Saturday, June 24, 2017

Movie Review: Logan

From Logan we learn a good rule of thumb: never allude to the Western in a comic-book movie. It only makes the viewer realize that he ought to have gone to see a great Western film instead of going to see whatever comic-book story he is watching now. To be fair, the effect of Logan's allusions to Shane wasn't as dismaying as, say, the way Limp Bizkit's cover of "Faith" makes you want to drop what you're doing and listen to George Michael's "Faith." But it's probably at least as bad as the way U2's cover of "Paint It Black" makes you want to put on some Rolling Stones. Westerns and comic books are both beloved of boys, but the difference between them is that nobody has made a comic book movie yet that ranks with the great Westerns like The Searchers, Once Upon a Time in the West, or The Man Who Shot Liberty Vance. Every adult male I know has one or two favorite Westerns, but only teenagers (and the artistically-still-teenagers) will exercise themselves to any degree with the problem of ranking comic book movies.

If this is a rant, it's meant to be a subtle one. There's some great film making in comic book movies, especially in their best opening sequences:

To these I'd add the notorious pencil scene from The Dark Knight and the sequence in Unbreakable when young Elijah Price receives a gift from his mother. Meanwhile in Logan, the half-dozen interesting moments were buried in plot clich├ęs and stale story lines. The film's best feature is probably its affecting treatment throughout of Charles Xavier's senescent frailty, which works so well because of Patrick Stewart's committed performance. Unfortunately, that is the film's only excellent acting.

James Mangold, the director of Logan, also directed Girl, InterruptedKate and Leopold3:10 to Yuma; and Walk the Line—films that together earned nine Oscar nominations and two Oscar wins. His 2013 film The Wolverine unfolded like a blazing comic book on the screen: it was top-grade movie making in the genre. But Logan doesn't work, despite its director's resume and notwithstanding the film's nearly unanimous positive reviews. Logan's attempt at a grown-up comic-book movie only proves that comic book movies don't grow up.

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