It’s The End – Logan

15 03 2017

logan (20th Century Fox - 2017)

Whenever I finish something, or feel like something is coming to a close; something big and has taken me a long time to do, my mind always jumps to the scene of the fourth Doctor Who regenerating into the fifth. I don’t know why, but it’s a nice poignant scene which carries the incredible line; it’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for”. It’s that line that comes to mind when I can feel like something is the end, or that I have reached the end. But knowing what I am like, I will have prepared for it, so like when I finished reading the GONE book series, I found something to read to replace it with for instance. Well, in the case of this film, the moment has been prepared for, but the hardest hit is that it truly is The End!

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Released in 2017 by 20th Century Fox, Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg, and Directed by James Mangold; Logan is a superhero film starring Hugh Jackman returning for what is intended to be his last portrayal of Wolverine, a role he has held for 17 years. When the film was first announced on the heels of The Wolverine, I was really excited as I really loved The Wolverine. Come 2015 however with Jackman announcing his retirement from playing Wolverine, I was very sad, and had begun chasing my mind around for replacement actors (if there were any), forgetting of course that before that bridge is crossed, Jackman would still provide us with one last glorious hurrah.

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The year is 2029; all mutants are supposedly dead except for a small group, and a now aging Logan (Hugh Jackman) works as a chauffeur on the border with Mexico and lives with friend Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and former mentor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) at an old smelting plant. Xavier is now growing old and senile with his psychic powers now grown beyond control with devastating effect and has to take medication to control it. One day Logan is approached by a lady called Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez) who asks him to give her and a young girl called Laura (Dafne Keen), escort to a location in North Dakota. Logan reluctantly accepts the job as the money provided will allow him to buy a luxury yacht he wants to purchase. As he comes to collect them though he finds Gabriella has been murdered. Laura stows away in his car though and goes to the Smelting Plant where she becomes friends with Charles. Just as they arrive though, a platoon of soldiers led by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) arrive having captured Caliban, and are demanding that Logan hand over the girl. As men try to capture her though, she quickly attacks them in a very savage and brutal way, with steel claws coming out of her hands, decapitating and amputating several limbs.

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Logan, Laura and Charles escape, and using Gabriella’s phone, discover that Laura or X-23 as she was designated; was one of several young children born and bred by the Transigen Program headed up but surgeon Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant). The kids are injected with Mutant DNA and are bred to become mindless and dangerous soldiers, however unable to control the children’s souls, they all don’t want to do what they’re told anymore and most of them escape including Laura. Because she was made from Logan’s DNA, it is deduced that he is her father. Pierce with the help from the Reavers, use Caliban’s ability to locate other mutants to find Logan, and while staying at a casino in Oklahoma City the trio are nearly captured, but Xavier has one of his moments and near paralyzes everyone in the city except Laura and Logan. Logan is able to get them out of the city, but does not believe in the mythical Eden of North Dakota where they are going, especially when he finds the co-ordinates referenced exactly in an X-Men comic. The trio are eventually given shelter by a family they help out on the road and the group bond together, as Laura discovers more of the outside world, one she never experienced having been locked up all those years. During the night however, Xavier is murdered by X-24, the final project of Transigen to replace the children, who also happens to be a copy of Logan, claws and all. X-24 captures Laura placing her in very restrictive shackles and takes her to Rice, but Logan arrives just in time to face himself having found the murdered family and the dead Charles. With some help, X-24 is pinned down, and Caliban uses a grenade to blow up rice’s van. Logan saves Laura and the two head out in the night, burying Charles in the morning.

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Beside himself, and with his healing still failing, Logan agrees to take Laura to Eden, still not believing it. Eventually they arrive at a mountain range with a community filled with the other surviving experimented children all run by Rictor (Jason Genao). There Logan learns that the children will be making an 8 mile hike across the Canadian border. Logan is ready to send Laura on her way, but Laura wants to know him as a father, although he is still down and out about losing his own friends, and sees himself less as a father, and more of a threat, and just wants to die. The kids attempt to make the hike, but are soon surrounded and chased by the Reavers. Using a healing serum from Transigen, Logan takes in the full dose knowing it will kill him but should give him strength to save the kids. The kids are soon rounded up and shackled except for Laura who gets surrounded, but rescued by Logan. The serum though begins to ware off just as he meets Rice, who happens to be the son of the man behind the Weapon X Program. X-24 is set loose on Logan, but Laura is able to free the other kids who kill Pierce. Logan is impaled on a tree during the fight, but using an Adamantium bullet, Laura kills X-24, which Logan had kept for years. Eventually succumbing to his wounds, Logan dies, unable to heal and the kids bury him before crossing the border.

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In 2007; the German heavy metal band known as Scorpions released a single called Humanity. It is a song which poignantly depicts the destruction and downfall of the human race through its own acts and nothing more. It is a very heavy track and whose lyrics basically suggest, as delivered in the music video with a young boy simply saying “It’s The End!” Now this track does not appear in Logan I should point out, but that is what comes to mind as I think on this film. It’s the end of Hugh Jackman playing this part. This is an actor who has played a movie role for 17 years now. During that time there have been 3 American Presidents, 4 UK Prime Ministers, 4 (technically 5) Doctor Who’s. It is an incredible amount of time to play a film role, most WWE Wrestlers don’t even last that long, but here is Hugh Jackman still playing this role, now deciding he wants to leave. He deserves it rightly so, he is allowed to walk away given the energy, passion and devotion he has put into just one character. He has played other parts which help prevent typecasting, but possibly for the rest of his life, will be best remembered for being The Wolverine, you do not forget 17 years of the same thing in a flash. So, yes, it’s the end of Jackman as Wolverine; but not just that. It’s also the end of 2 major characters in a film series that has become one of the most critically and financially successful franchises in movie history. The X-Men film series is not ending, No! There are still more films to come including Deadpool Sequels (YES!). No, what we have here is something of what could be best described as a tragic ending, which is sad for Xavier, but more so for Wolverine as he has led a pretty tragic life.

