Tag Archives: Hugh Jackman

Review: Logan

Logan

We all know that the concept of the “gritty reboot” is a little played out. (As soon as the internet starts meme-ing something, it’s never a good sign.) However, if ever there was a cinematic character who warranted some rougher and tougher reconsideration, it’s probably Wolverine. Enter: Logan.

Of course, Logan isn’t actually a reboot, considering Hugh Jackman has now been donning his Wolverine scowl for well over a decade and Logan marks director James Mangold’s second time tackling the character. But while some audience members may be growing fatigued by the Wolverine tale and have lost count of how many different X-Men-related films we’ve now seen him in, it’s also difficult to claim that Logan doesn’t feel like something quite different within the franchise. And when you’re bringing Wolverine-level familiarity to the already well-worn superhero genre, the fact that Logan can actually be described as “fresh” feels like a small miracle in and of itself.

Part of this does have to do with the film’s much-discussed R-rating, which Mangold and co. take full advantage of when it comes to the violence. However, while it’s fun to hear Wolverine drop a few well-placed f-bombs and the brutal fight scenes are stunningly directed, I’d argue that the film doesn’t really need its R. The film is otherwise rather understated and actually features a lot of downtime, so in one sense I can understand why Mangold wanted to throw in a few spirited beheadings to keep restless audience members alert, but the result is that it ends up feeling a bit inconsistent in tone.

Rather, the thing that truly sets Logan apart is its focus on character. Logan and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) get fully-formed arcs, and Mangold and his fellow screenwriters leave room to show the toll that time has taken on their characters. It’s a melancholy, often pessimistic meditation on morality, tackling themes of regret and vulnerability. Most superhero movies don’t even try to wade into anything with a bit of emotional heft, or when they do, it just feels woefully cursory. (Here’s looking at you, Captain America: Civil War.) By contrast, Logan revels both in its meditative tendencies, and the considerable emotional range of its pair of lead actors, who have never been better within the X-Men franchise.

However, even Jackman and Stewart can’t completely smooth over the film’s flaws, which aren’t massive but do prevent the film from truly transcending superhero tropes. To start with, Mangold can’t seem to resist throwing in a hammy, undeveloped villain who this time around comes in the form of Boyd Holbrook’s Pierce. (If you want to see Holbrook do some truly fantastic work in a gritty, small-town America cinematic setting, check out 2015’s underrated indie Little Accidents. But he’s sadly all scenery chewing and “quirk” here, ultimately amounting to a character of no substance.) And while there’s something to be said for a deliberate pace, this movie does feel overly long at 135 minutes; by the time we reach the end it feels fairly inevitable (though still affecting), and I think the film would be all the stronger if we could have gotten there 20 minutes sooner.

Ultimately, it’s difficult not to get sucked in by the surprising pathos of Logan in spite of its flaws, and while it may not be entirely revolutionary, it is a refreshing detour. Hopefully it’s a sign of the direction more franchises will start to take.

James Franco, You Should Have Taken Notes

I still haven’t seen The Reader, by the way.

2011 Oscar Post-Mortem

My predictions ended up with an iffy 14/24 accuracy. Not great, but adequate, I’d say. And am I disappointed that The Social Network lost to The King’s Speech? Yes, but it seems like my favourite movie of the year is always nominated, but never wins. But now to the telecast, which I thought, for the most part, was pretty enjoyable.

Highs

  • Anne Hathaway. She did a much better job hosting than I’d expected (here I was thinking that James Franco would be the one to liven things up…) Her boundless exuberance was just the remedy for a lagging, overly long ceremony (as the Oscars often are). She cheered, she sang, she poked fun at herself, and she had an endless array of gorgeous outfits.
  • The opening. Inception, The Social Network, True Grit, The King’s Speech, and Black Swan all received visits from Hathaway and Franco, and the cameos from Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman were nice touches.
  • The unending love for Hugh Jackman. He’s kind of become the new Jack Nicholson. He’s not nominated, he just sits there and smiles and has a good time. The presenters and winners seem happy to see him, and he becomes something of a touchstone for them to play off of.
  • James Franco’s grandma.
  • Kirk Dougals’ epic presentation for Best Supporting Actress.
  • Justin Timberlake’s riff on Kirk Douglas’ epic presentation.
  • Zachary Levi performing “I See the Light” from Tangled. Mandy Moore sounded great, too, but for someone who is not primarily a singer (I didn’t even know he could sing before Tangled), Levi came off as a total pro.
  • “That’s gross” – Cate Blanchett
  • Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s presentation for Best Visual Effects. Can they just get married already?
  • No clapping during the “In Memoriam” segment. Good call.
  • Sandra Bullock’s presentation to the Best Actor nominees. It was the perfect balance of wit and respect.

Lows

  • The auto-tuned “Year of the movie musical” segment that they created. The Twilight one was kind of amusing, but the others were lazy and tedious.
  • The framing of certain categories with clips from classic movies. It felt a bit forced and random to me, and seemed to unnecessarily lengthen the telecast.
  • Melissa Leo’s speech. Sorry, but I didn’t find it charming. It was kind of annoying and fake, in my opinion. She rambled, and the f-bomb wasn’t interesting.
  • Kind of: James Franco. He had some pretty funny moments (the white unitard, the Marilyn Monroe getup), but he generally seemed out of step with the rest of the ceremony. I don’t think that he was as terrible as some people are saying, but perhaps not the ideal host.
  • The finale. I feel like a heartless bitch, but dragging all those 5th graders up on stage just seemed like the most contrived, obvious finish the show could have gone for.
  • This is kind of a random note, but I would have liked to see a broader scope in terms of the films that they celebrated. Not even in terms of the winners, but just which films got shown/mentioned throughout the broadcast. There were two lengthy montages for the Best Picture nominees, but scarcely a glimpse of any other 2010 films. I get that the show is about the nominees and winners, but the Oscars should also be about celebrating the film industry in general. What about non-winners like The Town, Tron: Legacy, Shutter Island, Easy A, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Kick-Ass, and Jack-Ass 3-D? They all found devoted fanbases and helped make 2010 the year that it was in film.

Best Speeches

  • Colin Firth (Best Actor, The King’s Speech). Always a class act. The wry humour was wonderful, and I love that he’s sang the praises of Tom Ford all season.
  • Natalie Portman (Best Actress, Black Swan). I liked that she thanked the behind-the-scenes people on set, as well as the people that helped her get where she is.
  • Lee Unkrich (Best Animated Picture, Toy Story 3). He gave a gracious, inspiring, economical, and eloquent speech.
  • Luke Matheny (Best Live Action Short Film, God of Love). Matheny probably never thought that his NYU school project would win an Oscar, and his surprise and exuberance was refreshingly sincere. It’s nice to see a “regular” person outside of the big Hollywood machine get recognition.

Best Red Carpet Fashion: