Logan (2017)

Released: March 3, 2017. Directed by: James Mangold. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen. Runtime: 2h 21 min.

In 2016, Deadpool really started to push the limits of the superhero subgenre, but with Logan, director James Mangold takes the envelope, slashes it apart and creates something that reinvents the idea of what a superhero film can be.

I love it when superhero films offer something different than we’re used to seeing. Mangold does just that with Logan, as he takes a beloved character and creates something so different and original.

The year’s 2029 and Logan (Hugh Jackman) is working as a limo driver and is taking care of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) on a border town in Mexico. Logan’s aging and weary and is trying to hide from the world. His existence is upturned when young mutant Laura (Dafne Keen) arrives and is being pursued by mysterious forces.

Logan feels different because it’s so grounded in realism, and a limited use of CGI helps with that. The world created is fascinating: Everyone’s heard of the X-Men because they’re written about in comic books, and some characters are even Wolverine fans. The world feels real and it looks great. Its setting gives it a Western movie feel and its cinematography complements the story’s raw mood.

The atmosphere and style truly capture the story, and even the score feels like it becomes a character. The story is character-driven, and you feel everything these characters are going through, which makes it so human. It sends you on a roller coaster of emotions and it makes the experience gritty and unique.

Logan’s also raw because our heroes are so vulnerable. Logan has a vulnerability in his older age as he’s past his former glory and isn’t as invincible as he used to be. Even the villainous Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) notes, “Seeing you like this breaks my heart.”

It’s more heartbreaking seeing Charles Xavier in his state. I don’t want to spoil it but I’ll say his condition creates some compelling sequences. It’s enlightening seeing Charles in old age, to know that even the greatest mutants grow old, and Patrick Stewart delivers a striking and vulnerable performance.

His relationship with Logan features the usual tough-love and fatherly vibe, and Charles’ guidance creates great dialogue. Their chemistry’s endearing and their banter finds new life with an R-rating, because it’s so damn funny. Logan’s become self-loathing, and our anti-hero finds purpose with Laura. Logan’s relationship with Laura is great; their chemistry is entertaining to watch as it evolves. Their dynamic is cool where they eventually have to talk, and it’s not cliché banter. Laura is largely mute for the film and emotes distrust well and has a heartwarming curiosity.

Dafne Keen is charming and fiery as Laura, and it is such a good debut. Keen captures the character’s rage so well with a convincing ferocity. She’s great in action, and handles drama even better.

Logan

Hugh Jackman in his last hurrah as Wolverine in Logan. (Source)

Hugh Jackman effectively portrays Logan’s depression. The R-rating allows writers to explore adult themes like this as it reaches a level of sophistication rarely seen in a comic book film. In other X-Men films Logan does feel haunted, but with the mature storytelling, you truly feel and get a sense of how haunted he is at this point in his life.

Jackman is so great physically and moving emotionally. He’s so visceral in rage, and even though the character’s older now, he’s badass and still strong enough to break a shotgun over his knee. His last outing as Wolverine is easily his most remarkable.

Back to the writing. I can’t give enough kudos to writing team James Mangold, Scott Frank and Michael Green, who take X-Men storylines (namely “Old Man Logan”) and mix them into such an original story. They take time telling it, and there are intimate moments and poignant drama throughout.

A scene has our trio eating dinner with a family they’ve met and it’s funny and has great banter. The film has a great capability to slow down and show charming, human scenes like this that develop characters. It shows patience in storytelling, and it shows a comic book movie doesn’t need relentless, non-stop action to be supremely entertaining. The bursts of action are still amazingly directed. They’re bloody and brutal, and just a hell of a lot of fun.

With Logan, I’ll only complain about its villains. Boyd Holbrook is menacing, yet destructible, and has presence as Pierce, but there’s something to be desired since we don’t know who he works for as they make it mysterious in the beginning. Instead of feeling mysterious, it’s often confusing and frustrating. When we find out who they are and what they’re doing, it’s great and interesting, because it strengthens the story.

