‘Logan’ review: Hugh Jackman goes out on top in final turn as Wolverine

Logan

The world finally has an R-rated version of Wolverine that does everything right.

If you love Wolverine, then you should run out to see Hugh Jackman’s final turn with the character in Logan. It’s a smart film that doesn’t skimp on action, it’s filled with heart, and the performances by Mr. Jackman and Patrick Stewart as Professor X are top notch.

There is much to say about this movie, but instead of doing up two different reviews I think I’ll just share a portion of what I wrote for Conservative Book Club and then ask  you to kindly check them out for the full version.

I wrote shortly after the film’s release:

The world has seen Hugh Jackman play the Marvel superhero Wolverine for 17 years, but it appears as though the actor saved his best performance for last. Director James Mangold’s R-rated Logan hauled in $247.3 globally its opening weekend, and for good reason — it’s a superhero movie that transcends the genre.

What is perhaps the most fascinating about Logan is that while it is chalk full violent deaths, underneath the blood and gore is a film that promotes selfless sacrifice, unconditional love, loyalty, family, and the possibility of redemption for all men — no matter how fallible they may be. Bad characters die, but the film’s message on many levels can be considered “pro-life.” Good samaritans risk everything for children who are treated as expendable tools, while the life an elderly and infirm man is fiercely protected by the protagonist.

Logan (story by Mangold, screenplay by Scott Frank) takes place in a future where all of the X-Men in the 20th Century Fox franchise are dead — wiped out in large part due to the decaying mind of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Wolverine and an ally named Caliban (Stephen Merchant) have been driven underground along the U.S. border with Mexico, although the hero is able make enough cash to get Charles seizure medication by working nights as a limo driver.

Everything changes for the trio when a nurse smuggles a genetically engineered child known as X-23 (Dafne Keen) out of captivity before she can be killed by the villain Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). Her goal is to transport the girl a rally point in North Dakota where children with similar capabilities will attempt to cross the border into Canada. Logan, with his failing immune system and broken body, is coerced into the quest by Charles and the surviving shards of virtue buried deep within his own adamantium bones.

“You know, Logan, this is what life looks like: a home, people who love each other, a safe place. You should take a moment and feel it,” Xavier says when they are eventually given food and shelter by a family of farmers.

“Yeah, it’s great,” the reluctant hero sarcastically replies.

“Logan! You still have time,” Xavier implores.

Check out the rest over at CBC.

 

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‘X-Men: Apocalypse’: Michael Fassbender saves mutants from mediocrity

Michael Fassbender Magneto

X-Men: Apocalypse was finally released in U.S. theaters for Memorial Day weekend after having premiered in places like the United Kingdom on May 9. The wait, overall, is worth it, but that is in large part due to Michael Fassbender’s performance as Magneto. The movie drags a bit at 144 minutes, but luckily Charles Xavier’s mutants are saved by the emotional weight Fassbender brings to the character Erik Lehnsherr.

Bryan Singer’s latest installment in the X-Men franchise (a tough act to follow after X-Men: Days of Future Past) breaks down as follows:

  • En Sabah Nur (played by Oscar Isaac) is allegedly the first mutant. Although he has god-like powers, a series of events leaves him in a state of suspended animation in a buried Egyptian temple.
  • En Sabah Nur is revived in the 1980s and becomes the “Apocalypse” X-Men fans are all familiar with. He begins his quest to gather “Four Horsemen,” wipe the earth clean, and begin anew with himself at the center of the universe.
  • Professor-X (played by James McAvoy) is captured by Apocalypse and his crew. The young X-Men must now save him — and the world.

X-Men: Apocalypse, in many ways like its predecessor, explores the idea of painful pasts and whether or not individuals choose to be defined by those experiences or rise above them. Mr. Singer wants everyone to know that they have greatness within them — a commendable message — but the script does not allow the supporting cast to truly shine.

Evan Peters as Quicksilver should probably be the linchpin of the next X-Men movie (i.e., it’s time for him to confront his father), and Sophie Turner shows real promise as Jean Grey, but the movie lacked a spark from the one person it was heavily invested in: Jennifer Lawrence.

