It’s been almost a year since we’ve posted a blog post here at The Art of Radical Geekery — and that is because we are revamping the website and mission of what we do here. In the meantime, we’ve come to you with an amazing review of the new X-Men related movie, Logan from author Jennie Davenport (author of the supernatural romance Hemlock Veil).
I’ve known Jennie for a number of years since we worked in a tiny Idaho town together and have been amazed at her dedication to writing and how she gets across her voice. So, without further ado, here is her review of the last installment of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.
The time has come for me to (finally) say some things about Logan. It’s been a few days since I’ve seen it; I know this is cliché to say, but I simply couldn’t find words to describe my feelings. But then, I thought, leaving it unspoken would be a greater injustice. So, here are my thoughts—twelve of them, to be exact:
- My eyes kept leaking. I cried actual, rolling tears at least three times in the movie. And when the tears weren’t actively flowing, they were there, lingering—wetting my eyes for the remainder of the film. I’ll get to why it made me cry in a bit. (I picked a great night to wear a lot of eye makeup, let me tell you that. It wasn’t pretty.)
- Not suitable for the Littles—finally. The R rating was the best thing they could have done for it. The BEST. I can’t adequately describe how awesome it was to finally see Wolverine/Logan at his full, on-screen potential. Don’t get me wrong, he has always been written well, even in the X-Men and Wolverine movies that weren’t written well; but to have no limits to the real Logan… Well, put simply, it was perfection.
- A Comic-Book Western. I can’t discuss Logan without mentioning the dark, gritty, western-ish theme. I mean, wow. How incredible was the whole tone of the movie. How brilliant. James Mangold used the theme and undertones from Old Man Logan (one of Marvel Comic’s alternate storylines of Wolverine) as inspiration…and completely killed it. I can’t be the only one who believes this film should be critically-acclaimed, right?
- All the words. The writing. Part of this is an addendum to my previous point, but everything was written so goddamn well. From storyline to dialogue. In combination with the cinematography, the directing, the score, the previously-mentioned tone, it was such a well-oiled machine. Every single part functioned as it should, and in fact surpassed all my expectations. *still feels blown out of the water*
- Not your everyday superhero flick. Anyone who knows me, whether online or in person, knows I’m just kind of a geek for superheroes (mostly of the Marvel variety). Okay, so that’s an understatement. I’m a sucker for Marvel’s heroes, whether they’re the boy-next-door kind or the anti-hero, mercenary kind; and almost any movie in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe—of which the X-Men team, and Wolverine alike, are sadly not a part) can give me a wet dream. Hashtag-Sorry-Not-Sorry. Yes, sometimes that MCU love is blinding, and prevents me from properly picking out a film’s flaws (at least right away). But after a film has had time to percolate in my squishy brain, I can, and will, point them out. In this, however, I truly have nothing. I have no negative criticism. I even tried thinking of some. And part of that, I think, is because Logan doesn’t follow the typical superhero tropes. All the ones that usually get crammed into superhero movies, and in turn, usually bog them down, can’t be found here. Logan followed a different theme. The point wasn’t to make Wolverine some super-human badass, who fights stupid bad guys with stupid plots and cheesy one-liners. The point was to focus on the character of Logan the man, and all that is flawed and wrong with him. It’s about redemption, when forgiveness seems utterly impossible. It’s about human relationships, with others and ourselves. It’s about how gruesome and daunting the (Super)Hero’s Journey is (others have tried hitting on this; none pulled it off so well), and where that has placed Logan the man. And then, when we are all moved like never before, then and only then, Mangold throws in those moments of badassery we would expect from a superhero film—the badassery I have always craved from Wolverine. It’s just the right amount of it, secondary to the rest—a perfect combination.