This gears up to a great finale that is well worth the wait for action junkies. It’s bloody and thrilling. It’s a bittersweet end to an era since Jackman’s been Wolverine for 17 years. As the credit rolls, a chapter of film history rolls with it. Logan is the best of the Wolverine trilogy and it’s just the fitting send-off that Hugh Jackman deserves.

Score: 95/100

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The Wolverine (2013)

The wolverineReleased: July 26, 2013. Directed by: James Mangold. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Tao Okamoto. Runtime: 126 min.

The Wolverine has a stronger story than Wolverine’s first solo outing in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but still not a fully compelling one. It just doesn’t seem like a fun film can be made for the most popular character of the X-Men. A problem of this film is that it really doesn’t feel like an X-Men film until it really gets into the story – the story and the Japan location gives it such a different atmosphere than the other films. It opens with Logan having a dream of saving a man from the World War II bombing in Nagasaki. Then, he’s sort-of just a woodsman living his life out in a cave in Canada. He’s still really shaken up about what he had to do Jean in X-Men: The Last Stand. The person whose life Logan saved all those years ago, a man named Yashida, requests Logan’s company to thank him for saving his life and he also wants to give him a gift. Once there, he is embroiled in a conflict involving Japanese mafia, and must confront his own demons. 

Logan is given an extra layer of vulnerability, which is a sometimes nice aspect for other characters – but for such a badass character, he’s just boring with this layer. I think this is a more realistic and grittier attempt than the first Wolverine. At times this feels more like a swordfighting/kung-fu movie with mutants than a true X-Men film. It surely keeps the X-Men franchise on a decent path to keep the general narrative going for the franchise, but sometimes there’s so little going on that this just gets boring. A solid finale and a dazzling bullet train sequence caught my attention, but that was about it. An archer brings some fun to the film, as Mangold directs some nifty set pieces with (and without) the archer. The villain of the film, a woman whose poisonous power of a viper snake reminded me of Poison Ivy. Overall, this is an okay film with prominent themes of greed and it features a strong score. The action’s just a bit too spaced out to be anything truly compelling.

The performances are all pretty okay. I liked Janssen’s brief performance as Jean. Yukio (a well-cast Rila Fukoshima) is a cool character, as she has the power to see how people will die. I think it’s a poignant characterization, since she’ll see how all of her loved ones will die. I liked Jackman’s chemistry with Tao Okamoto as Mariko, Yashida’s granddaughter. The films have some decent aspects, as this surely has stronger visuals than the first Wolverine. 

Score: 60/100

August 2-4 Box Office Predictions

The Smurfs 2“The Smurfs 2” is being released two days early to beat the rush. Now, that worked wonders for “Despicable Me 2,” but didn’t do anything for “Turbo.” After families have emptied their pockets out on legitimately good animated movies like “Monsters University” and “DM2,” their budgets for movies are running on empty (as shown by the soft first weekend for “Turbo”). (That’s okay by me — because this and the summer’s last animated movie, “Planes,” don’t peak my interest.) Movies similar to “The Smurfs 2” open to an average $25.96 million. 2011’s “The Smurfs” opened to $35.6 million. Two years between the original and the first sequel isn’t so bad. Families might have grown a bit wiser in that time – though. For the three-day weekend, I’ll predict this at $26.5 million; and for the five-day frame, I’ll predict it at $39.34 million.

2 Guns

“2 Guns” is the other major release this weekend. It’s an action comedy starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, so it already has an appeal with the cast. The last major buddy comedy, “The Heat,” was aimed at women; so now it’s time to show that men still like their action comedies. This still has an appeal to women, as well, because buddy comedies usually do well. “The Heat” had an $39.115 million debut, so this actioner should open roughly in the same neighbourhood, maybe a bit lower since this film’s marketing campaign wasn’t as aggressive as the campaign of “The Heat.” And since “The Wolverine” will have a good holdover, my prediction is $33.8 million.