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The story of Wolverine is a tragic one as it’s the life of a genuinely good person who has led a rough life. He is very old given that his healing prevents aging on a grand scale. Over the years he is going to meet people and see people die, a lot of people die if you live that long and that is not good for the mental soul. As life has passed by, something horrid happens to him, something so dark and miserable, but something that he has only partial memories of. So as life ticks by he has to remember these things not knowing entirely what it was, and spends life running instead of facing. Eventually though good things happen for him, he gets friends, and a family, and can care for people again, and have a proper life, but given as to who he is and what he is, none of this could possibly last, and as the years have gone by, and seen more people die, some by his own hands for the good of others, he resigns to a wishful death, and waits for it. It is a very sad story for someone who is not a bad man, someone who is actually a very good man, a caring man, a protective man. Yes, he is prone to a little bit of violence, but only when it is called for; doing what must be done, because without him to protect his friends, no-one can. Into this, we find ourselves confronted with the final act of The Wolverine. But it’s not really a super hero movie, more of a personal journey as one man reaches his eventual end, but has one last thing to do.

Logan is actually a rather small film. It’s not a mega big one like other super hero films of note, as this is not a character trying to save the world, but those around him, and as such we go less on a journey to save the world, but a more personal one. As such he is not referred to as The Wolverine, but because it’s a personal story is known better as just Logan. Logan starts off in a similar vein as does The Wolverine, with Logan having to live and come to terms with his life and the death by his own hand of someone he loved. Now coming into this film we are told something similar has happened, but we don’t know exactly what. But just like before, Logan is beat up and ruined and has resigned to live as much a recluse as possible while caring for Xavier who has become rather senile. Eventually though he is given a duty he does not want, that of looking after a little girl very much like him. He is meant to be the father, but has no care for her, caring for his friends than her; something which falters in the mind of Laura who wants to know who she is and know her father too. As the story continues and things happen as usual, the similarities between the two emerge as Laura is very much like he was in the first first X-Men, with Logan now having grown up. Logan is still resigned to wishing death upon himself, but knows that once more, he needs to do the right thing to help those that need his help resulting in one last blood bath for those who deny him and others peace. His Death though is not nice, nor peaceful, but more brutal for someone who has earned better. It is a film that makes you think deeply upon issues such as the harsh and sometimes quick deaths of others while others get a more natural one. It looks into how people desire Death, and how Death actually comes. It features a brutal end which dies just like death is a final stop. It really makes you think on if you believe that the world is a better place without you, how can you be certain of this? How do you not know that life right now is in fact better, because ‘you’ are around!

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Logan is a small film and bolsters a small but pretty strong cast. Stephen merchant I find was actually pretty good as Caliban. Caliban has featured sort of twice in the past with his most recent piece being in Apocalypse as some garish and camp clown; here instead we see what he is truly like and capable of but also what kind of person he is given his history as one of the Morlocks. Gabriella’s part is small but sweet and shares some backstory light on some of the films major issues and themes including who Laura is and why we should care. One thing though I find the film lacks is a strong villain. There are some good villainy characters and others who help fill in those parts like a few extras. Pierce himself has the nice sinister mechanical arm and some god talking points but feels more like a hindrance than a villain. Same can be said for Rice, who while is a deceptive schemer with a good voice, again just feels plain. I am not saying he’s bad, it just feels like the villains are strong because they are many, but not because of whom they are. I mean X-24 feels like a wasted opportunity and a mistake being rewritten. His appearance as Logan is a bit like the Undertaker vs Undertaker match at SummerSlam 1994; kind of surprising, but still rather silly. It feels like a wasted opportunity to bring in a new monster. I thought maybe an enhanced Sabretooth, or Maverick, or someone big and scary to introduce. With a double Wolverine, it felt more like Weapon XI in Origins all over again, and we know what happened there don’t we!

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What villain’s lack, heroes make up. The Transigen kids are a nice addition although faint on the film’s radar, mostly as people to get into trouble and allow a moment of heroism, but for this film, it really comes down to Logan, Laura and Xavier. Xavier’s part in this film is still pretty similar to past films but does do a lot more and shows what Stewart can do when allowed to do something very different. He is in some sense the comedy side kick and delivers some incredibly funny moments, but it’s through his disorientated new life that shows how bad things have become. He remains something of a hindrance to Logan after all these years, but one Logan has come to care for, as rightly he should, as Xavier is practically his last and now only friend. His death in the film is a big shock, but not a sincere one, as don’t forget we have seen him die before in more dramatic circumstances with this one more lost in the moment, but you do see his life pass in his eyes.

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Laura spends most of the film rather quiet, does not say a single word until just before the final Act. Yes there are shouts, yells and screams, but no words. This form of silence allows retention of mystery as to who she is, but also allows expressing more deeply the life she had and the new world she is experiencing. Silence can be golden at times and really works in her favour, as we see this young girl come face to face with new things, not knowing what they involve or how to interact, but when finally realising who she is and where she is, she finally speaks, knowing that she needs to for the sake of Logan, but also so she can be heard. Her desperation to get to Eden comes more as a cross between hope and instruction from others, not necessarily her own entire belief, but somehow knows it’s there even if Logan doesn’t. Her skills as a fighter are incredible and are very similar to Wolverine, but she has some heart too, not a lot as this is crowded with the same anger Logan once had too, but as things come to a close, she knows that she must carry on, even though her father; something she wants and desires cannot help her, but in some way knows that still lives on inside her, respecting his death, and making his legacy live on in more ways than one.

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Logan’s design and perception of being much older and on the verge of death is an interesting one. We have seen him go through emotions before, but then he was not on the ultimate verge of giving up, more just conflicted. Now though he desires it, more than anything else. It’s kind of hard to speak on his performance after 3 or so paragraphs of detailing his character, but one thing stands out more than most; his Death; His final hurrah. Coming into this film, I was thinking his last stand was going to be like in The Wolverine, one last heroic but still cynical fight to the death where he would come out on top but now no more energy left to continue. No, this time his death is more personal. It wasn’t a long lasted blood bath, more one which required others to save him and take on his role, and one that required others to do the work, while he acted as a decoy, once again being more of a team member than a loner. But his death does have something else in it though. Going into this I thought it would be like The Wolverine, but in that, he was The Wolverine, now he is just Logan. Calling him The Wolverine, it’s like a promise (like The Doctor), you know what he is, who he is and what he can do, but by putting ‘the’ before it he becomes a thing, not a person; this film is a much more personal one, so in this case it’s not the death of The Wolverine, it’s the death of Logan. That carries a more significant weight to it; it’s not the death of a thing, but the death of somebody. Laura in a future film could become the New Wolverine, or someone else could take on that name; but you can’t replace or take on the identity of Logan.

