‘Logan’ delights in its continuation of Wolverine saga

Back in the good ol’ days of being a tween (when I had the time to hang out in book stores and spend hours on the weekend reading comics and superhero encyclopedias for fun), my love for the X-Men was born, and so it stands to reason that this girl recently parted with $12 in order to see “Logan.” And I’m warning you now: I loved this movie.

It has come to my attention upon gushing about my love for this movie to many that some people did not enjoy it. More specifically, a lot of people seem to be naturally against the idea of giving actors within superhero films as much credit for their craft as I personally think they deserve. One major point that the critics in my life bring up is that there are often a lot of technological bells and whistles for these actors to hide behind, and that the wide array of special effects and gore often featured in superhero films are usually what attract audiences—not the stellar acting.

In the case of “Logan” especially, I will have to respectfully disagree. Although this R-rated adaptation featured a good amount of blood and dismemberment, these elements of the movie did not take away from the impactful performances of newcomer Dafne Keene or prominent X-Men movie alums Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman.

I loved this film for more than the acting, though. Over the many years of film production, entities such as Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox have so freely blended and warped the multitudes of timelines within these superhero universes. Because of this fluidity and freedom I have been rather impatiently waiting for them to exercise that creative power to bring in the strong and dynamic female characters (that exist in abundance within the actual comics) as leads in their films.

I am so excited for the opportunities that have been opened up by the choice to introduce X-23—also known as Laura Kinney—to the X-Men film universe. In a number of ways, “Logan’s” depiction of Laura veered off of the path set by the comics, but in my not-so-professional opinion, they kept some of the most important aspects of her origin the same while leaving others ambiguous enough to more accurately depict in future films.

One of my favorite elements of this film was that they chose to introduce X-23 in her youth, which unlike many superheroes is truly a large part of her storyline as opposed to just being more of an afterthought of an origin story.

I was beyond impressed with how 12-year-old actress Dafne Keene portrayed X-23. Laura is an extremely traumatized and borderline feral young girl who acts more or less mute for a good portion of the first half of the movie, and even still I was nearly floored. For one, Keene’s facial expressions were priceless—although I am sure she’s on track to rake in the big bucks for this and future performances.

While I see how some future casting directors may see Keene’s age as a limiting factor to a potential X-23 franchise, I would hope that her talent and the wonderful opportunity to showcase the life of a troubled young superhero will be enough to keep her in the running to play Laura Kinney in the future.

“Logan” is Hugh Jackman’s final role as the Wolverine of the X-Men series, and interestingly enough, it was reported even prior to the film’s release that he actually took a substantial pay cut in order to ensure that “Logan” would be R-rated. It would appear that Jackman prioritized the significance of incorporating blood and a countless amount of “fucks” in the film over money—was it really for the sake of maintaining the integrity of Logan’s character though? I’d like to think so. For the most part, “Logan” smartly spent more creative energy on adding a new emotional depth to this otherwise well-known character. It was refreshing to see the trope of larger-than-life villains (for the most part) take a backseat to the humanizing elements of this classic hero’s story.

I think this film took a big risk by depicting the Wolverine unlike any other X-Men film has: In this film we see him at his emotional and physical lowest point. This film did its best to show the darkest and grittiest parts of the intersecting storylines presented in “Logan.” One of the most jarring things to see was their interpretation of an aged Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). His devastating mental deterioration weighs heavily on Logan throughout the film—and while the full scope of it is not fully explored, it still packs a punch. Part of my proof of said punch is that I cried three separate times during this movie, and one of these embarrassing moments was all for Professor X.

It feels like I have been watching the X-Men ever since I was tall enough to get into PG-13 movies, and so without even considering the grounded story promised by the trailer and general promotion of “Logan,” I knew going into the theatre that my personal connection to the comics and the movies that I have loved for so long was going to influence my reaction to this movie.

Basically, I thought I had prepared myself for the crying. What I had not prepared myself for was openly sobbing in a movie theatre. I knew that Xavier’s future was bleak at best. I also knew Logan was going to die and still, the combination of sad and swelling music blasting in the background as Dafne Keene cried on the big screen over the body of her dead dad was enough to have me snotting in public!

If you haven’t already seen it, I would highly recommend going to watch “Logan.” And for people who aren’t typically interested in superhero movies, let me just say that this movie has a 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes people! Give it a chance.

 

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