I’ve written in these pages on several occasions about how I’ve evolved in my opinions of comic-book movies several times over the years. You can track my feelings pretty well with each X-Men movie. When the first X-Men film came out in 2000, I knew hardly anything about the characters. I was not yet into comic books in any real way, nor interested in the movies based upon them. But there was a lot of fanboy excitement about it (and it's interesting to think about how fanboy excitement has changed in the last 17 years - now you get non-stop social media exposure but back then it was all magazine covers and Harry Knowles blathering on at Ain’t It Cool News).
I bought into the excitement but was disappointed in the film. In large part because I had no connection to the characters. Recycle that experience for the following two sequels. I liked Wolverine enough to still give X-Men Origins: Wolverine a shot in 2009 but by the time X-Men: First Class came out with an all new cast I had been burned so many times that when I won a copy of it on DVD through some giveaway, I promptly gave it away to a friend of mine.
But then something began to change. I began to read the comic books and through that medium I started to really enjoy love those characters and understand with more depth the stories the films were trying to tell. This enabled me to rather enjoy 2013’s The Wolverine (flawed though the film was) and absolutely love X-Men: Days of Future Past.
This is really the story of me enjoying comic-book movies as a whole. The more I read the source comics the more the movies become enjoyable to me. That isn’t to say every movie is a gem. In fact X-Men: Apocalypse is one of my least favorite films despite me growing to love the comics more than ever.
Enter Logan. Wolverine is a fan-(and personal-)favorite character from the X-Men and Hugh Jackman has now played the character in nine movies. He has embodied Wolverine for nearly two decades. With Logan, he has decided to retire his portrayal of the character, and what a send off it was.
Logan is a dark, moody, very rated-R film. It's been years since the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, the X-Men have split up, or died off, or something. Logan is an old man, battered and embittered. He’s taking care of an even older Professor X who is suffering from dementia and can no longer control his psychic powers. The two come across a young girl dubbed X-23, who has some of the same powers as Logan including his claws and a whole lot of his anger. Much of the film is spent trying to save her by taking her to Canada and away from a government that wants to exploit her.
The tone is very somber. It's the end of an era both in the film and with Jackman (and Patrick Stewart) leaving the franchise. It's also funny, and violent and a very good movie (not just a superhero movie). I’m excited to watch it again.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Get Out: Horror film directed by Jordan Peele about an African American boy dating a white girl who experiences various horrors while visiting her parents. I don’t know much about this film except that it has done big business and has received really good reviews for both its social commentary and its good scares.
The Great Wall: Matt Damon adventure that stirred controversy for its supposed whitewashing of an Asian story about a mystery surrounding the construction of the Great Wall of China.
The Jaques Rivette Collection (Arrow Academy): In the late '70s, Jaques Rivette decided it would be fun to make a four-film cycle based upon a made up mythology using four distinct genres (film noir, pirate movie, a musical, and a love story) to tell the same story in different ways. He made the noir and pirate movie but exhaustion set in during the making of the third film and he never came back. This nice-looking set includes those films (Duelle, Noroit) plus a third movie (Merry-Go-Round which borrows elements from the other films). I’ll have a review of the set up soon.
Dheepan (Criterion Collection): Story of a Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees France and ends up working as a caretake outside of Paris. It stars a non-professional actor who was a former child soldier himself.
Cops Vs. Thugs (Arrow Video): Warring Yakuza film from Kinji Fukasaku.
Call the Midwife: Season Six: Every year, another season of this BBC/PBS series about midwives in England during the 1950s releases another season on Blu-ray. Every year, I say I really ought to watch it.
I Am Heath Ledger: Documentary about the celebrated actor who died too soon.
Wolf Guy (Arrow Video): Sonny Chiba stars in this horror film based on a Japanese manga about the only survivor of a clan of werewolves who relies on his full-moon powers to solve crimes. I must have this. Now.
My Life as a Zucchini: French animated film about a boy who accidentally kills his alcoholic mother and is sent to an orphanage where he struggles to fit in. Sounds depressing but the reviews have been quite favorable.