Synopsis: In a small town of Derry, Maine, seven children come face to face with life problems, bullies and a monster that takes the shape of a clown called Pennywise.
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Thoughts: Back in the day when adaptations of novels were all the rage on network television (RIP: The Mini-Series), I remember looking forward to the 1990 multi-night experience of watching Stephen King’s It. Quickly becoming a popular nightmare calling card for clowns everywhere, the series was a smash but hasn’t exactly held up on repeated viewings. Watching it just a few years ago, I was struck by just how far fond nostalgia can take you. It was just…not great.
Flash forward 27 years and after numerous false starts and various directors, a big screen version of King’s classic is floating into your local cinema. King’s novel bounces between the past and the present and rumor is that this film is only going to be focused on the story taking place in the past. I’d always found that the most interesting part of the tale anyway and appreciate the filmmakers not biting off more than they can chew.
We all know that any crap movie can be edited to look like a winner but I’m hoping that It is truly as scary good as it looks. Directed by Andy Muschietti (who helmed the nifty Mama), King has already given his blessing to the final product – an early stamp of approval from an important source.
Synopsis: Revolves around a ghost story that takes place in the fashion underworld of Paris.
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Anders Danielsen Lie, Lars Eidinger, Nora von Waldstätten, Pamela Betsy Cooper, Benjamin Biolay
Director: Olivier Assayas
Running Length: 105 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: I think we’re getting to the point where we can get past that Kristen Stewart headlined the Twilight franchise, right? I mean, it’s time to recognize that she wasn’t the cause of all that misery she just collected a paycheck for it. Sure, her off screen persona is decidedly aloof and she doesn’t smile a lot…but to deny admitting she’s a strong actress seems so very 2012. After directing you to 2014’s Clouds of Sills Maria, I’d introduce Personal Shopper as Exhibit B in my defense case in the People vs Kristen Stewart.
While Personal Shopper is a lesser film than Clouds of Sills Maria (for which Stewart won France’s prestigious Caesar Award, becoming the first American actress ever to do so), this second collaboration between Stewart and director Oliver Assayas features the actress in nearly every frame of the movie. Capably holding our focus for the entirety of its running length, Stewart (Snow White and the Huntsman) finally headlines a project that seems not only to be her cup of tea but one that plays a game she’s fully invested in. She disappeared halfway through Clouds of Sills Maria and her absence was felt but she’s entirely captivating here as Maureen, an assistant to a tabloid-friendly superstar we barely see.
Scarier than you might expect with some legitimate jolts to your nerves, Personal Shopper is both a ghost story and a plaintive drama wrapped up in one Gallic package. Opening with Maureen alone in a creaking manse as she tries to make contact with a spirit thought to be haunting the joint, we eventually learn she’s trying to make a connection to her recently deceased twin brother. Both twins had a touch of the medium in them and with his sudden death, Maureen needs closure before she can move on with her life.
As she waits for another opportunity to locate his spirit, she spends her days traveling through Paris and beyond to pick up/out clothes and accessories for her employer. The deeper she digs the more compact the movie becomes and before you know it, mysterious texts from an anonymous phone number tease of something sinister afoot and soon she’s involved with a murder. To say more would spoil what Assayas has in store for you but it wouldn’t give much away to say that, in typical Assayas fashion, much of the the mystery is left for the audience to decode on their own.
Perhaps a bit too slow for most (I could see this being a bang-up 50-minute short film), I wasn’t ever bored by the movie and the performances (including Stewart) are off-kilter just enough to keep you guessing without dismissing them outright as merely bonkers. Much of the movie is focused on the lengthy text conversation between Maureen and the mystery caller and this could have been an interminable bore had Assayas’s script not been so taut. I definitely was left with some questions but the more I thought about it the more I realized that the questions were far more interesting than the potential answers — that makes for an overall rewarding experience.