Title: Prediction
1. “2 Guns”: $33.8 million
2. “The Wolverine”: $27.15 million
3. “The Smurfs 2”: $26.5 million (Five-day: $39.34 million)
4. “The Conjuring”: $12.85 million
5. “Despicable Me 2“: $10.1 million
6. “Turbo”: $8.56 million
7. “Grown Ups 2“: $6.96 million
8. “Red 2”: $5.26 million
9. “The Heat“: $4.844 million
10. “Pacific Rim“: $4.035 million

Box Office Results July 26-28. (I can’t think of a clever title.)

The Wolverine“The Wolverine” did good business this weekend, but not nearly as great as everyone thought it would be. While it was tracking for a $70 million opening, it was only able to nab a $53.114 million opening. This opening should be attributed to the fact that the disappointing “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” disappointed many, so it kept some people away, and audiences are probably just fatigued of this superhero craze and all the explosions. (That makes me question how well “Kick-Ass 2” might do?) Since “Wolverine” did receive an ‘A-‘ Cinemascore, that should say it’ll have good legs. More good news: It’s already earned back its $120-million budget with its $139.2M worldwide tally.

As for the holdovers, “The Conjuring” continues to scare everyone as it had a drop of -46.9% to $22.2 million. That is a great hold for a horror film, where they traditionally face drops over 50%. (“The Purge” faced a drop of 76%!) “Turbo” also held well, dropping 35.5% to $13.74 million. Its box office performance will be thrown off pace when “The Smurfs 2” gets released on Wednesday, and it will be killed by the competition of “Planes”, come August 9th. It’s a very competitive market for animated movies, as “Despicable Me 2” is still going strong with a weekend gross of $16.4 million. “Grown Ups 2” was also in the Top 5 this weekend with $11.6 million, and it’s the 14th Adam Sandler movie to gross over $100 million. That isn’t exactly music to my ears, since I have such a low opinion of “GU2.”

“Fruitvale Station” found its way into the Top 10 with $4.59 million this weekend. “The Way, Way Back” earned $3.44 million and Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” made $612, 064 at just six theatres, marking a career best Per Theatre Average for Woody Allen, and the best PTA of the year so far. Finally, “The To-Do List” grossed a miniature $1.58 million at 591 theatres, which is surprising considering I’ve basically seen the trailer before every comedy I’ve seen for the past month.

What did you all see this weekend? I didn’t get out to the theatre (well, I did last Thursday to see “White House Down”) this weekend, but I’m planning to see “The Way, Way Back” and “Much Ado About Nothing” this week. Maybe “2 Guns” on the weekend. I won’t be seeing “The Smurfs 2.” I just couldn’t take it. I’ll see what happens. I’m thinking of going through a comedian’s full filmography throughout the first half of August and posting the reviews throughout the second half. I’ll make an announcement post soon, but in the meantime, you’ll have to wonder who the comedian is. (Note: Half of their filmography is torture, and half of it I like. So I’m watching half of the comedian’s filmography for your entertainment, and half of it for mine.) Anyway, here’s how much I was off by for each movie in the Top 10:

Title: Result/Prediction/Difference

1. The Wolverine: $53.114M/$69.825M/$16.711M over
2. The Conjuring: $22.208M/$24.258M/$2.05M over
3. Despicable Me 2: $16.424M/$16.2M/$224, 000 under
4. Turbo: $13.74M/$13.5M/$240, 000 under
5. Grown Ups 2: $11.6M/$10M/$1.6M under
6. Red 2: $9.337M/$12.5M/$3.163M over
7. Pacific Rim: $7.703M/$7.8M/$97, 000 over
8. The Heat: $6.915M/$5.6M/$1.315M under
9. R.I.P.D.: $6.071M/5.5M/$571, 000 under
10. Fruitvale Station: $4.59M/$5.2M/$610, 000 over

For the one new release, I was off by $16.711 million.
For the nine holdovers, I was off by $9.87 million.

Remember to get your predictions in at Box Office Ace! You can get your prediction in for 2 Guns here, and your prediction for The Smurfs 2 here.