- Show, don’t tell. If you’re not a writer, you may not have heard that classic phrase. As a writer, we are told it all the time, until it embeds itself into our brains—either ruining or making every book and movie we will ever experience again. It means what you might think: don’t tell us what is happening; show us—with action, feeling, pacing, events, etc. In addition to the above-mentioned Hero’s Journey taking front and center, Mangold also made this unlike other superhero movies by forgoing the play-by-play exposition we so commonly see in superhero movies—the kind that is, let’s face it, usually overdone. Who needs exposition, anyway? Well, we sure don’t, not when Mangold is at the helm. When done right, we the viewers are content to watch and listen along, learning things as they come up naturally. No flashbacks, no flowery dialogue that you know wouldn’t be there in normal speak. He offers us just the right amount, instead giving us pure, in-the-moment story. Sure, he may have trusted us enough to know the majority of Wolverine’s story by now, even those unfamiliar with the comics; in that alone, we are trusted to pick up on things and fill in the gaps as we go. But it is more than that. It’s good writing, pure and simple (that director-to-viewer, or writer-to-reader, trust is so very important). We did fill in the gaps as we went, and the gaps that weren’t filled in by the end were, I believe, intentionally blank. Because they were irrelevant to the story. For me, it says a lot about media when I don’t feel the need to know more than what they gave me. Logan spoke that in volumes. We knew enough. *still internally claps for Mangold*
- Real-World “Superhero.” Okay, so you can’t consider mutants, the mutant gene, and their abilities something that actually happens in real life. But if it did, this movie would be classified as a real-to-life drama. It’s not about the leotards and theatrics, as Logan himself says. It’s about all that happens behind them, how those theatrics, and all involved with having to perform them, can destroy a person. One thing I absolutely loved is how the X-Men and Wolverine comic books are as real to the people existing in the Logan world as they are to us in the real world (though the issue they reference is one they had to create just for the film). Thanks to a friend of mine for pointing out this next part (I’m giving you credit for this, Keith—if you’re reading); I have to share his thought because it illustrates my point so well: at one point in the film, Logan rejects his comic iteration, saying dejectedly (and with Logan-like frustration) that only about a fourth of it is true and that in the real world, people get hurt and die. That, right there, is what this film is really about. Add to that his line to Laura, which was once Charles (Chuck—tee hee) Xavier’s line to Logan: Don’t be what they’ve made you.
- Hugh Jackman.
- Hugh. Jackman.
- Wait, what was that? I said, Hugh Fucken Jackman. Come on, God. How is he even real? I mean, THANK YOU, but you’ve raised the bar to impossible levels for the rest of us here. It’s a given that he is our Wolverine—he always has been. He’s been an impeccable fit for the character since day one, when that role first hit the screen back in 2000. It’s also a given that he is one of the best actors Hollywood has given us (he was finally dubbed as my official favorite since Les Mis). But wow…again, I’m blown away—just as I was in Les Mis, but even more so (mainly due to my biased, undying love for Wolverine). He’s just so fantastic. I don’t think I’m finding appropriate adjectives here, so sorry about that (telling, not showing), but give the man a damn award for this! In all seriousness though, my words could never do him or his performance justice. And I know I keep using that overused term “perfect.” But I don’t use it lightly. In this case, with this role, it is that: perfect. Perfection, all around. He somehow manages to remove his Hugh-Jackman self, and actually becomes Logan. Jackman is Logan—feeling, experiencing, and breathing all that we see on screen. I’m convinced that is the only way what he does is possible. And some of the tears I shed were simply for that—because I was so moved by him, and by the fact that what I was seeing was his last stop on the Wolverine Saga. Let me tell you, that’s the way to bring a geek to emotion, folks. He will always be My Wolverine, and I am honestly not sure any actor will ever fit a role so well. I want to meet him, just so I can hug him and tell him thank you. Plus, he’s a great guy in real life, too, from what I hear—so what can go wrong there? (Don’t answer that.)
- The other guys, too. The acting, all around. Not just by Jackman, but by all of them. Patrick Stewart—holy crap, his role was heart-wrenching. I have so much love for him. Then there is the little, fierce Dafne Keen. Holy crap (again), this girl is incredible. Talent, in any form, is always mind-boggling, but even more so at a young age.
- The Merc with a Mouth. I know, I know—he’s not a part of Logan. But his trailer kinda was, right? I feel like I would just be repeating myself about Logan at this point anyway, so I will end with my last point being this: the Deadpool trailer right before. All the shitty previews made me angry because I’d been seeing them for a long time now. Aren’t new, big releases supposed to bring new movie trailers with them? It’s a pet peeve of mine when they don’t, because I’m one of those weird people who actually enjoys movie trailers. So…to say that my excitement level shot off the charts when I saw Wade Wilson pulling out his ear buds is an understatement. That short clip by my other favorite anti-hero, full of his usual breaking of the fourth wall, made sitting through all the other trailers worth it.
There. I’m sure I’m missing something else blog-worthy about Logan, but in the meantime, go see it if you haven’t (if you can handle gruesome violence and language). Like, now. If you have already seen it, go see it again. Just know that heart strings will be tugged, and all sorts of things will be stirred inside you.
You can find Jennie on Facebook here and follow her witty quips on twitter here. Give her a big thanks in the comments below and let us know what you would like to see next on The Art of Radical Geekery.