Synopsis: A young Englishman plots revenge against his mysterious, beautiful cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Thoughts: You know what this critic loves? Gothic horror and Rachel Weisz. So you’ll understand why this first look at My Cousin Rachel hit all the right notes for The MN Movie Man. Adapted from Daphne du Maurier’s novel written in 1951, it has been brought to the screen before in 1952 and again in a BBC miniseries from 1983. It’s plum June release hints that Fox Searchlight has a sleeper hit on their hands or at the very least an interesting alternative to the bombastic effects driven blockbusters it will be sharing cinemas with. With The Birds and Rebecca we’ve seen that du Maurier’s tales of horror are slow burn affairs and this looks like another tightly wound exercise in restraint. And then there’s Weisz (Youth) who stars alongside rising star Sam Claflin (Me Before You). It’s sometimes hard to remember she’s an Oscar winner, even though she’s often the best thing about the films she’s in. Here’s hoping the end result is as effective as this trailer is…now I’m off to catch up on my reading.
Synopsis: When a young vegetarian undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school, an unbidden taste for meat begins to grow in her.
Stars: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella
Director: Julia Ducournau
Running Length: 99 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: Usually, if a movie features well-prepared food with sumptuous ingredients people will tell you to go in with a full-stomach to avoid it growling too much at the sights of such a feast. I’d advise anyone seeing Raw to be absolutely, positively sure your stomach is free from any contents and to certainly avoid eating while watching. After a busy day where I forgot to eat lunch, I made the mistake of firing up this French horror film while eating dinner and that was a mistake. A big mistake.
Joining her older sister (Ella Rumpf) at a prestigious veterinary college in Belgium, Justine (a wildly game Garance Marillier) is plunged into the school’s storied hazing rituals which make the drinking challenges in 2016’s Goat look like a tea party. Naïve and very vegetarian, Justine gets no breaks for being the sister of an upperclassmen, eventually being forced to consume a raw rabbit kidney much to her own horror. Developing an unsightly skin rash and nursing an increasingly insatiable for uncooked meat, Justine transforms into a flesh-eater not above eating a crudely amputated finger of a similarly cannibalistic loved one. As the hunger grows so does the competition between sisters as they each set sights on Justine’s bisexual roommate (Rabah Nait Oufella) who may turn out to be satisfying on more than one level.
Writer/director Julia Ducournau’s debut is a bold and bloody feature with a feminist streak amidst the gore. While it falters around the mid-point and never quite makes it back up the hill, it has a clever ending and go-for-broke performances that make sure it’s never boring. Excessive in every sense, Ducournau takes multiple cues from Italian horror-master Dario Argento in the way she uses color and light to create some seriously atmospheric sequences.
If you have your ear to the film festival circuit, you may have heard how the graphic violence in Raw was enough to cause audience members to pass out and upchuck their popcorn and Jujubes. Safe to say that if you’re inclined to heave at the sight of flesh being gnawed at this isn’t the movie for you. While I did look away a few times (‘hairball’ is all I’ll say…you’ve been warned) and caught a few scenes through carefully splayed fingers, the bloody grisliness featured in Raw wasn’t enough for me to reach for my smelling salts or the remote to turn it off.
The extremity of the movie begins to wear and at times becomes too repetitive, but in a sea of zombie films and space alien features, Raw is a nice international reminder that horror doesn’t have to feature the undead or extraterrestrials to create a sense of dread. Sometimes our own bodies crave something that can scare us even more.
Synopsis: A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station whose mission of discovery turns to one of primal fear when they find a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Running Length: 103 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: On the drive home after the screening of Life, I ran afoul of my partner after repeatedly referring to it as an ‘odd, little movie’. At first thinking I was just lazily falling back on a casual turn of phrase, I began to agree with myself that for all its A-List star power, occasional scares, and well-executed special effects the film was a strange, small endeavor for all involved. Not tiny enough to be a direct-to-video tax write-off and not big enough to be a major player in the summer months (though it was intended for a May 2017 release until Alien: Covenant moved its release date in close proximity), Life fits decently into the grey area between Oscar season and the mid-year blockbuster event films.
In an unusually long pre-title sequence, we meet the crew occupying the International Space Station as they intercept a satellite returning from Mars containing a specimen from the red planet. As the camera glides from person to person, it feels less like an introduction and more like a location tour to help orient the audience for the action to come. Macho Rory (Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool) is the wise-cracking dude of the team, Army vet David (Jake Gyllenhaal, Prisoners) is about to break the world record for most consecutive days in space which worries quarantine officer Miranda (Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation). They join commanding officer Kat (Olga Dihovichnaya), scientist Hugh (Ariyon Bakare, Jupiter Ascending), and pilot Sho (Hiroyuki Sanada, 47 Ronin) in marveling at the extraterrestrial life discovered when the Mars sample is thawed out.