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The film does come packed like many other X-Men films with a cavalcade of special effects. These of course include ‘very’ detailed claws including spots of graphic detail and blood splatter; especially when piercing through the heads of some people. The mechanical hands are a nice treat showing off some more blood and limb coverage than usual. The film uses its special effects department in other ways too to create visions of the future including a scene involving driverless, but dangerous trucks. The film also comes with a soundtrack once again produced by Marco Beltrami featuring quite a few slow pieces which are used to heighten the level of reality but more a sense of realisation than anything else possibly to state that this is the end! Pieces like Old Man Logan, Don’t Be What They Made You and Goodnight Moon cover this pretty well, but the soundtrack does of course know when to get busy though and of course creates action packed pieces for when a fight is on especially in a scene like the Forest Fight at the end and also when Logan is facing X-24. The one thing though that really stands out about this soundtrack though is the inclusion of several classic pieces by Johnny Cash. Logan’s first trailer of course famously features the song Hurt, which really shows the direction the film intends to take so that the audience can really see how the film is likely to turn out but also more likely what it is all about. This piece though does not actually feature in the film, what does feature though is not a slow grim song, but a rather pleasant, peaceful and also happy song that really turns around the film’s great tragedy and helps you gain some perspective.

A few months ago I went to see the film Ethel and Ernest based on the book of the same name written by Raymond Briggs. The film has a very sad ending, but turns this around in a sense by featuring a piece of music and images within the credit roll that suggest that while the ending was sad, it does not mean that everything was as there was some really happy moments. Here we have the sad ending and conclusion to the story of Wolverine (in film), but, while he has had great tragedy in his life, and it ended as such, there is some peace we can look back on. For one Logan has attained a peace from the devastation of his dark history, but also in that history there was also, happiness, joy, peace and of course love. This is held by the film playing The Man Comes Around in the credits, a light fluffy as well as casual piece, signifying not an entirely sad ending, but shows that there has always been another side to the coin, that in the misery, there was joy, and in the darkness there was also light; and so while Wolverine does bow out, we can take a moment of knowledge and recognition about the life he had, and the legacy that he leaves behind, not just in story, but also in the entertainment and joy he has given us as cinema goers.

Logan is a pretty sad point. I know the series will continue and new stars are appearing to take the helm and the future such as Ryan Reynolds, Sophie Turner and hopefully Dafne Keen too, but it is a sad point, more so when I think that there could have been more. When X-Men Origins came about and really failed like it did, that is the series lowest point, so when The Wolverine came along and excelled so much, it felt like a new beginning, like that is what Origins should have been, forgetting that film and becoming the first a Wolverine Trilogy. But now it has come to an end, it feels like only the surface was being scratched, and that more was on the way. It’s like when Castle was cancelled last year; it was in it’s prime, there was more to be told, and it just ended. That’s what we have here, like something more could have come, but now we may never see that. You can only play a character for so long though, and an end would have come eventually. The end of something is exciting because you don’t know how it’s going to end, but eventually realization sets in, and you realize that it truly is the end. So even if it did continue, it would eventually end: but what an ending it was! Logan does not disappoint in providing one last fight, one last match, one last scene of steel claws, blood curdling action, eye grossing violence, but also one last moving scene as the great hero finally comes to rest in peace. Logan is a sad and tragic little film, but shows off plenty of emotion and heart in a film series that has defined just that in the super hero genre; and now Hugh Jackman can now go do something else, leaving a legacy that will live on in cinema forever, and one that no-one can match. There is only one true Logan, and only one true, Wolverine.

GENEPOOL

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Do You Ever Shut Up? – X-Men Origins: Wolverine

22 10 2015

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Everyone loves an origin story…..right? Well even if you don’t; origins stories are still pretty interesting things as they tell the story of how people came to be who they are. These could happen through moments of inspiration, or life changing events. In the world of comics, Origin stories are told rather frequently as it tells the audience how iconic characters they have come to love came to be in the first place, with characters ranging from people like Batman and as we will see here, Wolverine.

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Released in 2009 by 20th Century Fox, Directed by Gavin Hood and Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner; X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the 4th film in the X-Men film series and the first spin-off. As the title suggests, it looks at the origin story of Wolverine, looking back far in the past to when he first discovered his abilities, attained his iconic Adamantium steel claws and how he lost his memory. The film also features several legends from the X-Men comics. Despite the great potential this film had however, it is a very disappointing film (I suppose I could’ve just finished the review here).

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In 1845, young James Howlett witnesses his father being killed by the groundskeeper claiming to be the boy’s real father. The trauma caused from this causes bone claws to come out of James’s hands before he kills the groundskeeper. He runs away but is found by his friend, and real life half-brother Victor Creed, who is also a mutant. They both go on the run, with the opening credits showing them growing up and fighting in the American Civil War, World War 1, World War 2 and Vietnam. While in Vietnam, Creed (Liev Schreiber) kills a senior officer, which James (Hugh Jackman) defends, for which they are both sentenced to death by firing squad. Having survived the shooting and now being kept in a cell, both James and Victor are approached by Colonel William Stryker (Danny Huston) who offers them an opportunity to join his team of Mutants, which includes; Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), John Wraith (Will.i.am), Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand) and Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan). Using their abilities, the team manage to steal a comet from a Nigerian crime lord, but due to their disregard for human life, including the slaughter of innocent people, James decides to leave.