Remember to

Box Office Predictions: July 26-28

The Wolverine“The Wolverine” has the benefit of opening on a weekend where there isn’t any other blockbuster. Of course, there are the holdovers, but they don’t pose much direct competition.

The five previous X-Men films open to a weighted average of $76.58 million. It will earn less than that number, but not by a wide margin. There are a few bumps in the road this film must overcome.

“X-Men: First Class” showed audiences the X-Men universe can still impress. It was also the lowest-grossing film in the franchise at $146.4 domestically, mostly because of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, which faced generally negative reactions. I liked some of it, but the general memory of it leaves a bland taste in my mouth. That film might directly affect this film’s gross, as audience members hate to be disappointed twice. People will come out to see it, but not nearly as many as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, because, like I said, some people won’t take the risk. So good word-of-mouth will really help this movie out. I’m going to predict this at $69.8 million. 

I’m thinking “The To Do List” performs similar to “Adventureland” at about $4.9 million for its opening, and “The Way, Way Back” has earned $4.6 million domestically so far, so I think it’ll do $4.4 million this weekend.

Here’s how I see the Top 10:
1. “The Wolverine”: $69, 825, 000
2. “The Conjuring”: $24, 258, 000
3. “Despicable Me 2“: $16, 200, 000
4. “Turbo”: $13, 500, 000
5. “Red 2”: $12, 500, 000
6. “Grown Ups 2“: $10, 000, 000
7. “Pacific Rim“: $7, 800, 000
8. “The Heat“: $5, 600, 000
9. “R.I.P.D.”: $5, 500, 000
10. “Fruitvale Station”: $5, 200, 000

Remember to get your predictions in over at Box Office Ace, it’s lots of fun!

“The Conjuring” scares a big audience, Snails and Retired Spies do okay, “R.I.P.D.” bombs hard

New releases from the weekend that are still on my watchlist: The ConjuringR.I.P.D.Red 2Turbo. So, all of them!

I’ve realized that I haven’t been a good box office analyst. I’ve been posting my predictions, but neglecting to report the results. This weekend, I’ll change that. At the beginning of 2013, it was looking like this year wouldn’t even match up to 2012 – but it’s catching up at a rapid rate. Through June, 2013 was 2.1% behind 2012. As of the end of this weekend, it is behind 1.1%. That is impressive considering this weekend was 19% behind last year, as “The Dark Knight Rises” single-handedly grossed $160.8 million. It’s looking like 2013 could match 2012’s number with some big blockbusters still to come: “The Wolverine”, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” this fall, to name a few. Anyway, let’s get to this weekend.

“Turbo” opened to $21.3 million and has earned $31 million through its first five days. That’s the worst opening for a DreamWorks Animation since 2006’s “Wallace and Gromit”, and it’s even less than last year’s “Rise of the Guardians“. It could have legs because of its rewarded ‘A’ Cinemascore, but family audiences chose those yellow minions again (“DM2” earned $24.9 million this weekend) over snail racing. DreamWorks can only hope that snail racing is big overseas. I guess at least this poor outing says “The Smurfs 2” might not do so grandly, as family audiences have only so much money to spend in a month. (But since it opens at the very beginning of August, it might not be affected.)

“The Conjuring” was the big winner this weekend with a huge $41.8 million opening, so take that “The Purge“! It is now the second-largest opening weekend for an R-rated horror movie behind “Paranormal Activity 2”. That’s great for it because it looks really scary and I want to see it. It had a great marketing campaign, it looked terrifying, and people turned out to see it. It also came at a time where there were no horror movies on the market (well besides “The Purge” which is now only in 156 theatres). It will have great box office legs, because it was rewarded an ‘A-‘ Cinemascore, which, for the horror genre, is super rare.

“Red 2” had a soft opening with $18 million. The first movie grossed $21.7 million in its opening, so it seems that audiences thought it looked too similar to its predecessor, a problem “The Expendables 2” faced. I was optimistic with my prediction of $25 million because I thought that since it had really high DVD sales and the first had great legs, “Red 2” would do better business. I was wrong by $7 million. I didn’t factor in that the older audiences that this is aimed at is perfectly content to either wait for the DVD or go during the week when the crowds aren’t as big. Dang it! (By the way, I’ll probably be posting my review of “Red” soon.)