Fascination turns to horror as the specimen, dubbed “Calvin”, begins to grow rapidly in mind and body, eventually escaping the confines of the lab and hunting down the crew one by one. It’s Alien-like premise aside, there are a few surprises to be had in Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese’s script for Life as it takes some turns you may not be expecting. Director Daniel Espinosa (Child 44) is no Ridley Scott, however, and the workmanlike way Life is compiled and its odd pacing gives it the feeling of a movie that desperately wants to be better than it is.
When Reynolds, Ferguson, and Gyllenhaal signed on, I’m betting they were counting on this being a summer release but truth be told the way the film is structured and performed it feels more like an art-house alternative to a sci-fi horror tent-pole picture. Reynolds is on cruise control as his usual cool as a cucumber self while Gyllenhaal surprisingly rests a bit on his laurels and goes only halfway in crafting the haunted character he’s perfected in films like Enemy and Nightcrawler. Only Ferguson seems to lock into her role, never over-doing the “company man” attitude or under-selling her rising terror that this creature may somehow find its way back to earth.
Had the movie only had three characters, it may have felt a bit less cramped…and been a bit easier to understand. Dihovichnaya & Sanada’s thick accents make it difficult to understand them at times, which becomes a problem anytime they’re tasked with delivering key bits of information. There’s an attempt to give Bakare an interesting back story in a briefly mentioned tangent as to how the wheelchair bound man is living out his dream of mobility in the anti-gravity playground above earth. Alas, any deeper development is jettisoned in favor of more scenes of peril inflicted by the bloodthirsty fast evolving being that’s taken over the ISS.
While there are some solid special effects sequences that take place outside of the station, anything that happens inside had me alternately rolling my eyes and raising my eyebrows. Calvin flirts between an animated starfish-like object and a questionably created CGI monster that looks like an evil cousin to the benign alien creatures from The Abyss. Espinosa films so much of the movie in tight close-up or without any establishing shots that it’s often hard to tell where anyone is in relation to each other and voiceovers are used as a cheap gimmick to tell what they can’t show. I definitely got a couple of guffaws from the way the astronauts kept bobbing up and down (some more violently than others) as a way to show the zero-gravity atmosphere.
So yeah…it’s an odd little (big-ish) movie and while it may carve out some decent box office numbers by being released in a movie climate that’s been largely earthbound, Life isn’t going to be on the calling card for anyone involved. It’s bound to be forgotten entirely by the time Alien: Covenant is released in two short months. Perhaps this will find greater value on Netflix which, come to think of it, would have been an ideal release platform instead.
Review: Let’s start with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: I had to see this live-action version of Beauty and the Beast twice before I felt I could really give it a fair shake. I had been so looking forward to seeing Disney’s classic tale come to life that I perhaps went in with expectations dialed too high, spending much of the first screening feeling a bit, well, let-down. Not that the production design wasn’t glorious (it is), not that the music wasn’t stirring (Alan Menken’s score still dazzles), and not that the actors giving flesh and bone life to characters crafted in animation studios weren’t up to the task (they are…mostly), but there was something that just didn’t hit my ‘Thrill Me’ button. Seeing it again two weeks later in 3D accompanied by rich Dolby Atmos sound, I found some magic that wasn’t there before…but many of the problems remained.
Let’s go back to 1991 when Disney hand-drawn animation reached its full renaissance and true zenith with the release of Beauty and the Beast. A dynamite blockbuster and instant classic, it also became the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture (other nominees that year? Bugsy, JFK, The Prince of Tides, and the winner The Silence of the Lambs) a title it held for 18 years until the list of nominees was expanded and Pixar’s Up nabbed a nom. Disney recognized it had a property that could have a life beyond the silver screen and soon Beauty and the Beast became a highly popular and endlessly profitable Broadway musical. With countless releases on video, DVD, BluRay and a 2012 re-release in 3D, the film is easily Disney’s bread and butter. It’s no wonder, then, that with the popularity of Disney’s recent slate of live-action adaptations of their classic animated films (Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book), Beauty and the Beast is swooping back into theaters in a lavish new production.
