction to ‘the incident’, and Gabe is still in denial. So now Gabe and Devin are searching a destroyed cityscape searching for his son. They meet a guy named Charlie (Clifton Collins Jr.) who says he knows nothing. But there are many clues that he knows Gabe’s son, and where he might be hiding.

But how much of Gabe’s post-war travels with Devin are real? Exactly what happened in ‘the incident’? And what happened back on the home front between Devin and Kate, when Gabe was deployed overseas? Does Captain Peyton know how broken Gabe is on the inside?

Any of these questions could be enough to construct a deep and meaningful movie. But the way that the various incidents and episodes are put together on the screen make a little too jumbled. The connection between the bleak deserted place and the happy home front does get revealed, and it is done in a very subtle way. But the various sequences do not seem to tie up as neatly as they should.

 

Shia LaBeouf does a workable job as Gabe. He is mostly very understated, but then at some points he is a little bit overemotional and melodramatic. Kate Mara and Jai Courtney have very cookie-cutter roles, and they do the best that they can.  Gary Oldman puts some empathy into his character and makes a very good impression. Clifton Collins Jr. has a brief role, but is creepy and odd-ball as that character.

A movie a few years back about the mental tribulations of John Nash was called ‘A Beautiful Mind’. This movie might be called ‘A FUBAR Mind’. That would describe the nightmare of delusions that Gabe finds himself in during the movie. It is truly scary place to be. But is might not be the best way to bring attention to the real problems of soldiers.

doctor strange

Doctor Strange

“Doctor Strange” is filled with fantastic characters that are so magnificently played it’ll be difficult to say this isn’t one of, if not the, best Marvel has conjured up in the casting department.  You are immediately drawn to Cumberbatch and his arrogant and cocksure attitude as neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange.  Dr. Strange is very skilled with his hands and he has become self-centered and shallow, even enough to lose someone who he feels may be beneath him as he gets better and better in the operating room.  Dr. Strange could never admit to needing anyone; they need him.  His ego extends to the love department, as well, and his on-again, off-again relationship with Christine Palmer (McAdams) is strained at best.

Speeding on a winding road during a storm (where he’s on a phone call you need to pay attention to), leads to an unfortunate accident where his hands become one with the dash and are severely injured.  He is rushed to the hospital where the surgeons can save his life but his hands will never be the same.  Of course had he been the surgeon, they would be perfect.  Now in constant pain and unable to be a surgeon, he is lost.  Christine has done all she can to help and comfort him but she realizes ultimately that he must find his own way.  On this journey, he is lead to Karma-Taj where he meets Mordo (Ejiofor) who introduces him to the Ancient One (Swinton).  He begins to train his body by learning to understand that the physical is merely one part of a person.  He is shown that he can heal his physical body through reprogramming his cells and connecting to his spirit.  It is an honor to watch Ejiofor and Swinton work alongside one another.  They’re transformative and their commitment to the roles plays well in this newest Marvel film and as much as they are, the film is visually beautiful.  Streets fold in on themselves as characters move through different dimensions and doorways which conjure feelings of the very optical film “Inception”.

“Doctor Strange” is filled with fantastic characters that are so magnificently played…this Marvel movie will not disappoint. Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

As well as being a visual masterpiece, the fight sequences are brilliant.  Dr. Strange is brought into the fold and taught magic to help fight off dark forces and a rogue student named Kaecilius (Mikkelsen).  Strange isn’t interested at first because he became a doctor to save lives, not take them but is forced into helping when it’s obvious that he was born for the part, much like Cumberbatch was born to play this role in the Marvel Comics Universe.

Stan Lee pops up in a fun scene on a bus while they’re in the mirror dimension so look for that.   I promise, this Marvel movie will not disappoint.  There is a strong theme, you’ll love the comedic elements, the performances are perfect and the script is strong.  There is a good set up for the next movie and, as always, stay through the very, very end credits.  There will be two post credit clips.  Enjoy! 

Assassin’s Creed Official Trailer #2

Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.

ASSASSIN’S CREED stars Academy Award® nominee Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Days of Future Past, 12 Years a Slave) and Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises, La Vie en Rose). The film is directed by Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, Macbeth); produced by New Regency, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, DMC Films and Kennedy/Marshall; co-financed by RatPac Entertainment and Alpha Pictures; and distributed by 20th Century Fox.