Thursday, March 16, 2017

Stabbing People For A Good Cause One Last Time

There's probably spoilers below.

I'm torn on Logan. It's a good movie. The cast and crew seemed to have a clear idea what they wanted to do, and they pulled it off. But I've been surprised by the level of acclaim it's received, from sources which are not usually hyperbolic about every superhero thing that comes down the pike. Maybe I've watched too many Westerns about the old gunfighter trying to pull it together One Last Time. Or maybe the respective situations of Xavier and Logan touched a nerve.

I'm not, at present, so concerned with the dying part of getting old (assuming I actually get old, we'll see if my feelings change). What weighs on my mind is the physical and mental decline. I haven't ever been able to decide which option was more palatable: To maintain my physical well-being, but for my mental capabilities to decline in some way (as with my paternal grandmother, who lived to 93, but with steadily increasing senile dementia for the last decade), or for my body to fail me, even if my mind remains relatively sharp (as was the case with my other three grandparents). And here's Chuck Xavier, mind going, telepathy still incredibly powerful, but not entirely within his control. And here's Logan, as much there mentally as he usually is, but collapsing physically (and also basically a dead husk emotionally).

My discomfort aside, Jackman and Stewart play their roles well. The sniping and arguing between them, Logan's exasperation with this old man he's looking after out of some affection (even if it's hard to remember why), and Xavier, frustrated with himself and this world, with how things turned out, how Logan turned out. The part where Xavier disgustedly rails on about what a disappointment Logan is, that was pretty effective. I know it's a cliche that "Professor Xavier is jerk", but Stewart's rarely played him as that straightforwardly hurtful, so it's a bit of a shock. Logan falling apart while attempting a eulogy and simply going and trashing his truck was a great scene. Those moments where the words won't come, or you can't make yourself say them, and all that's left is impotent frustration and anger.

Dafne Keen does a good job as Laura. She doesn't say anything for a long time, so it's most down to looks and the screaming she does while she stabs people. Which is unpleasant to listen to, but that's probably the point. A kid shouldn't be in a situation that makes her make that noise, especially since she's killing people who want to kill and probably dissect her at the time. But in some ways, Laura acts like a regular kid. Playing with the door locking button because she can see it's bugging Logan, and because it's something to do on a long car ride. The way she watches Logan, trying to get him to step up and help, getting frustrated when he won't, but still looking after him. All three lead actors did a very good job.

Watching the two react to Laura is an interesting contrast. Charles wants to help her, let her experience as much of life as a free person as she can. Because he's still hoping to help make some chance for a peaceful life for mutants on Earth. He's still holding onto his dream, while Logan, I don't want to say he's taken the loss harder, but he's certainly taken it as a sign to give up, or try giving up. He's working a crap job to make some money to care for this old man until he can get him on a boat somewhere and hide for the rest of their days. Helping anyone, fighting for any dream, is out of the question. And so he doesn't want to deal with Laura, doesn't want to get sucked into trying to help anyone else. Even when he should have some inkling, more than most, or what she's been through. Although it was funny to me the evil doctor says they can't teach rage, it has to be built. Judging by Laura, they taught her rage pretty well. But I suppose it wasn't controllable rage.

I stepped out to visit the restroom during part of the scene at the farmer's home. I was getting antsy (although this is not your typical 150 minute superhero movie, so props to them for that), but I'd read a review of the film that pretty much told me how it would end for them. What? I didn't expect to actually see the film within its first week in theaters, but Alex was all gung-ho. The villains were interesting as archetypes. The oh-so-well meaning amoral scientist, the imbecile who just relishes the chance to kick around minorities, and the monster that mirrors the hero. Plus the faceless corporation that employed them all and presumably is trucking along undisturbed by anything that happened. But as characters? Not so much. Boyd Kirkland's Donald Pierce got the most screen time, and he's kind of amusing, but he plays that outwardly pleasant, but sociopathic Southern gent Walton Goggins gets handed much of the time. The pleasant drawl and some folksy saying, but oops, he's torturing a guy.

The fight scenes are fun. Watching Logan shuffle around awkwardly while Laura flips all over the place makes a nice contrast, and they introduce enough additional pieces to keep watching people get stabbed in the face from being too repetitive. They do one fight where Laura takes the approach of picking off some of the enemies one at a time in hit-and-run style. Another one, they throw in a group of idiots with guns and a sacrifice to keep things pinballing around. The last one has vehicles with weapons and a bunch of other kids with powers. As for the level of violence, limbs being severed and spurting blood, I'm not the best judge. I read Punisher comics written by Garth Ennis. You're going to have to dial that shit up pretty high to faze me at this point*.

Anyway, good movie, worth a watch if you get the chance. For some reason, we wound up at a faux-IMAX viewing, that cost $16 per ticket. I wouldn't recommend that at all. Granted I haven't seen it in not faux-IMAX for comparison, but I can't imagine it would suffer that much.

* Alternatively, get more realistic with it. There's a scene in one of the Evil Dead movies where a character gets stabbed in the ankle with a pencil. That made me squirm a little, I suppose because the camera lingered a second, and it could actually happen. I am unlikely to try to steal Hugh Jackman's car, and he is unlikely to stab me with knives erupting from his knuckles if I did.

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