XMen Jean Scott Nightcrawler

Ms. Lawrence’s role as Mystique felt flat for three reasons:

  • She simply looked bored. Her performance screamed, “at least I’m getting a paycheck.”
  •  The script shoved a slew of Katniss Everdeen-like platitudes into her mouth while shorting her on scenes that would have formed an instant connection with the audience. (Note: All husbands/fathers can related to Magneto after what happens to him in Poland.)
  • Can it be any more obvious that Ms. Lawrence didn’t want to sit in a makeup chair unless absolutely necessary, and that she was given her way because her name is Jennifer Lawrence? Anyone who plays Mystique should be blue for more than 5 percent of their screen time.

All things considered, however, X-Men: Apocalypse is still worth seeing for anyone enjoys the superhero genre. It is not as strong as X-Men: First Class or X-Men: Days of Future Past, but it is still does its job when all is said and done.

Finally, make sure to stay through the ending credits for a clue to the next film’s villain.

 

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ may be the most important superhero movie ever

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ may be the most important superhero movie of all time. I don’t say that lightly. Those whose blood pressure is starting to rise should take note: I didn’t say it was the “most fun” or “action packed” movie of all time — I said it may be the most important film ever.

Right out of the gates director Bryan Singer lets the audience know he’s created a movie about big ideas. When the first thing a director asks is “Does free will exist?” he’s given himself a tall order to fulfill:

Charles Xavier: The future…a dark desolate world. A world at war. Suffering and loss on both sides. Mutants and the humans who dared to help them fighting an enemy we can not defeat. Are we destined down this path, destined to destroy ourselves like so many species before us? Or can we evolve fast enough to change ourselves, change our fate? Is the future truly set?

Everything from the visuals and the narration to the music by John Ottman says: “This movie has gravity. Leave now if you just want a mindless popcorn flick.”

Charles Xavier

How many of us yearn to be able to go back in time and visit our younger selves — to talk some sense into them? What price would you pay for a single attempt to impart wisdom and knowledge on your reckless youthful counterpart — who wouldn’t listen to anyone — because maybe, just maybe, he’d listen to you? What if you could go back in time and convey something to your younger consciousness that would save all sorts of pain and suffering that you — although you wouldn’t ever admit it publicly — caused friends and loved ones? What if you’ve created a “dark desolate world” for yourself, but you knew there was a moment in time that could set things on a very different path? Would you risk ripping your consciousness into a million pieces for a chance to travel through space and time to set things right?

These are all very deep questions, and the actors tasked with making it all real to the audience do a magnificent job. James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman, Peter Dinklage, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Evan Peters and basically the entire cast all do a commendable job. Everyone who was required to provide emotional weight to movie comes through in the clutch, and the end result is a movie worth watching many times.

Charles Xavier Young Old XMen

In addition to the covering free will, ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ covers redemption. The turning point in the film (major spoilers ahead — you have been warned) comes when young Charles finally comes face-to-face with his older self.

Young Charles: So this what becomes of us. Eric was right. Humanity does this to us.

Old Charles: Not if we show them a better past.

Young Charles: You still believe?

Old Charles: Just because someone stumbles and loses their way, it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Sometimes we need a little help.

Young Charles: I’m not the man I was. I open my mind and it almost overwhelms me.

Old Charles: You’re afraid, and Cerebro knows it.

Young Charles: In all those voices…so much pain.

Old Charles: It’s not their pain you’re afraid of — it’s yours. And frightening as it can be their pain will make you stronger if you allow yourself to feel it. Embrace it. It will make you more powerful than you ever imagined. It’s the greatest gift we have that can bear pain without breaking, and it’s born from the most human power: Hope. Please Charles, we need you to hope again.

Can you forgive yourself for all the mistakes you’ve made? Can you forgive your friends and loved ones for the pain they’ve inflicted upon you? Can you forgive humanity for all the injustices it’s inflicted upon itself? Can you find strength in pain and then use that strength to make the world a better place? These are all questions asked by Singer, and the end result is a movie that aims — and largely succeeds — at affecting those who are willing to let it do so on the deepest of philosophical levels.

Charles Xavier Days of Future Past

In short, the evolution of Charles Xavier over the course of the film from a broken man and into the hero who would lead the X-Men to a better tomorrow is nearly flawless. Along the way you might even forget that you’re watching “just” a superhero movie and find yourself welling up inside. For much of the movie you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Yes, fans “know” how it’s going to end (another movie is on the way, of course) but the writing, acting and directing are so good that it’s easy to get lost in it all and say, “Wow, they might not pull this out.”

Luckily, Professor Xavier regains his hope at a pivotal point in the film.

Hank McCoy: There’s a theory in quantum physics that time is immutable. It’s like a river — you can throw a pebble in and create a ripple, but the current always corrects itself. No matter what you do the river just keeps flowing in the same direction.