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Six years later, James, now going by the name Logan, lives in the Canadian Rockies with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). Logan now works as a lumberjack, but one day is approached by Stryker and Zero who report that Wade and Bradley have been killed, and thinks someone is targeting the team’s members. Logan refuses, but after finding Kayla dead, he thinks Victor is responsible for it. Logan finds him and the two fight outside a bar. Logan loses the fight, but Stryker tells him that he can equip Logan with the tools needed to fight a now rogue Victor. Logan undergoes an experimental bonding experiment, where-in a metal called Adamantium, (which was processed from the rock they found in Nigeria) is bonded to Logan’s Skeleton. At first it appears that Logan died in the experiment, but then comes back to life. Stryker though has other plans, and wants to use Logan’s DNA on another project. Upon hearing what Stryker has said, Logan escapes, running into a nearby farm barn. He is taken in by a kind elderly couple who give him some clothes to wear. They are however shot by Agent Zero who has tracked Logan down. Logan goes after and kills Agent Zero by blowing up Zero’s helicopter.

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Logan finds John who now runs a boxing club, and is trying to help Fred (who has gained a considerable amount of weight) get in shape again. Logan fights Fred for information; who in turn reveals that Stryker and Victor are working together, and that Stryker is experimenting on mutants at a secret lab called “The Island”. Fred then tells Logan about a mutant who escaped from “The Island”, called Remy LeBeau (Taylor Kitsch), also known as Gambit. Upon finding him in Las Vegas, Victor shows up and kills John, before Logan fights him too. Logan talks to Remy, and agrees to let the other mutants go, if Remy takes him there. Using his plane, (which he won in a card game), Remy takes Logan to Three Mile Island, and drops him in the sea. Upon reaching the island, and gaining access to the base, Logan discovers that Kayla is actually alive. Kayla, whose ability is to manipulate people’s minds, was coerced into helping Stryker keep tabs on Logan for the safety of her sister, who is locked up on the island. Feeling betrayed by everyone around him, Logan leaves. Kayla asks to see her sister, and Victor wants the Adamantium, but Stryker denies both their promises. Kayla tries to attack Stryker, but Victor gets in the way. Logan returns to rescue her, subdues Victor and releases the captured Mutants. While trying to escape, Stryker activates a mutant under his control to stop Logan and the others. Known as Weapon XI, but called Deadpool by Stryker, it is the remains of Wade Wilson with the powers of several mutants, including Logan’s.

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The escaped mutants look for another way out, while Logan fights Deadpool. Deadpool gets the upper hand over Logan, but Victor shows up saying the only person who gets to kill Logan is him. Together they fight Deadpool and are able to win by decapitating him. The plant around them begins to collapse and the escaped mutants are rescued by Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Logan however, gets shot with several Adamantium Bullets by Stryker who then tries to shoot an already wounded Kayla, who however manipulates him enough to make him drop the gun, and walk away. Logan recovers from the shooting, but when found by Gambit, has no idea who or where he is.

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Ok, before I talk in more detail why, first thing I want to say about this film is that; it’s bad. It’s really bad, I find it hard to think of another film I think that is worse than it. The film does have some good points which I will highlight quickly, but the rest of it is just bad. On the film’s more positive side (well, only as far as I can find), it does contain some good and interesting characters. I like how the film has gone to lengths to introduce several of the comic’s series legends, however few of these actually work. While she may not be on-screen for very long, the character of Kayla is a good character. She is compassionate, friendly but also mysterious and introduces the films only relevant plot twist in her being alive, plus the idea she might not have actually been interested in Logan in the first place. She is played really well by Lynn Collins and is a very enjoyable character for such a disappointing film. I do however think she could have had more screen time.

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Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth on the other hand is an interesting cast choice. This is by no means Sabretooth’s first entry in the series. Previously he was in the first X-Men film played by Taylor Mane. The role in that film was a more physical one than a vocal one and so they sort of booked an actor to take on that kind of role. This time however the role is very different as it carries more of a vocal/personal role than a physical one. Liev Schreiber provides for this role rather well on both parts. He has a brilliant, sinister style and dark voice, but he has the size and physical stance to remain physically imposing for the part. His relationship/friendship and rivalry with Wolverine provides a backstory as well as building animosity between the two; while Wolverine is more compassionate, Creed is greedier and believes that what he wants he can have. Creed’s mutation does change him as this film goes on and while he is (plot speaking) not the main villain of the film, for every other reason and situation, he is. Later on he sort of redeems himself enough to help Logan; however it is more through his imposing, sinister, villainous side that he really stands out in this film. And while he is more a vocal character; his animalistic side is still present, and fearsome to watch, with scenes making him look like a roaring tiger or lion, a real animal (although I can’t help if some of that is provided through CGI). Schreiber’s performance in this film is fantastic, enjoyable from start to finish, so much fun to watch. I do however think that his rogue story side could have been done better, but more on that later.

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While he may not be a major character, Gambit is still one of the best. I remember when I first heard about him being in this film, I was so happy and excited that my favourite X-Men character was going to be in it. I was not disappointed. Gambit is played magnificently by Taylor Kitsch, an amazing performance that portrays the character correctly and to his comic book counterpart and origins. He carries the style, talk, cockiness, and the powers so well. Gambit to me is the main character highlight of this film. Not just for simply being in it, but for actually being the Gambit from the comics and cartoons.

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Hugh Jackman is always good quality, even in a bad film. The film focuses on Wolverine’s origins, and for the part of Wolverine provides just that. The story goes as far back as Wolverine can and his character really does grow as the film goes on, but he stays the same too. While he does have an animal side which is associated with a wild upbringing, there is a more human side to him too. He has compassion and love for those he cares for, but also knows the difference between right and wrong. He genuinely has love for Kayla, even if it turns out he was played, and while he does leave her, he comes back for her even asking her to come with him. His caring also for what happens on the island shows more to him than just a wild animalistic persona. Hugh Jackman really does deliver when playing Wolverine in every film he has been in, and while there are numerous plot issues and things forgotten, not included or just generally avoided, every scene he is in he plays a good character…………………….Now, on to the bad stuff.

