In the Home Theater: Logan
Not according to any kind of master plan, this weekend became what I have been calling an "adamantium" weekend. I had Logan on pre-order and it arrived a little over a week ago. And after viewing it, I decided to also reach back and spend the afternoon viewing The Wolverine. There is a crazy equilibrium between these two films. One I like better, but one is the better film. Let's talk through that, shall we.
I really do not have that much to say about Logan itself. The movie is a neat, nicely packaged one-shot tale of Old Man Logan. Ya know, pretty much the way you had to do it if you are making an Old Man Logan theatrical release in a universe where his incorporation into the greater continuity is unclear. The opening 30 minutes is a bit slow. The kid is wonderful as X-23. This is just as much a Patrick Stewart / Charles Xavier story as it is about Hugh Jackman / Wolverine. In fact, it is just as much about the two of them saying goodbye to each other as it is about giving Jackman a huge send-off. There's more than just a little bit of natural feeling when Hugh refers to Stewart as his father in one scene where they choose to keep their true identities secret.
I didn't like seeing Wolverine at only half-strength for the majority of the movie. Especially since he spent most of the The Wolverine similarly hobbled. But seeing him back at full strength, even if for only moments near the climax, was a bit of a payoff. Marco Beltrami's soundtrack is spot-on perfect. Patrick Stewart's performance is nothing short of masterful.
So why do I not just give the movie a 10 out of 10 and be one with it? Because what bugged me the entire way through the movie is Bryan Singer's mishandling of where and how this film fits into the X-Men Movie franchise Continuity. And, yeah, there are going to be those out there that are adamantly against the notion that I take points off of a review for factors outside the movie itself. But my reviews are built around how the movie makes me feel, and in this vein it left me decidedly meh.
Much like the aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Singer and Fox had everything set aright at the conclusion of X-men: Days of Future Past. But since the outset of this franchise, Singer has consistently dorked with the timeline, undoing previous accomplishments, and for no good reason. He has needlessly created uncertainty andcontroversy where it is not needed. I spent a lot of time during the movie, not watching it and simply enjoying it, but pre-occupied with internal screaming. Like, "Why are we setting up for this when we know it's not possible given the look-ahead?", or "Didn't we already resolve this?!" and other nerdy railings against continuity. And then I struggled with trying to put a pin in exactly where I felt this movie landed with me. And if you're mad at me for not giving the film a ten, I'll say that I was originally below a 7.0. Because things like tying story together in larger franchises and endeavors is important to me.
Despite aspects that I disliked in terms of how this movie is handled in integrating it with the greater X-Men movie universe, especially in terms of how it undid things in the previously understood timeline, I still really, really enjoyed it. I mourned the passing of significant characters with many a tear. With top shelf performances, most notably from Patrick Stewart and Boyd Holbrook, the film is an excellent ribbon to put on the Wolverine franchise (the trilogy of films about the singular character, not the whole X-Men franchise). Talk about a comeback. The movie mixes a lot of elements that make it much more akin to a Disney / Marvel Entertainment film than something from the Fox stock. It echoes The Professional, Down Mexico Way, Desperado, The Transporter, and a bunch of Tarantino films. In a lot of ways it outdoes most of those movies. One thing that this movie proves is that, in the 17 years Jackman has portrayed the Wolverine, he has always approached the character as the method actor Jackman is, where most actors will take on these recurring roles as character actors. However you feel about other elements of this film, the supporting cast, and elements in the greater X-Men franchise, little can be said or done about Jackman's 17 year run than give the man a standing ovation.