Wolverine: What are you trying to say?

Beast: What I’m saying is, what if the war is inevitable? What if she’s meant to kill Trask? What if this is simply who she is?

Charles Xavier: Just because someone stumbles and loses their way it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. No, I don’t believe that theory Hank, and I can not believe that is who she is. Ready the plane. We’re going to Washington.

If you get a chance to see ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ in theaters, I would highly suggest making the trip. It’s rare for a movie to work on so many levels, and the fact that it’s an X-Men film makes this longtime Marvel fan very happy.

Editor’s Note for regular readers: I know I mentioned not being able to pay to see this movie, given the storm clouds hanging over the director’s head. I went to the movie theater with every intention of paying for Godzilla and then walking into X-Men: Days of Future Past, but the theater turned out to be about the size of my bedroom. There was no way I could pull it off without creating an awkward scene, so I allowed a friend to pay for me. I still don’t feel right about it, so if Mr. Singer’s legal issues do not turn out in his favor I will make a donation that would in all likelihood meet his accuser’s approval.

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’: I can’t buy a ticket with Bryan Singer accused of rape

Bryan Singer

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ will be out May 23, but now that director Bryan Singer has been accused of rape, what’s a movie watcher to do?

The Associated Press reported:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man who claims he was sexually abused by “X-Men” franchise director Bryan Singer said Thursday that he reported the molestation to authorities at the time, and he does not know why charges were never pursued.

With his voice occasionally wavering, Michael Egan III described abuse he said began when he was 15 years old at the hands of Singer and others. He told of being plied with drugs and promises of Hollywood fame while also enduring threats and sexual abuse in Hawaii and Los Angeles over several years.

“You were a piece of meat,” Egan said of how he and other teenage boys were viewed at the home where he claims Singer abused him.

Signer’s attorney Marty Singer wrote in a statement after Egan’s remarks that the accusations were “completely fabricated.”

But are they? That’s the big question. In terms of the pool parties Mr. Egan says he attended, it doesn’t appear as though anyone is a.) disputing that they existed, or b.) that “Hollywood power broker” Mark Rector-Collins (who was jailed in 2004 for sex abuse of minors) also attended them. Bryan Singer’s attorney called the accusations “completely without merit” — and that may be true — but there seems to be enough there to warrant a serious investigation.

The Daily Mail reported:

I wouldn’t say it was a relationship [with Singer], you were a piece of meat,’ Egan said of how he was treated at the parties at Rector Collins’ home that he allegedly began attending when he was just 14 or 15.

He said: ‘Certain situations like at the house where the rules were no swimsuits by the pool areas. I was in the hot tub with Singer and other individuals, they grope you, shove your head under water, orally molest you, then they’d rape you by the side of hot tub. You were a piece of meat.’

He claimed the men regularly threatened to ruin his acting dreams if he didn’t comply with their demands.

‘We were told that we had to keep the members happy – “We control Hollywood and we will eliminate you” – there was threat after threat,’ Egan told reporters.

I was really excited about going to see the new X-Men movie, but now I’m conflicted. Do I want to spend money on a director’s project while he’s battling allegations that, if true, would further vindicate everything said about Hollywood’s evil little secret by Corey Feldman? It may be wrong, but I keep thinking of inappropriate wise-cracks like “X-Men: Days of Future Past … Molestation.” When Patrick Stewart asks if we are “destined to destroy ourselves” in the trailer, I now wonder if Bryan Singer destroyed a young boy’s life.

How could I sit through a movie when the entire time I’m wondering if Bryan Singer is just a new version of Roman Polanski? Will Whoopi Goldberg one day say that Bryan Singer didn’t “rape-rape Mr. Egan? Again, Mr. Singer is innocent until proven guilty, but I can’t stop my mind from wandering to such places. That doesn’t bode will for my decision to see his latest offering.

Michael Egan

Right about now some of my regular readers are probably thinking that it’s incredibly rich for the Catholic guy to be asking these questions. Well no, not really. I was distanced from the Catholic Church in many ways for years because of the priest scandals and cover-ups. I didn’t donate any money to the Catholic Church for a long time because I didn’t want what little income I had going to defend the indefensible. It took a very, very long time for me to find my way back to the Church (and guys like Pope Francis make it a heck of a lot easier).

