Pop Culture Princess

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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Marvel goes west with Logan

This past weekend, my sister and I went to see Logan, which is and isn't an X-Men movie. Yes, Hugh Jackman stars as the legendary mutant fighter known as Wolverine with Patrick Stewart reprising his role as Professor Charles Xavier but this is a very different cinematic comic book world that they're in.

The bare bones of the plot are this; it's the year 2029 and mutants are practically extinct. Logan is aging, ill and working as a limo driver in order to take of Charles, who is suffering from a form of dementia and living in hiding. Logan's goal is to earn enough cash to buy a boat so that he and Charles can live out what's left of their days at sea.

However, Logan is called upon to help a young girl named Laura(Dafne Keen) who is being pursued by armed men working for a genetics company known for tinkering with mutants. Laura is one of their "patents" and they are determined to reclaim her as their property. As reluctant as he is to get involved, Logan takes to the road with Laura and Charles to what may be a true sanctuary for their kind.

 While the script is said to be loosely based upon a comic book story called Old Man Logan, everyone involved here is not shy about saying that the main spoke of this inspiration wheel comes from the traditional American Western.

From the gritty visuals to the brutal violence, not to mention the motif of the world weary gunslinger that our leading man embodies, this is a genre mash-up of epic proportions.

There's even a brief subplot about water rights, as Logan steps in to help a farmer who offered him shelter for the night by standing up to the local strong-arm men trying to run him off of his land. A small detail,perhaps, but one that helps to enrich the scope of the story and the human impact upon those forced into violent confrontation:

This is a story that is unapologetic when it comes to dealing out death(it earns it's R rating and then some) but none of that is gratuitous. Much like the Westerns of old, Logan faces the cold hard reality of what it means to live by the sword or the gun.

It's no coincidence that at one point in the movie, several of the characters are watching the classic film Shane, a story that also showcases violence and how it can affect people, particularly the young.

While Laura is far from being anything like the wide eyed innocent boy Joey in that film, she can and does relate to the need for guidance in learning how to control what weapons are at hand for her by someone older and hopefully wiser:

Having Hugh Jackman and writer/director James Mangold(who worked together previous on an earlier X-Men related film, The Wolverine) be on the same page thematically is another key component to the strength of this film.

Both men agreed upon using the Western template for this story, making it easier for everyone else to get on board with that. In addition, Mangold is no stranger to the genre with his 2007 remake of 3:10 To Yuma, which pitted Christian Bale's peaceable rancher against Russell Crowe's career criminal.

As both men learn to respect each other, despite their extreme differences, a major bone of contention between them is Bale's impressionable son. That  debate of morality comes to define the ultimate conclusion of the film and echoes in Logan with the emotional ties that develop between the grim Wolverine and the young girl that may take up his mantle:

Hugh Jackman has said that this is his last Wolverine movie and if so, he is certainly going out in serious style here. This movie proves that comic book hero based stories are more than just costumes and special powers, they are and can be incredible showcases for emotional portraits of people dealing with what life has given them in and making the most of what's in front of them.

 Logan is truly a next level film and one that I hope Hollywood pays attention to for the right reasons. Don't simply ramp up the action and violence to get a R rating just to make a quick buck. Consider the level of the material being offered to you and if it needs to be told that way, let it be told without needless interference. A foolish hope,perhaps, but you don't see a movie like Logan very often and the footsteps that it's making with audiences and critics alike will be hard to step into for a perfect fit:

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