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William Stryker was a good role in X2, played magnificently by Brian Cox. In this though, he’s terrible. He turns up with a sinister face and constantly carries a scowl all the way through the film. It is so obvious from the start of the film that this guy cannot be trusted, and you just can’t feel, or accept the guy at all. How am I as an audience member supposed to like him at all, when he just doesn’t look friendly or trustworthy. The rest of his Mutant team also seem wasteful. Yes there are some legends of X-Men in them, but some of the actors and things they do are just unnecessary. Bradley is not on-screen long enough to care about him enough when Creed kills him. In fact, up till that point he just feels like a minor hired hand villain, and so I just don’t know what the point in that exchange with Creed was. I don’t understand why Will.I.Am is in this film. In the later part yes, he has a friendship with Logan and redeems himself a little. But for the rest of the time he is nowhere to be found. He is not as bad as the rest of the crew I will say that, but still, why is he in this film? What’s the point of his character? Same goes for Fred Dukes, A.K.A. Blob. I didn’t really consider Blob a fat character, more just an imposing large person in all directions. While we do get a showing of his powers in dealing with the tank early on, I can’t help but think he is put in this film for the sake of a laugh, particularly when he is big and fat. I don’t really know what to think about Agent Zero. Before I started writing this I was wondering where Maverick was in this, only to then discover that Maverick is also Agent Zero. Zero is by no means pleasant or friendly, he is rather annoying actually (yeah let’s go with that). He’s just there, and takes over a role that Deadpool should be doing by talking a lot. He is this constant running commentary of what is going on in the scene, pointing out the obvious. His fight with Logan which ultimately leads to his Death is a good scene to which we can then see him as something other than what he currently is. Back when this film came out I didn’t really know all that much about Maverick, but since finding out, I kind of want to see more of him, either in comics or other forms of media. As another mutant in the Weapon X Program, it would have been interesting to have seen him turn and what that would have done to him, but in this film, he is just annoying. The film does have other mutants on show too, mostly with Stryker’s test subjects, but some of these just seem pointless and there for no other reason than to just make points or annotations towards the earlier films plus popular mutants. The one that does this the most of course is obviously Cyclops (Tim Pocock). There are some good extra characters in here as well, including both like Stryker’s scientist (Asher Keddie), and Emma Frost (Tahyna Tozzi) While I do like the character of Charles Xavier, I think he being in this film is rather pointless, as it achieves the same thing as Cyclops being in this film. Xavier didn’t even need to talk in this film, we could have just seen his face and instantly know who it was. I think the film could have improved a little bit if it was just either the back of his head, suggesting Xavier, or just to see his face. We then know what happens to them instead of repeating something that was in X-Men 1.

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Now: Deadpool. Deadpool is rather a disappointment. While it can be said that he is definitely chatty, the fact that in the comics the character can’t stop speaking seems to be completely out the window in this film. He does stop talking, and when his mouth is glued up it’s a sort of joke, but, in this film he was just chatty. Also, he’s completely wrong. Deadpool, while being an experimented candidate in the Weapon X Project, does not gain all those powers he has. While he can heal and regrow limbs, he does not have spike shooting out of his arms, nor lasers beaming out of his eyes, nor teleportation. He is completely his own man, and is not controlled in that fashion either. He just looks like someone who was put in here to act as a big bad monster to defeat in the end, sort of like Kelly Hu in X2. But it’s annoying that such a popular character these days, has been messed around in such a fashion. His look is so off-putting too, it’s like he came from a Horror film. I am surprised that the certificate didn’t go up upon his first appearance on-screen. The mutilated eyes and body, he just looks like something that should be in a different film altogether, not this one.

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One thing that is disappointing with this film, is that it carried so much opportunity and potential. Wolverine’s origins are an interesting story to tell and go into because of how mysterious his character is. He went through so much pain, but we don’t know how or why until those events are explained. Here there was an opportunity to explore them. The film is very quick going from one scene to the other and desperate just to get to the action sequences. When Logan is offered the steel claws, it looks like something from a Bond Film, being given a gadget to help in his vital mission to bring down Victor Creed. It just doesn’t seem right. Then there is Creed who is being this ‘rogue’ like predator, killing people off, but the film just jumps to it. Why couldn’t it have been built up, why is Creed already revealed into being the person doing this. Why couldn’t it have been a surprise, with Bradley seeing a mysterious, yet familiar being at the door, but you don’t see who it is? You could have had this idea that something, big, bad thing was making its way to Logan. A big black shadow, who then reveals it to be Creed. We could have had tasters as it built up, and also more time for Logan and Kayla’s relationship to grow more. Instead it’s just: “Yep, it’s Creed. He killed him. We all saw it”. Then, as we get past the metal bonding to Wolverine, who takes it in nice and easy really, no pain or regret as to who he has become, and who has pretty much forgotten about Kayla, no remorse as to her death. Once all that is past, we get a rather silly bit that makes me think of the basketball scene from Escape from L.A. where in this time Wolverine needs to get information out of Fred Dukes, and so has a boxing match with him. It just seems pointless, was it added to increase the film’s length (which is quite short)? And the bit with the claws coming out of the glove just looked ridiculous and silly. The film picks up a little after this, but ends with the shoddy fight and ending. I like the idea of “The Island”, it’s an interesting story idea that could have been explored more, because well, it’s the only real mention of the Weapon X Project in this film (which strangely is what this film is really about). There should have been more talk about that, and look into the successes of the project and failure’s, but it only concentrated on Wolverine and manipulated everything else around it instead of exploring it.

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The film’s special effects are a bit hindered too. There is one scene where Logan tries out his new steel claws, and they don’t look as polished as they do in previous films, they look lack lustre as in someone at the special effects department said; “People know what they look like, I am going out for coffee”. The scenes with Emma’s and Cyclops’s abilities, plus ones used by Deadpool are actually quite good, but there’s nothing else much in it. There are some good set pieces too like “The Island” for one, but much like the promise that the film had, the special effects did not deliver. Then we come round to the film’s soundtrack (composed by Harry Gregson Williams). I find it hard to talk about the soundtrack, as though while it’s there, and has some moments…..I think – it just doesn’t have the outstanding quality that the 3 previous films did.