The only movie I was really close with was “R.I.P.D.”, which is standing at 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m seeing it tomorrow, because I like to see everything, but audiences just were not interested in this “Men in Black” rip-off as it only debuted to $12.69 million. (I predicted $12.8M, woo-hoo!) And its budget was $130 million or so. Talk about one of the biggest bombs in recent memory! “Red 2” was its direct competition and that one came out on top. I think this movie looks fun, but audiences just didn’t bite. I’m not surprised one bit.

Here’s how the Top 10 performed! And if you missed any of my reviews, just click on the link to read it.

Title: Result/Prediction/Difference (Over/Under)
1. “The Conjuring”: $41.855M/$37.5M/$4.355M under
2. “Despicable Me 2: $24.906M/$22.473M/$2.433M under
3. “Turbo”: $21.312M/$28.8M/$7.488M over
4. “Grown Ups 2”: $19.872M/$19.5M/$372, 000 under
5. “Red 2”: $18.048M/$25M/$6.952M over
6. “Pacific Rim: $16.002M/$19.825M/$3.823 over
7. “R.I.P.D.”: $12.691M/$12.8M/$109, 000 over
8. “The Heat: $9.303M/$9.025M/$278, 000 under
9. “World War Z: $5.191M/NA/NA
10. “Monsters University: $5.121M/$6M/$879, 000 over

For the four new releases, I was off by a grand total of: $18, 904, 000

For the five holdovers I predicted in the top 10, I was off by a grand total of: $7, 785, 000

Did any of you go to the theatre this weekend? I saw “Grown Ups 2” on Saturday, don’t ask me why. Expect the review tomorrow. 

My most anticipated movies of July

Hi everyone, this is my post for the movies I’m most anticipating this month. I’m going to leave out the ones I’m not anticipating (but will be seeing), because who wants to write a paragraph about a movie they’re not particularly passionate about? (I’m talking about you, GROWN UPS 2.) I’ll be writing reviews about those said movies, but that’s for another day – and I love writing reviews. So, that’s good, then. I’ll start with a few thoughts on the movies I can wait for, but I am looking forward to watching.

Fruitvale Station (7/12)

Fruitvale Station (7/12)

Plot: The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.

I like a good bio pic and a good emotional drama, so I’m intrigued by this. It also has critics raving, so I’m hoping it’s good. I thought Michael B. Jordan is great in CHRONICLE, and I like Octavia Spencer in just about anything.

Red 2 (7/19)

Red 2 (7/19)

Plot: Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device.

I can mostly wait for this one because I haven’t seen the first. I own it, so I’ll watch that this week or next or something, and then maybe I’ll be a bit more excited about this one. I love a good crime comedy, and the cast intrigues me.

R.I.P.D. (7/19)

R.I.P.D. (7/19)

Plot: A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.

I don’t know if this will be a box office hit – but it does look very amusing. I love the first and third MIB movies, so I’m pretty intrigued by this. It looks fun, and Jeff Bridges has many great one-liners in the trailer.

The To Do List (J7/26)

The To Do List (7/26)

Plot: Feeling pressured to become more sexually experienced before she goes to college, Brandy Clark makes a list of things to accomplish before hitting campus in the fall.

This looks like a predictable comedy, but it does look very funny. I like EASY A a lot, and this seems to have similar awkward humour. I’m curious to see how Aubrey Plaza will do in her first leading lady role. (I’ve seen a few episodes of TV’s PARKS AND RECREATION and it’s just hilarious.) There are some real laugh-out loud moments in the trailer, especially Clark Gregg’s thoughts on taking the back door.

Turbo (7/17)

Turbo (7/17)

Plot: A freak accident might just help an everyday garden snail achieve his biggest dream: winning the Indy 500.

