film fatales #36: mudbound (dee rees, 2017)
music friday: 1971

logan (james mangold, 2017)

There are good superhero movies and bad superhero movies and everything in between. It's not my favorite genre, but it's hard to avoid them at least once in awhile in an era when it feels like half the movies you see in the theatre fall into that grouping. I do like some of them ... Wonder Woman and Dr. Strange, to note a couple of recent ones. A lot of the time, though, I can't remember if I've seen one or not. And the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe thing just confuses me. Iron Man seems to turn up in all of them, but there are only three movies with Iron Man in the title, and while I'm sure I saw the first one, I'm not so sure about the others. And there are things like the X-Man being owned by a different studio, so they aren't in the MCU, so they invented the Inhumans (I have no idea if I'm getting this right), who are basically X-Men with different names. The Inhumans got their own TV series that flopped, and they turn up in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is fairly popular. I know there are people who really care about this, whereas my involvement mostly revolves around wishing they hadn't cancelled Agent Carter.

All of which is a long way of saying I'm not the audience for superhero movies, but I'm not immune. Still, what makes Logan stand out is all the ways in which it isn't typical. Arguably the biggest difference is that it is rated R. It's well-earned. The IMDB Parents Guide calls the violence & gore "severe" ("Realistic depictions of bloody violence are shown", "On-screen body count: 76"). Profanity also gets the "severe" marker ("48 uses of 'fuck', similar number of uses of 'shit', one use of 'dick' and several uses of 'motherfucker'"), and "Frightening & Intense Scenes" ("Numerous intense scenes throughout, including a home invasion, child abduction, a torture scene and attacks on children and adults."). I watch plenty of movies like this, but they aren't usually big franchise pictures.

One result of this is that Logan might appeal to people who didn't bother to see other Wolverine movies. The film doesn't really require any knowledge of the backstory, although that would help. Despite the violence, it's a character study in its essence. Even the action scenes struck me as different, less CGI, more like a Daniel Craig Bond movie.

You know Logan has crossed over when you learn that it got an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. There is simply more going on here than just a bunch of powerful mammoths throwing each other around.

What I'm saying is, Logan is a very good movie. In her film debut, young Dafne Keen as Laura is great ... I can see her turning up in future X-Men movies. Her ferocity is another reason Logan affects us ... seeing a kid performing Wolverine-style killings is startling. It's one of the things Wolverine passes along to Laura, when she admits she has done terrible things: "You're gonna have to learn how to live with that." 

The film makes calls to other movies ... Shane is obvious, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome a bit more subtle. Even then, it reminds us of older movies that exist outside the superhero universe. Unlike most of those films, Logan can stand on its own.

 

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