Alltogether, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a very disappointing film (sorry to keep going on about it, don’t worry this is the final paragraph). It had promise and opportunity behind it, opportunity to explore the origins or Logan for the big screen. It had the opportunity of quality thanks to the previous 3 films, it had opportunity to showcase new characters for potential use later on. It hard so much promise, but did not deliver. It had some good characters, but mostly bad ones. It had some interesting moments, but rather silly ones too (such as where Logan releases the imprisoned mutants) and did not do much else after that. It has few reasons to be watched, and I will say that Liev Schreiber, Lynn Collins, Taylor Kitsch and Hugh Jackman are worth it to a point. I suppose we can consider ourselves lucky that no film since has referenced this film………and that the next 3 films, are all Fantastic.

GENEPOOL





We Are The Future Charles, Not Them – X-Men

19 10 2015

X-Men (20th Century Fox - 2000)

Life as a super hero must be great; the ability to do abnormal, inhuman things, wield extraordinary powers and help out others. All the admiration of those you help and save. Your own super hero suit, a wicked super hero name; the list just continues to get better and better……….doesn’t it? Well, what if, instead of being like most super heroes, (in that you gain your powers through an event), you are instead born with them? Will you still be considered a super hero and loved by all……….or will you be discriminated for who you really are?

Released in 2000 by 20th Century Fox, X-Men is the first big screen adaptation of Marvel Comics‘ successful and much-loved Super Hero team of the same name. Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Directed by Bryan Singer, the film follows the X-Men as they go to battle against long-time foe Magneto while also fighting for their own freedom.

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In 1944, at a German prison camp in Poland, young teenager Erik Lensher gets separated from his parents, causing him to mysteriously bend some metal gates before being knocked out. Many decades later a girl called Marie accidently causes harm to a boy when they kiss. At a political and public hearing, Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison) is trying to persuade his idea for a mutant registration act, which will cause mutants to publicly reveal their powers. At the event, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) meets his old friend, a now grown up Erik Lensher who is now better known as Magneto (Ian McKellen). They discuss their views on the subject, but Erik won’t waver from his view that neither species can live together peacefully. Meanwhile in Alaska, Marie, now going by the name Rogue (Anna Paquin) arrives at a bar in Alberta Canada. There she meets Logan (Hugh Jackman) who fends off two guys with sharp metal claws protruding from his hands. Rogue tries to hitch a lift with him, who at first refuses but quickly changes his mind. While in his vehicle, Rogue and Logan begin talking, with Rogue spotting the name Wolverine written on his dog tags. His vehicle crashes into a felled tree, but Logan recovers from his wounds almost instantaneously. They are then attacked however by a ferocious mutant called Sabretooth (Tyler Mane) before being rescued by two mysterious people in black leather.

Logan wakes up in an underground medical centre being overlooked by Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). He darts out of the centre but keeps hearing voices telling him where to go. He makes his way into a posh looking house and sees lots of children running around and tries to hide in a small room, only to walk into a class room where he is met by Professor Xavier. He is then met by mutants Ororo; also called Storm (Halle Berry) and Scott Summers; also called Cyclops (James Marsden) followed by Jean Grey. He asks about Rogue, to which Xavier says she is safe, and that the mutant who attacked them is an associate of Magneto. Logan does not believe a word of what he is hearing, but then Xavier probes his past, revealing he is a psychic. Logan is taken on a tour of the grounds, which happens to be a school for mutants, but on the lower levels is the secret base for the super hero team called the X-Men. Magneto meanwhile kidnaps Senator Kelly and experiments on him with a bizarre machine. While in a prison cell sometime later, Senator Kelly discovers he has a mutant ability all of a sudden, and uses it to escape.

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Back at the school, Rogue gets involved in an accident when Logan accidently stabs her with his claws. Rogue uses her powers to borrow his healing power to heal her. She is later confronted by class mate Bobby Drake (Shawn Ashmore) who tells her that it might be an idea to leave. He is however not who he appears to be, rather an impersonation by Mystique (Rebecca Romijn). Xavier uses his machine Cerebro to locate Rogue who is running away. Logan finds and convinces her to give Xavier one more chance. In the train Station though, while trying to find Rogue, Cyclops and Storm are attacked by Sabretooth and Toad (Ray Park). Magneto boards the train, subdues Logan and injects Rogue to knock her out, kidnapping her. Outside the train station, Magneto is met by the police, but he snatches their guns off and threatens them. Using his psychic powers, Xavier takes control of Toad and Sabretooth to try and end things peacefully, but gives in. Logan is furious and heads out again to look for Rogue, but runs into Senator Kelly who is at the front door of Xavier’s school. Reading his mind, Xavier discovers that Kelly was experimented on by Magneto using a machine that accelerates mutation, therefore turning Kelly into a Mutant. The experiment however nearly kills Magneto, meaning that he hopes to use Rogue to power it instead, Kelly then dies from the mutation. Xavier tries to find Rogue once more, but falls ill when the machine seemingly fails. With Xavier out of action, Jean discovers that Cerebro was sabotaged by Mystique. Despite not being strong enough to use it herself, Jean uses Cerebro to find Rogue and discover Magneto’s plan.

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Magneto plans to use the machine at a meeting of the world’s leaders, turning them all into Mutants. The team of Jean, Cyclops and Storm, along with Wolverine head out to New York and the Statue of Liberty, where Magneto has placed his machine. The X-Men are attacked by Toad and Mystique in the museum, with Storm dealing with Toad and Mystique by Wolverine. They are then captured by Magneto who places them in positions that prevent them from using their powers. Wolverine manages to escape and with help dispatches Sabretooth; too late however, Magneto starts up his machine. The energy created nearly succeeds in reaching the world’s leaders on Ellis Island, but Wolverine manages to break the machine and rescue Rogue, who is motionless. Wolverine hugs her, hoping she is alive enough to take his power to heal her. At first there is nothing, but then Wolverine’s old injuries resurface as Rogue reawakens. Back at the mansion, Xavier recovers to find Logan unconscious on a medical bed, soon recovering and stating his love for Jean, even though she is with Scott. Xavier reveals the location of a dam in Canada that could lead to answers for Logan, who then prepares to leave. He is stopped by Rogue who says she does not want him to go; he gives her his dog tags saying he will be back for them. At an unknown location, Xavier goes to visit Magneto, who is residing in a Plastic Prison, where they play a game of chess. Magneto states that despite what happened, the war between humans and mutants is still coming, but Xavier tells him that he will always be there.

