Thursday, 2 March 2017

Dir: James Mangold
I have to take my hat off to director James Mangold, the X-Men franchise has pushed the superhero/comic book genre forward over the years but I'm not sure any superhero film has been as bold and daring as Logan is. Deadpool was great, it was true to its comic origins and Marvel have been going great guns over the years in developing intelligent Avengers characters and stories but Logan, loosely based on the Old Man Logan series by Mark Millar, feels like the first real authentic comic adaptation. Don't get me wrong, it is absolutely nothing like the comic where Logan lives in a future whereby the super villains won, the heroes are dead and the world is conquered and divided between them, but it is set in a dystopian future where only Logan and a couple of other heroes are left, the rest being wiped out by two very different but tragically realistic scenarios. This isn't X-Men: Apocalypse though, this is worse, this is real life. This isn't a superhero film either, not in the classical sense anyway, this is a brilliant neo-western. There were aspects of James Mangold's 2013 The Wolverine that I really liked, the aesthetics in particular and the fact the character moved away from familiar surroundings but it was still a superhero film covering familiar territory. Logan is the first real 'What if?' realization and something I've been wanted Marvel, DC, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Universal and anyone with comic book adaptation rights to make. Now DC win over Marvel when it comes to 'Elseworlds' vs 'What if?' but that is largely thanks to the many Batman alternatives and books such as Superman: Red Son. However, some of the best writers (mostly from 2000AD) also revamped the Marvel characters and Fantastic Four, Avengers and X-Men enjoyed some pretty amazing alternative stories. Logan feels a bit more 'Elseworlds' than 'What if?' but it is what real comic fans have been waiting a long time for. The story makes far more sense than the comic and it is so much better. It's proper dark too, which is another long overdue element for the genre. It is amazing what can be achieved with clever writing over excessive special effects too, the film's big action scenes probably costing very little money or time to produce. To try and place Logan in the X-Men universe would be a bit pointless but then the Wolverine series hasn't had to fit in with the other film's continuity much, somehow being exempt for no real reason. The comics are all over the place and no one really cares, so I'm quite glad the films are now following the same pattern. I'm not sure a superhero film has ever been so gritty, Deadpool is very different, the mainstream non-comic book reading cinema audience might have been shocked by it but the characters readers had been lapping him up for years and were just relieved when the adaptation was faithful to the source material. For me, Hollywood (or at least a part of it) is saying it has decided to make a comic book adaptation, that it is faithful not in story but in style and in soul. A comic book film for comic book lovers, finally, and it seems everyone else likes it too. Many have pondered the reasons why Hollywood has had so many difficulties adapting Superheros/Comics into film but no one ever states the obvious; they are made by big fat greedy producers who have never read a comic in their lives. They know of a character and make a film based on their assumptions of who or what that character is. Hugh Jackman has declared Logan to be his last Wolverine appearance, so maybe it was always looked upon as a film with little risk attached to it, but money is money, this is hugely risky and to have this amount of violence and unhappy action, with a much higher rating than any superhero film before, is a tremendous gamble and one I applaud the studio for taking. The film is a solid four star film but for its boldness, and because I just loved it, I'm giving it five stars. It's real, it's gritty, it is the best of two genres, it's authentic, it's super violent (like it should be) and the performances are heartbreakingly good. Plus, Stephen Merchant plays a mutant, Richard E. Grant plays a mad scientist and Eriq La Salle wields a shotgun and it's not a camp comedy!

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