You know the story, right? Snooty, spoiled prince angers old beggar woman that’s really an enchantress in disguise. Prince is turned into a beast and his staff are turned into various objects until the prince/beast learns to love and be loved in return. Enter headstrong and misunderstood Belle who winds up imprisoned by the Beast but warms his cold heart. The rest is fairy tale history.
My biggest issue with 2017’s BatB (let’s shorten it, shall we?) is its length. The original film was a solid 84 minutes with very little in the way of excess plot, characters, or showiness but this film is 129 minutes and feels longer than it had to be. That’s due to some baffling additions in plot and characters that feel like distractions from the action instead of support for the story.
Take Audra McDonald (Ricki and the Flash) and Stanley Tucci (Spotlight) as the castle entertainment turned into a wardrobe and a cadenza, respectively. McDonald’s character isn’t new but the role is beefed up to ridiculous proportions, seemingly only to have an excuse to showcase McDonald’s glorious soprano. Tucci’s piano man adds nothing to the plot and winds up taking time away from established characters Cogsworth (Sir Ian McKellen, The Wolverine, crazily underused) and Lumiere (Scotsman Ewan McGregor, A Million Ways to Die in the West, nearly nailing a French accent). Emma Thompson’s (Saving Mr. Banks) is no Angela Lansbury but, even though an obvious choice, her warm-hearted Mrs. Potts gets the job done, delivering a sweet interpretation of the title tune.
Screenwriter Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) has made the curious decision to provide a backstory for Belle and her father that involves Paris, a windmill, and the Black Plague. While it may give more dimension to the character in general, it takes up too much time and again feels like it was added to introduce one of Menken’s new songs.
Ah…the songs. Three songs from original musical written by Menken and the late Howard Ashman were nominated for an Oscar and hearing them again with a full orchestra it’s not hard to see (or hear) why. ‘Belle’ is still an energetic introduction not only to our heroine but to her “poor provincial town” as well. I missed some of the eccentric townsfolk Disney animators dreamed up, they’ve been replaced by bland-ish niceties that strangely seem more sinister than their hand-drawn inspirations ever did. ‘Be Our Guest’ remains the star centerpiece with McGregor and an entire Crate and Barrel’s worth of kitchen fare going Busby Berkley when serving dinner. I’ve heard ‘Beauty and the Beas’t a zillion times in a million different versions but it never fails to choke me up with its grand music but tender lyrics. Surprisingly, the songs Menken and Tim Rice wrote for the Broadway musical are jettisoned for lesser carbon copies. I can’t quite understand why the Beast’s knock-out Act 1 closing number ‘If I Can’t Love Her’ was replaced by ‘Evermore’ which says nearly the exact same thing. So, too, for ‘Days in the Sun’, taking the place of ‘Human Again’ without much justification. The only semi-winner in the bunch is ‘How Can a Moment Last Forever’, sung by Emma Watson and Kevin Kline in the movie and Celine Dion over the closing credits. It’s a clear bid for an Oscar nomination and never count Menken out to sneak in and win the prize.
Director Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2) has never had the lightest touch and it shows in several frenetically edited numbers that cut away when they should be pulling back and showing the choreography. It’s interesting that the best staged number (‘Be Our Guest’) is the one largely done with CGI and not the otherwise exuberant opening number or villain Gaston’s big boastful number set in a beer hall. I was worried that the enchanted objects would look odd and they most certainly do. It takes a good fifteen minutes to adjust to these computer creations which are blended seamlessly into the live-action pieces. The castle design is gorgeous and the film looks like it spent every nickel of its sizable budget.
In the title roles, Dan Stevens (Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb) and Emma Watson (Noah) are just dandy but don’t truly possess the ‘It” factor that would make them feel like the only possible choices. Watson’s got a good demeanor and knows exactly who Belle is, but her singing voice is AutoTuned to an almost comical level and I so missed hearing the soaring vocals of Paige O’Hara. Though Stevens feels slightly too old next to Watson (giving further fodder to the whole Stockholm Syndrome debate that’s followed the tale since it’s origins), he manages to create an actual character within the constraints of his motion-captured Beast creation. He’s got a nice singing voice too.