X-Men is a film of several themes. On the one hand it is a film of good versus evil, on the other it is a film about freedom in a world of persecution which stems from how or where you were born. The film accomplishes these themes through its narratives, of which there are many, but not one of them hinders the other, particularly that of the films main plot. Such narratives include that of Rogue trying to find a new home, Wolverine trying to find answers as to who he is. Then of course you have the narrative of Magneto trying to prevent anymore persecution to his mutant brethren by turning humans into mutants. While the films main plot is that of the X-Men versus the evil schemes of Magneto, you then have this other narrative laced in-between everything else. The narrative and theme of persecution aimed at Mutant kind which brings into it a secondary villain. On the whole it is the rest of humanity, while technically it comes down to the actions of just one man. This theme of persecution as told through the character of Senator Kelly helps to support the main goals of X-Men’s primary villain; Magneto. It was going to be a hard thing to contain, that of a secondary hindering plot, but one that has successfully been incorporated into the film and supports the weight and views of the other characters. All in all it gives the film’s plot an extra level of detail and emotion characteristic to the films primary characters. It is from this extra plot point that helps the films characters to become far more believable and connectable to that of the films audience, as it is a real circumstance to many people today.

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The films cast have been nicely kept down to a small group. While the films later on expand to incorporate more characters, as an introduction to the characters and the ideas the films is trying to present, a small cast means there is more space for moments and narrative, as well as opportunity to get to know these characters a lot more now. The film though does like to tease fans of the comics (like me) with fleeting appearances of other characters including Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Jubilee and Pyro. One other inclusion is that of Iceman; Bobby Drake played by Shawn Ashmore. He is presented as a friend to Rogue to get her to open up at school as well as keep her momentum going in those early stages up to the point where she gets kidnapped. He gets more time though than the others. While he can’t necessarily be considered a fleeting character, he is not exactly primary. His introduction into the series however, helps him fit right in as a more primary character come X-Men 2. Then we come to Magneto’s aides. Toad is a rather enjoyable character, more so when he speaks as he produces some of the films’s best one liners. Other than that he is just a rather cool character. His fighting scenes as well as disgusting toad like moments make him something quite unique as a character, and sadly is his only real appearance in the series to date (it’s also nice to see the return of Darth Maul). Next up there is Tyler Mane playing Sabretooth. Tyler Mane is a fabulous choice for this role as it is a physical performance more than a speaking performance, but, he is given some rather good verbal scenes and is not told to keep his voice down at all during the film. As the verbal part goes, it’s more in the form of threatening language than anything else, and given by his name sake his growling shots are superb. Then you have Mystique. A lot of great effort has gone into providing a striking look for Mystique. She is one of the more shocking characters in the film, and the full naked blue body provides this shock more than just having her in clothing with a bit of blue. Her moments of transformation are superb and she even comes with her own surreal theme music to accompany her presence and transformation. But it’s not just a visual role, it is an action and verbal role, one that Romijn provides excellently. Her style of speaking as well as her fighting style is as surreal as she looks and provides an extra bit of spice.

While he is not an associate of Magneto, he might as well be, Senator Kelly is the first real antagonist of the film, but is the films secondary villain in actuality. As the man responsible for wanting a mutant registration act in the first place, he presents himself as something of a standout politician in the way he talks. He is in no way pleasant or redeeming, but he strikes a chord with the human side of the film and talks in the manner of a politician to get them on his side. But, unlike other politicians, he is not doing it for power, or legacy, but because he actually believes in the cause of mutant suppression. While it is unknown whether or not he sees his motivations that could lead to persecution of mutants, his way of going about it is through a sense of passion and belief in his own cause. And even when it comes to the point of him becoming a mutant, he still does not see the mutant’s plight, but does hear another side to it. He is not necessarily a mastermind, nor is he really a horrible person (even though he is played rightly so, and brilliantly too, a great secondary villain), but instead represents the side of the human psyche that quickly leads to the persecution of others. In turn this brings us onto Magneto. Magneto has a very brief, but quite sombre backstory. Being a young boy in Hitler’s Jewish Prison Camps, being separated from his parents is quite a hard thing for him to go through; this level of emotion reveals his powers to him. Many decades later, he is now an incredibly powerful mutant, but from going through the experiences of the prison camps he does not want mutant kind to go through the same experience and persecution as he did. The mutant registration act in turn gives him enough reasoning to go into action. While his plot to turn humans into mutants is still an evil plot, the reasoning behind his actions proves that he himself has a very good reason to go through with it. It makes him a more interesting villain than him just being evil for the sake of needing a villain, and someone who is also rather understandable and relatable to (plus it’s nice to watch Ian McKellan play something of a more sinister role).

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After that you have the X-Men team. While the film has kept numbers down, I feel like some members of the team could have had more of a part. Cyclops for instance is secondary to Jean and something of an obstacle/hindrance to Wolverine. He is quiet at best and is something more of muscle or maybe a tank to the group in that he does not talk all that much except in the field. He is the team’s leader and has his moments, especially near the film’s end, but I do feel like he has been held back to be something of a less primary character. Storm Meanwhile I felt could definitely have more. She is a supporter to those around her, but when she talks, she really does not keep down. Her confrontation with Wolverine in the mid-point of the film carries a lot of power in it and helps to grow her character. She is very caring to those around her, and everyone else too and you can see her being something of a counsellor to the school, a voice of reason. But for a primary character, I feel like she is held back a bit and could have more air time, especially in a speaking manner. Standing out that little more is Jean Grey. She is a hard person to figure out. She is something of a love interest to two primary characters while also being something of a peace maker. It is hard though to really pin her down as to who she is. She is nervous in herself of what she can do but not in what she doesn’t think she can do either. She is played fabulously and enjoyably well by Famke Janssen and gives the film an extra character to enjoy as well as an additional mystery, but then again who is she, I still don’t understand as to her real place in this film.