Regardless, the New York Daily News seems to think I’m in the minority:

Industry insiders say they think few movie-goers will associate the scandal with one of the biggest popcorn flicks of the summer when it’s time to buy tickets.

“In the end, the question becomes how much of the American public is ‘auteur-ist’ enough to associate a movie with its director,” says Prof. Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Bleier Center of Television & Popular Culture.

“Is the alleged bad behavior enough to keep them from seeing the next installment of ‘X-Men’? And I think for most people that’s very much not the case.”

I’m not “auteur-ist,” New York Daily News staff, I’m just a guy who actually has a working moral compass. I would think that anyone who believes in right and wrong would be turning these sorts of issues around in their head before coughing up cash. I’m not saying they have to pull their hair out in the process, but it’s hard not to look into the details that have already been presented and wonder what the heck is going on in Hollywood.

Take the pool parties, for instance. Is a Bryan Singer pool party like something from the Playboy Bunny Ranch, except for gay men? (A friend of mine retorted: “You mean like the Gayboy Bunny Ranch”?) Drugs, booze, nudity and music all night long — what could go wrong?

I think that I would be less inclined to stay away from the movie if I felt as though Hollywood actually had a working moral compass. Hollywood embraces hedonism, so when murky issues like this come up it seems as though it’s best to err on the side of caution.

While all of us have our moral failings, at least your Average Joe knows right from wrong. Hollywood doesn’t care what you do — as long as it feels good and you don’t get caught. Sadly, sometimes getting caught can even make you more famous…

 

Bryan Singer Pool Party

As much as I wanted to see ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past,’ I just don’t know I can do so with such a massive storm cloud hanging over the director’s head (no pun intended). The only way I could possibly see it now would be if I bought a ticket to ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ or another movie and then walked into a theater playing X-Men.

What about you? Will you be seeing Bryan Singer’s latest when it hits theaters May 23? I’d like to hear what you think.

Editor’s Note: I will swiftly hit the delete button and ban anyone who is out of line in the comments section. If you aren’t sure if what you’re about to say will get you banned, don’t say it. Rule of thumb: If you worked for a major newspaper and your editor would blow a gasket at the comment, then don’t post it here.

Joss Whedon: Now that I poop $100 bills, let’s embrace socialism

Joss Whedon directed the newest Avengers movie, which has pulled in roughly $1.5 billion around the globe. He has enough cash to flush buckets of it down the toilet, if for no other reason than because he can. Having attained success beyond his wildest dreams, he now denounces capitalism. Classic.

Joss Whedon has so much money that when he has a bowel movement hundred dollar bills come out of his butt. When he has diarrhea, mutual funds and bonds and other liquid assets now end up in his gold-plated toilet. And so, having reached such a profound level of critical and financial success, he is now comfortable telling the rest of us that we should either board the socialism-train-of-dignity, or consider ourselves “off the reservation.”

“We are watching capitalism destroy itself right now,” he told the [Comic-Con 2012] audience.

He added that America is “turning into Tsarist Russia” and that “we’re creating a country of serfs.”

Whedon was raised on the Upper Westside neighborhood of Manhattan in the 1970s, an area associated with left-leaning intellectuals. He said he was raised by people who thought socialism was a ”beautiful concept.” …

We have people trying to create structures and preserve the structures that will help the middle and working class, and people calling them socialists,” Whedon said. “It’s not Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal […] it’s some people with some sense of dignity and people who have gone off the reservation.”

To be clear: If you look at $16 trillion of debt and think to yourself, “This is going to end really, really badly if we don’t get this under control,” Joss Whedon probably doesn’t think you have much dignity. Whedon says that capitalism is destroying itself, and yet the Congressional Research Service has admitted that there are so many federal regulations that it can’t even tally them upThe masterminds in Congress (of Joss Whedon-type sensibility) have managed to create so much red tape that even those tasked with keeping track of it are reduced to guessing games.

The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to 4,000 by 2000 to over 4,450 by 2008. …

Scores of federal departments and agencies have created so many criminal offenses that the Congressional Research Service itself admitted that it was unable to even count all of the offenses. The service’s best estimate? “Tens of thousands.” In short, Congress’s own experts do not have a clear understanding of the size and scope of federal criminalization.

Last week I detailed how Christopher Nolan creates more jobs than Barack Obama, but perhaps I should have substituted the Batman franchise with Whedon’s Avengers, so that the message may have penetrated into his socialist skull like a blast of gamma radiation.