The best of the non-professionals is Luke Evans (The Raven) as Gaston. Though he isn’t the ‘size of a barge’ as his character indicates in song, he’s a nicely nasty villain cut-off at the knees by the independent Belle and her protective father (Kevin Kline, The Big Chill). He’s got a rich voice and makes each of his scenes and interactions count, I like that he didn’t try to excuse Gaston’s actions or show any redeeming qualities that might make us feel sorry for him. Then there’s Josh Gad (The Wedding Ringer), an actor I just don’t get. I liked him in Frozenwhen he was heard and not seen but as Gaston’s sidekick Lefou he’s easily the most grating presence in the film. Condon gives Gad far too much slack to modernize his character through shamelessly mugging while lip-synching terribly and though his affections for Gaston are plain as day, the “exclusive gay moment” being buzzed about is a blink and you’ll miss it beat most won’t even recognize.
There’s no doubt this is going to make Disney another trillion dollars at the box office and in clever tie-ins but for me this was the least successful live-action update so far. It wants to have it both ways; being reverential to the original one moment and not quite as precious to it in another. Condon wraps it up with a terrible final edit that only made me angrier the second time I saw it. Rated PG, it rides the line of being too long for little kids and pretty scary when you throw in two fairly terrifying wolf attacks. It’s much darker than the animated film so parents should think twice before taking the tots to this – popping in the original would be my suggestion.
Synopsis: A young group of German POWs are made the enemy of a nation, where they are now forced to dig up 2 million land-mines with their bare hands.
Stars: Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Laura Bro
Director: Martin Zandvliet
Running Length: 110 minutes
TMMM Score: (7/10)
Review: Just when you thought all the good WWII stories had been told, along comes Land of Mine from Denmark. Nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars, it may not have won the top prize or been richly promoted like some of its fellow nominees but it’s a handsomely made effort and a surprisingly memorable one at that.
It’s 1945 in Denmark and while the war is over the battle isn’t quite done. A crop of young Nazi POW’s are put to work removing the land mines from the coastal beaches and what a deadly task that turns out to be. Given basic training in locating and dismantling these mechanical booby traps, the young men are kept in rudimentary conditions and nearly starved to death by their captors. At first, they find little sympathy from their guard Sgt. Carl (Roland Møller), a patriot blistered by his hatred of all Nazis. Before he meets the boys his anger at the Nazi occupation is demonstrated in bloody detail when he beats a marching prisoner within an inch of his life.
Originally at odds within their own group, they begin to form some semblance of a bond once they are pushed to the brink by Carl and after several lose their limbs and/or lives. It doesn’t take a seasoned screenwriter to see the plot mechanics of writer/director Martin Zandvliet’s film and you can easily pick out who will avoid going kaboom and almost the precise moment Carl will soften. Still, strong performances go a long way to elevate Land of Mine away from territory so familiar we aren’t invested in the outcome.
Beautifully filmed by Camilla Hjelm with an unobtrusive score from Sune Martin, Zandvliet keeps you literally on the edge of your seat even as you wait for the inevitable to happen. As the boys crawl along the beaches and uncover bomb after hidden bomb, you start to let your guard down before reality explodes from below. To some, it may feel like easy retribution for what the Nazi party did to countless countries and their people, but Zandvliet makes it less about justified revenge and more about the tragedy of the entire situation on both sides. After all, many of these German POW’s were simple teenagers recruited from their homes and fighting a war they had no value or stake in…when they cry for their families and fallen friends it’s not easy to group them with the SS officers that set about exterminating much of the population in these European countries.
Entertaining but standardly so, it’s not hard to see why Land of Mine wound up in the top five lists at the Oscars just as it’s not hard to see why it didn’t have the full substance to take the award home. Very much worth a watch, though; just make sure you trim your nails before it starts or else you’ll chew them down during the more tense moments.
Synopsis: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Boyd Holbrook, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Richard E. Grant
Director: James Mangold
Running Length: 137 minutes
TMMM Score: (9/10)
Review: We should all be thanking Mission: Impossible 2. It may be hard to fathom now, but had his filming as the villain in that sorry sequel not stretched beyond its original shooting schedule, Doughray Scott and not Hugh Jackman would have been the one that wound up playing Logan/Wolverine in nine films. Well, actually, I’m not sure Scott had the charisma necessary to have lasted as long as Jackman has in the role. Though he’s ably stretched beyond the superhero universe, Jackman will always be favorably associated with this character/franchise and rightfully so. Showing a willingness to be a team player (popping up in a cameo during X:Men – First Class) or going his own way in two stand-alone Wolverine pictures, Jackman has seen this role through to the end. We may see Wolverine again in some form but if Logan is truly the finale Jackman has promised, he’s gone out in a burning blaze of glory.