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Charles Xavier is a brilliant character. He is something of a friend to those he knows and to the audience too. He is neither horrible nor unpleasant, but genuinely a nice person and one you would want as a friend. He is understandable to people’s plight, but his history is a mystery. He is almost the exact opposite to Magneto in beliefs. Whereas Magneto believes that Mutants are the future, Charles believes in a future where they can live in peace with Humans. While they may not share the same beliefs and disagree on approaches, there is no real animosity between the two and still consider each other as friends. Aside from this though, the way Xavier is played (brilliantly) and portrayed, through his understanding of situations and people, to his genuine want to help people makes him more human than superhero like. Someone who talks to the audience, and that’s what makes him rather enjoyable, because like mutants, he too is different and it’s like he is talking to the audience too, not just his students.

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Then finally we come to the film’s main characters; the storytellers of the film if you like. Both telling a similar story, but it’s through their interactions that the film’s plot is driven. Rogue is a vulnerable character, one that has a lot of feelings towards others but feels like she can’t have anything, because when she touches someone, bad things happen that nearly kill them. Through this vulnerability, she finds a friend, someone who does understand what it’s like and who is going through the same emotions: loneliness, solitude, fear. In Logan, you have a character that is equally vulnerable who is not afraid to get violent. His past is a complete mystery to himself and he could either be running away from something, looking for something, or possibly even both. While he is a loner, he has real care for Rogue and sees her as a friend, and someone who needs him, giving him a sense of purpose in a confused life. To this end, Rogue feels appreciated and wanted and takes a liking to Logan rather quickly. Their ending scene shows this as he is unsure about leaving, while she does not want him to go altogether, but he gives a promise saying he will come back. I do like these characters a lot. They are story tellers and give the insight to the lonely side of being a mutant, and they both help each other through that. I enjoy these two characters a lot, watching them, learning from them and experiencing what they are going through. They are more than anyone else the real stand out characters in this film.

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The film puts to use a great deal of high-end special effects, even though the use of them are relatively minor. These special effect uses are mainly used to create the right effect in presenting the powers and abilities of the mutant characters. These effects have not aged either and are still brilliant to look at. Some effects of note include Rogues ability, Wolverine’s claws, Cyclops’s eye beams, Storms eyes, and Cerebro. Some of the effects take more of an upfront position when it is needed to shock or amaze. Things like Mystique transforming and Magneto’s Mutant making machine. The film though doesn’t totally rely on the use of special effects to make the film work, as quite a lot of it is set pieces. The set for Cerebro, the mansion, the jet, the underground facilities and Magneto’s HQ are nicely produced and wonderfully shot. The fight sequences are well done too and don’t just completely rely on use of powers. One thing that I do want to take a much closer look at though is the costumes.

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Costume design is not necessarily something I would often mention or talk about, but with this film I feel it is an outstanding and important point of mention. If you were to look at the super hero costumes in either the cartoons or more likely the comics, it’s hard to not spot how flamboyant and outstanding they are. Wolverine for example wearing a yellow spandex configuration with a hood that hooks on the nose. The use of such a costume is joked by Cyclops (“Well, what would you prefer, yellow spandex?”) before the big battle as both a reference to the comics, but also to make the serious note, that it probably wouldn’t work in the real world. The film could have kept this detail in there, but when compared to how it was produced, such a design in costume would have made it look rather silly, especially as the film’s rating is that of an older audience, not necessarily child based. Instead they went with something that was a little more adult and professional in nature, and not at all cartoony. The black leather does work a lot as it is not silly but more serious and doesn’t turn people off. The costumes do come with added characterization such as having different colours in trim for each character, such as the X across Wolverine’s, the green lines of trim on Jean’s (though in the sequels this would be changed to red) and even a cape for Storm. The leather costumes aren’t the only pieces in costumes of note. Magneto’s team have their own style; that of more casual attire, best seen from the character of Toad, with a hint of older more professionalism from Magneto wearing a much older garment.

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The soundtrack for X-Men (composed by Michael Kamen) is something I find hard to think, or even talk about. It works, it’s good and I like it, particularly the ending credits which have mixes and inclusions of the other pieces from the film; however, I just don’t find it as outstanding as the soundtrack from the later films in the series. X-Men’s soundtrack has that level of mystery as well as other themes explored here and there, and is used to great effect in the opening credits as well as scenes such as Mystique transforming, the machine nearly reaching Ellis Island, Rogue nearly dying, the tour of the mansion, Toad’s attack in the museum and the ending credits. I just feel it’s sort of lacklustre. It is rather good and done well, but because I don’t find that it is neither amazing, outstanding, nor maybe as powerful as the soundtrack in the later films, that it gets sort of forgotten in comparison. It is a shame, because it’s rather good and should not be at all ignored; I think its brilliant actually, very emotional and powerful in places and in the scene on Ellis Island does great work to ramp up the tension of the scene.

X-Men altogether is a rather brilliant film. I had not actually seen it for a few years before I watched it to write this; and I rather enjoyed watching it again. While I would not consider it the best film in the series to date, I will easily say that it is one of the best. The film is a brilliant adaptation of the comic book characters and portrays them true to who they are in the comics. The film is entertaining and tells its story plus many more through its many characters and hints towards future story points as well as an in-depth level of subplot. It doesn’t get bogged down neither in its intentions, cleverly telling two stories at the same time that both help out the other to make a rich and understanding story. X-Men is a super hero film but one that is different to others as it also conveys the idea of persecution onto those who have powers instead of showing them as the toast of town. X-Men is a really good, entertaining film. While it may not stand out, nor be as talked about as its sequel films, not for one second do I think of it as boring or a bad film. It’s actually a really powerful and exciting film that ranks among the best superhero films to date. X-Men is a seriously good film, give it a try.

GENEPOOL








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