I like the voice cast and the simple thought of Ken Jeong voicing a little Asian grandma makes me giggle. This looks like DreamWorks Animation’s answer to CARS and FAST & FURIOUS, and maybe even RATATOUILLE (instead of rats and cooking, it’s snails and racing). I think the idea’s just as silly as Stuart Little playing soccer, I mean, this little snail is probably going to get run over. I think I’ll enjoy the movie a lot, regardless.

The Wolverine (7/26)

The Wolverine (7/26)

Plot: Wolverine makes a voyage to modern-day Japan, where he encounters an enemy from his past that will impact on his future.

This looks pretty cool. I’m not huge on superhero movies, but I do enjoy the X-MEN movies. I’ll have to have a marathon soon to pump up for this one a bit more. It looks good, but it could be so much better if Darren Aronofsky really did end up directing it. I guess I’m really just hoping it’s better than X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE.

Now these are the ones I’m really excited for. 

5. Pacific Rim (7/12)

5. Pacific Rim (7/12)

Plot: When an alien attack threatens the Earth’s existence, giant robots piloted by humans are deployed to fight off the menace.

I think this looks awesome. I haven’t seen any GODZILLA movies, but I like a good monster movie. And, this is monsters AND robots. Whoa. It sounds like it could be everything BATTLESHIP and TRANSFORMERS aspired to be. Lots of fun, and well-made. And Del Toro is at the helm! I might have to re-watch CLOVERFIELD and find a GODZILLA movie online this week to get a bit more excited. It seems action-packed, and frankly, I want to see the movie right now, and not just the trailer. But I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing Idris Elba shout, “Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!”

3. Only God Forgives (7/19)

4. Only God Forgives (7/19)

Plot: Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok’s criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother’s recent death.

I love Ryan Gosling and the director, Nicholas Winding Refn, and DRIVE is one of my favourite movies of 2011. The story intrigues me, as well. While critics haven’t exactly been praising the movie, I think it could be pretty awesome. It might be wavering my expectations ever-so-slightly, but I’m still really looking forward to it.

3. The Conjuring (7/19)

3. The Conjuring (7/19)

Plot: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.

I think James Wan is a fantastic director. I’ll have to watch INSIDIOUS to get a vibe of his atmospheric haunting flicks, though. This looks absolutely terrifying, and while I’ll probably be watching the movie through the my fingers, I can hardly wait. Vera Farmiga is great, too. The trailer creeps the hell out of me, and I love it. The true story edge is even spookier – so, I just want it to be July 19 already. It would be great if this will birth a Warren files franchise.

2. The Way, Way Back (7/5)

2. The Way, Way Back (7/5)

Plot: 14-year-old Duncan’s summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and his daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.

I love a good coming-of-age tale. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER is my second-favourite movie of 2012. And THE DESCENDANTS is one of my favourite movies of 2011. Two of the Oscar-winning writers from that movie (Nat Faxon, supporting actor in most of the Broken Lizard movies, and Jim Rash, the Dean on TV’s COMMUNITY) co-write and direct this one. I love the cast so much. Steve Carrell as a major jerk, Sam Rockwell, Rash in a supporting role, AnnaSophia Robb, and Rob Corddry, Toni Colette and Allison Janney. Suffice to say, it sounds amazing – and I can hardly wait for this to come to my city.

1. Despicable Me 2 (7/3)

1. Despicable Me 2 (7/3)

Plot: Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a powerful new super criminal.

I love the original DESPICABLE ME 2. This sequel looks amazing and hilarious. I can hardly wait for it. I love Gru and the minions, and I think this will be a real winner with a lot of heart and some great action. And new villains, of course. This is not only my most anticipated movie of July – but it’s probably my most anticipated movie of the year. (But, I’ll have to make a list to see if that’s true. I might be a bit more excited for KICK-ASS 2.) I can’t wait to have a second helping of the minion madness, though. Anything under a score of 75 will be disappointing. I hope this is in the same league as the first.

Here’s all of the movies opening in July: http://www.imdb.com/movies-coming-soon/2013-07/