It’s not worth going back and trying to connect the dots between the X-Men movies when thinking about Logan. Taking place in the near future shortly after a catastrophic event that dramatically decreased the number of mutants roaming the globe, we meet a weary Logan living under the radar and showing his age. Moonlighting as a limo driver for extra cash and with his earth-saving days seemingly behind him, he acts as a guardian to Professor X (Patrick Stewart, Green Room), now suffering in an advanced state of dementia.
Crossing paths not only with a silent but deadly pre-teen mutant (Dafne Keen) but the bounty hunter (Boyd Holbrook, Gone Girl) intent on tracking her down, the aged man with adamantium claws that spring from his knuckles doesn’t want to be anywhere near the action. Resistance is futile, though, and Logan begrudgingly becomes a foster parent of sorts to the girl, committing to delivering her to a protected area in the upper Midwest while keeping Professor X close by. The trip is rocky with many unexpected detours, all leading to a surprisingly emotional climax that feels justly earned.
With all the “last time as Wolverine” talk surrounding Logan, I’ll let you find out for yourself where our hero is when the credits roll but don’t be surprised if Jackman, reteaming with The Wolverine director James Mangold, has a few tricks up his sleeve as he closes this chapter. The previous two solo Wolverine films have been a mixed bag. The first was an outright miss, stumbling out of the gates and pretty much nixing several planned X-Men spin-offs at the same time. 2013’s The Wolverine was a much better film than most gave it credit for but in the end the third time really is the charm because Logan represents the best of what all involved have to offer.
It was a good move on the part of 20th Century Fox, emboldened by the smash success of Deadpool, in okaying Mangold and his screenwriters to make Logan a hard R, a rating it earns within the first five minutes thanks to a gory bit of violence and a barrage of colorful language. I’ll admit to enjoying hearing Stewart swear like a sailor and while I generally favor the less is more approach, free from ratings restraints it seems like everyone and everything is much looser and less cautious. The violence is exceedingly vicious and no flesh, blood vessel, bones, or skulls are spared. And it never feels forced, just that the studio finally allowed the audience to see this world as it was always meant to be.
Admittedly, the X-Men aren’t quite in my wheelhouse and it’s taken me a while to come around to their place in the superhero universe. I feel they’ve improved as they’ve gone along, feeling less comic book-y and more wholly formed with each passing entry (I know you all hated X-Men: Apocalypse but I dug it just fine). While Logan isn’t directly tied to those previous films (like Apocalypse was to X-Men: Days of Future Past), it’s clear they are all operating in the same timeline and for that Logan feels like a step in the right direction.
Coming so far from just chomping on a cigar and trimming his mutant mutton chops, Jackman knows this character inside and out. He takes the opportunity (and lengthy running time) to bring out every nuance he can, not letting Logan be changed from a grumpy old man overnight. He’s matched well by Stewart, doing his best acting than in any previous X-Men film. Crippled by his disintegrating brain, his grizzled appearance is a far cry from the wheelchair bound gleaming cue ball in a designer suit we have come to enjoy. Holbrook manages to make his villain nicely vile without alienating the audience in the process but the real find here is Keen who is able to handle some pretty heavy material and handily go claw-to-claw with the leading man.
Featuring several super charged action sequences and just gorgeously filmed in general, if there’s one thing I could ding Logan for it would be a nagging sense of familiarity to its tale of redemption. While it has its fair share of original moves, you’ll likely be one step ahead of its protagonists on multiple occasions. No matter, the movie hums along so nicely that even at nearly 2 ½ hours the time will fly by.
For my money, Logan is the best of Jackman’s outings as Wolverine and I’m glad it doesn’t wind up feeling like a tired final act. This is what true character completion looks like and I applaud not only the entertainment value of the movie but the cast and crew that were allowed by their studio the freedom to give a proper send-off. Highly recommended and likely worth a second viewing as well.