Joss Whedon advocates on behalf of Keynesian economics, never realizing that a more expansive federal government means more crony capitalism. More rules, regulations and centralized power begets more lobbyists and corrupt politicians and backroom deals (e.g., the pharmaceutical industry leading up to the passage of Obamacare) — and yet, the Avengers director blames corporations for acting on the incentives that the federal government creates. It’s like making deal after deal with Loki, and then blaming Thor for the calamities that ensue.

As I said before, our debt is at $16 trillion. And counting. We are dealing with a basic math problem here, and at some point in time the accounting tricks will run out. When they do, we will have few options. Those include:

  • Repudiation (see Greece and Spain for a preview)
  • Massive cuts to entitlements within a short amount of time
  • Inflation
  • War

All of the above are likely outcomes of an out-of-control federal government that has stolen the wealth of future generations for the sake of a few votes at the ballot box. The savings of the elderly will be slashed through inflation. The standard of living will be lower for your children and grandchildren. People will have to put off major life events like getting married, buying homes and starting families — and none of it will be because of the decisions of Disney or Warner Bros. or Apple or Microsoft.

It will, however, be because of bloated governments with an insatiable appetite for spending other people’s money.

Having made more cash than he could have ever imagined, Joss Whedon will be shielded from the impact of financial collapse like he was using next generation Stark technology. Oddly enough, he’ll probably continue to blame corporations and write leftist rhetoric for his movies. That’s okay though, because conservative comic nerds have econ’s Professor X — Milton Friedman — on our side.

Hat tip for this blog post: Carl’s Comics

“Bill Maher Liberal” Election Strategy: Call Modern Paul Revere Racist, Crazy, or Dumb.

Bill Maher wants you to believe he's a Liberal Professor X. He can read minds, and his opposition is apparently racist or crazy. Today, most people are laughing at him because they know the Federal Government has racked up the kind of debt that can castrate a nation. Trying to label the modern Paul Revere racist for sounding the alarm isn't going to work.

I was talking to a liberal friend yesterday on the phone who told me that the Tea Party movement “hates black people.”  I guess my friend missed the memo: The Tea Party movement is no longer racist because…they’re crazy! Or, if you’re John Kerrythey’re dumb.

A new report from the Culture and Media Institute shows a widespread media attack on the Tea Party and its candidates’ sanity, something the report’s author, Nathan Burchfiel, told The Daily Caller is most likely a result of the left’s inability to form a legitimate argument against the Tea Party.

“It [calling Tea Partiers crazy] is a way to distract from the issues,” Burchfiel said. “It’s the same thing with the racist argument: You try to paint them as racists so you don’t have to talk about the issues.”

The reason why the mathematically-challenged Bill Maher and his friends in the media are having a hard time dismissing the Tea Party movement is that, despite a rotting education system, there are still enough old people who can look at numbers and discern what they mean. Take, for example, any number of entitlement programs. The nation simply can’t fulfill the promises politicians have been making for years. Entitlement programs are on autopilot, and it doesn’t matter who’s in control of Congress—it’s going to get worse unless we get serious about reform. Quickly.

Tea Party members regularly cite the federal government's own numbers when expressing their concerns over the direction the country is going. The liberal response is to call them crazy or racist. The only thing that's divorced from reality is the Progressive idea that you can spend yourself into a black hole and then come out on the other side all right. Somewhere, a liberal is calling me subconsciously racist because I used "black hole" as a metaphor.

The racist theory has been tried for years by people who, for whatever reason, don’t have a grasp of the issues. The person making the charge seeks to convince you that they’re somehow a living, breathing version of The X-Men’s Professor X. He or she can read minds and pull motives from the recesses of his opposition’s mind, and if you just believe in Liberal Professor X everything will be all right.  That worked in the past, but these days it’s harder to do because a tsunami of retiring baby boomers have forced smart people to crunch the numbers. And they’re not pretty.

Bill Maher is now on record as saying that “European Socialism works.” How can anyone take him seriously?  Even the Europeans don’t believe that any more. Europe is a sad, lost, cultural husk that’s blowing around on the international landscape.  It’s looking for an identity, and right now the only people who are actively trying to shape one for them have a predilection towards violence when you disagree with them.

When the election results come in, don’t say I didn’t try and warn you Bill.

If you're concerned about the future of Social Security, spending as a percentage of GDP, and the stresses that Baby Boomers will place upon it...liberal talking heads assume you're a racist. I hope Bill Maher runs for office, because the reaction to his campaign stump speech would be priceless.